Erik Graff's Reviews > Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies

Flying Saucers by C.G. Jung
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's review
Apr 18, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: psychology
Recommended to Erik by: Park Ridge Public Library Board
Recommended for: adults, not little kids, interested in U.F.O.s or in people and movements interested in U.F.O.s
Read in January, 1963 — I own a copy

The space program was enormously important to the generation growing up in the late fifties through the early seventies. I can remember sputnik, Laika, the push for more science education, Yuri Gagarin interrupting all television programming, watching Echo from the Michigan beach at night, Shepherd, Grissom, Glenn, Titov, Cooper, the Gemini accident...and with all of this the popular culture of science fiction pulps and novels, of The Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits on television.

Dad got me a simple reflector telescope when I was about ten. I was quite the "artist" then, drawing mostly planes, imaginary airport designs and spacecraft, watching those airplanes coming in and out of O'Hare, right over our house, knowing their makes and models by heart. He took me to the inauguration of Northwestern's observatory where I saw J. Allen Hynek, head of their astronomy department. I was going to be a scientist, an astrophysicist! I'd go to the adult section of the library, spending the weekends in their reading room because they wouldn't let an elementary school student check out their books, reading astronomy and physics texts (I even tried Einstein after I'd started learning "the New Math" in fifth grade--hours of sedulously trying to interpret equations and formulae), studying a book about xenobiology, discovering the shelves on "unidentified flying objects" in the "science"(!) section of the library.

I probably read every book the Park Ridge Library had on U.F.O.s--including George Adamski who seemed crazy even before I read another volume refuting him--and, at home, began to take the telescope out at night to look for them.

No such luck. I probably wasn't "individuated" enough as Jung would say.

Yes. Jung was in the science section too--at least his U.F.O. book was. I'd never heard of the guy, but the prefatory material discussed Freud and everybody thought they knew something about Freud, even kids. The book was a bit beyond me, using terminology not seen before in the other science books. It was also frustrating. Jung did allow for a material substratum, for actual events behind the U.F.O. reports, but he hardly wrote about that, the fun and sort of scary stuff, at all. His concern was all about "projection of archetypal psychic contents from the collective unconscious" with the U.F.O.s representing the human aspiration for "wholeness" as represented in wierd things like mandalas, Indian sand paintings and supposed space visitors.

I didn't return to Jung for years, not until college. By then I'd read the Blue Book files at the closing of the Air Force project in 1969 and dropped the U.F.O. thing. I'd also given up, sort of, on science after a disastrous A.P. Chemistry class. I'd even given up, sort of, on science fiction--well, not during breaks maybe. Now it was girls, my moral and social failings, the various crises of the world and of our culture--you know, psychology. By the end of the sophomore year it was Jung and Freud and Jaspers and Fromm and on and on as I tried to make up for lost time and fix the wreck I'd become. And Jung, who was so well educated as to intimidate me, took me back, eventually, to altered states of conscious--you know, psychedelics, alternative realities, epistemological sophistication and, well, U.F.O.s.
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