„Have you no Gods anymore?,” „No, words are all we have…Science has taken from us the capacity for belief.”
– C. G. Jung, „The Red Book”
Sanford Lewis Drob, the author of Reading The Red Book: An Interpretive Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus analyses the issue of language in The Red Book:
From the blog:
In the Red Book, we find Jung struggling with the question of whether words do or can have a definitive meaning, whether they point to specifiable ideas, kinds and things, or are rather always subject to an indefinite series of reinterpretations. This is a question that was paramount in the minds of many intellectuals during the period that Jung was writing the Red Book. (…)
Jung is wary of the aspect of language that leaves itself open to indefinite interpretation. Indeed, while in other places in the Red Book he is open to and even welcomes chaos, he appears to be of the view that one needs a language, needs some narrative or myth that grasps at least a potion of life and to prevent one from falling into an infinite abyss. (…)
There is in the Red Book, and in Jung’s later writings as well, a tension between existential and mythological views of life and the world. In the former one discovers the depths of one’s soul through a courageous encounter with chaos, madness and the infinite possibilities of sense and nonsense. In the latter, one develops one’s soul through the assimilation of a personal/collective myth, which occurs via an encounter with the enduring meanings of the archetypes of the collective unconscious. This tension between the existential and the mythological is reflected, if somewhat dimly, in the double view of language in the Red Book.
Sanford L. Drob is on the Core Faculty in Clinical Psychology at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California. His most recent books are Kabbalah and Postmodernism: A Dialog and Kabbalistic Visions: C. G. Jung and Jewish Mysticism (Spring Journal Books, 2010).