Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Bad Dream Interpreted

     The foregoing dream has as its theme a certain kind of death:  an unjust, inhumane, persecutory death.  Death of this sort has for millennia served a multitude of purposes for society.
     First, it allows a community of individuals to scapegoat one individual as the sole carrier of evil, thereby freeing others from owning their share of iniquity.
     Second, it serves as an "explanation" for suffering--especially that caused by natural phenomena like epidemics and crop failures, but also the suffering endured by those who must witness another person's success alongside their own mediocrity.  A witch's success at curing the ills of others could, if it profited her greatly, be turned against her--even by those who benefited from her special skills--if they could not admit and process the sin of envy.
     Third, accusing one person of evildoing maintains solidarity within a group.  Social groups survive and thrive through a tolerable commixture of conformity and differentiation.  The greater the degree of outside threat to a group, the less it can accept uniqueness among its members.  (Hence, the need for nationalist fervor after 9/11, when speaking out against a war in Iraq was considered "unpatriotic.") Without outliers, who introduce creative new concepts into the group, society wastes away into sameness, like a sweet, bland pudding that fails to nourish.  The function of artists, seers, manic-depressives, and the psychotic mentally ill may be to keep the vast human organism from becoming one homogeneous lump of dough, stuck on its flat resting surface, unleavened, perpetually self-referential.
     Fourth, sacrifices appease a restless inner God who demands, on penalty of worse punishment, that each one of us acknowledge the existence of a primary, creative potency, the mysterious force that makes possible the flight of birds, the hemolymph-pumping hearts of grasshoppers, and the mathematical spin of the solar system.  We are forced to make sacrifices throughout life, as we give up our vivacity, beauty, mental capacity, and youthful hopes and dreams on the altar of time.
     Fifth, killing, burning, and burying all signify repression of unacceptable desires and feelings.  Killing a witch offers those in the vicinity temporary reprieve from anger, envy, enmity, and lust.  Afterward, they can imagine that their sinful feelings are "gone"--but, in fact, the acuity of modern psychology has pointed out that unpleasant feelings are merely pushed below the surface for a time, and will return in one form or another, often as neuroses.
     The unconscious is a real entity, and it speaks through dreams.  It regards death not as a final event, but as a major transformation.  Dreams of death almost never signify physical death, but point to concerns about the annihilation of the personality and a change in life circumstances, especially surrounding irrevocable events such as ending a career, leaving a relationship, or moving to another place.  Death dreams are also reminders that we have a limited time to accomplish spiritual tasks and to acquire wisdom.
     The scenario in my dream places me in the mindset of a child who is witnessing a horror that cannot be understood or borne, and at the same time in the position of a castigated man, a member of a social group which preserves its small-minded mores by destroying whoever threatens the group's survival in its present, singular form.
     The child is a new and innocent element in this social group, someone who understands and internalizes the real situation:  that fear is the energizing force of those who uphold the old regime, that the group has failed to incorporate and benefit from differences among its members, that there has been an insupportable reframing of fortune into blame, and that the hypocrisy of torture and martyrdom are acceptable in a group that claims to be just and godly when it cannot accept its own "evil" passions.
     The child is an aspect of my own personality, a part that observes things with a certain clear-mindedness, but is impotent to change the course of events.  The child's understanding is an effort on my part to reconcile opposites within my own being:  my ambition, the drive to succeed professionally and financially, the wish to preserve a good reputation--alongside my guilt at having been successful (so common among American career-women) and at having failed to fulfill the traditional, feminine, homemaking role I was assigned at birth.  There is also a certain element of self-repudiation for having surpassed my parents and many of my age-mates.  Further, the task of the second half of life involves leaving material concerns behind and developing a relationship to the divine.  If I continue my pattern of overwork and entanglement with external concerns--like dealing with the government as though it's a rational institution--I will have little time left for the tasks of maturity.
     The man about to be burned at the stake represents the non-befitting male values I have adopted all these years--having taken seriously"women's lib," becoming skillful as a physician and entrepreneur in a society that prizes cutthroat business skills, professional accomplishment and financial prosperity.  This is my mid-life sacrifice:  I am being forced to give up my success and social role in this reproachful, paternalistic world in order to make room for something new--perhaps a bird that can take flight from the ashes that will be left at the altar of witch-burning.
     I have no more than a vague sense of what this new thing might be.  I am wandering about the grounds of the compound in my dream, aimless, aware only of impending doom, and wondering if I will be able to bear my fate.
     I understand that I have become a scapegoat for others in this dream-society, people who are rigid, police-like, and unable to see where they themselves are going wrong.  I am a scapegoat in America for the FBI's failure to identify and punish the real perpetrators of Medicare fraud, and for the federal government's inability to rectify the problem of our national debt.
     The fact that it is very early morning in the dream suggests the birth of a new day, a new start.  The shadowy light--still essentially night--is like that in the metaphorical night-sea journey--an experience best symbolized in the western canon by Jonah's trial in the belly of the whale.  It is a period of gestation and germination, one with great potential, from which I may burst forth into the light of day, and be redeemed.
     It is too dark for me to know if there can be any sort of redemption at the end of this process, the real-life federal investigation of my clinic and attack on my person.   In the hours before death, in the belly of the whale, on the night-sea journey, one cannot know anything factual about the future, and must look within for strength, and exercise exorbitant faith.


