Analysis of the dreams of a Guayaki Indian woman

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons | © John Leavitt. ISSN 2049-1115 (Online). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau7.2.043


Analysis of the dreams of a Guayaki Indian woman

Translated by JOHN LEAVITT, Université de Montréal

The following is a translation of Lucien Sebag’s “Analyse des rêves d’une Indienne Guayaki,” originally printed in Les Temps modernes, CCXVII, June 1964.

The pages that follow are distinct from a classic piece of ethnology; they present the analysis of a series of dreams of a young Guayaki Indian woman, dreams that were collected in their original language during an ethnographic mission among these Indians, who live in Paraguay in the region of San Juan Nepomuceno.1 My stay there lasted from February to September 1963, and the material presented here was collected in a little over two months: every morning the young woman Baipurangi would come to tell me her dreams; at first I asked for them, but as time went on it became a matter of habit. Our discussions lasted from half an hour to an hour and a half, the difference depending primarily on:

  • –   linguistic difficulties, which were noticeably reduced after a time by my growing familiarity with the language;
  • –   the length and importance of the material brought to me: it sometimes happened that Baipurangi remembered three or four dreams a night;
  • –   the opacity of the story to which I was listening. This opacity resulted both from the way a dream was related and from my ignorance of the context, which made things still more obscure.[522]

As to the first point, the systematic recounting of her dreams was a completely new activity for Baipurangi: she often skipped essential information to focus on a theme that seemed more important to her,2 in which case it was extremely difficult to reconstruct the chain of events. There is, to be sure, nothing exceptional in this—every patient who shares oneiric productions or fantasies acts in the same way. But in this case the task was more delicate because of my inadequate knowledge of the social and religious underpinnings. In this connection it is important to underline that while these dreams take on meaning only on the basis of continually increasing ethnographic material, inversely, they themselves provided a privileged means of access to this material—many mythological themes, many beliefs became accessible after their appearance in one or another of the dreams.

In collecting these texts I was governed by two concerns:

  • –   one, ethnographic: to attempt to grasp certain properties of Guayaki culture by analyzing the way in which its constituent elements are taken up, lived, transformed by a particular individual;
  • –   the other, psychoanalytic: to mark how the subject, using a certain number of privileged signifiers to which her culture gives access, develops her own problematic, the partial analysis of which could serve to confirm or deny certain theses of Freudian psychoanalysis.

On the first point, we have no doubt as to the results: dream analysis, pursued steadily in certain privileged circumstances, reveals whole sections of the cultural edifice which remain hidden to normal observation and interrogation. The second concern presents more problems: while we can draw certain conclusions from what is found in the dreams, none can be drawn from what is not found in them; after two months of “analysis,” the material from a single subject is still not nearly sufficient for any kind of generalization. It is thus with the greatest caution that I will venture into this domain.

The corpus collected includes about one hundred dreams; twenty-nine of them are presented here, the others having been eliminated either for their “neutrality” (simple images of classic scenes of Guayaki life) or for their “unintelligibility” (two or three of the dreams remained completely meaningless to me), or because they added no supplementary information to the dreams already in hand. This redundancy, however, while undeniable—very often Baipurangi simply dreamed of a separation from her husband and return to her father and mother—is not without meaning: the repetition of themes or characters reveals the articulations of the family constellation within which Baipurangi is struggling. The fact that certain elements appear in all the dreams obtained for several days, and thereafter only episodically, reveals certain psychological turning points, the existence of a process in the most general sense of the term.[523]

The dreams that follow have been translated3 and then analyzed; this analysis is governed by a set of criteria which should be kept in mind:

  1. The dreams comment on each other: elements which are extremely obscure at first become clear as they are developed in later dreams. Thus the research did not bear on any particular dream production but on the group as a whole; and in this I followed the criteria of any structural study.
  2. The ethnographic context naturally provided the indispensable background to which I referred what I was hearing. Baipurangi’s dreams were generally constructed out of classic situations and attitudes of Guayaki culture: because of this any discrepancy between normal behavior and that which appeared in the dream was always of value as an indicator—it allowed a direct grasp of what the dream was seeking to signify.
  3. Although Baipurangi did not really free associate—the formulation of the analytic rule was difficult—every dream did provide her the occasion for numerous commentaries. In this way, memories of her childhood sometimes emerged, and these allowed a better understanding of episodes that at first were incomprehensible.
  4. Parallel with this work with Baipurangi, I was able to devote time to direct observation; immersed in the life of the tribe, I had the possibility of watching the development of the real conflicts to which the dreams referred and to question the various protagonists as to how Baipurangi had acted in each case.
  5. Finally, based on what Baipurangi had told me, I was able to ask her parents about her childhood and her husband about their sexual life together. In this way the distance between the real processes and their symbolization took on meaning.

The conditions of this work call for two additional remarks:

  1. At no time did I share either my interpretations or my thoughts about her dreams with Baipurangi; nothing was said that might have influenced her or turned her reflections in a direction determined by the observer. My interventions, always as short as possible, were meant only to allow me to reconstruct the dream in its entirety or to obtain ethnographic elements that were indispensable for understanding what was happening. The fact that Baipurangi sometimes dreamed these interpretations, which I had never shared with her, indicates the singularity of the conditions of this sort of dialogue.
  2. On the other hand it is undeniable that work of this kind could not have led to anything without the “affective transference” that Baipurangi directed onto myself, a transference which acquired real force when she began telling me her dreams. In this connection it does not seem false to say that during the whole of this period Baipurangi “dreamed for me.” The number of her dreams, three or four a night from the time she knew that she would be telling them to me every day, as well as the interest she took in our sessions, show that the dreams were a real gift that she came to give me every morning. I find a confirmation of this [524]in the fact that, when our relationship became less close because of the affective neutrality from which I never deviated, she practically stopped dreaming or remembering her dreams. This overdetermination in no way lessens the value of the material collected, but indicates that the dream functioned on two levels:4 in its form a realization of the very desire to dream, it set into play in its content desires still more secret, which we are now going to try to decipher. But this is possible only once the ethnographic context is in place.

* * *

At Arroyo Morroti5 lived two groups of Guayaki Indians who had been put under the protection of Don Manuel Peyreira, a Paraguayan rancher. They had partly abandoned their former way of life, which until then had been totally nomadic. The first group, the “Aché Gatu” (their own name for themselves: “Aché” is the term used by all Guayaki groups to designate themselves; “Gatu” means “good”) had been in this situation for four years.6 This is the group to which Baipurangi belonged. In many respects life continued as it had before this relative sedentarization; agriculture had not been introduced, and the Guayaki still lived by hunting and gathering; they left the area regularly on long journeys, but always came back to the place where they were settled, especially since the Paraguayan in charge of them provided them fairly regularly with beef or horsemeat.

In its general outlines the culture had not yet changed very much; the various taboos were still being observed with the same rigor; and while the machete had replaced the stone axe, this transformation dated back to an even earlier period, when the Guayaki had gotten into the habit of stealing tools from the woodsmen who worked in the forest—a habit that provoked bloody reprisals.

Without going into detail,7 the Guayaki can be characterized as follows: they are certainly among the most primitive societies of South America; pure hunter-gatherers (no trace of agriculture has been found and nothing permits us to attribute this to a regression), they lived in autonomous bands not exceeding around a hundred members;8 the various bands moved over a vast territory and in general did not interrelate.9 Each group dispersed into subgroups consisting of a few families who hunted together; these groups were often temporary, although motivated by intense affective bonds. The group thus moved around [525]between several camps; sometimes groups visited each other and all would reunite; but this never lasted very long, since the scarcity of game made frequent dispersions necessary. The habitat was of the most rudimentary kind: it consisted of simple shelters, made of branches of the pindo palm, which could be built in a very short time and abandoned without complications. Sometimes this shelter served a single family; sometimes it was larger and could shelter fifteen or more people.

Even with this sociological framework in place, Baipurangi’s dreams become intelligible only if one keeps in mind certain characteristic traits of Guayaki culture.

Two great ceremonies mark the life of the adolescent: the piercing of a boy’s lip and the purification that follows a girl’s first menstruation.

Lip piercing takes place around the age of thirteen or fourteen. It marks the transformation of a boy into a man who can hunt and take a wife. The lip is pierced by two adults using a monkey bone. A little hole is made in which the Guayaki will wear the beta, an ornament usually made from a small bone of an animal (a peccary); it is a sign of virility and a promise of successful hunting.

The menstruation ceremony involves the construction of a special hut within the encampment itself, the isolation there and partial fast of the girl (who may not eat meat for several days), the purification of the recluse and of all who have had sexual relations with her since her first period; this purification consists of a massage with liana shavings soaked in water. A man who is not purified in this way risks death and may be killed by a jaguar or a poisonous snake.

This purification also takes place at the birth of a child, but in this case the danger threatens the child’s father or fathers,10 who can escape death only if they are washed with liana shavings. Men who father a male or female child thus find themselves in the same position as those who receive and have sexual relations with a woman who has become an adult.11 The birth of a child involves several other individuals as well: the child who has just emerged from its mother’s womb is taken up in the arms of a woman who holds it while other members of the group massage its body and mold its head (the word “mold” translates the indigenous term; it involves only a massage, which causes no deformation). The child will use special terms to designate the people who thus took part in his or her birth: jware will refer to the man who molded my head,12 upiare to the woman who took me in her arms, and I will be their chave.

After giving birth a woman should submit to certain taboos (prohibition of all sexual relations and eating the principal meats) until her child is able to take his [526]first steps. During this period the mother is kuja ichyve,13 a special status that involves profound changes in her life.

While children are often desired, abortions are very common; they are generally motivated by the hardships of forest life. When they reach adulthood men and women have themselves tattooed; the tattoo consists of several long parallel incisions, dorsal for the men and ventral for the women. When a woman submits to this operation it is for the purpose of bearing strong, resistant children. Boys and girls are not, however, equally valued. Boys are received with joy, and the Guayaki have many methods of assuring the birth of a male; girls, on the other hand, were sometimes killed at birth and very often killed at the death of their father or mother; girls were the main victims of the vengeance called for by every death—even though the victims were sometimes over ten years old. The dreams that follow allow us to grasp the often unconscious effect of this status on a particular feminine subjectivity.

The Guayaki bear the names of animals, the animals one’s mother ate while she was pregnant. Because of this a Guayaki often has twenty or so names but only uses a few of them depending on personal choice. The man who brought the meat my mother ate is my chikwagi, to whom I am particularly attached; in principal I have many chikwagi, but in fact only two or three are selected out of all those who have played this role and are actually considered as such.

Polygyny and polyandry both exist among the Guayaki; at any moment of the group’s history the sex ratio determines its preference for one or the other, while the two forms can coexist. The presence of relatively stable, established families, made up of a man and two women or inversely one woman and two men, does not stand in the way of extreme freedom in sexual relations; thus every child often has two fathers, and sometimes three; in certain cases he lives with two fathers, in others with only one of them, if the second has left the child’s mother. Parallel to the true husband or wife is distinguished the japetyva,14 a term that designates the individual with whom I have a legalized liaison involving regular sexual relations. One man might live with two women more than thirty years apart in age, such as a grandmother and a granddaughter; in fact, girls cease to be virgins at an extremely early age, around eleven or twelve, which sometimes results in an ambivalent relationship to sexuality.

The Guayaki are cannibals;15 they eat all of their dead (endocannibalism) and sometimes organized war-parties for the purpose of killing and eating their enemies (exocannibalism). The alimentary meaning of cannibalism was the only one suggested to me; a religious meaning seems out of the question.[527]

Cannibalism does, however, involve practices aimed at regularizing relations with the world of the dead: when a person has been eaten, the bones are broken and then thrown into the fire—the first act is for the purpose of keeping away the bad soul ianvé,16 which dwells in the forest and constitutes a permanent danger for the living; the second permits the ascension of the good soul, ové, to its celestial home.

This duality of the soul plays a major role in Guayaki belief: Ianve is related to all the evil beings that live in the forest and sometimes kill people; people are fleeing from Ianve when they change camp after a death, for Ianve comes to take the husband or wife who is still alive. Ove, on the other hand, is positively valued; the celestial world is opposed to the danger and mystery of the forests: above, the souls of the dead are connected by bonds of friendship which contrast with Ianve’s isolation, and they watch over the world they have left. We will not, then, be surprised to see the dreams repeatedly bringing up the theme of death—death which allows passage to another universe, similar in many respects to human society, but without the problems that make life in the present so difficult.

Indeed, the link between the two worlds is constantly evoked, since what happens on earth has repercussions in the heavens. These take different forms, but amount essentially to the revenge that is called forth by most human acts. No theme, in fact, is more pregnant with meaning for the Guayaki than that of revenge. The death of an adult, man or woman, brings in its wake the murder of his or her children (usually the daughters), whose souls rise up to the sky to rejoin their father’s or mother’s soul. The most diverse meteorological phenomena, cold, rain, wind—designated by the global term pichua—are the consequences of this death and are provoked by the Ové of a close relative, which takes it upon itself to avenge the dead. A death involves both a real compensation (the killing of a child) and the use of an interpretative schema that allows the linkage of certain natural phenomena to the event afflicting human society. But death is not the only object of such a privilege: the perforation of the lip, the first menstrual period, the killing of an animal each creates a disequilibrium which will not be absorbed until the injured party has been avenged. Relations between man and woman are based on the same categories: the widow who remarries risks being the next to die; Ianve will come back to collect his former mate. No day passes without such ideas coming up in the Guayaki’s conversations; the smallest incident, a tree falling, a storm, a bad dream, is attributed to the recent or distant death of a member of the group. One cannot help being struck by the amazing homogeneity with which the notion of vengeance is used to account for everything that can happen to a Guayaki.

