Rereading/Misreading Jung: Post-Jungian Theory

Baumlin, James

Rereading/Misreading Jung: Post-Jungian Theory

Rowland, Susan. 2001. Jung: A Feminist Revision. Cambridge: Polity Press. $70.95 hc. $29.95 sc. 200 pp.

Jensen, George H. 2002. Identities across Texts. Ed. David Jolliffe and Michael William. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. $52.50 he. $22.95 sc. 239 pp.

Jung’s attitudes to women, blacks, socalled “primitive” cultures, and so forth are now outmoded and unacceptable. He converted prejudice into theory, and translated his perception of what was current into something supposed to be eternally valid. Here, too, it is the responsibility of the post-Jungians to discover these mistakes and contradictions and to correct Jung’s faulty or amateur methods. When this is done, one can see that Jung had a remarkable capacity to intuit the themes and areas with which late twentieth century psychology would be concerned: gender; race; nationalism; cultural analysis . . . . Recognizing the soundness of Jung’s intuitive vision facilitates a more interested but no less critical return to his texts. This is what is meant by “post-Jungian”: correction of Jung’s work and also critical distance from it. (Andrew Samuels, “Jung and the post-Jungians”)

Jungian theory is ripe for deconstruction and in some ways uncannily anticipates poststructuralist thought. I have described Jungian individuation as romance but it is equally valid to draw out its deconstructive implications. . . . By applying deconstructive insights to Jungian psychology, the resulting romance produces a “postmodern Jung” haunting his logocentrically inclined texts. (Susan Rowland, C. G. Jung and Literary Theory)

Jung’s model of the psyche . . . could be described as postmodern, a view of the self that recognizes diversity and difference rather than unity and coherence . . . .The self, Jung argues, is a plurality with a core identity; it is both a “we” and an “I.” But Jung’s work is not often read in this way. To bring this aspect of Jung’s system to the fore, I will be suggesting a way of rereading-what I have called an intentional misreading-Jung’s major concepts. Qensen, Identities across Texts)

This review of Susan Rowland’s Jung: A Feminist Revision and George H. Jensen’s Identities Across Texts proceeds from an assumption that the varieties of poststructuralist and social-constructionist thought have, by now, largely completed themselves and, having taught us what they can, stand themselves in need of correction, qualification, and critique: such is the way of all mature theory. Questioning what lies beyond, scholars have begun to ask what social-constructionism has forgotten, ignored, or gotten wrong. Into this new, post-poststructuralist intellectual environment, the individual has reentered discussion: not as the solitary, Romantic consciousness once theorized by liberal humanism, but as situated in gender, race, and culture. Returning to explore questions of psychology, “personal agency,” and selfidentity, we might find it timely to reconsider C. G. Jung, one of the psyche’s first great explorers. But we cannot return to the same, “high-structuralist” Jung who once loomed over criticism. We are left, rather, to reread Jungian concepts through lenses provided by poststructuralism.

While offering different perspectives-Rowland writes as a British feminist and literary critic, Jensen as an American composition theorist-both authors belong to an emerging field that analytical psychologist Andrew Samuels has broadly termed “post-Jungian .”As Rowland remarks in her earlier C. G. Jung and Literary Theory: The Challenge from Fiction (2001), “theoretical approaches such as feminism . . . can make very necessary criticisms of the cultural biases deeply embedded in Jungian ideas” (188). “At the same time,” she adds, “Jungian theory has been an unjustly neglected resource in the development of literary studies” (188). It is this double conviction that marks Rowland’s and Jensen’s work as post-Jungian: specifically, that Jungian concepts need to be critiqued by, as well as reintroduced to and incorporated within, poststructuralist thought. Reread in the light of poststructuralist and social-constructionist criticism, Jung can once again make significant advances to theory: such is their claim, and it is worth considering.

In her introduction to Literary Theory, Rowland offers “to initiate the process of absorbing Jungian theory into modern critical discourses such as deconstruction, feminism, postmodern spirituality, reader-response and postcolonialism in ways that have been achieved with great perspicacity and thoroughness for the theories of Sigmund Freud” (2001, 1). She pursues this same aim in Feminist Revision, though focusing more sharply on gender studies. Both works remain accessible to readers newly acquainted with archetypal theory, presenting clear outlines of major Jungian concepts as well as helpful glossaries. But whereas Literary Theory reads Jung in practical application to works of contemporary fiction, Feminist Revision surveys and critiques the current state of Jungian and post-Jimgian analytic psychology in relation to the varieties of postmodern feminism. Offering an original and truly revisionist reading of Jung, Feminist Revision completes her earlier book’s task of “absorbing Jungian theory into modern critical discourses.” In sum, Rowland’s Literary Theory maps out the broad critical context of her later, more ambitious Feminist Revision, to which I now turn.

