Möglichkeit

July 14, 2010

posted by Heather McShane

While at Ox-Bow for two weeks, I finished writing and drawing a book called For the Love of Beatrice. I like calling this book an illuminated manuscript, which means that it’s a book written and decorated by hand (however, the strictest definition of an illuminated manuscript means the manuscript is decorated with gold or silver). Although I did hand-write and draw the book, I have intended since its inception for the book to appear online (it has sound and video components as well as links to Websites).

While creating the book, I wasn’t really thinking about it being an illuminated manuscript; I was merely inspired to make it. I showed it to my friend Carmen Price who subsequently lent me Carl Jung’s The Red Book, which Carmen happened to have at Ox-Bow with him.

I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Carl Jung before Carmen let me borrow The Red Book. I knew about Jung’s former friend and mentor Sigmund Freud, especially Freud’s theories about dreams and his ideas about the uncanny. But, for example, I didn’t know that concepts as familiar to me as the archetype and the collective unconscious are attributed to Jung and that his theories indirectly brought about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Alcoholics Anonymous. And I really wasn’t aware that Jung wrote an illuminated text. Here’s just one page of the 205-page book:

Jung worked on this mystical book written in calligraphic text with painted illuminations for 16 years. According to an article titled “Carl Jung and the Holy Grail of the Unconscious” in the New York Times, The Red Book tells a story about a man searching for his soul. Was this man Jung himself? Carefully, with clean hands, I looked at each page, noting that the book ends with the word Möglichkeit, which means “possibility.” What did Jung intend to happen with the book? He did keep it a secret.

To read more, see here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/magazine/20jung-t.html

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