Reply To: UFO: A Living Myth of Transformation,” with mythologist Norland Têllez”
Thank you Stephen,
As always, it is a pleasure to be back in in this COHO with you and our readers, especially taking up this elusive topic of UFOs, for which Jung devised the curious category of “visionary rumor” as opposed to an ordinary rumor:
The first requisite for a visionary rumour, as distinct from an ordinary rumour, for whose dissemination nothing more is needed than popular curiosity and sensation-mongering, is always an unusual emotion. Its intensification into a vision and delusion of the senses, however, springs from a stronger excitation and therefore from a deeper source. (CW10:¶598)
The unusualness of the emotion indicates a numinous archetypal content. But the threat to the collective existence of humanity has always been ourselves, homo homini lupus, the collective shadow of humanity. You remember Jung’s statement about the human psyche being the greatest threat to life on earth. “The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man… we are the great danger, the psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the psyche?” You can easily find the clips on YouTube.
This vast collective shadow is the deeper source Jung alludes to, but it doesn’t point exclusively to a single source. It is the result of a whole confluence of factors, a network of interdependencies that pit us not only against ourselves, with our ridiculous nuclear capabilities, but also against Nature and Life on Earth as we stand near the precipice of ecological catastrophe to add to our nuclear threat. The pandemic is simply a sideshow compared with what is coming, something so unimaginable, so inhuman, that not even science fiction has been able to picture it.
As we go deeper, it necessarily grows darker. “The basis for this kind of rumour,” says Jung, “is an emotional tension having its cause in a situation of collective distress or danger, or in a vital psychic need.” (CW10¶608). The psychic need the soul always suffers from is the need to admit the repressed truth of our lives, the piece of self-deception that sustains the painful lie we live by. If there is a psychic cause then we can expect to find a certain split within the psyche, a certain tension of opposites, which exceeds our power to symbolize, to give it language and general understanding.
This is why the notion of space exploration is not at the same level as the notion of nuclear holocaust. Only one of these is completely unimaginable, whereas the other can be portrayed as an optimistic “Enterprise” (as it is in Star Trek). Space exploration is a child’s fantasy but the notion of nuclear holocaust could never be. For a child—as for the adult—only the latter is utterly unimaginable.
This is a quality of transcendence everywhere we encounter it: the way it escapes the prison of language. The literal presence of UFOs amounts to a materialization of the transcendent, the realization of a transcendent function of “higher consciousness.”