Tuesday, October 24, 2017

We mourn the passing of Tom Kirsch

We mourn the passing of Tom Kirsch, after a long and courageous battle with terminal illness.

Tom was one of the leading torch bearers in the tradition of Jungian psychology. He was a Graduate of Yale Medical School, Stanford Department of Psychiatry and C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco.  He was president of the Jung Institute of  San Francisco, as well as of the International Association for Analytical Psychology. He wrote The Jungians, and in 2014, Fisher King Press published his A Jungian Life, of which Irvin Yalom writes: 

"This book is aptly titled. Thomas Kirsch writes not only a fine autobiography but also a fascinating profile of Jungian life in the last several decades. Thomas was the son of two psychoanalysts, disciples of Carl Jung. Thomas's father knew Jung well in Europe before fleeing from Nazi Germany and coming to California, where he and Thomas's mother practiced for many years. The younger Kirsch followed in the footsteps of his parents and became a highly influential scholar and leader of The International Association for Analytical Psychology for many years. His life story is both a personal tale and a wide sweeping panorama of Jungian thought."

The correspondence between Jung and his father, James Kirsch,was edited by Ann Lammers, and published by Routledge. From the back cover: The Jung-Kirsch Letters belongs to a category of literature where the thoughts and ideas of the psychoanalytic masters are revealed behind their more formal writings. We are here served an exceptional vista of ruminations, theoretical and clinical discussions, dreams and personal emotions, as they crystallize into meaningful ideas. Ann Lammers’ skillful editing renders this correspondence between Jung and one of his most prominent Jewish disciples into a masterful volume of great interest for readers, both professional and lay, interested in depth psychology.  Erel Shalit

From Tom Kirsch's contribution to Turbulent Times, Creative Minds: The Relationship between C.G. Jung and Erich Neumann:

"Overall, this correspondence is of immense importance to the history of the Jungian movement. Neumann was considered by many, but by no means all, especially in Jung’s inner circle in Zurich in the 1940s, to be Jung’s intellectual and spiritual son. Jung certainly implies as much in his foreword to The Origins and History of Consciousness (1949/1954), where he writes, “he arrives at conclusions that are among the most important ever to be reached in this field.” In an interview recently available from the Library of Congress in the United States in which Kurt Eissler interviewed Jung on Freud in 1953, Jung discusses the difficulty of being a leading figure but then having a student continuing in a creative way one’s most important thoughts. Jung thought that he was doing that with Freud’s ideas of “archaic vestiges” into archetypes. Freud could not accept that. Jung has the same feeling about Neumann furthering his work. It is not easy when a student makes a real contribution to one’s own most cherished work, but Jung says, “I have a very talented student, Neumann, in . . . Tel Aviv. He is truly a significant person! And, he took hold of some of my material and did something with it. You know, when one is overtaken in this manner, it is not easy for someone who has been in front.” High praise, indeed!
On a personal note, when Erich Neumann was still in Berlin, my favorite aunt was engaged to his older brother Franz, before marrying my favorite Uncle Walter, my mother’s older brother. This is another piece of evidence that the German Jews in Berlin were quite involved with each other.
People may be interested to know that my parents always read Neumann, and I never heard a bad word about him at home! My mother read him avidly, and so did my dad. I have often wondered what my life would have been had my parents stayed in Palestine in 1935. I could have been a Sabra. Hebrew would be my mother tongue. What would I be saying today, at this conference, about Erich Neumann? A path not taken."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jung`s Red Book For Our Time: Searching for Soul under Postmodern Conditions

Jung`s Red Book For Our Time:

Searching for Soul under Postmodern Conditions

by Murray Stein (Editor), Thomas Arzt (Editor) 

The essays in this volume are geared to the recognition that the posthumous publication of The Red Book: Liber Novus by C. G. Jung in 2009 was a meaningful gift to our contemporary world. Similar to the volatile times Jung confronted with highly turbulent and uncertain conditions of world affairs that found himself in when he created this work a century ago, we today too are threaten any sense of coherent meaning, personally and collectively. The Red Book promises to become an epochal opus for the 21st century in that it offers us guidance for finding soul under postmodern conditions.This is the first volume of a three-volume series set up on a global and multicultural level and compiling essays from distinguished Jungian analysts and scholars.

