Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Romantic Psyche and Psychoanalysis

Romanticism, Alchemy, and Psychology

Ross Woodman, University of Western Ontario

Ross Woodman explores the dialectical relationship between Jung's analytical psychology, particularly his interest in alchemy, and the Romantic concern with the work of the psyche and psychology, specifically in Blake and Shelley. This essay appears in _Romanticism, Secularism, and Cosmopolitanism_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (, University of Maryland.

  1. I.

  2. Unlike Freud, Jung approached psychoanalysis from its occult side in alchemy rather than through the natural sciences. As if to have it both ways, he nevertheless insisted that, as the soul of matter, the analysis of the psyche was the analysis of the container (temenos) of matter, which is to say that within which the natural sciences are contained. Nowhere is this apparent difference more evident than in Jung's opposing approach to Freud's notion of the Oedipus complex. Exalting incest as the "hieros gamos" ['chymical marriage'] of the gods, the mystic prerogative of kings, a priestly rite, etc.," alchemy, Jung writes in Mysterium Coniunctionis, archetypally transformed "the most heinous transgression of the law . . . into a symbol of the union of opposites, hoping in this way to bring back the golden age."[1]

  3. The alchemical symbol of this union is the celestial marriage of the Great Mother with her Son, a marriage most immediately acknowledged for Jung in the 1950 Papal Bull of Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, which promulgated the physical Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the heavenly bridal chamber of her Son where, as Sophia, she is united with the Godhead. As the spiritualization of matter, this dogma, long affirmed in alchemy, counteracted for Jung the demonization of matter, which Jung identified with Freud's reduction of the libido to sexuality and Marx's reduction of it to "dialectical materialism," both of which had, in his view, reduced western culture to the level of farce. ("'Yes,' [Freud] assented, 'so it is, and that is just a curse of fate against which we are powerless to contend.'"[2] )

  4. The divine marriage (hieros gamos) of the Virgin and Son, of which Christ's marriage with His church is the institutional form, becomes in alchemy the marriage of Sol and Luna who are the parents of Adam Kadmon, the Original Man of Jewish gnosis in the Kaballah. As the original Adam containing Eve within himself, Adam Kadmon is a hermaphrodite. Undifferentiated from the feminine as the mother of his unconscious self (the Virgin as the Mother of God), whom Jung calls the anima, Adam Kadmon is, for the alchemical Jung, the God who dwells in the unconscious as the philosopher's stone. "I now see / Bone of my Bone, / Flesh of my Flesh, my Self / Before me. Woman is her name" (Paradise Lost 8.494-96), Milton's Adam declares, as he sees the feminine portion of himself extracted from his rib advancing toward him. This division into male and female (as it becomes for Blake the twofold realm of Generation) is, for the alchemical Jung, comparable to Freud's sexual notion of the libido against the material limitations of which Jung rebelled, Milton's God having warned Adam about the separated feminine as his "single imperfection" (8.423). "No need that thou / Shouldst propagate, already infinite" (8.419-20), Adam declares of God.

  5. In alchemy, as in Gnosticism, the division of the hermaphroditic Adam Kadmon into male and female, Blake's twofold Generation as the creation of the fallen world, is the work of Satan (Urizen), who as the Demiurge reduces the soul to that portion of itself "discernd by the five Senses" (Marriage 4).[3] As carnal knowledge, this reduction becomes in Milton's rendering of the Semitic myth

    . . . Man's First Disobedience, and the Fruit
    Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
    Brought Death into the World and all our woe,
    With loss of Eden. (1.1-4)
  6. While in 1955 continuing to argue that alchemy sought in the pelican-shaped vas (receptacle) to provide ocular proof of the Incarnation, he now does so by warning against the many "false prophets" in our midst who presume to know what is "incommensurable with human reason." Jung, that is, concludes his study of alchemy by associating it with the false claims of its false adherents who, among other things, would, as the dogma of materialism, deify matter. As an archetypal model for his analytical psychology, he now distances himself from the "mysterium coniunctionis" of alchemy, which, he explains, "can be expected only when the unity of spirit, soul, and body is made one with the original unus mundus." While an interior union may be mystically experienced (as indeed Jung experienced it in 1944 after a near-fatal heart attack), "its reality," he insists, "is merely potential and is validated only by a union with the physical world of the body" (Mysterium 664). Such an incarnation of spirit in matter remains a delusion that both Nazi Germany and Communist Russia sought to promulgate as the demonic parody of what in theoria, as distinct from praxis, Jung's psychology had affirmed.

  7. In alchemy, the distinction between the literal and the metaphorical is fundamental. Carnal knowledge is the literal "Fruit / Of that Forbidden Tree." Its spiritual fruit is the elixir of life, the Philosopher's Stone, which is not a literal stone. Carnal knowledge of oneself (" my self / Before me") as sexual communion with one's self as the mother (anima) of one's self is, sub specie aeternitatis, "the hieros gamos of the gods," their" mystic prerogative" as the "I Am that I Am." It is also biologically the pre-natal state of the soul, which, even after the umbilical cord is cut, continues at the breast of the mother, though, as Melanie Klein has argued, the early distinction between the good and bad breast as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil with its forbidden fruit, is already the beginning of an instinctual separation in which, as it evolves toward consciousness, ultimately reaches beyond the "Opposition" between good and evil to a recognition of their dialectical dependence upon each other as what Blake calls "true Friendship" (Marriage 20).

  8. The dialectical operations of the creative imagination in Romanticism locate Jung's notion of the unconscious within consciousness itself as what Wordsworth describes as "two consciousnesses, conscious of myself / And of some other being" so that even the "vacancy" between himself and "infantine desire" has "self-presence in [his] mind" (The Prelude [1805] 2.30-33). Consciousness, that is, feeds dialectically upon itself as mind coming to know itself as the author of its own thoughts. Crucial to an understanding of this consciousness is the mind's dialectical staging of it as the overcoming of its own recalcitrance to thought. The mind's staging of its own operations as its differentiation from its primal oneness into a new recognition of itself becomes, as still restricted, one in which, by virtue of the energy that propels it, it is forbidden to remain. It must therefore continue to advance until its knowledge of itself fully affirms what in itself it is as the "I Am that I Am."

