Memories, Dreams and Relections-or- The Waste Land of WW I

All Quiet on the Western Front -or- The Waste Land of WWI

In Carl Gustav Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections he reports a prophetic, yet tragic dream that would soon come true;

"In October (1913), while I was alone on a journey, I was suddenly seized by an overwhelming vision: I saw a monsterous flood covering all the northern and low-lying lands between the North Sea and the Alps. When it came up to Switzerland I saw that the mountains grew higher and higher to protect our country. I realized that a frightful catastrophe was in progress. I saw the mighty yellow waves, the floating rubble of civilization, and the drowned bodies of uncounted thousands. Then the whole sea turned to blood."

Other visions followed with a similar thematic, Jung decided to interpret the visions as his being menaced by a psychosis, when World War I broke out, he thought otherwise. If we follow his initial archetypal interpretation, then what Jung had imaginatively tuned into was the developing collective psychosis of hatred that was soon going to sweep over and envelop Europe, Europeans and Western Civilization. Hatreds were going to barbarically strip away the venier of civilization leaving a cataclysmic oceanic wave of bloodshed, bloodbath and body count in its wake. Jung felt nauseated (sick) by the grotesque realism of his dream, should'nt Everyone?

The book All Quiet On the Western Front was later adapted into an Academy award winning film of the same name. The book and film graphically show the traumatic consequences of World War I. After this "war to end wars", T.S. Eliot's literary response was the modernist elegiac poem The Waste Land whose name is an allusion to Jessie L. Weston's Grail legend book From Ritual to Romance. The allusion is to the wounding of the Fisher King and subsequent sterility of the lands. To rekindle the flame of romance and fertility, the seeker of the Grail must ask; "What ails you?". Jung's dream and the very real destructive consequences of WW I (and later WWII) provides a tragic response to this re-worked modern question. 

From a popular culture perspective the film The Fisher King starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges tells a story of redemption using the re-worked modern archetypes of the Arthurian legend.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.