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


Thank you Robert for your sustained engagement with this topic. I couldn’t agree with you more about the distinction between mere contradictions and true paradox and obviously it is the latter I have in mind when discussing the more troublesome aspects of Jungian ideology and its politico-material practices. Admittedly the distinction between paradox and contradiction is more of an issue of interpretation and semantics than a self-evident distinction we can draw.

I also agree that we should retain a certain level of scholarly rigor and nuance, so when you ask about “involvement, opportunistic or otherwise” and pointed to Bair’s chapter, I was not only pointing to her own, as I emphasized, fairly neutral re-telling but also at the massive scholarship that she consulted on the subject, and from which she draws her account. I really don’t understand how Jung’s involvement with German psychotherapy during the years of its Nazification does not count as evidence of this involvement. You may say that this involvement was not direct, that it was an indirect involvement, but we can’t say there was no involvement at all as you seem to claim. “Jung was not ‘involved’ with Nazism, opportunistically or otherwise.” I really don’t know what to make of this sentence except to see it as a kind of denialism in the face of the evidence.

You really would not have enjoyed Christine Downing’s lecture on this troublesome aspect of Jung’s psychology and history. She was the one who laid out the specific kind of opportunism which characterized Jung’s behavior during the Nazification of German Psychotherapy as he saw all Freudian traces of its leadership being wiped out. “It was my turn” Jung wrote, as Bair documents. If you don’t think much of my level of scholarship, you certainly would have to respect Christine Downing’s. I still remember the chilling effect it had on so many of my fellow students at Pacifica—including myself!

What I find frustrating about this debate is that instead of really dealing with the traumatic kernel of the paradox in Jung, we keep circling semantic issues in search of depth and subtlety. Then you accuse me of being disingenuous and, once again, of lacking a nuanced response. But, for the first time, I really don’t follow your logic here. Maybe I am not as smart and profound as you, but the nuance you demand here is so fine that I am having serious trouble detecting it!

On the other hand, this brings me back again to my general response to your line of criticisms, one that you continue to fail to address. One you seem to want to evade by all this insistence on scholarly nuance. And that remains my point. I continue to be Nietzschean (or Hillmanian?) on defending the surface, which is seldom crystal clear, and of resisting the rabbit hole of semantic depth. For nuance does not necessarily mean profundity nor truth. As Nietzsche says of mystical subtleties, they don’t even bother to go the length of being superficial. One easily gets lost in scholarly jargon and historical vicissitudes—not to mention ideological commitments for or against the Jungian enterprise. This is why this conversation is so difficult to have among partisans.

In the context of this thread, deep as we have gone, one thing is for sure: we are not going to settle this debate, which, as Deidre noted, continues to rage on. Now we have here further proof of this fact and have made available further sources of research for anyone who wishes to explore this topic further. All I wanted to do is limit myself to pointing to the fact that there is something awry here, a true paradox, a traumatic kernel of truth we must wrestle with, and that all efforts to try to erase it or mitigate it under a cloud of complications will ultimately only serve to highlight the conflict. For the truth will speak, whether we like it or not, as the ultimate return of the repressed.