Like Freud, Jung grounds ego-consciousness upon, an unconscious that is, by definition, unknowable-a mysterious other within the economy of the psyche that serves to unsettle the Enlightenment’s darling, “sovereign” ego, for whom meaning and self-identity are marked by self-presence. Like Freudianism, too, Jung’s unconscious expresses itself through processes of symbolization (though post-Freudian theory, particularly as practiced by Jacques Lacan, treats the psyche as a mode of language, whereas for Jung the psyche “speaks” through images). Yet Jung goes further in deconstructing the imperious, patriarchal ego by declaring the autonomy of the unconscious and by describing a contrasexual anima indwelling within the psyche, whose function is to mediate between the now-relativized ego and the “objective psyche.”

Indeed, Rowland’s aim is to recover the feminine voices suppressed and almost (though not quite) smothered within Jung’s predominantly masculinist, logocentric texts. Pursuing this aim, Rowland returns to Jung’s biographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1985). Yet her feminist retelling of “Jung’s Lives” (as she terms her first chapter) reveals ways that Jung’s insights derived from intimate contact-alternatively nurturing and stormy-and collaboration with women: with his mother, his younger cousin (a medium whose séances formed the subject of Jung’s doctoral dissertation), his wife, his patient-turned-lover-and-fellow-analyst-and, crucially, his own internalized feminine aspect or anima. And it is the anima above all that gives Jungian archetypal psychology its distinctive character. For, unlike Freud, who sought to “build up” the ego at the expense of the unconscious (“Where there was id, let there be ego!” went Freud’s famous declaration), Jung sought to relativize the ego within an internalized pantheon of autonomously functioning archetypes. As Rowland writes,

The ego’s structure is predicated upon the hero myth, a narrative of learning to despise and repress the feminine anima. However, it is the anima, not the ego, that is the true base of consciousness. She leads away from the imperious ego and towards the unfathomable otherness of the psyche. Acting through psychic images, the anima aims for the sacrifice of the ego’s will to control. . . . Anima consciousness means awareness of my unconsciousness. It means theory and knowledge themselves must be held provisionally, subject to continual testing and revision. “Theory” can only be a “personal myth.” (Rowland 2002, 76)

In these many respects, Jungian-archetypal psychology undergirds the skeptical, anti-essentialist epistemologies of poststructuralism. Yet Rowland’s last claim, that “‘theory’ can only be a ‘personal myth,'” needs unpacking. What does this mean?

Rowland’s revisionist argument rests upon her analysis, thoroughly deconstructive, of two versions of Jung, both simultaneously present and quarreling within the same texts. The first version-well known to students of traditional archetypal criticism-is Jung the author of “grand theory,” by which phrase Rowland describes “the tendency in Jung’s writings to produce comprehensive accounts of the human psyche and culture” (2002, 177). It is Jung the “grand theorist” who remains subject to charges of misogyny, fascism, racism, and essentialism.The second version-upon which Rowland grounds her feminist revision-is Jung the author of “personal myth,” Rowland’s phrase “for Jung’s desire to use his own psyche as the location for his theory” (178). As she explains in her second chapter, “Introducing Jungian Theory,”

The expression “personal myth” is . . . valuable to Jung because the religious connotations of “myth” can stand for the essentially unknowable and overwhelming nature of the unconscious. It enables Jung to embed in his conceptual writings a skepticism about conventional notions of theory (the power to “explain” everything), as well as providing a way to respect the radical otherness of the unconscious. (Rowland 2002, 26)

Rowland goes so far as to assert that this second Jung “disowns ‘theory,’ meaning the foolish claim to speak for all persons” (178); rather, “the Jung of personal myth uses his own ’empirical evidence,’ his own psychic images, as the building blocks of his ideas” (178).That is, when Jung writes of his own, personal engagement with “his anima”-to be distinguished from Jung’s “grand-theory” pronouncements concerning “the anima” (an innate, préexistent form smacking of essentialism, masculinism, and cultural bias)-he points the way for post-Jungian feminists, who seek to account for their personal experience of the psyche-as-feminine.

