Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back and back and back...


"This was the dream. I was in a house I did not know, which had two stories. It was 'my house.' I found myself in the upper story, where there was a kind of salon furnished with fine old pieces in rococo style. On the walls hung a number of precious old paintings. I wondered that this should be my house, and thought, 'Not bad.' But then it occurred to me that I did not know what the lower floor looked like. Descending the stairs, I reached the ground floor. There everything was much older, and I realized that this part of the house must date from about the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The furnishings were medieval; the floors were of red brick. Everywhere it was rather dark. I went from one room to another, thinking, 'Now I really must explore the whole house.' I came upon a heavy door, and opened it. Beyond it, I discovered a stone stairway that led down into the cellar. Descending again, I found myself in a beautifully vaulted room which looked exceedingly ancient. Examining the walls, I discovered layers of brick among the ordinary stone blocks, and chips of brick in the mortar. As soon as I saw this I knew that the walls dated from Roman times. My interest by now was intense. I looked more closely at the floor. It was of stone slabs, and in one of these I discovered a ring. When I pulled it, the stone slab lifted, and again I saw a stairway of narrow stone steps leading down into the depths. These too, I descended, and entered a low cave cut into the rock. Thick dust lay on the floor, and in the dust were scattered bones and broken pottery, like remains of a primitive culture. I discovered two human skulls, obviously very old and half disintegrated. Then I awoke.

• • •

"It was plain to me that the house represented a kind of image of the psyche - that is to say, of my then state of consciousness, with hitherto unconscious additions. Consciousness was represented by the salon. It had an inhabited atmosphere, in spite of its antiquated style.

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 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."

Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections (1963)

4 comments:

mindy said...

very interesting, food for much thought & inspiration for dream exploration

Doug Noakes said...

Judging by the "decor" of the depths of the human psyche it might be just as well we don't spend a lot of time in that region of "the house"...And yet, all kidding aside, all the primal urges that can upset civilization dwell there.

Joel Bocko said...

It's interesting though how Jung often sees this "primitive" region as providing the foundation for human society and culture rather than being a threat to it, or at least in addition to being a threat.

Doug Noakes said...

You're right, Joel, it is a conundrum indeed, as Jung I'm sure well examined and explained.

Humans, I believe, in so-called less- advanced stages of development can be altruistic, and our developed cultures can too. But we are also capable, as persons acting for business or societal gain, of all sorts of economic and social crimes depending on what forces the sane among us can muster from our souls.