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Kracke, W. (1997). Dreams, Ghosts, Tales: Parintintin Imagination. Psychoanal. Rev., 84(2):273-280.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Review, 84(2):273-280

Dreams, Ghosts, Tales: Parintintin Imagination

Waud Kracke, Ph.D.

At certain times during my sojourn with the Parintintin Indians of Brazil, the atmosphere thickened with an anxious tinge as one person or another encountered a ghost or spirit — sometimes identified with the ghost of a particular deceased person, sometimes identified as a particular named spirit or being-type. Sometimes the encounter was in a dream, sometimes a sighting or just heard sounds. The visual imaging of the spirit protagonists of these narratives is important to their character — spirits used to be summoned by figuring them on tree trunks on the eve of a shamanic curing seance. Ghost spirits and key episodes of the myths were visually represented by a few artistically inclined Parintintin, and the way they are visualized by these artists reveals elements of their personal significance for tellers and hearers of the tales. So do a storyteller's dreams before or after recounting a tale — or told as part of it. This paper will draw on visual representations, dreams and the circumstances of telling a story to evoke the personal significance of narrations to their tellers and hearers.

Thought is not exclusively verbal. Though Freud had high respect for artistic thought, he did, in accord with academic prejudice, give preference to linear, linguistic “secondary process thought” as more reality-attuned than primary process using sensory images (“thing presentations”). Yet thinking in visual images, as in dreams, may be just as powerful and attuned to reality: witness Kekulé's dream discovery of the benzene ring.

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