Dream Interpretation: A Rant on Dreaming by Stephanie Pope for mythopoetry.com
myth and poetry

Mythopoetics & Dreams


A Short Rant On Dreaming
"phusis kruptesthai philei" - Heraclitus

Nature Unveiling Herself To Science, created by Louis Barrias in 1899,
A poster to a message forum on dream interpretation I frequent recently suggests 

... It is not possible to understand the true nature of dreams and dreaming without a foundation in the nature of brain function....

Naturally, this is true. But, also naturally, "Nature, loves to hide". Understanding the nature of brain function is not the sole way of understanding the dream—neither does it express the soul in the dream wholly nor the whole of dreaming solely. The comment would suggest science and technology are the primary means by which the dream is to be understood among the many ways a dream and dreaming can be understood.

This logic about dreams and dreaming fixes the nature of the dream to the physiology of the brain and dreaming is secondarily significant to and limited by the physical body and evolution of the specie.

If that means science insists upon a monoTHEism in the way it frames the dream and becomes THE frame for understanding dreaming in which its rationale substitutes for the logos of the dream, it fails to recognize the imagination as expressing itself and its own nature, i.e. that it is and dreams itself.

Nature Unveiling Herself To Science -Louis Barrias, 1899

In short, such a claim devalues the mental body of images which is imagination and favors science’s fantasy as ‘nothing but’ in light of the dream that is the psyche dreaming its ‘self’ in images. The dream speaks through the language of images and this is what is meant by the world soul we call 'psyche.' Psyche, once upon a time, was likened a seconded Aphrodite. But, to her no altar and no temple ever formed. Even to date we undertand Psyche is a likeness for the likes of no earthly form; Psyche is image. The mental body of psyche is imaginal.

In truth, seeing only through science and technology is a very narrow approach to understanding our dreams and the nature of dreaming. It is not the only approach to the dream nor is it the most important one. The most important approach to understanding (anything) is to approach the "I don't know" with a movable center not a fixed center in thinking.

Psyche is image but, Nature is what is. How we approach and what we approach with will determine what we see, shape what we see and limit what gets seen. We approach nature through psyche. At best the most we can do is tell a story. This is something Jung came to understand and say toward the end of his life. Science has a story. So does history and so does art.

Since there is no such thing anymore as a purely objective approach to understanding psyche according to many thinkers across multiple disciplines, we are asked to remember with our own preferences and the mythic thought at work in them and to tell via the image(s) and word(s) not by way of absolutes and certainties but with wonder and openness. Our images of imagination do not ground reality but open it up. Furthermore, it is no longer enough to merely pronounce what one knows. One must share what one uses that will unfold the way one "knows" this.

In my own knowing I do not limit myself to only science and technology nor do I give science and technology superior status over other forms of knowing. In other words, I do not devalue the imaginal approach to knowing the "I don't know"…at least, I hope I don’t!

Science and technology cannot be THE first knower. There is no first knower. Or perhaps, ‘No’ is the only first knower.

And maybe, just maybe, no one is the reasoning in the depths that understands this. The many images of Psyche is what lets the artist in me keep working through what artists call the negative capability of images.  I’m talking about striving toward a way of knowing via science and tech that must work in harmony with what philosophy knows, what psychology knows, what history shows and what our religious images have told us over and over matters most to us and matters deeply. There can no longer be just one “knower”. This is because of the other, the one you are not who is somebody else who knows something else wholly other deep down underneath the story being told. 

To be responsive to the fixed center in an idea that is other, I often work my own reflections back through the image that is not there holding the ‘fixity’ there in stead.

The image not "there" in the myth of science and technology is the veiled Isis.  This morning I am shaping my reflection around this image. Since I think I understand the image at work I am taking the idea that grounds depth psychology at its word by taking this image into reversion. At least, I’m trying to do that even if I am not succeeding very well. There is no other concern on my part except to open thinking up to this space. 

Many continue to consider reality's expression from this vantage point today because of the current understand of what psyche is doing. Psyche does not ground the real. It provides instead, a fiction or "myth". Psyche is not in the flesh. The flesh is in the psyche. And one more tenet here. Psyche is nowhere and no thing. It expresses interiority without having interiority. It has no exteriority either. It is that which opens dialogue between any two things; spirit and nature/ mind and matter/visibles and invisibles, etc. Also, when working a myth one remembers about myths that myth is a penultimate hide not an ultimate one (Joseph Campbell). The myth opens it does not ground.

There have always been two contradictory approaches to understanding nature and a certain image walks here from the very beginning of the words "Phusis kruptesthai philei." as Heraclitus pronounced them, "Nature loves to hide." The allegorical figure here is the veiled Isis.

Pierre Hadot, an eminent authority on Neoplatonic philosophy, addresses the exploration of nature in Western thought across more than two millennia in a recent book, The Veil of Isis. He traces what kind of reflection and knowing this aphorism unfolds, the metanymic string of images, in other words, and allows the arguement to develop historically and analytically through its empiricism.

This argument will draw on both the ancients and later thinkers such as Goethe, Rilke, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger to interpret and reflect this aphorism of Heraclitus. Hadot discovers what the aphorism has come to mean. Over time the words of Heraclitus have come to mean that all that lives tends to die; that Nature wraps herself in myths; and (for Heidegger) that Being unveils as it veils itself. Meanwhile the pronouncement has been used to explain everything from the opacity of the natural world to our post modern anguish.

Hadot unfolds in this work a picturing of the two contradictory approaches to the 'I don't know' in what I know and the way I know it. The following is taken from a review on Amazon of this book...

From these kaleidoscopic exegeses and usages emerge two contradictory approaches to nature: the Promethean, or experimental-questing, approach, which embraces technology as a means of tearing the veil from Nature and revealing her secrets; and the Orphic, or contemplative-poetic, approach, according to which such a denuding of Nature is a grave trespass. In place of these two attitudes Hadot proposes one suggested by the Romantic vision of Rousseau, Goethe, and Schelling, who saw in the veiled Isis an allegorical expression of the sublime. "Nature is art and art is nature," Hadot writes, inviting us to embrace Isis and all she represents: art makes us intensely aware of how completely we ourselves are not merely surrounded by nature but also part of nature.

In closing, I
should like to honor Hadot's third term which is not a tertium quid (a third thing) but is an expression non datur (a no thing) or an expressing in sublimation through artistic representation of what cannot quite be told.

I've thought a little while and wondered what poem of my own would be right here. So I went and spent some time rereading the poems in my first poetry volume and think there is a poem from here I can share...

I live in the flame of a still desire
I flicker there
A not-lived love
Shadowing these likenesses
Living beyond the ear of my own speech
I cannot hear myself and not hear
My self say that without hesitation
I ask--no plead for consistency
in an instance without constancy
Now who can I suppose flickers there?
Seems all I can do is suppose
Compose in the everymore
Which is nothing more than
No thing speaking like some thing
Whose meaning, means a thing reflecting
Always more than just one meaning
Meaning of course, reflecting itself
Which could mean at once, opposing things
(and infinitely does)

She flickers there
Like the somebody
She isn't

© 2004 stephanie pope, A Still Desire, Like A Woman Falling

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