Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jung & Klee in Tunisia

"It's the birthday Carl Jung, born in Kesswil, Switzerland (1875). He was the founder of analytic psychology. He noticed that myths and fairytales from all kinds of different cultures have certain similarities. He called these similarities archetypes, and he believed that archetypes come from a collective unconscious that all humans share. He said that if people get in touch with these archetypes in their own lives, they will be happier and healthier." From Writer's Almanac, 26 July 2009.

Yes, another Westerner-tromping-about-in-Tunisia post. Actually, two of them. But first...

Having a Jungian analyst friend can be daunting, useful; it can also lead to heated discussion. I took an afternoon seminar on Jung with this person; I'd not seen her in action with fellow Jungians & wow. I knew artists & writers can be competitive &, yes even, cruel. All that soothing talk of mandalas went right out the window after about 30 minutes, first session. Things settled down somewhat after I interjected a 'there is a first-among-equals-here' comment. (It was a paid-for thingy after all...some deference should be me old-fashioned.)

It reminded me of the time three German graduate students took me to Freiburg with them to hear a lecture by a famous philosopher. (I'd like to say it was Karl Jaspers but since he died in 1969, it would have been quite something to hear him lecture in the 1970s. Perhaps a student of his, memory fails me here.) I don't speak German, though I got along with minor shopping, errands, & so on. A philosophy lecture, non. That's OK, it was fun to go, probably as their mascot. (One was a painter & I posed for his classes, maybe that was it. However, to be clear, I was clothed on the train & at the lecture.)

While having some post-lecture beers, a heated default-to-German discussion erupted. I asked lamely for English or French, but things were already out of control. Some Swedish guy chimed in, I don't know if to help or to argue, completely unclear. Then, one threw his beer into the other guy's face. (I ducked.) Great outrage on everyone's part. On the train home, I joked that it was not only embarrassing to watch two grown men act so absurdly, but I'd (secretly ) looked forward to one (just one) cinematic drink-toss into an as-yet-to-be-determined man's face. Someday. When I was young enough to get away with it & he really deserved it. Now, well.... This got the laugh I'd hoped for & while simmering continued now & again, beers remained in glasses.

Back to the free-for-all at the Jung seminar. I didn't disagree with anyone except someone rhapsodizing about Jung's writing about Tunisia in Memories, Dreams, Reflections. His analysis of Tunisia & the people was close to plain dumb. Even though he qualifies it with " a European...", he still makes pronouncements that were cringe-inducing when I was 18 & worse, at, uh, my age now. Talk about colonial-infected interpretations...oh my. So that was my little contribution/warning to the group seminar. Then I sat back for 7 or 8 more Wednesday afternoons & watched the show. Relieved that I had nothing to prove or refute, I took a great deal of pleasure from the discussions. The best thing, though, was watching my friend. interact with the others. She'd become very tentative & insecure in other parts of her life over the years. Here, she was "back." It was wonderful to see & hear her express herself so clearly & at times forcefully (not rudely). No beer was thrown. (Rats!)

Two Paul Klee images. He travelled to Tunisia with August Macke & others in 1914. & it changed his painting. (He was also interested in dreams & analysis.) With Europe about to explode, it must have been a relief to be hit with the sun & light of North Africa rather than bullets. A brief respite, then WWI, another restless simmering respite, & then WWII. This time, even worse. This was ever-present in Strasbourg, every time a WWI or WWII anniversary approached; there are so many in Alsace.

Have a great Sunday or Monday, depending on where you are. xo

[Klee's Tunisian Gardens from Paris WebMuseum; le ville, Kairouan via Tunisiaonlinenews/com/2009/03/maghreb-mouled-conference-opens-in-kairouan/. The WebMuseum is in right sidebar as clickable icon, as well.] Hazel, author of The Clever Pup has an excellent January 2009 post on Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider) group in Munich, here.