  9. Rejecting Jung's regression to the Judeo-Christian myth of forbidden knowledge as a betrayal of "the soul's logical life," which Jung's own dialectical study of alchemy cautiously affirmed, the controversial Jungian analyst, Wolfgang Giegerich, employing Hegel in opposition to Jung's (mis)use of Kant, argues:

    It is always consciousness that thinks, and that thinks whether it dreams, muses, fantasizes, is poetically or artistically creative, or whether it thinks in the narrower sense of the word. The delusional concept of "the unconscious" amounts to a mystification, be it that it is understood as a reservoir of repressed archetypal contents and desires, or as an agent behind the scene that produces dreams and directs our fate, or as a region of the mind. "The unconscious" is really a metaphysical presupposition, a dogmatic concept, in Jung's psychology, notwithstanding Jung's oft-expressed horror of metaphysical assumptions and his avowal of a strict empiricism. Inadvertently, it serves a certain strategic purpose, although it is consciously intended as a simple naming of an "obvious phenomenon." But this alleged phenomenon does not exist and this is why "the unconscious" is a mystification and a metaphysical hypothesis. ("Alchemy" 41)
  10. Far from viewing "Man's First Disobedience" as a loss, alchemy, as Giegerich first learned from Jung, treats it as the birth of consciousness, which releases the soul from its imprisonment in matter—understood as the womb (massa confusa) of the Great Mother—into an ongoing "Soul-making"[4] life, the goal of which is a fully individuated state of absolute consciousness. The symbol of this state is the philosopher's stone whose elaborate evolution takes place in the alchemical retort, known as the Pelican, its operations, in turn, known, as named by Keats, as the "pelican brood" [Endymion 1.815). (The retort was shaped like a pelican, its neck curved toward its body feeding on its own blood. The "pelican brood," in turn, was thought to feed on its mother's flesh.) The "Soul-making" action, minutely controlled, using exactly prescribed, organically interacting ingredients subjected to graduated levels of heat, enacted the raw matter's growing consciousness of its initially leaden, undifferentiated operations as the operations of soul. The divinity informing the operations hidden in the fiery core of matter is the energy which, properly heated in the furnace, transforms the leaden into the alchemical gold, the lapis or the philosopher's stone. ("In what furnace was thy brain?" [16] Blake asks the Tyger as the personification the alchemical operations fearfully at work in the "dreaded" transformation of the Christian Lamb from a state of innocence into its contrary state of experience.) The spiritual nature of matter as the Alma Mater, which serves as the alchemical framework of Hegel' s dialectical idealism, is the sublation (Aufhebung) of raw inchoate matter by which it becomes what it always already potentially is: Geist or Spirit. In this creative process, which, Jung insists, constitutes the biology of consciousness, the observer (psyche) and the observed (soma) are in reality one, the distinction between them serving as the dialectic that, as consciousness, unites them.

  11. Nowhere is the radically heterodox nature of alchemy more dramatically evident that in its notion of the felix culpa or fortunate fall as the birth of consciousness in which knowledge of what Jung calls the Self replaces faith in an otherwise unknowable God. In this radical shift, in which original sin becomes an active or creative virtue, Satan, who released Eve from the bondage of innocence, becomes the personification of the dialectic of individuation, which Giegerich, rejecting as obsolete its mythical formulation, describes as "the soul's logical life" to distinguish it from the kind of individualism to which Jung reduces it as "immediate psychology" grounded in myth. Dismissing myth as the "ordinary consciousness" derived from "its [immediate] experience in and with the phenomenal world," Giegerich insists that "we now live on a totally different abstract level of reality" ("Alchemy" 27), Hegelian or noumenal rather than Kantian or phenomenal. On this Hegelian level, Jungian psychology, as "the soul's logical life," properly belongs as the true, rather than fictional, level of alchemy.

  12. In his Foreword to R. J. Zwi Werblowsky's Lucifer and Prometheus (1952), Jung explains "how and why the devil got into the consulting-room of the psychiatrist" (11:473) by arguing that, in Paradise Lost, Milton "apostrophizes the devil as the true principium individuationis, a concept which has been anticipated by the alchemists for some time before." "The Satan-Prometheus parallel," he goes on to explain, "shows clearly enough that Milton's devil stands for the essence of human individuation and thus comes within the scope of psychology" ("Foreward" 470-71). While Giegerich would agree that Milton's devil "comes within the scope of psychology," he would, and does, argue that there is a radical distinction to be drawn between what is "within the scope of psychology" and what constitutes its "essence." Jung's "immediate psychology," like literature itself, remains, as a pictorial or phenomenal world, cut off from its "essence" as "the soul's logical life." Jung, he insists, betrayed his own intuitive insight into the nature of psychology by taking up empirical residence in the phenomenological process of becoming (psyche), rather than in the noumenal reality of being (soul).

  13. Jung's understanding of Paradise Lost, in which Satan fictionally serves as the archetypal protagonist of Jung's individuation process, contains within it, as a temptation willingly to suspend disbelief, what Jung viewed as the real danger of human inflation, which he associates with psychosis. Jung, that is, rejected as delusional what Giegerich calls "the soul's logical life," in which, for Giegerich, the soul assumes full conscious responsibility for its dialectical operations. So long as the archetypal realm remains limited to the phenomenological symbol-making operations of the human mind, Jung argues, it avoids an encounter with psychosis in which the symbol becomes the reality itself rather than the fiction that mirrors it. Jung's fear of Hegel's notion of Aufhebung, in which, as Spirit or Geist, the soul dialectically becomes the mind of God, enacts his fear of the psychosis (diagnosed in Jung's case by Winnicott as "childhood schizophrenia"), which, as an inflated identification with the archetype, can take possession of the soul as, for example, it took possession of "Nietzsche, Holderlin, and many others" (MDR 177). "The victory of Hegel over Kant dealt the gravest blow to reason and to the further development of the European mind," Jung insists,

    all the more dangerous as Hegel was a psychologist in disguise who projected great truths out of the subjective sphere into a cosmos he himself had created. We know how far Hegel' s influence extends today. The forces compensating this calamitous development personified themselves partly in the later Schelling, partly in Schopenhauer and Carus, while on the other hand that unbridled "bacchantic God" whom Hegel had already scented in nature finally burst upon us in Nietzsche. ("On the Nature" 358)
  14. The numinosity of Milton's Satan as the primeval alchemical son of the mother who, "trust[ing] to have equal'd the most High," raised "impious War in Heav'n and Battle proud (Paradise Lost1.39-42), as Jung raised it in Answer to Job, did not threaten to take possession of Jung in his understanding of Paradise Lost because, in preparation for his Foreword to Werblowsky's manuscript, he probably never read it. What interested him was Werblowsky's Romantic reading of Milton's epic, which is indebted to Blake and Shelley, whose poetry Jung had also probably never read. Jung stayed away from literature as literature because he feared the consequences of willingly suspending his disbelief in it. If he was "put off" by Hegel's language, "as arrogant as it was laborious," Jung regarding it "with downright distrust" (MDR 69), he was equally put off by the archetypal language imposed upon him by the unconscious as, fearing psychosis, he struggled with fantasies that had, after his break with Freud, burst upon him. "First I formulated the things as I had observed them, usually in 'high-flown language,' for that corresponds to the style of the archetypes," Jung explains. "Archetypes speak the language of high rhetoric, even of bombast. It is a sty le I find embarrassing; it grates on my nerves, as when someone draws his nails down a plaster wall, or scrapes his knife against a plate. But since I did not know what was going on, I had no choice but to write everything down in the style selected by the unconscious itself' (MDR 177-78). What, for Giegerich, Jung refuses to recognize is that the style was not chosen by "the unconscious itself." It was chosen by Jung whose consciousness, seduced by his fantasies, became as art the willing victim of them, as, indeed, his psychology became the victim of myth.

