On James Hillman's 'The Dream and the Underworld'

Episode 68 · March 18th, 2020 · 1 hr 15 mins

About this Episode

In 1979, the American psychologist James Hillman published The Dream and the Underworld, a polemical meditation on the nature of dreams. Rejecting the orthodoxies of both Freud and Jung, Hillman argued that the the "nightworld" of dream should not play second fiddle to the "dayworld" of waking life, because in the soul as on earth, day and night are equally essential, and equally real. To reduce a dream to a message or interpretation is to fail the dream. In order for dreams to do their work on us, says Hillman, we must cease to regard them as hallucinations, mere metaphors, epiphenomena, or illusions, and instead see them as the imaginal other life we all must live. Every night, for Hillman, each of us descends into the underworld to encounter those forces that shape us and our surroundings. The way down is the way up.


James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld
T. S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"
Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry
George Steiner, Real Presences
Hakim Bey, Orgies of the Hemp Eaters: Cuisine, Slang, Literature and Ritual of Cannabis Culture
Erik Davis, High Strangeness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies
Brad Warner on drugs and Buddhism
Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception
Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep
Christopher Nolan (dir.), Inception
Jorge Luis Borges, "Nightmares" in Seven Nights
Henri Bergson, Dreams