Carl Jung's celebrated Red Book may be influential and even beautiful, but according to John Rabe, it's hardly his funniest book. COME INSIDE for details.
The Hammer Museum is exhibiting Carl Jung’s “Red Book” from April 11th through June 6. It’s said to be the “most influential unpublished
work in the history of psychology by many contemporary scholars.” W. W. Norton & Co. has now published a facsimile edition, but there’s nothing like seeing the real thing.
News of the Hammer’s exhibit – the book’s only stop on the West Coast – reminded me of my blog posting from September, which follows below:
(Carl Jung's "Other Red Book," in its usual place, next to "Schott's Miscellany" and the NYT Almanac.)
I, for one, was not surprised at all when I read the NY Times Magazine story this weekend about the forthcoming publication of Carl Jung's "Red Book," his illustrated account of a torturous break with reality that, Jung said, formed the basis for "all my works, all my creative activity."
Not surprised, because the Rabe family has owned Jung's "Second Red Book" for almost fifty years.
"You might find this mildly amusing," Jung told my father when he gave him this thick volume back in 1950, during one of Jung's frequent visits to my father's house in Detroit. The two would talk long into the night about the subconscious, Freud, and professional hockey, which was one of Jung's secret fascinations. ("Disaster will fall on America if the league expands," was one of his stock pronouncements.)
Inside the book, Jung wrote (in German), "This red book is funnier than the other red book." It's true. There's none of the gloom, doom, paranoia, and frankly depressing musings and dream recitations of the first book. In fact, the second Red Book has always had an honored place in Rabe bathrooms because of its amusing anecdotes, bon mots, and candid observations, all written in his own hand.
-- "Sigmund (Freud) was a bounder who didn't have the breeding to remove the band from one of his wretched cigars before smoking it."
-- "Sachen schauen immer auf Deutsch lustiger." ("Things always look funnier in German.")
-- Vienna is "nice to visit ... if you don't have to drive anywhere. But with traffic? Forget it!"
-- And, my favorite, "Egal wie stark ich versuche, steigt der pulverisierte Zucker immer ganz über meine Weste und in meine Uhrtasche ein." ("No matter how hard I try, the powdered sugar always goes all over my vest and into my watch pocket.")
W.W. Norton contacted us about publishing OUR Red Book, but we're gonna hold on to it for a while.
After I posted this item, I got several e-mails from excited Jungsters asking, begging for us to publish the book. I didn't have the heart to tell them it was a fraud. Everyone knows (or so I thought) that Jung hated powdered donuts..
My brother James added a comment that was, as usually funnier than my original item:
“Long after I was supposed to be asleep, I remember sneaking to the top of the stairs and listening in. Their discussions were lively and sometimes heated. What I remember most is how they would argue, then it would get very quiet. It didn't last, tho...soon the room was filled with laughter as, in unison, they would recite the only truth upon which they agreed... ‘Camping macht Spaß, bis Sie in einem Zelt schlafen.’ (Camping is great fun, until you sleep in a tent.)”
(Image credit: Illustration from the Red Book by C.G. Jung. © by the Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.)