Saturday, February 18, 2017

Erich Neumann:Jacob and Esau - on the collective symbolism of the brother motif

Cover image from a silhouette by Meir Gur Arieh

An introduction on YouTube to 

Encouraged by Jung, in his book on the collective symbolism of the brother motif, Neumann began outlining ideas that he eventually would develop in some of his major works, such as Depth Psychology and a New Ethic. Neumann uses the story about Jacob and Esau to illustrate the polarities in the human soul, between introversion and extraversion, profane and sacred, the moon and the sun, both in Jewish tradition and universally, and the need to integrate the shadow, as illustrated in Jacob seeing both God’s face and his hostile brother in his struggle with the angel. In Jungian terms, we see the inevitable conjunctio of Self and Shadow. 
The book can be seen as a brilliant midrash, retelling and interpretation of the Biblical motif of the brothers.

Etching by Jacob Steinhardt

Erich Neumann: Jacob and Esau - on the collective symbolism of the brother motif  on Amazon

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return

Requiem returns us to an eternal theme, a dialogue with Soul, and we know quite well what happens when one dialogues with Soul-we change, consciousness is enlarged, the impossible becomes possible and we no longer are compelled to blindly follow in the deathly path of our forefathers.

Heinrich Heine-Oppenheim.jpg
Heinrich Heine     

Existential questions accompany the narrative of Requiem. Some in the storyline, others as metaphysical discourse. While there are expressions of sadness and struggle, there is also joy and strength. The following is an excerpt from the beginning of the novella:

“If anyone had been present in that clean and tiny room in the small hostel in the heart of New York the day Professor Shimeoni arrived, watching him as he sat almost catatonically on the bed, his legs barely touching the floor, his cap awkwardly sitting on his head as if put there by a caring nurse on a schoolboy rather than the fifty-six-year-old man he was, his small unopened suitcase next to him as if he needed to protect it with strengths he no longer possessed, or as if the suitcase somehow squeezed itself quietly to his side so that it could protect him – if anyone had seen Professor Shimeoni sitting on the simple bed in the warm but alien room, they would have seen a picture of resigned defeat.”

“But no one was present, there were no witnesses. The defeat remained the private failure of Eli Shimeoni. Incidentally, Eli was short for Eliezer. However, since he had never managed to figure out if the meaning of his name was that God would be helpful to him, or if he was to be God’s servant in a scheme of contradictions that his philosophical mind could not grasp, he had formally shortened it to Eli.”

“Professor Shimeoni felt lonely and abandoned, like a redundant survivor. At fifty-six, he looked like an old man. Even when he was a child, people had told him he was an old man, but now there remained no trace of doubt. While not concretely, he profoundly experienced himself as the last survivor. It seemed to him that everybody had already left before him. True, there were those who remained behind – he thought of the many poor who had no means to get away, and the baalei teshuva, who seemed not to ask any questions, but always knew the answer so well, claiming that “in the War of the End of Days, the War of Gog and Magog, total defeat would precede the ultimate victory over evil,” as they knew to repeat by heart.”

“First his children had left, gone abroad to study. One had taken up a prominent position at the University of Stamville, while the other was doing gender research at the Institute of Harback. Then his wife had followed, accusing him of being a fanatic and archaic idealist, or plainly silly and stubborn. Friends and colleagues had discreetly taken farewell. Initially they would apologetically say “if things ever change, you can be sure I will be the first one to return home.” But then, people became increasingly forceful and determined as they said goodbye. The cultured ones would say with bleeding hearts, “this is not the country we prayed for,” and the self-proclaimed prophets would plainly tell him, “everything is collapsing, there is no future here.” Some would reinforce their doomsday prediction, relying on historical evidence that an independent Jewish nation could not survive more than a hundred years.”

Requiem is a fictitious account of a scenario played out in the mind of many Israelis, pertaining to existential reflections and apocalyptic fears, but then, as well, the hope and commitment that arise from the abyss of trepidation. While set in Israel sometime in the present, it is a story that reaches into the timelessness of history, weaving discussions with Heine and Kafka into a tale of universal implications.

