Jerusalem, February 1, 1964
I have to apologize for being late in answering your thorough-going letter of Jan. 7, 64. Again, I am collecting fresh material and developing new ideas and do not want to make an artificial stop. I intend to sit down and write a few chapters (preliminary perhaps in German) as soon as I have got things more settled and outlined. Your advice and opinion that my way of presenting the subject is wanting, is quite right. Still, after everything gets more crystallized, I might be able to formulate better. Anyhow, the matter is of such dominant importance, it involves not only scholarly discourse, but questions of mental health and survival of mankind, that I cant think it will rest only on my capacity to present it lucidly. So far, indeed, my thoughts have not encountered fertile soil. Prof N. Cohn (historian and author of the Pursuit of the Millenium puts it in a nutshell when he writes to me: ... neither I nor the psychoanalysts on our working party (A study on the holocaust) would regard Jungian Hypotheses concerning collective unconscious memories as a sound basis for the investigation proposed in Toward a Study of the Scourge . I had sent to Prof. Cohn 2 of my essays which you know already, and a third one, Götterdämmerung oder Götterfinsternis, which includes some new aspects, but scarcely mentions Jung, whom I commence to study only now.
I wonder if you could bring me into contact with one of the Egyptologists who appreciate or show some comprehension for your work. In the course of this letter it will appear why I make this request.
First let me make a remark concerning what you call my third idea (it is mainly a certain reservation) in your letter of January 7: The bringing back into the collective human mind the memory of the catastrophe would be accompanied by affects and disturbances possibly on a global scale, and may be dangerous . To this theme I find the following relevant support: Daraus ergibt sich aber für den Psychiater das Gebot einer besonderen Achtsamkeit im Umgang mit der Angst seiner Patienten, im Umgang mit allen jenen Verhaltensweisen, die Angst verbergen und die wir eben als seine Abwehrhaltungen erkennen. Die besondere Achtsamkeit, die ich hier meine, liegt in einem, sagen wir, psychotherapeutischem Zeitgefühl für das, was an und für sich richtig, jedoch seinem momentanen Niveau noch nicht entspricht, seine Verarbeitungsmöglichkeiten überschreitet und deshalb auf einen späteren Zeitpunkt verschoben werden muss. Nicht allein in der Fähigkeit, die Wahrheit seinen Patienten zu sagen und diese Wahrheit in den Verkleidungen der psychopathologischen Symptome zu erkennen, liegt die Kunst des Arztes, sondern auch in einem immer wachen Gefühl für die Dosis Wahrheit, die sein Patient ertragen kann, in der Fähigkeit, warten zu können und in stillem Gleichmut der Angst seiner Patienten zu begegnen. (Prof. G. Benedetti, Die Angst in psychiatrischer Sicht , Studien aus dem Jung Institut, Vol. X 1958/9 Die Angst.)
It may seem without apparent context, but it still pertains to the problem I want to discuss, when I quote in the following from a letter of Cardinal Montini of Milan (the present Pope) to La Réligion of Caracas (s. Jer. Post 23. 1. 64): Attitude of protest or condemnation, such as that youth accuses the Pope of not having adopted, would not only have been useless, but detrimental... Let us suppose that Pius XII had done what Hochhuth reproaches him for having omitted to do. His action would have brought about such reprisals and such devastations, that the same Hochhuth, once the war was over, and in possession of a better historic and moral judgment, could have written a drama, much more realistic and interesting than that one which he has produced now so intelligently and ineptly at the same time: a drama about the Stellvertreter who, out of political exhibitionism and shortsighted psychology, would have been guilty of letting loose in an already tormented world a still greater calamity, involving innumerable innocent victims, while he himself remained untouched.
Unconsciously the Pope and most of his contemporaries are reluctant to uncover things and call a spade a spade, to bring about the stoppage of human sacrifices to an imperceptible deity, deemed by unknown fears, to unloosen the luring cataclysmic powers, if not readily pacified. But I think that we may learn to a certain degree from aggressive response to Worlds in Collision (of course in comparison this reaction was much less violent in its extent) how and in what dosages to administer truth.
I want to find out about Das altägyptische Lebenszeichen (/), as we encounter it in the hieroglyphs, later in Coptic art and still in our time as the orb and cross (Reichsapfel) of the sovereign. Art productions of this symbol of all periods show in the circle a portrait of the forefathers (Ahnenbild). There are fluent transitions from the Gorgo to the imago clipeata (Schutzbild) which contains in later times likenesses of the Saints and Christ. A similar development can be observed on sarcophages, not only in respect to the Gorgoneion, but also regarding transformation of the fishsymbols into representations of Jesus. The connex with the leviathan, the crocodile, diminishing into a small sized fish and terminating finally in a haloed head is sizable. It is unfortunate that two references (Joh. Bolten, Die Imago clipeata, 1934 und H. Dölger, Fischsymbole publ. also in Röm. Quartalschrift 23, 173) are not available at the library here. The Gorgo-head standing at the top of all this series is simultaneously the primordial cause of all fear (a terrible comet was seen by the people of Egypt). The long extremity of Das Lebenszeichen , which shows us a primitive drawing of the monster with the Gorgo or sphynx head, must then be the tail. The crux ansata was the sign of the planet Venus! Ghillany and other authors remind us of this fact. Maria Cramer in Das altägyptische Lebenszeichen im christlichen (koptischen) Ägypten compares the ansa to a shell and the long bar of the cross to a shaft. There should be no difficulty about the symbolic meaning. The panicky search of Ishtar and Isis for the lost member of their respective partners Tammuz or Osiris reflects the vivid impression which the possibility to lose such an important part (in the macrocosm corresponding to the tail of the comet) made on humanity. The parallels drawn in dreams and mythological legends between fire and sperma must be understood in this sense (cf. Hindu Mythologie und Kastrationskomplex , C. D. Daly, Imago, 1927). The burning seed of Agnis which fell on the earth can be recognized as a fire-stream of meteors. And the fear of the Hindus: Und warum leiden sie schliesslich unter solch einer entsetzlichen Angst vor der Befleckung? (a. a. O.) can be readily traced to this background.
I intend to write about this topic and other ideas deriving from it as soon as I feel that nothing more can be expected. But I do not consider my thoughts merely as private property. I would like them to be available in an appropriate form to all concerned as quickly as feasible.
Thanking you very much for any further suggestions, I am very cordially yours.