Liber Novis (New Book) (The Red Book) C.G. Jung, introduced by Sonu Shamdasani
Take a walk inside the inquiring mind of Carl Jung. For me the same INTJ Myers-Briggs type as Jung and Jungian scholar proved so enlightening, took me inside my own mind in an eerily correct mirror. Throughout Liber Novis you will see the immergence of Jung’s beginnings of his psychological types and archetypes. So many people, known concepts and familiar understanding for me, like a walk on a pre-prepared path. Delicious, like St. Paul’s Philemon somehow connected to Elijah from Jesus’ transfiguration. Jung came from a Christian family, father a pastor. So do you have to understand the Bible to read the book. It helps. For example, in Jung’s fantasy, he has Salome blind and with Elijah, when in reality Salome was the daughter of Herodotus who danced for Herod and requested the head of John the Baptist be brought to her on a place, when Herod told her she could ask for anything, because he enjoyed her dancing so. In Jung’s fantasy, a cross had Elijah at the top representing rational thinking and Salome at the bottom representing feeling. The left cross beam represented Superior the irrational interior and the right cross beam represent the Serpent thinking sensation inferior.
Still, the dictionary, and I used it many times, especially words no longer in common usage, can enable you to read the book without worry, if you are willing to go the extra step of looking things up.
Jung speaks of Logos, the spiritual principal and an old man who represents understanding, insight, foresight, legislation and wisdom and Eros as a maiden, the unspiritual principal of feeling.
Liber Novis, written before 1930 and never published until 2009 spans several years and provides an understanding of the foundational beginnings of the personality analysis and other scholarly work, especially the individuation process. If that were all that would be plenty. But Jung also speaks out loud of his own personal psychoanalysis process, his own hard-scrabble individuation process and shares wonderful paintings of his fantasies.
Imagine traveling with Jung as he actively tries to reconnect with his soul and gain wisdom stored in the unconscious.
Then, get into this huge Red Book bound in red leather, hence the nickname that stuck, and first look at the interior disclosure paintings. These alone, especially for this artist, occupied hours. Jung, although he never seemed to consider himself such, was a wonderful artist, abstract images, for the most part, with phenomenal detail, pure originality, drawing and color skills—delightful to experience!
Let me call your attention to Jung’s artwork on pages 79, 88-89, 105, the mandala on page 107, pages 115, 119, the gemstone on page 121, the mandala of Christ on page 127, defiant snake on page 129, the mosaic head on page 133, the most amazing page 135…. Jung says next to the painting on page 154,The Bhagavad-Gita says: “whenever there is a decline of the laws and an increase of iniquity/then I put forth myself: for the resource of the prous and for the destruction of the evildoers/for the establishment of the law I am born in every age.” I see Jesus preaching on page 155. What will you see?
Jung’s painting shows highly developed technical skills and proficiency, painting in both oil and watercolor. These paintings represent Jung’s fantasies—the myth-creating function of the mind.
Want to do your own paintings?
Here is Jung’s way to move into active imagination, a far superior introspective tool than passive dreaming, a conscious way of entering the unconscious realms more purposefully, targeted and elucidating than dreams.
Empty the mind to produce a vacuum in the consciousness
Concentrate on a particular mood
Attempt to become as conscious as possible of all fantasies and associations that come up in connection with it
Allow whatever fantasy free play without departing from the initial affect in a free association process
Should lead to a concrete or symbolic expression of the targeted mood nearer to consciousness, making it more understandable
Draw, paint or sculpt the fantasy
Visuals will see the inner image
Auditories will hear inner words
Kinestetics can access through automatic writing or with a planchette (used with or without a Ouija board) to facilitate automatic writing
Experience an inner dialog to widen consciousness
Within this purposely unscholarly volume, you will find dialogs about Jung’s inner state/s. St. Ignatius of Loyola’s fifth spiritual exercise instructs one to see with the eyes of the imagination the length, depth and breadth of hell. Instructions: empty the consciousness, go under it. Beneath the threshold of consciousness, everything is animated in what Jung eventually named the collective unconscious.
Of course, writing this book over nearly two decades, Jung also worked. For example, in1913-14, Jung saw about 5-7 clients a day, five days a week.
Certainly the connection and disconnection with Freud was mentioned. Freud’s analytic reductive method was based on causality and Jung felt showed only half of the picture. Jung used the constructive method of the Zurich school which showed the whole of it. Life is lived new so cannot be understood merely retrospectively. KEY: How out of this present psyche, a bridge can be built into its own future.
Imagine, after the assassination on June 28th of Archduke Franz Ferdinand until the outbreak of war on August 1, 1914, Jung described having the feeling that he was an over-compensated psychosis—33 days!
There are personal dream and what Jung called “big” dreams that r3elate to the world at large. Also private fantasies and public event fantasies, which Jung called “active imagination.” Psychotics experience these but re unable to integrate them and get swallowed up by them.
Imagine also a being part God, part human, part animal land consider which one rules at any given time. (Appendix C of the Red Book) Below you serpent, within you man and above you God.
Jung says of the afterlife—to him for whom solitude is Heaven, he goes to Heaven; to him for whom it is Hell, he goes to Hell. (Appendix C)
Here, you get to look at the personal unconscious together with other conscious elements, the impersonal unconscious or collective psyche. So Jung presents people with three parts of knowing, the self, the conscious and personal unconscious acquired during a lifetime (the I) and the impersonal unconscious or the collective psyche inherited (the non-I). This can explain twins separated at birth meeting decades later wearing similar clothes and liking similar foods and things and preferences. We stand between two worlds-external perception (rational) and perception of the unconscious (irrational). Symbolic art can contain the rational and irrational.
One more part of our personal self is the persona or the person we create and choose to present to others, our mask or chosen role on the stage or our life that somehow arises out of the collective psyche.
Individuation is achieved through synthesis of the individual with the collective psyche to reveal the individual lifeline.
Jung called the anima (how the subject is seen by the collective unconscious) a counterpart to the persona. Anima-male’s female soul. Animus-female’s masculine soul.
Jung’s fantasies he claimed came out of his inherited collective psyche. I-center of the field of consciousness a complex among other complexes, different from the self. Self-subject of a person’s totality and includes the unconscious psyche, so the I is included in the self. Jung equated Hindu Brahman/Atman with the Self.
One goal is to come to an acceptance of the irrational.
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About the reviewer
Barbara Garro (NYWriterBarbaraGarro)
When I am not writing or painting or teaching, I am reading, literally hundreds of non-fiction books every year. Why? Because I love learning from other people's journeys. Authors work hard to bring … more
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In short, this is a volume that will be treasured by the confirmed Jungian or by admirers of beautifully made books or by those with a taste for philosophical allegory. (Michael Dirda -Washington Post)