Monday, March 29, 2010

Visits with my favorite professor


I am with my favorite professor, Manning Clark. We sit in a cafe, discussing my progress towards a PhD dissertation. He is delighted I am working for my doctorate, but the content of my dissertation will need careful thought in order to satisfy all three supervisors. While Manning will support whatever I choose to do, the other two supervisors - Australians of a younger generation, with a different approach to academic research - are going to want me to demonstrate the ability to do exact research and analysis, and would like me to include some Australian material in my dissertation.
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In my outline, I have borrowed an idea from Spengler that 5,000 years ago there was a fundamental change in human societies that can be observed all over the planet. While Manning is happy for me to play off this sweeping notion, he counsels that the other supervisors won't like Spengler.
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This is a very friendly, relaxed conversation, and I am greatly enjoying my time with Manning.
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I wake cheerful, sunny and optimistic.
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Some background: Manning Clark, Australia's famous narrative historian, was chair of the history department at the Australian National University when I arrived there as an undergraduate in the late 1960s. He was a wonderful mentor and friend. He encouraged his students to read Dostoyevsky and Faulkner, Freud and Jung to understand the springs of human action. Raised on the King James Bible, he exhorted us to find "the ditch where we are digged". I vividly remember the dinners at Manning's house where he put vodka in the soup to loosen tongues. Manning's constant help and encouragement kept me on an academic track for a short time (I was appointed Lecturer in Ancient History at the ANU at the ripe age of 21) when I was powerfully tempted to do other things - like becoming a full-time journalist or joining the Australian foreign service.
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Manning died in 1991. Since his death he's turned up in some very important dreams, always as guide and friend. Once I met him in a building that resembled the Institute of Advanced Studies at our old university in Canberra. In an airy, light-filled space, I watched him move a pair of shoes across a broad table each time he completed a section of the new research he was doing. Puzzled and intrigued, I asked him about the nature of his new work. "I'm working on parallel lives," he explained. He demonstrated what this meant by showing me how he had found close interweaving between the life of Lenin and the life of Dionysius of Syracuse, an ancient Greek tyrant. From being a historian of lives lived in Chronos time, it seemed that Manning had become a meta-historian, working to trace the interplay of lives unfolding in different times. When I thought about the shoes he was moving about on his desk, the symbolism came home to me. My professor is matching up soles. Sounds like...?
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I've noticed before that my favorite professor tends to turn up in my dreams when I am embarked on new writing projects requiring detailed research and careful selection of materials. I'm not planning a PhD dissertation; I started on one four decades ago but gave that up to go off to see the world and sniff cordite as a foreign correspondent. However, I am again teaching some university courses and I am currently working on several new books.
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It's nice to feel Manning's benign presence, which will remind me to cherish my Australian identity and what I can bring to my work from my Aussie connections, including the link with the Aboriginal people who believe that our personal dreams can take us home to the Dreamtime, where everything truly important has its origin. His counsel will also encourage me to stay away from cloudy generalizations like the Spenglerian cycles of history. It will draw me, again, to the pursuit of trans-temporal history, which sounds like an oxymoron but may be a key to understanding how things really work, through the interplay of personalities in different times and dimensions.
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Portrait of Manning Clark (with his dog Tuppence) by Arhur Boyd (1972). This used to hang in his home in Canberra and is still on view there for 6 months of the year (in what is now the Manning Clark House); for the rest of the year it is in the National Portrait Gallery.

19 comments:

The Scribbler said...

I once had a dream of my college Latin professor, who at one time was my favorite professor. In my dream journal, however, I just referred to her as "my old teacher." In the dream I was piddling around with taking things out of- and putting things into a basket, while she was doing garden work. At some point, I indicated the contents of the basket and said to her, "These things are all tools, right?" When I reread the dream several hours after I'd written it down, it struck me that this was most definitely a communication from a higher level of consciousness, rich with symbolic content, and I worked a lot with it.

