arts / Psychology

Just a thought: Purposeless play

The sandcastle man

Pages from Jung’s Red Book

For several years, people strolling along the shore of Lake Zurich came across a middle-aged man, alone and very intent on building sand castles.

Nutjob, right? But the man was C.G. Jung, one of the great minds of the 20th century. Jung knew he was in midlife and stuck. He knew he needed to reconnect with his imagination, and his way was to build sand castles.

It was a very productive thing to do. He went on to write more than 20 books in the second half of his life and worked passionately until his death at 85.

In a 1957 lecture, Experimental Music, John Cage described music as “a purposeless play” which is “an affirmation of life – not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living”


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