PSYCHOLOGY AND ALCHEMY
certainly is not the place to concern ourselves with the heavy theories
quantum physics, but suffice to say that Pauli’s exclusion principle
to alchemy, because it offers the basis for a structure of the periodic
of chemical elements, and therefore suggests the possibility of the
goal, the transmutation of metals, being achievable. By the time he met
Pauli, Jung was already engaged in the studies of old alchemical texts
time. His interest
in alchemy was
revived when, in 1928, the German Sinologist Richard Wilhelm, after
from China where he had spent many years, sent him a manuscript of his
translation of a Taoist alchemical treatise, together with a request to
it with a psychological commentary.
soon as Jung
work on the introduction to what is now known as The Secret
of the Golden
Flower, he realised that the Chinese alchemy, like its
is also concerned primarily with the symbolism of transformation of the
soul. The quest for immortality of the Chinese Taoists is much the same
aims of the Western Alchemists who were trying to make the
worked on the idea
of alchemy being in many ways a precursor to the modern psychology for
years; until in 1935 he was finally ready to present it to the world in
lecture titled Dream Symbols and the Individuation Process.
later he published Psychology and Alchemy, followed
both now regarded as his major works.
Freud’s rendition, which is still perceived by the majority of general
and practitioners as being the psychology, really
belongs to the 19th
century and its mechanistic ways of thinking. In the garden of Jung’s
Bollingen stands a large stone in the shape of a cube, which Jung
inscribed with alchemical and magical symbols — undoubtedly the future
psychology lays there.
physics shows a
similar tendency towards duality. Research in this scientific
quite visibly been divided to two different streams – between the
the experimentalists. Very recently, in 2008, a rather controversial
atomic particle accelerator has begun to work in Switzerland, near
major part of it is a tunnel 27 kilometres long. Some people who were
associated with the research team became worried that the experiments,
some stage were to involve black holes and perhaps the resulting
might get out of hand. After a day or two, the experimental scientists
on the accelerator had experienced a sudden unexpected breakage. This
brings to mind Wolfgang Pauli and the reputation he had gained during
for somehow being responsible for breaking experimental equipment.
theorist, Pauli had not found himself very often in vicinity of such
but when he did, things usually would have gone wrong. It went so far
Pauli was virtually banned by the experimentalists, such as the
Stern, from attending any important experiments in their laboratories.
certain expansive device at the university laboratory in Göttingen,
also used to work, but had left for a new post at Zurich, broke down
apparent reason. It
was generally felt
that being several countries away, at least this time Pauli was
However, it turned out later that at the critical time Pauli, on his
Denmark to Switzerland, had made a short stop at the Göttingen railway
where he had to make a connection.
that the “Pauli Effect,” as it became known in the scientific
real enough. We cannot be sure how Jung felt about it, if at all he
given the nature of their research it would be fairly safe to assume
reality of such psychokinetic phenomena would not be a point of
between the two great men.
synchronicity as a connecting acausal principle, but in his theories it
mainly associated with an individual person or the so-called process of
individuation. Naturally, there can be and usually is a connection with
person or persons, but essentially the focus is on an individual. I
my own synchronistic events from my point of view, and we also talked
meeting of Jung with Pauli, and what came out of it. However, the
remains in one’s head is what could happen if more people are brought
seemingly by chance or synchronicity, and if those people happen to be
influential in their respective fields of activity?
must have also
preoccupied the mind of the British author Tom Stoppard, who in 1974
play Travesties. The main characters in the play are all based on real
who were important 20th century personalities,
and who lived in Zürich
in Switzerland around the years 1916-1917. The
three were the
modernist author James Joyce, the communist
revolutionary Lenin, who
soon after this had lead the Russian revolution, and the founder of the
movement the poet Tristan Tzara. The Joyce character was put into the
the author more or less for literary purposes, but presence of the
forms one of the most bizarre cases of synchronicity.
real name was Vladimir
Ilyitch Ulyanov (1870-1924). He was exiled by the Tsarist
regime for his
revolutionary activities and had to live for some years in Siberia near
river Lena, hence the assumed name Lenin. After the failed first
revolution of 1905, in which he was also involved, Lenin was again
time in Western Europe, and in 1915 he came to live in Zürich.
