The way to the human heart, the heart of hearts, is strewn with horror stories of sacrifices and murders, of wars and plunders, of unrequited love, of tears and sorrow, of pain. It is in the mud and the dirt, in the most unhygienic, dark and desolate corners of the human psyche that beauty finds its dwelling place. It is only through digging that one finds the treasure: if only there were a way around it! The outside world is only a reflection of what lurks beneath the conscious mind, in the marshes and swamps and the bogs of the unconscious, where giant snakes and dragons live. To understand an age, one needs to understand the archetypical mind. To change a trend, one needs to steer the steeds of the unconscious; unless that is done, the steeds will go wild, and it will be the trend that will change people, not vice versa. Jung warned about the danger of nuclear bombs when the egotistic ambitions of the white man are allowed to manifest their daemonic nature through the lack of awareness of his peers, through renouncement to the teachings of the old and by removing oneself from Nature.
Fortunately, we have the Arts to remind us of the psyche’s hidden treasures left unexpressed in modern times. Fortunately, we have the artists to enter the back doors for us and to walk for us down the winding paths of the dark forests. But if we grew up without listening to the old stories, the stories that build one up by helping the inner child reach manhood/womanhood, we may not have the key to understand the artists’ cryptic message. For what is growth but an unending laying of bricks on the foundation that will later become the Individual? And how can an Individual fully become when there are missing bricks in this foundation? Then his/her house is doomed either to collapse or to find support in the illusory embracing of the world’s spider webs. And the world will indeed weave its webs around and around until sunshine stops coming in, and the great night of the mind takes over.
These are thoughts inspired by one of the greatest works of art of the past century, Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams”. The movie was inspired by the producer’s own dreams and follows the journey of the Hero: leaving the childhood home to set off on the adventure (poetry and mystery, but danger, for the child has to die to make room for the man); encountering love and loss, loss and love; getting caught in the illusion of this world of opposites and contradictions: “snow is warm, ice is hot”, but succeeding in freeing himself from it; causing death, understanding death and his role in it (the hero understands that he cannot blame War for the death of his troop, that he has himself to blame, for He is the one who has made the decision); meeting Art in its Dionysian form of madness: Van Gogh and the orgy of colour, suffering, love, death and life; then meeting his own daemons, his own madness, but not succumbing to it; and then meeting Life.
According to Wikipedia, the movie failed to impress: “Shooting took more than eight months to complete, and Dreams premiered at Cannes in May 1990 to a polite but muted reception, similar to the reaction the picture would generate elsewhere in the world”.
If that is true, the public back then failed to find the key. Will we ever?