Excerpts from Steve Zemmelman's essay Containing A Jungian Light: The Books of Erel Shalit, in Spring, 2015:
Requiem is unique among Shalit’s books in that it is a novella in which the narrator, a professor Eliezer Shimeoni (who shares the same initials as the author) gives voice to the unique combination of despair and hope that is the legacy of the ideal of the socialist pioneers no less than the decades of mutual shadow projections and resulting polarization by Palestinians and Jews alike which underlie a culture of militarization and terrorist attacks.  
     It is also a story of the alienation of the Western intellectual Jew from their Jewish religious heritage and the potential for finding a way back to a renewed Judaism and humanism through a new understanding of self and other.  For Professor Shimeoni it is a fight against denial, a battle for consciousness, and the courage to take a stand against evil that define the integrity one can maintain even in a situation that is seemingly hopeless in so many ways.  He writes, “Consciousness will determine the future of Israel, and the preservation of Jewish civilization and its cultural heritage.  When denial collaborates with demonization in the collective consciousness of the world, catastrophe lies in wait for its victim.”
      It is through self-scrutiny that essential elements in the often neglected and untold story of loss and despair can be identified and understood.  While following this path may be the only way to find ourselves, to do so is to risk becoming lost in the depths of our own suffering.  Shalit poses the essential question underlying all forms of depth psychology: “What witness is more trustworthy than the sitra achra (the other side, the story which is not told) which holds so many secrets, even secrets that we have forgotten, and secrets that are hidden from ourselves?”
      Requiem is ultimately a story of the possibilities of the spirit and its capacity to transform fate into destiny, for the human capacity to surpass mere repetition or adherence to collective thought and action, and to find the courage and creative intelligence that can lead to a new way in the face of despair.  This story is an appeal to the power of the symbolic life as an alternative to the literalism and concretism of fundamentalist and militaristic ideologies that underlie war and terror.  This central concern is woven throughout this book that returns over and over to the story of the akedah, the binding of Isaac, and the fact that it was sufficient for the sacrifice to occur as a symbolic act that did not need to be acted out.  Shalit writes, “By substituting the sacrificial animal for the actual son, the story of the akedah represents the separation of meaning from act, which is essential to culture and civilization.”
      Like all Shalit’s books, in Requiem one finds literary and historical treasures.  For example, he reminds us of Elie Wiesel’s observation that we may one day have an explanation for the Shoah (Holocaust) on the level of man but how Auschwitz was possible on the level of God will always be a mystery.  The narrator then complicates this further, turning Wiesel’s comment on its head, when he notes that Abraham substituting the ram for his son passed God’s test but questions whether he passed the human test. The patriarch showed his complete devotion to God but how is a parent ever justified in being willing to murder his own child?  
Erel Shalit's narrative has a unique, fascinating and powerful style, which touches you strongly. He has a way of leading the reader to grasp complicated historical processes with unusual ease.
... We find not only the narrator of a story, but also the spiritual and lyrical face of the author. I highly recommend this fascinating and important book.
         Marcela London, poet, author

From the first pages of this book, the tone of a masterpiece emerges powerfully.
This book makes us realize that the "Israel problem" cannot be understood in a journalistic frame of mind. Politics, war, land, culture, and contemporary experience are expressions of the deep core of human life, the core of the human soul.
This is an important book for anyone who thinks about "cultural identity" and the love of one's own country and culture.
        Junko Chodos, artist

The book is available (in English as well as in Hebrew) at Amazon and Fisher King Press.

my human condition. original painting by Benjamin Schiff

Friday, February 10, 2017

C. G. Jung and Erich Neumann: Paintings from the Psyche

A Five-Part Webinar Series

Click Here to Register for the Series or Watch the free First Webinar

Next Seminar Thursday, February 23rd @11AM ET:


 Nancy Swift Furlotti will show and compare paintings by Neumann that have recently been discovered with some of Jung’s paintings in The Red Book. For both men, painting represented an engagement with the unconscious and a central feature of their individuation processes. There will also be references to Neumann’s writings on art and artists with the assistance of Murray Stein.

