At the beginning of 1920 a friend told me that he had a business trip to make to Tunis, and would I like to accompany him?
I said yes immediately.
We set out in March, going first to Algiers.
Following the coast, we reached Tunis and from there Sousse, where I left my friend to his business affairs.
At last I was where I had longed to be: in a non-European country where no European language was spoken and no Christian conceptions prevailed, where a different race lived and a different historical tradition and philosophy had set its stamp upon the face of the crowd.
I had often wished to be able for once to see the European from outside, his image reflected back at him by an altogether foreign milieu.
To be sure, there was my ignorance of the Arabic language, which I deeply regretted; but to make up for this I was all the more attentive in observing the people and their behavior.
Frequently I sat for hours in an Arab coffee house, listening to conversations of which I understood not a word.
But I studied the people’s gestures, and especially their expression of emotions; I observed the subtle change in their gestures when they spoke with a European, and thus learned to see to some extent with different eyes and to know the white man outside his own environment.
What the Europeans regard as Oriental calm and apathy seemed to me a mask; behind it I sensed a restlessness, a degree of agitation, which I could not explain.
Strangely, in setting foot upon Moorish soil, I found myself haunted by an impression which I myself could not understand: I kept thinking that the
land smelled queer.
It was the smell of blood, as though the soil were soaked with blood.
This strip of land, it occurred to me, had already borne the brunt of three civilizations: Carthaginian, Roman, and Christian.
What the technological age will do with Islam remains to be seen.
When I left Sousse, I traveled south to Sfax, and thence into the Sahara, to the oasis city of Tozeur.
The city lies on a slight elevation, on the margin of a plateau, at whose foot lukewarm, slightly saline springs well up profusely and irrigate the oasis
through a thousand little canals.
Towering date palms formed a green, shady roof overhead, under which peach, apricot, and fig trees flourished, and beneath these alfalfa of an unbelievable green.
Several kingfishers, shining like jewels, flitted through the foliage.
In the comparative coolness of this green shade strolled figures clad in white, among them a great number of affectionate couples holding one another in close embrace obviously homosexual friendships.
I felt suddenly transported to the times of classical Greece, where this inclination formed the cement of a society of men and of the polls based on that society.
It was clear that men spoke to men and women to women here.
Only a few of the latter were to be seen, nunlike, heavily veiled figures.
I saw a few without veils.
These, my dragoman explained, were prostitutes.
On the main streets the scene was dominated by men and children.
My dragoman confirmed my impression of the prevalence of homosexuality, and of its being taken for granted, and promptly made me offers.
The good fellow could have no notion of the thoughts which had struck me like a flash of lightning, suddenly illuminating my point of observation.
I felt cast back many centuries to an infinitely more naive world of adolescents who were preparing, with the aid of a slender knowledge of the Koran, to emerge from their original state of twilight consciousness, in which they had existed from time immemorial, and to become aware of their own existence, in self-defense against the forces threatening them from the North.
While I was still caught up in this dream of a static, age-old existence,
I suddenly thought of my pocket watch, the symbol of the European’s accelerated tempo.
This, no doubt, was the dark cloud that hung threateningly over the heads of these unsuspecting souls.
They suddenly seemed to me like game who do not see the hunter but, vaguely uneasy, scent him Turn” being the god of time who will inevitably chop into the bits and pieces of days, hours, minutes, and seconds that duration which is still the closest thing to eternity.
From Tozeur I went on to the oasis of Nefta. I rode off with my dragoman early in the morning, shortly after sunrise.
Our mounts were large, swift-footed mules, on which we made rapid progress.
As we approached the oasis, a single rider, wholly swathed in white, came toward us.
With proud bearing he rclde by without offering us any greeting, mounted on a black mule whose harness was banded and studded with silver.
He made an impressive, elegant figure.
Here was a man who certainly possessed no pocket watch, let alone a wrist watch; for he was obviously and unself-consciously the person he had always been.
He lacked that faint note of foolishness which clings to the European.
The European is, to be sure, convinced that he is no longer what he was ages ago; but he does not know what he has since become.
His watch tells him that since the “Middle Ages” time and its synonym, progress, have crept up on him and irrevocably taken something from him.
With lightened baggage he continues his journey, with steadily increasing velocity, toward nebulous goals.
He compensates for the loss of gravity and the corresponding sentiment cFincompl&itude by the illusion of his triumphs, such as steamships, railroads, airplanes, and rockets, that rob him of his duration and transport him into another reality of speeds and explosive accelerations.
The deeper we penetrated into the Sahara, the more time slowed down for me; it even threatened to move backward.
The shimmering heat waves rising up contributed a good deal to my dreamy state, and when we reached the first palms and dwellings of the oasis, it seemed to me that everything here was exactly the way it should be and the way it had always been.
Early the next morning I was awakened by the various unfamiliar noises outside my inn.
