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Reply To: Dune: Breakthrough as Breakdown of the One,” with Norland Telléz, Ph.D.”

Robert Juliano

@mythistorian – There is a very real difference between contradiction, paradoxes, and the opposites, a difference which is far more than “interpretation and semantics,” for they can have very different psychological and even physiological effects. As I mentioned earlier, paradoxes and the opposites can lead one to a void, the effect of which can truly be both agonizing and creative. It bears mentioning that Jung never defines what the opposites are. If you read Mysterium Coniuntionis (CW 14), he only gives examples of the opposites, for they defy rigorous definition. On the other hand, contradictions are rather trivial to define. Since you seem to like Nietzsche, if you haven’t read Dr. Lucy Hutchinson’s Nietzsche and Jung: The Whole Self in the Union of Opposites (see enclosed link below), it is well worth reading as it, in part, explores the many different ways of considering the opposites and contrasts Jung’s and Nietzsche’s approach to them. The effect of the opposites poses great danger to the individual and to groups/nations. Holding them together results in great suffering, but if this holding together is done, empirically it has been observed that his strengthens the psychological make up (personality) of that individual or group. In other words, one can grow beyond a given pair of opposites. Mere contradictions don’t do this. As it relates to complex issues of Jung, deeper reading, rigorous analysis, and honest reflection can result in one perceiving the opposites within Jung, within his actions, and even within ourselves as we relate to this work. Coming to a nuanced understanding of and relationship with this material can constellate the opposites within us. And to be able to approach these constellated opposites, it is necessary that we do as much of the legwork as possible, this legwork involving essentials like rigorous scholarship on this issue. Without this, the effect of the constellation of the opposites in us can be depotentiated or even completely nullified, important chances for our growth being lost.

As I mentioned, I have defended the scholarship of Dr. Deidre Bair. However, solely relying on a given author for their sources and their interpretation of them can be exceedingly problematic. In this case, it bears remembering that critics of Dr. Bair’s biography like Dr. Sonu Shamdasani have said that she made things up, and individuals with whom Dr. Bair discussed certain topics disagree with her on her portrayal of the substance of their discussions. This is why it is absolutely essential that one goes to the sources Dr. Bair (or any author) cites, reads them directly, and evaluates them oneself. I have done so with certain challenging issues, even going to sources of those I highly respect like Jung.

Again, I want to stress that there is an essential distinction between involvement with Nazism, involvement with Nazi psychotherapy, and involvement with German psychotherapy. Dr. Bair certainly discusses Jung’s involvement with German psychotherapy. And, given her caution to the reader that there is much information which has not been made available to her or anyone else, we need to do our part and gather information from as many and diverse sources as we can and then attempt to bring some semblance of order to them. Crucially, with the information we currently have available, the blanket and unnuanced statement that Jung was “opportunistically” involved in Nazism is both untenable and insulting, such a statement potentially resulting in a lack of nuance in others.

Now, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Christine Downing when I went through the doctoral program in depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute (PGI), though we did not discuss this issue. And I would greatly value her nuanced and rigorous perspectives on this issue.

I have already given you an example of your disingenuousness, but I’ll repeat it here. When I wrote “Jung was not ‘involved’ with Nazism, opportunistically or otherwise. If you disagree, please provide hard evidence of his involvement,” you responded with “The question of Jung’s racism, antisemitism, and opportunistic involvement with Nazism concerns a definite set of facts that, all in all, should not shock us too much, being that Jung was, after all, ‘a man of his times’—unless it was more than that.” Crucially, I did not ask for hard evidence of Jung’s racism and antisemitism! Thus, your response was egregiously disingenuous. I am not sure how to make this clearer.

Again  I am not defending Jung. If Jung did something wrong, we need to know about it. And given the exceedingly high degree of complexity here and the challenges Dr. Bair wrote about, using the lens of “truth” on this issue is, in my opinion, exceedingly problematic. But, it is worth noting that a request for hard evidence for our claims is most appropriate. And, when one has been asked for hard evidence and they respond with a single reference, with a discussion of that reference without the least bit of nuance (e.g., ignoring her statements of caution which I cited such as “the facts are few compared with the many interpretations” and that the “quest for historical truth” is impeded in a number of ways, ways which she outlines in that chapter), does not explicitly reference the sources the author drew upon for certain statements, and does not provide their own evaluation of both those sources and the solidity of their content, such does not provide the conditions suitable for mutual understanding and mutual growth.

You claim that “we keep circling semantic issues in search of depth.” You have completely mischaracterized this interchange. It isn’t depth which is being sought for here as there is already an immense amount of material on this issue, the rigorous reading of, analysis of, and reflection on can lead to that depth. And it isn’t an issue of a right or wrong answer on this – such is not the relationship to this issue which is being sought. Instead, what is being sought in this “circling,” at least from my perspective, is care in expression and responsibility in providing hard evidence for one’s assertions.

As a multidisciplinary scholar, one who has advanced backgrounds in computer science/mathematics/engineering/complexity/linguistics, in depth psychology/comparative religion/comparative mythology, and who has learned through long hard experience to balance rigorous scholarship with the experiential (e.g., I was a practitioner of a tantric tradition of Tibetan Buddhism called Nyingma and this was balanced with an intellectual approach of the Gelugpa tradition in understanding the impossibility of essence and understanding the limits of human thought and reason), I have come to appreciate the limitations of solely relying on scholarly rigor, and to value the interdependence between rigor and the irrational of depth experience. So, just because I am asking for hard evidence, please do not do me the disservice of reducing this to the merely intellectual, the semantic, the rigorous.

— Robert Juliano, Ph.D.