Saturday, October 23, 2010
C.G. Jung denied he was a mystic or guru, and claimed always that his theories had firm grounding in post-Enlightenment ideals of scientific reasoning. His labyrinthine books are punishing because he was at great pains to provide volumious evidence in order to avoid the charge he was some sort of shaman or witch doctor.
And yet I've always found him so interesting precisely because he was a shaman who at the same time had the intellect, training, and capacities of a scientist. Jung's life-long experience with poltergeists, portentuous dreams, and waking visions indicates a consciousness encompassing multiple modes of awareness and a facility for using them in the productive construction of a rich inner life.
This is the tack Gary Lachmann takes in his brief bio of Jung. We get a nice summary of Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and some key incidents from his association with Freud, and Lachmann neatly builds his case that Jung was "never embraced scientific rationalism," but rather struggled all his life between at least two different personalities based in different world views. The bio is refreshingly "warts-and-all": the affairs, the rants, the aloof and distant relationships he had with his wife and children--all get an objective appraisal here. Lachmann's examination of the controversy over Jung's supposed anti-Semitism and Nazi associations is the most clear-headed I've read as well. I recommend it whole-heartedly for those who are Jung at heart.