Just a moment? Or, the archaic as an expression of the eternal in time

Bishop, P. (2017) Just a moment? Or, the archaic as an expression of the eternal in time. In: Yiassemides, A. (ed.) Time and the Psyche: Jungian Perspectives. Routledge: New York, pp. 87-105. ISBN 9781138120716

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Abstract

In a recent volume, the author has proposed a revival of Jung's notion of the archaic, and this chapter seeks to extend this argumentation in close relation to the problem of time. Opening with an examination of such localized depictions of the archaic as Ovid's and Seneca's description of caves, Porphyry's analysis of Homer's cave of the nymphs, & the 1930s German film Ewiger Wald (Enchanted Forest), this article suggests that what these evocations of the archaic have in common is their emphasis on a particular dimension of time. This dimension, perhaps best described as an Eternal Now, is analysed with references to Plato’s definition of time as an image of eternity in the Timaeus and Nietzsche's evocation, in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra, of the ‘midday vision’ in which the Now is revealed as eternal. According to Jung, what Nietzsche had experienced, along with analogous experiences from various cultures, constituted a primordial affirmation of humankind, an instance of what Jung defined as asn ‘archetype’. Jung distinguished between two kinds of archetypal rebirth experience: one of the transcendence of life in general (subdivided into ritual-induced and immediate experiences), the other of one’s own subjective transformation (divided into a further eight sub-categories). For Jung, the noontide vision in ‘At Noontide’ belongs in the former category of the transcendence of life, and constitutes a classic example of the spontaneous, ecstatic, or visionary experience. Indeed, Jung considered its details to be so accurate that he wrote ‘it is just as if Nietzsche had been present’ at a performance of the mysteries of Eleusis. In a sense, Jung is entirely correct to associate Nietzsche with the great Mysteries: as Socrates remarks in the Phaedo, ‘many bear the emblems, but the devotees are few’, and ‘these devotees are simply those who have lived the philosophical life in the right way’. Later in Zarathustra the eponymous prophet cries out: ‘O happiness! O pain! Oh break, heart!’ (§11) ― for ‘midnight is also midday’ (§10). But how can this be? One answer is that the identity of midday and midnight recalls the initiatory moment into the Eleusinian Mysteries as described by Apuleius in his Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass. Moreover, the midnight sun or black sun (soler nigus) is a motif in alchemy, belonging to the first stage of the alchemical opus. In conclusion, it is argued that Jung's notion of the archaic offers a way to discuss the ‘inner nature’ of humankind.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Archaic, archetype, Platonic, Neoplatonic, alchemical, transcendence, inner nature.
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bishop, Professor Paul
Authors: Bishop, P.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > German
Publisher:Routledge
ISBN:9781138120716

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