Carl Jung liked words AND pictures

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This long article in the NY Times Magazine talks about Carl Jung’s mysterious Red Book, a journal he worked on for years which contained his most profound ideas but which has never been published — until now.

This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old book, bound in red leather, which has spent the last quarter century secreted away in a bank vault in Switzerland. The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say “Liber Novus,” which is Latin for “New Book.” Its pages are made from thick cream-colored parchment and filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogues with gods and devils. If you didn’t know the book’s vintage, you might confuse it for a lost medieval tome.


Jung is, of course, one of the founding fathers of psychology, and his invention of the idea of the “archetype” has been a life preserver for many a comics writer as they sought to explain why the adventures of men in tights punching one another was of some import.

Of some interest to us in the present instance is that Jung’s great book has got lots of pictures in it. Our correspondent Torsten Adair sent this to us with the provocative title “Carl Jung: Proto-graphic novelist?” We wouldn’t go THAT far, but let’s jut say that if he were still around, he’d probably have a booth at Comic-Con.
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Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    If he were writing today, you would find him at the Vertigo table.

    He’s a geek god… bullied at school and developed a psychosis about learning, a strange mother who talked with spirits, writing, drawing…

    [I guess you're right, Heidi... he's just an illustrator. }] ]

  2. I knew there was a reason I preferred Jung over Freud!

  3. Emerald monsters and astral projection, strange old men with numinous powers…I think Jung and Edgar Rice Burroughs were playing around in the same zip code of the collective unconscious.

  4. RDaggle says:

    “The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say “Liber Novus,” which is Latin for “New Book.”

    Once upon a time, the NYT would never even consider translating that phrase for its readers. It would be considered an insult to presume they couldn’t figure it out themselves.

    But that time is passed.

  5. Jung often said that considering these paintings “art” would undermine and pervert their purpose.

  6. Don’t forget the panel-by-panel surrealist flood/bedwetting illustration in the 1900 edition of Interpretation of Dreams — Freud was the father to beat when it came to proto-comic publishing too…

  7. Jung Allies, Jung All-Stars, Jung Avengers, Jung Justice, Jungblood…

  8. For shame, Steve — aren’t you reading Joe Casey’s brilliant Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance (http://blog.comiccritique.com/?p=62)? You left out the Super Jung Team…!

  9. I guess I’m just not as Jung as I’d like to pretend I am…

  10. Karen says:

    Proto-graphic novelist, perhaps, but not the first. That honor would probably have to go to the 12th-century abbess Hildegarde of Bingen, with her book of self-illustrated visions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildegarde_of_Bingen#Works

    Although there is some debate over whether the images that come down to us were really painted by her:

    http://www.hildegard-society.org/faq.html#artist

  11. Steve says:

    He’d have the table right next to Timothy Leary at Comic-Con…

  12. WOW. Amazing artwork in the link there— looks like a cross between Lynn Ward and Tolkien…

    But Jung and Leary booth neighbors at that ’75 SDCC? Psychologists RUINED Comic-Con!

  13. I know I probably won’t begin to really understand this book but anything that references “Faust, Keats, Ovid, the Norse gods Odin and Thor, the Egyptian deities Isis and Osiris, the Greek goddess Hecate, ancient Gnostic texts, Greek Hyperboreans, King Herod, the Old Testament, the New Testament, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, astrology, the artist Giacometti and the alchemical formulation of gold” just HAS to be worth a TRY!.

  14. @Steve Price: you forgot the most obvious one: Dark Jung!

  15. The most obvious: The Old Jungs.

    And for you cunning linguists (sometimes a joke is just a joke…):
    The All-Girl Jungs.

    Mr. Marder, I think you just described the next Grant Morrison graphic novel. Or I do have him confused with Douglas Rushkoff?

    “Gimme that old Aphrodite,
    Gimme that old Aphrodite.
    She looks sexy in her nightie
    She can be a little flighty
    But she’s good enough for me!”
    “Old Time Religion” by Joseph Campbell

  16. Ah, to be Jung and in love…

  17. Martha Cornog says:

    Hmm. Reminds me of the gorgeous work of Jesse Allen (www.jesseallenart.com) and also the work of the better-known Keith Haring (www.haring.com).

  18. My boyfriend likes this guy and he’s turnin’ 43 today. This book is twice his age. Now that’s old. Saucy Joseph Campbell quote! I wish I could draw as well as Jung did.
    I like playing around in this zip code of the collective unconscious. My carino is muy rico

  19. Mary Irvine says:

    “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” – Carl Jung

    I have long wished to see this book, and now since it is finally possible, in a day or so I will have a copy and see more of these vision paintings…meanwhile read, “Seven Sermons to the Dead” an appendix to “Dreams, Memories and Reflections.” While researching art therapy I came across the term art counseling in a few journal articles, the author/counselor utilized a Jungian concept called “amplification” to drawings and story telling by child client. That began a journey into some of Jung’s works dealing with patient drawn mandalas. I don’t have the finacial assistance that would have been necessary to travel to Switzerland, nor the credentials in academia that might have allowed a personal viewing of The Red Book…but I can have it in my own hands now. The painting and calligraphy will no doubt be of high quality due to technical advances, so for me as an artist, is a plus. And the translation will help gain an understanding of Jung’s own journey into his own inner being. From what I’m seeing so far, quite an extrordinary adventure.

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