Interview with Martin Gledhill

by | Jun 28, 2023 | 0 comments

Allow us to introduce Mr. Martin Gledhill, an accomplished researcher and writer who is currently in the writing stage of his Ph.D. on Carl Jung’s Bollingen Tower—a work that he hopes will soon become a book. Before embarking on this captivating and all-consuming project, Martin held the position of senior lecturer at the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, where he focused on exploring the profound symbolism and spiritual essence embedded within architecture. 🏛️💫

This is just an excerpt of the interview. Listen to the full interview on our YouTube or podcast.

Joel: I’m here with Martin Gladhill, an academic who researches Jungian architecture. Today, he will talk about Jung’s house in Bollingen, which is a personal project that combines his lifelong interests and passions. So, Martin, could you start by discussing your work on Bollingen and its significance?

Martin: Sure, Joel. My passion for Bollingen is quite unusual, I suppose. As a trained architect, I always felt that architecture could have more meaning. About 30 or 40 years ago, I started going into therapy, partly because I wasn’t good at relationships. These two threads, architecture and therapy, eventually merged for me. I made a bold decision to give up my work and teaching at the university to embark on this project. It has been running for about seven years now. The backdrop for this project is the belief that therapeutic practice could involve the concept of place more, as it seems to be absent from the discussion, even in therapy rooms.

Joel: Do you find that in DreamWork, there is room for the concept of place, as you describe, or do you see other ways in which place intersects with therapy?

Martin: DreamWork can amplify the concept of place, but I believe that the role of place, whether it’s the physical surroundings or the sense of belonging, is potent in our lives, especially in our homes. However, in therapy, particularly in analytical psychology, place seems to be somewhat pushed out of the dialogue. I hope I’m not offending anyone by saying that. I think this is where Jung becomes interesting. He began his journey through alchemy and engaged with matter. Marie-Louise von Franz continued this engagement with matter. It’s rare for a psychologist to conceive their family home as a crucial factor. Jung essentially acted as an architect in two places.

Joel: That’s fascinating, Martin. It seems like Jung had a thirst for a unified theory of everything. He was more concerned with the internal experiences and the phenomenology of what was happening inside him and others. But much of it intersected with Bollingen, although it’s not well understood. You mentioned the gateway to alchemy as the bridge between matter and mind. Could you elaborate on that?

Martin: Absolutely, Joel. Jung’s exploration of alchemy allowed him to work on matters of the mind through metaphors of matter and science. It’s an aspect of his unfinished work in analytical psychology, which was picked up to some extent by my colleague, Marie-Louise von Franz. They approached the tower from different angles. I must say that the Jung family has been incredibly generous in sharing information about the tower. However, it’s important to respect their privacy and the legacy of Jung, which is why many parts of it remain inaccessible. You cannot even photograph the inside, even if you are granted permission.

Joel: I understand the need to respect their

Joel: Thank you for sharing your insights on Bollingen Tower. Let’s continue our discussion. You mentioned that after the falling out, Young only invited Victor White to visit Bollingen, and he lost his rights. Could you elaborate on this?

Martin: Yes, after their falling out, when Young and Victor White meet again, Young only invites White to visit Bollingen. This implies that Young didn’t extend the same invitation to others, indicating that White had a special status or relationship with Young. The phrase “lost his rights” suggests that White may have lost certain privileges or access that he previously had. It’s a sad turn of events in their relationship, but the specifics of what transpired and the reasons behind it are not mentioned in the transcript.

Joel: It’s interesting how Bollingen evolves from being referred to as “my country” or “my little place in the country” to eventually becoming “the tower.” Could you explain this transformation and its significance?

Martin: Certainly. Initially, when Young writes about Bollingen in his letters, he refers to it as “my country” or “my little place in the country.” This indicates a personal and intimate connection with the location. However, over time, it evolves into “the tower.” It becomes an internal space that holds symbolic meaning rather than simply being a physical structure.

The transformation from “my little place in the country” to “the tower” signifies the elevation of Bollingen from an ordinary place to an extraordinary one. It becomes a symbol that represents Young’s ideas and psychological exploration. The tower itself undergoes changes in its physical appearance, but what’s more significant is the narrative and symbolic journey it represents.

Joel: Do you have any insights or speculations about what might be in the tower, particularly the private rooms or areas that haven’t been seen by others?

Martin: While there isn’t explicit information about the contents of the private rooms or areas of the tower in the transcript, I did come across a picture of the fifth episode of the tower, which seems to show a space with a coal fire and timber lining. This room is said to overlook the lake and holds a certain significance for Young. He mentions the other Bollingen, a liminal space associated with the beyond or the afterlife, which could be connected to this private area in the tower.

Without further details, it’s difficult to speculate on the exact nature of the private rooms. However, considering Young’s interest in psychology, spirituality, and his personal experiences, it’s likely that these spaces held personal significance and were used for contemplation, reflection, and inner work.

Joel: You mentioned the significance of circles and squares, their connection with shelter and protection, and their association with the quaternity symbol. Can you explain this further and share any other symbolic elements or patterns you’ve noticed in Bollingen?

Martin: Certainly. According to Young’s response to a student of architecture named Peter de Brunt in a letter from 1959, circles and squares are connected with the idea of shelter, protection, and concentration of the family and the small animals. They are also linked to the symbol of the quaternity, which represents the drilling place of the inner man, the abode of gods.

In Bollingen, the circle and the square are prominent symbols that oscillate and constellate into a triad, forming a sacred geometry. These geometric elements convey meaning and serve as visual representations of Young’s ideas and thoughts. The tower itself exhibits both geometric and non-geometric elements, creating a rich visual language.

There are also other symbolic elements and patterns that can be found in Bollingen. For example, the octagonal shape of many baptistries represents rebirth.The Tower of Bollingen holds immense significance in the life and work of Carl Jung. It served as a deeply personal space for Jung, providing him with a retreat from the demands of the external world and a sanctuary for his psychological exploration. The tower represents a physical manifestation of Jung’s inner journey and a reflection of his individuation process.

In the tower, Jung engaged in various activities, such as painting, writing, and contemplation, which allowed him to connect with his unconscious and explore the depths of his psyche. This introspective work was essential to his development of analytical psychology, his theories on the collective unconscious, and his understanding of archetypes.

Moreover, the tower itself underwent transformations over time, reflecting Jung’s evolving psychological states. Initially referred to as his “little place in the country,” it gradually became a tower, symbolizing an internal space being brought to life. The tower’s construction and design were not purely architectural endeavors but rather represented Jung’s attempt to concretize and constellate his ideas and experiences into physical form.

The tower also holds symbolic significance. The interplay between the circle and the square, which Jung described as connected with the idea of shelter, protection, and the symbolism of the quaternity, played a crucial role in its design. Sacred geometry and the use of geometric elements conveyed meaning and allowed Jung to explore mystical and spiritual dimensions.

While the precise contents of the tower’s private rooms remain unknown, there are indications that they provided spaces for reflection, work, and connections with the beyond. The tower’s role as a gateway and a liminal space between life and death is particularly significant. Jung’s son, Franz, who was involved in its construction, could shed further light on the complex geometry and narrative of the tower.

In essence, the Tower of Bollingen represents Jung’s quest for self-discovery, his exploration of the unconscious, and his attempt to bring together the realms of psychology, spirituality, and architecture. It stands as a testament to his dedication to understanding the human psyche and his desire to create a physical space that reflected the depths of his inner world.

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