  15. The threat of possession by Satan came, as Jung himself admits, in his feverish writing of his Answer to Job, which is, in certain respects, comparable to Blake's writing of Milton. Both in their different ways focused upon the end of the Christian aeon in their prophetic announcement of the Second Coming. A fundamental difference between them lay in Blake's rejection of "the majesty of Nature" as his inward source in favour of divine revelation from a supernatural source. Quoting Tertullian's defence of "the testimonies of the soul" as his own defence of Answer to Job, Jung writes:

    "I think that they [testimonies of the soul] cannot appear to any one to be trifling and ridiculous if he considers the majesty of Nature, whence the authority of the soul is derived. What you allow to the mistress you will assign to the disciple. Nature is the mistress, the soul is the disciple; what the one has taught, or the other has learned, has been delivered to them by God, who is, in truth, the Master even of the mistress herself. What notion the soul is able to conceive of her first teacher is in your power to judge, from that soul which is in you. Feel that which causes you to feel; think upon that which is in forebodings your prophet; in omens, your augur; in the events which befall you, your foreseer. Strange if, being given by God, she knows how to act the diviner for men! Equally strange if she knows Him to whom she has been given." (Cited in Answer 556)
  16. Jung claimed to have written Answer to Job under the dictation of his mistress Nature as the testimony of her disciple, his soul, in the conviction that the dictation of his mistress Nature came ultimately from her Master God, whom, Jung explains, "we can imagine . . . as an eternally flowing current of vital energy that endlessly changes shape just as easily as we can imagine him as an eternally unmoved, unchangeable essence" (555). Aware that he is working with images, which do not touch "the essence of the Unknowable," he insists that his "remarks" do not "mean anything more in principle than what a primitive man means when he conceives of his god as a hare or a snake." "But," he then adds, defending the prophetic nature of his soul's "primitive" testimony as omen and augur, "although our whole world of religious ideas consists of anthropomorphic images that could never stand up to rational criticism, we should never forget that they are based on numinous archetypes, i.e., on an emotional foundation which is unassailable by reason. We are dealing with psychic facts which logic can overlook, but not eliminate" (556).

  17. No statement of Jung's archetypal psychology—in which his numinous "remarks" about Yahweh are equated with "primitive man['s]" conception of "his god as a hare or snake"—is more defiantly and instinctually anti-intellectual than this. Nothing more separates him from Giegerich than his obsessive, immediate engagement with what he projected onto Yahweh as his own fearful engagement with Satan as his "daimon of creativity," which, he concludes in his memoirs, "has ruthlessly had its way with [him]" (MDR 358).

  18. In his Foreword to Lucifer and Prometheus, written in the same time frame as Answer to Job, Jung makes it clear that he is not competent to deal with the literary epic, whether Milton's or Dante's or Goethe's or Klopstock's, as other than "testimonies of the soul." Like alchemy, they require, for Jung (as Jung required it for himself), psychological analysis in order to explain their divine madness as other than mere madness, to which the triumphant materialism of the natural sciences had rationally reduced them (as Freud reduced Jung). At a time when, he argued, the soul is increasingly dismissed as a delusion, his task as a psychologist (a knower of the psyche) is to treat these epics as what Keats calls acts of "Soul-making" by examining them, as Jung examined the dreams of his patients, as psychic documents whose images are psychic facts. The truth of these psychic facts lies not in their poetic nature embraced as "willing suspension of disbelief for the moment" (Biographia 2:6), but as an empirical reality. Psychology, Jung insists, is the uncrowned queen of the natural sciences. The psyche as observer contains them all, quantum physics becoming the first natural science to recognize it. Subject to the dictates of its mistress Nature, acknowledging God as her ultimate master who bestows the crown, she experientially becomes for Jung what she has become in quantum physics: "an eternally flowing current of vital energy that endlessly changes shape" while in itself remaining an "unmoved, unchangeable essence" that is "ineffable."

  19. If, however, one is not to become the victim of this "eternally flowing current of vital energy" by drowning in it (as Shelley did, when he gave his sails to the tempest), then one must, he insists, separate it from the ego in order dialectically to interrogate it. The ego, at least initially (assuming it is strong enough), is the unwilling disciple of its mistress Nature. The ego receives her as the "daimon of creativity" (MDR 358), who, "ruthlessly" and "shamefully," has its way with it, sometimes, as in the case of "Nietzsche, Holderlin, and many others" whom Jung fearfully admired, driving them into insanity. Jung argues that he avoided their fate, the "Solar niger" of alchemy, by surrendering his ego to the ignotum per ignotius rather than hiding in terror among the ruins of its brutal defeat. "I am incapable of determining ultimate worth or worthlessness," he concludes his memoirs. "I have no judgment about myself and my life. There is nothing I am quite sure about. I have no definite convictions—not about anything, really. I know only that I was born and exist, and it seems to me that I have been carried along. I exist on the foundation of something I do not know." This "something" that he "do[ es] not know" has, he concludes as his final sentence upon his life, "revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself" (MDR 358).

  20. Read in the context of Giegerich's strenuous rejection of Jung's notion of the unconscious, Jung, by placing his faith in it as the "ignotum per ignotius" (the unknown as the more unknown in an infinite regression toward nothingness, which is, as God, everything), abandons his responsibility for his conscious life. Bollingen, which Jung considered his alchemical crucible, is dismissed by Giegerich as Jung's Disneyland.

