23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Prepare to Embark on a Journey,
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This review is from: The Red Book: Liber Novus (Philemon) (Hardcover)
If you're looking at this item and questioning the warnings given by other reviewers, do not dismiss them as folly. This is a seriously intense, esoteric and transformational journey. More than anything it presents a risk - any cognitive scheme leaves the mind open to construct potentially dangerous paradigms, and none more so than Carl Gustav Jung's delicate probing of just what it is that makes him who he is as an individual. This is not a scientific book - whilst it may draw roots from clinical psychology, Jung actively avoided jargon and objective theory in what was always designed to be an intuitive, primal and highly idiosyncratic journey into his own consciousness and psyche. Do not buy this book unless you're willing and ready to engage on a challenging journey with Jung as he struggles with madness, doubt, fear, mythology, philosophy, insecurity and various psychonautic voyages into his own being, set to the tone of a palpably Nietzschean construct with some Freudian overtones. Not everyone will be able to appreciate this book - fewer still will be able to enjoy it; but it does present a fascinating opportunity to glimpse at one man's stumbling journey into who and why he is. Jung makes frequent usage of biblical imagery as well as various references to literature, all of which are highlighted by footnotes. The real challenge of the book is less in the writing, which whilst occasionally challenging should be accessible to anyone who's read Nietzsche, Camus or Wittgenstein (which I pick merely as examples of writers whose work I've found more difficult to understand.) In reality, the real difficulty I can see a reader having to overcome is accepting the ideas Jung presents: not only are they highly personal and therefore difficult, if not impossible to objectify (which in some respects is a deliberate design) but they explore a highly mysterious and misunderstood area of study in a hugely enigmatic manner - almost parabolic in many respects. Despite this, anyone willing to devote time and energy into exploring Jung's Liber Novus will most certainly benefit from it hugely, and whilst it is not a book I recommend to the uninitiated, it is most certainly the best book I own as a pre-university student of psychology, philosophy and literature.
In practical terms, the book is deceptively large. It measures at 30cm across, 40cm down and 5cm in thickness. It has approximately 373 pages printed in full colour on the finest printing paper I've ever come across. The first half of the book contains the original German Jung wrote in (detailed photo-copies, not transcribed) and all the included illuminations and art Jung himself drew and painted. The second half of the book contains the English translation written in computerized font and so sadly missing the illuminations and artistry of the first half. Included is a dust jacket. Many people say that the cost of the book is inflated, but in truth the presentation is just as much a part of Jung's work as the semantics encapsulated within, and it would therefore be of detriment in my humble opinion to lower the quality of the book, which is fantastic. Equally, holding out for a paperback edition is unlikely to provide the same experience, as any paperback edition will likely be merely the translated text which misses the importance and symbolism of the art.
More than anything, this is an educational book. It doesn't seek to provide laws or theories because Jung recognised that to understand the natural, intimate workings of the human soul/psyche his findings must be presented in a natural, intimate manner. It merely presents a journey and a set of personal conclusions that the reader is invited to share in, endorsing or dissenting as he/she sees fit. Truly brilliant.