It seems any dream with a beloved teacher in it is reason to sit up and pay attention (There might be a quiz afterwards!).

Worldbridger said...

I can recommend the Oversoul 7 books by Jane Roberts in relation to parallel lives.

Robert Moss said...

Worldbridger - I've been recommending the Oversoul 7 novels for a simple introduction to the multidimensional self for over 20 years. I'm smiling as I recall how much it took to get me to read Jane Roberts in the first place. I have a reflex dislike for channeled material, and it took the arrival on my doorstep in 1987 of a woman from Venezuela I had first met on a riverboat on the Amazon two years before to overcome my resistance to Jane and the Seth material. Before she even crossed my threshold, the Venezuela lady trumpeted, "You HAVE to read Jane Roberts." Of course, she was right.

Let me gently add that these things are all too important for us to make do with second-hand information. We need direct, experiential knowledge. I provide keys to that in my book "Dreamgates" and in the new cycle of workshops titled "Dreamgaes: A Journey to the Multidimensional Self."

Robert Moss said...

Scribbler - I agree with you that "any dream with a beloved teacher in it is reason to sit up and pay attention." And may provide confirmation, guidance and specific assignments!

Alla said...

Dear Robert,
The topic is facinating; I myself keep thinking about all kinds of "twins" and parallels in different realities. What is quite curious - I've been meeting identical twins my entire life. Does it mean that there are really very many such people among us, or it's just about my personal coincidents?

Vodka in the soup? :-) What a sly, very Russian way of behaviour...:-))))) By the way, it was a real recipe - to add a little bit of vodka in the old "classic" Russian fish soup ("uha"). Adds flavor and boost. The problem was - they drank it also as is, from the glasses, along with the soup. :-)

I would never think of the parallel between Lenin and Dionysius of Syracuse... From what I read on the web, that ancient dude, too, seemed to be a nasty guy. Probably, it would be kind of interesting to read more about Lenin now from reliable sources, because we were mostly fed with all kinds of tales and myths about the "Headman of the World Proletariat" (along with dozens and dozens of absolutely indecent, wonderfully elaborate jokes created by generations of suppressed, but still intellectual human beings :-)))) ). What I was really surprized with, reading about him in one of the most interesting Russian big weekly papers, "Literaturnaya Gazeta" ("Literary Newspaper") during Perestroika, was the fact that while keeping him, actually, imprisoned in Gorky, his last retreat, they really poisoned him (like Dionysius of Syracuse), feeding him only with raw yolks. They gave him CUPS of them, 3-4 times a day, 10-12 at one time. One of the very last pictures of him and his wife in the same newspaper showed two moron-like people, with the faces resembling those of ones with Down's syndrome.

I would LOVE reading something about trans-temporal history. :-) As for matching up soles - have you ever seen taped up faces in your dreams, which you would later untape with your intention, for to see the real face? When I looked for some matching soles in my dreams, I had to deal with this. I wonder what kind of thing this is. I've even had a couple of syncronicities on that in my everyday reality.

Irène said...

I don't ever recall dreaming of a professor, or of any other teacher for that matter. I do however, quite frequently, feel various "teachers" (a yoga instructor, a deceased friend, a guide, etc) next to me (at the kitchen table, in the passanger seat of my car, etc) in waking reality. I am, secretely, comfortable conversing with invisible friends. I can't say that I have ever talked with my dream quides. They show me images and take me places, and verbal exchange is extremely rare.
My dream scape is changing however. I recently had a dream (of the reindeer people that I remember thanks to a previous post) in which I have written exchange that is in fact an invitation to learn. When I woke up, I remember reading the words, "We can help you." ... This is a wonderfully new experience for me!

Robert Moss said...

Alla - Poisoning by egg yolks? I'd never heard that story, of Lenin or anyone else. Quite fascinating. It was believed that the tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse was poisoned by his physicians on the orders of his son, so that could be one of many parallels, since if Lenin was poisoned it would have been at the behest of his political son. Dionysius loved to surround himself with literary men and philosophers (and even drew Plato into his web for a time) so there may be another parallel there.

