Flying Saucers

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by C G Jung, trans. R F C Hull.

Jung Hull Flying Saucers

This fairly short book collects all of Jung’s writings relevant to ufology, principally the 1958 monograph “Flying Saucers,” which discusses UFOs in rumor, dreams, and modern art, along with the question of the premodern history of the phenomenon and its “non-psychological” (i.e. objective, material) aspect. An epilogue treats late-breaking ufological literature (in the 1950s): the evangelistic Secret of the Saucers by contactee Orfeo Angelucci, the sf novel The Black Cloud by astronomer Fred Hoyle, and John Wyndham’s sf novel The Midwich Cuckoos. Appended to the main text are three short pieces of correspondence “On Flying Saucers,” addressed to the periodical Weltwoche, the UPI news agency, and US military ufologist Major Donald Keyhoe. The last two letters are largely concerned to counter what Jung claimed were misrepresentations in the press regarding his credulity towards the empirical reality of flying saucers as material craft from beyond Earth.

Throughout the book, but especially in the section that analyzes seven dreams featuring flying saucers or something of the kind, Jung goes on at length about his own theories in more general terms that are not obviously germane to the topic at hand. In one admitted “digression,” he puzzled me by setting up an opposition between the “sex instinct” and the “power instinct,” while positing a “religious instinct for wholeness” that could reconcile and transcend them. I found this arrangement puzzling and theoretically incoherent, although it soon became evident that the “power instinct” was chiefly a rhetorical figure for Nietzsche’s interpretation of life, while the “sex instinct” referred to Freud’s (35-43).

Although the chapter on “Previous History of the Ufo Phenomenon” discusses instances going back to the sixteenth century and speculates about its presence in antiquity, Jung is especially concerned about the putatively US-centric 20th-century UFO sightings glut as a manifestation of collective mentality during a current crisis. In his opening “Introductory” he points to the precession of the equinox from Pisces to Aquarius or succession of “Platonic month” as the basis or essential context for stresses on the modern worldview (5). In his concluding remarks, he focuses on the Cold War and the polar division of the world system between red (Soviet) and white (US) alchemical complements (111).