Dream analysis. Notes of the seminar given in 1928-1930 by C.G. Jung. Edited by William McGuire.
LECTURE X 27 March 1929
You will probably wonder that I pay so much attention to the symbol of “The Boy,” but one can hardly overestimate the importance of that symbol. It worried me a great deal, so I went into its history as far as possible.
I have already given you some glimpses of historic examples of this “Boy,” and today I want to give you more recent examples along the same line.
In the second part of Faust the “Boy” appears. Very few people are acquainted with the second part of Faust.
When I was a young man I could not understand it at all, and only later it came to me.
Certain things in it are beautiful and marvelous, but without knowledge of the collective unconscious you can hardly understand what Goethe means.
Commentators have no real idea of what he is concerned with.
The first part of Faust was written when Goethe was a young man, the second part when he was quite old, so there was the experience of a long life in between.
It was his last work, and it contains a great deal of unconscious material. It was Goethe’s way of expressing his experiences of the collective unconscious.
As he was a genius he was in touch with this.
When the collective unconscious is really experienced it is the fateful experience of one’s life, a tremendous experience.
You can compare it with nothing but the real experience of this visible world, with all its beauties and risks.
In Faust Goethe says to Wagner, 1 “You are only conscious of one side of life, be glad you know nothing of the other side.”
This means that human life is enough for ordinary people, they cannot even deal with that.
Yet certain people have to experience the other side of the world, the collective unconscious, the world within. So we cannot be astonished when we find the Puer Aeternus in Faust.
The symbol appears there in three forms. Faust goes through many different situations of external life.
Goethe was much impressed by the tremendous social revolution in France, and also by the invention of bank notes.
So Faust first appears as great social and economic reformer at court, an adviser of the king.
He was also a sort of sorcerer, a clever juggler, a financial genius, a Mussolini. That would be a diagnosis of Faust’s character.
The last labour of Faust was engineering, which was just coming into prominence when Goethe wrote, and it was an actual fact going on in Switzerland at the time.
Konrad Escher, a Swiss engineer, carried out the great project of draining off large malarial swamps at the foot of the mountains.
He did his work in the spirit of great personal devotion, and Goethe has used this devotion as a symbol in the second part of Faust.
In Holland, in the seventeenth century, the great storms of the sea had broken the dykes and there were plans for building a great dam and winning back the land from the sea.
So in F au.st they are building dams and winning back the fertile lands for cultivation.
“The Boy” appears for the first time under the name of “KnabeLenker ,” the Boy Guide or Charioteer, when Faust is at the court of the king.
In reading the text we cannot see why this boy appears, and Goethe himself was almost embarrassed at his appearance and how to explain him.
The boy speaks: “I am generosity, poetry.
I -am-the-poet–who-per-feets–himself-by-wasting-his-own-goods~1~am also infinitely rich, and I think of myself as Plutus.
I even animate and decorate his dancing and his meals.
I am spending what he is lacking”3 (outdoing Plutus, rich beyond all imagination).
He increases in intensity, as if he were getting more and more on fire.
He speaks to the crowd at a great festival: “The greatest gifts of my hands I send about, and there behold on this or that head there is a little flame which I have put on.
Now it jumps from head to head. Here it flares up for a short time, then it escapes.
Rarely it stays, and in many, before they are aware, it dies down sadly exhausted.”
Then the final fate of the Boy Charioteer.
The whole festival ends with fireworks, and suddenly everything bursts into flames and he disappears into the fire, only ashes are left.
That figure is finished.
In the next appearance of Faust he is still moving on in the world doing wonderful things.
He returns and finds Wagner, the rationalist, installed in his former laboratory, where he is doing a marvelous thing, producing a little man in a retort, a homunculus.
It was the dream of the Middle Ages to make such a little man, and Faust marvels.
Then in the night Homunculus escapes in his glass bulb through the air and comes to the Elysian fields.
Mephistopheles played a tremendous role in the Middle Ages, but here he appears in a bewildered condition, for he feels rather like an ass among these figures of Greek mythology, in the antique world where there is no evil and no good.
Homunculus appears in this world of gods and goddesses and consults with them as to how he can manage to get out of his glass bulb into the real world.
Only the old god Proteus, who is always taking on new forms, can give advice: “When thou wilt become, begin first in the smallest things,” very wise.
Homunculus is glad to receive such good advice and begins to jump about in his bottle, and then a wonderful thing happens. Galatea comes over the seas on her throne.
