What are the blissful islands? And where are they? This book takes as its starting-point the chapter called ‘On the Blissful Islands’ in Part Two of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and its enigmatic conclusion: ‘The beauty of the Superman came to me as a shadow’. From this remarkable and powerful passage, it disengages the Nietzschean idea of the Superman and the Jungian notion of the shadow, moving these concepts into a new, interdisciplinary direction.
In particular, On the Blissful Islands seeks to develop the kind of interpretative approach that Jung himself employed. Its chief topics are classical (the motif of the blissful islands), psychological (the shadow), and philosophical (the Übermensch or superman), blended together to produce a rich, intellectual-historical discussion. By bringing context and depth to a nexus of highly problematic concepts, it offers something new to the specialist and the general reader alike. So this book considers the significance of the statue in the culture of antiquity (and in alchemy), and investigates the associated notion of self-sculpting as a form of existential exercise. This Neoplatonic theme is pursued in relation to a poem by Schiller, at the centre of which lies the notion of self-sculpting, thus highlighting Nietzsche’s (and Jung’s) relationship to Idealism. Its conclusion directly addresses the vexed (and controversial) question of Nietzsche’s relation to Plato.
This book’s main ambition is to provide a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary reading of key themes and motifs, using Jungian ideas in general (and Jung’s vast seminar on Zarathustra in particular) to uncover a dimension of deep meaning in key passages in Nietzsche. Engaging the reader directly on major existential questions, it aims to be an original, thought-provoking contribution to the history of ideas, and to show that Zarathustra was right: There still are blissful islands!
This book will be stimulating reading for analytical psychologists, including those in training, and academics and scholars of Jungian studies, Nietzsche, and the history of ideas.
‘This is outstanding! Over many years, Paul Bishop has opened an academic shuttle of the highest quality between luminaries of German culture, such as Goethe, Schiller and Nietzsche, and study of the oeuvre of C.G. Jung. It is clear that mutual benefit has arisen from this monumental project, now running into several books and numerous papers. The writing is erudite, witty and limpid. And the writing is also profoundly psychological, for Bishop is no ordinary academic. He brings an emotional sensibility and sensitivity to his work, for example in the sections on ecstasy and asceticism. Bishop shows us that scholarship and the vicissitudes of everyday life are often not that far apart.’ – Andrew Samuels, Professor of Analytical Psychology, University of Essex, UK
‘In this study, Paul Bishop returns to the ancient problem of paradise lost and shows Jung's solution. A rigorous reflection on humanity's haunting dream of perfection and a paradise never to be regained.’ Murray Stein, author of Minding the Self (Routledge, 2014).
"With Jung as the most exciting reader of Nietzsche, and Nietzsche the most haunting prophet of epochal change, more than ever does the twenty-first century need the work of Paul Bishop, eminent authority on Germanic Romanticism’s reincarnation in Jungian psychology. On the Blissful Islands brings together classical traditions of this realm of the dead, with Jung’s under-researched notion of ‘the shadow’ and Nietzsche’s less-comprehended ‘superman’. In a superb flourish of aesthetical exploration, the book generates new approaches to personal and societal transformation and change. Moreover, this fascinating study extends significance beyond disciplinary boundaries. On the Blissful Islands speaks to artists and scholars, students and cultural theorists as well as being essential reading for those seeking to deepen their knowledge of Jung, Nietzsche, German culture and European Romanticism." - Susan Rowland, Chair, MA Engaged Humanities, Pacifica Graduate Institute, USA
"Paul Bishop is the foremost interpreter of Jung’s Germanic heritage to the English-speaking world. An alchemist of scholarship, he transmutes even the most recondite and mercurial of intellectual material into luminous, exhilarating prose. In the present book, drawing above all on Goethe, Nietzsche, and Jung, he undertakes a profound amplificatory meditation on the themes of the shadow, the blissful islands, sculpting, and much besides, to explore – to activate – contemporary possibilities of self-transformation and embodied mystical realisation. Overflowing with intellectual treasure, this book is a war chest for the embattled humanities." - Professor Roderick Main, University of Essex
Preface: Crystallization — ‘The beauty of the superman came to me as a shadow’ 1. On the Blissful Islands: In the Shadow of the Superman 2. ‘Never Cease Chiselling’: Statues and Self-Sculpting 3. Shadows or Forms: Life and the Ideal 4. Journey’s End: Platonic, Nietzschean and Jungian Attitudes to the Body