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«***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HIDDEN SYMBOLISM OF ALCHEMY AND THE OCCULT ARTS*** Hidden Symbolism of ALCHEMY and the OCCULT ARTS (Formerly ...»

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In division 2 of the introductory part we have seen that the imagination shows a predilection for symbolic forms of expression, proportionately greater indeed, the more dreamlike 180 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts it is. Now by this symbolism as we observe most clearly in hypnagogic (half dreaming) hallucinations and in dreams, three different groups of objects are represented.

I. Thought contents, imagination contents, in brief, the contents or objects of thinking and imagining, the material of thought whether it be conscious or unconscious.

[234] II. The condition, activity, structure of the psyche, the way and manner that it functions and feels, the method of functioning of the psyche, whether it be conscious or unconscious.

III. Somatic processes (bodily stimulations). This third sort of objects is closely coördinated with the other two. It is not capable of interesting us in the present connection so we pass it by.

Therefore we arrive at two categories in which we can enroll all symbolizing works of the imagination, the material and the functional.

I. The material category is characterized by its representation of thought contents, i.e., of contents that are worked out in a train of thoughts (arranged thought, imagined), whether they are mere images or groups of images, concepts that are somewhat drawn out into comparisons and definition processes, or indeed judgments, trains of reasoning, which serve as analytic or synthetic operations, etc. Since, as we know, the phantasies (dreams, reveries, even poems) are mostly inspired by wishes, it will prove frequently the case that the contents symbolically contained in them are wish images, i.e., the imagined experiencing of gratification.

II. The functional category is characterized by the fact that the condition, structure or capacity for work of the individual consciousness (or the psychic apparatus) is itself portrayed.

It is termed functional because it has nothing to do with the material or the contents of the act of thinking, but applies merely to manner and method in which consciousness functions [235] (rapid, slow, easy, hard, obstructed, careless, joyful, forced;

fruitless, successful; disunited, split into complexes, united, A. Introversion And Intro-Determination. 181 interchangeable, troubled, etc.). [It is immaterial whether these are conscious or unconscious. Thinking must be taken here in the widest possible sense. It means here all psychic processes that can have anything as an “object.”] Two typical examples will enable us at once clearly to understand the two categories and keep them separate.

A. Material Symbolism.—Conditions. In a drowsy state I reflect upon the nature of the judgments that are transsubjectively (= for all men) valid. All at once the thread of the abstract thought is broken and autosymbolically in the place of it is presented the

following hypnagogic hallucination:

Symbol. An enormous circle, or transparent sphere, floats in the air and men are putting their heads into this circle.

Interpretation. In this symbol everything that I was thinking of is expressed. The validity of the transsubjective concerns all men without exception; the circle goes through all the heads. This validity must have its cause in something common to all. The heads all belong to the same apparently homogeneous sphere.

Not all judgments are transsubjective; with their bodies and limbs men are outside of and under the sphere and stand on the earth as separate individuals. [236] B. Functional Symbolism.—Conditions. Dreamy state as above. I reflect upon something or other, and yet in allowing myself to stray into bypaths of thought, I am diverted from my peculiar theme. When I want to get back the autosymbolic phenomenon appears.

Symbol. I am climbing mountains. The nearer mountains shut out my view of the more distant ones, from which I have come and to which I should like to return.

Meaning. I have got off the track. I have ventured too high and the ideas that I have entertained shut out my starting point like the mountains.

To the material category belongs, for example, the meaning of the strawberry dream explained in the second part of the 182 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts introductory chapter. Strawberry picking is a symbol for an imaged wish gratification (sexual intercourse), and so for an image content. The symbolism is therefore a material one. The greatly preponderating part of psychoanalytic dream literature is occupied with interpretation according to material categories.

To the functional categories belong, for example, the symbolism of falling asleep and waking up, which I have mentioned in the second part in connection with the interpretation of the parable.

The two categories of symbolism, if they never did anything but parallel each other, would afford us no analogues for our problem of double meaning. Now the cases, however, are extremely rare where there is only functional or only material [237] symbolism; the rule is an intimate interweaving of both. To be sure, one is frequently more emphasized than the other or more easily accessible, but we can generally find cases where long contexts of images are susceptible of material as well as functional interpretation, alike in detail and continuity of connection.

The following may serve as a very simple case in point. Lying one evening in bed and exhausted and about to fall asleep, I devoted my thoughts to the laborious progress of the human spirit in the dim transcendant province of the mothers-problem.





(Faust, Part II.) More and more sleepy and ever less able to retain my thoughts, I saw suddenly with the vividness of an illusion a dream image. I stood on a lonely stone pier extending far into a dark sea. The waters of the sea blended at the horizon with an equally dark-toned mysterious, heavy air. The overpowering force of this tangible picture aroused me from my half sleeping state, and I at once recognized that the image, so nearly an hallucination, was but a visibly symbolic embodiment of my thought content that had been allowed to lapse as a result of my fatigue. The symbol is easily recognized as such. The extension into the dark sea corresponds to the pushing on into A. Introversion And Intro-Determination. 183 a dark problem. The blending of atmosphere and water, the imperceptible gradation from one to the other means that with the “mothers” (as Mephistopheles pictures it) all times and places are fused, that there we have no boundaries between a “here” [238] and a “there,” an “above” and a “below,” and for this reason Mephistopheles can say to Faust on his departure, “Plunge then.—I could as well say soar.” We see therefore between the visualized image and the thought content, which is, as it were, represented by it, a number of relations. The whole image resolves itself insofar as it has characteristic features, almost entirely into such elements as are most closely related to the thought content. Apart from these connections of the material category, the image represents also my momentary psychic condition (transition to sleep). Whoever is going to sleep is, as it were, in the mental state of sinking into a dark sea. (The sinking into water or darkness, entrance into a forest, etc., are frequently-occurring threshold symbols.) The clearness of ideas vanishes there and everything melts together just as did the water and the atmosphere in the image.

