A friend sends the following comment on the story of Jung and Lindbergh and the UFOs, which I talked about in my last post:
“I imagine Jung was very aware that he was conversing with an aviator, not a psychologist, and moreover a person not likely to follow or grasp the approach Jung took to numinous matters such as the ‘real’ significance of UFOs. These discussions he would be wise to reserve for a more appropriate audience. The ‘fascinating discussion of psychological aspects’ that Lindbergh fantasized would occur was totally unrealistic. Jung was not known for making his ideas easily understood by the uninitiated. Hell, even the people who followed his every word often struggled to understand what he was getting at. I think Jung just kept the discussion concrete and mundane because that was the only real option, given who he was communicating with.”
It’s an interesting, plausible take on the episode. And I may have given a somewhat misleading picture of what went on between Lindbergh and Jung by not quoting the end of the story (from A. Scott Berg, Lindbergh, New York: Berkley Books, 1998, pp. 511-512):
“When Lindbergh told him that the United States Air Force had investigated hundreds of reported [UFO] sightings without finding a shred of evidence of supernatural phenomena, Jung indicated he did not wish to pursue the discussion much further. … Lindbergh added that he had discussed with Chief of the United States Air Force General Spaatz the recent flurry of UFO reports. ‘Slim,’ Spaatz had said, ‘don’t you suppose that if there was anything true about this flying-saucer business, you and I would have heard about it by this time?’ Jung was not impressed. ‘There are,’ he said, ending their conversation, ‘a great many things going on around this earth that you and General Spaatz don’t know about.’ ”
Why did I keep having a nagging feeling of deja vu as I read these last words? It seemed I’d heard something like this before, only I couldn’t place it.
Then it came to me. It was a story I’d read somewhere in the three volumes of Ernest Jones’s classic biography of Sigmund Freud. I neglected to write down the page number, and I don’t have the Jones biography on my shelves to go hunting through. So I’ll need to tell it from memory.
Freud and his disciple Jones were sitting up late—two, three o’clock in the morning. Much to the disgust of the hard-headed Jones, Freud could not be dissuaded from telling one supposedly true story after another, of ghosts and premonitions and what we would now call “paranormal” phenomena. Jones protested: this was all nonsense. But Freud always retorted with his favorite quotation from Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Finally Jones had enough. Believe this sort of thing, he told Freud, and you might as well believe in angels! Freud nodded. “Yes,” he said, “and even der lieber Herr.” Even the good Lord.
“I assumed,” Jones wrote—and remember I am quoting this from memory—“that he was being ironic. But there was an odd look in his eye as he spoke, and I left feeling uneasy.”
As well he might.
Horatio … General Spaatz. Same thing.