 Contributions by: Murray Stein: Introduction

Thomas Arzt: “The Way of What Is to Come”: Searching for Soul under Postmodern Conditions

Ashok Bedi: Jung’s Red Book: A Compensatory Image for Our Contemporary Culture: A Hindu Perspective

Paul Bishop: In a World That Has Gone Mad, Is What We Really Need A Red Book? Plato, Goethe, Schelling, Nietzsche and Jung

Ann Casement: “O tempora! O mores!”

Josephine Evetts-Secker: “The Incandescent Matter”: Shudder, Shimmer, Stammer, Solitude

Nancy Swift Furlotti: Encounters with the Animal Soul: A Voice of Hope for Our Precarious World

Liz Greene: “The Way of What Is to Come”: Jung’s Vision of the Aquarian Age

John Hill: Confronting Jung: The Red Book Speaks to Our Time

Stephan A. Hoeller: Abraxas: Jung’s Gnostic Demiurge in Liber Novus

Russell A. Lockhart: Appassionato for the Imagination

Lance S. Owens: C.G. Jung and the Prophet Puzzle

Dariane Pictet: Movements of Soul in The Red Book

Susan Rowland: The Red Book for Dionysus: A Literary and Transdisciplinary Interpretation

Andreas Schweizer: Encountering the Spirit of the Depths and the Divine Child

Heyong Shen: Why Is The Red Book “Red”? – A Chinese Reader’s Reflections

Marvin Spiegelman: On the Impact of Jung and his Red Book: A Personal Story

Liliana Liviano Wahba: Imagination for Evil

John C. Woodcock: The Red Book and the Posthuman

Saturday, October 14, 2017

No Room for Small Dreams by Shimon Peres

This book is so full of life that it should be read by everyone, especially the young, and the leaders of the region, particularly those on both the Israeli and Palestinian side who find and raise every obstacle possible to avoid what Peres so pertinently calls “the necessity of peace.”

"In 1934 eleven-year-old Shimon Peres  emigrated to the land of Israel from his native Poland, leaving behind an extended family who would later be murdered in the Holocaust."

Toward the end of his memoirs he writes:

"I believe in the inevitability of peace because I understand the necessity of peace. Necessity ... drove the pioneers to settle the land. It pushed them to think creatively - to turn salted dirt into fertile ground, and transform a fallow desert into a community that could bear fruit. ...
I believe with all my being in the virtue of Zionism, and in the historic decision made by Ben-Gurion to accept the UN resolution for a partitioned Palestine. Even then, Ben-Gurion understood that in order to retain the Jewish character of our state, we had to uphold our values, and that our values are fundamentally democratic. Jews are taught that we are all born in the image of God. To believe this fundamental tenet, a Jewish state must embrace democracy, which demands full equality between the Jews and non-Jews. Democracy, after all, is not only the right of every citizen to be equal, but also the equal right of every citizen to be different. The future of the Zionist project depends on our embrace of the two-state solution.

... To give up on democracy is to abandon our Jewish values. We didn't give up our values even when we were facing furnaces and gas chambers. We lived as Jews and died as Jews and rose again as free Jewish people. We didn't survive merely to be a passing shadow in history, but as a new genesis, a nation intent on tikkun olam, on making the world aright."

Rabin and Peres at the peace gathering, Nov. 4, 1995
Netanyahu in a pre-Rabin assasination demonstration,
next to a coffin bearing the name of Rabin

Friday, October 13, 2017

Netanyahu the Hasmonean

Joshua Sobol, the outstanding Israeli playwright and director, writes the following, after Benjamin Netanyahu's comment in a Bible class that he hopes Israel will last longer than the rule of the Hasmoneans:

"Bibi compares the life expectancy of the State of Israel with that of the Hasmoneans, which lasted a merely 77 years, while he wishes Israel to be able to celebrate its hundredth birthday.
In other words: let’s hope Israel will continue to exist another thirty years.
Those words by the Prime Minister of Israel uncannily recall the prophecy by Ali Khamenei, who gave Israel another merely twenty-five years until it will be destroyed in war and disappear from the map.