Such are the elements, here presented very schematically, which we will meet again in Baipurangi’s dream-life; through them we will be able to grasp the way the dream puts this material through a series of transformations which in turn reveal what the dream is seeking to signify.

BAIPURANGI is a young woman, around eighteen years old, married to a thirty-year-old man, JAKUGI, the man who took her virginity before she had had her first period. For a time after this she had two husbands simultaneously, Jakugi and [528]KRAJAGI, who has been dead for two years. Baipurangi’s parents, on the other hand, are alive—her mother BAIPUGI and her two fathers KANDEGI, still married to her mother, and PIKUGI, who now lives with another woman.

The dreams also involve the following persons:

PAMPIGI, the mother of Baipugi and so grandmother of Baipurangi, who was first married to Pikugi and then, at a very advanced age, to Jakugi. She died around the same time as Krajagi.

JAPEGI, Baipurangi’s jware, who purified her when she had her first period; he died very recently.

DORO PAREGI: He died very young, a little while after participating in Baipurangi’s birth; thus he too is her jware.

JAPEKUJAGI: A young woman, older than Baipurangi, who was kidnapped by the Paraguayans; she had watched protectively over Baipurangi for some years and had intervened several times when Baipurangi found herself in difficulties.

KYBWYRAGI and JYVUKUGI: Two very important members of the group, for whom Baipurangi feels the greatest affection; she thinks of them, especially the former, as potential lovers.

The Jakugi-Baipurangi couple had existed for several years, and it had known a good many difficulties in that time. The coexistence of the two husbands had not been easy, the jealous Jakugi finding it hard to accept Krajagi’s claiming his conjugal rights. After the death of the latter, Baipurangi had had sexual relations with a young Guayaki—but this affair ended badly: Jakugi found out, thrashed his rival, and beat his wife. Since this incident the latter, fearing reprisals, no longer deceived her husband.17 But the situation weighed on her, whence the ambivalence of her behavior—she was, in fact, always giving and refusing herself, always attracting men she liked and then not carrying the adventure out to its normal consequences—an attitude, she explained, caused by the fear that she felt. Another fact worthy of note: her absolute sterility during this entire period. Baipurangi had no children and had never been pregnant, a situation that was beginning to disturb her profoundly.[529]

I was able to obtain this information before beginning to collect dreams; these will present new information and will allow us to penetrate more deeply into this fabric of relations; but above all they will take us past the level of simple biography to gain access to the problematic that constitutes Baipurangi’s life.

Dream No. 1. I18 am in the forest with Jakugi. He turns towards me and says, “A brara19 will bite you.”

This dream, the first one collected, is very short—her husband’s simple statement announcing her impending death: she will be bitten by a poisonous snake. On this occasion Baipurangi tells me about her relationship with Jakugi and indicates that she is not happy; this sentiment is directly related to her feeling of sexual saturation. Jakugi wants to make love all the time, he never gives her a moment of rest, he is not gentle. Jakugi is a violent man and she resents his sexual insistence, experiencing it as an aggression. At first glance the dream simply embodies this aggressivity, carrying it out to its normal outcome—death. For the Guayaki this kind of announcement, or prediction, is neither prophecy nor curse; it simply expresses the consequences that will follow from an act previously committed; it is not based on a fault involving any feeling of guilt, but rather on an “objective” failing. In this sense, Jakugi’s aggressivity is not pure violence; although the dream has not yet revealed any of this, it is based on something else—something that makes it necessary for Baipurangi to die.20

Dream No. 2. I am in the forest with Jakugi and we meet a female peccary (chachu in Guayaki); she is kuja ichyve and is accompanied by her daughter. Jakugi hits the daughter with the shaft of his bow and kills her. I am horrified and I cry. The peccary wants to avenge her child and she bites Jakugi. He kills her with an arrow; I climb a tree to escape.

Baipugi, Baipurangi’s mother, is presently kuja ichyve; she has a child several months old and is bound by all the taboos that this state involves (sexual and food prohibitions).

“Chachu” is both Baipurangi’s name and her mother’s; thus, while evidently other things as well, they are both peccaries.

It is highly unusual to cry over the death of an animal; I would do so only if one of my deceased kin bore that animal’s name. The fact that Baipurangi starts to cry when Jakugi kills the little peccary indicates that more than a mere animal is involved here.

The theme of the mother avenging her daughter is, on the other hand, common in the oneiric productions of the Guayaki as well as in the belief system through which they encode events; and it is sons-in-law who are the most common victims; [530]several deaths were attributed to the vengeance of a mother-in-law who came back to earth after death precisely for this purpose.

Notwithstanding the absence of any explicit recognition on Baipurangi’s part, these various elements suggest the identification of the two peccaries with Baipugi and Baipurangi; this would make the latter the victim of an aggression, thus explaining the tears, which can refer only to the death of human being. The identity of the two situations (kuja ichyvé), the similarity of the names (chachu), and the evocation, in connection with what seems to be a normal hunt, of the death of near kin, all seem to fit this interpretation. The comparison with later dreams that develop these themes abundantly will confirm it further; but as far as this dream is concerned, all that Baipurangi will tell me is that she is still unhappy with Jakugi and is afraid of him beating her, a fear that perhaps takes concrete form in the murder of the baby peccary.

Dream No. 3. Jakugi is not there. Around me many children—they are all boys—are playing, laughing very loud and climbing trees; I am angry and start to cut down the tree with an axe; the children fall down while my mother Baipugi and my father Kandegi watch. Kandegi is very hungry, and he cuts down a pindo palm to extract the pith; we all eat it and I feed the children with the pith.

Jakugi is absent; throughout the series of dreams he will be either present and aggressive, disturbing Baipurangi’s life, or absent, leaving a blank space that others will come to occupy. This dream is the first of a long series in which the father takes the place of the husband.

The occasion for the dream was an event that I had been able to observe the day before: Baipurangi cleared an area of ground using an axe; all the children helped her and the work turned into a game in which Baipurangi and her little companions enjoyed themselves tremendously. The dream re-presents this situation but transforms its meaning: the children behave exactly as they did during the day, but Baipurangi, on the contrary, becomes morose; the laughter of the others makes her angry, and it is to make them stop that she starts to cut down the trees.

The boys fall down, but in Guayaki waa means both to fall and to be born. Here one cannot help thinking of the “acting-out” analyzed by Freud and based entirely on the fact that the same German word (niederkommen) can indicate both falling and giving birth (Freud 1920). From this perspective, what the dream seems to be saying is this: “In the absence of any man (on this occasion Baipurangi explicitly tells me that she does not want to have a child by Jakugi), and while my mother and father watch, I give birth to several boys; and it is my father who then finds food for them.” The refusal to laugh, which is doubly marked (Baipurangi does not laugh, and she does not want the children to laugh), would then be explained, since pregnant women are forbidden to laugh for fear of giving birth to girls rather than boys—something that nobody wants to happen.

Here again the passage from manifest to latent content operates only indirectly, without the subject’s explicit acceptance of the probable meaning which our analysis—based on the cultural elements put into play—seems to reveal. The interest of the experiment comes from the fact that the dreams to follow will bring forward and deal explicitly with themes that remain latent here.[531]

Dream No. 4. I am sleeping near my mother Baipugi; suddenly Krei appears; he is a young man with a pierced lip; he tells me, “Jakugi is very angry; he will scratch you because you had sex with Kybwyragi.” Then we go hunting, Krei, my former husband Krajagi, who is now dead, and I. Krajagi kills an armadillo; I bring it back and roast it; then I give a piece to my father Kandegi.

The term krei has a double meaning: in its more general sense it can be translated “shadow”, “image”; in this case it would apply both to my shadow on the road and my image in a mirror; but in a more restricted and certainly a derivative sense, it designates a being that lives in the forest, appears especially at night, and attacks the Guayaki on various occasions, particularly when they disobey taboos; in this last case his forms are many, while the aggressions he commits are often sexual in nature; here he appears as a young man who has already had his lip pierced, i.e., as a possible sexual partner, and despite certain transformations the function he fills will be the same through the whole series of dreams: that of a messenger who announces the news, who objectively describes what is going on; in many respects he personifies the law: in certain cases he forbids things, in others he shows the unavoidable results of the situation. This absolute position is, certainly, often a decoy; the rule that he enunciates is precisely the one to which Baipurangi is willing to submit, and his appearances are situated within a field determined by Baipurangi’s desire, responding to those aspects of her desire which she cannot admit in the first person. This is no simple artifice: the store of meanings made manifest in the dreams defines a space in which the range of operations granting the subject access to the set of possible formulations of her problematic transforms its very content.

In addition, I learn from this dream that Baipurangi and Kybwyragi have been attracted to one another for several days; nevertheless they have not had sex, since Baipurangi is afraid of Jakugi’s reaction; on another occasion, not so long ago, he had fought with his rival and struck Baipurangi. The dream, for its part, considers the thing done; it is the explicit realization of Baipurangi’s desire.21

Because of this, the unhappy consequences of the act come to the fore; but the dream will be able to neutralize them; for the conjugal couple that the dream constitutes is not the one that currently exists: Baipurangi finds herself with her late husband Krajagi. Krajagi is the antithesis of Jakugi. As I begin to learn on this occasion, Krajagi was an elderly man incapable of violence, having only rare sexual relations with Baipurangi and remarkable for his lack of jealousy. The dream both achieves what Baipurangi is seeking and neutralizes the dangerous effects of this event by substituting Krajagi for Jakugi; it finishes with a hunt, the various moments of which—the man killing, the woman cooking and distributing the food—are always presented to signify equilibrium regained, the return to daily activities.

Dream No. 5. I am in the forest with my two fathers Kandegi and Pikugi, my mother Baipugi and Pikugi’s wife; I am carrying the arrows and give them to them whenever they catch sight of an animal. Pikugi kills a coati and divides it among us.[532]

This is the first dream in which the desire to return to the situation of childhood is clearly marked; there are no more husbands, no lovers, and Baipurangi is once again with her two fathers and two mothers, one real and the other artificial,22 hunting with them and sharing their family life. In later dreams this theme will show considerable development.

Dream No. 6. While I am asleep Krei comes to visit me and says, “Your little brother is dead, you are going to drink armadillo blood and die.” Then Jakugi goes hunting and brings back the armadillo; he is very angry because I want to make love with Kybwyragi; he adds, “Your brother is dead, I will hit you.” Then Jakugi gives me the armadillo blood and I drink it.

I know that I am dead and it is my jware Japegi, who has been dead for several years, who comes to avenge me; he will take away my upiare Jakwachugi and, he tells me, he will unleash a tempest.

Then Japegi turns into my late husband Krajagi; I am in mourning because my little brother has died, and he has come to carry me off to the sky. I am very happy, for his soul (ove) is good; and so we go off together.

Baipurangi’s little brother is sick, and for several days she has been afraid that he will die; every death demands vengeance, both a real revenge which is to be carried out by the members of the group (who kill their children at the death of a man or woman) and an ideal revenge, the work of the souls of dead kin whose intervention generally unleashes rain, wind, thunder.

This dream is characterized by the overlaying of two acts of revenge, one, that of the brother’s death, being ritual in character, while the other is psychological in content. Jakugi is responsible for both; and Baipurangi, on her part, tends to confuse her fear over her brother’s possible death and the anxiety provoked by her developing relationship with Kybwyragi into a single feeling of apprehension.

Krei condemns her to drink the blood of an armadillo; it is in fact thought that drinking the raw blood of an animal will cause death. Jakugi goes hunting armadillo and offers the blood to Baipurangi. But we are dealing here with a classical Guayaki attitude: in certain cases women declare that they want to drink armadillo blood and die; a mother whose son, a sister whose brother has just died will put a cup of armadillo or coati blood to her lips; this is, however, only a ritual gesture; the husband is present at the scene and at the moment the cup is about to touch his wife’s lips he seizes her arms and tries to calm her down. After a while she lets herself be convinced and agrees not to commit suicide. This ritual sequence undergoes a transformation in the dream: not only does Jakugi not try to keep Baipurangi from drinking the armadillo blood, he seems to urge her on; beyond the social situation which involves only a mock suicide, he is impelled by a deep personal resentment powerful enough to make him wish for Baipurangi’s death. The dream makes use of elements furnished by the culture, modifying them in function of the message it bears, this message taking its full value from the disparity between the code of the society in question and the transformations it undergoes on the level of the individual (cf. Sebag 1964). This dislocation is of revelatory value: it allows a decoding, unveiling the elements of the signifying chain that support the signified of the dream.[533]

Jakugi’s aggressivity is an extension of that which he has shown in the other dreams: he acts the way Baipurangi expects him to. We should, nevertheless, look at this more closely. This dream has a point in common with dream no. 4: it considers already accomplished what is still only a possibility. In 4, Baipurangi dreamed that she had had sexual relations with Kybwyragi, which was not the case; in 6, Krei announces the death of her brother while he is still alive. And in both cases these happenings provoke Jakugi to extreme acts, the result of which will be the separation of the two spouses and the constitution of another couple:

  • –   in 4, Baipurangi is back with an earthly Krajagi;
  • –   in 6, she dies and her soul goes to join Krajagi’s.