There was a large open square which had been empty the night before, but which was now crowded with people, camels, mules, and donkeys.
The camels groaned and announced in manifold variations of tone thenchronic discontent, and the donkeys competed with cacophonous screams.
The people ran around in a great state of excitement, shouting and gesticulating.
They looked savage and rather alarming.
My dragoman explained that a great festival was being celebrated that day.
Several desert tribes had come in during the night to do two days of field work for the marabout.
The marabout was the administrator of poor relief and owned many fields in the oasis.
The people were to lay out a new field and irrigation canals to match.
At the farther end of the square there suddenly rose a cloud of dust; a green flag unfolded, and drums rolled.
At the head of a long procession of hundreds of wild-looking men carrying baskets and short, wide hoes appeared a white-bearded, venerable old man.
He radiated inimitable natural dignity, as though he were a hundred years old.
This was the marabout, astride a white mule.
The men danced around him, beating small drums.
The scene was one of wild excitement, hoarse shouting, dust, and heat.
With fanatic purposefulness the procession swarmed by, out into the oasis, as if going to .battle.
I followed this horde at a cautious distance, and my dragoman made no attempt to encourage me to approach closer until we reached the spot where the “work” was going on.
Here, if possible, even greater excitement prevailed; people were beating drums and shouting wildly; the site of the work resembled a disturbed anthill; everything was being done with the utmost haste.
Carrying their baskets filled with heavy loads of earth, men danced along to the rhythm of the drums; others hacked into the ground at a furious rate, digging ditches and erecting dams.
Through this wild tumult die marabout rode along on his white mule, evidently issuing instructions with the dignified, mild, and weary gestures of advanced age.
Wherever he came, the haste, shouting, and rhythm intensified, forming the background against which the calm figure of the holy man stood out
with extraordinary effectiveness.
Toward evening the crowd was visibly overcome by exhaustion; the men soon dropped down beside their camels into deep sleep.
During the night, after the usual stupendous concert of the dogs, utter stillness prevailed, until at the first rays of the rising sun the invocation
of the muezzin which always deeply stirred me summoned the people to their morning prayer.
This scene taught me something: these people live from their affects, are moved and have their being in emotions.
Their consciousness takes care of their ‘orientation in space and transmits impressions from outside, and it is also stirred by inner impulses and affects.
But it is not given to reflection; the ego has almost no autonomy.
The situation is not so different with the European; but we are, after all, somewhat more complicated.
At any rate the European possesses a certain measure of will and directed intention.
What we lack is intensity of life.
Without wishing to fall under the spell of the primitive, I nevertheless had been psychically infected.
This manifested itself outwardly in an infectious enteritis which cleared up after a few days, thanks to the local treatment of rice water and calomel
Overcharged with ideas, I finally went back to Tunis.
The night before we embarked from Marseilles I had a dream which, I sensed, summed up the whole experience.
This was just as it should be, for I had accustomed myself to living always on two planes simultaneously, one conscious, which attempted to understand and could not, and one unconscious, which wanted to express something and could not formulate it any better than by a dream.
I dreamt that I was in an Arab city, and as in most such cities there was a citadel, a casbah.
The city was situated in a broad plain, and had a wall all around it.
The shape of the wall was square, and there were four gates.
The casbah in the interior of the city was surrounded by a wide moat (which is not the way it really is in Arab countries).
I stood before a wooden bridge leading over the water to a dark, horseshoe-shaped portal, which was open.
Eager to see the citadel from the inside also, I stepped out on the bridge.
When I was about halfway across it, a handsome, dark Arab of aristocratic, almost royal bearing came toward me from the gate.
I knew that this youth in the white burnoose was the resident prince of the citadel.
When he came up to me, he attacked me and tried to knock me down.
In the struggle we crashed against the railing; it gave way and both of us fell into the moat, where he tried to push my head under water to drown me.
No, I thought, this is going too far.
And in my turn I pushed his head under water.
I did so although I felt great admiration for him; but I did not want to let myself be killed.
I had no intention of killing him; I wanted only to make him unconscious and incapable of fighting.
Then the scene of the dream changed, and he was with me in a large vaulted octagonal room in the center of the citadel.
The room was all white, very plain and beautiful.
Along the lightcolored marble walls stood low divans, and before me on the floor lay an open book with black letters written in magnificent
calligraphy on milky-white parchment.
It was not Arabic script; rather, it looked to me like the Uigurian script of West Turkestan, which was familiar to me from the Manichaean fragments
I did not know the contents, but nevertheless I had the feeling that this was “my book,” that I had written it.
The young prince with whom I had just been wrestling sat to the right of me on the floor.
I explained to him that now that I had overcome him he must read the book.
But he resisted.
I placed my arm around his shoulders and forced him, with a sort of paternal kindness and patience, to read the book.
I knew that this was absolutely essential, and at last he yielded.
In this dream, the Arab youth was the double of the proud Arab who had ridden past us without a greeting.
