THE SONNET PHILOSOPHY + SONNET COMMENTARIES + PLAY COMMENTARIES + SHAKESPEARE & MATURE LOVE
DARWIN, WITTGENSTEIN & DUCHAMP + JAQUES + INQUEST + QUIETUS + GLOSSARY + CONTACT
Modern psychologyIn the late nineteenth century, in response to the psychiatric demand following the decline of the Judeo/Christian paradigm as a credible worldview, Freud and then Jung (among others) developed their therapeutic practices. At a time when faith in the efficacy of traditional religious insights into psychological predicaments was failing, secular psychology was seeking recognition as a scientific discipline.
Traditionally, biblical mythology had provided a series of dogmatically prescribed givens in which a male God created the world, where Adam the first male was created prior to the female, where procreation and death were created as the punishment for 'sin', and where the absolute, as the unknowable 'Word', assumed priority over the dynamic of true and false in language. But, unfortunately for the unknowable Word, the critique of biblical theology by Hume and others in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries showed the transcendental 'He'or God was no more than a psychological preoccupation of prophets and evangelists temperamentally at odds with the natural world.
Freud and Jung sought redress for the psychological consequences of the inconsistencies in biblical mythology by turning to archetypal expressions of psychological relations in other mythologies. For instance, Freud used the myth of Oedipus to account for the psychological consequences of sexual dysfunction, and Jung analysed the world's mythologies to locate archetypal symbols that might ease the post-biblical experience of psychological alienation.
The logic of mythTo discover why Freud and Jung fell out over their division of the mythological pie, and why neither of them could appreciate the mythic depth of Shakespeare's Sonnet philosophy, a different attitude to mythology is required. It is not sufficient to see the mythic either as a pharmacy for psychological problems or as a source of cathartic symbols. The mythic level of expression has the philosophic function of articulating the logic of expression while expressing the logical relation between humankind and nature.
Despite the confusion of imaginative and empirical ideas in biblical mythology, biblical prophets and evangelists appreciated, at least intuitively, the logical role of a mythology. Their illogical configuration of the relationship between nature at large and human nature unintentionally expresses the logical limitations of the spoken or written word. Biblical writing intuitively acknowledges that the mythic logic of human expression is erotic, or an expression of conscious desires. It correctly represents 'God the Word' as logically erotic and so distinct from the biological or sexual.
Even philosophers as critical of biblical theology as Hume and Kant were not prepared to explore the biological illogicality that arises when biblical myth invents a male God who in turn creates the female from the male. They remained beholden to the prevailing Judeo/Christian worldview, which proscribed the possibility of investigating the erotic logic of its mythology by enshrining the status of the heavenly pantheon in self-validating commandments and dogmatic infallibility. Biblical mythology maintained its function as a psychological refuge in a hostile world by forbidding investigation of its empirical inconsistencies. The long-term effect was to create even deeper psychopathic problems that required a different approach to the psychological when the irrationality of belief became untenable.
Freud and Jung, the differencesSo Freud and Jung were faced with a double problem. Their patients manifested the usual psychological pathologies due to inheritance or to ingrained experience. But they also suffered from the psychological consequences of the vacuum or abyss following the loss of faith in Judeo/Christian mythology. Part of the confusion in the writings of Freud and Jung comes from not appreciating the difference between naturally occurring defects of mind and the estrangement from a discredited mythology.
Instead, Freud and Jung were responsive to different components of the Judeo/Christian mythology. Freud's disposition led him to focus primarily on sexual dysfunction and to suggest that neuroses and psychoses were consequent on sexual issues. Jung's inclination, while initially beholden to Freud's focus, was to see the post-biblical psychological malaise as a failure to appreciate the archetypal significance of the signs and symbols in mythological expression. Typically, for instance, when Freud and Jung focused on dreams, Freud looked for symptoms of sexual significance, and Jung looked to interpret dream imagery in terms of archetypal symbols.
The failure, then, of biblical theology to survive the philosophical investigations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had its counterpart in the fragmentation of twentieth-century psychology into competing factions that lacked the relative unity of the more coherent and comprehensive biblical mythology.
Freud and Jung's attempts to derive a comprehensive theoretical understanding from their analyses of specific psychological disorders prevented them from developing a consistent philosophy at the level of myth that would correct the logical deficiencies in the Judeo/Christian paradigm. So, predictably, they were unable to articulate a coherent mythological level of understanding and expression to provide their twentieth-century clients with a consistent philosophic connection at the level of the mythical to the logical conditions of their lived experience.
Because Freud and Jung's individual inclinations led them to focus on a limited portion of the full mythical relationship between nature, sexual beings, and the dynamic of the mind, they were not able to develop an overview of the logic of the mythic level of understanding. Without a systematic understanding of the logic of myth within which to locate their individual interests, they became antagonistic toward each other's intense focus on different parts of the old mythologies. Ironically, the sectarian conflict that typifies Judeo/Christian belief, because of its illogical inversion of nature and myth, became a conflict across mythologies for Freud and Jung because of their inability to determine the logic of myth.