Manning Clark was greatly attracted to Russia, visited the Soviet Union and published a little book titled "Meeting Soviet Man." He was accused in his day of flirting with Marxism, or worse, but I think his passion for the individual inoculated him against coming down with a serious dose mof a collectivist ideology,

In one of my prior meetings with Manning, more than a decade ago, he invited to join me at a sidewalk cafe in what appeared to be the Ile St Louis in Paris, and introduced me to the famous Russian writer Gogol (who of course was NOT a product of the Soviet system!). I have a lengthy account of that conversation in my journals.

Robert Moss said...

Irène - If I felt the "presence" of one of those mentors or departed loved ones, I might want to initiate a mental conversation and see where that takes me. All that is required is to take up pen and paper, ask a question, and write down whatever comes without judging or editing too much.

Wanda said...

"My Favorite Professor" could be a great dialogue on the forum. My favorite professor - Dr. Louis Jones - has shown up often in my dreams, several times in critical moments in my life. When alive, he shared with me dreams of his own life and several beautiful visions of ghostly encounters with his long dead father who appeared when he needed guidance in his own life. When I was preparing for chemo therapy I dreamed that my out-of-control car drove me onto the front lawn of his house where I was greeted by him [he was now long departed]. He led me into the beautiful glass-cased library in his house where my dream opened into a significant encounter with netsuki type dream icons where I was encouraged to make choices that I needed to make in order to move forward in my healing.

Dr. Jones' house - called Riverbrink - and the library turn up again and again in my imagination as my dream library, the perfect environment for choosing a book or allowing a book to choose me.

Dr. Jones also shared with me that he and his long time friends and colleagues, all about the same age, had "dreamed" the place in the afterlife where they would all continue to meet and share stories and visions over a good drink and a good cigar. He called this place ODOS - a kind of Oversoul paradise on the Other Side. When he died his son's eulogy invoked ODOS and a vision of his father holding court - alongside his departed friends - with all the great men and women of history that he so enjoyed in his waking life.

The Riverbrink library became my wellness house during my healing journey and became a dream place where my best friend - taking on the role of dream professor - appeared and invited me to read the books that I needed for healing, one of them "Life is a Dream."

Robert Moss said...

Wanda - Thanks for this lovely account of your meetings with your favorite professor (long after his death) and the importance of his library at Riverbrink in your dreaming and healing. You'll inspire more dreamers to seek active connections with beloved teachers and - yes - we can encouraging sharing over at our "Conscious Dreaming" forum at the Spirituality & Health website as well as here.

The meaning of ODOS, Prof Jones' name for a charming prepared afterlife locale, just came to me. On campus, this would most likely be recognized as the acronym for the Office of the Dean of Students. But I suspect that Professor Jones was aware of an older meaning more relevant to constructing an afterlife geography. In Greek "odos" (Οδός)means "street". Nice to think that when your favorite professor headed off for a new life of learning and discovery on the Other Side, he knew his street address in advance.

Carol said...

I'm intrigued by this blog thread as I remember my favorite professor/advisor in my PhD program. He was/is a true champion for being academically astute, but also finding ones own truth in the process. We had coincidentally grown up in the same Chicago community and we were about a decade or so a part in age. He part of the Eastern European Jewish community, and I part of the Scandinavian Protestant community that shared space all as immigrants to the US. Victor Frankel was part of our neighborhood and there was a friendly alliance of religious respect. Alas, no vodka. I love the painting of Manning with the black dog. What a match for you, Robert.

Robert Moss said...

Carol - Thanks for sharing this pleasant gust of memory. I was very happy to see that at one time you were in the same neighborhood as Viktor Frankl. By one of those synchronicities we've learned to live by, my reading assignment for today is to reread Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning." It is one of the essential books of the 20th century, affirming something we vitally need to remember and honor in our lives: that humans require meaning, just as they need food and air and sex. I've read "Man's Search for Meaning" at least three times before, but it always repays fresh study.