This is in fact where the meaning of the dream is to be found. It could be formulated as follows: “If my brother dies and, doing what we usually do, I act as if I’m going to drink armadillo blood, then Jakugi will let me go ahead and drink it to get revenge for my relationship with Kybwyragi. When I am dead I will return to my former husband Krajagi, the only one I desire to be with.” Thus what is an object of anxiety in the daytime—the possible death of her brother—becomes an object of desire in the dream, because it grants access to realms that are not of this world; hence the passage from the optative to the present.

Japegi is Baipurangi’s jware and it is he who will avenge her by coming to take away his former wife Jakwachugi.23 In this connection Baipurangi tells me that when she was young Japegi always came to her defense; and what she is telling me about her past will be of considerable interest later on: when she was about ten years old she suffered from the indifference of her father Kandegi, who fed her badly and “kept all the meat for himself”;24 one day when she was hungry she started to cry, and he threatened her with his bowshaft. At this point Japegi intervened to protect her, an action justified by the fictive bond of kinship between them. The same bond is invoked in the dream, Japegi avenging Baipurangi’s death in conformity with the attitude he showed during his lifetime.

The final conjunction with Krajagi is made possible in a double way: on the one hand Baipurangi kills herself and, once dead, rejoins Krajagi; on the other, Krajagi comes back to reclaim his wife; in this case it is the bad soul, ianve, who comes seeking his former spouse. This seizure of the living by the dead is a subject that causes Guayaki widows a great deal of fear; they take a thousand precautions to avoid dying in this way. But the dream erases all distinctions between ove and ianve in favor of the single affirmation of the joyful reconciliation with Krajagi.

Up to this point I have based myself either on the organization of the syntagmatic chain or on the comparison between the normal value of certain cultural traits and the distortion that the dream makes them undergo. The analysis thus seems to possess a high degree of probability. But there are also lateral [534]associations that remain hypothetical, yet are no less interesting for that. The passage from a possible death to a real death (I dream that my brother is dead while he is still alive) was a means of getting out of this world to become part of Krajagi’s.25 But a more deeply hidden intention can be grasped in this: as the material that follows will show, Baipurangi suffered a great deal because she was not a boy, and during her childhood her father made her feel this keenly; the sick little brother is a son of Kandegi, born in his father’s old age and fulfilling his long-held desire. So one may wonder whether, by anticipating his death, Baipurangi is not punishing her father, taking from him the little boy he holds so dear. While nothing allows us to answer this in the affirmative, it remains a problem to be kept in mind.

Dream No. 7. Pampigi (the late wife of Jakugi and my father Pikugi, now dead for several years) comes to visit us; she goes into the forest to hunt with her former husbands while I stay in camp. Jakugi and Pikugi separate and each follows the tracks of an anteater. Pampigi comes back by herself carrying a coati, part of which I give to my father. During the night Krei comes to visit me and announces that Jakugi has been killed by the anteater he was hunting and that the same thing has happened to Pikugi.

Jakugi will not come back. Pampigi cries, but as for me, I feel happy. On the other hand, my father is dead, and that makes me grieve.

It is my jware Japegi who avenges my father; the wind roars, the trees fall down. Then Pampigi commands the wind to stop and it obeys. After this the ianve of Jakugi appears; it is in a rage and coils around me to take me away with it; but Pampigi intervenes and orders it to go away. Ianve runs away. Everything ends: we sleep in camp, Pampigi and I.

Pampigi was married first to Pikugi and then to Jakugi [Translator’s Note: This order of marriages is clear in the text, but seems to have been inadvertently reversed in the French publication. I have corrected it here.]; she returns and takes them both back, leading then off together on a hunt. But the trip she is inviting them on is really a journey toward death; the hunt will be a tragic one. This is the logical consequence of the return of a dead person’s soul to the living: those whom she loved are directly endangered.

Two days before this a tree fell on Jakugi and wounded him slightly; everyone in the group blamed this accident on the ianve of Pampigi, who would be expected to persecute her most recent husband. Baipurangi herself gave me this interpretation the day before; without the least doubt, this incident provided the pretext for the dream. And what does the dream say? That Pampigi’s return is the ideal way to get rid of Jakugi, but that a certain price must be paid for liberty obtained in this way; the death of her father Pikugi, who was Pampigi’s other husband. Whence her contradictory behavior; Baipurangi laughs over Jakugi’s death, weeps over her father’s; but the second was the condition for the first.[535]

From this point of view this dream is similar to the preceding one: for in both cases it is the death of a loved one, father or brother, that permits me to break off my relationship with Jakugi. The break, however, takes place completely differently in the two cases: in 6, Baipurangi passes into the other world, while in 7 it is Jakugi who leaves ours; and the two of them do not end up in the same world—Baipurangi’s is the sky, which all of Guayaki culture connotes positively; Jakugi, on the other hand, disappears into the forest, a dangerous and hostile world.

This opposition is found again in the dream itself; Pikugi is located celestially, his death is avenged in direct reference to meteorological phenomena associated with Ove, whose abode is in the sky. Jakugi’s revenge, on the contrary, is a personal one, he wants his wife back, and in this case Baipurangi is threatened with death by strangling. One can therefore characterize the contrasted positions of Baipurangi and Jakugi in Dreams 6 and 7, of Pikugi and Jakugi in Dream 7 with an identical formula. Dream thought uses the code furnished by the culture to characterize the psychological and affective relations among human beings—and in so doing gives them their full force.

It is Pampigi, back from the beyond, who can serve as intermediary between the living and the dead who obey her; thanks to her, peace re-descends in an asexualized world in which Baipurangi sleeps with Pampigi. The shadow of the father still looms, however, since Baipurangi offers Kandegi a piece of the meat which she has been brought.

Dream No. 8. I meet you26 and you say to me, “You, you want to have boys”; I agree and we have sex; then we go into the forest together and meet my mother there; I say to her, “I made love with Wachugi.”

This is the first dream to show a real element of transference; I had interpreted her second dream as a manifestation of the desire to have male children, but of course I had not talked to her about it. Now this interpretation, which has remained a secret, is attributed to me by the dream, in the very form I had given it.

To this several remarks must be added: I am situated precisely in the position that Krei has filled up to now, that of categorically enunciating the truth of the situation. This substitution arises from the very nature of our relationship: for almost three weeks Baipurangi has been telling me her dreams and the memories connected with them; the amount that I now know about her, like my neutrality, which continues to astonish her when she compares it with the enterprising behavior of the few Paraguayans she has known, makes me appear as the depository of the [536]ensemble of her history, as the one most likely to formulate her desire. But paradoxically the dream evokes our sexual relations, giving me the burden of naming this desire and of accomplishing it. Nothing that has happened up to now, however, allows us to clarify the import and the value of such a yearning, which has been formulated by someone other than herself; it is an immediate given which will be made explicit in later dreams.

Dream No. 9. I am in the forest with Kandegi, Baipugi, Pikugi, and his late wife Pampigi; Jakugi is not there; I am pregnant and give birth to a boy; it is my mother who picks his up in her arms; it is Kandegi who massages his skull, and Pikugi who purifies me with liana. After that I have a lot of children; they are all boys. The father does not come; I do not see him, I do not know who he is.

While Baipurangi was telling me this dream, I interrupted her, mistakenly as it turns out, to ask her who was the father of the boy; after hesitating for a long time, and certainly following external associations, she answered that it was Krajagi; in the rest of the story she specifies that all the other children have no father. The place of the father is thus left blank, it is unknown; if she has named Krajagi, it is in reply to one of my questions and echoing her conscious preoccupations. On the other hand, her father and mother are there with her, performing the functions involved in a birth, although such a specialization does not exist in reality, any member of the group normally being allowed to take care of the baby. In fact, the dream seems to combine two possibilities which are mutually exclusive in normal situations: to have a child one needs a man to be its father, for whom one has left one’s own father and mother; but in her dream Baipurangi has a number of boys—without any progenitor appearing on the horizon—and while continuing to live like a little girl in the family she was born into. At the same time, the refusal to give birth to a daughter is clearly marked by the proliferation of boys.

Dream No. 10. I am married to Krajagi and I sleep with him, my head resting on his chest; we do not make love and the night is very peaceful; in the morning we go to the camp of the Paraguayans, who give cloth to Krajagi; I do not get any because I already have a skirt. The Paraguayan looks at me and says to Krajagi, “Your wife is very pretty, I desire her.” I start to cry, “The Paraguayan wants to make love with me; if that happens I will die.” We run into the forest and there we meet my father and mother; everything is fine and the next day we go hunting together.

A new substitution of Krajagi for Jakugi; it is a normal one (not involving the return of the dead) but explicitly purged of any erotic signification: Baipurangi sleeps calmly on Krajagi’s shoulder. On this occasion, she specifies that she had sexual relations only rarely with her first husband, the latter having been content to be tender and loving. It seems that this abstinence was due to an absence of desire on account of his advanced age, as well as to the jealousy of Jakugi, who was already firmly refusing to share Baipurangi at the time the two husbands lived together.

Nevertheless the dream has a more heavily marked sociological element here; I am referring to the relationship with the Paraguayans, the dream formulating the situation as follows: they give us cloth, which we do not have in the forest, but in exchange they sleep with us. Baipurangi feels that is an intolerable situation, and once again it is death—or rather the threat of death—which allows [537]her to escape from this danger. This death which, in the course of the various dreams, will be announced, evoked, called forth, experienced, always appears as the means of passage from one universe to another, the abolition of what exists being followed by a restructuration in another form. This passage takes place either, as in the preceding dreams, from the society of living Guayaki to the world of the dead where all relations between individuals are reformulated differently, or, as in this dream, from a Guayaki society which has been changed by contact with whites to the old community, which lived freely in the forest. The dream thus ends with a reconciliation that is at once sociological and affective: the return to the forest and resumption of daily activities, and the conjunction of family of orientation with the conjugal family, the former husband Krajagi behaving exactly like a father.

This dream calls for several other remarks: it is Baipurangi who makes the passage between worlds possible by crying to Krajagi that she is in danger of death. Because of this Krajagi flees with her, but, in so doing, his behavior is the total opposite of that of Jakugi, who did not act as he should normally have and let Baipurangi die. Thus, the substitution of one for the other is explained by reasons having to do with the organization of the syntagmatic chain.

On the other hand, the theme of clothing is not a negligible one: the day before, in fact, I had offered Baipurangi a skirt to thank her for the work she had done for me; a number of similar gifts had already been made to other Indians who served as informants; thus there was nothing personal in it. In the dream Baipurangi specifies that she, for her part, is dressed, wearing the skirt that I gave her as a present; thus, only Krajagi is looking for clothing; but in exchange for what he gets, the Paraguayans ask him to give them his wife. So it is possible that the dream—which, by definition, is always destined for me—is reminding me that since I, too, have given her a skirt, I would have just as much, if not more, right to have sexual relations with her. One thing that suggests this interpretation is that along with this dream Baipurangi had a series of short dreams during the same week, all concerning her refusal to be Peyreira’s mistress. She escapes from him and finds me in the forest, with the result that we become a couple.

Thus the dream functions on two levels:

  • –   It marks the refusal of the present situation and the return to an archaic world which is both the world of childhood and the world the Guayaki knew before they had undergone any acculturation, a return which is one of the kernels of Baipurangi’s dream thematic.
  • –   But at the same time the way of posing the problem is aimed, more directly, at me—since it offers me reasons to ask what Baipurangi is trying to give me.

Dream No. 11. Jakugi is sleeping with Achikujagi, a girl who is younger than I am; I don’t know whether they make love; as for me, I am sleeping with my father Kandegi; I am very happy.

This dream draws its interest from the fact that it so clearly marks the substitution of the father for the husband. Achikujagi is the japetyva of Jakugi, who, in this sense, has two wives. Baipurangi dreams of a separation: Achikujagi would stay with Jakugi while she would go sleep with her father. In both cases all reference to sexuality is absent.[538]

Dream No. 12. Jakugi appears unexpectedly and my mother cries to me, “There’s Jakugi, run!” We escape into the forest, but Jakugi follows our tracks and catches us; I shout at him that I don’t desire him anymore. He moves as if to strike me with the branch of a tree, but my mother gets between us: “Don’t hit my daughter; you are very angry; I will not give you your wife.” Then my father Kandegi talks to me: “Don’t have any man, you will sleep with me; to men I will not give you,” then, speaking to Jakugi, “I do not give you my daughter, I do not share her.” Hearing these words, Jakugi calms down. He doesn’t hit me and he goes away.

