It was like a dream of impotence

From Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel (pg 87-88 of the Penguin Classics edition).  Dreams are – towards the back half of the work especially – one of his favored metaphors for battlefield experiences:

In quick time, we had crept up to the enemy barrier…. With a shout of ‘ You are
prisoners!’ we launched ourselves like tigers into the dense white
smoke. A desperate scene developed in fractions of seconds. I
held my pistol in the middle of a face that seemed to loom out of
the dark at me like a pale mask. A shadow slammed back against
the barbed wire with a grunt. There was a ghastly cry, a sort of ‘Wah!’ – of the kind that people only produce when they’ve seen a ghost….After one shot, the magazine had clicked out of my pistol grip. I stood yelling in front of a Briton who in his horror was pressing his back into the barbed wire, and kept pulling the trigger.
Nothing happened – it was like a dream of impotence. Sounds
came from the trench in front of us. Shouts rang out, a machine·
gun clattered into life. We jumped away. Once more I stopped in
a crater and aimed my pistol at a shadowy form that was pursuing
me. This time, it was just as well it didn’t fire, because it was
Birkner, whom I had supposed to be safely back long ago.

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