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Friday, September 4, 2015

Carl Jung: I could never have published what I have discovered without a highly differentiated language

To Traugott Egloff

Dear Herr Egloff, 23 April 1957

Many thanks for your kind letters, which I greatly enjoyed.

It would indeed be desirable if my ideas could be expressed in a simple form everyone could understand.

In conversation with certain individuals I can do this easily enough, but then it depends on the individual.

Since my language is a reflection of my thinking and feeling, I cannot, when faced with a wider public, express myself otherwise than as I am, and I am anything but uncomplicated.

I could never have published what I have discovered without a highly differentiated language, which I had to polish endlessly for this purpose,so much so that finally, when I try to express my ideas, I can no longer speak in any other way-unless, as I have said, it be to a particular individual with whom I can enter into an empathetic relationship.

I can do this only up to a point with the general public, and then I always relapse into my generalizing and very differentiated conceptual terminology, which is the medium through which and into which I can translate my thoughts.

Anyone who wanted to do what you propose would himself have to be on the same level and in the same medium as the general public.

You yourself are in an excellent position to do this, for from the letters you have written me I have never got the impression that language causes you any difficulties.

I know of course that your language would not have come out as it did if it had not caused you the greatest trouble beforehand.

But as Horace says in his Ars Poetica, the best poem is the one that does not make you aware of the difficulties of its composition, and this is also true of such writings of yours as I have seen, namely your letters.

You express yourself very clearly and simply, and I believe you when you say that you are able to reach the ear and understanding of your fellow.

I know very well that I could never do so myself, and that the man needed for this can only be found among people like you.

Why then, I ask you, don't you take up your pen and try to bring to the many what I can communicate in complicated language only to the few?

For me and people like me my language is simple and intelligible, but they are all people who have the same necessarily complicated assumptions.

With such readers I can afford the luxury of describing things with bare hints and allusions which for other readers are bound to remain obscure for the simple reason that they have never heard of them.

I see this even with my medical colleagues, for whom philosophical, historical, religious, etc. allusions are so much Chinese.

It needs in fact people like you, who are inwardly gripped by the idea and have experienced its value, to find the form of expression which everyone can understand.

I would therefore suggest in all seriousness that you make at least a tentative attempt to describe the essential features of my psychology.

I am convinced that it would lie well within your powers.

With best regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 357-358.