I’ve been away for a while from posting anything here. Various reasons, not all of which I can go into right now.
One reason, probably, the most important was that the books I have been reading are long and need a lot of intellectual and psychological “digestion”, as it were.
Limeys tells the story of the several centuries long quest for a solution to the problem of scurvy, at that time, an ill-defined disease that killed millions of sailors who subsisted on food that lacked Vitamin C.
The book begins with the story of a small group of French explorers who ended up with Scurvy during the winter while exploring the now St. Lawrence River. A Native American came to their rescue preparing a tea from some type of nettle bush. That was sometime in the 1500s.
Consider that some Native American had this definitive cure. That meant that someone in their past had taken note of the specific disease and found a legitimate herbal cure for it. All this was done without clinical trials and statistical analysis or control groups.
The Native American healers were astute enough to get the whole thing and make use of it as a standard remedy for the problem. Yet, it took centuries for this to percolate through entrenched ego-bound, narcissistic academic medicine of Europe.
Does this remind you at all of our current situation regarding a particular virus from East Asia?
Limeys recounts how doctors of high-standing socially, from aristocratic families, or who were the family physicians of the powerful, pushed their own concoctions and denied/degraded/disrespected their rivals in order, apparently, to make money, and, I maintain, for an assertion of their prestige. I can tell you I saw the same thing in the early ’70s at a med school where I was taking science courses when Linus Pauling, intrepid physicist, dared to wander into medicine’s hallowed fields where, according to the MDs I knew, he had “no business”.
Ha! I literally never heard a single scientific objection to the research that, to be sure, he hadn’t done, but was more than qualified to comment on given his ability to deal with the process of experimentation.
So, I am preparing some blogs specifically on this, but, in the meanwhile, there is a more profound point of view I want to give voice to. This regards the whole collapse of orthodox Christianity in the wake of science and its effect culturally and psychologically, especially, as seen in cultural leaders of the day such as Nietzsche and Carl Jung.
Jung has been regarded as a “cultist” by many “rationally” oriented thinkers and critics. So, by going through this book, The Jung Cult, I want to avail like-minded individuals to what the late 19th Century was about. That, The Jung Cult, does splendidly.
Because the underlying crises of the late 19th Century resulted in World War I, a war that various cousins, all descendants and relatives of Queen Victoria, could have stopped before it got underway in a heartbeat with a little application of Christian “brotherly love” and a thorough dose of reason.
My point is that these same unresolved forces are at work today. Of course, first of all in politics, a very dirty game of half-truths at best. Religious archetypes get batted about. The political overreach should be obvious, but, unfortunately, projection abounds and our Shadows are projected onto our opponents.
In the same vein, Science gets treated as a kind of religion of revelation with essential “dogma”, that, if you contradict, puts you in the position of a heretic of the past.
Wasn’t Science specifically designed to avoid such wanton inanities and Inquisitions in general? Wasn’t it supposed to be all evidence-based?
Controversy in science is not new. That the public and the news media get involved and end up sitting “knitting” at the “Guillotine”…that is new.
So, science and pseudo-science doctrines get furthered together.
Overreach and idealization of the theory and its proponents end up creating the very Inquisitions that are the Hallmark of a policed orthodoxy.
This book, The Jung Cult, thoroughly impressed me both with its plusses and with its minuses. “Plusses” include its very thorough description of this collapse of faith, something that intrigues me because it occurred in my own life as an adolescent.
“Minuses” include the author Richard Noll’s remarkably incomplete understanding of the processes of the psyche that Jung made essential to his understanding of the Psyche. For example, Noll has not a single reference to Jung’s core concept of the “Self”, a term that refers to the totality of the psyche, conscious and unconscious aspects, and its role in our development.
Jung dreamt of God dropping “fecal material” on the Church. He appears to have seen himself as having to come up with a relation to the psyche and the Unconscious that had been previously managed by Christian orthodoxy of some kind.
I also maintain that the book points directly at the weakness of German culture and their own inability to handle that crisis. If you combine his book with Gordon Craig’s, The Germans, you will understand, not just the “German problem”, but the whole problem of the West. Be sure to also read the story of Jung’s interaction with a Pueblo sun-worshipper regarding what the European actually is and the negative effects of Romanization.
Interested? Be sure to follow me at Twitter where we will begin to discuss this as well as here in the comments section. @Roy_Cam is my Twitter ID.
