The Blue Notebook
It occurs to me that what is happening is a breakdown of me, Anna, and this is how I am becoming aware of it. For words are form, and if I am at a pitch where shape, form, expression are nothing, then I am nothing, for it has become clear to me, reading the notebooks, that I remain Anna because of a certain kind of intelligence. This intelligence is dissolving and I am very frightened.
Last night I had a recurrence of that dream which, as I told Mother Sugar, was the most frightening of all the different types of cycles of dreams. When she asked me to ‘give a name to it’ (to give it form), I said it was the nightmare about destruction. Later, when I dreamed it again, and she said: ‘Give it a name’, I was able to go further: I said it was the nightmare about the principle of spite, or malice — joy in spite.
The first time I dreamed it, the principle, or figure, took form in a certain vase I had then, a peasant wooden vase from Russia, that someone had brought back. It was bulbous, rather jolly and naïve in shape, and covered with crude red and black and gilt patterns. This vase, in my dream, had a personality, and the personality was the nightmare, for it represented something anarchistic and uncontrollable, something destructive. This figure, or object, for it was not human, more like a species of elf or pixie, danced and jumped with a jerky cocky liveliness and it menaced not only me, but everything that was alive, but impersonally, and without reason. This was when I ‘named’ the dream as about destruction. The next time I dreamed, months later, but instantly recognized it as the same dream, the principle or element took shape in an old man, almost dwarf-like, infinitely more terrifying than the vase-object, because he was part human. This old man smiled and giggled and sniggered, was ugly, vital and powerful, and again, what he represented was pure spite, malice, joy in malice, joy in a destructive impulse. This was when I ‘named’ the dream as about joy in spite. And I dreamed the dream again, always when particularly tired, or under stress, or in conflict, when I could feel that the walls of my self were thin or in danger. The element took a variety of shapes, usually that of a very old man or woman (yet there was a suggestion of a double sex, or even sexlessness) and the figure was always very lively, in spite of having a wooden leg, or a crutch, or a hump, or being deformed in some way. And the creature was always powerful, with an inner vitality which I knew was caused by a purposeless, undirected, causeless spite. It mocked and jibed and hurt, wished murder, wished death. And yet it was always vibrant with joy. Telling Mother Sugar of this dream, recreated for perhaps the sixth or seventh time, she asked as usual: ‘And how do you name it?’ and I replied as usual with the words spite, malice, pleasure in hurt; and she enquired: ‘Only negative qualities, nothing good about it?’ ‘Nothing,’ I said, surprised. ‘And there is nothing creative at all there?’ ‘Not for me.’