Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Jung Neumann Letters Conference

The long awaited publication of the correspondence between C.G. Jung and Erich Neumann promises to be a landmark event in the history of analytical psychology. The Jung-Neumann Letters, edited by Martin Liebscher, is due to be published by Princeton University Press spring 2015. To mark this important event, an international conference will be held, jointly sponsored by The Foundation for the Works of C.G. Jung, the Neumann Estate, 

The Philemon Foundation, The International Association of Analytical Psychology, and The Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology.

More Than One Hundred Letters

This collection of more than one hundred letters between the two men spans nearly three decades, from 1934 on the eve of Neumann’s arrival in Tel Aviv until his premature death in 1960. The letters reveal an intense and intimate encounter between two brilliant minds. Respectfully, yet in a most straightforward way, Jung - the founder, pioneer and wise elder - and Neumann - the courageous and bold younger thinker – reflect upon a broad spectrum of theoretical, clinical and cultural issues, including Jewish and Biblical themes, as well as anti-Semitism and Nazism.

About the Speakers

The invited speakers for this conference will present recent discoveries and new perspectives pertaining to the correspondence, the relationship between Jung and Neumann, and the broad range of issues they discussed.

There will be lectures and panels on topics such as culture and history, the problem of evil, art and the artist, Eranos, memories of Jung and Neumann, a live performance of excerpts from the Magic Flute with lecture and discussion.

This will also be a celebration of Neumann’s unique and precious contribution to analytical psychology and cultural studies. Scholars and clinicians will present the latest views on many aspects of Neumann’s work, pertaining to psychological theory and clinical issues as well as to the arts and culture.

Please see the program.

Who is it for? 

The conference will appeal to clinicians and analysts, to scholars and academicians in the humanities from around the world, and to the general public with an interest in Jungian studies. It will take place in the pleasant country setting at the hotel and conference center of Kibbutz Shefayim, 20 minutes north of Tel Aviv, the home of Erich Neumann. 


With registration you will be able to order set(s) of eight postcards of previously unreleased drawings by Erich Neumann, some mentioned in the correspondence between Jung and Neumann.

In the spirit of Jung & Neumann’s writings on ethics and evil, donations from any conference surplus will be made to organizations working with Israeli and Palestinian children suffering from trauma.

The Others

The Distinct Other

In xenophobia, the Distinct Other is an object of fear, rejection and hatred. The Other carries the projection of what the subject detests in him or herself, refuses to accept and relate to, and splits off. The Other, carrying the subject’s (‘my’) shadow projection, relieves me from the pain of reflection and introspection. In my struggle to remain ‘pure,’ the impure, dirty, contaminated, is split off, projected, and carried by the Other as Enemy. In its most severe forms, when the ego identifies with archetypal heights of collectivism (such as a totalitarian ideology or regime), the distinct other “needs” to be persecuted and exterminated, as in Nazism or Islamism.

At its extreme, the distinct other carries no face, no image, only a collective projection of split-off aspects of the shadow.

This is the case, for instance, with classical anti-Semitism.

The Similar Other

This is a more complicated projection, since it does not emanate from the simplicity of projecting onto the well-defined, distinct other. The Similar Other, rather, is similar to the subject. It is often the tragic result of an open mind, able to reach out to the distinct other as an equal, as equally valuable, and in respect of the Other’s distinct difference.

However, the guilt and shame that inevitably result from reflection and introspection, may be burdensome to carry. I may then ‘need’ to split off and project onto the other within the tribe, such as “I can’t stand the settlers who don’t understand the suffering of the Palestinians; if they don’t get out of occupied territories, I could kill them.”

Or, the liberal minded Jew, who needs to separate and differentiate him or herself from “those savage Israelis; I am NOT like them.”

Israel and the Jews may be a convenient target for both these Others – for the classical anti-Semite and the xenophobic Right, they are the Distinct Other, while for the liberal-minded, they are the Similar Other, from which I need to distinguish myself.

The Other Within

To be able to carry the other within, to sense my wholeness in my shortcomings and limitations, may be far more difficult, and yet far more healing. Without idealizing myself or the other, and also without splitting off those parts in me (as an individual and society) which I reject, feel ashamed of, and oppose, I stand a better chance of attaining human potency – characterized by partiality and mortality in contrast to the immortality and totality of the gods.

Regarding Israeli society, it would require not only healing the inner split (“let’s make peace among ourselves,” with the implication that peace with the Palestinians can wait), or the phantasy of healing the external conflict (“if we only end the conflict with the Palestinians, Israel will thrive again,” as if the Palestinians are entirely peace-loving and only the Israeli right prevents a peaceful resolution), but it entails finding partial solutions with the Palestinians, and embracing the settlers, many of which will have to do similar sacrifices as the ten thousand who had to leave Gaza when Israel disengaged.

