On non-fiction and calling bull$@!#.

By Melanie Yarbrough

Happy humpday, everyone! It currently smells like burning rubber in my office, and several steps down from my cub-i-home are two men taking turns climbing a ladder until the top half of their body disappears into the ceiling. So, that’s happening.

In other news, I’ve finally made progress in the book I’ve been reading: Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung, recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffe, and translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston. Phew. Books with those sort of annotations are a little intimidating, are they not?

Here’s the thing: Shane and I are now in a book group. It’s called The No Fun Book Club, and there are five of us. We each get to pick a book in our own turn (we picked numbers from a pastry basket at 1369 coffeehouse), and we meet monthly. Jung’s autobiography is our first book.

First, from Jung’s wikipedia page:

Carl Gustav Jung (German pronunciation: [ˈkaːɐ̯l ˈɡʊstaf ˈjʊŋ]; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker, and the founder of analytical psychology. Jung is often considered the first modern psychologist to state that the human psyche is “by nature religious” and to explore it in depth. Though not the first to analyze dreams, he has become perhaps one of the most well known pioneers in the field of dream analysis.

By all means, worthy subjects to explore and learn, but – unless you count my Abnormal Psych class sophomore year of college – not really anything I have much context for. I’m only halfway through, thanks to my hour-long commutes and first-thing cups of coffee, but I’m picking up speed. Once I got through the sections titled “Student Years” and his rehashing of childhood dreams and realizations (upon which I kept mentally calling “bullshit,” then wondering if I was only reacting that way because I was one of the unenlightened…), I was home free. The section titled “Psychiatric Activities” includes case studies and a more narrative, conversational tone and structure that appealed to my reading sensibilities. I was off to the races.

I can already feel the fiction wheels a-turning after reading about several patients he had from sanatoriums. One thing I do love about the way he talks about his patients, is his complete lack of judgment or hopelessness. There doesn’t seem to be a division between “normal” and “abnormal,” rather just different levels. There are blockages and repressions, but Jung recognizes the healthy individual underneath, which seemed to be his path to helping ease their pathologies. Check back for more updates on my foray into The No Fun Book Club and headcase non-fiction!

To be continued…

What are you reading these days? This is my first book club. Any advice?

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One thought on “On non-fiction and calling bull$@!#.

  1. Joe says:

    I read this years ago, and I have a substantially larger exposure to Psychology (bunches and bunches of undergrad psychology courses, and a 2 year fascination with anything I could my hands on about different methodologies). Still, I screamed BS near the beginning. I still have problems with a huge part of Jungian psychology, though I read an interesting article in The New Yorker recently about a psychiatrist in Hollywood who uses Jungian ideas to help hollywood types deal with their writer’s block, inability to do good work, etc. It’s based mostly around The Shadow, one of Jung’s archetypes.

    Article is still available online, as of today:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/03/21/110321fa_fact_goodyear

    And that book club sounds like a genius idea. I just need to find some people around here who actually read something besides Harry Potter and Harlequin Romances (*sigh*)

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