You remember Pygmalion, who made a beautiful statue of Galatea, and then prayed to the gods to make her real.
His wish was granted and she came to life as a real woman.
Now Homunculus sees her coming, is delighted, and rushes to meet her; he hurls himself against the throne, ‘his bulb bursts and he disappears in flames.
So we have the third form of the “Boy.”
Faust, dissatisfied as ever, descends to the Mothers.
There he finds the magic tripod, and out of the flames of the tripod he produces the perfect couple, Paris and Helen.
Faust falls in love with Helen (who is really hidden behind Marguerite), the most beautiful and perfect woman.
He lives with her and the fruit of their union is Euphorion (the happy one), of a fiery nature, air and flame, and soon it begins to be evident that he is after the girls, leaping after them like a flame.
He continues a short existence until he burns up in the flames of love and is gone.
The typical thing in all this symbolism is the short flame-like existence, which comes to an end each time in fire.
In the first case it is power that puts an end to the “Boy” ‘s life (he burns up at the height of his power). In the other two cases it is the emotion of love in which he burns himself up.
There is another apparition of the Puer Aeternus in a book by an author quite unknown.
He is probably a crank and the book is cranky, but the idea is extraordinary.
The story is of a small highly respectable cathedral town in Germany.
There is a Lutheran parson and the ordinary society, the doctor, the burgomaster, and the high officials of the town; everybody is small and respectable.
There is a rumor that several peculiar boys have appeared, and these boys wear brown leather caps. (This is a regular dementia praecox vision. This author may have a hole in his brain.)
There seems to be something uncanny, inexplicable, about the evil rumours connected with these boys, because no one can protect himself against them.
There is an evening party, where a strange man turns up.
He is very interesting, he has travelled and is full of stories.
He produces a peculiar little phial, with a tiny flame in it.
He tells the company that this is a very rare thing, and whoever looks into it will see the truth.
The ladies and gentlemen all put their heads together and look into the bottle, where two small human beings appear, the hostess and a man who is not her husband.
They are naked and are in a violent embrace.
Everybody is scandalized but continues to look.
Then the party breaks up, all the guests ashamed and outraged.
The stranger had disappeared, and was never seen again.
A few months later all the respectable people gathered at the great event of the season, the official ball.
The little girls came in white and the old ladies in black, everybody was sitting stiffly around the walls, they talked a little bit, and danced a-little bit, things were terribly-respectable and boring.
No one noticed that through the back door a little boy with a brown leather cap came in, and went up onto the balcony and hid. Instantly the atmosphere changed, the band played with more pep, the girls laughed loudly, and the burgomaster made queer jokes to his lady.
Things grew worse and worse, more and more wild, until there was a real orgy, a tremendous primitive thing, and no one was conscious of it.
Then the boy disappeared, laughing slyly.
Instantly they all came to their senses, and found themselves in the most extraordinary attitudes with strange partners.
They were much ashamed, bewildered, and scandalized.
They shut themselves up in their homes for weeks and no one dared look into his neighbour’s eyes.
Then news came from the outside world that these boys had worked terrible things. abroad, so the people began to think that the strange goings on at the ball were accounted for; one of the boys must have been there and it was he who was responsible and they were reconciled. But the parson, who had not been present at the ball, was not reconciled at all.
The people had not dared to go to the church before, but now they felt that they could go again.
The parson had waited for them, and he began to curse them up and down for their hellish orgy, he did not believe in “Boys” at all.
The people wilted under his wrath.
But the parson had not noticed a little boy with a brown leather cap stealing in the door and who was climbing up a column near the pulpit.
He looked at the parson and instantly the parson smiled and brightened up, he went on preaching but he found himself using words that he didn’t mean to say at all.
He became more and more involved, still cursing but in different terms, using obscene language and making evil jokes and working the congregation up to a fierce orgy.
This was worse than the ball, right in the church!
Then the boy disappeared, and they all came to their senses again. There was the parson with the wife of the burgomaster, etc.
This was too much, it could never be lived down. – This is exactly the psychology of the character of the child in the second part of Faust, ending in flame that soon burns itself out, leaving only ashes behind.
The third example is in a philosophical and theological form.
In the book of Wells, God the Invisible King,s God is a sort of ignorant youth who tries to improve the world and who has need of our support.
