A Confrontation with the Unconscious

One of the best kept secrets of psychology will soon emerge from the shadows with the publication by W. W. Norton of the Liber Novus, Carl Jung’s Red Book. The Red Book was Jung’s own hand-written and illustrated journal, an account of his personal struggle with the unconscious, and the crucible for his professional theories. Jung never quite dared to publish The Red Book during his lifetime, and his family has waited almost 50 years after his death to do so.  This is a significant publishing event of what the publisher describes as “The most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.”

I myself can’t wait to see what  is between the pages, especially the illustrations.  Unfortunately, the $195 price tag ($105 at Amazon) means that I will have to wait until I can find it in a local library collection. There is a glimpse of the original Red Book included as part of a recent New York Times Magazine article about it HERE.  You can read about the process of reproducing the book on the DigitalFusion website HERE.  And the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC has the distinction of being the first institution ever to exhibit the original Red Book – so beyond the publication of the facsimile it is now possible to see the actual book itself.

I will close with this quote and image featured in the Times article:

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”


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