  1. Thanks to the Person Who Dare Not Speak His or Her Name, I have learned that someone bearing my last name, viz. Frank Nash, has been called "the most successful bank robber in U.S. history."

    Not only that, but Frank Nash is responsible for an historic change in the way the FBI operates. Because of Frank Nash, FBI agents now carry guns and can arrest people. Thanks, Frank.

    Despite our sharing a last name, I am happy to report that the gangster Frank Nash is not a blood relation of mine. More accurately, we are related in the same way I am related to everyone who left Africa and populated the world 100,000 years ago. One thing Frank and I do have in common: he liked cigars and I do too.

    According to Wikipedia, the only source I am using for this post:

    Nash was arrested and convicted in 1924 of mail robbery and assault on a mail custodian. Later he was sentenced to 25 years at the federal penitentiary in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1930, Nash was appointed the deputy warden’s chef and general handyman, a position that brought privileges. On October 19, 1930, Nash was sent outside the prison on an errand and never returned.

    On June 15, 1933, two Oklahoma City FBI agents learned that Nash was in Hot Springs. The agents drove to Hot Springs accompanied by Otto Reed, the police chief of McAlester, Oklahoma, as FBI agents were forbidden from carrying weapons and making arrests during that time period.

    They learned that Nash was frequently found in the White Front Cigar Store, which was owned by Richard Galatas and frequented by many criminals of a national stature. On June 16, the agents arrested Nash and drove to Fort Smith, Arkansas (Sebastian County).

    That night, Nash, accompanied by Lackey, Smith, and Reed, boarded a Missouri Pacific train bound for Kansas City, Missouri. However, word of Nash’s capture had gotten around, as well as the destination of the agents, and plans were apparently made to attempt to free him.

    After arriving at the Kansas City Union Station at 7:15 a.m. on June 17, 1933, and meeting additional agents, Nash was put into a parked car outside the station. Two or three armed men approached the car, and many shots were exchanged. Accounts differ regarding who fired first, but what is known is that in the end, Nash was killed, as were Reed, FBI agent Raymond Caffrey, and Kansas City Police detectives W. J. “Red” Grooms and Frank Hermanson.

    Prompted by the massacre, in January 1934, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that allowed FBI agents to be armed and gave them the authority to make arrests.

  2. Please don't feed the monkeys.








  4. James Nash - Thumbs up on your post. Reading the previous posts about people named Nash didn't compute. Reading the exchange between you and Anonymous was very similar to my experience with the deputy when I asked, "What are you talking about?".

    I didn't know about Frank Nash either. I believe everyone has a right to protect their own life and weapons by themselves don't worry me but there is a growing culture in law enforcement of encouraging deadly confrontations with citizens (many times mentally ill citizens) who are either unarmed or armed with a butter knife. Police officers are given the wrong information and poor advice when they are told that should they feel threatened they should shoot to kill.

    When I tell my children to never call the police to your home and to never allow police onto your property they scoff at my warning. What situation is more threatening to officers than domestic disputes? Your spouse or child could be killed in front of your's happened. What about your dog? Many people feel threatened around barking and advancing dogs. It is terrible to think that your dog could be killed in front of your's happened.

    Who has more access to drugs than the police? They could bring a "baggie" into your house and claim it to be cocaine.

    Anyway, interesting topic it turned out to be....thanks for taking the time to research that info out for us who was wondering 'what the heck is he talking about'.