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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Monday, March 20

come full circle: ascona and its aftermath

The following is from a Swiss tourism site...
In the first decade of the 20th Century, a colony was founded on the hill above Ascona. The colony was dedicated to a new philosophy which was based on principles of naturalism, theosophy, vegetarianism and nudism. Among the famous visitors of the Monte Verità colony there were writers such as Hermann Hesse, E.M. Remarque, the psychoanalyst Otto Gross and Rudolf Steiner.

From 1933 to this day, Ascona has also been the site of the famed Eranos conferences, the first published series of lectures from which -- The Mysteries: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks -- was edited by Joseph Campbell. In Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation (pp. 94-95), Campbell writes of Jung...

He bought himself a piece of property in a beautiful place on the lake opposite the city of Zurich. He began planning and building a house in this lovely place, Ascona, and as he worked with his hands, he activated his imagination. Now, that's the big thing, to activate your imagination...

Yeah, that's the big thing, Joe. Campbell had clearly activated his own imagination here -- as he did in so much of his work -- seeing as Ascona and Zurich are 85 miles apart and situated on altogether different lakes. What Campbell meant was the Bollingen house Jung built at Küsnacht. Call it a Jungian slip. Understandable. Ascona was Campbell's ticket to ride, and he rode in on Jung's coat tails.

But then, so did so much else.

For a taste, here's Mircea Eliade in his Journal I, 1945-1955. The entry is datelined "ASCONA, 27 August" 1951 (p. 136), and concerns a "waking dream" Eliade says he could not break out of:

Suddenly I saw myself speaking Sanskrit and incapable of speaking anything else. I could see what was going on around me: Chistenel and the others "stunned," Jung much interested, etc. A day passes, two days. I shed my clothes and, nearly naked, take up residence on the lakeshore in the manner of an Indian ascetic. I eat nothing but a handful of rice and do not sleep (an allusion to my lecture: that naga who ate only a handful of rice a day and slept scarcely any at night yet had a perfect athletic body).
Are you beginning to get the impression that these people you may have -- like myself -- once looked up to are all barking mad?

I used to think that every little thing I did was crazy
but now I think the karma cops are comin' after you...
aerosmith ~ full circle

Time: don't let it slip away. But there's more. There's always more. When you hook up to the collective unconscious, baby, it's fuckin endless...

Jung summons the Indologist Abegg, with whom I succeeded finally in making myself understood because he speaks a little Sanskrit. I tell him my name is Narada (I had related the myth of Narada in my lecture). I see how Ascona becomes the center of worldwide attention: thousands of reporters, motion picture photographers, etc. The police who come to guard Casa Gabriella, the distress of Christinel and my friends. Tucci comes by plane, and then Dasgupta, very proud that his former pupil has become famous.
That would be Giuseppe Tucci, about whom there is a chapter (pp. 161-196) in Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism titled "Giuseppe Tucci, or Buddhology in the Age of Fascism." And a hundred and some pages earlier, we'd already heard mention of Hauer, which would be Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, founder of the German Faith Movement and Nazi SS officer-to-be, with whom Jung had shared the Ascona/Eranos conference on Kundalini yoga in 1932. Of that conference, Gopi Krishna wrote in Kundalini for the New Age (as reported in Sonu Shamdasani's introduction to The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga):
None of the scholars present, as evident by the views expressed by them, displayed the least knowledge about the real significance of the ancient document they were discussing at the time.

And on and on it goes...

und so weiter

...everybody had a good time...

~ beatles

The Mountain of Truth: The Counterculture Begins, Ascona, 1900-1920