Creativity emanates from the tension that resides in the frustrations of partiality and the dissatisfaction of absence and deficiency. The time has come for the Israeli leadership to create new conditions and venture untried paths.

Some of my books deal with aspects of these topics, particularly The Hero and His Shadow:Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return (both published in English as well as in Hebrew).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Eric Hoffer: Israel's Peculiar Position

Eric Hoffer was an exceptional American social philosopher (that’s why I am particularly proud of the Eric Hoffer award for “The Cycle of Life”). His 1951 book 'The True Believer' is essential reading. In an op-ed in Los Angeles Times, May 1968, he wrote the following amazing piece. I was reminded of it after the horrendous beheadings that have taken place lately, recalling that in 2006, Norway arrested four terrorists for planning to behead Israel’s ambassador.

Eric Hoffer, Los Angeles Times, May 1968 

The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews.

Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it, Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese-and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees.

Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab. Arnold Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis.

Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world.

Other nations when they are defeated survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews.

No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on. There is a cry of outrage all over the world when people die in Vietnam or when two Negroes are executed in Rhodesia. But when Hitler slaughtered Jews no one remonstrated with him.

The Swedes, who are ready to break of diplomatic relations with America because of what we do in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troop trains to Norway.

The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us. And one has only to imagine what would have happened last summer had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the war to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and the West in general.

I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Consciousness of Trees

Jung say in the prologue to Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on a rhizome.”

The rhizome, the rootstock, grows horizontally underground, with roots at its lower end, shoots at its upper. Then Jung continues his comparison of the rhizome with life,

The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes.

Watch and listen to Professor Suzanne Simard, a forester, who shows that all trees in a forest ecosystem are interconnected, with the largest, oldest, "mother trees" serving as hubs. Watch here

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jerusalem: City of Angels, City of Strife

"Unlike Rome, not all roads lead to Jerusalem, and those that do may all too easily lead the visitor astray in a labyrinth of divinity and madness. In the course of history, when Rome became the center of power, sanctity and glory, Jerusalem sank into spiritual ruin and peripheral oblivion. Thus, even those modern roads that bring you smoothly to the city may force the pilgrim to pass 'through thorny hedges…' of his or her mind."

From a lecture by Erel Shalit, for a preview, or watch full lecture here.

Further reading:

Shalit, E. (2010) Jerusalem – Archetypal Wholeness, Human Division, in Thomas Singer (Ed.), Psyche and the City: A Soul’s Guide to the Modern Metropolis. Louisiana, New Orleans: Spring Journal Books.

Shalit, E. (2012) The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel (Revised Edition). Carmel, CA: Fisher King Press.

Shalit, E. (2010). Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return. Carmel, CA: Il Piccolo.

Erel Shalit's books can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, or directly from Fisher King Press.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Living with Jung: "Enterviews" with Jungian Analysts

Living with Jung: Vol. 3
"Enterviews" with Jungian Analysts
by Robert and Janis Henderson
ISBN: 978-1-935528-05-0
324 pp.
Published by Spring Journal and Books.

In this volume of Living with Jung: "Enterviews" with Jungian Analysts, Robert and Janis Henderson present interviews with eighteen Jungian analysts, many of whom, in addition to their private practice, are involved in the development of Jungian training programs around the world.

The interviews span not only the broad sweep of the history of Jungian psychology, from Z├╝rich to points beyond, but also the shifts in emphasis that have taken place in the practice of Jungian analysis over the years. As these Jungian analysts reflect on their personal stories for the outside world, they "de-mythologize" not just themselves and their profession, but Jung himself.

The interviews take the form of free-ranging conversations that cover a wide variety of topics, from spirituality, aging, and death, to sexuality, marriage, family, women's issues, politics, religion, healing, and the spread of Jungian training and practice worldwide.

For Jungians and interested non-Jungians alike, this is a rich repository of information about the Jungian world, never before brought together in one place.

"Being interviewed by Robert Henderson is like spending an hour in analysis."

Silence is the Center of Feeling, an interview with Erel Shalit, in 
Living with Jung: "Enterviews" with Jungian Analysts, Vol. 3
by Robert and Janis Henderson, pp. 221-236.

In the interview, we discuss topics such as Encountering Jung, Shoah, Madoff, Psyche and Politics. The following is an excerpt from pp. 222-223:

RH: What are some of the doors Memories, Dreams, and Reflections open inside you?

ES: For the introverted young person that I was, more a visitor than fully at home in life, it reopened the door to myself: As a child I mostly avoided other children, playing and finding solace in solitude, withdrawing into my own world of dreams, fantasies, telling myself the stories I wasn’t told by parents who were struggling to find their way in life and cope with a post-WWII reality of loss and disorientation.

