Jung on Parsifal

“If, in the case of Amfortas and the union of spear and Grail, only the sexual problem is discerned, we get entangled in an insoluble contradiction, since the thing that harms is also the thing that heals. Such a paradox is true and permissible only when one sees the opposites as united on a higher plane, when one understands that it is not a question of sexuality, either in this form or in that, but purely a question of the attitude by which every activity, including the sexual, is regulated. Once again I must emphasize that the practical problem in analytical psychology lies deeper than sexuality and its repression. The latter point of view is no doubt very valuable in explaining the infantile and therefore morbid part of the psyche, but as an explanatory principle for the whole of the psyche it is quite inadequate. What lies behind sexuality or the power instinct is the attitude to sexuality or to power. In so far as an attitude is not merely an intuitive (i.e., unconscious and spontaneous) phenomenon but also a conscious function, it is, in the main, a view of life. Our conception of all problematical things is enormously influenced, sometimes consciously but more often unconsciously, by certain collective ideas that condition our mentality. These collective ideas are intimately bound up with the view of life and the world of the past centuries or epochs. Whether or not we are conscious of this dependence has nothing to do with it, since we are influenced by these ideas through the very air we breathe. Collective ideas always have a religious character, and a philosophical idea becomes collective only when it expresses a primordial image. Their religious character derives from the fact that they express the realities of the collective unconscious and are thus able to release its latent energies. The great problems of life, including of course sex, are always related to the primordial images of the collective unconscious. These images are balancing or compensating factors that correspond to the problems which life confronts us with in reality.”

Charles Lincon

Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, Hegelian dialectics, Attic Greek, masters University of Amsterdam.