|About the Book|
Except his book on flying saucers, read in childhood, this was the first book I ever read by C.G. Jung. The experience led to a programme of study which occupied the next eight years, leading me to change college majors (history to religious studies) and to proceed to seminary upon graduation.The occasion of the reading happened accidentally. Ed, an older friend from high school, had visited Grinnell from the University of Illinois, using my library card to check out books to study while in town. The Jung volume struck my fancy. Id heard of him, of course, heard of him of an associate of Freud, someone important, someone one ought know about. Besides, the book looked impressive: thick, lots of notes, an understated black cover. I asked to borrow it and began to read.My immediate impression was that the author was extremely erudite, his text making reference not only to psychology, but to cultural anthropology, comparative religions, philosophy, theology, ancient history, the classics etc. I knew, generally, where it was pointing, but not very clearly what it was pointing at. Gnosticism, hermeticism, alchemy--all of which he took seriously--were little more than words referring to archaic and discredited belief systems to me. Besides, he seemed to be comfortable with Latin--which Id taken, not very successfully, in high school--and with Greek--which was still Greek to me. Reading Jung made me painfully aware of how vast my ignorance was. Rather than being depressing, though, I took it as a challenge.Additionally, some of what Jung wrote about seemed to indicate that he and the persons and traditions he was concerned about knew something about those altered states of consciousness that I was exploring on almost a weekly basis--and that they took it seriously, very seriously. In other words, some of the archaic belief systems which I had previously dismissed were here being represented as stemming from experiences similar to ones very familiar and, sometimes, disturbing to me.I finished this alluring and mystifying book, then, when next home in Illinois, began the long, expensive process of buying and reading every volume of The Collected Works as well as very many books about Jung, about his analytical psychology and about the various, often obscure, topics he addressed.