From there in 1917, together with other exiled Russians, he made the
push to Petersburg (later named after him as Leningrad; the name it
until the 1990s), where they were able
to topple the Tsarist regime, which
eventually was to lead to the formation of the Soviet Union.
Born Samuel Rosenstock into a Romanian Jewish
Tzara (1896-1963) came to Switzerland when he was about
twenty years old.
he linked with a group of artistically talented young
people with nihilistic tendencies, who came from several countries, and
were essentially draft dodgers. Their anti-war stance was reflected in
performances they gave at the Cabaret Voltaire, during the nights of
experimental poetry. Out of this the movement called Dada sprung up,
such was alive only for several years, but which became the important
to several art movements.
Voltaire was situated at Spiegelgasse 1, Zürich, and the other founding
members were Hugo
Ball, Emmy Hennings, Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, and Jean Arp.
involved theatre, literature, poetry, art theory, visual arts and
design, and its anti-war stance was particularly expressed through
rejection of the accepted standards in art and through displaying and
performing anti-art works. There were also public gatherings and
demonstrations, similar to the “happenings” organised by the 1960’s
intellectuals; even some publications were produced. Well known
artists associated with the movement at some stage were for instance
painters Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico,
van Doesburg, the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, the poet Guillaume
and others. The list reads like “who is
who” in the modern art. The art movements that have directly developed
were strongly influenced, by Dadaism, are for instance Surrealism,
Réalisme, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Fluxus or Punk Art, all
up a rainbow that spans practically all of the 20th
Only several doors away from the noise of the
Voltaire, in house number 17, lived Lenin with his wife and
colleague Nadezda Krutskaya. Within a few months he would be the head
most populous European Nation. Meetings that took place in Lenin’s flat
have been of a completely different character. We could imagine the
with stern faces sombrely discussing politics of the international
and planning the Communist revolution that was imminent in Russia.
Which, as in retrospective we know, has succeeded, helped to create a
regime full of absurdities, which hasd eventually imploded and
point of view, the Dadaists were totally ruled by Netzah, while the
were fully entrenched in Hod. When we look in the next chapter at Jackson Pollock and his
we will see that while he used his dripping paint technique he was tapping
hidden powers of his unconscious mind. The Dadaists and after them the
Surrealists did the same thing, even nearly half a century before
the Dadaists for instance picking at random pieces of poems, other
works, and sometimes even on newspaper articles, putting them together
and again at
random rearranging the order to find a meaning, sometimes quite
more often very bizarre or downright incomprehensible.
the other hand used the theories of a pair of “saloon socialists” Marx
Engels that were artificially created, and were not even meant for the
but rather for the German society, which Karl Marx (1818-1883, right)
perceived as being the nation best suited for the upcoming revolution.
his own writings more than half a century after the Communist Manifesto
issued in 1848, twisted them to suit his purposes. The results are well
and they speak for themselves, so we don’t need to further analyse them here.
really odd thing is
that while all this was going on, Carl Jung, the man who was to come up
the notion of synchronicity, was based at the same time in the same town of Zürich.
He is the one, I feel, Tom Stoppard should have put into his play rather than James Joyce,
understand that from the playwright’s point of view James Joyce
makes for a more colourful character, which must have worked in his
Incidentally, Jung had made acquaintance with Joyce, whose daughter he
for schizophrenia. It
is doubtful though
that he would have known much about the Cabaret Voltaire in its
even more doubtful that he would have met or known much about Lenin
Russian revolution had come, which had turned out to be probably the
most bizarre event of the 20th century.
A Dadaist poem in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, by
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)
of the reasons for
having made this somewhat lengthy forage into psychology, the arts,
and some related fields, was to gain more insight into the Kabbalah and
ways. It is a system that while maintaining the traditional approach
symbolism remains always open to new knowledge, and is willing and
eager, to accommodate the modern views. We need to understand that
not a one-off event, but that it is an ongoing process, that it does
and end with the Big Bang, which is nothing but a fashionable term,
fill in the vacuum that materialistic science has had to encounter once
rejected the basic concept of Creation.