Clearly, man’s embeddedness in nature is over. But since the meaning of “meaning” is nothing else but in-ness, it is obvious why the last two centuries had a sense of alienation and nihilism. As Jung stated, to experience a loss of meaning, the “soul has become lonely; it is extra ecclesiam and in a state of no salvation.” The soul is likewise extra naturam. With this insight we have returned in our discussion to, and provided an underpinning for, Jung’s initial diagnosis, “No, evidently we no longer have any myth.”
The days of man’s in-ness, his total containment in Nature, have come to an end. The loss of meaning has resulted in mankind’s constant questioning after it. It is futile because the situation has changed.
Giegerich contends there are two opposing positions we can take. One can either defend the past mythological age, standing against all who attack it, or one can accept the new situation we find ourselves in and learn from it.
By longing for “meaning,” the first option defends, to be sure, the old sense of in-ness, i.e., the in-ness in the former situation, but therefore has to renounce what it actually most desires, in-ness as an actual reality, which, however, today would be the in-ness in the utterly new psychological situation of being extra ecclesiam et naturam and not the in-ness of old. Either way, a loss is unavoidable.
One can easily see the quandary we moderns are in.
This first option reminds me of a group like the fundamentalist Christians, who fight tooth and nail to preserve what they believe is the original truth of Christ. It is interesting to note that they do this while rejecting all symbolism and metaphor found in the scriptures in lieu of a literal interpretation.
Giegerich claims the second option is today’s reality. History is
the soul’s alchemical retort, and we collectively are the prime matter in this hermetically sealed retort and are transported through one phase of history’s alchemical opus after the other, each time finding ourselves in an entirely new world situation.
The first option, a negative interpretation of the fundamental change from myth and metaphysics to modernity, does not work. So much has become clear. We have to turn to the second option, that is to say, to let ourselves be placed by the soul’s process into the situation that is. It must teach us how to interpret our situation.
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