As Rowland puts it, “the deconstructive strand in Jung’s work enables a feminist critique of its sexist essentialism and logocentric pronouncements” (2002, 107); this critique, moreover, can be pursued “from within Jungian theory” (107). Jung-the-skeptic thus deconstructs Jung-the-positivist, thereby freeing archetypal imagery for feminist thought. Pursuing this insight, Rowland’s remaining chapters survey contemporary writing for feminist “personal-myth” narratives, finding them in both fantasy literature and “goddess feminism”-her term for the genre of popular psychology that treats ‘”feminine archetypes’ . . . as if they were goddesses in the human mind” (176). Affirming their interrelationship, Rowland writes that “goddess feminism exists at the boundaries, those interesting postfeminist postmodern margins, of psychology and literature”:

Feminist fantasy literature is the attempt to imagine -women and the feminine beyond the social restraints of both existing societies and the dominant genre of literary realism. . . . Fantasy literature is postmodern in that it uses language to conjure visions of other worlds without asserting their empirical reality. It does not offer social truth to readers, but rather a chance to experience in fiction different narratives of society and gender. (Rowland 2001, 151)

Rowland writes further of a “post-Jungian Gothic” and a “post-Jungian Sublime,” outlining the feminist resources of both genres.

Whereas Rowland rereads Jungian concepts through lenses of postmodern feminism, George H. Jensen combines Hegelian dialectic and Piercean semiotics in his deliberate “misreading” of Jung-by which term he signals an intention “to read . . . in a way that releases new potential” (2002, 5). Asserting the “semiotic wholeness of body, social context, and material world” (15), Jensen seeks to rebuild Jungian theory upon Hegelian premises “already lurking in Jung’s texts” (23), though their influence is weakened, even repressed, by Jung’s stronger tendencies toward scientific positivism; nonetheless, these implicitly Hegelian influences may be “found in Jung’s attempt to create a model of the psyche that is based on the assumption that ‘the whole is real’ and that reality is constructed interpersonally” (23).Within such premises, claims of “knowledge” (including self-knowledge), “truth,” and “reality” arise not as solitary, intra-subjective acts of cognition but as transactions among self, object, and other. Necessarily, such transactions remain situated in time and material culture-not to mention the materiality of the living, human body-and involve semiosis: that is, they involve an unending (because inexhaustible) process of interpretation in every aspect. Whether situated as object or experience, as percipient or communicant, each aspect of the semiotic field belongs to a totality that can only be known in its totality. Thus Jensen treats “the cognitive and social . . . not as independent forces that interact but as parts that cannot exist independent of the whole” (xi). By means of Hegelian dialectic, Jensen transforms Jungian psychology into a mode of sociological and cultural criticism.

Like Rowland, Jensen strips Jungian-archetypal theory of its essentialist claims. Rejecting traditional arguments as to their a priori nature,Jensen treats archetypes as “complexes of emotions” (2002,131), thereby situating them in the living, human body rather than in a transhistorical and transcultural-in effect, a transcendent and eternal-“collective unconscious.” In this respect, Jensen might anticipate some support from post-Jungian psychologist James Hillman (1983,11-14), for whom there are no transcendent archetypes per se but, rather, objects, individuals, events, and images that one experiences archetypally-that is, as bearing a strong “affect-tone” that, in itself, declares the personal meaningfulness, of such experience. But Jensen steps further toward social-constructionism: rather than dwell on their internal, image-making capacities, he treats archetypes as manifested in social role-playing. From this perspective, the major Jungian archetypes-the ego, the shadow and trickster, the persona, the anima and animus are those to which Jensen gives most attention-serve to pattern our behaviors in interpersonal relations, governing how we feel and act in concrete situations, how we view ourselves and (via unconscious projections) how we view others. Thus, “as these complexes of emotions come into being within culture, language, and the material world, certain semiotic patterns develop that could be referred to as archetypes” (2002,131). Jensen’s treatment of anima- and animus-projections is illustrative:

If we view the anima and animus as a reaction to culture, that is, to culturally imposed gender roles, we find that they operate within that particular power structure. Contrary to Jung, I have argued that the anima and animus should not be viewed as archetypes, that is, as transcultural. They may appear to be archetypal only because patriarchy is so widespread. Once, however, we begin to look for the effects of culture and history, we find it. (Jensen 2002, 119)

What, for Jung, were pre-existent, transcendent forms within the “objective psyche” become, for Jensen, “a reaction to . . . culturally imposed gender roles.”