As an inhabitant of the casbah he was a figuration of the self, or rather, a messenger or emissary of the self.
For the casbah from which he came was a perfect mandala: a citadel surrounded by a square wall with four gates.
His attempt to kill me was an echo of the motif of Jacob’s struggle with the angel; he was to use the language of the Bible like an angel of the Lord, a messenger of God who wished to kill men because he did not know them.
Actually, the angel ought to have had his dwelling in me.
But he knew only angelic truth and understood nothing about man.
Therefore he first came forward as my enemy; however, I held my own against him.
In the second part of the dream I was the master of the citadel; he sat at my feet and had to learn to understand my thoughts, or rather, learn to know man.
Obviously, my encounter with Arab culture had struck me with overwhelming force.
The emotional nature of these unreflective people who are so much closer to life than we are exerts a strong suggestive influence upon those historical layers in ourselves which we have just overcome and left behind, or which we think we have overcome.
It is like the paradise of childhood from which we imagine we have emerged, but which at the slightest provocation imposes fresh defeats upon us.
Indeed, our cult of progress is in danger of imposing on us even more childish dreams of the future, the harder it presses us to escape from the past.
On the other hand, a characteristic of childhood is that, thanks to its naivet and unconsciousness, it sketches a more complete picture of the self, of the whole man in his pure individuality, than adulthood.
Consequently, the sight of a child or a primitive will arouse certain longings in adult, civilized persons longings which relate to the unfulfilled desires and needs of those parts of the personality which have been blotted out of the total picture in favor of the adapted persona.
In traveling to Africa to find a psychic observation post outside the sphere of the European, I unconsciously wanted to find that part of my personality which had become invisible under the influence and the pressure of being European.
This part stands in unconscious opposition to myself, and indeed I attempt to suppress it.
In keeping with its nature, it wishes to make me unconscious (force me under water) so as to kill me; but my aim is, through insight, to make it more conscious, so that we can find a common modus vivendi.
The Arab’s dusky complexion marks him as a “shadow,” but not the personal shadow, rather an ethnic one associated not with my persona but with the totality of my personality, that is, with the self.
As master of the casbah, he must be regarded as a kind of shadow of the self.
The predominantly rationalistic European finds much that is human alien to him, and he prides himself on this without realizing that his rationality is won at the expense of his vitality, and that the primitive part of his personality is consequently condemned to a more or less underground existence.
The dream reveals how my encounter with North Africa affected me.
First of all there was the danger that my European consciousness would be overwhelmed by an unexpectedly violent assault of the unconscious psyche.
Consciously, I was not a bit aware of any such situation; on the contrary, I could not help feeling superior because I was reminded at every step of
That was unavoidable; my being European gave me a certain perspective on these people who were so differently constituted from myself, and utterly marked me off from them.
But I was not prepared for the existence of unconscious forces within myself which would take the part of these strangers with such intensity, so that a violent conflict ensued.
The dream expressed this conflict in the symbol of an attempted murder.
I was not to recognize the real nature of this disturbance until some years later, when I stayed in tropical Africa.
It had been, in fact, the first hint of “going black under the skin,” a spiritual peril which threatens the uprooted European in Africa to an extent not fully appreciated.
“Where danger is, there is salvation also” these words of Holderlin often came to my mind in such situations.
The salvation lies in our ability to bring the unconscious urges to consciousness with the aid of warning dreams.
These dreams show that there is something in us which does not merely submit passively to the influence of the unconscious, but on the contrary rushes eagerly to meet it, identifying itself with the shadow.
Just as a childhood memory can suddenly take possession of consciousness with so lively an emotion that we feel wholly transported back to the original situation, so these seemingly alien and wholly different Arab surroundings awaken an archetypal memory of an only too well known prehistoric past which apparently we have entirely forgotten.
We are remembering a potentiality of life which has been overgrown by civilization, but which in certain places is still existent.
If we were to relive it naively, it would constitute a relapse into barbarism.
Therefore we prefer to forget it.
But should it appear to us again in the form of a conflict, then we should keep it in our consciousness and test the two possibilities against each other the Me we live and the one we have forgotten.
For what has apparently been lost does not come to the fore again without sufficient reason.
In the living psychic structure, nothing takes place in a merely mechanical fashion; everything fits into the economy of the whole, relates to the whole.
That is to say, it is all purposeful and has meaning.
But because consciousness never has a view of the whole, it usually cannot understand this meaning.
We must therefore content ourselves for the time being with noting the phenomenon and hoping that the future, or further investigation, will reveal the significance of this clash with the shadow of the self. In any case,
I did not at the time have any glimmering of the nature of this archetypal experience, and knew still less about the historical parallels.
Yet though I did not then grasp the full meaning of the dream, it lingered in my memory, along with the liveliest wish to go to Africa again at the next opportunity.
That wish was not to be fulfilled for another five years. ~Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Pages 238-246