Below are questions and comments I wrote down on the blank pages of the book. I will review the book, from its Intro, and chapter-by-chapter. There are a lot more questions and comments coming.
My purpose here is not so much to prove how badly Noll misses the point on what Jung’s psychology actually is, as to investigate, comment upon and understand those aspects of Europe in spiritual crisis that he so well documents.
- So why did the Germans abandon Christianity?
- Where else, Christianity abandoned, could they have gone?
- Carl Jung understood the problem as a German problem and that’s why he restricted the number of Jews. Did he think “Jews were more powerful than Germans” because he thought they “were more at home within themselves” ?
- Do Epigenetic changes explain Jung’s idea that there is an effect on people from their locality that changes them?
- Noll’s thesis of a Jung “cult” has a lot of correct stuff but it is undercut as a presentation and a thesis by his total, unwarranted rejection of Jung’s ideas. For example, the structure of the psyche.
- In other words, “cult” of what? I do add that I think Jung had less success that was needed healing his followers because of the lack of a method or an incomplete method to develop the feeling function.
- Could it not be said that Noll’s chief failure here is that he does not “Weberize” himself? Jodie Foster to Hannibal Lecter. “Why don’t you turn that high-powered analysis on yourself?”
- What exactly are the author’s beliefs regarding God, the meaning of Life, Soul, dreams, Etc? And why hasn’t he shared them with us? I think we know.
- Richard Noll argues that Freud is intuitive. What is intuition? Why does he not say that Carl Jung’s point of view is intuitive?
- What would a Nietzschean religion really be?
- Why is it completely necessary that the collective unconscious, if it existed, would have to be within the physical brain? Is there no animate aspect of the universe itself? Is this forbidden? If so, why so?
- Richard Noll doesn’t get the difference between knowledge and understanding. That is why he cannot analyze himself. He doesn’t see himself as operating in a context. Doesn’t see himself as having ideas derived from a context. It would take away from his authority and the power of His pronouncements. NARCISSISM.
- On page 71, his comments regarding Bayreuth set the stage for an understanding that you will only have if you read Jungian psychiatrist Bowen on Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Noll never will.
- I actually agree that Freud is closer to the truth on the nature of the libido. It’s not a general type of psychological energy. But Carl Jung has it right regarding the Hieros-Gamos. If Carl Jung kept in mind the Hieros-Gamos re libido, that is, pointing out that the Hieros-Gamos “exhibit” themselves (“make themselves” or are “made manifest”) and get processed through the application of libido in the subject and in the world, then he would have surpassed Freud in this area.
- Edinger says Richard Noll has confusion regarding the symbol and the phenomenon and the archetype.
Summary of the contents of the book as general info.
The book is divided into three parts.
In Part 1, he describes the historical context of Carl Jung. Noll describes the problem of Carl Jung for himself as a man, and then the turn of the century crisis among the cultural Elite with lost faith in traditional religion.
In Part 2, he essentially describes what how Jung came up with his psychology. That is, he specifically connects the context and the man himself in the creation of Jungian psychology. Noll expounds upon the essential doctrines but completely ignores the fundamental, the Keystone of it all, the Self.
In Part 3, he talks about the development of this cult-like atmosphere and its means of transmission over time. Here, perhaps, he makes some points. My point would be that an organization could have cult-like aspects, but, that would not make it a cult, per se.
When I lived in LA, I used to play volleyball on a court right where Temescal Canyon Rd hit the beach. My partner on at least one occasion I remember well. We played well together and won every game.
It turned out that he was an attorney involved in case of a client of one of the heroin recovery organizations that was a bit extreme. He said it was a cult. I sensed something fishy, something knee-jerk regarding his vision of a cult. He told me that primal therapy was a “cult”!
I vehemently disagreed, but my own experience would not dissuade him. I have my criticisms to make of the primal therapy center I went to in Berkeley, but it assuredly was not a cult. No one could attend sessions if their bill got too high. No one was hunted down and persuaded to return if they lost interest for any reason. No matter what my experience was and no matter what essential facts, I recounted “Primal Therapy was a cult’.
Essentially, this is Richard Noll’s position. And, now, for the book.
First up. A review of his introduction and his concept of a personal religion and a spiritus rector. Noll tries to lay the basis for Jungians being cult members through this. All to be covered in the next blog.