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Tolkien and Jung

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Tolkien and Jung

Postby koti » 22 Aug 2008, 23:30

Actually, this could be several posts but I will limit it to this one. Has anyone read/heard of Maud Bodkin? A English critic of some note, she did a Jungian study in the 30's of poetry that influenced Tolkien, or so I have read. A Timothy O'Neill also did a Jungian view of the Hobbitt, as did an Allen Whitman of Tolkien and Lewis. I have come across Jung in relation to his influence on James K Baxter, New Zealand poet and mystic I rambling?....and finally I came across a book on Jung and Melville. Is anyone here in the wardrobe very familiar with Jung, is he worth diving into as there are just books and books and books on and about him and his philosophy.
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Re: Tolkien and Jung

Postby Tuke » 23 Aug 2008, 00:29

koti wrote:.... Is anyone here in the wardrobe very familiar with Jung, is he worth diving into as there are just books and books and books on and about him and his philosophy.
I think John's Wardrobe disproves the collective consciousness. What's of some interest is how Jung and Freud ended their relationship and lives. Freud, the great humanist, committed physician assisted suicide. And didn't Jung become kind of a spiritual atheist?
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Postby JRosemary » 31 Aug 2008, 02:58


I haven't read nearly as much Jung as I'd like, but considering how influential he's been in the worlds of pychotherapy, psychology, religion, myth, etc...well, I'd definitely say he's worth reading! (A professor I know just mentioned a good Jung-book to start with...but I don't remember the title. Oy--I'll ask him again.)

He's definitely on my 'somebody-I'd-like-to-know-a-whole-lot-more-about' list :toothy-grin:

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Postby postodave » 01 Sep 2008, 22:41

Near the end of his life Jung was asked whether he believed in God. He replied, 'I don't have to believe, I know.' Call that atheism if you like Tuke. The difficulty is that when Jung speaks of God it is never clear whether he means the God who is There or the image of God in our collective unconscious or somehow both. Jung's father was a protestant clergyman but Jung felt his emphasis on faith excluded experience; hence he was always interested in experiential religion, especially the gnostics. Rose you will be pleased to know that he was a pluralist believing that different kinds of religion suited different people. This lead him to make a comment which now seems to express a kind of inverted cultural imperialism that primitive peoples should not be converted to Christianity as they were not ready for a higher religion and could only ape it horribly. On the other hand he was eager to work with the clergy and in particular had a fruitful collaboration with Victor White, a Roman Catholic priest - the result was a book called God and the Unconscious which is very helpful indeed - the final Chapter on the myth of the dying God has some remarkable affinities with Lewis's myth became fact. Several other Christian writers have been influenced by Jung including Christopher Bryant of the Cowley Fathers who's books should be read by anyone interested in relating the Christian Faith to the findings of modern therapy. A more protestant writer who was influenced by Jung is Morton Kelsey who I never much liked.

For a beginner in reading the works of Jung I would recommend two books: his autobiography 'Memories, Dreams, Reflections' and 'Man and his Symbols' a book written at the end of his life in collaboration with some of his colleagues and directly resulting from the TV interview mentioned above. Anyone interested in Jung's theory of personality from which we get the terms introvert and extrovert should ignore Jung's book Psychological Types and instead read the work of Myers and Briggs which is much more lucid.

Personally I owe a lot to Jung. Reading him helped me to get out of the worst depression of my life at a time when the representatives of the Church had largely failed me.

I nearly forgot to add that there is a very interesting Jungian interpretation of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings by Ursula LeGuin. She sees Frodo, Sam, Smeagol and Gollum as four aspects of the same psyche, with Frodo and Sam as Ego and Smeagol and Gollum as shadow - but also within each half with Frodo as Ego and Sam as Shadow and Smeagol as Ego and Gollum as Shadow. It is the Shadow that guides the Ego on it's quest to the primal fire of creation/destruction. Her own novel A Wizard of Earthsea is almost a primer of Jungian psychology except that she wrote it before she read Jung.
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Postby girlfreddy » 02 Sep 2008, 16:09

I took a "World Religions" course last year and my prof was a bona fide Jungian junkie. In fact, the whole course centered on Jung's understanding of the "sacred" and how we who would deem invalid or evil that which others experience as sacred, would thereby lose an understanding which could help us in our own "walk".

I quite enjoyed the course (except for her crazy exams) and it opened my eyes to the honor which I should be giving to other faiths.
How would telling people to be nice to one another get a man crucified? What government would execute Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo?
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