“You can be sure your dream is your nearest friend.”
When I went to East Africa, I went to a small tribe in Mount Elgon and I asked the medicine-man about dreams. He said, “I know what you mean; my father still had dreams.” I said, “You have no dreams?” And then he wept and answered, “No, I have no dreams any more.” I asked, “Why?” He answered, “Since the British came into the country.” “Now, how is that?” He said, “The District Commissioner knows when there shall be war; he knows when there are diseases; he knows where we must live—he does not allow us to move.” The political guidance is now represented by the D.C., by the superior intelligence of the white man; therefore, why should they need dreams? Dreams were the original guidance of man in the great darkness. Read that book of Rasmussen’s about the Polar Eskimos. There he describes how a medicine-man became the leader of his tribe on account of a vision. When a man is in the wilderness, the darkness brings the dreams—somnia a Deo missa—that guide him. It has always been so. I have not been led by any kind of wisdom; I have been led by dreams, like any primitive. I am ashamed to say so, but I am as primitive as any Negro, because I do not know! When you are in the darkness you take the next thing, and that is a dream. And you can be sure that the dream is your nearest friend; the dream is the friend of those who are not guided any more by the traditional truth and in consequence are isolated.
Collected Works 18
The Symbolic Life