  21. The alternative to a willing, if reluctant, surrender to the "daimon," Jung points out in the concluding paragraph of Answer to Job, is to become its psychotic victim. This threat, which, as defeat, haunted him throughout his life, allowed him in the name of willing surrender to improvise an ego which, as his "No. 1 personality" hopefully would not result in a split with his "daimon," his "No. 2 personality." "The Christian solution," he writes in the final sentences of his concluding paragraph, which serves as a postscript to his entire text,

    has hitherto avoided this difficulty [the 'two relatively autonomous factors' of the independent archetype and the creative freedom of consciousness] by recognizing Christ as the one and only God-man. But the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the third Divine Person, in man, brings about [potentially in alchemy] a Christification of many [the goal of alchemy], and the question then arises whether these many are all complete God-men. Such a transformation would lead to insufferable collisions between them [such as Jung found in his work with schizophrenics at the Burgölzli], to say nothing of the unavoidable inflation to which the ordinary mortal, who is not freed from original sin, would instantly succumb. In these circumstances it is well to remind ourselves of St. Paul and his split consciousness: on one side he felt he was the apostle directly called and enlightened by God, and, on the other side, a sinful man who could not pluck out the "thorn in the flesh" and rid himself of the Satanic angel who plagued him. That is to say, even the enlightened person remains what he is, and is never more than his own limited ego before the One who dwells within him [the lapis or philosopher's stone], whose form [as celestial matter] has no knowable boundaries, who encompasses him on all sides, fathomless as the abysms of the earth and vast as the sky. (Answer 758)


  22. In her lectures on alchemy, delivered as an introduction to Jung's psychological treatment of it, Marie-Louise von Franz argues that alchemy as Jung deals with it enacts the inevitable enantiodromia that sets in as a result of the patriarchal rigidity of the dogma of the Trinity, which excluded the feminine because of its alliance with Satan as the father of original sin. Alchemy in this sense is not only the release of the feminine as the Fourth that constitutes the transformation of the Trinity into a Quarternity, but also a Fourth that restores Satan to his original station as the older Son of God who sits on His left side as Lucifer, as distinct from Christ, who, as God's younger Son, sits on His right side. As the Trinity, God the Father is eternally arrested in His immutability. As the Quaternity, God is the Mother-Father who in alchemy becomes as celestial matter the eternal Virgin Alma Mater whose Son fathers Himself, Her womb as the eternally pregnant virgin becoming the coffin from which, as the resurrection, Her Son arises. For Jung, this coffin as the womb of the Great Mother is what he calls the Land of the Dead into which the soul descends as the divine mother searching for Her divine child who is begotten by the angel who appears in Revelation as the dark side of the angel waiting to devour him as soon as he is born. This angel, as Satan, presides over the Trinity as the coffin which contains as matter (mater) the lapis or philosopher's stone. The coffin, far from standing empty with the linen clothes folded up, is, as the alchemical retort, the site of transformation sometimes imaged as a corpse sprouting sheaves of corn. "That corpse you planted last year in your garden, / Has it begun to sprout?" (Eliot, The Waste Land 71-72).

  23. In Blake, the coffin is his "Printing House in Hell" (Marriage 15) in which, as in alchemy, the elements are melted down by means of corrosives and then reconstituted as the illuminated text as their transformation, described by Blake in the last line of Milton as "the Great Harvest & Vintage of the Nations" (43[50].2). Confined for one hundred years in the coffin of Paradise Lost, described by Blake as a "couch / Of Gold" (15[17].13-14) where Milton lies asleep, Milton, Blake explains, does not, in the confines of his coffin, know what as dream his unconscious knows. Milton in his coffin does not consciously know that in entering his coffin (Blake's "Vegetable Body") as the "Shadow" of his resurrected life, "the Seven Angels of the Presence" entered with him, giving him

                                    still perceptions of his Sleeping Body;
    Which now arose and walk'd with them in Eden, as an Eighth
    Image Divine tho' darken'd; and tho' walking as one Walks
    In sleep; and the Seven comforted and supported him. (15[17].3-7)
                                                   for a man cannot know
    What passes in his members till periods of Space and Time
    Reveal the secrets of Eternity; for more extensive
    Than any other earthly things, are Mans earthly lineaments. (Milton 21[23].8-11)
  24. In Prometheus Unbound, Shelley finds himself in a similar situation. Prometheus's life as a god is supposed to be defined by his divinely incestuous attachment to mother Earth. That he is bound to her for "three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours / And moments" (1.12-13), however, means also that he is bound to the materialistic, non-alchemical reality of Jupiter in the form of a self-imposed curse that buries Prometheus in Earth as a stone coffin "black, wintry, dead, unmeasured without herb, / Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life" (1.21-22). In this sense he is like Wordsworth's child buried alive in the earth until Coleridge persuaded him to remove the lines from all future printings of the 'Intimations' ode. "For know," Earth explains to her son,

    there are two worlds of life and death:
    One that which thou beholdest, but the other
    Is underneath the grave, where do inhabit
    The shadows of all forms that live
    Till death unite them, and they part no more. (1.195-99)
  25. Far from separate, these "two worlds of life and death" co-exist, death being the unabsorbed shadow side of life, which, as in Jung's psychology, must as the process of individuation be absorbed as it can be absorbed. The psychic action of Shelley's lyrical drama is less Prometheus's absorption of Jupiter as his shadow than it is his release from Jupiter, who, as unabsorbed energy, falls back into the "Abysm," which, as the "deep truth," cannot "vomit forth its secrets" (Prometheus 2.4.114-16). What lies "underneath the grave, where do inhabit / The shadows of all forms that live" (1.197-98) remains for Shelley the spectral or phantasmagoric life pursuing him to an untimely grave. However delusionally or metaphysically, Shelley hopes to be finally united with them, hope, as Demogorgon describes it, creating "from its own wreck the thing it contemplates" (4.574).

  26. One resolution that Shelley strenuously rejects is the Christian Incarnation, for which Jupiter, in his delusional begetting of a son in the raped body of Thetis, provides a demonic parody. Fearing that, as religion, his depiction of the suffering Prometheus may, like Milton's epic, harden in time into a demonic parody of his intention, or, indeed, that the psychic drama it enacts may be reduced to the curse imposed upon Coleridge's mariner compelling him to repeat his tale over and over again, Shelley, in the guise of Prometheus reduced by the Furies to the condition of the crucified Christ, exclaims: "Oh horrible! Thy name I will not speak, / It hath become a curse" (1.603-4).

  27. The Incarnation of God in Christ as the second person of the Trinity is, Jung argues, the futile attempt to reify forever the figure of the suffering Christ as a symbol of patriarchal power that excludes as false all other forms of religious expressions, such as Gnosticism and Alchemy. Awaiting the birth of his son begotten in the rape of Thetis, Shelley's Jupiter proclaims to the "congregated Powers of Heaven," who share his power by serving him: "Rejoice! henceforth I am omnipotent." Only the "soul of man, like unextinguished fire, /Yet burns toward Heaven," Jupiter declares of the three-thousand-year-old struggle in which Prometheus remains bound to Jupiter as his specter or shadow. The "fatal child, the terror of the earth / Who waits but till the destined Hour arrive," Jupiter delusionally asserts, will quench the Promethean fire by "redescend[ing] and trampl[ing] out the spark" (Prometheus 3.1.1-24). Alchemy, as Jung understands it, is a psychic response (enantiodromia) to the patriarchal tyranny of the Roman Church in which vicarious atonement as power rather than love is replaced by active "Soul-making" in which the psyche assumes full responsibility for its own salvation. Jung describes this responsibility assumed in alchemy by the soul—as it is also described by Keats—as individuation (Keats's "[f]ull alchemized" as a "fellowship with essence"[Endymion 1.779-80]).

