C. G. Jung is my North Star, although I find it has taken me years to learn how to read him. Jung writes in a roundabout style, often dense with concepts and sparse with razor clarity. This is not an accurate reflection of his psychology, which I find to be incisive and profound, the revelations crisp. After wading into analytical psychology I eventually found Marie Louise von Franz, who worked closely with Jung. Her explanations of Jung’s concepts are clear and profound and while I was writing A PARTICULAR OBEDIENCE, I found myself reading and rereading many of her books, including THE FEMININE IN FAIRY TALES (Shambhala, 1993).
Miss von Franz writes about the passing of emotional disposition and oppressive ancestral baggage from one generation to the next. She uses as an example a man who was bullied by his mother and then married a bullying wife. “The only way out is to take the responsibility for what one is, and to make an enormous effort to interrupt the curse or the chain” (p119). In her example, the man realized that his father had been bullied in much the same way and that he had to stop the cycle or pass it on to his son, which he did not want to do. Having become aware of the problem, the man had to solve it.
I read this two years into writing A PARTICULAR OBEDIENCE and was stopped in my tracks because this is the core of the novel. Ancestral baggage that is not confronted will continue to curse families.