I have a four foot wide three shelf unit perched upon the top of my roll top computer desk. These shelves contain some of the profoundest books and collections of books I own and have read. Nineteen volumes of various works by Carl Jung in paperback are within arm’s reach as I sit here. These are the famous Bollingen Foundation series, which made C.G. Jung accessible to average readers for the first time. The paperbacks are beautiful, and sturdy. The spine and back is always black and the front is always white and the cover print is usually a bright, iridescent color, like Magenta. Most of these volumes are over twenty years old. And most of them were gifted to me by my dear dead friend, Charles Kipp.
I first started reading Carl Jung in the Spring and Summer of 1979. At the time, I was working as a telephone operator at Central telephone, otherwise known as, Centel, in their main technical building downtown, right at the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. Two of my colleagues, women, took a purely social interest in me and the older of the two, Naomi, learned that I had some interests in things like psychology, and metaphysics. She introduced me to Carl Jung by loaning me a copy of his Memories, Dreams, Reflections, basically, an autobiography, or, better yet, a memoir.
You know that books can change your life. Right? Nowadays, we tend to forget the profound Strength and Power of the Book, the Historical Motive Force it brings to bear. Wow. And Carl Jung, without a doubt, was one of the most important Scholars of the first half of the 20th Century. Don’t let his humble beginnings as a Physician fool you. Back in the Day, and I mean that Day, if you earned a Medical degree at a respectable University in Europe, you got more than just a technical, professional education. You got a Classical Liberal education along with it. In cases like Carl Jung, obviously, we are dealing with a Genius and a Polymath. Kind of like Bill Gates. But both of these men flowered later in life with no small thanks due to the educational opportunities they had. Those opportunities are very rare these days. Even in Europe.
So, along comes this Swiss Physician, basically, a Scientists and a Scholar, who blew the lid wide open on the study of the Unconscious, and, not only did it change Psychology, and Psychiatry, it changed how we look at things like Mythology, and Poetry. It was while reading Carl Jung that I first ran across the term Mythopoetic…
It was with Jung that I first encountered this notion of the Storyteller and the Place of the Storyteller in Society. Jung himself talks directly about the tribal Shamans and Medicine Men, and, about famous Bards of Olden Times, like Homer. Storytelling isn’t just entertainment. It fulfills a supremely important role in the Integration of a Society. And, for the first time, I think, you run into this notion, with Jung, that a Nation or a Society as a whole can be, so to speak, mentally ill, or, more appropriately, Spiritually Ill, and I think this insight arises out of what Jung must have witnessed during World War Two. Carl Jung, remember, was Swiss, not German. He resided and worked in Geneva. Switzerland was a Neutral, non-combatant, during World War Two.
I think, looking at our American Society, right now, you can fairly say that we are, nationally, not in a Spiritually healthy state. Nations go astray. Sometimes, they run amok. Like Germany and Japan did back in the 1930s and 40s. Oh well.
As a Dragonologist, I am dedicated to unpacking the whole Story of the Dragon, a Story which remains, for the most part, Unknown to the Human Stone. Jung talked about how Modern Man has become so materialistic that Man no longer believes in the Power of Storytelling… the Power of Making Myth. Now that’s an idea! Why should Myth be a static and final thing? Why shouldn’t Modern Man also have a Myth appropriate to tell? In many ways we see that Modern Man is indeed doing just that… reaching out… to reimagine… to tell the New Story of Man.
In literature, Science Fiction became the genre that earned the right to retell the Future of Man. And it has been Science that has revealed to us the new Limits and Contexts for this retelling. The Myths of Olden Times were sometimes Moral lessons, and, sometimes, attempts at Cosmology. The two aspects were believed to be inseparable then and even to this day no serious philosophical attempt to REFUTE this inseparability has succeeded.
The Cosmological and the Moral Orders are One and the Same Universe. Period. The Ancient Stoics were correct. The Moral Order is embedded within the Natural Order. Evil is the State of Being a Human or an entire Society gets into when its internal Moral Compass has lost contact with the Natural Order.
With the rise of Modern Science, the Story told by Cosmology has changed dramatically. We always KNEW that this Story was subject to change based upon Science. Because we KNEW the Science was undergoing some radical corrections based upon the recent emergence of experimental methods within the various Sciences during the Renaissance. Scientific Method. A Geocentric picture of the Universe undergoing radical revision into a Heliocentric vision. But it did not just stop there. Our understanding of just how VAST the Universe really IS did not really hit us until Edwin Hubble demonstrated the expansion of the Universe in the 20th Century. Up until the 1920s, we STILL believed that the Milky Way Galaxy WAS the Universe.
Nowadays, and, for the past few decades, really, we have also been entertaining the notion that the Universe might not be alone. It might be one of many Universes if the Everett interpretation of the Quantum Physics is the right interpretation. We just don’t know yet. The Multiverse is still just a hypothesis. Nothing more.
Much is in a state of flux. Much that we thought was solid ground just a few years ago is now theoretically in a state of total fluidity for us now. More than ever before, the RADICAL DIFFERENCE between Appearance and Reality is staring us in the face… and we are still at a loss when it comes to any notion of a so-called Ultimate Reality. The best we can say at this point is that it appears to be, basically… Energeia… Energy. That ALL is Energy. That even MATTER is Energy.
That even NOTHINGNESS is Energy.
In any case, the best we can ever do as Storytellers is to share what we Know… thus far. Clearly, the Human Story on Earth has not yet ended. It is too soon to say whether it is true, or not, that Human Ingenuity will crack the Immortality Code. But more and more it appears to be the case that biological beings are all programmed to die and if we were to figure out that programming it would be a relatively easy thing for us to suddenly, within just a generation or two, increase the human life span from the less than ten decades it now has to ten or more centuries. But we are unprepared for the disruption to our Society such an overnight change would bring.