Up to this point the passage from the conjugal family to the family of orientation was made possible by certain events (Jakugi goes off with another woman, etc.), but was not directly affirmed as such. In this dream, however, the implicit becomes explicit: the marriage with Jakugi is annulled; and it is not simply that the two spouses separate, as can happen with any couple; nor that Baipurangi dies and rejoins her former husband in the sky; such accidents are an integral part of a normal life, and they leave unchanged what happened before them. But here it is the past itself that has been abolished; Baipurangi’s father and mother undo the gift they made of their daughter at a certain point in her life and decide to keep her definitively.

The very form of this annulment clearly marks the central aspect of the return to the original situation: Kandegi forbids Baipurangi—as if she were still a little girl—to have relations with men; in the dream he pronounces the words his daughter would have wished to hear in reality. In fact, the dream effaces the distinction between past and present; it takes us back to a time when the essential choices had not yet been made.

This scene of the father taking his daughter back is, in addition, without any evident sexual content; in her commentaries Baipurangi never turned in this direction; but the father’s intervention has an aggressive character which makes it resemble an attack of jealousy and relates it to a veritable conquest. Kandegi’s “I do not share my daughter” situates father and husband in a relationship of confrontation which tends to make them interchangeable.

Dream No. 13. My jware Japegi comes to visit me and reminds me of our bonds of kinship.

“You are my chave; I molded your head.”

“You are my jware.”

“When you are dead, you will come to my camp.”

“I am not dead yet.”

“You will die, for the ianve of Krajagi will come to take you away; after that, I will avenge you.”

Hearing this, I am very happy because I will see Krajagi and live with him in the sky.

This dream simply re-presents certain themes that have already been illustrated in the preceding dreams: the same intervention by Japegi, who occupies a position at once neutral and protective (he will avenge Baipurangi’s death); the same celestial reconciliation with Krajagi, which presupposes Baipurangi’s death, brought about this time by Krajagi himself, who will come to take back his former wife; the same confusion between the bad soul (ianve) and the good soul (ove), a confusion that is without anxiety, since the reconciliation will take place in the sky.[539]

Dream No. 14. Jakugi is not there; I am sleeping with my parents: my chave, the son of Pichugi, is dead. Krei comes to visit me and says, “Your brother will die and be buried”; my jware Doro Paregi does not come; he is dead and he does not visit me; finally, my father and mother go away into the forest; I remain alone.

The night before, a woman of the group had had a baby, a boy, and Baipurangi took him in her arms and massaged him. This is the child whom Baipurangi sees dead, identifying him with a little girl who has been dead for a certain time, and who was Baipurangi’s chave. Her brother’s illness is related to this; it is an illness for which Krei predicts a disastrous outcome, uniting the three children in a common destiny.

This is evidently a dream of abandonment; Baipurangi’s real or potential spouses are first presented, explicitly or implicitly, as absent; and what we witness is the progressive crumbling of the links connecting her to those with whom the sexual dimension is neutralized: in the superior generation her father, her mother, and her jware, and in the inferior generation her brother and her chave. Now the day before, Kandegi and Baipugi had left the camp, leaving Baipurangi with her husband, which caused her a great deal of anxiety (as she told me several times on the day of their departure); this little separation, without importance since father and mother would be coming back shortly, nevertheless revives a number of extremely painful memories; she tells me that when she was little it often happened that her parents would go off on long expeditions in the forest, “abandoning” her to another family. Thus, a real departure without any significance takes on a weight which the dream adds to by extrapolating Baipurangi’s separation from all who are dear to her.

But her anxiety is also real; on the afternoon of the day she tells me this dream she is supposed to be washed with the liana because she took part in Pichugi’s delivery; she tells me this morning that she doesn’t want to be purified and would rather die; she reaffirms this when I tell her she is joking, but ends up letting herself be purified.

Dream No. 15. Peyreira arrives at our camp on a horse; he wants to make love with me, but I tell him that his wife will be very angry; then he goes away and I let him go; I am happy. But you are not there and I am sad. Briku Kivirugi consoles me: “It doesn’t matter, you are going to dream that you are making love with him.”

The interest here is twofold; the interpretation proposed in 10 is confirmed in that Baipurangi refuses Peyreira and at the same time turns toward me; but its importance lies in the fact that this is a dream which explicitly concerns the act of dreaming itself: it is a meta-dream which takes itself as object and, through Briku Kiviregi’s mouth, expresses its own meaning, i.e., that it is a satisfactory substitute for what cannot really be effected, in this case the sexual act with me. Certainly it had appeared early on that the very act of telling me her dreams carried an erotic value because of the attention and intimacy which it implied; but here it is the dream itself that is thematized: the substitutive function of dream life, which takes the place of something else and allows the restructuration of a real situation that is lived as unchangeable, is clearly perceived here.

Dream No. 16. Kybwyragi has gone into the forest; we follow his tracks; but only his bones are found, for he has been eaten by the jaguar; we are afraid and we return to camp to tell what happened. Then I leave with Pikugi; we do not meet the jaguar.[540]

The Guayaki are very frightened of the jaguar; when one of them stays in the forest for a long time without sending news, they say that he has been eaten. Kybwyragi has been gone for several days; everyone agrees therefore that the jaguar who once ate his mother has done the same thing to him. The forest is dangerous, which explains the reaction of flight. But paradoxically Baipurangi and Pikugi are able to wander there without any problems immediately after this; as it happens, Pikugi is the only one who is legally in danger of such a death: for he is the father of a child who has just been born, and he has not yet been purified; in the forest he runs the risk of being attacked by a wild animal or bitten by a snake. Thus the dream carries out a veritable exchange, the jaguar killing Kybwyragi instead of Pikugi, which allows Baipurangi to find herself alone in the forest with the latter. The same theme will reappear in dream no. 21.

The two dreams which follow simply re-present in slightly different form motifs which have already come up in the last few days; but even on this score they confirm what was suggested above.

Dream No. 17. My jware Doro Paregi comes to see me and says, “You do a lot of cooking, you are very tired, you are going to die.”

“My soul will go away with you; when I am dead I will not do any more cooking.”

“Your jware Japegi will avenge you; he will capture Jakwachugi.”

Suddenly Japekujagi appears and states, “I will not give my chave to men; you will not have any husband.”

This dream combines two distinct themes; on the one hand, the present situation is recalled: Baipurangi often does the cooking for many people and this specialization, which is due to local conditions and much more extreme than is normal among the Guayaki, does not fail to weigh on her; she gets bored and sees this as another indication of her inability to accept her own status; thus death appears again as the normal way out of this unsatisfactory world. On the other hand the dream brings in the character of Japekujagi, a young woman some years older than Baipurangi, who was kidnapped by the Paraguayans.27 On this occasion Baipurangi explains to me that Japekujagi used to protect her from her father’s aggressiveness on various occasions when he had wanted to hit her, and that Japekujagi had opposed the first advances of the men of the group when they started to desire Baipurangi. For this reason Baipurangi was not married until after Japekujagi had disappeared; where her friend had succeeded —in watching over Baipurangi and in not giving her away—her parents had proved incapable.

The dreams erase this difference in behavior: in 12, Kandegi and Baipugi pronounce the same words as Japekujagi in 17: “you will have no husband; we will keep you with us,” but while in the second case the dream merely re-evokes a past situation, in the first it attributes to its characters precisely the actions that they had failed to perform. Because of this, once Baipurangi’s desire—that her father take her back and keep her within her natal family forever—is realized in the dream, it [541]masks the essential distinction, which she raises when she talks about her childhood, between her father who neither desired nor accepted her and other kin who loved and protected her. The aggressivity towards her father, which will underlie the rest of the series of dreams, is here in some sense masked by the will to compensate him that animates some of them.

Dream No. 18. I am in Jakwachugi’s camp; suddenly the jaguar appears. I am terrified but he reassures me: “Don’t cry, I will not scratch you.” So I stop crying, and he goes on, “You must not have any husband; leave Jakugi.” After that he goes away; Jakugi does not come and I am happy.

The jaguar is not just any animal; curiously enough, it is one of Baipurangi’s chikwagi; for during her mother’s pregnancy the men of the group came upon a jaguar, drove it off, and brought back the deer the jaguar had just killed and had not had time to eat. Baipugi ate some of this deer, transmitting the animal’s name to her daughter. In the dream, too, the jaguar is a protective being, absolutely without ferocity, who states the same interdiction that Baipurangi has already put into the mouths of her father and Japekujagi. This is all the more striking since some days earlier Baipurangi dreamed that the jaguar had killed Kybwyragi, thus allowing her to go into the forest with her father Pikugi; it is as if the animal were being used both to forbid her from having sexual relations (in which case it is the chikwagi speaking) and to suppress possible marriage partners (which is the business of a jaguar).

Dream No. 19. I die of a sickness; they bury me and my parents and Jakugi cry. Barendy appears and takes me through the sky; he carries me on his chest and tells me, “I will avenge you, I will fall upon the Aché camp and make the trees burst into flame.” He does this, to the great fear of the Aché; then my jware Japegi appears and takes me with him.

Barendy is a mythological being who lives in the sky and is associated with fire; he is identified with shooting stars that fall upon the earth; it is said that he burns the forest trees when he gets angry, and that he is attracted by campfires, which cause him to attack the moment he notices them.

Commenting on this dream, Baipurangi explains that everyone believes that Barendy is her father: while her mother was pregnant, she dreamed of having sex with Barendy; the result of this kind of dream is the birth of a daughter. Barendy, a distant being to whom very distinctive characteristics are attached, is thus the only father who has accepted Baipurangi as a daughter; for is he not the one directly responsible for her sex? The dream itself makes this mythical father into an avenging father who punishes the Aché for Baipurangi’s death, a behavior that has been shown by no real father in the whole series of dreams; on the contrary, it was shown malevolently by Jakugi, benevolently by Baipurangi’s mother Baipugi, by her jware Japegi and Doro Paregi, by Japekujagi who played something of the role of a mother for her, and finally by her first husband, Krajagi; thus by all the people who matter to her—except for her two fathers. This inability of the real father to avenge her can only be explained if what Baipurangi needs to have avenged is above all the way she was treated in her childhood; this vengeance will become the theme of the dreams to follow.

Dream No. 20. I am living with you in the forest; we have a daughter; when she grows up, the Paraguayans desire her; but our daughter tells us, “I don’t want to [542]have any husbands.” Then she has her first period; I cover my daughter with cloth, but the ceremony is incomplete: the other Aché are not there and there is no purification with the liana.

Here is the first dream—it will also be the only one—in which Baipurangi gives birth to a daughter; the two previous dreams in which she really or metaphorically gave birth to children left no ambiguity about the fact that these were boys, the boys that her father wanted so badly that he had not accepted his daughter.

But this time the sex of the newborn is female, and the fact that I am the father deserves notice.28 This daughter is nothing but a double of Baipurangi; like her mother, she insists that she does not want any husbands; unlike her mother, certainly, the daughter has remained a virgin; this is indicated not by what she says but by the way in which the menstruation ceremony takes place; in fact, one sequence is missing, namely the purification of the men who have had sexual relations with the person who has had her first period. The loss of virginity generally takes place well before the first menstruation, and when the latter arrives there are always several men in danger of being eaten by the jaguar and who should therefore be washed with liana; it is this deflowering, often undergone at too early an age, that haunts Baipurangi; it is what her dream daughter has never known. Here again, the discrepancy between the norm and the way it is presented in the dream marks what is significant for Baipurangi.

Dream No. 21. Jyvukugi has gone into the forest and been killed by the jaguar; my father Pikugi follows his tracks and gets there as the jaguar is about to eat the corpse; he chases the animal away and brings the body back; I cry and my mother says, “Your father is not dead yet; don’t cry.” Then I set about cooking the body; the meat is divided among all the members of the camp; as for me, I eat the penis.

The meaning of this dream evidently depends on the meaning of cannibalism in Guayaki culture. In spite of very intense questioning of all members of the group, only the alimentary sense of the act was put forward: “human meat is good” was the most frequent response, and even today, when cannibalism has almost entirely disappeared,29 it is very common to hear adults expressing regrets for its passing. So, until some contradictory information comes in, the consumption of Jyvukugi must appear as a purely alimentary act; but this act has multiple consequences.

First of all, this dream reworks a sequence from dream no. 16 by changing its characters around. It is no longer Kybwyragi, but Jyvukugi who is eaten by the jaguar; but in both cases Baipurangi can then go into the forest with her father Pikugi without running the least risk. We have noted that Pikugi has not yet been purified and so really risks suffering the fate that is Jyvukugi’s in the dream; and here again the substitute image imposes itself; Baipurangi has the greatest affection for Kybwyragi and Jyvukugi, whom she has often considered as potential lovers. In slightly different forms, dreams 16 and 21 can thus appear as sacrificing a possible mate in the place of the father, the young woman preferring the death of the former to that of the latter.[543]

We must go farther than this: for the dream reproduces what happened while Baipugi was pregnant with Baipurangi. A jaguar had just killed a deer when men appeared, drove it away, and brought the deer back to camp, where it was divided among the members of the group. Baipugi was close to giving birth to her daughter when she took part in the meal, which explains why the child, who was born a few weeks later, is named after the deer and has the jaguar as her chikwagi. The dream simply repeats this real event; with one difference: it is no longer a deer, but Jyvukugi, who will be eaten. How can this transformation be explained? Another detail offers the solution: for when a man was eaten, it was normal practice to offer his penis to the pregnant women so that they might give birth to boys, the oral introjection of the penis excluding the possibility of a female birth. This is exactly what is happening with Baipurangi; while it is not explicitly stated that she is expecting a child, the chasing away of the jaguar, repeating as it does the events surrounding her mother’s pregnancy, clearly indicates that this is the case, as does the meal she eats. Indirectly, and without prejudging the ultimate value of cannibalism, Baipurangi dreams that she saves her father by letting her lover die, and that she takes all precautions to ensure that her child will be a boy.