  28. Jung's Answer to Job provides a psychological reading of Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, a reading which releases the soul from the patriarchal tyranny of the entire Semitic tradition, the three religions of which, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, constitute for Jung, as for Shelley, an unholy trinity waiting to be redeemed by the release of the feminine, enacted by Shelley in Asia's return from her long exile as her descent into the cave (coffin) of Demogorgon where the soul of Prometheus, temporarily released from his dead body, lies waiting to be re-united with that body in its resurrected form as the body of a god, which is the apocalyptic body of Shelley's lyrical drama, even as it is the apocalyptic body of Blake's illuminated text. Shelley's Asia, however, remains far too innocent, far too ideally conceived, to perform her larger role as the bride of Prometheus enacting in their spiritual consummation the descent of the New Jerusalem. Instead, she, along with her sisters, retreats with Prometheus into an enchanted cave (Blake's Beulah) "like human babes in their brief innocence" (Prometheus 3.3.33), the larger action of the drama dissolving into a "void circumference" (Adonais 419) or "intense inane" (Prometheus 3.4.204). What we witness in Shelley's closet drama is finally nothing more than a frail spell.

  29. Invoking the "Daughters of Beulah! Muses who inspire the Poets Song" (Milton 2.1), Blake identifies them with the human brain where, he explains, God, by the ministry of the feminine, "planted his Paradise, / And in it caus' d the Spectres of the Dead to take sweet forms / In likeness of himself' (Milton 2.8-10). This "Paradise," issuing "from out the Portals of [Blake's] Brain" and "descending down the Nerves of [his] right arm" into his right hand (2.5-7), becomes, as writing, engraving, printing and illuminating (each stage a progressive unfolding of the operations within the alchemical retort or "Printing house in Hell"), the transformation of his "Vegetable Body" into its resurrected, and therefore eternal, life. Milton thus becomes Blake's alchemical enactment of his "Resurrection & Judgment in the Vegetable Body" (42[49].27) in which the mortal body, far from being consumed by "the fire for which all thirst" (Adonais 485), is alchemically raised to its inherent spiritual state.

  30. While both Blake and Shelley affirm that the inspiration for their apocalyptic works issues from a realm described by Shelley as "beyond and above [rather than below] consciousness" (Defence 516), they make it abundantly clear that the act of composition is a fully conscious action of the mind, the apocalyptic vision of it arising from "thoughts . . . in their integral unity" which, as their prose works demonstrate, they are quite capable of analyzing as what Shelley describes as "the algebraical representations which conduct to certain general results" (510). Their "arrangements of language, and especially metrical language," are "arbitrarily produced by the imagination and [have] relation to thoughts alone," rather than what lies "beyond them." Indeed, these "arrangements" arise "from the manner in which they express the influence of society or nature on their own minds, and communicate [themselves] to others, and gather a sort of reduplication from that community." As the metrical communication is absorbed by the community as a "sort of duplication of it," its "vitally metaphorical" nature, which "marks the before unapprehended relations of things, and perpetuates their apprehension," becomes "through time signs for portions or classes of thought, instead of pictures of integral thought." "[A]nd then," Shelley concludes, "if no new poets should arise to create afresh the associations which have been thus disorganized [their vitality becoming fixed and dead], language will be dead to all the nobler purposes of human intercourse." As for the metrical arrangement (which is "arbitrarily produced by the imagination"), it seeks as rhythmical sound to prolong "the duration of the effect" of impressions received both from within and without as they modify each other as a way of also prolonging "a consciousness of the cause," sensation as impressions becoming, both as metaphors and linguistic sounds metrically arranged, their conversion into thought as the poet's consciousness of them. The result is what Shelley calls "the hieroglyphic of [the poets'] thoughts" (512-13).

  31. In all of this, as Shelley describes it, the unconscious performs no role. Like the alchemists as already described by Giegerich, the visions of poets "are conscious events, products of a speculatively thinking consciousness, their dreams the products of a dreaming consciousness." The Romantics know what they do not know because as poets it is their responsibility to know it. Blake, who unlike Jung had read Paradise Lost so many times that, as some have suggested, he knew it by heart, knew that, in reading it aloud to his wife, Catherine, in the garden at Felpham, Milton had entered his body and that it was in his body that his own epic, Milton, was, "in a Pulsation of the Artery" (Milton 29[31].3), conceived. The physical act of writing becomes, as engraving, printing and illuminating, a mounting consciousness of his body as the "hieroglyphic" of his soul as the soul issues "[f] rom out the Portals of [his] Brain, and "descend[s] down the Nerves of his right arm" into his writing "hand" (2.4-6). He knew this in the same immediate way that he knew, from his ceaseless reading of the Bible, that in his brain "[t]he Eternal Great Humanity Divine" had "planted his Paradise, / And in it caus' d the Spectres of the Dead to take sweet forms / In likeness of himself' (2.8-10). In a very real sense, he knew what Jung, for fear of madness, could not allow himself to know. Jung's notion of the unconscious is, Giegerich argues, a burial (repression) of a consciousness that, as a direct encounter with the real, he seeks to avoid.

  32. But is this the case? Is Jung's notion of the unconscious his elaborately staged avoidance of what within himself, Jacques Lacan, as distinct from the imaginary and the symbolic, calls the Real? Is Jung, like Lacan, confining psychology to a series of clarifying encounters with the fictional, less as a repression of the Real than as a recognition that it is, like death, unknowable as other than the imaginary or symbolic representations of it? Is the knowledge of the psyche a knowledge of the nature of fiction, which constitutes its truth?


  33. Blake's distinction between inspiration and memory is the distinction between presence and the fading echo of it. Narcissus dissolving into the memory of himself as a siren confrontation with nothingness, as distinct from a conscious union with himself as the "I Am that I Am," is the difference between alchemy as ideally conceived as Giegerich's notion of the logos as the "soul's logical life" (which is, for him, what in itself psychology really is), and alchemy as the echo or fading image of itself to which, he argues, Jung's psychology remained empirically bound. For Jung, on the other hand, Giegerich's notion of psychology is subject to a delusion in which the human mind is fatally identified with the archetype of the mind of God, an identification in which the essential distinction between soul and spirit is dissolved. Jung's horror of Hegelian idealism is his conviction that, if he were to immerse himself in it (as on occasion he did, or nearly did), he would drown. He knew, as a Kantian, that he had to wear a diver's suit if he hoped to survive his exploration of the depths of the psyche.

