Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Carl Jung's Millennial Time Bomb

Image from Jung's Red Book. Image Source: Amazon.

In this post, see the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, in an interview conducted in 1957 by Dr. Richard I. Evans, a Presidential Medal of Freedom nominee. Wiki on Jung:
Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and synchronicity. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a popular psychometric instruments has been developed from Jung's theories.

Jung saw the human psyche as "by nature religious". and made this religiousness the focus of his explorations. Jung is one of the best known contemporary contributors to dream analysis and symbolization.

Though he was a practicing clinician and considered himself to be a scientist, much of his life's work was spent exploring tangential areas, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His interest in philosophy and the occult led many to view him as a mystic.
These ideas reflect many aspects of the Millennial experience. Jung tried to discern the indiscernible; he sought to detect what exists in the unconscious. Jung contended that attention, concentration and memory failed at points where the unconscious was asserting itself. His hypothesis hints that ephemeral Millennial attention spans and Internet procrastination may describe the Web as a pool of the collective unconscious. In fact, many of Jung's ideas correspond to the growing divide between real life and virtual life on the Web.

In the video, Jung describes the beginning of his career in 1900, when he met Sigmund Freud. Jung explains why his thinking diverged from Freud's ideas. Unlike Freud, Jung did not attribute the content of the human unconscious mainly to passion. Jung sought to identify human urges which lay behind the sex drive and beyond even greater drives toward survival, such as hunger. He termed humankind's greatest urges the 'unconscious,' which he identified in 1919 in terms of eternal preoccupations called archetypes. Interestingly, Jung mapped archetypes around the psychological dramas humans project onto their grasp of time.

Archetypes are psychological narratives, eternal human stories of different mental problems, a crises and resolutions (good or bad), which have "a beginning, a middle and an end." Jung sought psychological healing in his patients through attempts to resolve these archetypal dramas in their minds, psyches and souls. At the same time, he acknowledged that these tropes were incredibly powerful and difficult to resolve. Thus, for example, the archetype of 'love at first sight' would blot out all sense and reason in a man who experienced it. The lover would be psychologically imprisoned by the archetype, in Jung's view, and afterwards discovered that he had made "a hell of a mistake." This led a patient to come to Jung, begging him, "For God's sake, Doctor, help me to get rid of that woman!"

Jung walked a fine line between internal and external psychological realities. At the end of the day, he acknowledged them both. Jung saw archetypes as eternal qualities embedded in our mentalities, carried from primitive times to the present. Thus, he saw mythologies, occult theories and legends as outward manifestations of archetypes, codes of behavour transmitted from generation to generation across millennia: "The archetypes of the collective unconscious could be thought of as the DNA of the human psyche." This long term view of human psychology chimes with the Millennial mindset, because it suggests that there is a source of human psychology beyond that of the individual.

In the 20th century, a Postmodern preoccupation with boundless individual subjectivity could relativize and deconstruct any truth, while projecting individual responsibility on increasingly alien authorities in the external world (read: the government, the establishment, any guardian of socially-defined established norms, any convenient minority). This theory ultimately leaves the individual locked inside him- or herself.

By contrast, Jung identified a realm of psychological objectivity with a tricky universally subjective idea called the 'collective unconscious.' He felt that humans encountered that realm internally through dreams, and externally through messages from society in the forms of myths and legends. This is relevant today because in the 21st century, one could point to the Internet and Virtual Reality as demonstrable manifestations of a collective unconscious. Perhaps the Web is seductive because it reasserts a now post-Postmodern notion that there is a collective subjectivity, a shared archetypal pool of human thoughts, desires and impulses, common to all peoples.

Did Jung claim, therefore, that there is objective psychological truth outside of us (something which some might describe in divine terms)? He was convinced that there was an objective psychological truth outside of us, although we could not perceive it. But even with archetypal displays, Jung felt the cores of the unconscious and collective unconscious (and how they connected to each other and with any world reality beyond them) would always remain hidden mysteries in human nature.