Dream No. 22. Krei comes to strike down my father Kandegi because he has gone off into the forest without me; Krei explains that he is doing it to avenge me. Krei is also angry because I have mistreated his pets, his coatis; and he is avenging himself by striking my father; I cry and rub Krei’s face to calm him down. Then he declares: “You took part in the delivery of a child; I will make you die.” Krei turns into my jware Japegi and we both go into the forest.

Several levels of meaning meet at this point: those who have taken part in the birth of a child are in danger, for a certain time, of being attacked by Krei. Baipurangi is in the situation of having recently massaged the head of Pichugi’s son. Once again on this occasion she fantasizes her own death, the final departure with her jware Japegi abolishing the distinction between the world of the living and the world of the dead. But the heart of the dream is located elsewhere: in the punishment that Krei inflicts on Kandegi; he attacks him twice, and each time for different reasons.

In the first case, it is Baipurangi who is avenged and what is at issue is still Kandegi’s departure into the forest, which made his daughter suffer because it made her remember the many abandonments of her childhood; Baipurangi’s aggressivity against her father is thus apparent, even though—in function of the norms of Guayaki culture—revenge cannot be the doing of the injured party, but of a responsible neutral agency.

The second case, on the other hand, seems more obscure: it is Krei who is avenging himself; but, paradoxically, the guilty party, namely Kandegi, is not the one who is punished, but Baipurangi herself, whose dream says that she killed Krei’s pet coatis. This displacement of persons, and the very nature of the crime, formed so many enigmas, which were only solved thanks to Baipurangi’s commentaries on this dream. This fact is deserving of note, for it was certainly with this dream that we came closest to the classical analytical situation, Baipurangi giving herself up to real “free associations.” Out of what she tells me, one event emerges which illuminates the present dream: when she was about eight years old, Baipurangi had [544]a pet coati30 that had been given to her and to which she became very attached. One day when the family had no meat, her father Kandegi killed the coati for the meal. Baipurangi watched and wept; she held this against her father and even today vehemently maintains that it was a terrible thing for him to have done. This is apparently the event that was taken up by the dream, but it has been treated in such a way as to mask its aggressivity, while at the same time giving this aggressivity free rein: it is no longer Baipurangi who must be avenged, but Krei; and, a final point of unconscious rhetoric, the crime for which Kandegi will be punished is not his own but that of his daughter.

In this way the same message is articulated twice, but it is made explicit the first time and veiled the second. This difference appears to be explained by the very archaism of the memory involved. The aggressivity against the father which has taken a certain time to take shape in the dreams seems to be touching on more and more ancient elements: at first Baipurangi was concerned with her marriage, which her father had wrongly condoned; following this the theme of abandonment came to the fore; finally it has become a question of direct aggression perpetrated against her by her father: the discrepancy between manifest and latent content which is most clearly marked here could thus be attributed to the primitive character of the problems evoked.

Dream No. 23. Krei comes to visit me; he tells me, “Your father Kandegi is going to die and you will be an orphan; to avenge your father, Jakugi will beat you; you will die and be buried with your father.”

The desire for the death of the father is here confirmed for the first time; up until now it has been Pikugi rather than Kandegi who has occupied the place of the dead; now Kandegi’s death is an accomplished fact, one that will bring about Baipurangi’s death (caused by the intervention of Jakugi, true to his usual character), and therefore, in another world, the reconciliation and final reunion of father and daughter.

Dream No. 24. Jakugi kills a male deer; the female comes running to avenge her husband’s death, and Jakugi kills her too; he brings the dead animals back to camp and this makes us cry, my mother and me.

This dream refers back to Dream No. 2, for here again Jakugi kills two animals and Baipurangi is very deeply hurt by this act; but this time the animals are deer rather than peccaries and the pair is no longer made up of a mother and a daughter, but a male and a female. The fact that both times the animals’ death is cause for weeping and lamentation is a clear indication that they are there in place of human beings. But which human beings? In 2 it seemed that the people in question were Baipugi and her daughter; in a formal way, the present dream confirms this interpretation: the death of the animal mother brings about the appearance of the human mother at the same time as the constitution of the deer couple weakens the relationship between Jakugi and his wife, who are presented quite separately from each other.[545]

Still, the identification of the deer couple presents other difficulties; in the absence of all commentary outside the dream itself, it can only be hit-or-miss; nevertheless, two hypotheses can be put forward:

Wachu (deer) is my native name; besides this, I know—for Baipurangi has told me several times—that Jakugi is growing concerned about our long morning conversations; thus it is possible that I am the one whom Jakugi kills, the deer’s wife being none other than Baipurangi herself; the dream would then be describing our common death, and, crying over the animals’ bodies, it is for her death and my own that Baipurangi was weeping. But here there is no way to reach any kind of certainty.

On the other hand, Wachu is also the name of Baipurangi’s little brother, who had died of his sickness several days earlier; it is possible that the dream is blaming Jakugi for this death, although it is hard to understand why the husband-wife relationship should have replaced that of brother and sister (this last relationship does not mean very much when one is talking about animals; this might explain the change.)

Dream No. 25. Krei comes to kill my father Pikugi; in this way he is going to avenge me, for I am very sick; I put myself between them and cry “Don’t kill him,” but Krei pays no attention to me, and Pikugi dies; I cry very hard, I will also die, and they will bury us both.

This dream simply re-presents themes that have already been raised several times, and finishes quite normally with a post mortem reconciliation of father and daughter.

Dream No. 26. A Guayaki from another group comes to visit us; I have never seen him before, and I start to laugh. This makes my father upset, and he says, “Don’t laugh, this is a fine young man; if you laugh you will not give birth to a boy.”

In this dream motifs that have until now been randomly scattered through the dreams appear and are connected. Three essential themes that had been developed independently of each other:

  • –   My father was very unhappy about my birth; he did not want a daughter;
  • –   My father let me get married; in this way he definitively abandoned me;
  • –   I want to give birth to boys and only boys;

are now connected. But in what form?[546]

The arrival of a Guayaki from another group, who is a possible mate, provokes laughter on Baipurangi’s part, laughter both of derision (she is making fun of this suitor) and of provocation (she is attracting his attention); while this ambivalence is characteristic of Baipurangi in everyday life, still the dream makes it quite clear, despite the ambiguity, that it is expressing a refusal. Now—and here we can see real progress in the clarification of Baipurangi’s problematic—her father, who in previous dreams had agreed to take her back and keep her with him once and for all, here forbids her to laugh, putting forward the young man’s good qualities, and so wishing that she should marry him. But this will for marriage remains secondary; it is rooted in a deeper desire: that of seeing his daughter give birth to a son, the son that Baipurangi was not herself. The way in which Baipurangi seems to deny sexuality while asking for it in her behavior is revealed to be based on a deeper anxiety, that provoked by her sterility, by her inability to repay the debt she contracted to her father in being born a girl; an anxiety which the next dream will push to its extreme consequences.

Dream No. 27. Krei comes to visit me and says: “If you have your period, you will die; an animal will capture you and you will be carried off by the armadillo disease; if you are not pregnant, then death is lying in wait for you, but if you are expecting a child, then you will not be sick.”

Baipurangi finishes by specifying that Krei wants her to have a child. Thus it is indeed sterility that is now taken as object, a sterility identified with death;31 in the preceding dreams, death appeared only as a way of getting rid of Jakugi and rejoining her former husband Krajagi with whom she only had “chaste” relations: but this was nothing but the conscious and tranquilizing use of an obvious fact too brutal to be accepted as such: for what the dream strikingly reveals is that this desire for death is simply the other side of her inability to live, to give life to a child of the male sex; only this, a new term in the game of signifying relations, would allow her to stop fantasizing her return to her original family, to master her feeling of abandonment through having responsibility for a small creature who must in turn not be abandoned, and finally to give meaning to her sexual relations by transforming them into something other than the sign of the lost paradise of childhood.

The same content is formulated in the following dream, but this time disguised in a way that is highly illustrative of the dream-work.

Dream No. 28. Krei tells me, “Don’t take a husband; if you get married, you will be very sick. Jakugi makes love a lot, and because of this you will get sick.” Then he turns to Jakugi to say, “Leave Baipurangi alone and sleep with other women; she has not been tattooed and so you can’t have her, for when a young woman has not been tattooed I do not give her away; you will have other wives.” Then I meet my father, Kandegi, who tells me that Krei has ordered him that we should sleep side by side; so we spend the night next to each other.

At first glance, this dream is completely different from the preceding one and more like others which Baipurangi had had considerably earlier: Krei takes the young woman away from Jakugi to give her back to her father, and the world of [547]childhood is reconstituted once more; and the interdiction he lays down makes no allusion to a possible birth. But this is nothing but appearance; in fact, what does Krei say? “I do not allow a woman who has not been tattooed to get married.” In Guayaki culture tattooing is in no way a prerequisite for sexual relations or marriage; it generally takes place much later. On the other hand, it is directly associated with the reproductive functions: a tattooed woman will have strong and handsome children who will not get sick; and it is for this that a woman submits to this long and painful operation. For this reason alone the dream’s evocation of tattooing implies a direct reference to the desire to have children; but this desire is repressed: the semantic value of tattooing is different in the culture and in the dream, and the distortion which the syntagmatic chain operates upon the paradigmatic organization is given as the place both of repression and of the return of the repressed. What Krei is actually saying is thus quite different from what he seems to say, and his interdiction could be expressed as follows: “I do not allow a woman to marry if she cannot bear a man children; therefore, such a woman can do nothing but return to her father”; in reality, this return is itself impossible, since Baipurangi is not the son her father wished so much to have.

Dream No. 29. Jakugi is married to Chachu Kujagi, and they are tickling each other. Chachugi asks me if I am angry; I answer no, for I know that Jakugi will die.

This is the last dream that we collected; it allows Baipurangi to rid herself of Jakugi in the simplest possible way—by marrying him to a dead wife: for Chachu Kujagi died several days earlier, of pneumonia; in tickling her—an act which the Guayaki always interpret as a prelude to sexual relations—Jakugi is signing his own death warrant. And his death is definitely what Baipurangi wants; several Guayaki have died during the last few weeks following an epidemic; what is appearing is the possibility that Jakugi be the next victim.

It is here that the series of dreams ends; we have analyzed them in order and have tried to interpret them basing ourselves both on the series as a whole—the dreams commenting upon each other—and on the way in which the cultural data are transformed on the oneiric level, with the associations provoked in Baipurangi by the telling of her dreams furnishing an important added base. It is now time to return to the problem in a synthesizing way.

* * *

The twenty-nine dreams given here make up only a little over a quarter of the material collected; as far as their content is concerned, the dreams that have been left out contain no new information; they are generally very short and condense into a phrase or an image what other dream dreams develop more abundantly. Nevertheless, from a certain point of view, it is crucial to consider the material as an integral whole, for only in this way can we grasp the displacement that has taken place in the thematic in the course of these two months: any dream that we have kept as an important one was in most cases announced and confirmed by a number of secondary dreams which in one way or another carried the same message. We have thus based ourselves on the corpus as a whole; but the rifts revealed in the study of this corpus are also present in the more limited series that has been commented upon here: to see this it will suffice to summarize the essential points of each dream [548]into one or two phrases; simply juxtaposing these allows us to grasp in a condensed form the slips and transformations of meaning that have taken place.

  • No. 1. Jakugi announces my32 death.
  • No. 2. Jakugi kills me and kills my mother who is trying to avenge me.33
  • No. 3. I give birth to children while my father watches; then he feeds them.
  • No. 4. Jakugi’s aggressivity towards me; in the end he is replaced by Krei.
  • No. 5. I live with my parents as I did when I was a child.
  • No. 6. Jakugi has let me drink armadillo blood, so I die and rejoin my former husband Krajagi in the sky.
  • No. 7. The return of Pampigi causes the death of my father Pikugi and my husband Jakugi.
  • No. 8. Wachugi tells me, “You want to have children.”
  • No. 9. I give birth to many boys, whose father is unknown.
  • No. 10. I live with my family far from the Paraguayans.
  • No. 11. Jakugi leaves me for Achikujagi; this makes me happy.
  • No. 12. My father and mother take me back from Jakugi.
  • No. 13. I know that I am going to die and go live in the sky.
  • No. 14. Everyone leaves me, including my father and mother.
  • No. 15. I dream that I will dream that I am making love with Wachugi.
  • No. 16. Kybwyragi is eaten by the jaguar; then I go into the forest with my father Pikugi without running any risk.
  • No. 17. Japekujagi forbids me to take a husband.
  • No. 18. The jaguar forbids me to take a husband.
  • No. 19. When I die, my father Barendy takes me away and burns up the forest to avenge me.
  • No. 20. I have a daughter by Wachugi; she is a virgin and does not want a husband.
  • No. 21. I eat the body of Jyvukugi, who has been killed by the jaguar; I will have boys.
  • No. 22. Krei avenges me and himself by striking down my father.
  • No. 23. Krei announces the death of my father, which will bring about my own death.
  • No. 24. Jakugi kills a deer couple.
  • No. 25. Krei kills my father to avenge me.
  • No. 26. My father prevents me from laughing so that I will give birth to a boy.
  • No. 27. Krei tells me that if I have my period again I will die.
  • No. 28. A woman who cannot have children should not get married.
  • No. 29. The death of Jakugi.

