Are Carl Jung, Bob Dylan, Volodymyr Zelenskyy our new prophets?

Jean Stimmel lives in Northwood. His blog can be viewed online at jeanstimmell.blogspot.com.

I believe in science and the scientific method, testing every hypothesis to see if it is true. And, most importantly, as more and more evidence accumulates, change the theory to stay in sync. There is no doubt about the phenomena that science studies, it knows them well. But for the rest, he does not know.

That’s why I’m always open to a more intuitive and inclusive source of knowledge, the one that Michael Meade talks about. He is a specialist in mythology who has an incredible ability to tap into ancient sources of wisdom and relate them to the stories we experience today.⁠

For the same reason, I have always had a soft spot for Carl Jung, one of the most renowned psychologists of the 20th century. He went beyond where mainstream science was willing to go. He believed in synchronicity, that everything happens for a reason; and he thought we have a collective unconscious, a deeper way of knowing what humanity has in common. Moreover, he thought that this collective unconscious could manifest itself in certain individuals.

It happened to Jung himself when he fell ill in 1913. He thought he was going mad from his recurring bloody visions of carnage and destruction in the world. Soon after, World War I broke out of nowhere with unimaginable bloodshed – over 22 million people lost their lives. Jung no longer questioned his sanity, realizing that his dreams and visions were a premonition of war.

Well, maybe, you say, it was just a coincidence or the ramblings of some deluded old intellectual. Agreed. Consider another example: Bob Dylan, son of a furniture store owner from the gritty mining town of Hibbing, MN, a nomadic orphan who hitchhiked to New York City at age 20 to become the voice of his generation, the oracle who could speak what was blowing in the wind, something we all felt but were dumb to say.

One could argue that Dylan’s words were another manifestation of Jung’s collective unconscious. His powers defied science and logic. From the beginning, he only played what he wanted, not necessarily what the public demanded. And he was superbly gifted. The magnificence of his lyrical prose won him the Nobel Prize in 2016 “for his unique ability to prove that lyrics can go beyond mere rhyme: they can become works of literature.”

His talent came from a source somewhere beyond himself. In an interview on 60 Minutes, he said his songs stem from a mysterious “source of creativity”. He did not take credit for writing his lyrics, saying they came to him by magic. For me, his songs seem to be a manifestation of our collective unconscious, the wisdom we have in common, the source of our humanity.

His songs cut through the clutter of evening paper counts and chatter to look straight in the eye at the existential crises we face. The perils of the past are growing every day. One song, in particular, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” couldn’t be more timely. Dylan wrote it during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when we feared our world was coming to an end.

“And what are you going to do now, my blue-eyed son?”

And what are you going to do now, my young darling?

I’m leaving before the rain starts to fall

I will walk in the depths of the deepest dark forest

Where the people are many and their hands are all empty

Where poison pellets flood their waters

Where the house in the valley meets the dirty and wet prison

And the executioner’s face is always well hidden

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color, where none is the number

And I’ll say it and talk it and think it and breathe it

And reflect from the mountain for all souls to see

And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start to sink

But I’ll know my song well before I start to sing

And it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard, and it’s hard

It’s a heavy rain that’s going to fall.

Scientific equations and high-tech algorithms cannot solve the enormity of our problems. What is needed is access to the deeper knowledge as expressed by Dylan and mythology in general, so well described in a recent review of Michael Meade’s latest book.

“As nature vibrates and culture unravels, the mythical imagination attempts to return to the world, for endings and beginnings are uniquely mythical. When “the end” seems near, how people imagine the world becomes more important; how people imagine humanity becomes of utmost importance. Meade shows how “myth gives meaning” and helps a person find the meaningful path in life…”

“When it seems there is no more time, it is not the time that people need, but the touch of the eternal. While explaining how culture renews itself from the dreams of youth and the visions of elders, Meade introduces the concept of becoming old again by connecting with eternal youth and the old soul within.

Remember what Dylan predicted, “For the loser now will win later for the times they change.”

We must honor the profound wisdom of our new prophets like the singer from Hibbing and the comedian from Ukraine.

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