Archive for The Red Book

I’ve lost touch with my soul

Posted in art, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by artodisiac



‘As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of

human existence is to kindle a light in the

darkness of mere being’

Carl Gustav Jung

I had the weirdest dream ever last night. The last couple of weeks I was rushing from one place to the other, trying to do lots at the same time yet not being satisfied from anything I do with my split mind. For example I was desperately trying to find a project to work on for one of my grad classes and I was really stuck. Suddenly I realized quiet painfully that I had lost the contact with my soul somewhere in the cacaphony. Thanks god, the catalyst I needed came quick, with this dream.  After a stressfull and tiring day, I experienced a weird moment in the lucid period  just before falling asleep. It is hard to explain and I really don’t want to mention it here, since it was a bit disturbing for me. It was quiet real and the reality of it made me remember every detail when I woke up. The day after, I found myself reading and refering to one of my favourite psychologists of all times, Carl Gustav Jung. And an idea just flashed in my head when I read about the ‘Red Book’ that was released very recently this year, 48 years after he died. Why do I not try doing my own version of  ‘Red Book’, I asked to myself…


Carl Gustav Jung


Before giving some more information about the new book, I would like to make a very brief introduction for him. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of so called analytical psychology. His unique and broadly influential approach to psychology has emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and clinician for most of his life, much of his life’s work was spent exploring other realms, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the unconscious realm. Carl Jung was also among many great personality theorists who drew inspiration and guidance from the ancient Greek Four Temperaments model and its various interpretations over the centuries. Carl Jung’s key book in this regard, which extended and explained his theories about personality types, was Psychological Types, published in 1921.

The Red Book

The Red Book is 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. It 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. As written by Sara Corbett in the New York Times magazine, between the book’s heavy covers a very modern story unfolds. It goes as follows: Man skids into midlife and loses his soul. Man goes looking for soul. After a lot of instructive hardship and adventure — taking place entirely in his head — he finds it again.

Apart from its intrinsic interest, it is a magnificent work of art (the original is on show at the Rubin Museum in New York). Written in German Gothic script, with an English translation, it is illustrated with tempera paintings by Jung which reveal him to be a gifted, if sometimes frightening, artist. Jung spent from 1914 to 1930 working on the book, which he felt had emerged from his “confrontation with the unconscious”. There is no final text, only an unfinished manuscript corpus. Yet it enables the reader to gain a window into the genesis of Jung’s psychology in a way that none of his published works has done. He develops his theory of “individuation”: that is, how personality develops over time and how an individual is split between the “I” (conscious existence) and the “self” (total personality including the unconscious mind). Jung came to believe that he had lost touch with his “soul”, that he had sacrificed it to science. “The Red Book” shows, in literary and symbolic form, his own process of individuation.

I also will try to confront with my unconscious and try to create my own version of the ‘Red Book’ for my project. I hope I can manage to finish it in one piece and not get further lost.

(An update: I have bought a copy of this famous Red Book, which costed me a little treasure (that I didn’t care evenif I had to starve for the rest of the month) and witnessed what a great piece of art it is. I think there is no way one can come nearer to it…)