THE UNCONSCIOUS ORIGIN OF THE HERO
Too Long; Didn't ReadPrepared by the previous chapters, we approach the personification of the libido in the form of a conqueror, a hero or a demon. With this, symbolism leaves the impersonal and neuter realm, which characterizes the astral and meteorologic symbol, and takes human form: the figure of a being changing from sorrow to joy, from joy to sorrow, and which, like the sun, sometimes stands in its zenith, sometimes is plunged in darkest night, and arises from this very night to new splendor. Just as the sun, guided by its own internal laws, ascends from morn till noon, and passing beyond the noon descends towards evening, leaving behind its splendor, and then sinks completely into the all-enveloping night, thus, too, does mankind follow his course according to immutable laws, and also sinks, after his course is completed, into night, in order to rise again in the morning to a new cycle in his children. The symbolic transition from sun to man is easy and practicable. The third and last creation of Miss Miller’s also takes this course. She calls this piece “Chiwantopel,” a “hypnagogic poem.” She gives us the following information about the circumstances surrounding the origin of this phantasy:
“After an evening of care and anxiety, I lay down to sleep at about half past eleven. I felt excited and unable to sleep, 192although I was very tired. There was no light in the room. I closed my eyes, and then I had the feeling that something was about to happen. The sensation of a general relaxation came over me, and I remained as passive as possible. Lines appeared before my eyes,—sparks and shining spirals, followed by a kaleidoscopic review of recent trivial occurrences.”
The reader will regret with me that we cannot know the reason for her cares and anxieties. It would have been of great importance for what follows to have information on this point. This gap in our knowledge is the more to be deplored because, between the first poem in 1898 and the time of the phantasy here discussed (1902), four whole years have passed. All information is lacking regarding this period, during which the great problem surely survived in the unconscious. Perhaps this lack has its advantages in that our interest is not diverted from the universal applicability of the phantasy here produced by sympathy in regard to the personal fate of the author. Therefore, something is obviated which often prevents the analyst in his daily task from looking away from the tedious toil of detail to that wider relation which reveals each neurotic conflict to be involved with human fate as a whole.