The Future of a Fiction – An Interlude (“In the Midst of Play”)

Inter-lude: between, among, in the midst of + play

wolf spiderONE NIGHT A MAN HAS A STRANGE DREAM. He writes it down and takes it to his therapist / analyst. Sinking down into the comfy Lazy-Boy chair in the analyst’s office, he looks at the analyst and starts to recount his dream:

“It’s the strangest thing.  I am in a large room in what seems to be maybe a castle or something. I’m not sure about that, but there are a lot of people, and we’re all seated facing a speaker at the front of the room. And the speaker is the Pope! You know, he’s talking about the need for religion and God today.  He reads from some prepared notes and goes on and on. Suddenly, there is a shift of awareness in the room — as if people one moment had not been paying close attention to him but the next moment ALL EYES are on him. It’s like no one dares take a breath.”

The dreamer pauses and then continues:

“It takes me a second to realize why this is, but then it becomes abundantly clear what everyone is looking at: a spider has appeared on the Pope’s robe, or whatever you call that outfit he wears, right at his left shoulder. The spider crawls across the cloth of the robe and disappears around the Pope’s back. Then it re-appears again around the Pope’s neck to the right – our left as we’re watching, you know – and believe me, everyone is watching. Riveted. It’s like the whole world is watching this spider move about the body of the Head of all Christendom. Anyway, the spider moves down the Pope’s right arm and then back upwards toward the Pope’s neckline. But he just reads on, completely oblivious, no idea there’s this spider nonchalantly crawling all around him.  In the end, the spider just heads back down the Pope’s left shoulder where it first appeared and the dream ends.”

The dreamer stops and sees that the analyst is looking at him. “You woke up?”  “Yes,” replies the dreamer before continuing, “I wrote the dream down, and here I am.”  After a second the dreamer continues, “It seemed so real.”

The analyst smiles. “Dreams do seem pretty real.” He then turns thoughtful. “What associations do you have to the Pope being in your dream?”

The dreamer doesn’t hesitate. “None. I’m a Presbyterian!”

“Hmmm…” says the analyst.  (He has been known to utter “hmm” with some frequency). The analyst slowly stands from his chair and goes to a nearby bookcase. Running his fingers along the backs of the books on one shelf, he takes into hand what suspiciously looks like The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols.  He opens it, presumably to the entry on spiders, maybe even page 903, and reads aloud: “While the spider’s thread is reminiscent of that of the Fates, as the Koran emphasizes, what is woven is of extreme fragility. ‘But verily, frailest of all houses surely is the house of the spider’ (Koran 29:40).”

He pauses a moment and then continues reading: “This fragility evokes the fragility of a reality which is no more than illusory and deceptive appearance.” He slowly closes the book and sends a sideways glance at the dreamer. “What if your dream is a big dream?”

“A big dream?” Instantly the dreamer feels himself puff up inwardly with pride at the sound of this – although he’s not entirely sure what “big dreams” are.  The analyst comes to the rescue.

“Most of our dreams that we have are personal, reflective of something going on in the life of the dreamer,” the analyst begins. “They are very important to the life of the individual dreamer, of course. Sometimes, though, we have dreams that reveal something about the collective – not just the individual human being but society, maybe even humankind in its entirety. These are dreams coming up from the collective unconscious. Big dreams.”

The dreamer suddenly remembers something. “Do you mean like that dream that an analyst had and took to Jung? The one where a huge temple was being built by a lot of people. The analyst/ dreamer was building on gigantic pillars along with other people.  He told Jung that in the dream the ‘whole building process was in its very beginnings, but the foundation was already there, and the rest of the building was starting to go up’ and that he and many other people were working on it.” **

“That is exactly what I mean by a collective big dream,” the analyst responds. “Do you know how Jung interpreted that dream?”

“I can’t remember,” the dreamer admits.

“Jung said, ‘that is the temple we all build on. We don’t know the people because […] they build in India and China and in Russia and all over the world. That is the new religion,’ Jung said.” The analyst pauses and looks somberly at the dreamer across from him, still sitting in the Lazy-Boy chair. “Do you know how long it’s going to take to build that temple? That new religion?”

“How long?”

“Six hundred years,” the analyst says. “Jung knew this from the dreams of his patients as well as from his own dreams. Pretty humbling, isn’t it?”

“Six hundred years,” the dreamer repeats soberly, perhaps even somewhat disbelievingly. Then the analyst says something even more surprising.

“I think your Pope dream may be saying something very similar.”

“Really?!!?” the dreamer says in shock.

“Yes,” the analyst begins. “The spider crawling all about the Pope with the Pope unaware of its presence might be saying something about the status of our present religious condition. About something fated to change, to transform into something else which is new.”

“Something new like what?” the dreamer asks, always preferring to have things spelled out for him.

“That depends on what we build, I suppose,” the analyst replies, always preferring not to spell things out.
Then he adds “And, of course, how much consciousness we bring to the building of it.”

The dreamer waits, hoping the analyst will say more.

The analyst opens his mouth to speak:

“Well….looks like our hour is up.”

“What?” The dreamer can’t believe it.  He looks at the clock on the wall. How does this always happen?!!? The hour always ends when we’re just getting somewhere, he thinks to himself. He reluctantly rises from the Lazy-Boy and slowly heads for the door.

As the dreamer leaves, the analyst says one more thing to him: “See if another dream doesn’t come to you this week. You can bring it with you next time and we’ll take a look at it.”

The dreamer nods. At least the analyst didn’t say “Rome wasn’t built in a day” like he often does.

They say goodbye. The dreamer opens the door and goes out into the daylight world


**Zeller, Max. The Dream – The Vision of the Night. Los Angeles, CA: Analytical Psychology Club of Los Angeles & the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, 1975.

This entry was posted in Dreams, Mythic Interludes, Play. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Future of a Fiction – An Interlude (“In the Midst of Play”)

  1. Ahmed says:

    Hi Chris:

    Finally got around to checking your blog out. That is a very interesting story. I assume the video you posted came out later… very weird.

  2. Chris says:

    Actually Ahmed — the video preceded my post by a couple weeks. ;). Thanks for checking the blog out!

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