A further resource for articulating a post-Jungian, transactional theory arises from Jung’s tendency to treat archetypes in “constellations” or triads, such as mother-father-child, victim-hero-destroyer, martyr-persecutor-witness, and trickster-fool-judge (Jensen 2002, 140-44). While I lack space to describe the complexities of such constellations (and, particularly, of the ways they seek resolution through a “hidden fourth” [132]), please note how Jensen once again situates an important Jungian concept within the semiotic fields of body, language, and culture:

Thus, affect-toned constellations, as part of the potential of the human body, do not take on content as much as they differentiate themselves and . . . emerge into the space of visual images and the time of language. At this point, the archetype . . . often splits off, forming archetypal constellations that seek completion in each other. The constellations tend to form threes (e.g., rescuer, victim, destroyer) that are inseparable from a particular social context and have meaning (are best interpreted) within the history of that context. . . .When we are playing a particular archetypal role (e.g., the rescuer) we seek out a completion of our role in others (e.g., a victim to save and a destroyer to slay) because we seek the emotional wholeness that is within us . . . . (Jensen 2002, 132)

Extending this insight to literary criticism, Jensen observes instances when characters role-play within specific constellations-once again demonstrating that archetypes arise and express themselves interpersonally, in literature as well as in life.

Traditional archetypal criticism typically identifies a single character or protagonist as a work’s heroic ego-consciousness, thereby subsuming others to archetypes opérant within that character’s unconscious “soul-making” or individuation. A more transactional approach acknowledges that archetypally-patterned behaviors arise not intrapsychically but interpersonally and that each major character is, in his or her own right, an ego-consciousness with whom others play archetypal roles. In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, for example, St. John and Rochester bear projections of Jane’s animus, the former negative, the latter initially ambivalent but ultimately positively transformed; it is equally important to reverse the analysis transactioiially, observing that Jane joins Bertha in bearing Rochester’s anima-projections (and that they, too, respectively, enact positive and negative roles).

In his Psychological Types (1923), Jung outlines a personality theory premised upon observations that an individual’s behavior-particularly with regard to information-gathering and decision-making-reveals “predictable” and “classifiable” preferences distinctive of one’s “basic personality” (Krueger andThuesen 1988, 10-11). Jung charted such preferences within three binary oppositions: extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling. Adding a fourth binary-one charting preferences between perceiving and judging (thus yielding, in combination with other binaries, a total of sixteen personality types)-Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers developed Jung’s system into the psychological-testing instrument now known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Intensively normed and studied for decades, the MBTI has been administered literally to millions in academic advisement, corporate training, and marriage counseling, making Jung’s theory of psychological types arguably his strongest, most abiding influence upon teaching and counseling in America today. I should add that Jensen’s own strongest contribution to date rests in his appropriation of Jung’s psychological types for composition studies. His several collaborations with John K. DiTiberio, which include Personality and the Teaching of Writing (Jensen and DiTiberio 1989) and Writing and Personality: Finding Your Voice, Your Style, Your Way (DiTiberio and Jensen 1995), outline the distinctive learning- and writing-habits of each MBTI type, thereby demonstrating-compellingly, I would suggest, given my own classroom use of Jensen’s textbooks-that no one writing process or approach can effectively serve all students (or all teachers, for that matter). Indeed, writing from experience, I can attest that awareness of each type’s differing cognitive style nudges one toward better teaching, making one more responsive to the strengths and challenges pertaining to each type; one can also become more aware of the strengths and challenges pertaining to one’s own personality type (both as a teacher and as a writer) and to the ways that individuals of each type interact, positively as well as negatively, with others. Let me add that Jungian-MBTI type theory sidesteps charges of essentialism by describing preferences rather than static traits and observes ways that culture, family dynamics, and personal history affect such preferences throughout one’s lifetime, allowing for evolution and adaptation to changing situations and exigencies.

I mention Jensen’s previous MBTI collaborations, as they provide useful contexts for Identities. In Writing, E’iTiberio and Jensen demonstrate that one reads, interprets, and responds based on assumptions regarding an author’s implicit type: among examples mentioned, Joseph Heller writes as if an “intuitive,” Doris Lessing as if a “sensing” type; Robertson Davies and Annie Dillard as if “feeling,” Anton Chekhov and Martin Luther King, Jr. as if “thinking” types; Richard Selzer and George Orwell as if “judging,” Woody Alien and KurtVonnegut as if “perceiving” types-and so on among the various combinations of MBTI functions. In Identities,Jensen carries this insight further, observing how entire literary epochs reflect “dominant” type-functions. American realism provides his example: W. D. Howells, Mark Twain, Hamlin Garland, and Stephen Crane each reflect combined functions of “thinking” and “sensing,” and each turns weapons of satire and irony against the “intuitive” and “feeling” functions dominant in literary Romanticism. And whereas Jensen and DiTiberio’s Personality turns type-theory into a multifaceted approach to composition, Jensen’s Identities turns the same into an equally multifaceted approach to reader-response: as writers write, so readers read from within the preferences and perspective of their distinctive types.

