Robert Johnson is Jungian Analyst. These are some really fun people – I guess that might say more about me than about them. Really fun in the sense that they talk about the human condition in the context of literature, mythology, and history. My notion is that they take the collective wisdom of man and collate it into meaningful messages for living today. Robert Johnson wrote a book he called, “Transformation” – subtitled, ‘Understanding the Three Level of Masculine Consciousness.” Tell me that doesn’t sound like fun!
Johnson describes three essential phase of maturity, beginning with the Simple Man, then progressing to the Complex Man, and finally the Enlightened Man. The best part for me is Johnson’s use of literature to make his points. He views good literature as significant allegories offering us insight into our being.
Johnson says the Simple Man comes home in the evening, wondering, “What’s for dinner?” The Complex Man comes home pondering the imponderables of fate and destiny. The Enlightened Man comes home wondering, “What’s for dinner?”
The literary reference for the Simple Man is Don Quixote, by Cervantes. Quixote, as understood by Johnson, is a man who invents problems to work on – never addressing the real problems of the day. Quixote just does not get it.
The caricature for the Complex Man is Shakespeare’ s Hamlet. As a young man Hamlet’s father is murdered. Hamlet’s uncle, the father’s brother, marries Hamlet’s mother and becomes lord of their manor (my words). As a young adult Hamlet has a vision or dream where his father visits him and informs him that it was Hamlet’s uncle who murdered the father. Hamlet is torn. His mother is happy in her life. Does he shed more blood, or does he let it go, stating the famous, “To be, or not to be.”
The Enlightened Man is represented by Faust – as described by Goethe. The Faust story is an old story of oral tradition – it was Goethe who first penned the words – so he generally gets the credit. Faust was that fellow who made the infamous deal with the devil. I think the Goethe version says the deal was for 24 years. In those twenty four years Faust could have anything he wanted , money, power, sex, property – anything. The deal was that if at any time Faust was so smitten by any one thing that he wished he could have it forever – he would lose his soul to the devil. If he passed the 24 years without being overcome by any vice – then he would get to keep his soul. Faust kept his soul – the enlightened man.
When I see young people – like yourself – pondering the imponderables of fate and destiny – I am pleased. Much of the debate we see in the print and electronic media is about problems that are not problems – so many people fighting windmills.
When I see a politician who is forceful and determined, yet relaxed and patient, I think of the enlightened man. Tested by fire – they have done their 24 years of being tested by vice – and have lived to tell about it. It is not to say they did not indulge in the temptations – it is only to say that they did not chose to dwell there.
There is no person without fault – the questions are – what did they learn? And who are they now?
Robert Johnson offers an understanding of literature, of history, of philosophy, and of our very nature – I recommend him.