Wells’ description of God is that of an adolescent boy who tries to do his level best with great enthusiasm.
Wells has been severely reproached for writing that book but I have seen a young boy in this country, a gifted boy of sixteen, who had a religious revelation and who gave me his idea of God, which was just like
this one of Wells; it was his dearest revelation.
The symbol of the “Boy” seems to be an archetypal image, still very much alive in our time.
You can include Goethe as a modern, for Faust is by no means worn out, it is still very true.
For instance, if I should have such a fantasy and if my analyst should interpret it, he would say, “You are no longer a young man, but you have the idea of the boy in you. Feeling perhaps the inevitability of old age, the boy is your compensation. Why is this?
You are too old in your attitudes, conduct, and beliefs.
You are older than you need be, so the unconscious compensates for your oldness by the figure of the “Boy.” Goethe is, of course, the megaphone of modern times.
Every great poet expresses the ideas and feelings common to all, or he would have no audience.
He would not be understood nor appreciated at all.
I have experienced the effect of Nietzsche’s ideas when no one else was capable of understanding him.
He lived in my own town. His style and thought were peculiar.
No one dared to admit that they saw something in Nietzsche, because that would put them outside of the flock.
They would have felt outside of their world. But Nietzsche foreshadows our time, as does Goethe in the second part of Faust.
We can speak of general symbols, common to many people and expressed in many different ways, and we can apply the individual interpretation to the social phenomena of our time.
How would you apply it?
Dr. Binger: Just as you would in the individual. We are old.
Dr. Jung: Yes, we are oldish, and the general collective unconscious feels the need of bringing up the symbol of youth as a compensation. In what way are we too old?
Dr. Binger: We are like the burgers.
Dr.Jung: Our attitudes, our ideals are too old-fashioned. Why? Ask our parsons, they won’t admit it.
Dr. Binger: We are a(raid of the little boys, I guess.
Dr. Jung: The point is that there are no little boys in leather c;aps.-J>eQple–d0-n0t~ rnalize–that–0ur-general~ideas,ou-r-general theories, are based on principles that are no longer alive; they are not modern ideas.
Many people are beginning to fight our institutions because they can no longer believe in the principles they uphold, so everywhere there is a state of unrest.
Our morality is still based on medieval assumptions.
We would no longer admit that we believe in Hell-fire, but as a matter of fact, we have no other basis for our morality except the Hell-fire idea.
This idea works in certain minds with horrible results.
Lamprecht, a German philosopher, no longer living, wrote a little book called The History of Civilization6 in which he said, “Obviously mankind has been very immoral, because it has had to pass through an age of incest. The first human beings were brothers and sisters.”
This is based on the assumption that the first parents were Adam and Eve.
That man has never thought.
These archetypal ideas work in that way.
The author had accepted the story of Adam and Eve, so naturally for him man has had to pass through an age of incest.
If man was to propagate there was no other way than through the sister.
He published this as a scientific work!
A professor in Bern in the fire of enthusiasm said: “Humanity is reaching from the icy regions of the North Pole to the eternal and fiery flames of the South Pole.”
He got away with it for a time, then it was too much and he had to resign, but Lamprecht got away with his swindle, nobody caught him up on his tale.
The acceptance of these archetypal ideas influences us in the way we think and act, but these things are never discussed.
Just recently an American has written a marvelous article, “The Death of an Ideal,” the ideal of love.
It is generally believed that love is the highest ideal.
This is never discussed but it should be.
Our age is going to demonstrate that love is not the highest ideal-Life is!
This author has not been influenced by me, for I have never said publicly that love was not the highest ideal.
After all the things I have been telling you about the Puer Aeternus we can come back to the dream once more and the white bread that he prefers; the white bread, as you have already seen,
The “Boy” wants pure white bread, as in the story of Brother Eustachius. There is a particular connection between this dream and the complicated business dream. How would you link it up?
Dr. Binger: There is a contrast between the corrupt Business Manager and the prince.
Dr. Jung: Sure enough, the Business Manager couldn’t provide white bread.
This is a sort of It is not a good word, for it has no definite meaning.
It is moral to sacrifice children, to torture, to buy and sell slaves in certain societies.
The word moral comes from the Latin mores habits, customs.
We connect it with the idea of good and evil, but we must always keep in mind that the word has a relative meaning.
The idea of good and evil is not the same in different centuries or in different countries. Here a person who tells a lie is immoral, but in Italy it may be a gracious custom, it may be a kind-hearted thing to do.