Nothing in the above statements should be less than obvious to anyone who is aware of the collapse of traditional mythologies and the divergence of the interests of Freud and Jung. Freud's work has been continued and critiqued by others, with sexual issues remaining central to their practice. Similarly, Jung and his disciples have collected and investigated the various mythologies with their associated signs and symbols, in the hope of attaining a unified theory of mythical expression. But there are no logical insights in the work of Freud and Jung or their followers that offer a resolution to biblical inconsistencies, or to their personal differences.
The works of ShakespeareTo unravel the logic behind Freud and Jung's contributions and disagreements, a systematic overview at the level of mythic expression is required. Only when a consistent methodology is applied can their preferences for the sexual or the symbolic be explained and their similarities and differences reconciled.
The limitations of Freud and Jung are revealed when their analyses of Shakespeare's works are compared with the comprehensive mythic philosophy available in his Sonnets. Shakespeare is the only thinker to purposely articulate the logical conditions for any mythology and so is the only thinker able to provide the required level of mythic logic for a systematic overview. Freud and Jung's ignorance of the philosophy of the Sonnets meant they were unable to comprehend the logic at the heart of Shakespeare's work and so were prevented from finding a resolution to their own differences.
It is only necessary to examine Freud and Jung's attempts to understand the works of Shakespeare to appreciate the inadequacy of approaching the plays and poems with psychological rather than philosophic expectations. Their psychological analyses of the motivations or disorders of key characters lack credibility both because they are not able to contextualise the characters in the logical framework provided by the Sonnet philosophy and because in the absence of Shakespeare's overarching logic they commit the fallacy of attributing to Shakespeare some of the symptoms observed in his characters.
In The Interpretation of Dreams, in the chapter 'Material and sources of dreams', (1) Freud applies his theories derived from the myth of Oedipus and other sources to the relationship between Hamlet, his mother, and Ophelia. The irony is that Shakespeare creates such characters to examine the illogical consequence of believing that mythologies represent the world rather than an acceptance that the role of myth is to reflect the world by articulating the logical conditions for understanding. Because Freud's understanding is limited by his continued adherence to aspects of the illogical mythical expectations, he does not appreciate Shakespeare's philosophic argument for which the dramatic characters are argument places.
In 'The Battle for Deliverance from the Mother', from The Psychology of the Unconscious, (2) Jung looks to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to support his theoretical position. His illogical expectations are already signaled, though, in the chapter heading. His premise of male flight from the 'Mother' is contrary to the Sonnet logic where the Master Mistress learns to reconcile himself to the biological priorities of the Mistress so he can express his relation to the world logically. While Jung gives attention to the role of the female in his psychological analyses, he remains a defender of the inconsistencies of the traditional paradigm by not challenging the priority given to the male. He expresses his prejudice when he says he prefers the 'brightness of the ideal' to the 'dark nature of the biological'. (3)
The Sonnet logicThe templates generated in Volume 1 to represent Shakespeare's logic can be used to show where Freud and Jung were heading in their critique of the Judeo/Christian tradition, and why they were still unable to move beyond its inconsistencies to a clear expression of the mythic possibility.
The Nature template derived from the Sonnet logic establishes the basis from which to investigate the illogicality of the mind-set which Freud and Jung were trying to move beyond. It represents the logical basis of understanding toward which they were intuitively struggling.
When the template for natural logic is reordered to represent the illogical Judeo/Christian paradigm within which Freud and Jung were educated and from which they were attempting to liberate themselves, the resulting template reveals the inversion and distortion to which natural logic is subjected when a mythology is given priority over the natural world.
The difference between Freud and Jung can be identified by realising that Freud focused on the body or sexual side of the Nature template for natural logic.
In Freud's attempt to rectify the traditional misconfiguration of the
Nature template by recovering the priority of the body dynamic, he
imported aspects of the mind dynamic into his considerations of the sexual.
He looked for myths that could explain sexual dysfunction and, because he
was foreshortening the Nature template, thought of the sexual and the
erotic as interchangeable.
Jung correctly maintained that he did not dismiss the sexual in his rift with
Freud, but the sexual became an appendage to his traditionally sympathetic
fascination with the right hand side of the Mind template, which completes
the logical condition for mythic expression. Ironically, both Freud and Jung
felt they were justified in their selection of a portion of the Nature
template, but the effect for each was to atrophy the other side of the template.
They were right in as much as their individual concerns were warranted but
they were wrong in as much as they were ignorant of the complete dynamic
of natural logic. In the broader view, Freud's primary focus on the preconscious
mind complemented Jung's focus on the post-conscious mind.
