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Friday, June 7, 2013

Carl Jung’s 1957 Letter on the “Modern Myth” of UFOs

The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.
- Baruch Spinoza

Psychotherapist Carl Jung explored the subject of  UFOs in his book 'Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies', which examines “not the reality or unreality” of the titular phenomena, but their “psychic aspect,” and “what it may signify that these phenomena, whether real or imagined, are seen in such numbers just at a time” — the Cold War — “when humankind is menaced as never before in history.”

In 1957, New Republic editor Gilbert A. Harrison wanted to get  Jung's perspective on UFOs in his magazine.  Jung’s response to Harrison’s query follows:

"the problem of the UFOs is, as you rightly say, a very fascinating one, but it is as puzzling as it is fascinating; since, in spite of all observations I know of, there is no certainty about their very nature. On the other side, there is an overwhelming material pointing to their legendary or mythological aspect. As a matter of fact the psychological aspect is so impressive, that one almost must regret that the UFOs seem to be real after all. I have followed up the literature as much as possible and it looks to me as if something were seen and even confirmed by radar, but nobody knows exactly what is seen. In consideration of the psychological aspect of the phenomenon I have written a booklet about it, which is soon to appear. It is also in the process of being translated into English. Unfortunately being occupied with other tasks I am unable to meet your proposition. Being rather old, I have to economize my energies."

Jung not only considered flying saucers a psychological phenomenon, but as an uncertain physical phenomenon, in that, something,but nobody knows what, was picked up on radar.  Jung seems to say at the end of the letter that he is finished with the subject.


Carl Jung’s 1957 Letter on the Fascinating “Modern Myth” of UFOs

by Colin Marshall

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.



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