On 19th September 2006 an article by James Hillman was published on Italian newspaper "La Repubblica", translated by Susanna Basso and entitled "The importance of dreams".
Hillman returned to the argument he began in "The dream and the underworld" saying:
"The difference between a coherent psychological theory and a coherent psychological attitude is that the latter is, at the same time, more unambitious and more audacious in praxis. With our perspective, dreams can belong to the theory we like most (Freud's, Jung's, everyone else's), because the metapsychological narrations which explain dreams (their nature, function, dynamic and symbolism) are irrelevant for the dream and its images"
The matter Hillman is dealing with is living the dream instead of interpret it.
In christian education the body with all its parts, the psyche and pulsions, is considered as separated from the ego. That "I am", expressed in a mental way, through the spoken thought, separates itself from every part of the body and from every physiologic pulsion, living its body and pulsions as they were apart from it. Something apart with which it shares everyday conflicts. I use my leg to walk; I use my brain to think. But when I walk it's me that walks, I walk with the whole self and though it's the leg that makes the physical effort, I'm all changing: I'm not the same I was before.
I am my leg, I am my heart, I am my brain: I am the dream!
As I'm used to consider my leg like an object apart from me that I use since it's economically favourable, so I consider the dream like an object apart from me and I look for a favourable use of the dream in my everyday life.
In his article, Hillman points very much his attention on resewing the individual with its body and the world that surrounds it, according to the way the individual is living. This is the psychic resewing of that separation produced by christianity in order to dominate and control the individual: the individual trials its pulsions instead of formulating strategies to satisfy those pulsions, of course within the limits accorded by the society to what this individual belongs.
Hillman suggests seven ways to relate yourselves with the dreams:
1) Don't try to escape the dream;
2) Resist to the need of know the meaning of the dream and to the will to make it a prophecy;
3) Don't make efforts to relate the dream to the vigil and its worries;
4) If you really can't avoid thinking the dream is talking to you, accept it like a guest;
5) Consider that the dream is a whole and that every part of it must be traced back to all the rest (of the individual, body and psyche);
6) Let the dream move you and if it doesn't do this, change it into a fantasy;
7) Let yourself be overwhelmed by the dream. Take part to it instead of interpret it.
Essentially, what is Hillman saying?
He says to people that they have to live instead of cataloguing or describing.
Let's try to translate aiming at everyday life what Hillman wrote about the ways to relate with the dream:
1) Don't try to escape life, its contradictions, problems and challenges;
2) Resist to the need to know the "reason of life" or to wait for the providence;
3) Don't make efforts to submit everyday challenges to the wait for the providence;
4) If you really can't avoid thinking of a providence, shift it to the "then" and not use it "now";
5) Consider your body and your existence as a whole. The body as a whole that represents you and life as a series of choices, in which today choice founds the possibilities for the choices of tomorrow;
6) Let the life enrich you and, if it doesn't do it, seek challenge in your existence;
7) Let the life overwhelm you. Participation instead of interpretation.
The dream as a world to live.
Why does Hillman draw these conclusions?
Maybe he draws them from the introductory part of the article in which he says:
"Let's start from ruins. Nothing is still standing. The formidable building built by Freud in 1900 – his most voluminous writing – didn't last even a century. Ethnologist invalidated its pretence of universality; feminists showed the misogynous faults running across its rock; Marxists demolished its bourgeois touch, while social historians related the whole construction to the 19th century colonialism, so that contemporary ecologists could bury fragments of Freud and start again from a new "natural" perspective that considers the dream as the psychic reflection of world."
As you can read, the ruins of the psychoanalysis are the result of the need to trace everything back to a sort of "utilitarian reality" for a everyday life that represents the absolute reality in its description.
Hillman transfer this absolute reality in dreaming.
The dream, Hillman says, is another absolute reality, like everyday life, so you can't do anything but live it. Live it, like you live your everyday life, fully live it, not interpret it. Live it for itself, instead of make it become a more or less useful object for use in another reality.
We can't do anything else, says Hillman, since the great building made up by Freud collapsed when it has been compared to everyday life of every single person.
What Hillman can't do is: RETHINKING OF MAN!
Let's consider two quotes from Hillman's work "The dream and the underworld":
"The spiritual quality of the underworld emerges in the most clear way in descriptions of the Tartarus, which, from Hesiod on, was imagined at the bottom of the Hades, as a terminal chasm. The Tartarus was often compared to the heavenly vault because it was as distant from the earth as the sky was from the earth itself; he was personified as son of Ether and Earth, so a realm of dust, a compound of the most material element and the most immaterial element."
"The first distinction is between the green, flat land of Demeter, with all her activities for the growth, and Gaea, who is the Earth under Demeter. This second level, Gaea, can be imagined as the physic and psychic ground of an individual or of a community, their "place on the earth", with related natural rights, rites and laws. Here Gaea is one of the foundations on which human life depends, more than on the food and the fertility. Gaea represents rites and laws that warrant fertility, a sort of motherly regulating principle, that makes material fertility possible, becoming its spiritual ground. Then, under these two levels, we have a third level, chthon, the deep world of dead. Of course polytheistic mentality never divides so sharply these "levels", so in names and cults Demeter-Gaea-Chthon often merge."