  34. After a major heart attack in 1944, Jung for ten days remained suspended between life and death, kept alive by oxygen and camphor injections. During this critical period, he experienced his entire life dissolving as he moved into an outer space from which he could see far below "the globe of the earth, bathed in a glorious blue light" shot through with "a silvery gleam." Floating in this space close beside him was a dark block of stone, like a meteorite, shaped like a temple about the size of his large house in Kusnacht. In a comatose state, he entered it and saw a yogi in the lotus position waiting for him. He was the ineffable essence of himself, which remained after the entire phantasmagoria of his earthly existence had fallen away. In a dream, following his heart attack, he again confronted this yogi in a far more naked chapel. When Jung looked at him more closely, he realized that the yogi had his (Jung' s) face. Waking with a start, he thought: "'Aha, so he is the one who is meditating me. He has a dream, and I am it.' I knew that when he awakened, I would no longer be" (MDR 323).

  35. Who he might be when the yogi awakened was indicated to him in the ecstatic state that accompanied the heart attack: he found himself not only at the marriage feast of the Lamb, but was himself the Lamb. He was, though admittedly in a comatose state (in which, as described by his nurse, he was surrounded by light), the crucified Christ, who, in alchemy as in Gnosticism, is not really crucified, another being substituted for him. The other, being sacrificed in his place, was his doctor—"or rather his likeness," who, "framed by a golden chain or a golden laurel leaf," floated up from earth toward him. Jung knew him at once. '''Aha, this is my doctor, of course,'" Jung writes, presumably repeating what he said in his comatose state, '''the one who has been treating me. But now he is coming in his primal form, as a basileus of Kos [the healing temple of Asklepios, birthplace of Hippocrates, father of medicine]. In life he was an avatar of this basileus, the temporal embodiment of the primal form, which has existed from the beginning, Now he is appearing in his primal form'" (MDR 292).

  36. To which, now at the age of eighty-four, Jung adds: "Presumably I too was in my primal [prenatal] form, though this was something I did not observe but simply took for granted. As he stood before me, a mute exchange of thought took place between us. Dr. H. had been delegated by the earth to deliver a message to me, to tell me that there was a protest against my going away. I had no right to leave the earth and must return. The moment I heard that, the vision ceased" (MDR 292).

  37. Jung then goes on to explain the psychic phenomena taking place in his comatose state as the reversal of the relationship between ego-consciousness and the unconscious by representing the unconscious, rather than the ego, "as the [alchemical] generator of the empirical reality." "This reversal," he explains, "suggests that in the opinion of the [alchemical] 'other side,' our unconscious existence is the real one and our conscious world a kind of illusion, an apparent reality constructed for a specific purpose, like a dream which seems a reality as long as we are in it." Struck by the resemblance between "this state of affairs" and "the Oriental conception of Maya," Jung consciously draws his conclusion: "Unconscious wholeness therefore seems to me the true spiritus rector of all biological and psychic events. Here is a principle which strives for total realization—which in man's case signifies the attainment of total consciousness" (MDR 324). Jung, it will be noted, is here describing the unconscious as the true form, as distinct from the conventional form, of consciousness.

  38. Jung's long engagement with alchemy is an intense engagement with consciousness the goal of which is "the attainment of total consciousness." Its mythical form, now, for Giegerich, obsolete (Shelley's "ghosts of a no more remembered fame" [Prometheus 3.4.169]) is the philosopher's stone as the elixir of eternal life shaping itself in the dialectical operations of the pelican vas (the symbol of "the true spiritus rector of all biological and psychic events") as it feeds upon its own life-blood in order to bring it fully to consciousness as the "I Am that I Am." "Attainment of consciousness is culture in the broadest sense," Jung insists, "and self-knowledge is therefore the heart and essence of this process. The Oriental attributes unquestionably divine significance to the Self, and according to the ancient view self-knowledge is the road to the knowledge of God" (MDR325). By questioning this "divine significance," as a way of testing it through experimentation, Jung hoped to provide it with the objective, empirical evidence, which now constitutes the necessary scientific proof of God, which the scientific mind without proof, cannot, since the seventeenth century, be said to know. This scientific notion of proof Giegerich dismisses in favour of the self-evident presence of the soul as a dialectical confrontation with its logical life.

  39. Jung's own personal symbol of the pelican vas (the alchemical retort) was Bollingen, which, as already noted, Giegerich dismisses as Jung's Disneyland best understood as an embodiment of his mother's esoteric nature as a disciple of Wotan, an embodiment which Jung began soon after his mother's death. Immediately following his traumatic break with Freud, Jung confronted within himself an abyss of inchoate energy that signified nothing, though it was so "seething with life" that, as he describes it, "[s]ometimes it was as if I were hearing it with my ears, sometimes feeling it with my mouth, as if my tongue were formulating words; now and then I heard myself speaking aloud" (MDR 178). Hearing it speaking aloud as issuing from his own mouth, he began to take conscious responsibility for it. He recognized the voice as the voice of a "talented psychopath" who had been in analysis with him. Jung rationalized the sounds of her voice issuing from his mouth, particularly as he was violently opposed to what it was saying, by finally taking responsibility for it, rather than receiving it as automatic writing. "I took hold of her," Jung writes, telling her that what she was insisting on calling art was not art, but nature. Ready to argue it out with her, he was met with silence. "When nothing . . . occurred," Jung explains, "I reflected that the 'woman within me' [whom he calls the anima] did not have the speech centers I had. And so I suggested she use mine." Taking him up on his offer, she "came through with a long statement" (MDR 186), which, since it presumably deals with nature vs. art, Jung, though it came through his speech centers, does not reproduce by writing it out. We do not know, nor perhaps did Jung, what her "long statement" was. The distinction between psychology as an art and psychology as a natural science never became clear. He dismissed psychology as an art. He could not affirm it as a natural science. Then what is it?

  40. The danger of images is, for Giegerich, the danger of idolatry, which is the danger of "immediate psychology" as a personal therapy in which the patient settles into his or her own fiction (individuation) as the false self that neurosis affords. "The time for indulging in myths and images of the Gods, the Self, the daimon, etc. is passed," Giegerich argues in The Soul's Logical Life. "We no longer live in a psychological age where the image as a content of consciousness would and could have any truth for us" (23). Giegerich here clearly has Jung in mind when Jung insists in his memoirs that" [w] hat we are to our inward vision, and what man appears to be sub specie aeternitatis, can only be expressed by way of myth. . . . Thus it is that I have now undertaken, in my eighty-third year, to tell my personal myth. I can only make direct statements, only 'tell stories.' Whether or not the stories are 'true' is not the problem. The only question is whether what I tell is my fable, my truth" (3). "And the more we do this [tell our own stories ]," Giergerich goes on,

