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‘Man’s Double Being’
Past and Future in the Unconscious by Carl G. Jung
In this brilliant 8-page essay Jung makes an eloquent case for man’s unconscious dreaming serving a double need.
First, the unconscious is the shadowed expanse beyond the “searchlight” of the conscious mind’s eye, where the troubling subtext of our lives is stored and submersed in a dream matrix. The functional intent of this process seems to be keeping the conscious individual in harmony with society. In this way the unconscious protects the heretic from opening his mouth and ending up roasting at the stake.
Second, as demonstrated in a discussions of artists, scientists and philosophers, and utilizing an interview by Jung of Nietzsche’s sister concerning their childhood reading, the author illuminates the subconscious, as being in certain individuals, a kind of well from which emerges inspirations for credos, scientific theorems and even horror stories. This portion of the discussion reminds the reader of modern heroic fiction of Robert E. Howard’s claim that his famous Conan character emerged, fully formed in his mind, despite the fact that a reading of his earlier fiction points to various progenitor characters.
From Descartes, to Kekule, to Nietzsche to Robert Louis Stevenson, Jung makes the case for the unconscious as, “…no mere depository of the past…in addition to memories from a long-distant conscious, completely new thoughts and creative ideas…grow up from the dark depths of the mind like a lotus [1]… even scientists owe some of their best ideas to inspirations that appear suddenly… to translate it effectively into philosophy, literature, music, or scientific discovery is one of the hallmarks of what is commonly called genius.”
Jung concludes with a brief overview of his finding that dream symbolism cannot be, “…explained solely in terms of memory.”
Notes
1. Any reader of Howard’s Conan tales will be familiar with this image of the dream lotus. For the most intense image of a dream plant rooted in Man’s subconscious and connected to Howard’s concept of hellish, alien gulfs, see The Scarlet Citadel, a masterpiece of horrific fantasy.
A Well of Heroes
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