[Editor's Note: The following letter appeared originally in Quadrant: The Journal of the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology (VIII: 2, Winter 1975, pp. 73-75) and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Foundation. We felt that the letter would be of considerable historical interest to readers of the JP.]
The publisher John Farrar arranged a luncheon party in October of 1957 at which J. B. Rhine, the pioneer in experimental ESP research, and Jung, who was in the United States for his Terry Lectures at Yale, first met. William M. Sloane (1906-74), an associate editor at Farrar and Reinhart, had just finished work on Rhine's New Frontiers of the Mind and was soon to begin editing a collection of Jung's Eranos Lectures to be published under the title The Integration of the Personality (1959). Before they met, Jung had read Sloane's novel To Walk the Night, which was first written as a play in 1932. It contained so true a portrait of the anima's immortal aspect that, in the words of Mrs. Win. Sloane, "the great man couldn't believe Bill had never read a word of his and was delighted to have his anima theory borne out of that fashion. "Jung cited Sloane's novel in "The Psychological Aspects of the Kore" (CW 9, i, par. 356), and Toni Wolff wrote an extensive commentary on the novel a few years later.
To Joseph C. Sloane
October 31, 1937
... I was ... at a lunch arranged by John Farrar in honor of Dr. Rhine and Dr. Jung. I sat at the right hand of Jung, and we talked a good deal during the meal. He is a very great man in his person, in his inner stature, in the authority, range, and architecture of his mind. With such men, whether they are right or wrong does not matter. I thought at once of Uncle Will. (1) Jung is a bigger man--I can give no higher praise--and a mellower and merrier one, and of course, he is one of the men who have laid the intellectual foundations of the modern age. His concepts are a part of our everyday speech, and along with Freud and Adler he has established an entirely new view of man. It was exciting to watch him and Rhine together, and to contrast their greatnesses--Jung the cosmopolite, the man of enormous erudition (He quoted Chinese thought-patterns next to a Tantric text in the original Tibetan?), the old man, wise, and too simple and direct to be either a braggart or a [shrinking] violet. Rhine, on the other hand, is a man whom only America could have produced--quiet, low-spoken, intense, with that slow-burning fuse of humor innate in his speech, gravely deferential to Jung, putting his problems before Jung without any plea for help, and servility, and expectation of praise, with the obvious feeling that the problem of man and his nature was so sacrosanct and vital a one that Jung was obligated to help him, as he was to tell Jung what he knew.
The two of them spoke for almost two hours together, with a few remarks from some of the important psychiatrists and others at the lunch--there were about ten of us. As I am quite positive that the table contained two out of the four men in the whole world who are most destined to color the thought of the future (Freud, Jung, Einstein, Rhine), I might have had the buck fever had not what they said been so intensely interesting. Jung told us that he was speaking off the record, and saying what was in his inmost heart and mind, without paying attention to its scientific credibility, or our attitude. He said that we would understand that nothing he said was meant lightly or for publication either, but in quoting him to you I may not have grasped his full meaning in many places, as his English, though good, tended to be a little inaccurate in an oddly confusing way--"incommensurable" when he meant "indefinite as to extent or outline," for example.
He began by talking about astrology, and the Chinese method of divination by what he called "rune sticks." He pointed out that both these methods had something in common, that they represented another sort of science, one which began with the fixation of the present instant as a method of understanding. Both the fall and the division of the Chinese fortune-telling sticks, and the arbitrary (and astronomically inaccurate) star descriptions and locations of the astrologers are a method of fixing an event in time and holding its pattern for examination. In such science, he observed, the aim is not to determine how, causally, an event occurs but rather what the pattern of the event itself is, what its meaning is in terms of the larger patterns around and after it. Such science was not interested in how we all came to be at the lunch party today, but in what it meant that we were there, and if there was a relation to the future that relation was not causal. Rhine remarked that he knew a brilliant young psychologist who had taken all the military men in Who's Who, cast their horoscopes, checked their careers against the indications, and discovered certain patterns of relationship which could not be attributed to chance. I asked Rhine what the lad was going to do with the study. Rhine remarked that he was waiting to become either old or rich prior to publishing it.