    the more we set up ourselves as the [watching, admiring or worshipping] ego. The Self, the genius, the Gods as positive images, or symbols are obsolete. The time of this logical innocence, where truth could still really happen in the form of symbols, images or rituals, has long been passe. In the shows of television and the images of advertising we have the constant reminder of the objective ("material") representation of the psychological or logical obsolescence of the "image" as such. . . . Above all, they are the place where today's truth about the image is made evident for everyone to see. Nobody needs to develop a theory about and preach the obsolescence of the image; the obsolescence is objectively visible and speaks for itself. (23-24)
  41. At the end of his memoirs as a kind of postscript to it, like his postscript to Answer to Job, Jung, as if to reject the vanity of imagination, which Paul describes as turning the incorruptible God into a likeness of corruptible man, rejects his highly wrought "fable" as "truth," negating his "personal myth" by insisting that there was now "nothing" he was "quite sure about" other than that he "was born and exist[s]." Beyond that, he declares, "it seems to me that I have been carried along" (MDR 358). At best, he has willingly suspended his disbelief, which is the most a "fable" can, "for the moment," induce, short of finally settling into it as madness. (Jung was not at all sure he wanted his memoirs published. He went so far as to suggest that his secretary, Aniela Jaffe, who daily received his dictation and shared in the editing, publish them under her name, a suggestion his editors rejected.)

  42. Coleridge, who in so many ways pre-figured Jung, experienced his own "personal myth" in something of the same way. The "excellence aimed at," he writes of his own contribution to Lyrical Ballads (1798) was to deal with circumstances, which were, "in part at least, supernatural," or "at least romantic" by "the interesting of the affections, by the dramatic truth of such emotions, as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency" (Biographia 2:6). The truth of supernatural delusion lay in the psycho-analysis of it, Coleridge inventing the term in 1805.

  43. Wolfgang Pauli, the Nobel laureate quantum physicist who worked on and off with Jung on some fourteen hundred of his archetypal dreams over a period of twenty-six years, interpreted his dreams as the sub-atomic operations of matter in quantum physics. His growing impatience as a quantum physicist with Jung's notion of the unconscious lay, in part, in Jung's apparently invincible ignorance of the mathematical nature of the operations of matter upon which his notion of the unconscious appeared to depend. Pauli treated his dreams, not as the expressions of the unconscious, but as an extension of his knowledge of the laws of motion to embrace the presence of the observer in what is at the sub-atomic level is observed. While the ways in which the observer interferes with or changes what is observed has not yet been determined, the evidence at least of its indeterminacy was being shown to him in his dreams as the shadow or phantasm of the consciousness he as a micro-physicist brought to them. These phantom operations, so powerfully present in the poetry of the Romantics, for example, influenced, if not determined, the sub-atomic behaviour of the atom as that behaviour was now determining the future life of humanity, if indeed, given the atomic bomb, it had a future life. In leaving Princeton and returning to Zurich in 1946, Pauli was persuaded that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a betrayal of the human intellect at the highest level of its operations, a betrayal that, relative to the logos governing the mind's operations, constituted a psychosis capable of destroying the rational life of the mind (as the logical life of the soul) forever. Watching with his brother the explosion of the first atomic bomb at its testing site in the Alamogordo desert known as "the journey of death," Robert Oppenheimer, who was in charge of the entire project (which Pauli strongly opposed) quoted Vishnu in the Bhagavad-Gita: "Now I become Death, Destroyer of Worlds."

  44. Initially bound together in what they considered a life and death project, they became increasingly divided. As perhaps the leading mathematician among the quantum physicists, Pauli relied increasing upon its mathematical foundations in his search for a unifying equation. Jung, by contrast, remained bound to his schoolboy distrust of mathematics as the soul's logical life. "Mathematics classes become sheer terror and torture to me," he writes of his earliest experience of them. The torture lay in the equal sign:

    But the thing that has exasperated me most of all was the proposition: if a=b and b=c, then a=c, even though by definition a meant something other than b, and being different, could not therefore be equated with b, let alone with c. Whenever it was a question of an equivalence, then it was said that a=a, b=b, and so on. This I could accept, whereas a=b seemed to me a downright lie or a fraud. . . . My intellectual morality fought against these whimsical inconsistencies, which have forever debarred me from understanding mathematics. Right into old age I have had the incorrigible feeling that if, like my schoolmates, I could have accepted without a struggle the proposition that a=b or that sun=moon, dog=cat, then mathematics might have fooled me endlessly—just how much I only began to realize at the age of eighty-four. (MDR 28-29)
  45. Rejecting, never more so than at the age of eighty-four, what he considered the logic of causality (and indeed the logic of the soul) arbitrarily assumed in the equal sign, Jung found in the acausal notion of synchronicity an alternative that did not insult his "intellectual morality" by imposing upon him "a downright lie or a fraud." "When I enter the sphere of physical or mathematical thinking sensu strictiori," he wrote to Pauli (13 January 1951), "I lose all understanding of what the term synchronicity means; I feel as though I am groping my way through a dense fog. This feeling is obviously due to the fact that I do not understand the mathematical or physical implications of the word, which you certainly do. I could imagine that, for similar reasons, the psychological aspect seems unclear to you" (Atom 68).

  46. In his search for the mathematical equation that would logically prove at the sub-atomic level of quantum physics that psyche=matter, Pauli in his relations with Jung gradually realized that he was imposing an intolerable burden upon Jung, which was alarmingly undermining Jung's problematic health. Increasingly suffering from the consequences of his heart attack, Jung, in his continuing effort to work with Pauli, became subject to mounting attacks of tachycardia and arrhythmia. "Your work is highly stimulating and credible," he wrote to Pauli in October 1955. "It is to be hoped that your train of thought will also have an enhancing effect on your special field. Psychology at the moment is lagging so far behind that there is not much of value to be expected from it for quite a while yet. I myself have reached my upper limits and am consequently hardly in a position to make any contribution of note." He concludes his letter by expressing his gratitude to Pauli for "tackling the problem of my psychology," which he now would have to abandon, Jung turning to his final and most difficult book, Mysterium Coniunctionis, in which, with the close help of Marie Louise von Franz, he gathers together and sums up his now equally "dreaded" work in alchemy (Atom 133). "The existence of a transcendental reality is indeed evident in itself," he concludes with a warning,

    but it is uncommonly difficult for our consciousness to construct intellectual models which would give graphic description of the reality we have perceived. Our hypotheses are uncertain and groping, and nothing offers us the assurance that they may ultimately prove correct. . . . If we are convinced that we know the ultimate truth concerning metaphysical things, this means nothing more than that archetypal images have taken possession of our powers of thought and feeling, so that they lose their quality as functions at our disposal. . . . Truth and error lie so close together and often look so confusingly alike that nobody in his right senses could afford not to doubt the things that happen to him in the possessed state. (Mysterium 787)
  47. Jung's quarrel with the Hegelian notion of "the soul's logical life," as the Jungian analyst, Wolfgang Giegerich, would later articulate it, lies in the identification of logic with causality, more particularly with what he considered the self-enclosed nature of the logic that solipsistically isolates the soul within its narcissistic operations as the "I Am that I Am." "A real psychology of the Self," Giegerich argues in The Soul's Logical Life,

