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Last Letters From The Living Dead Man
(Mr. "X" is David Patterson Hatch 1846-1912, a former judge)

 
INTRODUCTION PART 1
INTRODUCTION PART 2

LETTER

 I.

THE GENIUS OF AMERICA
II. FEAR NOT
III. THE PROMISE OF SPRING
IV. THE DIET OF GOLD
V. CONTINGENT FEES
VI. THE THREE APPEALS
VII. THE BUILDERS
VIII. THE WORLD OF MIND
IX. AMERICA'S GOOD FRIDAY
X. THE CRUCIBLE
XI. MAKE CLEAN YOUR HOUSE
XII. LEVEL HEADS
XIII. TREES AND BRICK WALLS
XIV. INVISIBLE ARMIES
XV. THE WEAKEST LINK
XVI. A COUNCIL IN THE FOREST
XVII. THE IDEAL OF SUCCESS
XVIII. ORDER AND PROGRESS
XIX. THE FEDERATION OF NATIONS
XX. THE NEW IDEAL
XXI. A RAMBLING TALK
XXII. THE LEVER OF WORLD UNITY
XXIII. THE STARS OF MAN'S DESTINY
XXIV. MELANCHOLY
XXV. COMPENSATORY PLAY
XXVI. THE AQUARIAN AGE
XXVII. THE WATCHERS
XXVIII. THE RITUAL OF FELLOWSHIP
XXIX. RECRUITING AGENTS
XXX. THE VIRUS OF DISRUPTION
XXXI. THE ALTAR FIRE

 

 

INTRODUCTION (Part 2)

         Dr. Smith Ely Jelliffe, in the Introduction to his translation of Silberer’s “Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism,” says:

            “Much of the strange and outré, as well as the commonplace, in human activity conceals energy transformations of inestimable value in the work of sublimation. The race would go mad without it. It sometimes does even with it, a sign that sublimation is still imperfect and that the race is far from being spiritually well. A comprehension of the principles here involved would further the spread of sympathy for all forms of thinking and tend to further spiritual health in such mutual comprehension of the needs of others and of the forms taken by sublimation processes.”

            William James defended the Christian Scientists. And Jung himself says, in one of his famous letters to Dr. Loy, “Every method is good if it serves its purpose, including Christian Science, Mental Healing, etc.”
            During the last five years man has had such varied reasons for fearing objective things that he has come to fear the subjective, perhaps even more than during the Middle Ages.
            Dr. H.W. Frink says, in his masterly book on “Morbid Fears and Compulsions”: “The biological function or purpose of fear is protective or preservative. Every one of us alive to-day owes his existence to the fact that his human and pre-human ancestors were afraid.”
            Nearly everyone is afraid of something. Sublime Jeanne d’Arc was terribly afraid of the fire. (Perhaps she had been badly burned in infancy, and the unconscious memory twisted and turned in the deeps of her pure soul. Perhaps, and perhaps… for we shall never know.)

            When we really know what fear is, we shall have solve the mystery of “the one and the many” that disturbed the cerebration of our ancestors. Fear may be a momentary surging up of the ego’s consciousness of its own helpless littleness before the immensity of the unknown and unknowable non-ego. The reckless courage of the soldier may be an over-compensation, a triumphant sublimation—sometimes followed by reaction, secret or unconcealable, depending on the intensity.
            For, as Silberer says, “The conflicts do not indeed lie in the external world, but in our emotional disposition towards it; if we change this disposition by an inner development, the external world has a different value….”

            Man is indeed his own cosmos, the microcosm of the macrocosm, to a degree incomprehensible to one who has not intelligently studied (and in himself) the phenomena of “projection,” and compensation including sublimation.
            The great mystics of all ages, through introversion, having discovered this and reduced it to a science, after their fashion, great modern scientists like Jung and Silberer have found their systems worthy of profound study.
            Writing of mysticism, Professor Dwelshauvers of Brussels says: 

            “The effects of mystic union are logical and coherent; a second quality of the acts of the order of grace is the positive character of the contribution, the increase which they bring to the psychic life of those who benefit by them…. The idea of God, the divine presence, or any other form of inspiration, is no more strange to the mind of the religious man than is for the savant the sudden conception of a solution long sought for, or for the artist the vision of the work which he meditates and of which he pursues the construction with patience and tenacity…. Neither the invasion of the soul by God, nor the ‘return’ of the mystics, has any resemblance of mental disintegration.” 