One of the books I carried with me on my recent trip to Sweden (how many of these coincidences can you stand :-) was Frankl's later collection of essays, "Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning", most of which was originally published as "The Unconscious God". Here he drums on the truth that meaning cannot be given; it must be found. Now that's a precept to live by.

Whenever I find people boxing themselves into a woe-is-me notion of reality and possibility, I think of Frankl, finding reason to live even in Auschwitz, and going on to give us a bold and POSITIVE response to the Existentialist challenge to make life menaing-full.

Patricia said...

Robert,
I don't know about dreaming of a favourite teacher, but I do dream often of being in a workshop of some kind, as I did last night. The teacher had a bag of tokens with symbols stamped on them. We are encouraged to take one out of the bag. I choose one with the lightening sign on it and I immediately link it with you and your Lightening Dreamwork/play Method. So I tap into your blog today and find you talking about Victor Frankl and Man's Search for Meaning which actually pulled me through a very difficult time, a long time ago. Reduced to just one line I still remember, "If a person can find 'why' to live, they can cope with almost any 'how'". As I said this still sticks for me and I'm in contact with a lot of people who have lost, or never found their 'why'.
Thank you for reminding me of this very special teacher and of also being a very special teacher for me.
Patricia from Oz

Carol said...

I'm up for as many coincidences that we can find and am going to go back to my Frankl ( not Frankel) books. Man's Search for Meaning pulled me out of a down time in the 70's and may help me more at this time. My Chicago public elementary school teacher , Miss Read ( HMM) is shaking her finger at me and at all my poor spellings. I will try to do better.

Robert Moss said...

Patricia - Glad to hear you are attending workshops in your dreams. I seem to lead lots of them!

The quote about how a person who has a "why" can cope with almost any "how" is actually from Nietzsche. Viktor Frankl liked it so much he uses it no less than three times in "Man's Search for Meaning".

Robert Moss said...

Carol - Don't beat yourself up over the spelling mistakes; Miss Read will do that for you :-) While, from early boyhood, I've been an almost ridiculously good speller, the fact that I've never learned to type but peck away madly with a couple of fingers results in tons of typos that sre sometimes revealing as well as embarrassing. And I get rebuked by various professorial types in my dreams for my poor Latin, which leaves me unable to keep up with them when they are speaking that language.

Alla said...

People, what are you doing to me?.. Now I definitely want those books by Viktor Frankl! :-)))) My pile of books-to-read keeps growing in geometrical progression... :-) Thank you! :-))

Patricia,
Do you think that the lightning sign might mean the Rune Sowelu? - It's one of the best in the set, by the way.

Alla said...

Dear Robert,

What do you think of Nietzsche? Many years ago I tried to read his books (the more so as we were constantly referred to him by our music history teachers during studying Richard Strauss), but I couldn't read him! I felt that his books were of light grey color, they felt very cold, kind of steel-feeling, and some strong invisible hand just pushed me away from them. I tried to get to them a few times more after that - with the same result. Finally I gave up on them, deciding that there were many other philosophers in the world. I even overcame Katsuki and Suzuki later on. Somehow Western philosophy got to me easier. :-)

Robert Moss said...

Alla - Well, if you read on into my next blog essay, you'll see my currtent take on Viktor Frankl. While Frankl is (for me) perennial reading, Nietzsche is probably not. I was fascinated by Nietzsche when I was quite young (late teens) and devoured everything by him I could find, and especially loved "The Birth of Tragedy" and "Thus Spake Zarathustra". When I returned to him as an older reader, I found him too windy and kept detecting the seeds of the madness that claimed him. So today - a bit like Viktor Frankl - I am probably content to let most of Nietzsche's books slide into the twilight of half-remembered things, and hold only to a few of his amazing aphorisms, of which another that I have always liked is "What does not kill me makes me stronger."