Aion, originally published in German in 1951, is one of the major works of Jung's later years. The central theme of the volume is the symbolic representation of the psychic totality through the concept of the Self, whose traditional historical equivalent is the figure of Christ. Jung demonstrates his thesis by an investigation of the Allegoria Christi, especially the fish symbol, but also of Gnostic and alchemical symbolism, which he treats as phenomena of cultural assimilation. The first four chapters, on the ego, the shadow, and the anima and animus, provide a valuable summation of these key concepts in Jung's system of psychology.
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This being the second part of volume 9 of the collected works, with the first part being the Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (the best of Jung's works I have read yet), I was expecting this to be a bit more exciting than it was. It is concerned mainly in analysing the historical archetypal projections of the self, which involves the usual Jungian delve into mythology, religion, alchemy, heresy, literature, etc. Which is interesting of course, but just more of the same of what we get in part I, an extension of his theory, albeit harder to understand and more detailed. That said, it is very difficult to find a book that contains quite as much expertly synthesised information from as many varied sources as this, and it is worth putting the extra effort in that comprehending it requires. Once the reader has finished the book, and understood it, then the entire world history of culture should seem both smaller and bigger at the same time, condensed and expanded, contextualised, and strangely almost inevitable or unavoidable, with everything being a variation, extension, or counter point of one of the transcendent themes that Jung has anatomised here (or in one of his other volumes). It puts the human mind in an analogous position to a stone being thrown into a lake, where the ripples are the history of human religious and superstitious thought, caused not by any will of the stone, but as a result of how the mind has been fashioned and propelled by higher forces, by the stream of evolution and time which smoothened it, and the hand of consciousness which propelled it. This isn't an easy book to read, but will be of general use to students of literature, history, theology, and anthropology, and though Jung isn't taught at undergrad level usually, it should be of interest to psychologists, though they would probably benefit more from some of the less opaque volumes.read more
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