In my last letter I said that with the passing of older Jungian teachers, we must "dream the dream forward" and redefine the Jungian concepts to illuminate our own time, our own zeitgeist. Jung stated clearly that we must not rely on that which has already been achieved but must renew enduring truths. Like democracy, for instance, which will atrophy or be eroded if we don't actively participate in living it.
First of all, a personal story: I did my PhD at the University of Queensland and I chose C.G. Jung and Luce Irigaray as my primary interlocutors. My supervisors said I couldn't use Jung, that his thinking was “not respected in the academy” and that I should “choose a better thinker”. (!) I objected and persisted and they conceded, “Well, OK, you’d better argue your case very well". I was not their favourite candidate. Two chapters in my thesis focus on a modern (my/Jungian/Irigarayan) interpretation of the Fairy Tale “The Handless Maiden” and the university again had conniptions.
My personal experience is relevant because a Professor of Psychology has been teaching Jung at university for decades. Not only that, but his students love it. “I don’t quite know how I’ve gotten away with it,” he says. Prof Jordan B Peterson has reached an extraordinary number of people, and his teaching orbits around Jung (and philosophy, and literature, and myth) in a very similar way to Jung himself. He describes Jung as a brilliant thinker. (Thank you for that vindication - not that UQ is listening!)
Dr Peterson's lectures have had over 100 million YouTube hits. 100 million people listening to Jung? (And other foundations of psychology.) And growing exponentially! I’ve always felt that Jung’s teaching was not (only?) for his time, but I certainly think Jung’s teaching is "an idea whose time has come." What a great time to be alive!
Dr Peterson is a luminous presence among those teachers and thinkers. Like all good Jungians, he loves to work with myth and he has done an extensive analysis of Walt Disney’s The Lion King. Be warned though, Dr Peterson's views are contoversial! Some of your views are likely to be challenged! It is important that you think for yourself.
So this month I invire you to study the Lion King, and extract what you can. I begin with the idea of the making of a hero. But before getting to our study materials, let me pose a few questions: