BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Carry the news ...

This was one of those “why haven't I read this before?” acquisitions, being “a classic” that one would have thought I'd have taken a look at previously. I'd seen it referenced somewhere and was putting in an Amazon order, and figured I'd “pull the trigger” on it. C.G. Jung's Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle has been used over the years to bring “gravitas” to a lot of woo-woo, as Jung (who, after all, was following in the footsteps of other Great Men, such as Newton) was very interested in the mystical world, and in this volume made a specific study of things of that nature.

I don't know if “it's just me”, however, but I found a good deal of this less than convincing, and that could be due to the fact that I've never “gotten” astrology, and an astrological survey is the backbone of the “hard research” done to support this book. Frankly, I don't even see astrology as a particularly “synchronistic” area of mystical pursuit, but the core data that he was working with were astrological tables produced for numerous married couples, and looking at various “conjunctions” and “oppositions” of the Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, and “asc” and “desc” features which supposedly have favored data patterns for marriage. Again, none of this makes much sense to me (let alone when you get into footnotes like: “Although the quartile, trine and sextile aspects and the relations to the Medium and Imum Coeli ought really to be considered, I have omitted them here so as not to make the exposition unduly complicated.”!!!). I take it that the data, as analyzed, ends up with improbably high “matches” for the individuals in the marriages … or at least that's what I'm assuming the statistical number crunching is pointing at. I somehow can't imagine that others, with as little technical interest in or knowledge of the minutia of astrological charts as I have, would find this central section (about a quarter of the book) any more lucid than I did.

Much more interesting (and I really wish he'd concentrated more here) was how he related J.B. Rhine's work (with “ESP cards”) to elements of his theory, as the data from those studies are much less arcane than the astrological material. Jung notes how Rhine's results were not effected by distance, and even (in certain experiments) by time, although they were effected by the mental state of the subject (early rounds where the reader was “fresh” tended to have much better results than later repetitions where fatigue/disinterest had set in).

Also fascinating is his on-going communications with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli (he of the “exclusion principle”). Jung and Pauli worked up a couple of theoretical frameworks in a “tetrad”, where there were axes which went from space to time, with a perpendicular that went from causality to synchronicity … which was then refined to one with “indestructible energy” on one end with “space-time continuum” on the other, and the causality/synchronicity axis across this (albeit with some added concepts).

Certainly Jung's interest in this area (and in the I-Ching and other systems), provided a legitimacy that occult practitioners have been trading on for decades. Here, however, is something of a summation of what Jung was specifically looking at:
Synchronistic phenomena prove the simultaneous occurrence of meaningful equivalences in heterogeneous, causally unrelated processes; in other words, they prove that a content perceived by an observer can, at the same time, be represented by an outside event, without any causal connection. From this it follows either that the psyche cannot be localized in space, or that space is relative to the psyche. The same applies to the temporal determination of the psyche and the the psychic relativity of time. I do not need to emphasize that the verification of these findings must have far-reaching consequences.
The copy I have of Synchronicity is a recent edition, representing an effort to “spin off” bits of Jung's “The Red Book”, by Princeton/Bollingen into new free-standing volumes (this being Volume 8 of Number XX in the Bollingen Series), so it has a 2011 Foreword, and is, no doubt available in the brick-and-mortar book vendors, with a cover price under $10 (not presently being discounted by the on-line guys). As disappointing as this is versus what it could have been (had the experimental focus been on something other than astrological charts), it's certainly an important book in the “mystical” field, and I'd suggest picking up a copy if this is of interest to you.

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Tags: book review

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