The case of Marcel DuchampMany art movements in the period 1910 to 1968 claim Marcel Duchamp as their guiding light, but of particular interest is his role as an involuntary father figure for the Surrealists. The founder of the Surrealists, Andre Breton, attempted to recruit Duchamp to the movement but he remained aloof, only participating occasionally in some of their events.
One of the reasons for Duchamp's wariness would have been the Surrealists uncritical acceptance of the psychoanalytical investigations of Freud and Jung. While Duchamp's oeuvre resists Freudian and Jungian analysis, the deliberately symbolic works of Dali, Miro, Ernst, and Magritte are fair game for psychological and alchemical readings. Their work, unlike Duchamp's, remains illusive, enigmatic, or simply obscure. It is not possible to work through their symbolism to discover a consistent expression of the logic of art.
By contrast, an investigation of Duchamp's Large Glass, Etant donnes and his readymades reveals ever deeper levels of philosophic coherence. Whereas a jump from the symbolism of the Surrealists to Shakespeare's mythic expression is unrewarding, Duchamp's aesthetic achievement leads logically to the comprehensive mythic philosophy of the Sonnets and plays.
The inadequacy of the psychological reading for understanding the logic of Shakespeare's plays is reinforced by the inappropriateness of applying either Freudian or Jungian analysis to the works of Marcel Duchamp. Because Duchamp's Large Glass has the same logical structure as the Sonnets, psychological theories about its operation and meaning are unavailing.
When Freudian style analysis is applied to the Large Glass psychologists inevitably attempt to account for the logic of the erotic relationship between the Bride and the Bachelors as a symptom of sexual dysfunction in Duchamp. They say Duchamp must have been either masturbatory or incestuous to have created the sexual/erotic dynamic of his work.
Such psychoanalysis completely misses the logical critique Duchamp makes of the inconsistencies of traditional mythologies through his recovery of the logic of mythic expression. Because Freudian psychology does not involve a logical correction to the female/male priorities, it shifts the critical content of the Large Glass to a reflection on the mental health of the artist. But, as a few Freudian analysts do acknowledge, Duchamp was one of the sanest persons to have lived.
Jungian style analysis does not accuse Duchamp of sexual dysfunction. Instead, it looks to his symbol system to discover relationships between ancient mythological symbols and those in the Large Glass. Because Jungian analysis is pan-mythical in outlook it is not able to consider Duchamp's critique of traditional mythologies in the Large Glass. Instead it turns hopefully to the formulaic symbol systems of arcane practices such as alchemy to explain the significance of Duchamp's iconography.
Jung's lifelong fascination with alchemical practices has led his followers to look for alchemical correspondences in Duchamp's work. But because Duchamp's work provides a philosophic critique of such practices, which are themselves illogical consequences of the inconsistencies of traditional mythologies, Jungian analysis misses the logical heart of Duchamp's achievement. Duchamp was quite explicit in rejecting attempts to associate his work with traditional alchemy. He did not deny that it was possible to find alchemical elements in his work but insisted that the logical function of his work had nothing to do with such psychological practices.
The attempt to accuse Duchamp of sexual dysfunction and alchemical interests is reminiscent of two of the typical accusations brought to the person and the works of Shakespeare. But the accusations about Shakespeare's sexual life are rebuffed when the logical function of the Sonnets is revealed, and sonnet 14 specifically rejects idealistic alchemical fantasies.
The similarity of the difficulties Freudian and Jungian analysis has with Shakespeare and Duchamp reinforces the limitations of their psychological insights when confronted with the compelling logic of the Large Glass and the Sonnets. Duchamp, like Shakespeare, was recovering the natural logic of life as the context for art.
ConclusionFreud and Jung were treating patients who were sexually traumatised and mythologically bereft. Freud centered his work on the consequences of the sexual and Jung's forte was in the erotic or post-sexual mind. Out of his sexual focus Freud was unable to account comprehensively for the mythological as an expression of the deepest human logic. Jung considered the mythological primarily as sign and symbol, as he attempted to recover the mythological dimension of biblical thought but for a global consciousness.
Ironically for Freud and Jung's psychological approach, the world's mythologies became a resource for a universal psychological panacea. Freud was correct in identifying the sexual as logically prior to and hence constitutional of mind-based potentialities, but was wrong to put greater emphasis on the sexual over the erotic. Jung was right in acknowledging the importance of myth in human expression but was wrong to prioritise the ideal over nature.
The inability of Freudian and Jungian analysis to penetrate the logic of the works of Shakespeare and Duchamp indicates their illogical commitment to the psychology of the tertiary methodologies that explicitly or tacitly give priority to the ideal over nature. Only by appreciating the quaternary achievement of the Sonnets and plays of Shakespeare and the Large Glass and other works of Duchamp, can a logical perspective be gained to see clearly what Freud and Jung were up to, and what is required if they were to understand Shakespeare and his works.
1 Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, ed. James Strachey and Alan Tyson, London Penguin, 1991. Back