Sunday, July 9, 2017

Something I Read #20 – Carl Jung

I began re-reading though Jung's works a few weeks ago. Don't be surprised if he shows up here a few more times.

"The sun breaks from the mists of the horizon and climbs to undimmed brightness at the meridian. Once this goal is reached, it sinks down again towards the night. This process can be allegorized as a gradual seeping away of the water of life: one has to bend ever deeper to reach the source. When we are feeling on top of the world we find this exceedingly disagreeable; we resist the sunset tendency, especially when we suspect that there is something in ourselves which would like to follow this movement, for behind it we sense nothing good, only an obscure, hateful threat. So, as soon as we feel ourselves slipping, we begin to combat this tendency and erect barriers against the dark, rising flood of the unconscious and its enticements to regression, which all too easily takes on the deceptive guise of sacrosanct ideals, principles, beliefs, etc. If we wish to stay on the heights we have reached, we must struggle all the time to consolidate our consciousness and its attitude. But we soon discover that this praiseworthy and apparently unavoidable battle with the years leads to stagnation and desiccation of soul. Our convictions become platitudes ground out on a barrel-organ, our ideals become starchy habits, enthusiasm stiffens into automatic gestures. The source of the water of life seeps away. We ourselves may not notice it, but everybody else does, and that is even more painful. If we should risk a little introspection, coupled perhaps with an energetic attempt to be honest for once with ourselves, we may get a dim idea of all the wants, longings, and fears that have accumulated down there – a repulsive and sinister sight. The mind shies away, but life wants to flow down into the depths. Fate itself seems to preserve us from this, because each of us has a tendency to become an immovable pillar of the past. Nevertheless, the daemon throws us down, makes us traitors to our ideals and cherished convictions – traitors to the selves we thought we were. That is an unmitigated catastrophe, because it is an unwilling sacrifice. Things go very differently when the sacrifice is a voluntary one. Then it is no longer an overthrow, a 'transvaluation of values,' the destruction of all the we held sacred, but transformation and conservation. Everything young grows old, all beauty fades, all heat cools, all brightness dims, and every truth becomes stale and trite. For all these things have taken on shape, and all shapes are worn thin by the working of time; they age sicken, crumble to dust – unless they change. But change they can, for the invisible spark that generated them is potent enough for infinite generation. No one should deny the danger of the descent, but it can be risked. No one need risk it, but it is certain that some one will. And let those who go down the sunset way do so with open eyes, for it is a sacrifice which daunts even the gods. Yet every descent is followed by an ascent; the vanishing shapes are shaped anew, and a truth is valid in the end only if it suffers change and bears new witness in new images, in new tongues, like a new wine that is put into new bottles."
– Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation (356-57)