our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2011/09/14

Libido: Jung vs Freud

I don't mean to be invidious--but Purgation: Is that not a centerpiece of Freudian theory? A closed system of forces/energies playing off one another. It always seemed so mechanical, venting and repressing. What is its relationship to eternity, to our experience and intuition of the mystery we came out of -- and go back into? I don't feel it. Jung seems a living system, the unconscious a creative matrix, not a receptacle of repressed content. It is that from which we develop. Libido as something akin to Eros is a reading readily compatible with Jung. Jung writes:
"...the term "libido," introduced by Freud, is not without a sexual connotation, an exclusively sexual definition of this concept is one sided and must therefore be rejected. Appetite and compulsion are the specific features of all impulses and automatisms. No more than sexual metaphors of common speech can the corresponding analogies in instinctual processes, and the symptoms and dreams to which they give rise, be taken literally. *The sexual theory of psychic automatisms is an untenable prejudice.* [that's their beef, yes?] The very fact that it is impossible to derive the whole mass from a single instinct forbids a one-sided definition of libido. I use this term in the general sense in which it was understood by the classical authors. [...] We can say, then, that the concept of libido in psychology has functionally the same significance as the concept of energy in physics since the time of Robert Mayer. (See my "On Psychic Energy,"** CW5, SYMBOLS OF TRANSFORMATION [** in cgj CW8]
And with energy, we're back to ambivalence, back to Eros: the force that moves the sun and all the stars. Fascination is a psychopomp, mediator between mortal and immortal, the conscious and the unconscious. Is its movement not libido? It says that to me. I never felt Freud going all the way with this meaning. The Full Monty that encompasses all things. Freud pulled back from that. Fell off his chair. Jung wrote of Freud, and to a great extent it's applicable to the present:
The historical conditions which preceded Freud were such that they made a phenomenon like himself necessary, and it is precisely the fundamental tenet of his teaching-namely, the repression of sexuality-that is most clearly conditioned in this historical sense. Like his greater contemporary Nietzsche, Freud stands at the end of the Victorian era, which was never given such an appropriate name on the Continent despite the fact that it was just as characteristic of the Germanic and Protestant countries as of the Anglo-Saxon. The Victorian era was an age of repression, of a convulsive attempt to keep anaemic ideals artificially alive in a framework of bourgeois respectability by con­stant moralizings. These ideals were the last offshoots of the col­lective religious ideas of the Middle Ages, and shortly before had been severely shaken by the French Enlightenment and the ensuing revolution. Hand in hand with this, ancient truths in the political field had become hollow and threatened to collapse. It was still too soon for the final overthrow, and consequently all through the nineteenth century frantic efforts were made to prevent the Christian Middle Ages from disappearing altogether. Political revolutions were stamped out, experiments in moral freedom were thwarted by middle-class public opinion, and the critical philosophy of the late eighteenth century reached its end in a renewed, systematic attempt to capture the world in a unified network of thought on the medieval model. But in the course of the nineteenth century enlightenment slowly broke through, particularly in the form of scientific materialism and rationalism. This is the matrix out of which Freud grew, and its mental characteristics have shaped him along foreordained lines. He has a passion for explaining everything rationally, exactly as in the eighteenth century; one of his favourite maxims is Voltaire's "Ecrasez l'infame." With a certain satisfaction he invariably points out the flaw in the crystal; all complex psychic phenom­ena like art, philosophy, and religion fall under his suspicion and appear as "nothing but" repressions of the sexual instinct. Sigmund Freud in his Historical Setting CGJUNG CW 15