Simply looking through this résumé reveals the existence of a process which, as it develops, grants us access to the more secret problematics that structure Baipurangi’s [549]life.34 Certainly, several of the dreams can be detached from the group either because they concern only minor points or because they refer to unchanging aspects of the situation: this is the case with dream 10, in which Baipurangi reaffirms her refusal of close contact with the Paraguayans, with dream 15, which thematizes the function of dreaming, and with dream 18, in which Barendy, in his classic role, takes away the young woman who has just died; but these are exceptions; the other dreams fall into groups, and these can be classed as follows.

  1. The first six dreams, with the exception of 3 (which presents the desire to have children in a disguised way) and 5 (in which Baipurangi nostalgically evokes her life as a child) center around Jakugi, who in one way or another causes Baipurangi’s death. This unity is all the more striking since this theme of the murder committed by the husband—for sometimes it is explicitly a murder—will not reappear in the dreams that follow. Dream 6 marks a turning point: Baipurangi’s death, which has been experienced until now as a trauma, begins to appear to her as a way to be rid of Jakugi and to rejoin her late husband Krajagi; thus, in most of the dreams that follow Baipurangi will be fantasizing her own death, calling for it, glorifying it—the death that will open her road to another, positively valorized, universe.35 Baipurangi certainly feels the danger of this; she is afraid of Jakugi, and her desire for death comes out in other ways than just in the dreams; she speaks of it often, even outside our meetings, a sign of real anxiety. But the way this raw material is picked up and elaborated by the dream will change its meaning: it is as if the traumatizing elements that are evoked over and over again through the whole series of dreams takes on a different value through their integration into a syntagmatic chain, as if relating them to other signifiers drawn from the code provided by the culture allows their explosive charge to be reduced. In another way, the dream-work consists of selecting certain elements that have been lived in their full opacity and hostility in order to integrate them into the very dialectic of desire and its object; thus, their inertia dissolves; they lose their aura of destiny to become the indispensable mediations that a living intentionality can use to arrive at its goals. That this integration takes place on an imaginary level does not diminish its real effectiveness.
  2. Thus Dream 6 marks a turning-point the effects of which will be felt as far as Dream 20. Jakugi is no longer a threat; he is simply the person it has become impossible to live with; hence the many variations on the theme “how to get rid of him?” To this question the dream brings two answers, one of which is situated typically within the imaginary order, while the other will facilitate access to the symbolic problematic that rules Baipurangi’s life by seeking to return to the time when this problematic was formed.

For Baipurangi the first way consists of fantasizing her own death and rejoining someone she loved very much—her late husband Krajagi or her jware Japegi and [550]Doro Paregi—in the world beyond; this is the case with dreams 6, 13, 19, which all end in a heavenly reunion.

The second way36 consists of dreaming of a primordial interdiction which would forever prevent Baipurangi from taking a husband: in 12 this interdiction is imposed by her father Kandegi, in 17 by Japekujagi, in 18 by the jaguar. This shift in characters is not secondary; it seems to us to be correlated with the greater depth of the dreams that will follow; for the characters invoked do not occupy the same semantic position.

Kandegi is alive, but when faced with a real choice he did not behave as he does in the dream; on the contrary, he gave his daughter away, and, as far as Baipurangi can tell, he did so gladly.

On the other side, Japekujagi protected Baipurangi from an even earlier loss of virginity than the one she actually experienced; but today, taken by the Paraguayans, she might as well be dead and can no longer help.

The jaguar, finally, neutralizes the double opposition: he is a mythical being situated beyond life and death, who played no role in Baipurangi’s childhood and marriage. We have had the impression that after each dream, the impossibility—for reasons which are themselves contrary—of making the character in question play the role given to him in the previous dream brings about his replacement by another term. Dream 18, by choosing the most theoretical and abstract solution, will break suddenly with the previous dreams and bring back to the fore an aggressivity directed explicitly against the father who, precisely, did not act in real life as he did in the dream.

But parallel to this series of dreams which all abolish the marriage to Jakugi has appeared another series, centered around the birth of children. Baipurangi’s desire to have boys was already revealed in Dream 3; Dream 8, responding to an interpretation that had not been revealed, puts the confirmation of the existence of this desire into my mouth, and 9 makes us witness to the birth of many children, all of which, without exception, are boys. The place of the husband, on the other hand, remains empty, while the father of Baipurangi is present at all the deliveries, feeds the children in 3, massages them in 9. We can give two explanations, which are not mutually contradictory, for this presence: either Baipurangi’s father is also the father of her children, or else these children are explicitly destined for him because they respond to his desire. What makes the first hypothesis likely is that several times the dreams have ended with the substitution of Kandegi for Jakugi; the chastity of his relationship with Baipurangi does not negate the fact the father is here put in the husband’s place and that Baipurangi keeps insisting that she spent the night with him. What is thus symbolized, certainly, is a return to the world of childhood, to a stage in her life when Baipurangi had not yet been taken from her parents; but it is the father and not the mother to whom she returns; and the evocation of nights spent with her father makes one think irresistibly of a veritable love [551]of the daughter for the father, which springs out of her very origins. The second hypothesis—that the birth of boys is a gift made to the father—will be confirmed by the third group of dreams, which will clarify the problems that have been left hanging so far.

It must not be forgotten that as she explains and comments on these dreams, Baipurangi is recalling numerous episodes from her childhood. What serves as a backdrop to her dream life is the feeling of abandonment that possessed her at a very early age, when her father sometimes left her in the care of friends or relatives for periods that could last up to several months; because of this, her marriage simply appears to her as the supreme and ultimate abandonment; whence her tendency to relive the mythical scene of separation37 while inverting its meaning, the adult refusing this time to give the girl away. This abandonment by her family, for which she holds her father principally responsible, can probably be explained by the objective conditions of life in the forest; Baipurangi, however, does not connect her father’s attitude to this situation, but to the disappointment he felt when Baipugi gave birth to a girl and not to a boy. On this subject, memories abound. She remembers that very often she went without meat simply because she was a girl,38 and she evokes one dramatic scene that particularly struck her: when she was about ten years old her mother gave birth to another girl, and Kandegi became so angry because of this that he picked up his bow as if to hit the baby, even sketching the potentially murderous movement; at this point the women of the group intervened39 and things calmed down;40 it remains nonetheless true that Baipurangi sees herself as the victim of such an aggression.41 Once she has recognized her father’s desire to kill, she feels that whenever he leaves her, for however short a time, it is the veritable equivalent of his murdering her. So, when she fantasizes her own death, she is not content just to separate herself in this way from Jakugi and go to the sky to rejoin her loved ones; she is also unconsciously responding to her father’s desire to see her dead because she is not a boy.

  • c. This is what highlights the turn taken from Dream 21 on: up to this point the dreams have revealed no aggressivity against the father. Baipurangi has been content to dream that Kandegi behaved differently than he did in reality, thus [552]answering his daughter’s wishes, while she herself, giving birth to a heap of boys, fulfilled the secret desire (secret because it has not yet been formulated in the dreams) of her father. It is this aggressivity that now emerges: Dreams 22, 23, and 24 feature Kandegi’s death, and they make it the result of cruelties inflicted upon Baipurangi. Parallel to this there occurs a modification in the way in which the question of children is posed. Up until now Baipurangi has been content to give birth to boys (Dreams 2 and 9) and to understand these scenes as the simple result of her desire to have children (Dream 8). Now the structure changes: she no longer gives birth, but clearly sees that it is her father who wants her to have male children and that for her this is a question of life or death. Let us look, then, at these two transformations.

For the first, Dream 22 is decisive, since Krei kills Kandegi for reasons related for the first time to the “bad treatment” that Baipurangi suffered in her childhood. The episode of the pet coatis, by its very archaism, reveals the depth to which the desire for the death of the father descends in Baipurangi’s subjectivity. This desire for death is only the other side of the desire for the father who has refused to accept his daughter; from this point of view, Dream 26 provides the key to the whole edifice: up until now, the dream father has behaved in the way his daughter wishes he really had—he has kept his daughter and has not given her in marriage; but now real behavior and dream behavior unite: the father lectures his daughter who is making fun of a suitor and who, by her untimely laughter, could drive him away and cause the birth of a girl rather than of a boy; Dreams 2, 8, and 9 appear in retrospect to give the father what he has always been waiting for. It is Dreams 27 and 28 that will show exactly why it is crucial for Baipurangi to answer this desire: if she does not, then sexuality is forever forbidden to her. As Krei says indirectly, only women who can have children have the right to a husband; those who cannot will remain alone, with death as their only end; and the dreams taken as a whole point to a direct formulation of Baipurangi’s problematic: the only condition that would allow me to continue living with Jakugi is to have a child; and this is so because it is only by giving birth to a boy that I will have the right to be a girl.

Baipurangi’s dream production can be interpreted in full only by taking into consideration the plurality of levels on which it develops:

  • 1. She lost her virginity while very young—this is common for young Guayaki women—and she suffered because of this; her sexual relations with Jakugi weigh heavily on her; she continually opposes his aggressivity to the gentleness of Krajagi and repeatedly describes herself as literally gorged on the erotic plane, her valorization of Krajagi being proportional to her disgust. But both the dreams and the commentaries that follow them reveal that this husband was in fact a substitute for the father, surrounding the then very young girl with tenderness and protection, recalling her to a time before she had sexual relations.

These remarks should not, however, lead us to think of Baipurangi as sexually frigid; the refusal of sexuality that is explicitly affirmed and lived in reality in her relationship with Jakugi was accompanied by a sexualization of most of her behavior; she could be attractive, provocative, and what seemed to us to characterize her from this angle was a permanent ambivalence not unlike that of hysterics.[553]

  • 2. What is in play from one end of these dreams to the other is the question How can one be a woman? which J. Lacan has pointed out as that of the hysteric, and which takes on a particular weight here, developing as it is in a culture whose daughters are rejected at birth and often put to death on various pretexts during childhood. In being born a girl, Baipurangi has contracted a debt to her father; she has deprived him of what he desires, and her present abandonment, like those that preceded it, appears to her as the result of this debt: sexuality is the sign of this abandonment, the permanent reminder of her debt; but it is also the way for her to liberate herself: for she can abolish the debt only by giving her father what she took from him, namely a boy. Only the birth of a male child can justify her as a woman; and this is equally so of her justification as a living being since, as Krei says, if she has her period again she will die.
  • 3. Thus the avatars of the relationship with Jakugi are located only on the surface; they refer back to an archaic complex which began to manifest itself in a series of dreams produced as a result of the relationship that has been established between Baipurangi and myself, a relationship based on entirely different criteria than the ones she is accustomed to. Thus aggressivity against the father is coupled with a profound dependence upon him, a dependence which is evidently symbolic rather than real. It is because this drama has been knit from the very beginning that all the successive abandonments, even the most harmless ones, have been lived as traumas; nothing in the present-day behavior of her parents, which was completely friendly, could cause anxiety; it remained nonetheless true that a simple trip into the forest carried disproportionate importance. This allows us to understand the metaphorical equivalence between father and husband; it doesn’t matter who will be the procreator of my children as long as I can give these children to Kandegi; at the limit, the procreator could be my father himself; Dreams 2 and 9, in which Baipurangi gives birth while her father watches, could then be explained as follows: by dreaming that Kandegi feeds the children that she has just delivered or massages them at birth, Baipurangi is granting him satisfactions he would have wished for and has not had; but in exchange for this gift she receives the right to be a woman.

As Freud writes, “Actually, we can never give anything up; we only exchange one thing for another” (Freud 1907: 145).

* * *

At the same time I was conducting this experiment with Baipurangi, I collected dreams from several other individuals. Each time I was able to capture the workings of mechanisms identical to the ones here analyzed. Certain remarks should be made in this regard: by their very generality, they delimit the framework within which these questions can be discussed.

These dreams refer to the difficulties that individuals encounter in the society in which they live: the scenes they evoke, the feelings and reactions they attribute to the various characters, are characteristic of a certain culture. Interpretation becomes possible only on the basis of an extensive knowledge of that culture, the dream productions meanwhile providing a means of access to the psychological problems engendered by a particular social organization. But the discussion of a [554]particular case allows us to grasp how little such a sociological determinism can exhaust the material in question. An initial observation can give us an idea of this: for these dreams speak to us without mediation; what they put into play, beyond cannibalism, the murder of girls, and ritual vengeance, still concerns us directly. The story of this Guayaki girl, a member of the most primitive tribe of South America, whose entire life has been spent in conditions more precarious than we can imagine, still for the most part follows a logic that is familiar to us. The interrogation that runs through her discourse concerns her right to exist, a right that is not really but symbolically challenged. Her search for a place from which her past and future can take on meaning and reconnect normally with each other lays before us the fact that no such place is naturally given to man, that he does not occupy such a place as the result of some simple process of organic maturation, but only through a dialectic allowing him access to mastery of the symbolic space within which he has come into being.