“After us the deluge,” said Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV. Louis adopted her nihilistic statement, who after France’s defeat in the battle of Rossbach in 1757, reformulated it thus: “After me, the deluge.”

This is the spirit that now emanates from “Israel’s Royal House.” The message to the young is: Go search for a place where life expectancy is more than thirty years. And for those who remain in this place, and desire to raise their children, grandchildren and their great-grandchildren, the message is: Our Louis XV and Madame Pompadour have to be speedily replaced by those that ensure Israel’s existence over the generations, by its peaceful regional integration, rather than being sentenced to disappear within three decades of continuous conflicts and wars.
Who wants to live under rulers who say, “After us, the deluge”?"

It should be added that the fall of the Hasmoneans was mainly due to strife and infighting, rather than the external onslaught (which Netanyahu refers to). And Bibi, seemingly to defend his rule against the investigations carried out against him, has increased his attacks on big parts of the population, against the media and the State's democratic institutions, such as the legal system and the police.

The following is an excerpt from my novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return, referring to the defeatist view reflected by Netanyahu - which I personally do not share. I trust Israel's past, present and future capability to fight against external forces that aim at its destruction. Leaders like Netanyahu, who with hate speeches set the torches of extremism on fire, do have the capability of tearing up the social fabric. 
True, not everyone had left. There were those who remained behind – he thought of the many poor who had no means to get away, and the baalei teshuvah, those Masters of Repentance who had returned to the fold of the orthodox fathers. It seemed to Eli Shimeoni that their return to the straight path of God had given them the freedom not to ask any questions. They 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.
He had been fascinated by the fanatic obsession with the graves of holy men, whether those scattered over the country, prominently Shimon Bar Yochai at Meron, or those orgiastic journeys by the Bratslav Hassidim to visit the grave of Rabbi Nahman in Uman, or Uriah the Hittite in Iraq – what a thrill! Himself from a somewhat religious background, he often wondered about the fundamentalist need of doomsday fantasies, their need to split the world in good and evil, a “pure” world in which the “impurity” of the “evil other” will be persecuted and exterminated, without the simple realization that this means that if I succeed in my crusade, I will remain trapped as the evil exterminator. 
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 an archaic idealist, or derogatively calling him silly and stubborn, an obsolete Zionist. 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. After all, there is nothing like Israel, and you can not really extract Israel from an Israeli.” 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.
But what struck him the most was, that everything was so everyday-like. Nothing special, nothing particular to notice. So similar to Elie Wiesel’s pastoral description, “I left my native town in the spring of 1944. It was a beautiful day. The surrounding mountains, in their verdure, seemed taller than usual. Our neighbors were out strolling in their shirt-sleeves. Some turned their heads away, others sneered.”
That’s all. Nothing unusual. Only the mountains were taller than usual. And yet, when as a young man Eli had read those few lines, which he had memorized ever since, the impact on him had been shocking. In lieu of immanent mass murder, there was an uncanny sense of the ordinary, sensed by the mountains that were moved more than people were. As man became smaller, the mountains became taller. The uninvolved, the willing or unwilling bystander, may, or may not, have struggled to wrestle himself out of the conflict that the disruption of the ordinary entailed. The victim, on the other hand, would already have been transported away from the reality of a beautiful day in spring, however, not yet fully trampled down by the boots of the octopus.


“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

Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return

is available, in English as well as in Hebrew, at Amazon and other booksellers

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Netanyahu's shameful government

President Reuven Rivlin attends the state ceremony
marking 44 years since the Yom Kippur War. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Not a single member of Netanyahu's government saw it fit to honor the memorial service to the fallen soldiers of the Yom Kippur War, held at the military cemetery at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl, on October 1, 2017. When contacted by the organization commemorating the fallen soldiers, the office of the PM responded that the ministers are very busy.

Ehud Barak expressed outrage at the ministers’ absence, “This is shameful and infuriating. This shames the soldiers who died. Where were Bibi and his ministers? Too busy making political appointments or at a political ceremony in Gush Etzion? This is a new low.”
 Ehud Barak further noted that a government that "forgets the fallen soldiers, will eventually fall and be forgotten."