Let me conclude by observing ways that these authors support and advance the latest trends in theory. In “Special Focus: Personal Writing” (2001, 34-40), Jane E. Hindman notes the sudden “preeminence of’the personal'” (34) in scholarship, reflected in such “rhetorical moves and genres” (38) as “a spécifie, individual positioning of a researcher … an instance of Outing’ oneself by revealing religious, sexual, ethnic, racial, or economic affiliations; an autobiographical account, a memoir; a hybrid genre of theory and autobiography; an embodied writing that examines the institutional origins of individual affect and taste; a reader’s individual decision how to consume and circulate texts” (38). Demonstrably, Rowland’s outline of postmodern, “personal-myth” narrative belongs in Hindman’s list. In some ways, Rowland and Hindman describe identical practices: Rowland’s reading of Memories, Dreams, Reßections, for example, dwells upon the work’s “hybrid” nature, its intermingling of’theory and autobiography.” Indeed, her analysis amounts to an “outing,” not only of her own feminism but of Jung’s “individual positioning” as a “researcher”-that is, again, of the ways “personal myth” contaminates and undermines his claims as a “grand theorist.” But what Rowland adds, importantly, to discussions of “the personal” in scholarship is a consideration of the psyche, particularly as it gives shape to women’s experience; and she offers archetypal imagery as a means of organizing, interpreting, and communicating the same.

Related to this emerging emphasis upon “the personal” is a call for rapprochement between cognitive-expressivist rhetoric and social constructionism. In “Dialectics of Self: Structure and Agency as the Subject of English” (2000, 145-65), Alan W. France marks the errors recurrent upon each side:

on the one hand, expressivists have largely failed “to articulate the theories underlying their practices in any systematic way . . . while social constructionists were working out epistemological positions and promoting theoretical self consciousness . . .” (O’Donnell 1996, 425). But the inverse is true as well. For their part, social constructionists have not worked out much of a theory of personal agency, failing largely to offer a way out of the “disabling postmodern box of the always already determined subject” (148-49). (Flannery 1991,707, 148-49)

As if in answer to this call, Jensen’s post-Jungian, transactional “theory of personal agency” (as France terms it) pushes beyond “the debate . . . between cognitivists (those who want to understand how the mind of the writer influences composition) and social constructionists (those who want to understand how culture and society influence composition),” offering instead to “break down boundaries between individual and community, mind and society, composition and literature, . . . the conscious and the unconscious” (Jensen 2002, xi). Like Rowland’s, Jensen’s latest work proves timely, indeed.

Works Cited

DiTiberio,John K., and George H.Jensen. 1995. Writing and Personality: FindingYour Voice, Your Style, Your Way. Palo Alto: Davies-Black.

Flannery, Kathryn. 1991. “Composing and the Question of Agency.” College English 53:701-13.

France, Alan W. 2000. “Dialectics of Self: Structure and Agency as the Subject of English.” College English 63: 145-65.

Hillman, James. 1983. Archetypal Psychology: A Brief Account. Dallas: Spring.

Hindmanjane E. 2001. “Special Focus: Personal Writing.” College English 64: 34-40.

Jensen, George H., and John K. DiTiberio. 1989. Personality and theTeaching of Writing. Norwood, NJ: ABLEX.

Jung, C. G. 1985. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. 1961. Reprint. Trans. Richard and Clara Winston. Ed. Aniela Jaffe. New York: Vintage.

_____. 1923. Psychological Types. New York: Harcourt.

Krueger, Otto, and Janet M.Thuesen. 1988. Type Talk: The Sixteen Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work. New York: Dell.

Myers, Isabel Briggs, and Peter Myers. 1993. Gifts Differing, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists.

O’Donnell, Thomas G. 1996. “Polirics and Ordinary Language: A Defense of Expressivist Rhetorics.” College English 58: 423-39.

Rowland, Susan. 2001. C. G. Jung and Literary Theory: The Challenge from Fiction. London: Palgrave.

Samuels, Andrew. 1985. Jung and the Post-Jungians. London: Routledge.

James S. Baumlin is professor of English at Southwest Missouri State University. His recent work includes Selected Essays of Jim W. Corder: Pursuing the Personal in Scholarship, Teaching, and Writing, coedited with Keith D. Miller (2004), and Post-Jungian Criticism: Theory and Practice, co-edited with Tita French Baumlin and George H. Jemen (2004).

Copyright West Chester University Winter 2005

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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