If the culturalist shapings of psychoanalysis are so disappointing, it is because they locate themselves on another level: for culturalism seeks to show how different societies create specific individual problematics, the subject being particularized according to the institutions through which he both realizes and completes himself. But, beyond certain of his formulas, what Freud is posing are the very conditions of this particularization: in what way does an organism bearing multiple possibilities become a subject centered around certain essential signifiers? The subject does not simply grow out of the organism; what happens, rather, is the subject’s encounter with an order that makes him accede to another dimension, constitutive of all culture. This universality exists on several levels: it is that of the symbolic function, of the passage from a phenomenal universe to the organization of signifying chains through which alone the real can be refracted, of the structuring of human relations that flows from the effectiveness of this logic, finally of the nature/culture conjunction that operates in every individual when, at the moment of birth, he is torn out of pure biological immediacy. It is above all on this last level that Freudian psychoanalysis is located. That Freud passed from the analysis of this encounter between determined individuals and a constitutive symbolic order to an actual history of the engendering of this order itself (the project of Totem and taboo) marks a confusion between two origins, that of structure and that of event. It does not, however, follow that this primordial order should be identified with that of any given society.

When Freud defines the child as polymorphously perverse, he cannot be referring to a simply bodily incompleteness which develops over the long run toward some rigorously defined state of normality. Any familiarity with history or ethnology puts the idea of any such normality permanently into question. On the other hand, he is not so far from the linguist who observes that the human voice is capable of articulating an infinity of sounds.42 In both cases it is within a determinate [555]environment that this plurality of possibilities will lose its original indifferentiation, some of them becoming the privileged form of adult behavior. These forms vary from society to society; but in order to institute them all societies depend on what nature has provided them with, and this nature can never be definitively replaced: for what is rejected does not simply disappear; the individual, marked as what he is by a particular code, continues to bear within himself what this code misrecognizes or refuses. In inscribing individual energies into a network that preexists them, societies give this energy the power to become history; but each individual, while coming into being as an individual only through his encounter with such networks, remain something more than this. Which is simply to say that childhood is never over, and that it is at the point where child and adult, nature and a particular social universe, meet that we find certain activities, from playing to dreaming, that carry us ceaselessly back and forth between the real and the possible.

A dream is the discourse of a subject who is at once both addresser and addressee. This means that code and message are also identical: the dreaming individual does not follow a predetermined code that has been fixed once and for all, but chooses or invents, in function of what he is seeking to signify, a certain type of syntax out of all those that are available. Thus, two successive dreams might easily follow two different codes. Freud demonstrated this polyvalence of dream logic in The interpretation of dreams: it means that the dreaming subject is situated at the meeting point of multiple symbolic systems and draws from their elements and syntaxes to signify his own condition. In doing this he may follow the preexisting codes of his culture, subject these codes to deformations such that the true meaning can be found only by pursuing associations, or—and this is the most frequent case—freely invent lexicon and syntax. For the most part, Baipurangi’s dreams occupy an intermediate position, using ritual sequences whose identity is retained while introducing certain displacements which can be made intelligible only through comparison with the cultural model.

In line with this, they invite us to take a brief look at the problem that is raised throughout the work of Jung—that of the existence of archetypes and their appearance in both dreams and myths. One precision should be made immediately: in Jung’s eyes the appearance of archetypes is characteristic of only one class of dreams; in the other class, each dream has its own meaning, obeying rules specific to a particular subject. The latter group—and this includes most dreams—can be decoded only through free association. Thus, in his own words, Jung opposes any isomorphism of signifier and signified, which he sees as one of Freud’s errors: “It is far wiser in practice not to regard the dream-symbols semiotically, i.e., as signs or symptoms of a fixed character. . . I say that this procedure is advisable in practice because in theory relatively fixed symbols do exist whose meaning must on no account be referred to anything known and formulatable as a concept. . . It may seem strange that I should attribute an as it were indefinite content to these relatively [556]fixed symbols. Yet if their content were not indefinite, they would not be symbols at all, but signs or symptoms” (Jung 1931: 156).

In this case, the key to the dream can be provided only by the subject himself. It is he who has “decided” the nature of the relationship between symbols on the one hand, things and concepts on the other, and it is to him that we should address ourselves. There are, however, other cases in which the materials at work in the dream obey a code which for Jung is universal and equally valid for individual and for collective productions. The analyst shares this code with the analysand, and so does not need to proceed via the patient’s commentaries—his own associations are just as valuable. “Each individual has his own life, his images and ideas. . . But what is of central importance on the level of the personal unconscious is not necessarily so for material arising from the collective unconscious. Faced with an archetype, the analyst can and should begin to think, for it arises from a structure common to the human condition, about which my associations will be as valuable as the dreamer’s” (Jung [1934] 1962: 313).43

Whether or not such dreams exist, Jung’s interpretation of them misrecognizes certain properties of symbolic thought. He himself wavers between a synchronic and a diachronic idea of archetypes: in the first case, they would consist of “constants of the imagination” valid for any individual whatever (and thus without relation to time) and organized in the unconscious, which is therefore a real entity which expresses itself equally in myths or dreams. In the diachronic view of the archetypes, on the other hand, we are referred to a history in which the archetypes came into being, a history whose essential property is that nothing in it is ever lost. “The unconscious, as the totality of all archetypes, is the deposit of human experience right back to its remotest beginnings” (Jung 1929: 157, cited in Jacobi 1957: 36).

But this linear schema of history is unacceptable both for humanity and for animals. For the universals of the imagination cannot be reached on the level of images: the recurrence of certain signifiers which seem to bear the same signified all through human history can most often be explained as the simple projection of our own semantic classes onto material that is actually far more complex; and when this recurrence takes place over shorter periods it is the result of a shared development valid for certain, but not all, societies. Anthropology and the history of religions, on the contrary, reveal how little symbols possess “a fixed meaning or character” in this domain. Even the most natural conjunctions—such as a paternal sun, a maternal earth—cease to be natural in a different context. It seems that what governs the formation of symbolic universes is a series of mutually exclusive choices rather than any progressive and undifferentiating integration of different levels of meaning.

The dreams to which Jung is referring utilize a recognized and objectivized code. It is thus true that the analyst is able to advance a coherent interpretation without passing via the subject’s associations; but it is vain to speak as Jung does of the analyst’s associations. For in this case it is not a question of associating, but of knowing as thoroughly as possible the collective meanings carried by the various elements [557]of the dream. In listening even to Baipurangi’s dreams, with their extremely limited individual lexicon,44 recourse to a collective unconscious that is the same for everyone is inconceivable. Analysis only became possible once we had plunged ourselves into a particular cultural universe, completely unknown beforehand. For a Guayaki dream-interpreter, on the other hand, the best procedure would not have been to follow his own associations, but to master the values of his own culture—and to verify whether or not they were the same for Baipurangi. In both cases the use of the term “association” is inadequate. When the dreams of a patient make use of mythical and religious material, the key to this material is to be found outside the dreams themselves; but this does not mean that it is universal. Cultures, like individuals, organize and interpret what is available to them in function of principles that differ from one case to the next; in no case can the relationship of subjectivity to the symbol be considered a natural one, with symbols consubstantial with the “soul” itself. And this implies:

  1. that when such material is legitimately used in an individual’s dreams, it is always in cases where it was previously known to him, one way or another.
  2. that—if this material is not distorted—only an objective study of its content, incorporating all the necessary safeguards, can give us access to it.
  3. that while the analyst can, to the extent that he immerses himself in such a system, sometimes interpret it without difficulty, this does not mean that his own associations share in the privilege: for they themselves can form so many distortions, which will only occasionally intersect with the distortions the patient has performed on the same material. And what is at stake here is understanding the patient’s own distortions.

From this point of view, Jung’s conception is both too broad and too narrow. The dreams that he says belong to the collective unconscious are those that contain mythological themes; but there is no reason to confine ourselves to these: political, social, economic elements would be equally amenable to the same techniques. A dream centered around historical figures, Lenin or Hitler, shows the same use of certain signifiers from my own culture for individual ends.

Thus, the fact that some dreams are constructed like myths is not satisfactorily explained by an isomorphism of the individual unconscious and the collective unconscious; it arises, rather, out of the encounter of an individual with a symbolic order that is distinct for each society.

Collective unconscious and individual unconscious do not overlap:45 the former is entirely externalized; it is coextensive with the myths, rituals, institutions, representations of a particular culture, and is nothing outside of these; all interiority is excluded from it, since there is no subject to be the bearer of this totality. Unconsciousness bears—although this is not always the case—on the rules of construction of these systems and their respective modes of articulation. Thus, it is not lexicon but syntax that can be unconscious. Still, the human individual is [558]sometimes characterized by unconsciousness of both:46 through his encounter with the world he is inscribed with primordial images which are immediately masked, transformed, but without losing their—originally semi-biological—effectiveness; his everyday mental life reveals the existence of operations which structure immediately given material in an original way. The reader may refer to the forgetting of the name Signorelli at the beginning of the Psychopathology of everyday life; the final interpretation does not really reveal any new content; several times, already, Freud had thought over the relationship to death, impotence, and mastery that is formulated by the slip, and the quality of being unconscious characterizes the themes, not the operations; the operations produce a conjunction of the materials being worked with in such a way that all evident meaning is excluded. This opacity is, however, the sign of a new reorganization of the psychological field, bringing out equivalences among previously unconnected domains. By its very formalism, the unconscious reveals the multiplicity of implications of the contents of subjectivity; it seeks to establish unity and continuity where fragmentation and discontinuity seem to reign.

This is what vitiates Sartre’s critique in Being and nothingness, which he bases on Stekel’s statement (Sartre [1934] 1966: 95) that “Every time that I have been able to carry my investigations far enough, I have established that the crux of the psychosis was conscious.” Even if this is true, it does not change the fact that the pathogenic kernel, even though available to me explicitly in such a case, structures my psychic universe in a way that in most cases is not directly accessible to me. A slip of the tongue or a dream remains unintelligible even in cases in which its decipherment would tell me nothing I did not already know.

The distinction between unconsciousness of the lexicon and unconsciousness of the logic that rules it seems a decisive one: it rules out any confusion between the individual and the collective and connects psychoanalysis to two other domains: to biology on the one hand, and on the other to the universal semiology announced by Ferdinand de Saussure. The cultural lexicon used by the subject is an explicit one, which explains both the subject’s ability to use it and the analyst’s ease in understanding it. It is important to note that this lexicon has been learned, and is not attached by any natural link to particular conscious subjects.

This observation, while decisive, is still not enough to explain the fact that dreams and myths from different societies echo each other. Robert Gessain (1957) has noted the homology between certain North American myths of the vagina dentata and dreams obtained on the analyst’s couch. How can such similarities be explained?

The answer can only be found in the structural non-congruence of the individual and his culture. The latter represents only one of many possible symbolic systems—while every individual bears within himself the virtual totality of these systems. What a culture admits, recognizes, validates in its members is only a part of what these members are; and this misrecognized, repressed, forecluded being remains, in many ways, present. The notion of marginality, put forward by anthropologists, apparently refers to individuals whose entire personalities are organized around different elements than those central to their culture; but there is a part of each one of [559]us that remains marginal, and it is this part that other societies have developed and legitimized. The dream, by its very nature, leads into this relatively undifferentiated place where being infinitely exceeds what is said about it. The confusion of addresser and addressee allows a greater freedom of syntax, which is directly related to the openness of childhood. For while the adult has become an adult through being marked by a particular culture, the child still carries the possibility of being equally open to all conceivable norms. The dream—partly because of its normal abolition of the conditions of communication (there are also other reasons)—initiates a return to the freedom of childhood; it introduces other thoughts than those from which the culture of the dreamer draws inspiration; it uses whatever is immediately available to construct figures other than those that dominate waking life. Thus, the dreams of a hysteric or an obsessional neurotic might well rediscover—recreate—an organization of the world once developed by some vanished culture.

From a certain point of view, Baipurangi’s dreams give us an example of this power: centered around a debt, they see marriage as a veritable gift; they tend to crystallize around a primal scene in which the father actually gives his daughter away. But nothing in Guayaki culture could really correspond to such a fantasy: Guayaki girls have total freedom in the choice of a mate, with the one stipulation that they are not free not to choose. The norms of the group, the life led by its members, were such that in practice marriage was imposed whenever possible. But in this process, which was only weakly institutionalized, the father’s role was minimal: it was not he who brought about the formation of the conjugal family. Baipurangi’s mythical reorganization of her own history is not based on the real conditions of her marriage with Jakugi, but on the way her relationship with her father has been structured since she was born. It is in function of a specific problematic—itself referring to the totality of Guayaki culture—that Baipurangi has reconstructed the system of social relations, giving the father a role that is not normally his. When Lévi-Strauss points to the incest prohibition as the foundation of all society, he makes it clear that every gift given is the consequence of a gift received: the father gives his daughter to a man of another group because he himself once before received a woman from that group. To different degrees every kinship system is an actualization of this primordial exchange, although this will be explicitly thematized only in some societies. While marriage always implies a giver, in the latter case his position changes from a peripheral to a central one. Instead of being the implicit correlate of the circulation of women, his intervention becomes real, with all the psychological or social effects that this implies. It is this passage that is effected in Baipurangi’s dreams.

