Link: Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

“The phantasmagorias of dream and vision are of ‘subtle matter.’ Extremely fluent and mercurial, they are not illuminated, like ‘gross objects,’ from without, but are self-luminous. Moreover, their logic is not that of Aristotle. In dream, we all know, the subject and object are not separate from each other––though they seem so to the dreamer––but identical: and two or more objects, furthermore, not only can but do occupy the same space at the same time. The images, that is to say, are polysynthetic and polysemantic––and, I might add, in both aspects inexhaustible when analyzed from the aspect of waking consciousness. . . .

“In the Orient, the realms of the gods and demons, the heavens, purgatories, and hells, are assigned to this sphere and are of subtle matter. They are the macrocosmic counterpart of the microcosmic images of dream. But since we do not encounter on this level the sort of clear distinction between A and not-A that is proper to the field of waking consciousness, micro- and macrocosm on this level are not as different as they seem, and all the gods, therefore, all the powers of heaven and hell, are within us.”

Joseph Campbell, The Flight of the Wild Gander: “The Symbol without Meaning” (Copyright © 1990, 2002, Joseph Campbell Foundation), p. 100