On James Hillman's 'The Dream and the Underworld

Recommended by a person in a dream group. I listened to this and found it an interesting take on dreaming.

" It is better to keep the dream’s black dog before your inner sense all day than to ‘know’ its meaning . . . a living dog is better than one stuffed with concepts or substituted by an interpretation. " --James Hillman


In 1979, the American psychologist James Hillman published The Dream and the Underworld , a polemical meditation on the nature of dreams. Rejecting the orthodoxies of both Freud and Jung, Hillman argued that the the “nightworld” of dream should not play second fiddle to the “dayworld” of waking life, because in the soul as on earth, day and night are equally essential, and equally real. To reduce a dream to a message or interpretation is to fail the dream. In order for dreams to do their work on us, says Hillman, we must cease to regard them as hallucinations, mere metaphors, epiphenomena, or illusions, and instead see them as the imaginal other life we all must live. Every night, for Hillman, each of us descends into the underworld to encounter those forces that shape us and our surroundings. The way down is the way up.


Again, an interesting thought above: we tend to work with representationalisms instead directly with the experience itself. In this case, representationalism of Freud / Jung…


Totally unrelated but interesting if you like the Beatles. They discuss the album as consciousness-shifting. Also, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields should have been on this album . . .

1 Like

The idea of not reducing dreams to concepts that are merely representations for daytime interpretation certainly calls into question how we generally try to “interpret” dreams to see what they are telling us, rather than accepting them as a valid part of our experience, no less valid than our “waking” existence, thereby making it easier to accept that our complete existence consists of equally “real” waking and sleeping components.


My goal is to establish an unbroken continuity of conscious awareness between the waking state and the dream state.