If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Sunday 30 December 2012
Read gnomica 1-200 here!
The shoe that fits one person pinches another;
there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.
Carl Gustav Jung (26 Jul 1875 – 6 Jun 1961)
A Swiss psychiatrist of enormous influence not only as a clinician but also as someone who applied his theories of the archetypes of the collective unconscious to such non-medical fields as the study of art, literature, myth and religion – as have countless epigones in the humanities. I happily admit that what I believe I understand of his thinking on these matters I find quite seductive, especially in connection with the study of comparative mythology. The earlier stages of a collaborative relationship between Jung and the older Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 Sep 1939) deteriorated to the point that Jung broke with Freud. The latter’s insistence on the centrality of sex in understanding human behavior did not, in the end, sit well with his protégé, nor did Freud’s theory of the ‘unconscious’. Jung and Freud went their separate ways – not without some bitterness on both sides – and Jung turned in a different direction to what came to be called analytic psychology.
The influence of both men on intellectual life and theorizing within many academic arenas during the twentieth century is impossible to overestimate, but in the new century their authority is on the wane now that an essentially mechanistic, neurochemical model of our behavioral repertoires has created a fundamentally different paradigm for thinking about and dealing with these matters.
But for all that, Jung’s analogy shoehorns into the rest of this bitty brief blog a brief bitty bit of rumination of my own about something. And the ‘something’ shall – this time – involve both a ‘living out there with the world’ as well a ‘living in here with my thought’. To generalize very broadly: why can’t Anna see things the way Beth does, or Cynthia the way David does, or Ed the way Floyd does?
The picture that now shapes itself in my mind is of a petulant Anna whining to her friend Beth about Beth’s discomfort with, say, Republican economic thinking: “It fits with the way the world really works,” is Anna’s insistent suasion. But Beth, whose mother lives pretty much on Social Security, demurs in strongest terms, noting that every month her mother is pinched for enough money to pay the rent. It may all just end in an argument that is friendly enough, and an appreciation that people are different but do not therefore need to be demonized. In the privacy of their divergent fits in thinking about Republican economics no harm as such is done, and they just agree to disagree. The operational stakes are, after all, rather inconsequential for Anna and Beth, and even for Beth’s mother.
But what if, say, Cynthia and David are married? Now the stakes are hardly inconsequential. Isn’t it then a good thing if Cynthia with her tiny shoes can appreciate that there’s nothing demonically wrong with David’s big boots? With a little good will on each side, life will still go on just fine for both of them.
And, say, Ed and Floyd sit on opposite sides of the aisle in Congress? Now the stakes are more than substantial. Wouldn’t it then be a good thing if – whatever the issue — Floyd realized that Ed isn’t his enemy and Ed recognized that Floyd loves America as much as he does?