“As if I’m some sort of hopeless dimwit”

We never know when we may be serving the purposes of something well beyond ourself. I have a thoughtful friend, a professor of philosophy. I thought he’d be interested in a blog post I found about attempting to comprehend man, so I forwarded the URL, which is http://pavellas.wordpress.com/

In due course I received my friend’s reply:

Thanks for the—very timely—reference. I skimmed the piece and am going to read it more closely. It looks very interesting indeed.

It’s timely because, as it happens, I have been wrestling with this very question.

A couple of mornings ago I awoke from a strange dream—a lucid, or maybe a “meta-” dream would be a more accurate term—that went like this: I’m conversing with one of the figures in my dream (a male figure who would appear to be about thirty or forty years old, perhaps) about the “plot” of the dream I’d just been having.

“I thought I knew what was going on, but I somehow lost the thread,” I confess. Not responding, he just gives me a condescending stare, as if I’m some sort of hopeless dimwit. End of dream.

When I awoke it was clear to me that this figure knew how to answer my question but chose not to. It felt as if I’d failed a test (whatever it might have been).

Well, later on that morning, I’m scanning the shelves of my library looking for something to read while I do my walk on the treadmill. I pull out a book I’ve had on my shelves for years–it was published in 1993, and I recall I buying it around that time–but never read: We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy—And the World’s Getting Worse.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it’s really a record of some dialogues between the Jungian psychologist James Hillman and Michael Ventura (whose columns you’ve often sent around). I’m on the boring treadmill in the basement reading, and I’m only on page 10 of the book. Hillman and Ventura are talking about change, and how the culture (or cult) of psychotherapy embraces the mantra of “growth” when some basic elements within the psyche may (and perhaps should) be resistant to change.

Hillman says that this constancy must be acknowledged and even respected, “because the psyche knows more why it resists change than you do. Every complex, every psychic figure in your dreams knows more about itself and what it’s doing and what it’s there for than you do” [italics mine].

Wow! That synchronicity blew me away, you see—even more so now. We are incomprehensible to ourselves—but that’s ok. We’re a vast, vast mysterious reality; and that’s the beauty of it. People can jabber on about “nonlocal consciousness” and “quantum” this, and “quantum” that, but all this scientific chatter (much like the religious language we used to prefer—or even the term “synchronicity,” if you come right down to it) is really just so much whistling in the dark to cover over our vast ignorance.

How in the world did I manage to pull out a book I’d not read in the 17 years I’d owned it that would comment on the dream I’d had a few hours earlier? Moreover, I remember thinking to myself as I pulled the book off of the shelf, “Hmm, isn’t this that Michael Ventura whose columns Frank is always praising to the skies . . .?”

Ah, so.

One thought on ““As if I’m some sort of hopeless dimwit”

  1. I don’t always have the time to pursue your leads as I’d like, so am greatly amused at the synchronicity (Casteneda: “the Active Side of Infinity/ MM: :the “Looniness”)of this post – seems a good many of us are in a state of confusion very similar to your friend’s. I think I think too much, see too many things, but am I really? I believe it is a symptom of the changes erupting beneath “life as usual”. Reminds me of a poem I wrote in poetry class, years ago – students picked random words, and the instructor said, “Now make a poem of them.”

    It came together for me like a ton of bricks, and earned me a lot of sideways glances, but it seems apropo here:

    A Chorus of Canaries
    (For the poets in Writing 216 class)

    Rare
    the poet who
    has not
    gazed into
    life’s mirror and seen her intimate continuity gazing back with cocky self-assurance, not some fear-filled formless soul, but a bright canary feasting from
    bowl to bowl,
    singed and
    steeled
    by death’s
    sharp scythe
    then rising to
    sing again.

    Only the brontosaurus without ears for song
    hunched and haunched, eating and eaten,
    has forever gone, a dumb country, a
    silence askew in a place unknown,
    a dirge once heard then
    lumbering, grumbling,
    passing on.

    Perhaps this was the Looniness, tongue-in-cheek, explaining itself?

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