Psychology & The Cross: Jungian Psychology in dialogue

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What do we do if God is dead? Jung's Red Book as an anti-Zarathustra. (Extra material E05)

by Jungian Analyst Jakob Lusensky
September 8th 2021
00:07:40
Description

What do we do if God is dead? British scholar, Paul Bishop examines the links and relationships between Nietzsche's Zarathustra and C.G Jung's Red Book. Understanding Jung's visionary work as an an... More

what do we do if God is dead? that's clearly such an important thing for Jung to um, and expressed in the form not of a simple atheistic declaration, there is no god, but rather God is dead. Um, and it seems to me that Jung has been trying to respond to that think through the consequences of that. Um, one of the ways in which that was done was through the little text Sermons ceremonies at moto off and now we can see with the publication of the red book, what a big topic this is for. This is for Jung. And one of the lines that one finds in the, in the sermons in the Red book is that God is not dead, is live in degrading he he is more like than than ever. And that's clearly a repost to Zarathustra, he's more alive than ever. Well, that's, that's the statement that uh, that that's made. And it seems to me to the red book, which is a kind of anti Zarathustra Is wanting to work, that is wanting to work that through.

But it seems to me that look at the way that Nietzsche presents the death of God, he does it in the form of this little passage in the gay science 1-5. This parable of the madman who's going around midday with the, with the lamp looking for God. Um, and he can't and he can't find him. This is full of lots of echoes of um, the biblical story of Elijah, all this stuff about God on holiday is he deaf content counter here. There's that kind of play in their um, the idea of as well of uh in in pre Socratic times, looking for looking for humankind. Can you find it as an abstract, abstract idea? Diogenes and his his lamp? So it's a very rich allegorical story um which is then taken up and assumed as the starting point for Zarathustra, which is of course a great poetic work in its own, in its own right.

Um it's a philosophical text, but it's also literary text now compare that with Jung's Red book where we where we have uh this cry at the beginning, where are You, My Soul again, it all sounds very niche and there are lots of echoes from each other are built into the, into the red book and you actually have this encounter with. However, one wants to describe the deity in the red book. But it is imaginative, it is poetic of course it's also illustrative as well as artistic because you have these kinds of these pictures. But it seems to me significant that both nature and you're trying to prosecute their arguments with this aesthetic aesthetic elaboration of them. They're not writing very dry academic treatises. They're writing poetic and imaginative works, but which have a very, very important question, which is discretion of you've got dead and if he isn't, what does it mean for him to be alive? And when you say describe the red book as an anti sarah to Australia.

Could you say a little bit more what is young up to the red book is uh very interesting question and we can now thanks to the black books begin to pursue that genesis more more clearly in in textual terms. Um but it seems to me an imaginative working through of a set of psychological predicaments and that's also what Zarathustra is as well. Of course, that's that's that's the reading. Perhaps I've been a little bit over influenced by by Young in this regard. That that's the kind of reading that young offers in his in his seminars um which is very strange reading in many ways but admits all of its where I sometimes think longer is slightly afraid like this whole question of the identity between said it was a figure and nature as a writer. I don't find that parts are helpful event, but other parts are full of brilliant intuitions and I think the real key idea and what's breakthrough is to see Zarathustra has kind of unfolding set of psychological experience.

Um and of course that also applies to the great book as well. I think that one could interestingly read some of the comments that Young makes in his new trick seminar and apply them to his great book and I guess I think that's true of lots of things with the red book that, in retrospect, we think aha statements were made in amongst published works take on a new shoe when we compare them to the red book. I'm thinking about for example, the couple of the essays on psychology and literature in involved 15 when he talks about the visionary work and you think, well my goodness, actually that's kind of an explanation of what he's, what he's up to in the red book as well. But but I'm all I'm also wondering about, Yeah, I'm wondering about christ in this because I also know Shamdasani and Hillman when they discussed the red book in this lament of the dead. They are quite clear on sort of concluding that the central sort of theme or the person that shows up that he's trying to really work through and work understand is is christ.

I'm just wondering, it's like this absence of christ or this other pattern of redemption. Another type of alert in the form of foster in the thoughts, in case divorces in the tops of fast. I must wonder if there's something that you've been thinking about around this. Yeah. Well yeah, yeah, no, I I think I think um solemn gentleman a riot emphasized the centrality of the christ figure for the for the red book. Um, but of course it is a christ figure where the iconography is given this this uh distinctly young and twist through to having the serpent coming out through the, through, through the, through the mouth of the christ figure for having all this solar symbolism that goes that goes around it. Um, and it is uh it's more of a nonstick figure of christ, isn't it, than the than the orthodox um, a figure. Um, I suppose I see that it's you and you also have these references to prompt the campus, the imitation of christ.

So that's that's another dimension in which this, in which this question is is addressed at the same time, when you have the figure of this toolbar, when you have the figure of the God that could be shrunk down into the egg in all, she'll be reborn and and so on. That doesn't sound much like Christianity to me, that sounds as if it's it's moved into a more syncretic, a much more um composite uh kind of kind of approach. And I suppose if one looks at the at the black books, the figure that emerges me most strikingly in the 7th 7th of those black books is not christ but is voting. Um so it seems to me that the whilst Christianity is part of Young's intellectual cultural outlook, it's not the be all and the end all of it. And that's and that's one of the reasons why Young is important because if we want to think who is global, intercultural, inter textual he takes he takes all those boxes

What do we do if God is dead? Jung's Red Book as an anti-Zarathustra. (Extra material E05)
What do we do if God is dead? Jung's Red Book as an anti-Zarathustra. (Extra material E05)
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