Carl Gustav Jung interviewed by Kaarle Nordenstreng
Zürich‐Küsnacht, February 1961
As a freelance journalist of the Finnish Broadcasting Company and a first‐year student of psychology at the University of Helsinki, I visited friends in Switzerland in February 1961, also hoping to get an interview with C.G. Jung. His secretary Aniela Jaffé first regretted that Prof. Jung’s state of health did not permit the appointment, tentatively scheduled by correspondence. However, I did not give up, called again a week later, and Ms Jaffé told me, after consulting Prof. Jung: “You are lucky, Mr Nordenstreng, come today at 5 p.m.”
The appointment lasted for nearly an hour. We agreed to speak in English, although I did not speak it fluently (this was the first interview I conducted in a foreign language). Jung led me to his library with a large window onto Lake Zürich. He sat in a deep armchair, most of the time smoking a pipe (which can be heard during the pauses). The interview started with my showing Jung the recent Finnish translation of his Genenwart und Zukunft. Later in the discussion Jung showed me a book on Zen philosophy on a nearby desk. After the interview I took a couple of pictures of Jung in his armchair, in natural light with long exposure (as can be heard in the recording). Before leaving I gave Jung a Finnish wooden “Thomas’ cross”.
The interview was made with a tape recorder of the time, which needed to be wound up in the manner of old gramophone (as can be periodically heard in the recording), and the tapes had to be changed every ten minutes. Paying attention to these technicalities while carrying on the discussion once resulted in my mistakenly turning the knob to ‘play’ instead of ‘recording’. Sadly, that part of the discussion was lost, apart from my recollections. At one change of the tapes Jung gives his cynical comments on machines. He declined to read a passage of his book for the tape recorder but agreed to autograph my copy of Gegenwart und Zukunft.
The recording of 24 minutes is available as an mp3 file.
On that basis I made a 40‐minute long documentary for the Finnish national radio, with three local academic experts first summarizing Jung’s ideas, followed by a reportage of the appointment, including my translation of what Jung said accompanied by excerpts of his original voice. The programme was first broadcast in March 1961 and repeated in July 1962. It is available in the open access “Living Archive” of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) at www.yle.fi/elavaarkisto.