    has to start out from the accomplished Self, otherwise there can be no Self-development. The Self has to be there from the outset, i.e., prior to the attempt of realizing the Self, if the Self is to be realized at all. This is an obvious contradiction. But this contradiction is what the entrance problem is about. The transgression across the threshold is nothing else but this hysteron proteron, this "crazy" reversal of the order of time: what is 'later' (hysteron) in time (here the realization or finding of the Self) has to be proteron, 'earlier,' 'prior'; it has to be the precondition of a search for the Self. You have to already be there if you want to get there. You have to arrive before you set out on the way that is to take you to where you want to arrive. (21)
  48. But where is the soul "from the outset"? Giegerich answers: "with itSelf." But what is the Self? Giegerich tautologically answers: "the soul." Jung answers: "the God image" as distinct from God himself, which is unknowable. Otherwise the soul is the Self is God. It is precisely this logic, soul=Self=God, that Jung all his life considered a "lie" and a "fraud." For Giegerich, it is neither. It is, rather, a "contradiction" and a "transgression across the threshold," a "threshold" that Jung's intuitively crossed, only on a discursive, empirical level to retreat from it into a phenomenology that betrayed it.

  49. In Adonais, Shelley having, as Actaeon, transgressed "across the threshold" to be slain by his own "hunter's dart" [297] enacts the kill, which sublates his mythopoeia, raising it as "the One" to its abstract essence. He thereby completes the logical work of the soul, which, as in Giegerich, conducts to the soul's direct, rather than mirrored, encounter with itself. ("Oh, where was then / Wisdom the mirrored shield" [Adonais 240], Urania asks as she stands over the corpse of Keats hoping to revive it "so long as a kiss may live" [227].) Though tempted to retreat "into a [Jungian] phenomenology that betrayed it," Shelley's logocentric mind could no longer take up residence in it. He could no longer let life divide what the kill had joined together. "Why linger, why turn back, why shrink, my Heart?" Shelley asks in the guise of the trembling Dionysus whom Jung feared as the madness in himself. "Thy hopes are gone before; from all things here / They have departed; thou shouldst now depart" (469-71).

  50. "We must also conclude that the Dionysian telos is inherent in any archetypal situation or image," Giegerich insists in a way that best explains the dialectic of Adonais.

    The Dionysian 'fate' [ dissolution] does not come over it from outside. Without this self-sublation the archetypal truth would still have the logical form of a mere content of consciousness, some idea, ideal, message 'out there.' It would somehow be 'concretized,' literal, abstract—'positive.' It would not be the existing Notion because the content has been dissolved (de-ontologized, de-imagined, i.e., transported [as in alchemy] from the sphere of existence to that of 'pre-existence,' 'non-existence.' (Soul's Logical 266)
  51. "Why open all gates?" Jung asks himself after completing Symbols of Transformation, which, in his defence of the spiritual nature of incest included in the second part, he knew would end his complex friendship with Freud. "For two months," he writes, "I was unable to touch my pen, so tormented was I about the conflict" (MDR 167). Having in the chapter, "The Sacrifice" settled the matter of incest, the question yet remained: why transgress across the final threshold by moving beyond the Self as symbol to what it symbolizes? Is the unknowable really unknowable or is it the last frontier of knowledge?

  52. Giegerich crosses it, as, he argues, the alchemists before him crossed it, not as the goal of the work, but as the condition of it. Jung, on the other hand, having crossed it as the condition of it, then retreated to safer ground in which what he intuitively knew became what he was forbidden to know. He became, for Giegerich, the victim of everything he had fought against, a tragic figure rather than a parodic one, though, nevertheless, a figure that, as an act of alchemical betrayal, he himself had made. If Giegerich remains a Jungian, it is because he is concerned to confront and rectify what Jung betrayed. In this radical respect, he in his confrontation is determined to complete the work of alchemy, logically understood as a completion necessarily present prior to its beginning as the "I Am that I Am." Jung, on the other hand—or so it may be argued—, was defeated by the logic he, as his fear of madness, could never embrace. Alchemy in this radical sense, continues to haunt the pursuit of truth, Giegerich, like Shelley before him, recognizing that only by turning and facing the apparitions of knowledge could they be absorbed as the truth, which, disguising itself as "invulnerable nothings" (Adonais 348), continues to avoid detection as "the soul's logical life."

Works Cited

Blake, William. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Ed. David V. Erdman, with commentary by Harold Bloom. Rev. ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 1982. 33-45.

---. Milton. The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. 95-144.

---. "The Tyger." The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. 24-25.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biographia Literaria. Ed. James Engell and W. Jackson Bate. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1983.

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Waste Land. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Gen. ed. M H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993. 2146-59.

Giegerich, Wolfgang. "Closure and Setting Free or The Bottled Spirit of Alchemy and Psychology." Spring 74 (2005): 31-62.

---. The Soul's Logical Life: Towards a Rigorous Notion of Psychology. 2nd rev. ed. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1999.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Answer to Job. 1952. Vol. 11. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. 20 Vols. Ed. Herbert Read, Michael Fordham, Gerhard Adler, and William McGuire. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1954-79. 355-474.

---. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Ed. Aniela Jaffé. Trans. Richard and Clara Winston. Rev. ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1965.

---. Mysterium Coniuntionis. 1955-56. 2nd ed. Vol. 14. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung.

---. "On the Nature of the Psyche." 1954. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Vol. 8. 159-236.

---. "Foreward to Werblowsky's Lucifer and Prometheus." Vol. 11. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. 311-15.

--- and Wolfgang Pauli. Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters 1932-1958. Ed. C. A. Meier. Introd. Beverley Zabriskie. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2001.

Keats, John. Endymion. Poems of John Keats. Ed. Jack Stillinger. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap P of Harvard UP, 1978. 102-220.

---. Letters of John Keats. Ed. Robert Gittings. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed. Merritt Y. Hughes. New York: Macmillan, 1957. 173-469.

Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Adonais. Shelley's Poetry and Prose. 2nd ed. Ed. Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002. 407-27.

---. A Defence of Poetry. Shelley's Poetry and Prose. 509-35.

---. Prometheus Unbound. Shelley's Poetry and Prose. 202-86.

Wordsworth, William. The Prelude: 1799, 1805, 1850. Ed. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979.


1. Jung, Collected Works, volume 14, paragraph 106. Hereafter cited by title and paragraph number.

2. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections 150. Hereafter cited in my text as MDR.

3. Citations from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell are cited by plate number. Citations from Blake's poetry are cited by plate and/or line number.

4. The term is Keats's (Letters 249).

top of page

About this Page