Only Germans are offended by it when they come to Italy, and possibly the English.
Once while I was travelling on a bicycle in Italy, I was caught on a pretty bad road, I got a nail in my tire, and an Italian peasant helped me very kindly.
He was much pleased when I invited him to have a glass of wine with me in the Osteria and was evidently proud to be seen drinking with me there, and he would take no tip. I thought certainly this man will not lie to
me, so I asked him about the road further on.
He hesitated just a moment and then said, “Bellissimo, marvellous! It is the very best road in the world, everybody travels on that road.”
I took it and for about ten minutes it was fine, then it turned out to be a hell of a road. The ruts were so deep that riding was impossible and for two hours I walked in the dark.
I was very mad at first, then I realized that the Italian had made me happy for ten minutes at least.
A Swiss would have told me the truth at once and damned the road, so I should have been unhappy ten minutes sooner! That was moral for Italy.
It would have been uncivil to tell such an evil thing as the truth. Luther said, “If your wife is unwilling take the maid,” and he was a religious reformer.
That would now be considered very immoral. If you will read his talks at meals you will find many savory passages, now of course not mentioned.
So the moral advice in this dream is to be understood as custom, the best thing according to your best knowledge, different in different centuries, but always the best for that particular thing and time.
The dream says it must be your best attempt.
According to the best of youcahilities you musLpmvide _thaLchild with the. best food.
In the dream before, he must mend the warp of the corrupt Business Manager.
Now here he must make his best attempt to provide the child with the best food.
What is your probable prognosis? What would be the next dream, perhaps?
He is not so far along yet that he can link up his conscious life with his dream world. His life is on the safe rails and his unconscious is all being lived in my office.
Dr. Binger: He might easily have a dream that he had an erotic experience with his wife.
Dr. Jung: That is one guess. Another?
Mrs. Sigg: A dream might give him advice as to what he could do next.
Dr. Jung: What would that advice be?
Mrs. Sigg: I don’t know.
Dr. Jung: But it is important to know. Do you mean advice as to how to put the relations right with his wife?
Dr. Shaw: That he should try to put his relation with his wife right in a wiser way, riot by sexuality.
Mr. Gibb: You said that he was not yet able to put into practice what his dreams were telling him, so why may not the dream be something of an opposite kind, of a contrasting nature?
Dr. Jung: We have two clearly defined points of view. What do you vote for?
Dr. Binger: I can see that I am wrong. I am willing to withdraw.
Dr. Shaw: I think he should stick to it.
Dr. Jung: That would be the conscious way, but we said that the patient could not link all this up with his conscious. The question concerns the next dream, not his conscious reaction.
Dr. Shaw: What sort of a contrast does Mr. Gibb mean? He might say a little more.
Mr. Gibb: Not indicating a hopeful thing, something in the nature of a regression.
Dr. Shaw: To what sort of thing?
Dr. Schlegel: The real problem of the dreamer is less his actual relationship to his wife than his relationship to his own soul. So you would rather expect the dreamer to go down into the unconscious depths behind reality.
Mr. Gibb: I think I agree with that.
Dr. Jung: Any other idea?
Mrs. Sigg: I think the coming of “The Boy” has something to do with the analyst.
Dr. Jung: I definitely refuse to be identified with the Puer Aeternus. One can say that in a way I am responsible for that dream.
He wouldn’t have had such a dream save for his relationship with me, but that is the whole working basis for dream interpretation.
The next dream : “My wife and I are going with some people whom we apparently know (I am not at all sure who they are) to a feast or celebration. There are a number of big decorated halls representing the bottom of the ocean. It is as though one were seeing through into a marine scene, electrically lighted, where you could see all sorts of swimming and crawling marine animals, as if one were a diver standing on the bottom of the sea. There were many tables, and we began to sit down. These tables were not as elegant as they would be in such a place, but rather rough-looking, like the tables at our popular shooting-matches in Switzerland. (It was only after the dream that I began to remember these tables. It did not occur to me in the dream.) Now I am alone, going up a long flight of stairs. An oldish woman receives me and conducts me into a large room, a sort of salon beautifully decorated. In the centre of the room is a sort of fountain, along the walls are a number of doors that evidently open into other rooms; these doors are partially open and I see there are prostitutes ii:! the rooms. The lady does the honours, and after having passed the whole length of the room without my expressing a wish to enter into relations with one of these girls, the hostess said that several of the girls had not come yet, among them the sisters X (Kaiser, he thinks, was the name). Then I am under the impression that I am reading a French book. I turn the page and come to the beginning of a new chapter.
