Samizdat

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Tag: Nightmares

On Panic

“It was believed that Pan himself was in a panic when the animals ran, and that this vision of Pan’s panic set the world in terror. It is as if Pan was himself a victim of nightmares, epileptoid convulsions, and the horror that he brings. The God is what he does; his appearance is his essence. In one and the same nature is both the power of nature and the fear of that power.”

–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. liii. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

Nightmares as the Experiential Base of Religion

“The nightmare reveals this, par excellence. There the healing reeducation might begin because there the instinctual soul is most real. Jones (p. 71) reminds us that “the vividness of Nightmares far transcends that of ordinary dreams.” Roscher and Laistner both observed this, and Jones (Ibid.) quotes others who have stressed this reality:

“The degree of consciousness during a paroxysm of Nightmare is so much greater than ever happens in a dream….Indeed I know no way in which a man has of convincing himself that the vision which has occurred during a paroxysm of Nightmare is not real…( J.Waller).

“The illusions which occur are perhaps the most extraordinary phenomena of nightmare; and so strongly are they often impressed upon the mind, that, even on waking, we find it impossible not to believe them real….(R. Macnish).

“From this kind of experience Jones draws his main point condensed into the second motto I placed above: the vividness of the nightmare experience has given rise to the belief in the objective reality of personified demons and Gods: the nightmare is the experiential base of religion.”

–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. lxii. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

Numbers 7, 9 and 40, and the Omphalos.

“Later he became fascinated with more abstract topics: numbers in Greek medicine, the numbers seven, nine and forty, and the concept of an imaginary middle point, the omphalos or world-navel, a recurrent theme in Greek, Roman and Semitic mythology.”

–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., pg. v.

The Scientific Study of Myth and Symbol.

 “…and he too was a pioneer investigator and indefatigable assembler of data in the nineteenth-century style. It is only now that we can see his achievements in scholarship as equalling those of his contemporaries in the natural sciences. He more than any other classicist is responsible for having collected into one place the mythical and religious material of the ancient world, providing the ground for the scientific study of myth and symbol.”

 –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. iii. 

Jung on the Prophetic Significance of Dreams.

“Just as the largest part of the past is so far removed that it is not reached by history, so too the greater part of the unconscious determinants is unreachable.

History, however, knows nothing of two kinds of thing, that which is hidden in the past and that which is hidden in the future. Both perhaps might be attained with a certain amount of probability; the first as a postulate, the second as an historical prognosis.

In so far as tomorrow is already contained in today, and all the threads of the future are in place, so a more profound knowledge of the past might render possible a more or less far reaching and certain knowledge of the future (…)

Just as traces of memory long since fallen beneath the threshold of consciousness are accessible in the unconscious, so too there are certain very fine subliminal combinations of the future, which are of the greatest significance for future happenings in so far as the future is conditioned by our own psychology… it appears from time to time, in certain cases, significant fragments of this process come to light, at least in dreams. From this comes the prophetic significance of the dream long claimed by superstition. 

 The aversion of the scientific man of today to this type of thinking, hardly to be called phantastic, is merely an overcompensation to the very ancient and all too great inclination of mankind to believe in prophesies and superstitions.”

 –Carl Gustav Jung, Psychology of the Unconscious, 1916.

Mirrors as Labyrinths.

“My other nightmare is that of the mirror. The two are not distinct, as it only takes two facing mirrors to construct a labyrinth. I remember seeing, in the house of Dora de Alvear in the Belgrano district, a circular room whose walls and doors were mirrored, so that whoever entered the room found himself at the center of a truly infinite labyrinth.”

— –Jorge Luis Borges, “Nightmares,” Seven Nights, 1984, pg. 29. 

Borges on the Demonic Origin of Nightmares.

“In all of these words there is an idea of demonic origin, the idea of a demon who causes the nightmare. I believe it does not derive simply from a superstition. I believe that there is–and I speak with complete honesty and sincerity–something true in this idea.”

 –Jorge Luis Borges, “Nightmares,” Seven Nights, 1984, pp. 28-9.

Borges, Dreams, Nightmares, Metaphysics.

“For the savage and for the child, dreams are episodes of the waking life; for poets and mystics, it is not impossible for all of the waking life to be a dream.

This was said, in a dry and laconic fashion, by Calderón: “life is a dream.” It was said, with an image, by Shakespeare: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” And splendidly by the Austrian poet Walter von der Vogelweide, who asked, “Ist mein Leben getraäumt oder ist es wahr?” –have I dreamed my life or is it real?

I am not sure. It takes us certainly to solipsism, to the suspicion that there is only one dreamer and that dreamer is every one of us. That dreamer–let us imagine that I am he–is, at this very moment, dreaming you. He is dreaming this room and this lecture. There is only one dreamer, and that dreamer dreams all of the cosmic process, dreams all of the world’s history, dreams everything, including your childhood and your adolescence.

All of this could not have happened; at this moment it begins to exist. He begins to dream and is each one of us–not us, but each one. At this moment I am dreaming that I am giving a lecture on the Calle Charcas, that I am looking for things to say (and perhaps not finding them); I am dreaming you.

But it is not true. Each one of you is dreaming me and the others.”

–Jorge Luis Borges, “Nightmares,” Seven Nights, 1984. Pp. 26-7.

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