Tag Archives: Carl G Jung

The Unholy Bible

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Unholy Bible: Blake, Jung, and the Collective Unconscious [Amazon, Abebooks, Local Library] by June Singer, introduction by M Esther Harding; re-issued as Blake, Jung, and the Collective Unconscious: The Conflict Between Reason and Imagination [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library], part of the Jung on the Hudson Books series. (Amusingly, I have both versions at the Reading Room, each purchased separately, at different times, thinking they were different books. Obviously, the topic sustains its appeal to me!)

June Singer M Esther Harding The Unholy Bible from Sigo Press

June Singer M Esther Harding Blake, Jung and the Collective Unconscious from Nicolas-Hays

Singer’s “Psychological Interpretation of William Blake” is for the most part a Jungian sermon that takes Blake’s prophetic works as its scripture. Sometimes she just rambles off into outright theologizing in that distinctive Jungian fashion. Nor does she avoid the scientism and occasional outright materialistic philosophy to which the Jungian discourse is prone. At times, Singer’s chief concern seems to be whether or not Blake was a good Jungian. But even so, The Unholy Bible is a fairly diligent and perceptive study of Blake’s mature work.

Following a quick but useful biographical preliminary, the largest section of the book is Singer’s analysis of The Marriage of Heaven & Hell, which is quite thorough. Her attention to the symbolic value of the pictorial elements of the plates is especially welcome. She traces some principal themes in the Proverbs of Hell, and offers careful consideration of the Memorable Fancies. 

The book could have used more proofreading. The erroneous transcriptions from Blake’s plates are particularly galling. (See 137, 142, e.g.) And here’s an author’s blunder: She reverses the symbolic attribution of the sheep and the goats relative to Blake’s context! (141)

The later sections of the book treat Blake’s prophecies which are the “unholy Bible.” These are viewed from a wider angle than The Marriage, and with some success. 

The final two chapters seemed relatively disposable to me. “Sources of Creative Activity” hagiographizes Jung and defends Blake against charges of insanity and mysticism — the latter subject to an evidently narrow, yet largely implicit definition. The two pages of “The Symbol” extol “the slender filament which reaches from our world to the Infinite” (247), if you care for that sort of thing. 

For diehard Jungians, there’s probably no better book on Blake. For general readers unfamiliar with Blake’s work, this might not be an optimal introduction, because of its tendency to confuse interpretations of Blake’s writing with assertions of Jungian doctrine. But I did enjoy reading it, and I learned some things along the way.

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).

Answer to Job

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Answer to Job by Carl G Jung.

Carl Jung Answer to Job

Just as Freud wrote Moses and Monotheism at the end of his career, in which he analyzed the Hebrew religious tradition; Jung wrote Answer to Job late in life as an attempt to integrate the Christian God! It is sometimes hilariously chatty, as when he remarks that “the family life of our first parents was not all beer and skittles.” (p. 31) The central thesis is that the motive for the Christian Incarnation was to redeem God, whose moral inferiority had been disclosed by the events of Job. Jung’s text culminates in a discussion of the Apocalypse.

Although Jung at first claims to be limiting his treatment to the psycho-symbolic dimensions of the Apocalyptic narrative, without discussing their parallels in historical events, he eventually succumbs to the latter temptation. Specifically, he points out the Roman Catholic church’s doctrinal acceptance of the Assumption of the Virgin as a socio-historical realization of the Patmos vision of the Woman Clothed with the Sun.

In my reading, it occurred to me that the Catholic church can function like a great mythic barometer of Western society, because of its vast population, tightly integrated through an organismic hierarchy. And I wondered what “archetypal” conditions might be augured by that church’s current focus of attention: priestly child abuse. The paternal figure of the priest, denoted as benevolent and an agent of divine forgiveness, is now shown to have a terrible hidden aspect more fearsome than that of the God of Job. While that God was merely unjust in authorizing the torment of a righteous man, the God of the abusive priest is cruel in having his ministers victimize the innocent.

Of course, this cruelty is not entirely without biblical precedent. The plague on the firstborn of Egypt was, at least, visited on the offspring of tyrannous, non-Yahweh-respecting, unregenerate pagans who were thus understood as estranged from God. But the molestation of Roman Catholic children who have been brought to church for blessing and instruction is more reminiscent of Herod’s massacre of the innocents, which usually portends an array of dark and worldly forces opposing God’s attempt at sacrificial incarnation. In this case, though, it is God who sends the sacerdotal predators, like He sends the locusts from the bottomless pit in Revelation IX:

“For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails [were] like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” (v. 19) [via]