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The RED BOOK Limited Edition Fine Art Prints Catalog

4 | the Red Book Fine Art Prints Liber Novus: Jung’s ‘Red Book’ In the winter of 1913, Jung commenced a prolonged period of self-experimentation, which he called his “confrontation with the unconscious.” His task was one of getting to know his own myth, as a means of overcoming the contemporary malaise of spiritu- al alienation. In the evenings, while maintaining his therapeutic practice, professional activities and family life, he deliberately gave free rein to his fantasy thinking and carefully noted what ensued. He later called this process active imagination. He wrote down these fantasies in the Black Books. These are not personal diaries, but rather the records of a self-experimentation. The dialogues that form these active imaginations can be regarded as a kind of thinking in a dramatic form. When the First World War broke out, Jung considered that a number of his apoca- lyptic fantasies were precognitions of this event. This led him to compose the first draft manuscript of Liber Novus, which consisted in a transcription of the main fantasies from the Black Books, together with a layer of interpretive commentaries and lyrical elabora- tion. Here, Jung attempted to derive general psychological principles from the fantasies, as well as to understand to what extent the events portrayed in the fantasies presented, in a symbolic form, developments that were to occur in the world. The overall theme of the book is how Jung regains his soul and overcomes the con- temporary malaise of spiritual alienation. This is ultimately achieved through enabling the rebirth of a new image of God in his soul and developing a new world view in the form of a psychological and theological cosmology. Liber Novus presents the prototype of Jung’s conception of the individuation process, which he held to be the universal form of indi- vidual psychological development. At the beginning of the book, Jung re-finds his soul and then embarks on a sequence of fantasy adventures, which form a consecutive narrative. The chapters follow a particu- lar format. They begin with the exposition of dramatic visual fantasies. Jung encounters a series of figures in various settings and enters into conversation with them. He is confront- ed with unexpected happenings and shocking statements. He then attempts to understand what had transpired, and to formulate the significance of these events and statements into general psychological conceptions and maxims. Jung held that the significance of these fantasies was due to the fact that they stemmed from the mythopoeic imagination that was missing in the present rational age. The task of individuation lay in establishing a dialogue with the fantasy figures – or contents of the collective unconscious – and integrating them into consciousness, hence recovering the value of the mythopoeic imagination.

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