Monday, February 01, 2010
If you've slogged through Aion or Psychological Types or any of Jung's other large tomes, you'll likely be re-reading chunks of that material here. Mostly the book is patched together from the Collected Works. Editor Segal doesn't simply cobble together bits and pieces of prose concerning Gnosticism and Gnostic symbols and ideas, however; he crafted a long introduction which takes pains to point out what Jung got wrong about Gnosticism (either through misinterpretation or lack of access to later scrolls), and he spends some time building context for Jung's interest in Gnostic symbols and medieval alchemy as symbols of unconscious structures and processes.
The title The Gnostic Jung is a bit problematic, given that much of the book--some of its best parts, in fact--features Jung arguing ferociously against critics who called him a Gnostic. Jung explains over and over: (allow me to paraphrase) "I'm an empiricist, and have no ideology. These symbols exist in the unconscious, and I document them when I find them." In other words, the fact that Jung found Gnostic symbols useful in explaining the process of individuation, he argued, certainly didn't mean he was a Gnostic. The collection would benefit from a more accurate title: Jung and Gnosticism, or Jung on Gnosticism. Or, to be po-mo and hip: The (ag?)Gnostic Jung.
Also included in the collection are Jung's peculiar and Philip K. Dickesque "The Seven Sermons to the Dead," which was privately and anonymously published by C.G., much to his later chagrin.
I was pleased to see Jung's Red Book and some of his paintings and sketches and notes at the Rubin Museum in New York. Perhaps it's why I dreamed of a giant menacing spider-beetle the other night?