I’m not very good at recording my dreams, but the very fact that I do from time to time owes a lot to Carl Jung, a man who needs no introduction to the intellectual mavericks to the world. Known to all of Jung’s most ardent disciples as little more than a whispered legend was the existence of a secret text authored by Jung during a time of severe mental turmoil. To work himself out of this bout of insanity – or what New Agers would consider a psychic death phase – he would chronicle his journey for a period of 16 years, punctuating his calligraphic text with quasi-medieval paintings, mandalas and symbols. Back in the day, they would have called this book a grimoire, and Jung’s heirs and relatives have been uncomfortable and unsure enough about its contents and Jung’s wishes for it to suppress publication since his death in 1961. Despite his own indecisions regarding its fate, Jung still declared this book to be the wellspring for all of his subsequent philosophy regarding the mind and psychoanalytic theory.
A few days ago, W.W. Norton finally published the book. At $195, it doesn’t come cheap. And it’s already sold out of its first edition; Eric tells me he only has three or four copies coming into the store at this time. But let me tell you that this is the sort of book every person who creates one should strive to make (and apparently, Jung did recommend that his clients do so, as a painstakingly detailed New York Times Magazine article recounts.). For all of us turn to knowledge or information to illuminate a world with a truth too often darkened by our fears and misconceptions. Scholars, philosophers, mages and artists have traversed these depths, and apparently, Jung was all of these things. So for Jungian scholars, counterculture fans or lovers of visionary art, this very well may be the publishing event of the year.
Luckily, I’ll be in the NYC area during the month of October, where the Rubin Museum Of Art is exhibiting the book from the 7th to January 25th, and while I’m doubting I’ll be able to take much in the way of pictures… well, we’ll see.
(Much thanks, btw, to documentary filmmaker Mitch Schultz for alerting me to this.)