Jung, The Red Book

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
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Jiva
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Jung, The Red Book

Postby Jiva » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:40 am

I thought I would start a threat specifically about The Red Book, rather than Jung himself. I know it’s been brought up before, but after studying the book relatively closely, I consider it to be a sort of modern classic of literature and art, and actually fairly important for understanding everything else Jung wrote afterwards.

I don’t think there’s anything close to a consensus regarding the interpretation of The Red Book for a number of reasons, although I think with two primary causes:
  1. A large amount of subjects and figures are mentioned – both directly and indirectly – and are open to a similarly large amount of interpretation.
  2. None of the terms Jung utilises in his academic works, either before or after the writing of The Red Book, are mentioned.
And so I’m wondering if many people here have read it, what particular aspect you focussed on, and ultimately what you made of it? Of course, I have a particular focus along with subsequent opinions, but I don’t want to post anything yet as it might direct the thread in a specific direction.

And, if people haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it. The full edition with illustrations costs between 100-200 euros, but a much cheaper 'reader edition' is available for 20-30 euros. In other words: cheaper than most occult books published today (or sold second-hand) and, in my opinion, with more valuable content.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby Nefastos » Sun May 06, 2018 2:13 pm

Jiva wrote:And, if people haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it. The full edition with illustrations costs between 100-200 euros, but a much cheaper 'reader edition' is available for 20-30 euros. In other words: cheaper than most occult books published today (or sold second-hand) and, in my opinion, with more valuable content.


I have both the Reader's edition & the full version with the magnificent pictures. They are pretty different things & both recommendable, even though the text is same. I still have much unread material in the Red Book, for I have kept reading only a separate part every now & then. There are 11 chapters in the Liber Primus & 21 chapers in the Liber Secundus, plus the lengthy part of Scrutinies after them.

I too (?) consider the Red Book along with the modern books on occultism, for it is magical, creative, rough & unfinished in the same way, often balancing on the thin line between adoration and pompous hubris. (A challenge of the modern occult thought about which I wrote something in my Pillars article.)

Jiva wrote:And so I’m wondering if many people here have read it, what particular aspect you focussed on, and ultimately what you made of it? Of course, I have a particular focus along with subsequent opinions, but I don’t want to post anything yet as it might direct the thread in a specific direction.


So far I have mostly led to think about my somewhat similar experiences in my youth, when there still was no system (the Star of Azazel) to lean to, but only the "prima materia" of the subconscious inspiration & demands. Needless to say, my own process was much less refined than the systematic beauty with which Jung constructed his Primus.

Also, how the Right Hand Path & the Left Hand Path merge and often fight like alchemical animals in the texts, and how surprisingly defensive thoughts (modern materialist rationality &c.) seem to surface at some almost blatant point in the process. But that's how it works, nihil inimicus & cetera...
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby Jiva » Thu May 10, 2018 6:13 pm

Nefastos wrote:I too (?) consider the Red Book along with the modern books on occultism, for it is magical, creative, rough & unfinished in the same way, often balancing on the thin line between adoration and pompous hubris.
Yeah, I have the same opinion. In my interpretation, The Red Book dramatically oscillates between Jung basically attempting to become the saviour of Europe (or, perhaps, humanity in general), followed by crushing depression and hopelessness when his rather absurd arrogance fails. Actually, I find it interesting that you haven’t read the whole thing, as it seems to me that Jung’s behaviour in Liber Primus and Liber Secundus are almost written to be a caricature of the egomania that he viciously attacks in Scrutinies. I don’t think Jung ever allowed anyone to read The Red Book – at most, he allowed a few people to look at a couple of pages – and so he was presumably the only audience intended. It, therefore, seems possible to me that Jung was attempting to emphasise to himself how his noble intentions and insight could be ignored or perverted. For example, at the start of Liber Secundus, Jung mentions that one who cannot descend from the heights is sick and brings torment to himself and others, yet towards the end of Liber Secundus, Jung builds a tower, declares himself a god, and refuses to descend.

