Jung: Faust and Zarathustra – Shadows Unite!

Jung: Faust and Zarathustra – Shadows Unite!

As I've already written, Jung felt separated from normal people due to his direct experience of God and his intimate acquaintance with his No. 2. I think it is normal for teenagers to feel different, Jung's different was, well, on a whole different level. He felt despondent of ever fitting in, and yet, proud that he did not.

It was into this adolescent sense of solitude and separation that his mother's No. 2 recommended he read Goethe's FaustFaust, and "it poured into [his] soul like a miraculous balm" (60). Though he found himself sympathizing with Mephistopheles over Faust, he recognized in Faust a character similar to his own No. 2. After a long search, and repeated frustration, Jung felt that he had finally found someone "who saw evil and its universal power, and – more important – the mysterious role it played in delivering man from darkness and suffering" (60). Goethe turned him on to the philosophers, whom he read with devotion, fruitlessly trying to find those that spoke of direct experience instead of seeming to know God "only by hearsay" (61).

A few years after reading Faust, Jung finally tackled Nietzsche. He had hesitated to read Nietzsche, both because he was a scorned philosopher at the time, as well as from a fear that Jung might "be like him, at least in regard to the 'secret' which isolated him from his environment" (102). However, ZarathustraZarathustra was a "tremendous experience" and once again Jung felt a strong kinship towards what he perceived as Nietzsche's No. 2, set down on paper (102).

Jung's No. 2’s sense of historicism (for more on No. 2, see my Arrheton post here) was perhaps one of the reasons he felt such a strong kinship with Goethe’s Faust and Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.Moreover, Jung was convinced that all three of these No. 2's were related through their understanding of the Shadow, and the use of evil by God to bring humans to the Light. These explorations of the Shadow fit well with Jung’s growing desire to understand both himself and the darker side of human existence.

Jung feared that his No. 2 was as 'morbid' as Zarathustra appeared to be and this cast a pall over the chance of any future happiness he might have. He eventually decided that this was not the case because while Nietzsche had only come to acknowledge his No. 2 well past midlife, Jung had known his since childhood (102).

Further, Nietzsche had spoken "incautiously" about his No. 2 while Jung had realized early on that such speech only leads to trouble and regret. Jung concluded that Nietzsche had "fearlessly and unsuspectingly let his No. 2 loose upon a world [and that] he did not understand himself when he fell head first into the unutterable mystery" (103).

It makes me wonder what it must have been like to be so aware of the darkness of human nature at such an early age. Do you remember when you first became conscious of the Shadow? Perhaps, growing up with the Shadow so ever-present in my reality, my task has been to become conscious of the Light and to realize that the Shadow is not all there is…

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