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Katlin Profile
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Jung on Poetry


In her recent interview with Triggerfish, Auto mentioned Jung's essay on poetry and provided a link to it:

http://www.studiocleo.com/librarie/jung/essay.html

Something else may take your fancy, but I was struck by this from Jung's conclusion:

The impact of an archetype, whether it takes the form of immediate experience or is expressed through the spoken word, stirs us because it summons up a voice that is stronger than our own. Whoever speaks in primordial images speaks with a thousand voices; he enthrals and overpowers, while at the same time he lifts the idea he is seeking to express out of the occasional and the transitory into the realm of the ever-enduring. He transmutes our personal destiny into the destiny of mankind, and evokes in us all those beneficent forces that ever and anon have enabled humanity to find a refuge from every peril and to outlive the longest night.

That is the secret of great art, and of its effect upon us. The creative process, so far as we are able to follow it at all, consists in the unconscious activation of an archetypal image, and in elaborating and shaping this image into the finished work. By giving it shape, the artist translates it into the language of the present, and so makes it possible for us to find our way back to the deepest springs of life. Therein lies the social significance of art: it is constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is most lacking. The unsatisfied yearning of the artist reaches back to the primordial image in the unconscious which is best fitted to compensate the inadequacy and one-sidedness of the present. The artist seizes on this image, and in raising it from deepest unconsciousness he brings it into relation with conscious values, thereby transforming it until it can be accepted by the minds of his contemporaries according to their powers.

Peoples and times, like individuals, have their own characteristic tendencies and attitudes. The very word "attitude" betrays the necessary bias that every marked tendency entails. Direction implies exclusion, and exclusion means that very many psychic elements that could play their part in life are denied the right to exist because they are incompatible with the general attitude. The normal man can follow the general trend without injury to himself; but the man who takes to the back streets and alleys because he cannot endure the broad highway will be the first to discover the psychic elements that are waiting to play their part in the life of the collective. Here the artist's relative lack of adaptation turns out to his advantage; it enables him to follow his own yearnings far from the beaten path, and to discover what it is that would meet the unconscious needs of his age. Thus, just as the onesidedness of the individuals conscious attitude is corrected by reactions from the unconscious, so art represents a process of self-regulation in the life of nations and epochs.



Last edited by Katlin, Aug/23/2010, 9:46 am
Aug/23/2010, 9:44 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Jung on Poetry


Thanks Kat and Auto. This part took my fancy too:

In contrast to the personal unconscious, which is a relatively thin layer immediately below the threshold of consciousness, the collective unconscious shows no tendency to become conscious under normal conditions, nor can it be brought back to recollection by any analytical technique, since it was never repressed or forgotten. The collective unconscious is not to be thought of as a self-subsistent entity; it is no more than a potentiality handed down to us from primordial times in the specific form of mnemonic images or inherited in the anatomical structure of the brain. There are no inborn ideas, but there are inborn possi-bilities of ideas that set bounds to even the boldest fantasy and keep our fantasy activity within certain categories: a priori ideas, as it were, the existence of which cannot be ascertained except from their effects. They appear only in the shaped materials of art as the regulative materials that shape it; that is to say, only by inferences drawn from the finished work can we reconstruct the age-old original of the primordial image.

Thanks for posting this link.

Chris
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Jung on Poetry


Yes. And I remember this bit of Jung on poetry. But I think I get something I didn't get back then. This primordial idea thing is more plasmic than it is concrete and discrete. That is what he meant.

Tere
Aug/23/2010, 7:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Jung on Poetry


Chris,

This bit from Jung's essay that you cited:

"There are no inborn ideas, but there are inborn possi-bilities of ideas that set bounds to even the boldest fantasy and keep our fantasy activity within certain categories: a priori ideas, as it were, the existence of which cannot be ascertained except from their effects. They appear only in the shaped materials of art as the regulative materials that shape it; that is to say, only by inferences drawn from the finished work can we reconstruct the age-old original of the primordial image."

reminds me of something your wrote recently in thw "What Makes It a Poem?" thread:

"My latest metaphor for poetry is dark matter. The way visible bodies orbit dark matter, indicating its size, shape, location; its gravitational pull. So maybe a poem is a similar configuration of words, orbiting dark matter, indicating its presence and gravitational pull."