Active imagination was the technique C. G. Jung developed to amplify images from his dreams and visions. It allowed him to delve deeper into the mythical and collective layers of human imagination to more specifically understand what the psyche was trying to communicate. He used this extensively while on his own inner journey described in, The Red Book, and encouraged his patients and colleagues to do so, as well. Erich Neumann was one of Jung’s foremost disciples. After commencing analytical work with Jung, he kept a dream journal and began using active imagination on his own dream images. Somewhat later he, too, began to paint these images creating a long series, much like those in Jung’s Red Book. The comparison between the two sets of paintings is striking in both their differences and similarities. We will explore a full image series from each one as a way of gleaning a deeper understanding of the psychic processes of these two prominent analysts and good friends.

Turbulent Times, Creative Minds
Erich Neumann and C. G. Jung in Relationship

This volume of essays by well-known Jungian analysts and scholars provides the most comprehensive comparison to date between the works of C.G. Jung and Erich Neumann. Reflections are based on their extensive correspondence recently published, their differing cultural backgrounds, and the turbulent times surrounding their personal and professional relationship. Among the many specific subjects discussed are Jung and Neumann on art and religion, their views on the problem of evil, and clinical aspects of Neumann’s work. Also included are personal memories of both Jung and Neumann family members.
The book includes exclusive photos from Eranos, and several illustrations in color.


Introduction (Erel Shalit and Murray Stein) ix
I. The Correspondence (1933–1960)
Uncertain Friends in Particular Matters: The Relationship between C. G. Jung and
Erich Neumann (Martin Liebscher) 25

Companions on the Way: Consciousness in Conflict (Nancy Swift Furlotti) 45

Neumann and Kirsch in Tel Aviv: A Case of Sibling Rivalry? (Ann Lammers) 71

II. Cultural Backgrounds
German Kultur and the Discovery of the Unconscious: The Promise and Discontents of the German-Jewish Experience (Paul Mendes-Flohr) 83

Basel, Jung’s Cultural Background and the Proto-Zionism of Samuel Preiswerk (Ulrich Hoerni) 95

The Cultural Psyche: From Ancestral Roots to Postmodern Routes (Erel Shalit) 111

III. Troubled Times
Carl Jung and Hans Fierz in Palestine and Egypt: Journey from March 13th to
April 6th, 1933 (Andreas Jung) 131

1933—The Year of Jung’s Journey to Palestine/Israel and Several Beginnings (Thomas Fischer) 135

Jungians in Berlin 1931–1945: Between Therapy, Emigration and Resistance (Jörg Rasche) 151

IV. The Problem of Evil
The Search for a New Ethic: Professional and Clinical Dilemmas (Henry Abramovitch) 167

Erich Neumann and C. G. Jung on “The Problem of Evil” (Murray Stein) 185

V. Neumann and Eranos (1948–1960)
Neumann at Eranos (Riccardo Bernardini) 199

“Dear, dear Olga!” - A Letter to Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn (Julie Neumann) 237

VI. On the Arts
The Great Mother in Israeli Art (Gideon Ofrat) 245

Jung, Neumann and Art (Christian Gaillard) 261

The Magic Flute (Tom Kelly) 299

A Brief Comment on Neumann and His Essay “On Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’” (Debora Kutzinski) 309

VII. Clinical Contributions
Erich Neumann’s Concept of the Distress-ego (Rina Porat) 315

Can You Hear My Voice? (Batya Brosh Palmoni) 333

Neve Tzeelim—A Field of Creation and Development (Rivka Lahav) 347

VIII. On Religion
Erich Neumann and Hasidism (Tamar Kron) 367

Theological Positions in the Correspondence between Jung and Neumann (Angelica Löwe) 385

IX. On Synchronicity
Toward Psychoid Aspects of Evolutionary Theory (Joseph Cambray) 401

X. “Memories from My (Grand)Father’s House”
Introduction 411
Some Memories of My Grandparents (Andreas Jung) 413
Memories (Ulrich Hoerni) 415
Memories (Micha Neumann) 417
Memories (Ralli Loewenthal-Neumann) 421
Memories (Debora Kutzinski) 425
A Response (Thomas B. Kirsch) 429
Remembering the Mamas and Papas (Nomi Kluger Nash) 433
Memories of Max Zeller (1904–1978) (Jacqueline Zeller) 437


About the Contributors

Cover image by Mordecai Ardon

Available at Amazonand at Chiron

Jacob and Esau 
On the Collective Symbolism of the Brother Motif (2nd printing)
by Erich Neumann

cover image by Meir Gur Arieh