This is not to say that Baipurangi’s drama coincides in any simple way with this last possibility. In Baipurangi’s eyes, her father did indeed give her away, but not because he had previously received something. For in this case the woman has been replaced by the child as object of desire: her father did not get what he had a right to, namely a son; instead of a son, Baipurangi was born; and, because she had never been accepted, she could then be given away. Here giving comes before receiving: Kandegi abandons his daughter to Jakugi because he is hoping for a son from their union; at the birth of this boy the bargain will be definitively sealed.

A gift that has received its countergift can no longer be put into question: thus we might expect that if Baipurangi gives birth to a boy it would forever establish her [560]as Jakugi’s property. But this is not the situation at all: for it is not a question of real possession but of the places of terms within a symbolic space that does not coincide with the actual relations among people. What is in question ultimately is not knowing whether or not Baipurangi will remain Jakugi’s wife—a factual problem that will be resolved once Baipurangi has mastered her own symbolic constellation—but ascertaining the extent to which she can realize a symbolic conjunction with her father which could abolish the disjunction that has existed since she was born. Thus her mythical history takes form at the meeting point of two propositions:

  • –   My father gave me away because I took something away from him.
  • –   Once I have given him what he is hoping for, I will be accepted retroactively.

Such a logic, evidently, is completely ordered by an individual dialectic; but even so, it brings to light certain universal processes around which other cultures are organized. This is so of the exchange of women: in considering her own marriage as the exchange of a daughter for a son, Baipurangi is formulating the position of woman as object of exchange with a rigor that is without equivalent in her own society.

The problems raised by the interpretation of these dreams are located at the intersection of many disciplines. This is not by chance: sooner or later the elaboration of any ethnology leads into biology on the one hand, psychology on the other. And we are not dealing with a reduction of any sort here, but rather a reciprocal fertilization possible only if the specificity of each discipline is fully respected. Psychoanalysis has never been so true to its goals as when it has maintained—against certain sociologistic tendencies—the irreducibility of its experience;47 to this extent it has been able to integrate results obtained on other levels, most notably that of linguistics. Inversely, ethnology has been able to define its object through a radical critique of psychoanalytic extrapolations about “primitive societies”; still, the problem of the relationship of the two fields remains open. It is hoped that the present essay might contribute to its solution.

Translator’s note. I would like to thank Mark Mancall for instigating this translation and Isabel Heck for her help in preparing the manuscript. My goal here has been to be as literal as possible while not letting the English get completely bizarre. I have maintained most of the author’s idiosyncratic punctuation, especially his rather breathless use of semicolons and en-dashes. Where Sebag cites the French versions of works that also exist in English (e.g., Freud and Jung), I have given the equivalent passages in the published English translations. Two points where translation tactics should be made explicit: First, French possessives do not distinguish the gender of the possessor, but that of the possessed: son, sa, or ses can all mean “his,” “her” or “its”. Standard usage now (at least mine) is, when this is not otherwise specified, to use something like “his or her.” But in the early 1960s, virtually all scholarly writing referred to “the individual” or “man” as him and his. Not to impose more anachronism than necessary on the text, I have followed this usage here. Second, Sebag follows the scholarly French mode of referring to himself as “we” when it is the author’s voice, rather than the acting individual’s, that is speaking: “We undertook a study of dreams on our own. . .,” means that Sebag did it by himself. This use of [561]“we” corresponds to nothing in English. It distances the author’s voice and is apparently supposed to be modest. Sebag switches to “I” when he talks about himself as an actor in the events narrated, as, for instance, in Notes 28 and 30 below. There is no non-obtrusive way to signal the switching back and forth in the text between “we” and “I.” Given that, in spite of its expressive and poetic qualities, this is a text in which the referential function is predominant, I have decided to change the authorial “we” to “I” throughout, keeping the plural only when Sebag seems to be including the reader in the exploration: “I was (literally ‘We were’) able to obtain this information. . . [It] will allow us to penetrate more deeply. . . [It] will permit us to transcend the level of simple biography. . .” The French text is there if the reader would like to explore this stylistic dimension further. There is a discussion of the use of authorial “we” in Claude Lévi-Strauss, L’homme nu (Paris, 1971), p. 559.


Freud, Sigmund. 1905. “Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious,” Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, VIII. London: Hogarth Press.

———. 1907. “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming,” Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, IX. London: Hogarth Press.

———. 1920. “On the Psychogenesis of a Case of Female Homosexuality,” in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, XVIII. London: Hogarth Press.

Gessain, Robert. 1957. “Vagina dentata” dans la clinique et la mythologie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Jacobi, Jolande. (1957) 1959. Complex /Archetype/ Symbol. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Jung, Carl. 1927. “The Structure of the Psyche,” in Collected Works, VIII. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

———. 1931. “The Practical Use of Dream-Analysis,” in Collected Works, XVI. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

———. (1934) 1962. “Du rêve au mythe” in L’Homme à la découverte de son âme, 6th edition, Paris: Albin Michel.

Lacan, Jacques. (1953) 1979. “The Neurotic’s Individual Myth,” trans. Martha Noel Evans in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly 48: 405-425.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. (1949) 1963. “The Effectiveness of Symbols,” in Structural Anthropology. New York: Basic Books.

Sarte, Jean Paul. (1934) 1966. Being and nothingness. New York: Pocket Books.

Sebag, Lucien. 1964. Marxisme et structuralisme. Paris: Payot.


1. Pierre Clastres and I studied Guayaki culture jointly; but I conducted this rather marginal work on dreams on my own.

2. I did not neglect these formal characteristics (the way a dream is related is as valuable as the dream itself); but in most cases they did not seem relevant, since they were identical throughout the corpus.

3. In the present essay it did not seem helpful to give the original texts with interlinear translations.

4. Which is, of course, always the case in an analysis.

5. Arroyo Morroti was just a clearing in the middle of the forest, where the Guayaki had settled because their protector’s “rancho” was located there.

6. The second group, the “Aché Kwera,” had been there for only a year, and some of its members did not appear at Arroyo Morroti until just before our arrival.

7. The ethnographic information given here has been limited to that strictly necessary for understanding the dreams that follow; we have avoided all developments not relevant to the dreams.

8. Neither of the two groups at Arroyo Morroti included more than forty members or so; but this was due to persecutions by the Paraguayans.

9. The Aché Gatu and the Aché Kwera did not know each other before meeting at Arroyo Morroti.

10. Cases of polyandry are very frequent in Guayaki society.

11. This point would require long explanations which we are unable to give here; we can, however, say that this marks an essential difference between men and women, indicating that it is the former who exchange the latter, and that in every case the counterpart of the gift received is the possibility of death itself. We should also note that sexual relations that took place earlier are only authenticated when the girl has her first period.

12. The term jware is also applied to the person who purified the girl with liana shreds at the time of her first period; this clearly indicates the reciprocal structural articulation of the two ceremonies.

13. Following the way Guarani is written, the phoneme y—common to Guayaki and Guarani—designates a guttural French “u”. The symbol u here designates the French sound “ou” [Translator’s note: As in English boot].

14. I cite only those Guayaki terms that have specific functions not directly translatable into French; the dreams to be analyzed will involve figures designated by these terms.

15. This is true of at least one of the groups, the Aché Gatu, to which Baipurangi belonged; the second group, the Aché Kwera, buried their dead.

16. The term “soul” is of course used here with reservations. Ianvé and Ové can be defined only by their characteristics.

17. We should mention that the Paraguayan in charge of the Guayaki, Manuel Peyreira, had gotten into the habit of sleeping with Baipurangi from time to time. This situation was intolerable both for her and for Jakugi; but neither of them could do anything about it.

18. Baipurangi is speaking; we have kept as closely as possible to the text of the dream, in order to preserve the personal nature of the narration.

19. An extremely poisonous snake, greatly feared by the Guayaki.

20. I have analyzed the dreams in order, indicating at every point the degree of certainty the interpretation can claim. Each problem will be reconsidered in a more general way later in the essay, as we assess the route we have travelled.

21. “The dream-work. . . subjects the thought-material, which is brought forward in the optative mood, to a most strange revision. First, it takes the step from the optative to the present indicative; it replaces ‘oh! if only. . .’ by ‘It is’” (Freud 1905: 162).

22. In Guayaki a woman in this position is designated by a term meaning “false mother.”

23. As in this case, acts of revenge always draw on preexisting affective and social relations. The soul of a dead person, intervening on behalf of a wronged third party, will seize someone he was close to in life, most often his wife.

24. Meat has extraordinary affective and social value for the Guayaki. A Guayaki who spends a week without eating meat becomes morose and seems to have lost all interest in life.

25. This is a very common way of formulating problems for the Guayaki, in conversation as well as in dreams. We collected dreams from adults of both sexes, and this theme appeared in every case.

26. This is a reference to me, myself, to whom Baipurangi is telling the dream; this is the first in which I appear. Pierre Clastres and I had received Indian names after about three months with the Guayaki. He was Brikukiviregi (red-headed vulture), and I was called Wachugi (deer); these names had nothing to do with our physical or psychological qualities. [Translator’s note: Sebag uses the word chevreuil for the animal that gives him his name. In dictionaries, this is given as ‘roebuck’, and Auster, for instance, consistently uses this term in his translation of Clastres. Since these creatures are not all male, of course, the term should be roe deer. A roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) is a smallish European deer, a favorite with hunters. There are none in South America. I don’t know what kind of cervid the Aché hunt, but I would guess it’s the Brocket Deer (genus Mazama), a smallish deer about the size of a roe. I just translate it ‘deer’.]

27. Up until a few years ago the Paraguayans organized expeditions to kidnap Guayaki children, who were afterwards resold. It is only fairly recently that a law was passed forbidding such traffic and that the Department of Indian Affairs has extended its—faraway—protection over the various native groups of Paraguay.

28. Haven’t I, for my part, accepted Baipurangi completely? Haven’t I recognized her as a woman and still not had sexual relations with her?

29. In June, 1963, the Guayaki did, however, eat a little boy who had died of an illness, and performed the appropriate ceremonies (stripping and cremation of the bones).

30. Coatis are the only pets the Guayaki have; people catch them young and keep them until lack of food forces them to be killed.

31. The Guayaki explain most deaths as caused by diseases brought on by three essential foods: honey, armadillo meat, and coati meat.

32. Baipurangi is of course speaking of herself.

33. These summaries are situated not on the level of what the dreams say explicitly, the manifest content, but on that of the interpretation, the latent content.

34. An additional confirmation of this was provided by the appearance of childhood memories from the end of the first month.

35. The Guayaki, both men and women, speak very frequently of their own death; and they do so with a lyricism that is not without grandeur.

36. Dreams 7 and 11 occupy a somewhat special place; they deal with the same subject, the departure of Jakugi; the first is important because in it Baipurangi accepts the sacrifice of Pikugi—the father she is less attached to—in order to be rid of Jakugi; the second, which takes real conditions into account, evidently represents the most satisfactory solution.

37. Guayaki marriage involves no ceremony; and, strictly speaking, there is no need for the father’s consent; the father- and mother-in-law do, however, receive pieces of game from their son-in-law.

38. Indeed, what is in question in this case is more a mythical reconstruction of her history, revealing its symbolic value (on this subject, cf. Lacan [(1953) 1979]), than any kind of photographically exact narration. Direct questioning of the various protagonists revealed that while Kandegi was not happy about the birth of a daughter, he still treated her well on the whole.

39. The opposite could easily have taken place, and Kandegi could have killed his daughter at birth; this is what happened in several other cases.

40. This girl was later, at a very young age, kidnapped by Paraguayans.

41. Baipurangi must remember how her father would threaten her with his bow in the same way when she cried for lack of meat.

42. This represents, of course, only a very general analysis seeking to point out that nature remains the basis for cultural specifications, which are themselves mutually exclusive. Diachrony is essential to the Freudian theory of stages, in which each stage depends on the preceding one. This dependence is not real but symbolic: for it is the way in which the encounter between a particular drive and the law has been lived that determines the later form of that drive. In addition, the reappearance of earlier phases in adult sexuality is not simply a resurgence of certain moments of infantile sexuality that have remained identical throughout their development; a pervert is not a child, but a man who can signify his adult sexuality only by means of the debris of his childhood sexuality; thus the latter is restructured in function of norms posterior to it.

43. A somewhat different version will be found in Jung’s Collected Works, XVIII (1977: 90-91).

44. It is nevertheless true in Dream 2, built around the birth (fall) of children, that the Guayaki word for “fall” (waa) also means childbirth.

45. On this point, cf. Lévi-Strauss ([1949] 1963).

46. The unconscious may be threefold, involving lexicon, syntax, and function.

47. In my opinion, this is part of the significance of the work of Jacques Lacan.