The Red Book: C.G. Jung’s Hidden Magnum Opus
Edited and Introduced by Sonu Shamdasani
(editor's note: I had to come out of book review retirement to write this one, but will quickly return to my hiatus, i.e., don't send me any review copies of your books!)
A quick scan of my personal library reveals a dust covered confession: all Jungian books put on the bottom shelves years ago and deliberately forgotten. The primary motive for relegating them to such a low caste status stems from my profound disgust with what has been done with a once vibrant and unique form of psychology. Jung's living vision of the psyche has been cookie cuttered into a convenient, suffocating typology by fame hungry therapists who have willingly taken the depth out of his depth psychology. Such ironic reductionism is ultimately an attempt to con people into believing that contemporary Jungians somehow have the ability to understand and adequately map the unconscious through such now hackneyed phrases as individuation, the numinous, puer/puella and anima/ animus. Jung no doubt would chastize these opportunists for bastardizing his work, all in the name of giving themselves an air of infallible authority and command.
While fretting about how corrupt Jung's original vision has become in the short span of 90 years since its inception, someone synchronistically loaned me a copy of The Red Book: Liber Novus, a collection of Jung’s astonishing artwork and calligraphically inscribed journal entries that he wisely chose to keep hidden for his entire life. Paging through this rather imposing tome of coffee table book dimensions, it became immediately apparent why he kept his true magnum opus incognito. If he had put his potent musings into the public domain early on, he would have been crucified by his colleagues who would not have been able to handle the power or import of his wondrous mandalas, masks, mosaic serpents, arabesque sea monsters and other inter-dimensional wonders he unabashedly filled the book with. They could not have handled Jung’s one on one relation with the ultimate core of the psyche that lays far beyond analysis and codification.
The Red Book should be perused by anyone wary of exploring Jungian psychology in its current degraded form. Doing so will help one appreciate how Jung himself had to carefully toe the empircal line in order to survive total persecution and how he did this by keeping this work private. It is something we ourselves should do-with our powerful dreams, visions and insights in order to sufficiently incubate them. The Red Book will rightfully remind one that Jung was and will continue to be an alchemist, esotericist, artist-the very things that cannot be contained by the dogmatic lexicon that post Jungians continue to abuse in their quest to make a profitable , systematic industry out of depth psychology.
'A Toast to Your Psychic Health!'