The Writing Allstars – Carl Jung

All the works of man have their origin in creative imagination. What right, then, have we to disparage fantasy? (Collected Works Vol. 16)

I realize it may seem strange to have the founder of analytical psychology in a list of authors who have influenced my writing but Jung may have done so more than all my other favorites combined. I will never forget sitting down in my first honors English class, all of us spread around the room on couches, pillows, the floor of the Write Place with coffees and notebooks and small, beautifully illustrated hardbound copies of books that reflected the four archetypes we would study that semester. I was nervous but excited and as my professor slowly outlined Jung’s ideas on the whiteboard and something in me came to life. Here was an acknowledgement of the darkness, an acceptance of the sadness, a celebration of those elements that make happiness and joy that much sweeter. Here was the idea that all of humanity is connected deeply to one another, past, present, future, experiencing reality through a collective unconscious. Here was a promise that conflict was actually a necessary part of life and that only through conflict could wholeness come. I was completely captivated. It resonated so very deep in me, reminding me of things I had already known to be true.

Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything. No science will ever replace myth, and myth cannot be made out of any science. For it is not that “God” is a myth, but that myth is the revelation of a divine life in man. (Memories, Dreams, and Reflections)

The power that Jung had as a writer was in his ability to boil complicated truths and profound theories into honest, earnest, meaningful moments. He didn’t spend his time finding the most intelligent (read, the most complicated) ways of saying things, rather I could feel that his desire was for the reader to thoroughly understand his terms and phrases and join him on his journey into individualization. Jung was able to put form to ideas, to make them tangible, to make them knowable and by doing so was able to help me know myself. And isn’t that what we are all looking for when we read? Don’t we see ourselves in our literary friends, heroes and villains alike? We look for ourselves in the patterns of stories, the archetypes of literature, to solidify our understanding of both our selves and the world around us. That is the gift that Jung has given us, has given me.

The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it. (Modern Man in Search of a Soul)

The intricacies of life explained with the simplest of words, to say more by saying less, to guide without directing, that is where Jung excelled and where I want to follow in his footsteps. To think long and hard before the words come. To put pen to paper only after working it out for myself. Because within all fictions are truths and I want to be sure the ones found in my stories will resonate into the deepest recesses of the reader. I want them to find the best aspects of themselves in my heroes and overcome the worst through my villains. I want them to walk away changed, as I did after reading Jung, because they encountered the beast within…and they triumphed. We should all be heroes, even just for a little while.

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. (Memories, Dreams, and Reflections)

Because of Carl Jung, I recognized the value of turning within and embracing the shadowy regions of my soul. Because of Carl Jung, I realized that all of human history stands with me at any given moment, lending me their knowledge and experience to aid me. Because of Carl Jung, I learned to wait, to revel in the machinations of the mind, before writing word one. Because of Carl Jung, I am the writer I am today.


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