http://bdelectablemnts.runboard.com/t1074

Tere,

Combining your thoughts with the quote Chris cited, I thought: "a priori plasmic potentiality/possibilities." Say what? What might that/those be? Not concrete, not discrete. It's like a Zen koan. I can almost, but not quite, grasp the concept. Whassup, kimosabe? Wabi-sabi and the place where language fails us. My definition of poetry, perhaps, the space where "the crack in everything" meets "the unsayable said." Either that, or I'm talking smack. emoticon
Oct/1/2010, 8:39 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: Jung on Poetry


Thanks Kat,

for ferreting out a kind of consistency in my meanderings. I wouldn't have connected those dots.

Chris
Oct/1/2010, 2:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
libramoon Profile
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Re: Jung on Poetry


In his autobiography Jung wrote: ‘As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.’

http://jonathanstedall.co.uk/heaven/sample.php
 
from Where on Earth is Heaven?
Jonathan Stedall

an idea I'm just starting to work with:

work and love
expression and assimilation
need for food, air, stimulation
ideation, imagination, succor
self-aware cells, each with place
and passion
busily interchanging
at market and field
combine wielding power, growing
beyond boundaries
permeable to trade, elation
creative generation
each lives to give
essence

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Terreson Profile
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Re: Jung on Poetry


But I do love this kind of playfulness. I read the exchanges and I get what maybe the board's best purpose: the simple play of ideas.

Here is something to add to the game. I've always loved Sheldrake's hypothesis, something he called formative causation. It being an alternative theory to explain how simple cells get complex. I think it speaks to Jung's notions of the archetype, especially what Sheldrake called fields of morphic resonance. I think it speaks to poetry too, its plasmic nature.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Jung on Poetry


Earlier in the thread, I mentioned the phrase "the unsayable said." It's from an essay by Donald Hall by the same title. You can download a pdf of the essay here:

http://www.negotiationlawblog.com/uploads/file/The%20Unsayable%20Said%20Hall.pdf

In his autobiography Jung wrote: ‘As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.’

I love that quote, Laurie. Thanks for posting it. I like the idea you are starting to work with. I think I'd like to work with it too. From the link you posted:

In relating some of the bushman stories, Laurens wanted to show how for the bushmen – and indeed, once upon a time, for all of us – nature was like a mirror in which we learned to recognise aspects of our own make-up, both physical and psychological: a lesson that is, I believe, far from over. Above all, it was through the diversity of animal life and behaviour that these insights were experienced by the bushmen. Indeed we still talk about someone being as cunning as a fox, as wise as an owl, as strong as a lion or as obstinate as a mule. It is, in one way, an obvious example of the microcosm/macrocosm theme that I am exploring in this book – a theme that throws significant light on the polarity that exists between what we call ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’. All that surrounds us, at whatever distance, exists also in each one of us. In his opening commentary to the film Laurens quotes the Elizabethan physician, Sir Thomas Browne: ‘We carry with us the wonders we seek without: there is all Africa and her prodigies within us.’

Yes!

Having recently watched the movie "The Last Station" about the end of Tolstoy's life, this too speaks to me:

Towards the end of the film, and over images of old and solitary animals – an elephant, a wildebeest, a rhinoceros – Laurens spoke about Mantis’s final message to human beings. In the mythology of the bushmen this humble stick insect taught them not only how best to live in the here and now, but also how to face death and beyond:

"I’ve always been deeply impressed how the animal towards the end of its life will separate itself from family and herd, not because it is forced to, as many believe, but as if out of some inner necessity – like the Hindu who traditionally in the last quarter of life feels compelled to take to the road alone in search of salvation."

Such a thought brings to mind Tolstoy’s tragic yet heroic flight to separate himself from all that he was soon to leave behind.


Tere,

Thanks for the link, literally and figuratively, to Sheldrake. I saw him interviewed once on TV (the Charlie Rose show perhaps) and was immediately taken by his thinking. I think you are right in connecting his hypothesis to Jung's notions of the collective unconscious and archetypes.

This thread inspired a poem, which may or may not make sense without the context here, that I am going to post in the Poetry Spectrum.

Oct/26/2010, 10:33 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 


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