“There is a vignette and the words, ‘The night has been very satisfactory.’ The picture represented an orgiastic scene, peculiarly shown. In the upper part of the page, in a hemicycle form, there are gentlemen in evening dress and ladies in very light toilettes, sitting and lying on carpets and cushions. Among them, hung up like marionettes on threads, are policemen and soldiers on horseback. The threads form a sort of borderline between the groups.
In the first group, on the left, I recognize myself and another man whom I know (I cannot tell who he is). After that I go downstairs with my wife, but I cannot find my hat. I search everywhere in vain. Eventually I decide to take another hat which does not belong to me. My wife thinks we should wait for our friends with whom wee-ame-(cannot-remember-whotheyare}-burwe-continue-on-our way, and as we go out I look into the mirror to see how the hat fits me and I discover that I am wearing a dark brown cap.”
You see, our prognosis fits the dream. In practical analysis I can usually see what the next dream will be. I could not pledge myself, of course, but in a dream like the one before this, where we have extraordinary intuition leading far away above the man’s mental situation and a figure (Eros) appears beckoning from afar, we can be sure that the dreamer has overdone himself and has got a glimpse of something that he is not up to at all.
There is nothing so disappointing as such a far-reaching vision; it leaves you high and dry, fully convinced that it is far beyond you.
You go deeper down than ever when you cannot attain to it.
In the interpretation of that dream (which was not as full as that given here) I had to take him to a spiritual atmosphere that he was not used to at all.
The air was too thin, too spiritual, so it simply tickled all his devils.
When people go too far in spiritualizing sex they are led into a sexual orgy, the eternal serpent of the abyss will react and bite, so this man was led into a regression.
That is the reason why in this dream he is led down into the sea, but it is not a real regression, he is not really drowned.
The truth is that in reality it is a brothel, just the truth artificially dressed up.
Associations: Bottom of the sea:
“The bottom of the sea reminds me of an advertisement I saw of the Lido. There were quite a number of pictures of a ballroom, apparently at the bottom of the sea. The marine scene with the fishes, etc., reminds me of an aquarium. I have repeatedly compared the unconscious to the bottom of the sea. I remember that when I went upstairs alone I admired the beautiful marine scenery.” The rough tables: “I associate with our Shooting-matches, where they have such tables and benches and where all is forced gaiety with too much drinking.” He says he hates that sort of thing, for it is too artificial, he emphasizes the fact of its artificiality. The room above: “reminds me of a certain big hall in a German watering-place, where there is also an artificial pond with a fountain. People like to compare that big hall with the Thermae of Caracalla in Rome.” (An ambitious comparison.) The sisters who
have not come and the name Kaiser mean nothing to him, though the word Kaiser stands for a very important personage. Then comes an explanatory association that sums up the dream: “After one has looked at the images of the unconscious (the marine scene) wherein are connected some uncomfortable situations ( the hard benches in these rooms) then one can go to these orgiastic adventures without any particular excitement; the orgy of the vignette in the book, and the prostitutes.” The pictures in the book remind him of pictures that he has seen of Roman orgies, the baths of Caracalla.
Then he philosophizes:
“A man who understands himself should be able to participate in such an orgy and to see himself as if in a book” (he saw himself in these scenes in the dream). With the officers and soldiers he associates public authority and control.
He says: “In the dream these police officers are represented as marionettes, and it is true that public authority is such a marionette. This has to do with my fear of public opinion, public control.” Hat: In spite of the fact that the strange hat suits me, I discover, when I see myself in the mirror, that I cut a funny figure. It is not just the cap of a fool but it is a queer cap.”
Now you have a picture of the dream, the downfall after the previous dream, and again this critique.
With these associations you can see that the idea of the dream is getting down into a collective situation, a festal scene where thousands and thousands of people come, a popular collective situation.
“The bottom of the sea” is a metaphor for the collective unconscious, the great collectivity at the bottom for the sea.
There is nothing human about it, only fishes and other crawling swimming beasts.
Then, coming up from that level, he at least reaches a level of relation, metaphorically participating in an orgy in a house of prostitution, and leaving with the wrong hat, the funny brown cap. ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Pages 187-198