This example is but to illustrate; it is in itself much too slight and simple to make any striking revelation of the remarkable interlacing of the two kinds of symbolism. I refer to my studies on symbolism and on dreams in the bibliography. Exhaustive treatment at this point would lead us too far afield. Let us rest satisfied then with the facts that the psychoanalysts simultaneously deal with two fundamentally different lines of interpretation in a product of the phantasy (dream, etc.), quite apart from the multiple determinants which they can find within [239] the material as well as in the functional categories; both lines of interpretation are supplied by the same fabric of images, indeed often by the same elements of this image fabric. This context 184 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts therefore must have been sought out artfully enough by the creative unconscious to answer the double requirement.

The coexistence of the material meaning with the functional is not entirely puzzling to the student of psychoanalysis. Two facts must be kept in mind throughout.

In the first place, we are acquainted with the principle of multiple determination or condensation. The multiplicity of the dimly moving latent dream thoughts condenses into a few clear dream forms or symbols, so that one symbol continually, as it were, appears as the representative of several ideas, and is therefore interpretable in several ways. That it should be susceptible of more than one interpretation can cause no surprise because the fundamental significance (the latent thoughts) were the very ones that, by association, caused the selection of the symbols from an infinite series of possibilities. In the shaping of the dream, and therefore in the unconscious dream work, only such pictorial elements could penetrate into consciousness as satisfied the requirements of the multiple determination. The principle of multiple determination is valid not only within the material and the functional categories, but makes the fusion of both in the symbol in question to some extent intelligible.

Elements of both categories take an active part in the choice [240] of the symbol. On the one hand, a number of affects press on towards the symbolic representation of objects to which they direct themselves (objects of love, hate, etc.). On the other hand, the psyche takes cognizance of its own impulses, play of affects, etc., and this perception will gain representation. Both impulses take part in the choice of those symbols which thrust themselves into the nascent consciousness of phantasy, and so the dream, like the poem, etc., besides the symbolism of the wish tendencies (material categories) that animate them, bears the stamp of the psychic authorship (functional category) of the dreamer or the author. [Ferenczi defends the view for the myth also that the material symbolism must coincide with the functional (Imago I, A. Introversion And Intro-Determination. 185 p. 283).] Secondly, it has been shown in recent times in psychoanalytic studies that symbols which were originally material pass over to functional use. If we thoroughly analyze for a sufficient time the dreams of a person we shall find that certain symbols which at first probably appeared only incidentally to signify some idea content, wish content, etc., return and become a persistent or typical form. And the more such a typical form is established and is impressed, the farther it is removed from its first ephemeral meaning, and the more it becomes a symbolic representative of a whole group of similar experiences, a spiritual capital, so to speak, till finally we can regard it simply as the representative of a spiritual current (love, hate, tendency to frivolity, to cruelty, to [241] anxiety, etc.). What has been accomplished there is a transition from the material to the functional on the path of a determination inward or intro-determination (verinnerlichung) as I shall call it.

Later I shall have more to say about intro-determination. For the present this may suffice for the understanding, that the material and the functional symbolism, in spite of their at first apparently fundamental difference, are essentially related in some way, which is illuminated by the process of intro-determination.

The analogue of the problem of multiple interpretation unfolded in the preceding section is shown to be a question that can be easily answered. And we would bring our problem to a generally satisfactory position if we succeeded in showing that the anagogic interpretation, whose alignment with the psychoanalytic seemed so impracticable, is a form of functional interpretation, or at least related to it. In this case it would be at once comprehensible how a product of the imagination harmonizes with several expositions (problem of multiple interpretation);

because this variety of sense had already operated in the selection of the symbol and indeed, in those cases as well where we did not at first sight suspect the coöperation of the anagogic thoughts;

secondly, the anagogic and the psychoanalytic interpretations 186 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts are somehow reconciled to each other, whereby possibly also the position of the natural science interpretation can be made somewhat clearer.

The possibility that the anagogic has some part in the creation [242] of the functional, will be brought nearer by the fact that our previously offered anagogic expositions (fairy tales, parabola) markedly resemble functional interpretations. In the tale of the six swans Hitchcock explains the reception of the maiden into the castle as the reception of sin into the heart; the seven children are the seven virtues (consequently spiritual tendencies). The small maiden is conscience, the tissues are processes of thought. In the story of the three feathers, again, one son is conscience; the secret door is the entrance to the inner life, to spiritual absorption, the three feathers are spiritual tendencies, etc. In the dream of the “flying post” conscience appears as the conductor. The “Mills of God,” which psychologically also represents conscience, the more strikingly because the burden of sin, guilty feeling, drives them, also appear in the parable. The lion or the dragon which must be overcome on the mystic path is again a spiritual force. The approximation to the functional category is not to be denied. Processes that show an interplay of spiritual powers are symbolically represented there. But we are at once struck with a difference. The true functional phenomenon, as I have so far described it, pictures the actual psychic state or process;

the anagogic image appears on the contrary to point to a state or process that is to be experienced in the future. We shall pass over for a time the last topic, which will not, however, be forgotten, and turn to the question as to the point on which the anagogic and the functional interpretations can best be brought together.

[243] This point appears to me to be introversion, first because it is related to the previously mentioned intro-determination, and second, because it is familiar to psychoanalysis and is of great importance in anagogic method.



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