Labor leader Avi Gabbay said, “A government that does not respect its past and does not have an impressive present does not have much of a future.” 

empty seats at the 10 million shekel
ceremony, Sept. 27, 2017

Netanyahu and his government did have the time - and the money, 10 million shekel - to arrange what they claimed to be a 'state ceremony', celebrating fifty years of settlements. They expressed outrage at the absence of the opposition, the High Court of Justice (as well as the President) from the ceremony, but managed to gather a merely 1600 attendees.

More than two thousand Israeli soldiers were killed in the Yom Kippur War, that began when Arab armies attacked Israel on October 6, 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish year, and more than seven thousand were wounded. Considering that Israel's population in 1973 was 3,338,000, the number of killed would correspond to two hundred thousand in the US of today.

The following is an excerpt from The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel:

Inflated Strength and Denial of Fear

Illusions of safety and self sufficiency were the result of excessive reliance on strength with concomitant denial of fear following the Six Day War.  President Sadat’s attempt to initiate negotiations in 1971 72 did not elicit an unambiguous Israeli response, because there was no real feeling of need.  The psychological frame of mind was such that no one seemed able to pose a threat to Israel, or even evoke fear.  Thus, despite Sadat’s repeated declarations that the coming year would be one of either war or peace, the warnings were foregone and the 1973 Yom Kippur War erupted in complete surprise to the Israelis.  As a consequence of such an illusion of self sufficiency and invulnerability, Israel’s leadership was unable to correctly interpret the intelligence at hand about imminent attack.  Like the entire Israeli collective, the leadership was caught in the dangerous psychological condition of fusion between the individual ego and the extended national or collective self. Personal and collective identities had merged, they were as if inseparable. The individual could (and, in fact, social undercurrents encouraged him to) identify with the national image of strength, omnipotence and fearlessness.  Even death was challenged.  Nothing could inflict harm or injury.  This state of psychological inflation affected the entire nation, including the political leadership, which was unable to differentiate itself from the collective process.  The leadership had fallen victim to the collective self-image of invincibility, and was therefore unable to prevent the war.  In striking contrast, following the Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948, when the people rejoiced and danced in the streets, Ben-Gurion was gravely concerned with what lie ahead, contemplating the possibility of the Arab nations’ forthcoming attack.  In 1973, however, the process of redemption, of the individual ego merging with the collective self, had attained its tragic peak.
The position of strength, force, and power, disconnected from its opposite pole of loss and fear of annihilation, collapsed following the Yom Kippur War.  Since any trace of weakness might have threatened the sense of hubris, and therefore had been denied, the gap between reality and self-perception had reached unhealthy proportions.  With devastating clarity, the Yom Kippur War brought to light the weakness that lingered in the shadow behind the persona of strength and self sufficiency, by which the collective ego had become possessed.  The war brought forth the sense of loss and – again – the deeply rooted fear of ultimate destruction.  This, in turn, generated the release of strength and the will to survive.  The Yom Kippur War was the tragic outcome of a complex having taken possession of a nation’s collective consciousness.

The Yom Kippur War and Its Aftermath
From Ambivalence to Unconditional Ideology

The mood in the wake of the Yom Kippur War was entirely different than the triumph and euphoria that had followed upon the Six Day War. Israelis now found themselves depressed and in grief, the narcissistic illusion of grandiosity and invulnerability had shattered.  …


Preface       The Beggar in the Hero’s Shadow      
Chapter 1    Return to the Source               
Chapter 2    From My Notebook             
Chapter 3    From Dream to Reality             
Chapter 4    Origins and Myths             
Chapter 5    From Redemption to Shadow         
Chapter 6    Wholeness Apart               
Chapter 7    Myth, Shadow and Projection      
Chapter 8    A Crack in the Mask          
Chapter 9    The Death of the Mythical and the Voice of the Soul

Dedication of The Hero and His Shadow

I dedicate this book to those, all too many, whose voices were silenced by man’s evil.
   I dedicate it to those, all too few, who raise their voice against fascism, who speak up in the struggle for peace and reconciliation, especially between Palestinians and Israelis, incessantly on the verge of yet another cycle of violence and hostilities.

   I dedicate it to those who try to hold the vulnerable balance in that ultimate conflict of Abraham between Father and Son, divine and human, idea and implementation, past and future, ego and self.
   I dedicate this book to the daughters and the sons whose future is endangered.