Jung equally defended the individual's subjective world. He explored the give and take between the subjective individual and the objective outside world through his theories of introversion and extraversion. In the video, Jung described America as a nation of extraverts, where introverts are isolated and even shunned. He believed that introverts' sensibilities were essential to the difference between peace and war in international affairs:
There are certain people who definitely are more influenced by their surroundings than by their own intentions, while ... there are other people who are more influenced by the subjective factor. ... The psyche has two conditions. ... One is the environmental influence, and the other is the given fact of the psyche as it is born. The psyche is by no means tabula rasa. We are a definite mixture, a combination of genes, and they are there from the very first moment of our life. And they give a definite character, even to the little child. And that is a subjective factor, looked at from the outside.
Now, if you look at it from the inside, then it is just so as if you would observe the world. When you observe the world, you see houses, you see the sky, you see tangible objects. But when you observe yourself within, you see moving images, a world of images, generally known as fantasies. ... Yet these fantasies are facts. You sees it is a fact that a man has such and such a fantasy, and it is such a tangible fact, for instance, that when a man has a certain fantasy, another man may lose his life. Or, a bridge is built. These ... were all fantasies. ... Fantasy is not nothing. It is of course not a tangible object, but it is a fact nevertheless ... despite the fact we cannot measure it. It is a manifestation of something. ... And so, the psychical events are facts, are realities. And so, when you observe the stream of images within, you observe an aspect of the world ... it is simply the world ... seen from within. ...
The man who is going by the external world ... by the influences of ... society or ... sense perceptions ... thinks that he ... is more valid ... because this is valid - this is real [pointing to surroundings]. And the man who goes by the subjective factor is not valid, because the subjective factor is nothing. No, that man is just as well-based, because ... he bases himself upon the world from within. ... Of course that is the introvert. And ... the introvert is always afraid of the external world. ... Particularly America is extraverted like hell. The introvert has no place. ... Because he ... beholds the world from within, and that gives him dignity, and that gives him certainty ... because ... nowadays particularly, the world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man.
Assume that certain fellows in Moscow lose their nerve or their common sense for a bit, and the whole world is in violent flames. Nowadays, we are not threatened by elementary catastrophes. There is no such thing as an H-Bomb. That is all man's doing. We are the great danger. The psyche is the great danger. ... It is demonstrated to us in our ways what a power the psyche is.
In line with Jung's musings on the subjective individual's concerns writ large, the new Millennium has witnessed growing confusion over the distinction between what constitutes subjective perception - a fantasy - and what constitutes the seemingly more valid external reality. This is because subjectivity is becoming generalized or universalized. This confusion has muddied debates on Millennial morality, values and politics (how many times have we heard commentators and politicians describe their opponents as delusional or paranoid, as not facing concerns grounded in the real world, as having views which are solipsistically defined by the fishbowls of their own mentalities)? In truth, our technological explosion has ensured that neither side in these arguments is actually sure of where the fantasy ends and where the reality begins. Perhaps this is because we have all lost track of the line between virtual and real and between the individual and the group, on the collective unconscious that is the Web. Maybe that confusion is a sign of coming changes.

There are related Millennial debates over whether virtual worlds are valid in the face of real world issues. The Web has become the home of introverts; it is a virtual world where introverts become extraverts. But when the Web has real world effects, conflicts between virtual and real worlds begin and extraverts reassert their authority. Web-based conflicts threaten to overturn the dominance of extraverts in modern societies, allowing reality and real world affairs to be dominated by subjective dreams and archetypal virtual worlds. Given that the globe is not going to unplug any time soon, perhaps this shift in the balance of power from action to imagination has already started, and the final outcome of that shift is only a matter of time.

What does it mean if dreams and archetypal virtual worlds come to constitute the new baseline, not just for your average, isolated individual introvert, but for a collective, subjectivized reality? Such a possibility would be insidious and disturbing for many. We may find a clue in Jung's mid-career writings. In 1913, Jung began having intense visions which he believed were encounters with the collective unconscious - not just his own, personal unconscious. He witnessed these images for sixteen years. His family, concerned by Jung's mapping of the human unconscious and the world's archetypes embedded therein, declined to publish his observations, which he recorded in his famous Red Book. On 7 October 2009, the Red Book was published (see it here), finally opening Jung's time capsule:
Jung left no posthumous instructions about the final disposition of what he called the "Red Book". His family eventually moved it into a bank vault in 1984. Sonu Shamdasani, a historian from London, for three years tried to persuade Jung's heirs to have it published, to which they declined every hint of inquiry. As of mid-September 2009, fewer than two dozen people had seen it. Ulrich Hoerni, Jung's grandson who manages the Jung archives, decided to publish it. To raise the additional funds needed, the Philemon Foundation was founded.

In 2007, two technicians for DigitalFusion, working with the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, painstakingly scanned one-tenth of a millimeter at a time with a 10,200-pixel scanner. It was published on October 7, 2009 (ISBN 978-0-393-06567-1) in German with "separate English translation along with Shamdasani's introduction and footnotes" at the back of the book, according to Sara Corbett for The New York Times. She wrote, "The book is bombastic, baroque and like so much else about Carl Jung, a willful oddity, synched with an antediluvian and mystical reality."

The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City displayed the original Red Book journal, as well as some of Jung's original small journals, from October 7, 2009 to January 25, 2010. According to them, "During the period in which he worked on this book Jung developed his principal theories of archetypes, collective unconscious, and the process of individuation." Two-thirds of the pages bear Jung's illuminations of the text.
Video Source: Youtube.

No comments:

Post a Comment