Elliot Wolfson, “Imagining Otherwise and the Unreason of Reason: Occupying the Space of a Dream without Dreaming”
Both Freud and Jung were keenly attuned to the nexus between dreams, madness, and hallucinations. For his part, Freud considered the dream on a par with psychosis insofar within the parameters of the dream we concoct an unreal world that we regard as real and the line between truth and untruth is blurred—indeed, the dream image is true to the extent that it is untrue and untrue to the extent that it is true. Jung, too, was mindful of the fact that the sensuous distinctness associated with the oneiric rises to the level of hallucinating clearness. That clarity is linked to hallucination bespeaks the fact that a mindset judged by societal mores as anomalous may actually divulge a greater degree of perceptual acuity and hence what is conventionally considered to be lucidity is, in truth, obfuscation—the opposite, I might add, of what we typically find in political discourse. In my contribution to the seminar, I will explore the far reaching cultural and psychological implications of the psychoanalytic juxtaposition of dreams and delirium, especially as they might contribute to a phenomenology of religious experience. In particular, I will illumine Jung’s assertion that the dream is a form of normal insanity from mystical sources. Dreams, I will argue, provide us with a mechanism to restore the possibility of reason’s dialogue with unreason. Finally, I will use the dream phenomenon to illustrate the nonphenomenolizable horizon of the appearance of the inapparent and the consequent depersonalization of personhood, that is, the idea of self without a self, the self that appears by not appearing, since the identity of the dreamer both constitutes and is constituted by the dream.In that respect, paraphrasing Laruelle, we can speak of the dream without dreaming or what I call the configuring nothing and the disfiguration at the limits of imaginality.
Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Fall of Sleep. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009.
Sigmund Freud, Interpretations of Dreams.
Carl Jung, The Red Book.
- 9:30am - 10:15am
- 10:15am - 11:00am
Elliot Wolfson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Jewish Research and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Distinguished Professor of Religion at University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of many publications including Through the Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (1994); Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and the Poetic Imagination (2005); Alef, Mem, Tau: Kabbalistic Musings on Time, Truth, and Death (2006); Venturing Beyond—Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism (2006); Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson (2009); A Dream Interpreted within a Dream: Oneiropoiesis and the Prism of Imagination (2011); Giving beyond the Gift: Apophasis and Overcoming Theomania (2014); The Duplicity of Philosophy’s Shadow: Heidegger, Nazism and the Jewish Other (2018); Heidegger and Kabbalah: Hidden Gnosis and the Path of Poiesis (2019); Suffering Time: Philosophical, Kabbalistic, and Ḥasidic Reflections on Temporality (2021).