January 31, 2008


Image courtesy of fromoldbooks.org.

The theme for this week's Goat Rope is dreams and what they may mean. If this is your first visit, please click on earlier posts. You'll also find links and comments about current events.

Carl Gustav Jung is something of a cult figure these days, which might not altogether be a good thing. He had a tendency to take dips into what Freud considered the "black tide of...occultism." Still he had some interesting ideas about dreams and it would be hard to leave him out of a discussion of them.

Jung is remembered today for several of his ideas, but one of the main ones is that of the collective unconscious. Freud admitted the existence of a personal unconscious, but Jung argued that there was a deeper layer of instincts and archetypes, which are inborn images and motifs which we inherit.

Fittingly enough, Jung claimed that a dream helped him develop this concept. As described in Memories, Dreams and Reflections, he dreamed of a house he recognized as his own. It was a little old fashioned, but OK otherwise. But when he went down a flight of stairs, the rooms were much older, darker and medieval. A stone stairway led to a cellar dating from ancient Roman times. When he lifted a slab on this floor, it led to an ancient cave with scattered bones, broken pottery and two human skulls.

Here's his interpretation:

The ground floor stood for the first level of the unconscious. The deeper I went, the more alien and the darker the scene became. In the cave, I discovered the remains of a primitive culture, that is the world of the primitive man within myself--a world which can scarcely be reached or illuminated by consciousness. The primitive psyche of man borders on the life of the animal soul, just as the caves of prehistoric times were usually inhabited by animals before men laid claim to them.

Elsewhere, he wrote that

The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness may extend... All consciousness separates, but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. Out of these all-uniting depths arises the dream, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral.

El Cabrero is no Jungian, but sometimes dreams are too deep and weird to fit any reductive scheme. I remember one I had as a young adult that stuck with me. I stood on a hill watching my home town being devastated by a horrible flood. We got flooded a lot for real, but this was way worse and way different. It was a disaster of biblical proportions.

I remember looking in the water and seeing a drowned woman floating upside down. Suddenly she turned face up and I was horrified to see that she was clutching a drowned baby to her breast. That was bad enough, but then I heard a voice say, "Alas, poor baby. We could give you everything but peace."

I'm still trying to shake that one off.

STRESS AND TRAUMA. A new study suggests that stress may be more of a factor in the problems of some veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan than brain injury. If that proves to be the case in light of further research, that would be good news. Stress-related problems are easier to treat than neurological ones.

WE'RE AN INSPIRATION! The WV Supreme Court goat rope just keeps getting better and better. The latest twist is novelist John Grisham's latest effort was inspired by the (largely Don Blankenship-funded) election of Brent Benjamin to the state supreme court in 2004. Here's an extract from a conversation between Grisham and Matt Lauer about his new book on the Today Show:

"Basically, it involves a chemical company,” Lauer said. “They contaminate the water in the community. There’s a cancer outbreak. People die. And there’s a $41 million jury award against this company. And the head of the company says, I’m not gonna pay it. What I’m gonna do is avoid paying it by stacking the court that’s eventually gonna hear the appeal on this case. Far fetched?”

“It’s already happened,” Grisham said. “It’s already happened.”

“It’s a long term calculation,” Lauer said. “You have to be pretty sure about the money you’re investing in this.”

“Well, it’s happened,” Grisham said. “It happened a few years ago in West Virginia. A guy who owned a coal company, got tired of getting sued. He elected his guy to the Supreme Court, it switched 5-4 back his way. Now he doesn’t worry about getting sued. So it happens. It’s already happened.”

And here's more from WV Public Radio.


HIT THE ROAD, JACK. If you want to stay strong as you age, that is.

UNEMPLOYMENT. The latest snapshot from the Economic Policy Institute illustrates why a boost in unemployment benefits is good for workers and the economy.



Juanuchis said...

You got me with WV Public Radio. They're in one of their painful fund drives for 10 days. Shoot me. Thank God for XM. (Yes, I support them.)

And is it just me? I hate "West Virginia Morning". In the nearly three years I've been back, I can count on one hand a story I have found remotely interesting.

And that theme music! "Pluck pluck *toot* pluck pluck *toot*...."

I'm in a cranky mood this evening. But I stand by what I typed!

El Cabrero said...

Hey there! Usually at 7:30 I'm either reading, jogging, or otherwise exercising, but I do subscribe to WV Public Radio's email.

Speaking of theme music, the Dah Dah Dah Dah of All Things Considered needs some major revisiting.