Here in Oakland
I read more of Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections last night. He was 81 years old when he wrote this life's story and I'm realizing it would be a good start for anyone who wanted to read his entire body of work. I personally am not thinking of reading his entire body of work. Freud and Jung (and Adler) were talked about, not so much by my generation, but by my parents generation and their parent's generation, and although reading at least one or two of the more famous works was mandatory for anyone who wanted to pretend to be educated (There was also some nonsense about pretending to study Latin and Greek.), nobody ever really did. I and my few reading friends crapped out about chapter three and took in a movie.
What this has meant, at least in my life, is that I've had a very fuzzy idea of what Jung (and Freud) were about. He was controversial. Why controversial? With Freud it was sex. They said. With Jung it was maybe sex and something else. Memories, Dreams, Reflections gives you some idea of what their contemporaries were shouting about. Jung was convinced there was stuff down there in the unconscious that had an independent reality, that talked with us from, well, you know, "out there". (This is stretching it and not quite accurate, but more in the "out there" area than the "in here" area, which is murky enough.) So he was controversial.
The friend who recommended this book as a good overview of Jung's thinking, suggested I read it in a state of suspended judgement, use the narrative as a tool to look at the subject and see what results. I've always believed that. I'm a good listener and I'm usually willing to suspend disbelief to hear the story. Sometimes you get a straight cut with a crooked axe. Or something like that.
I started writing this last night and then stopped. Rewriting for clarity is just too much work, which means I'm probably getting something out of it. I'll finish the book and then take in a movie. Compromise.
There was a short news story on the bottom of page 2 of the Chronicle this morning, about ten column inches with a head reading "Modified Mouse Virus Sounds Bio-Warfare Alarm". Basically, a group of scientists at the Australian National University in Canberra were able to modify the "mousepox" virus in a way that caused mice, when they were injected with the virus, to lose their immune system and die. I took three things from the story:
This story reminded me of the controversy that's been swirling around Bill Joy's comments (he's a founder of Sun Microsystems) on the consequences of the continuing growth of computer power and what that will mean in ten or twenty years when they're in the hands of individuals who can (and this was his example) design viruses of their own. Unabombers who can now build a bigger bomb.
- It was easy for the scientists to produce the modified virus which was deadly to mice,
- The modified gene is present in humans and creating a virus specific to humans shouldn't be all that difficult, and
- I got the impression that after telling their government and military about their results in 1998 and 1999, they decided to sound a warning to the wider world. My guess is they wouldn't have done this if they weren't a little frightened over what they'd (so easily) done.
I've wondered about this before (I really don't obsess on this stuff, honest), noticing how
carefully both the government and the press skirt the subject, careful to avoid comments in the belief, I think, it could give people ideas. I think the people who follow these things are freaked. The Japanese had their subway poison gas incident and my own take on it at the time was that one, not very much damage was done for so large an effort (Maybe gassing people, even in a subway, is still pretty hard to do even when you're well organized and funded.) and that was good, it being hard to accomplish, and two, there definitely are groups out there who are working at ways to kill a lot of people. I don't know what upset the Japanese, but I can guess why the Mideast is upset and why the Serbians are upset and why the Russians are upset and with whom.
So, I dunno. Is this just one of those things with no apparent solution so you push it down into the back of your mind and go on playing Scrabble? Not think about it? I think that's my solution. I think now and then maybe I was lucky in the time and the place I was born. One or two generations later and I might have had access to medical science that would have let me live forever were in not for the bio-wars and the robot-wars and the whatever wars raging by light of the same technology.
First Jung, now bio-war. I'd apologize, but I think anyone reading gave up paragraphs ago. Otherwise things are going OK, here in Oakland.