I think the best example of the “thin line between adoration and pompous hubris” you mention is the following passage from Scrutinies, where Philemon's description of Jung seems to characterise him as simultaneously the most superior and most inferior:

“You are your soul's eunuch, who protects her from Gods and men, or protects the Gods and men from her. Power is given to the weak man, a poison that paralyzes even the Gods, like a poison sting bestowed upon the little bee whose force is far inferior to yours.” (Reader’s Edition, 498)
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby obnoxion » Fri May 11, 2018 8:06 am

I own the full version of the Red Book, but so far I have only enjoyed the illustrations. ( My Jungian studies are cobstantly ongoing, and at the moment I am reading Marie-Louise von Franz's impressive "The Archetypal Dimensions of the Soul").

Am I right that the genesis of Jung's Red Book coincided with the onset of the First World War? If I remember correctly, Jung had strong vision - for example, tidal waves of blood - and thought he was loosing his mind, but turned out it was Europe that was going mad. So I have hade the preconception that the Red Book could be seen as a prophetic book.

From what you wrote, it seems the book was more personal in its scope. Or would you say there is any transpersonal aspect to the Red Book?
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby Jiva » Sat May 12, 2018 4:43 am

obnoxion wrote:Am I right that the genesis of Jung's Red Book coincided with the onset of the First World War? If I remember correctly, Jung had strong vision - for example, tidal waves of blood - and thought he was loosing his mind, but turned out it was Europe that was going mad. So I have hade the preconception that the Red Book could be seen as a prophetic book.
Yeah, one of the primary concerns of Liber Primus is Jung’s apprehension of the outbreak of World War One. The vision you’re referring to concerned a tidal wave that swept across Europe, from England to Russia, although it didn’t submerge the Alps (i.e. Switzerland). There are a number of other such visions or dreams, although this one is the most explicit. Jung claims he couldn’t interpret it, but I doubt this and any claims of prophecy as I think everyone in 1913 was aware that a war was very possible.
obnoxion wrote:From what you wrote, it seems the book was more personal in its scope. Or would you say there is any transpersonal aspect to the Red Book?
The Red Book is both personal and transpersonal. In the same sentence that Jung mentions the above dream, he also refers to his fortieth birthday and losing his previous desires for wealth, power, knowledge etc. The loss of these desires is stated to have allowed him to first perceive the “spirit of the depths”. Jung identifies this spirit as having permeated European consciousness and being responsible for the collective impulse to war, an impulse that Jung feels himself. However, instead of conducting the spirit externally by going to war, Jung has an internal psychological battle, with himself as the murderer and the murdered. In other words, everyone seems to be experiencing the same some sort of collective madness, including Jung. But, as Jung is cognisant of this madness, he sets out to remedy it instead of simply going with the flow. By doing this though, he establishes a sort of equivalence between WWI and his personal issues, to the point where Jung seems to appoint himself as the harbinger of a new European consciousness – or even religion – based on nothing but his own psychological experiences.

I should mention that this is necessarily a very simple description, as The Red Book has a very complex and unorthodox narrative; in contrast to some of Jung’s later descriptions of individuation that are rather episodic or mechanistic – e.g. an orderly process of nigredo, albedo, citrinatis, rubedo – The Red Book has lots of twists and turns.
'Oh Krishna, restless and overpowering, this mind is overwhelmingly strong; I think we might as easily gain control over the wind as over this.'
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby obnoxion » Sat May 12, 2018 4:22 pm

I wonder if there was enough enthusiasm to form a public reading group of the Red Book on the forum...? I would participate.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby Nefastos » Sat May 12, 2018 8:56 pm

obnoxion wrote:I wonder if there was enough enthusiasm to form a public reading group of the Red Book on the forum...? I would participate.


I too might be interested. Actually, we were going to do this with Astraya some time ago, but ended up changing the subject at the last instant.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby Insanus » Sat May 12, 2018 11:30 pm

Nefastos wrote:
obnoxion wrote:I wonder if there was enough enthusiasm to form a public reading group of the Red Book on the forum...? I would participate.


I too might be interested. Actually, we were going to do this with Astraya some time ago, but ended up changing the subject at the last instant.
Me too!
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby Kavi » Sat May 12, 2018 11:38 pm

There seems to be interest for this reading group. I haven't read any Jung's book entirely, but I am the most definitely interested into this reading too.
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Re: Jung, The Red Book

Postby Astraya » Sun May 13, 2018 5:40 pm

I want, I'm in :)

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