On Jung’s Red Book, Part 10

On Jung’s Red Book, Part 10

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But on the fourth night I cried, “To journey to Hell means to become Hell oneself. It is all frightfully muddled and interwoven. On this desert path there is not just glowing sand, but also horrible tangled invisible beings who live in the desert. I didn’t know this. The way is only apparently clear, the desert is only apparently empty. It seems inhabited by magical beings who murderously attach themselves to me and daimonically change my form. I have evidently taken on a completely monstrous form in which I can no longer recognize myself. It seems to me that I have become a monstrous animal form for which I have exchanged my humanity. This way is surrounded by hellish magic, invisible nooses have been thrown over me and ensnare me.

But the spirit of the depths approached me and said, “Climb down into your depths, sink!”1

On the “fourth night.” Remember that Jung considers the quaternity to be a symbol of individuation, completion, might I even say, apotheosis? The journey to Hell was the last task Christ accomplished before His resurrection. It is a journey we all must take and return from, if we desire individuation. Jung knew this very well.

The “spirit of the depths” is equivalent to Jung’s “personality No. 2,” which he discusses in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections.2 I would say the No. 2 personality is one’s soul, however nebulous that may sound. It is the soul which leads one downward, but really “upward” to individuation and apotheosis. Jung describes his number two personality thusly:

The other was grown up old, in fact skeptical, mistrustful, remote from the world of men, but close to nature, the earth, the sun, the moon, the weather, all living creatures, and above all close to the night, to dreams, and to whatever “God” worked directly in him.3

And, apparently, close to the Underworld, into which Jung is about to plunge.

The hell Jung is about to experience is a “civil war,”4 a war with oneself, within oneself.

My soul: “Who gives you thoughts and words? Do you make them? Are you not my serf, a recipient who lies at my door and picks up my alms? And you dare think that what you devise and speak could be nonsense? Don’t you know yet that it comes from me and belongs to me?”

So I cried full of anger, “But then my indignation must also come from you, and in me you are indignant against yourself” My soul then spoke the ambiguous words: “That is civil war.”

I was afflicted with pain and rage, and I answered back, “How painful, my soul, to hear you use hollow words; I feel sick. Comedy and drivel-but I yearn. I can also crawl through mud and the most despised banality. I can also eat dust; that is part of Hell. I do not yield, I am defiant. You can go on devising torments, spider-legged monsters, ridiculous, hideous, frightful theatrical spectacles. Come close, I am ready. Ready, my soul, you who are a devil, to wrestle with you too. You donned the mask of a God, and I worshiped you. Now you wear the mask of a devil, a frightful one, the mask of the banal, of eternal mediocrity! Only one favor! Give me a moment to step back and consider! Is the struggle with this mask worthwhile? Was the mask of God worth worshiping? I cannot do it, the lust for battle burns in my limbs. No, I cannot leave the battlefield defeated. I want to seize you, crush you, monkey, buffoon. Woe if the struggle is unequal, my hands grab at air. But your blows are also air, and I perceive trickery.”5

It’s just a fascinating passage! Jung, here, identifies the devilry, this mask of his soul with “eternal mediocrity,” but Jung claims he can endure the “crawl through mud and the most despised banality.” He sees all this as “theatrical spectacles.”

  1. The Red Book, pg. 240
  2. Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, pg. 44-45
  3. ibid.
  4. Jung, The Red Book, pg. 241
  5. ibid.

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