However, in my mid-teens I “understood” that extraversion is the game, and I joined the “truths” of the mid-sixties, the ideologies and the movements and the rebellions and the bandwagons. MDR, quite simply and softly, helped me return to myself, for which I am grateful.

However, you ask what doors inside me MDR open, present tense, inside me, and I want to mention two doors, still as valid to me today as forty years and more ago: one is the simplicity of the language. It reads like a novel. Rather than a convoluted pseudo-scientific language, here the soul simply speaks through its natural precinct of tales and images, memories, dreams and reflections.

The simplicity of the garment reveals the depth of the wisdom.

Secondly, it inspired the way I relate to my own dreams. I am a bit lazy, and I don’t collect the dreams of every night. I do feel a bit guilty, well aware that the Scribe of Dreams sits down at his (or her) desk as soon as I go to sleep, and starts to collect every possible material – residues from the day, complexes of old, events in the world – weaving it into images and stories.

And I also know that I send someone to represent me in those stories – what we usually call the dream-ego – who returns to knock on my door to share with me the adventures, the pleasures and the pains that he has experienced, and to most I don’t even open the door. I justify this by believing that most of our dreams serve as a sewage system to get rid of overload and garbage, letting it flow into the ocean of the unconscious.

Yet, I am of course aware that a one-sided use of the system will clog it, and that some dreams work in the opposite direction – picking up hints and reflections and ideas and innovations and comments that need to be brought from the great ocean, shipping it into the ‘ego-state’ of consciousness. So I do remember a couple of dreams every month, and during some periods more. I then like to have the dream hang around with me, or me hanging around in and out of the dream.

In a very non-interpretative way I do a kind of active imagination over several weeks, talking to a dream figure, listening to what he or she seems to say, or walking around in the setting of the dream, for instance a dream-house or along a dream-path. Whatever I may understand of it seems to emerge by itself, and to develop by continued interaction.

This was inspired by reading MDR, and has stayed with me since. To paraphrase Camus, who said, “Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators” – I believe, as did Jung, that the soul writes clearly, but we tend to become quite obscure when we comment and try to interpret it.

  • Preface
  • Astrid Berg, ChristianGailliard, VivianeThibaudier, John Hill
  • Odysseys and Standing Stones: A Life between Worlds John Hill Zurich
  • Something Told Me Not to Give Up Linda Leonard Boulder
  • Giving Expression to the Psyche Thomas Singer San Francisco
  • Openness, Ethics, and Creativity Christian Gaillard Paris
  • Deepening Connections Renos Papadopoulos London
  • Enough Time to Ripen Jan Bauer Montreal
  • Borderland Connections Jerome Bernstein Santa Fe
  • Life Goes On Paul Brutsche Zurich
  • Spoke to a Depth of Soul Joe Cambray Providence
  • Hearing a Similar Voice Christa Robinson Zurich
  • A Deeply Connecting Force Astrid Berg Cape Town
  • Bridges Viviane Thibaudier Paris
  • Where Were the Leaves before They Came Out? Michael Conforti Brattleboro
  • My Body Represents My Compass in Life Jackie Gerson Mexico City
  • Silence Is the Center of Feeling Erel Shalit Ra'anana
  • New Ground under My Feet Irene Bischof Berne
  • From the Cave J. Marvin Spiegelman Los Angeles
  • Love the Questions Themselves Wolfgang Giegerich Berlin
Erel Shalit's Author page at Amazon

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tisha b'Av

A Jerusalem Beggar at the Wall, Tish'a b'Av, around 1920

Tisha b'Av, the ninth in the month of Av, this year August 4-5, commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temple, which both occurred on the ninth of Av, about 655 years apart.

Legend has it that the Messiah was born when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. God commanded Elijah to place the captive Messiah and the souls of the dead on one side of the scales, and fill the other side with tears, torture and the souls of the righteous. God then announced that “the face of the Messiah would be seen when the scales were balanced." (from Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path)

While Kafka so poignantly says that the Messiah will come when he is no longer needed, the idea of new creation rising from the ruins of destruction, may have particular validity on days like today, when hopefully new initiatives toward peace and reconciliation may arise.

Rainer Maria Rilke: The Song of the Beggar

I am always going from door to door,
whether in rain or heat,
and sometimes I will lay my right ear in
the palm of my right hand.
And as I speak my voice seems strange as if
it were alien to me,

for I’m not certain whose voice is crying:
mine or someone else’s.
I cry for a pittance to sustain me.
The poets cry for more.

In the end I conceal my entire face
and cover both my eyes;
there it lies in my hands with all its weight
and looks as if at rest,
so no one may think I had no place where-
upon to lay my head.