The world of darkness; the world of Earth; the world of the sky.
But from which perspective are we looking at it?
I list these three worlds from the point of view determined by the fact that my feet are on the ground. There has been a time of my existence when the world that today I call "the world of the earth" was my mother's womb where I lived my present. Outside my mother's womb there was the dark Tartarus. I knew the Tartarus. In fact, worries, fears, joy, tensions and pleasure came from my mother and these was the answers the Tartarus solicited from her.
Then the Tartarus swallowed me and I died. My lungs filled with air and now I watch the sky and I'm afraid of the darkness which belched me.
Little Demeter, Persephone, looked after me, while from the Hades I was rising to the Earth. She prevented me from turning back to regret what I was leaving.
Now I live between the earth and the sky and the death of physical body is waiting for me.
A little Demeter accompanied me in my mother's womb, but what does Demeter want from me when she asks me to plough three times the land?
Demeter is the growth. Persephone led the foetus to become a child, Demeter leads the man to become something else.
But that "something else" not only have to come into existence, but have to grow and invade, little by little, the whole human organism and, above all, have to find a mediation between itself, improving its power through Demeter, and human reason which is preparing to die with the physical body.
Freud ends his work "The Ego and the Es" (1922) by writing, quite perceiving something he can't focus:
"The Es, to which we return at the end, doesn't have instruments to show love or hate to the Ego. It can't say what it wants; it didn't succeed in forming a unite will. Eros and death pulsion are struggling inside it; we saw how pulsions of both organize their defence against each other. We could represent this situation as the Es would be submitted to the will of silent but strong death pulsions, which look for peace and try to silence the turbulent Eros, according to the pleasure principle; but we don't want to underestimate so much the role of Eros."
Apart from Freud's description, it's a struggle for the death of the physical body and for the birth of SOMETHING. Something the man constructs ploughing three times the land, his life, as Demeter asked; as Eros imposed!
And from this point of view we must consider the dream.
The dream works as a mediation (or ground for a possible mediation) between what the human being gives birth to and constructs, by ploughing three times his own everyday life, and his necessities of growing, perceiving, intuiting, intervening in the world in which reason is the absolute master.
The dream is a psychic ground in which what grows, generated by human activity, can live and act without interfering with reason.
It's the other, growing inside us: the other that, like our leg, is us, expressing ourselves in a necessity.
The other, perceiving a world of emotions, can't intervene, if not occasionally, in the world of description, shape and quantity.
The other growing inside us perceives the world in a way that reason can't know. But not a different world: this world, through phenomena that reason ignores.
So the dream becomes a ground for mediation between the world perceived by our growing-inside-us self and the world of reason where we act, think, describe.
When our growing-inside-us self must intervene, intervenes through intuition, that useful brainwave that comes to the Consciousness when there is a subjective need.
The three ancient worlds that Hillman describes are the three worlds of life phases, in which actions, acting and living in the present time construct that our self prepared to face the world coming after the death of the present one. That is because I don't die: the world where I live dies. The world of reason. The limits in which I exert my perception. Like when I was a foetus.
I come from a darkness, I live in a present, I go towards a light!
In the dream we pass the barrier of Hades:
"Round it runs a fence of bronze, and night spreads in triple line all about it like a neck-circlet, while above grow the roots of the earth and unfruitful sea. There by the counsel of Zeus who drives the clouds the Titan gods are hidden under misty gloom, in a dank place where are the ends of the huge earth. And they may not go out; for Poseidon fixed gates of bronze upon it, and a wall runs all round it on every side"
Hesiod, "Theogony" 726-733; Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White
It's the barrier Zeus put between the world of reason and the world as perceived by our growing-inside-us self.
In dreams the images of reason met the perceptions of our growing-inside-us self.
In dreams the our acting-in-the-present self met our growing self in order to act in the future. Our present self, thanks to Demeter, goes towards death; our self growing inside us goes towards birth.
So we can grasp the meaning of Freud's intuitions inside the struggle of the individuals to remove the "truth" of their present and found their future. We understand why the psychoanalysis castle collapsed: the intuitions were genial, but they were inside a christian cultural model, a monotheistic one, trying to found a new and different "truth".
From this point of view: THE MAIN THING IS TO LIVE!
To live in everyday life.
To live in the dream.
To live with passion and commitment in everyday life allows us to construct our growing-inside-us self; to live with passion, fantasy and participation in the dream allows our growing-inside-us self to become stronger and stronger and to interact with the world where we live.
And when our growing-inside-us self interacts and harmonizes with reason and reason, for a moment, abandons the control on the individual, what Hillman calls Human Beings' need emerges: IMAGINATION!
Imagination is the mediation an individual can do between the world that the reason describes and the understanding of the world by our growing-inside-us self. With this mediation, the dream is the moment when our growing-inside-us self expresses itself and reason's imagination is the moment when this self works together with reason in managing the individual's everyday life.
Hillman is right:
THE MAIN THING IS TO LIVE!
TO LIVE WITH PASSION, TO LIVE WITH PARTICIPATION for all the time we can steal to great Zeus, in order to be powerful when we'll face the bronze doors closing the way to the Hades.
Will we be strong enough to open them?
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Keeper of the Antichrist
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