Memories, Dreams, Confessions: Writing the Inner Life

In this course students will read two classics of spiritual autobiography, Augustine of Hippo’s ‘Confessions’ and Carl Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’. Augustine was a rebel against authority and a seeker after esoteric knowledge in his youth, but ultimately became a religious authority figure for his own time and for subsequent ages. Jung began his career within the psychiatric establishment and rebelled against it in his 40s, thereafter becoming a countercultural figure. Jung was a mythographer who taught us about the language of dreams and the unconscious, while Augustine was a philosopher-theologian and one of the first people to turn his inner life into a compelling literary narrative. Using different vocabularies, they give us insight into the forces beyond our command by which we are lived as human beings. In the process they explore themes of time and memory, death and transcendence, and the fact that wisdom can be modelled for us by those who have attained it, but never taught according to a formula, because each individual’s journey is unique and unrepeatable.