            It is not easy to get rid of God.
            Will you read what Jung says on this subject in the “Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology,” edited by Dr. Constance E. Long: 

            “The concept of God is simply a necessary psychological function…. The consensus gentium has spoken of gods for æons past, and will be speaking of them in æons to come. Beautiful and perfect as man may think his reason, he may nevertheless assure himself that is only one of the possible mental functions, coinciding merely with the corresponding side of the phenomena of the universe. All around is the irrational, that which is not congruous with reason. And this irrationalism is likewise a psychological function, namely the absolute unconscious; whilst the function of consciousness is essentially rational…. Heraclitus, the ancient, that really very wise man, discovered the most wonderful of all psychological laws, namely, the regulating function of antithesis. He termed this ‘enantiodromia’ (lashing together) by which he meant that at some time everything meets with its opposite…. Man may not identify himself with reason, for he is not wholly a rational being, and never can or ever will become one. That is a fact of which every pedant of civilization should take note. What is irrational cannot and may not be stomped out. The gods cannot and may not die. Woe betide those men who have disinfected heaven with rationalism; God-Almightiness has entered into them, because they would not admit God as an absolute function…. Only he escapes from the cruel law of enantiodromia who knows how to separate himself from the unconscious—not by repressing it, for then it seizes him from behind—but by presenting it visibly to himself as something that is totally different from him…. He must learn to differentiate in his thoughts between what is the ego and what is the non-ego. The latter is the collective psyche or absolute unconscious…. In order to differentiate the psychological ego from the psychological non-ego, man must necessarily stand upon firm feet in his ego-function….

            “Obviously the depreciation and repression of such a powerful function as that of religion has serious consequences for the psychology of the individual…. One period of skepticism came to a close with the horrors of the French revolution. At the present time we are again experiencing an ebullition of the unconscious destructive powers of the collective psyche. The result is an unparalleled general slaughter. That is just what the unconscious was tending towards. This tendency had previously been inordinately strengthened by the rationalism of modern life, which by depreciating everything irrational caused the function of irrationalism to sink into the unconscious….”
            “There is indeed no possible alternative but to acknowledge irrationalism as a psychological function that is necessary and always existent. Its results are not to be taken as concrete realities (that would involve repression), but as psychological realities. They are realities because they are effective things, that is, they are actualities.” 

            So we need not be ashamed to admit that we pray! In this grim period of history, when the soul is face to face with itself and its brother as it has never been, we may speak with a greater simplicity than in the old conventionally-smiling days before the war. I pray—and so do you, whoever you are, if only by groaning “Oh, God!” when you suffer. Prayer is an instinct. Even an atheist will pray, if he finds himself beyond human aid. A friend of mine who was killed at the front used to take holy communion every morning, and he was doubtless a saner and better soldier for it. One need not be a Roman Catholic to see the beauty of that act of faith.

            Whether God be a “dominant of the superpersonal unconscious,” a psychological function, or a mathematical equation, makes not the slightest difference to me. As William James would say, “He works.”
            And whether the souls of our dead live in us, as Fechner says, or whether they are relics in the personal and collective unconscious, or whether they are “concrete realities” that can materialize by using astral and etheric substance, makes also not the slightest difference to me. If you could know how utterly I am at peace about this whole question!

            And many other differences appear, on close examination, to be mainly differences of viewpoint and phraseology. The “astral world” of the Theosophists, mediæval and modern, corresponds to a certain level of the unconscious. “X” says in one of the Letters which follow, written in 1917, that melancholy may be produced by the pressure of the unhappy dead who make us fear. If you locate the dead in the unconscious, which surges up in moments of passivity, the dead will have the same effect.
            Having given much of the leisure time of a laborious life to a study of the theories and practices of mysticism and occultism, as formulated by many different schools, I could write volumes (if I had the inclination, which I have not) in tracing out the psychological roots and the relations between these things. My own unconscious is rich with such images. Some of the most striking parallels have not been written about, so far as I know.

            And Jung seems to have covered, with the wide mantle of his comprehension, even the frailties of those who believe in prophetic dreams. He says: 

            “The unconscious possesses possibilities of wisdom that are completely closed to consciousness, for the unconscious has at its disposal not only all the psychic contents that are under the threshold because they have been forgotten or overlooked, but also the wisdom of the experience of untold ages, deposited in the course of time and lying potential in the human brain. The unconscious is continually active, creating combinations of its materials; these serve to indicate the future path of the individual. It creates prospective combinations just as our consciousness does, only they are considerably superior to the conscious combinations both in refinement and extent. The unconscious may therefore be an unparalleled guide for human beings….
            “The unconscious must contain all the material that has not yet reached the level of consciousness. These are the germs of future conscious contents.” 

