Dream Of An Artist

A video: “Map of the Soul—The Self” has just been released, showing a discussion between an artist, Diane Stanley and Dr. Murray Stein, Jungian psychoanalyst, author, and lecturer. He is a major figure in offering and promoting a “map of the soul”—central Jungian concepts to the larger community—thereby widely sharing the Jungian perspective as a way of life. 

In this video the discussion is “staged” in the sense that both parties have scripted their roles and they each read their lines while we are shown the artist’s works and hear about her dreams. She tells us that she has come to visit Dr. Stein having had “what I think is a big dream and I would like to discuss it with you I do believe it has a lot of meaning not just for me personally but who knows maybe for you and others as well…” She proceeds to tell him and he agrees it is a big dream.

Before I share the dream here on my blog I want to point out the apparent purpose of the “staged” discussion. As their discourse unfolded it became clearer that we were to hear how this “big dream” is to be understood in terms of Dr. Stein’s Map of the Soul, i.e.,  how it can be amplified to demonstrate central Jungian concepts. The artist apparently agreed to this approach and so we hear a vigorous discussion, using the dream and the artist’s further paintings, about symbols, archetypes, dream amplification, alchemy, religious ideas, the structure of the psyche and so on—a Jungian map of the soul! 

But when I had finished the video I was left somewhat in distress. Her dream is a big dream; it does have a message for all of us but this message is occluded by the purpose of the discussion. The dream is used as a powerful instance of a Jungian understanding of dreams and psyche, and as such we learn much about the Jungian perspective. 

But what about the dream and its message?

So, with all this in mind, let’s now hear the dream and listen for its message—a message we all need to hear.

I’m walking up the stairs in my house and I’ve arrived at the fourth floor which I know is the top of my house because it’s where I keep my art studio. But then I noticed there’s another flight of stairs continuing on up. I’m curious to decide where it leads. On the top there’s a door which I open and inside there’s this large empty room with a fire burning in the middle. A fire! So I’m really alarmed. I mean a fire that could burn down the whole house. So I go over really quickly to examine it and you know there’s no fuel; there’s no fuel at all; nothing. My mind stops. Time stops and then I feel the presence of someone behind me and I turn around and I see the teacher standing in the doorway. So I go over to him and I stand by him and we’re both looking at the fire together. This is when I noticed that there’s these rays of light filling the whole room. The teacher says “this is genuine. Keep the door open. People will be coming in to see this.”

The dreamer discovers a flame on the 5th floor of her home and is struck by some startling anomalies: the fire needs no fuel, time stops, rays of light fill the room and “the Teacher” appears with instructions for the dreamer. Dr. Stein briefly suggests this floor is an image of the 5th dimension. He seemed to base his suggestion on the self-sustaining fire being a living symbol of the divine, what he laters calls the “eternal”. But we didn’t get to hear any more about this “5th dimension” and its connection with the Teacher who instructed the dreamer to keep the door open as people will be coming to see this.

Dr. Stein, based on his Jungian understanding of the Map of the Soul was clearly concerned with balancing her discovery of the eternal flame with the neglected shadow—a canonical understanding of the individuation process. So when Ms. Stanley showed him a subsequent painting of her entire house, including the 5th floor with the eternal flame, he intuitively steered her towards the need for a basement to support the whole house. She quickly accepted this suggestion and a rich conversation followed concerning the importance of the shadow for wholeness. He also asked her “what do you do with it? How do you bring the temporal and the non-temporal together in your life…” The artist showed him several more paintings and once again the dream’s message seemed to be swallowed up by rich Jungian theory about the shadow.

Her big dream is in fact saying something quite new, quite unheard-of! 

Her Teacher is explicit: “This is genuine. Keep the door open. People will be coming in to see this.”. I gasped when I hear this instruction. As an artist she has the capacity to open the door to a new dimension of experience and her Teacher tells her to keep it open, because others  will be coming in to see this. I immediately thought of another artist of the “5th dimension”. Hilma af Klint (d. 1944). Her work waited in the dark until a 2018 exhibition in New York’s Guggenheim Museum, hailed as the “most popular show ever”, and titled “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future.

I strongly feel that Diane Stanley’s art works are of the “same kind” as af Klint’s, in the sense that she too has a door open to the 5th Dimension and that she is to keep it open like af Klint did by doing her art. Her’s is a work of service to us all. The dream is prophetic! Like Kevin Costner’s mandate “build it and they will come,” Ms Stanley is told that if she keeps the door open, the people will come. In other words there is a general readiness in the community to experience a higher dimension and perhaps a readiness on the part of that dimension to reach down to us, to re-locate itself in the 5th floor of our “home”.

Ms Stanley’s dream surely is a desideratum to turn to the artist mind as an opening to a higher dimension of existence, one we may be ready to experience. Dr. Stein’s graphic descriptions of the “basement” as the shadow and collective shadow may in fact point to the shadow dynamics tearing the world apart right now. A generative question might be:

What does the general readiness to experience a higher dimension of existence have to do with the equally general destructive chaos (the nigredo) that is upon us at this time?

The dream says, “Keep the door open!”

It may not therefore be too late!