Black Books

Africa made an overpoweringly deep impression on him [Jung]:

it meant encountering the historical past as a living present.

To Emil Medtner, he wrote in March:

“The most mysterious here are the nights of the waxing moon that wanders in indescribably silver clarity across the dark clear sky of Africa. The symbol of the Punic tombs of Carthage, \ Astarte herself, came close to me, when I saw the moon slowly descend over the tops of the palm trees for the first time. I came here according to inner necessity, already prepared by the unconscious, a symbolic act of the grandest style, nevertheless the meaning is still dark.”

Jung felt that the people he encountered had an intensity that Europeans lacked, and which he believed himself to be psychically infected

While in Tunis, he had a powerful dream:

The night before we embarked for 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. We wrestled. 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 light-colored 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 from Turfan. I did not know the contents, but nevertheless I had the feeling that this was “my book,” that I had written.

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 retrospect, Jung reflected as follows on this dream:

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 Black Books, Vol. I, Page 76-78