empire state building 

In 1935, a group of Jungian analysts left their homes and countries, away from Hitler, Mussolini, frightening dreams and fearful awakenings, and moved to the Unites States.

Unlike many of their compatriots, these immigrants did not stay on the east coast, although initially they did sleep on the couches of nephews, cousins, colleagues.

They met weekly in a coffeeshop in the garment district, where every voice was foreign, every truck driver and delivery boy rushing by seemed to them to be honking and jeering at their clumsy academic hickishness.

They moved to Montana with their savings and a few good connections in foreign banks. They bought a small town. It had been called Hell’s Water. They changed the name to Neu Zurich, and began a Jungian colony. Neu Zurich was a mountain town dedicated to therapeutic principles, mineral waters, and socialist governance.

The town had been half built and suddenly abandoned at the turn of the century, by restless men — gold miners, outlaws — not the steady ranchers still holding onto most of the state. Neu Zurich — Hell’s Water — was built rough and sloppy by men who had not planned to stay. The Jungians arrived dusty, optimistic, urban, ready to analyze, plan and progress toward an increasingly utopian tomorrow. 

They learned more about shit from outhouses than they’d ever learned from Jung and Freud combined. More about racism from chickens and geese. More about mothers from hard faced women and men. More about death from one long bitter winter. More about prayer, grief and renewal at every first thaw.

Maybe at first they had some shame, some retentive feelings about leaving Alt Zurich. Neu Zurich, though, was hot hard work, unsuitable for analysis, unavoidable, anti-utopian; calm, inarticulate therapy for sad dry minds. They dug post holes, buried their dead, married late but local, girls named Norma and Susan. They studied at night, bought, sold and traded, grew old, slept well. Complex resolved. Jung on a postage stamp. Freud a soap on a rope.

Eventually, they renamed Neu Zurich once again. Wasser der Hölle.


© Teresa Ybarra Phillips 2007.


7 Responses to “Assimilate/Appropriate”

  1. 1 Lollyloo March 19, 2007 at 9:50 am

    What means “Wasser der Hölle”? A quick Google gave me nothing and I don’t have the strength to seek out a tranlsation site.

    Very nice story, Mothergoose. Soap on a rope, heh.

  2. 2 Teresa March 19, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Wasser der Holle = Hell’s Water. Thank you, Babelfish.

  3. 3 ellie March 26, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    this made me laugh!! ha!!
    so true.

  4. 4 Teresa March 26, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks, Ellie! I especially liked the outhouse business.

  5. 5 quoinmonkey April 23, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Good narrative drive. Having lived in Montana for 8 years, I could even imagine it. I’ve been in a few outhouses there, too. They are alive and kickin’.

    The Jungian part is an engaging twist. One can see how the groundedness of digging outhouse holes and burying their dead would lead to real life lessons. We can analyze all we want – there is nothing compared to living it.



  6. 6 Teresa April 24, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Thank you, QM. Keeping mind and body together is a theme for me. I’ve been enjoying a leisurely exploration of redravine as well.

  1. 1 2 a.m. again « Trees for the forest Trackback on November 19, 2007 at 4:14 am

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