Jung went on to talk about the question of futurity, which was presented by Rhine's account of his ESP work on prophecy, the positive results of which are completely astonishing. Jung's metaphysics was this:
There is a Common Unconsciousness, which in each of us is concentrated into our individual unconsciousness. Our conscious minds, by the warmth of their interest or other causes not yet known, can "warm," "heat," or excite certain sections of this Common Unconsciousness into consciousness, to begin with, and into other things, as will appear. Since the basic aspect of life is that it is energetic, he set forth this conscious-Unconscious energy as a great stream, moving across the frozen and lifeless expanse of matter--of potential and actual actuality. The former I'll try to describe later, but the latter is what we call the "interest-heated" conscious-Unconscious brings to reality as we perceive it, and our perception of actual actuality is through what he calls a "slit" in the conscious-Unconscious field of awareness. The motion of this peephole across the plane of reality gives us the sense of time. Time is thus an attribute of our mental life moving in the great stream of the Common Unconscious,
In certain special cases--we'll take prophecy first as the easiest--the "warmed" Unconscious may extend itself beyond the peephole of time, and thus report certain future or past actualities. Of these, a great many are potential actualities, things which may or may not happen. Some few actually do occur. This accounts for many psychic phenomena, including clairvoyance and telepathy both present, past, and future. More important to most people, it provides a working theory for dealing with many cases of non-organic insanities--delusive and schizophrenic. The question of whether the warming power of the aroused conscious-Unconscious mind has any power to influence the creation of actual actualities is at the core of the paradox. Neither man could say positively the answer to it, though Jung asserted that it was a paradox caused by the fact that we have to think in either causal or non-causal terms, and that this paradox is the end of the road for causal thinking.
Jung went on to talk about the ability of the Unconscious to telescope time and space under certain liberating conditions, thus making possible the phenomena of telekinesis, psycho-kinesis, or call it what you will. He described certain experiments of his own, of a "seance" nature but so far as I could judge scientifically impeccable, which established psychokinesis; Rhine told of his work in this field, and what few experiments I myself have conducted suggest that both men were right as regards the existence of the phenomenon. Jung also talked about various psychic experiences of his own which were fascinating illustrations of his theory, at least to him. I myself and I think several of the other men there were not so sure that they proved his theories--they merely fitted in with them. Somebody suggested something of the sort and Jung smiled. "You may be right," he said, spreading his hands, "my theory is only a theory, gentlemen, but it is the only one I have been able to construct which fits the phenomena and," he sighed, "I have been thinking about these things a long, long time."
There is no reply to that. I doubt, indeed, if the men who will be able to reply to it are even born, for Jung is a long, long time ahead of, and outside, his scientific age.
He said many other things, explanations of metaphysical problems posed by Rhine and others, and in some cases I did not understand the question. I think I am right in boiling down what he said about the powers of the stimulated Unconscious to bring potential actuality into true actuality to this: His experiences and experiments indicate that one has the power to influence the behavior of matter (psycho-kinesis or "the power of mind over matter") but that neither he nor any man knows how it may be applied, or to what extent. He cited the lifting and ringing of a dinner bell by a medium, without the use of hands, as an "extension of force," extruded, if you like, by the medium. "He lengthened his fingers," as Jung put it. That might or might not be potential actuality converted by the Unconscious to actual actuality. He pointed out that the notion of causality interfered with definite thinking on this point. A man with cancer, he said, has a potential death within him. Born in 1800, it becomes a real death. Operated on successfully today, it becomes "a death in his living past," a potential death never realized in the here and now. (Odd how so many of the old folk sayings suggest themselves in connection with what he said--the phrase "on borrowed time" is a tacit recognition of something like this, just as "mind over matter" is a tacit recognition of psycho-kinesis.) Similarly, the delusion of a patient he had treated (and believe he had saved from insanity this morning) illustrated the point. This woman dreamed, with terrible, unquestionable intensity that a great meteor fell on the city of New York and destroyed everyone in it. Appalled by the horror of what she felt sure was a prophetic vision, she insisted upon warning everyone of the doom (Cassandra). Jung told her that her dream was a true one, but not for this time and place. He said it was a "true event in the realm of potential actuality," and told her that it had or would happen in the place "unknown of this world," as he put it to her. Her dream was real but not for the here and now. (I could not help hearing a little voice inside me that said, "We shall see if he is right about that.") The faint pressure of that meteor is over my shoulders as I write.
Dr. Rhine I think was deeply moved by what Jung had to say. I believe that with him, as with every other great or noble person I have met, the awareness of being alone is strong. To think great thoughts, to work nobly, patiently, carefully in a world full of people incomprehensibly indifferent to the importance of the work one is doing, is a terrible thing. I think Rhine saw what mill Jung had been through, and understood what he has got to face, perhaps for the rest of his life. Jung is old, and few believe him--perhaps the group of us there today would be one of the few in the whole world that would listen to an old man talk about Chinese luck sticks, astrology, tantrism, physics, psychology, the Common Unconscious, psycho-kinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, and insanity as various loopholes onto a vista of truth, without feeling either pity or scorn. Rhine is in the last stronghold of the Old World of human thought, the academic. It will largely fall, as the young men behind its walls come into power, but at present he is bucking the flood tide of it, and it is hard.
Your loving son, Bill
(1) William Mulligan Sloane (1850-1928) professor of history at Princeton University…