Tonight I’m alone in the house. Let’s see if that changes anything.
I feel a little more insecure, like maybe something could jump out at me. I can’t quit fidgeting. I shuffle around a little, try to settle down. I see shifting, moving around. Can’t tell what’s moving. Then a face, with a smirk, a woman, father, elderly. More women’s faces. Nothing, no one stays. A voice: “What are you thinking about?” Very sleepy, almost drifted off. I know that I haven’t been doing justice to this process, but I just haven’t found firm footing yet.
Later in the night:
How do you know? How do you know which is coming from you, your memory, and which is coming from your Unconscious? How do you know the difference? What is the difference between an animated memory and an active, autonomous being from the Collective Unconscious? The only clue Jung gives to differentiate the two is the degree of autonomy. And how is one to know that? I suppose it’s like panning for gold: You know it when you see it. [When I was a kid, my parents would take us into the hills in the Sierra Nevada and we’d all pan for gold. Lots of glittering things in the sandy streams. They used to tell us: “You’ll know it when you see it.” And it was true. Mica had a gold-like appearance, but real gold is metallic and simply gorgeous, like that I saw in the mine the other night when I talked to the Unicorn and Centaur.]
I noise outside my window woke me tonight, just now. I had my window open because it’s been so warm lately. But this early in the morning cold air is coming through. We live at the edge of the wilderness, and some wild animal is in trouble. Sounds like a coyote. I look out into the dim light, but can see nothing. It keeps crying, as if it is injured. I close the window.
I open the Iris. Many squiggles in the darkness. No images yet. I keep hearing music, theme music from the TV series Mad Men, which we watched last night. I’ve been waiting for maybe fifteen minutes now and nothing in the Iris. I lose concentration from time to time and drift off in internal dialogue. Thinking about seeing Tippi Hedren, the actress from The Birds, two days ago. She was at The Tides in Bodega Bay. She’s very pretty.
Nothing interesting enough in the Iris to hold my attention. I would never have thought, with my propensity to create images, that I would have so much trouble with this. I’m terrible at it. What am I doing wrong? What is the right way? Whatever works. I used to dealing with characters enough to know the difference, when I’m making something up and when someone is talking to me, when I’m channeling a character. I guess the point is that I can’t start from nothing. When I write fiction, I have a context, and the context is always surrounded by conflict. I have a situation and a character, maybe more than one character. You go into Active Imagination with a problem. I’m going into it with nothing. You must have something to mull over and a desire to talk to someone about it. For some, Active Imagination is about conversations; some say it’s about action, images. I’ll take anything. But it’s all dried up. Nothing there. I can imagine an argument with my doctor when go in for a respiratory check later this month. I have these imaginary conversations, arguments really, with a man I’ve never met. He may not even be a man. “He” may be a woman. But I argue with a man. It’s easy enough to write both sides of that conversation. I have claustrophobia really bad, and I imagine them wanting to put me in an MRI chamber. Not on your life. Tie me down and put me inside a tube and leave me for forty-five minutes? No thank you. Here’s what I would tell him:
Me: Can you imagine? Why is it you doctors haven’t a clue about psychology?
Them: But it’ll be over in forty-five minutes, and then we’ll have a definitive answer about your lungs.
Me: You have no clue about psychological trauma. Do you realize the post-traumatic stress I’ll have afterward? The nightmares? Do you realize the mental anguish? Are you willing to pay for my therapy sessions where I try to overcome the lingering feeling of suffocating?
Them: But we’ll sedate you.
Me: Yet the memory of being there will remain.
Perhaps I’m just too self-conscious of the Active Imagination process. But why no images? This is a waste of time, so I quit, close the Iris.
07:05 am. I just woke from a dram. I went somewhere with my son, some sort of large public gathering, maybe a concert. A dance? Several events going on, including boxing, a lot of big heavy men with lots of muscles. I went to the dance early, and I milled around out front for a while. I went to the door but was afraid to go any farther. Felt out of place. I went back outside to wait for my son. I had on his coat. I felt something in the pocket and it was a piece of cooked cabbage. I took it out and put it in the trash. Then I noticed that he had another piece of cooked cabbage wrapped in a paper napkin. I pulled it out, then thought he might want it and tried to wrap it and put it back but had difficulty. Then I noticed he had another piece unwrapped in the other pocket. Then at the entrance to the building, they told a man that he couldn’t wear certain color coat inside. I believe it was white. They said that they already had some one with a white coat. They asked the man about my coat, but he said it was all right. I believe my son’s coat was red. I walked back out, decided to leave anyway. A large line had formed by then, hundreds of people. I noticed my older brother’s ex-wife there in line. She looked young, attractive, and had a peculiar smile. I spoke to her for a couple of minutes, but I moved on. Seems then that I had my son’s empty suitcase with me, very large and cumbersome. I walked to a smaller building, walked out back, saw some black young people talking. I thought they might mug me and take the suitcase, so I walked around front. I called my son on his cell phone.
Sometime during all this, I saw a man I knew, but he’d lost a lot of weight, one hundred-thirty pounds, he said. I told him I’d lost thirty. He kept talking about how much better he felt. He might have been a distant cousin.
And then I woke.