Jung for Kittens deals with the subject of who we really are and how we find out who we really are. It is not, however, a navel gazing work of existential angst but a modern fairy story, a contemporary version of the hero’s journey that is an entertaining but fulfilling read.
In autumn 2010 as a result of the economic downturn, thirty year old Arthur Loveday is made redundant from the big London property company where he has worked for ten years. An industrial psychologist endeavouring to asses him for a new career comes up with nothing.
Arthur has become a generic, pinstriped, cardboard cut out – and so very far from what he wanted to be. He has had no great trauma or abuse inflicted upon him.
He has simply failed himself, as we can all fail ourselves, by his inability to come to terms with who he is.
His personal life is as disastrous as his career. He has been in love, for three years, with colleague Anastasia Poliakof (wealthy Russian descent) without any attempt to turn their friendship into something more. With the loss of his job he has also lost his opportunities to see her.
After his rather humiliating interview with the psychologist, Arthur is aware of little but a painful void within him. But, it is this very emptiness that allows the doors of perception to swing open and Arthur to begin on his ‘fairy story’ journey – the search for Self. This search is predicated upon the work of the psychiatrist Carl Jung who believed in the spiritual (not religious) aspect of human nature.
The journey is undertaken partly in the real world and partly at the point where the physical and the metaphysical meet. The difference is imperceptible. According to Jung the unconscious and the collective unconscious are real worlds. They are ‘a priori’ facts of nature and consequently not of our making – but they hold the key to all we can be.
But Arthur does not have the luxury of undertaking his journey from the comfortable vantage point of the analyst’s couch. It is thrust upon him by Fate. He has to live it, his only help coming from the writings of Jung, the sometimes horrific suggestions of Madame Ibeg Boona, a voodoo priestess turned esoteric psychologist and the companionship of a small, orphan kitten which, rather disturbingly, starts to take charge. But then, as Madame Ibeg Boona points out:”You make a fundamental mistake Arthur. You miss the point of Jung’s metaphysics. You assume that yours is the only energy, the only power, complicit in this…..”