Knowing the Questions, Living the Answers
I am writing to tell you some of the story behind my newest book tocome into print. In actuality I wrote the manuscript in the mid nineteen nineties. At the time it had been accepted for publication by a good, small publisher who was becoming interested in Jung. Through this publisher I had the opportunity to work with a very experienced and helpful editor. As the book was coming together I was very excited about the course this whole creative project was taking.
In the process of writing this book I was striving to develop a new writing voice. With this voice I wanted to write a book outlining the developmental course of our lives from a Jungian perspective and that included the dynamic paradoxes that occur when we are fully engaged in life and individuation. In addition,I wanted the book to flow from the theoretical into an increasingly personal perspective which includes what is going on within me, the analyst, as I am working with the people in my examples in the book. During the writing of the manuscript I was in correspondence with Laurens van der Post who was very encouraging of my work. At the same time the novelist Gail Godwin was generous with her comments and wrote a foreword for the manuscript. Everything was going great.
Then my wife, Massimilla and I were at the National Booksellers Convention for two of our other books in 1996. While we were there my agent took us over to meet the publisher of this manuscript which was due to come out in a year. Massimilla and I had, I thought, a pleasant conversation with him. A few minutes later he took me aside because he wanted to discuss an idea with me. He said that he would like to have a book on the masculine and the feminine written by two Jungian analysts, a man and a woman. I replied, “That would be very exciting, Let me talk to my wife about collaborating on that.” He immediately said, “No!” I was taken aback. He continued, “Your wife is too hard, too masculine, we need someone who is softer.” I was astounded; I couldn’t believe my ears or that he would be so crass as to make such a statement. Clearly this was a projection that said more about him than it did about Massimilla. However I will admit that she is a very accomplished woman. She has a Ph.D., she is a Zurich trained Jungian analyst, an author and a lecturer and she is an award winning quilter. Maybe she intimidating to some people, but she is also one of the loveliest and most feminine woman I have ever met. As he continued to talk I became increasing enraged.
“Knowing life’s questions and living the answers means accepting the paradoxes of peace, love and conflict that mark our lifetimes.This book is about learning to hear and interpret the nudging and out-and-out messages of that inner blueprint, which Dr. Harris defines as the “pattern of creation longing to be fulfilled within each of us.” The more faithful we are in working to discern this personal pattern of ours (the Jungians have named this work the individuation process), the less buffeted by fate, or life’s Pattern-at-Large, we will be. That doesn’t mean our awareness can bring immunity from the cataclysms and heartbreaks the Wheel of Fortune has in store for every one of us at some time or another.The message in Knowing the Questions, Living the Answers is that the more conscious we become of our personal patterns, the better able we will be to live the answers to life’s questions rather than just suffering through them and learning nothing from them or about them. Accessible and satisfying. We immediately trust Dr. Harris as he reflects’ on life.”- Gail Godwin