Samizdat

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Category: Pan and the Nightmare

On Fear, Anxiety, Angst, and Mythology

“Fear is to be met and managed by the hero on his path to manhood, and an encounter with fear plays a major part in initiation ceremonies.”

[…]

Simply, there are two faces to panic: lived out in relation to a stimulus and called fear; held in with no known stimulus and called anxiety. Fear has an object; anxiety has none.  There can be panicky fear, a stampede, say; there can be panicky anxiety in a dream. In either condition, death can result. Psychoanalytic and psychosomatic case reports, as well as dream research and anthropological studies (for instance, on Voodoo death) provide instances of the fatal consequences of anxiety.

The anxiety dream can be distinguished from the nightmare in the classical sense. The classical nightmare is a dreadful visitation by a demon who forcibly oppresses the dreamer into paralysis, cuts off his breath, and release comes through movement. The anxiety dream is less precise, in that there is no demon, no dyspnea, but there is the same inhibition of movement. (A collection of these dreams is given by M. Weidhorn, “The Anxiety Dream in Literature from Homer to Milton,” Studies in Philology 64, pp. 65-82, Univ. of NC., 1967). A literary prototype of the anxiety dream, emphasizing an inhibited peculiarity of movement, occurs in the Iliad xxii, 199-201 (Achilles in pursuit of Hector):

“As in a dream a man is not able to follow one
who runs from him, nor can the runner escape,
nor the other pursue him, so he could not run
him down in his speed, nor the other get clear.”

[…]

Contemporary existential philosophy gives to anxiety, dread or Angst a more intentional, a more fulsome interpretation. Angst reveals man’s fundamental ontological situation, his connections with not-being, so that all fear is not just dread of death, but of the nothing on which all being is based. Fear thus becomes the reflection in consciousness of a universal reality.

Buddhism goes yet further: fear is more than a subjective, human phenomenon. All the world is in fear: trees, stones, everything. And the Buddha is the redeemer of the world from fear. Hence the significance of the mudra (hand gesture) of fear-not, which is not merely a sign of comfort but of total redemption of the world from its “fear and trembling,” its thralldom to Angst. Buddha’s perfect love, in the words of the Gospels, “driveth out fear.”

“…to further mix the contexts: let us say that the world of nature, Pan’s world, is in a continual state of subliminal panic just as it is in a continual state of subliminal sexual excitation. As the world is made by Eros, held together by that cosmogonic force and charged with the libidinal desire that is Pan, an archetypal vision most recently presented by Wilhelm Reich–so its other side, panic, recognized by the Buddha belongs to the same constellation. Again, we come back to Pan and the two extremes of instinct.

Brinkman has already pointed to the bankruptcy of all theories of panic that attempt to deal with it sociologically, psychologically or historically and not on its own terms. The right terms, Brinkman says, are mythological. We must follow the path cleared by Nietzsche whose investigation of kinds of consciousness and behavior through Apollo and Dionysos can be extended to Pan. Then panic will no longer be regarded as a physiological defense mechanism or an inadequate reaction or an abaissment du niveau mental, but will be seen as the right response to the numinous.”

–W.H. Roscher, Pan and the Nightmare: Ephialtes–A Pathological-Mythological Treatise on the Nightmare in Classical Antiquity, & An Essay on Pan by James Hillman, 1972. Pp. xxvi-xxviii. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

Animism, Pantheism, Pagan Sexuality

“The imaginal is never more vivid than when we are connected with it instinctually. The world alive is of course animism; that this living world is divine and imaged by different Gods with attributes and characteristics is polytheistic pantheism. That fear, dread, horror are natural is wisdom. In Whitehead’s term “nature alive” means Pan, and panic flings open a door into this reality.

Roscher’s article on Pan in the Lexicon states that Pan invented masturbation. Roscher refers to Ovid’s Amores 1, 3, 1 and 26 and to Catullus 32, 3; 61, 114. But the principal source is Dio Chrysostomus (ca. 40-112 AD), who in his sixth oration refers to Diogenes for witness. (Diogenes was the Greek Cynic philosopher who supposedly masturbated in public).”

–W.H. Roscher, Pan and the Nightmare: Ephialtes–A Pathological-Mythological Treatise on the Nightmare in Classical Antiquity, & An Essay on Pan by James Hillman, 1972. Pp. xxxi-xxxii. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

Sacred and Ritual Copulation

“We would take the copulation of goats with women in an Egyptian temple (reported by Herodotus) on a sacred, ritual level.”

–W.H. Roscher, Pan and the Nightmare: Ephialtes–A Pathological-Mythological Treatise on the Nightmare in Classical Antiquity, & An Essay on Pan by James Hillman, 1972. Pp. xxxviii. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

The Schism Between Fantasy and Behavior

“Clearly the issue remains insoluble as long as we insist that behavior and fantasy are two different realms. This schism produces all the others: between secular and sacred, between “in here” and “out there,” between mythology and pathology. Therefore the first step toward resolving the particular problem of rape is to recognize the larger mistake behind it. This mistake can be rectified by remembering that behavior is also fantasy and fantasy is also behavior, and always.

This means, first, that fantasy is also physical; it is a mode of being in the world. We cannot be in the physical world without at the same time and all the time demonstrating an archetypal structure. We cannot move or feel without enacting a fantasy. Our fantasies are not only in the mind; we are behaving them.

Second, the union of fantasy and behavior means that there is no pure, no objective behavior as such. Behavior may never be taken on its own level, literally. It is always guided by imaginal processes and expresses them. Behavior is always metaphorical and requires a hermeneutic approach as much as does the most fantastic reverie of mystical vision.”

–W.H. Roscher, Pan and the Nightmare: Ephialtes–A Pathological-Mythological Treatise on the Nightmare in Classical Antiquity, & An Essay on Pan by James Hillman, 1972. Pp. xxxix. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

The Origin of Witches

“Plutarch placed his story about the death of Pan in a discussion about why the oracles had become defunct in the late antique world so pervaded by Christianity. With the death of Pan, the maidens who spoke out the natural truths were no more either, for the death of Pan means as well the death of the nymphs. And, as Pan turned into a Christian devil, so the nymphs became witches and prophecy, sorcery. Pan’s messages in the body became calls from the devil, and any nymph who evoked such calls could be nothing but a witch.”

–W.H. Roscher, Pan and the Nightmare: Ephialtes–A Pathological-Mythological Treatise on the Nightmare in Classical Antiquity, & An Essay on Pan by James Hillman, 1972. Pp. li. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

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