            He seems to think that true prophecies are merely the result of synthesis by the unconscious of tendencies (whether in the personal or universal unconscious) significant for future occurrences. Referring to Maeterlinck’s “inconsistent supérieur,” he says of the prophetic interpretation of dreams: 

            “The aversion of the exact sciences against this sort of thought-process which is hardly to be called phantastic is only an overcompensation of the thousands of years old but all too great inclination of man to believe in soothsaying.”

             I am told that the hearing of voices in the hypnogogic state indicates “ a slight tendency to dissociation.” Very well. Probably the voices come from a deeper level than automatic writing, whatever the inspiration of automatic writing may be.

            Now while the things which ‘X’ in the following letters advised America to do, before America came into the war, were the very things which we did after we came into the war and which we could not have done except as war measures, our entrance was not written down as a specific prophesy in these letters. Any startling prophecy has always had a tendency to shake me out of the passive state in which automatic writing is possible. But—during the weeks from February to April, 1917, in the hypnogogic state preceding sleep, I several times heard, “We are coming into the war.” Of course I did not write that down in the manuscript, as it was not a part of the manuscript. What is heard is heard, what is written is written. I merely mention it as a curious phenomenon for it was probably the synthesis of the deeper levels of my unconscious. It was certainly the tragic hope of my conscious mind; but the conscious alone would not have produced a voice.

            If anybody wonders that I should admit hearing hypnogogic voices, I can only say that I regard these things rather objectively and impersonally. I never hear voices except when half-asleep. If my very accurate memory has not slipped a cog, William James used to talk freely of his hypnogogic experiences. The more we know about our little personalities, the less monstrously important they seem. And the “hearing of voices” has more than once played a respectable rôle in history, before and after Moses.
            But I do not imagine that I have any prophetic mission, nor do I feel in any hurry to “unite myself with the ocean of divinity,” nor feel any impulse violently to turn my back upon the universal. There is a happy mean, which makes for efficiency in life, for health and understanding.

            I have touched upon analytical psychology in this Introduction because I am so constituted that I cannot publish this last volume of my automatic writings without indicating my point of view, with the same frankness as in former Introductions. Please do not blame science because I have not lost through the analytic process my instinctive belief in individual immortality. I assure you it has not been the fault of science.
            If anyone objects that I have only touched the threads of this great web of psychology which lead towards the subject of this book, I can only say that this forward being by way of preface to this book, no other course was possible on account of the limitations of space and artistic relevancy.

            Psychology as a method of healing I leave to the physicians, who have written many books about it, containing bibliographies. And booksellers have catalogues. Anyone interested can write to them.
            This is by way of excusing myself from answering letters of enquiry. I have unselfishly and laboriously written so many hundreds of letters! Now I want to write other things. The resolution of psychological “complexes” frees energy for sublimation in work. It frees ideas for use in art.
            Dr. Beatrice M. Hinkle, in the introduction to her translation of Jung’s “Psychology of the Unconscious,” says that “this psychology which is pervading all realms of thought … seems destined to be a psychological-philosophical system for the understanding and practical advancement of human life.”

            So, having found a well whose waters were refreshing, I note the fact—and pass on.
            The train of thought which the reader has followed in this Introduction is the train of thought which led me—after some delay—to the publication of the book.
            I am glad that these “Last Letters from the Living Dead Man” are a call to courage, to restraint, to faith in the great and orderly future of America and the world, a call to all those positive qualities so gravely needed in these days of the rebuilding of Peace.

            For I do not believe that Bolshevism, or any other form of lunacy, will find foothold in the United States. A nation with universal suffrage, for man and woman, certainly has no incentive for a resort to insane destruction. In the last State campaign it was interesting to watch the reactions of women to the privileges and duties of suffrage. I watched it only in one party, the Democratic, but it was doubtless everywhere the same. There was an added dignity, a sense of new responsibility, and always courtesy and real fellowship among the women and the men. Its happening to correspond in time with the Fourth Liberty Loan campaign, and the printing of casualty lists, made it all the more significant. No, these level-headed, socially-responsible women will never be swept away by collective insanity; and as the men who return from the front will return to these women, their mothers, wives and sisters, I do not think that we shall lose in peace what we have gained in war.

            And now—remembering always that this book was written between February, 1917, and February, 1918—you may read the “Last Letters from the Living Dead Man.”

                                                                                                            Elsa Barker

            New York, Easter Day, 1919.

 

 

LETTER I

 

INTRODUCTION Part 1