Friday, September 24, 2021


Carl Jung, if Not in His Own Words, At Least in Words that Have Been Mediated Only Once, and Only by Me

He wrote a very contemplative essay, collected in his "Modern Man in Search of a Soul," on the stages of life.   He says in it that men, who mirabile dictu are mostly masculine, expend most of their masculinity in the first three of life's four stages, and hence in the final stage their femininity comes to dominate; they become soft in body and soft-hearted, in relative terms.  Not a bad thing.

Women likewise expend much of their femininity in the process of fecundity.  Late in life a latent practicality and hard-heartedness often presage a late blooming in the theatre of business and industry.

And, he goes on to say, many marriages founder upon the collision that takes place when the spouses meet in the middle, and in what lies after the collision.

More profound than this, Jung believed that to be truly integrated and psychologically healthy, one must be goal oriented, and that the only authentic and positive goal in this final stage of life must be Death itself.  But Death as an abyss will not do.  The goal must be to survive it and carry on.  He seems to say, in other words, that we must embrace an afterlife not because it actually exists, but because we need it so as not to live in a kind of (often camouflaged) madness and nihilism in the last decades.

This belief-out-of-utilitarian-necessity seems wrong to me in principle.  And yet I find it more easy and natural now than when I was young to pray, albeit in an idiosyncratic way, and indeed even if my prayer consists only in saying, repeatedly, "Why have You forsaken me?"

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