[Victoria Ocampo Pays Jung a visit.]
Introduction: The distinguished Argentine writer, publisher, and translator Victoria Ocampo had apparently not met Jung before the encounter with him, in 1934, that she describes in this extract from an article in La Nacion (Buenos Aires), March 5, 1936.
Earlier, however, she had arranged to have Jung’s Psychological Types translated into Spanish by Ram6n Gomez de la Serna; it was published in Buenos Aires late in 1934, and for it Jung had written a special foreword, dated October 1934 (included in CW 6).
Jung, for his part, was acquainted with Victoria Ocampo’s personality through numerous references to her in letters written to him by Count Hermann Keyserling, who, in a letter in November 1929, described a “strangely intense and at the same time unreal relationship” that had developed between them during his travels in South America.
Some of Jung’s letters to Keyserling that discuss the relationship are published in Letters, edited by Gerhard Adler, vol. 1, Dec. 20, 1929, April 23, 1931, and August 13, 1931. (The first part of Victoria Ocampo’s 1936 article discussed ideas provoked by Psychological Types. The entire article was collected in Domingos en Hyde Park, 1936, a volume in Ocampo’s Testimonios.)
Victoria Ocampo: In October of 1934, on my return from Rome to Paris, I made a detour and stopped in Zurich to see the author of Psychological Types.
It was pouring rain that afternoon when in Kusnacht my taxi dropped me, armed with an umbrella, and disarmed by contradictory emotions, before Dr. Jung’s door.
Was it because of the long hours on the train, the sudden change of temperature, the rain, the proximity of the great man? I don’t know.
The fact is that I was aware of the growth and development within me of one of those inferiority complexes which make us feel and play the role of the idiot to perfection.
It was in this unhappy state that I, my umbrella, and my emotions, entered the house of the famous Swiss psychiatrist.
But my umbrella—whose fate I envied at that moment—remained in the vestibule while we (my emotions and I) had to go up a staircase.
We were requested to wait in a small study, its walls lined with books.
This interval was providential.
On several shelves, I suddenly perceived, lined up in a tight row, a regiment of detective novels.
The arrival of the dove with the olive branch could not have produced in Noah’s heart greater delight than this discovery did in mine.
To me it also announced “Land!”
“Homo sum!” I thought.
In Dr. Jung’s house they (he or his family) also read those completely silly stories that were read in mine or yours, and which relax you like a yawn.
I finally recovered my nerve.
True, I know through experience the weakness of certain princes of the mind for detective novels; my library, rich in this type of literature, has repeatedly been sacked by such people.
But despite this, I did not expect to find Edgar Wallace in the home of the most eminent professor of the University of Zurich.
I was enchanted.
Completely comforted, a few minutes later I entered Dr. Jung’s office.
I immediately notice that he is tall, very tall.
But, strangely, my eyes, which I raise to his, do not learn from his face anything but an expression of power and intelligence which suffuses it; an intelligence which comes at me like an enormous elephant, blotting out all else.
An elephantine intelligence!
It is my feeling that that great intelligence which sees everything does not see me, that it is going to knock me down and flatten me out.
Instinctively I tend to avoid him and to throw things at him.
He catches them one by one, with that extreme, incredible adroitness of elephants … (whether it is a matter of tearing up a tree trunk or catching a cube of sugar).
And so we start our conversation.
Suddenly he says something which I still ponder and which I believe is, of the entire interview, most worthy of repeating.
When I ask him whether he would not like to deliver some lectures in Argentina, he answers: “What for?
They could not be interested.
They would not understand.
Because they are Latins? Because they are Catholics ?”
I wished I might have immediately been given a long lecture to explain what he meant; but patients were waiting for him, with God knows what burden of complexes.
Jung accompanied me to the vestibule (where I picked up my umbrella, which I no longer envied).
His two dogs did not leave his side, and jostling them, we all went down the stairs.
One was an extravert, the other an introvert, the master of the house told me, laughing.
I did not have to ask which one was which.
As he himself confessed, Psychological Types, which I recommend to my friends both known and unknown, “is the result of almost twenty years’ work in the field of practical psychology.”
Huxley says that when we read Jung’s books, we feel that his intuitive understanding of the human being is as profound as Dostoevsky’s.
For myself, I confess that a work like Psychological Types stirred me as deeply as the Brothers Karamazov. ~Carl Jung, C.G. Jung: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 82-84
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