Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Thoughts on Primordial Words, while reading Celan
Jung talks about images arising from the unconscious mind and often quotes a phrase that he inscribed on the lintel of the door to his Küsnacht hideaway-vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit (called or not called the gods will be there). These images, arriving unbidden, are sometimes archetypal, filled with emotion and weight, or primordial, fresh and newly born. Silence, meditation, or dreams open up a space for primordial or archetypal language to emerge, just as images and symbols arise from the unconscious. If we can capture these images in their freshness, newly arisen from the unconscious, and use them in poetry, then these images, now words, feel numinous within the poems' landscape. Primordial language, then, is felt, heard, and seen. It is emotive in quality, with weight as its predominant characteristic. Primordial language is like a stone emerging from thick green loam of an ancient pagan land, a stone among the scree of the Wortlandschaft (Celan). Jung employs a similar geographic metaphor to describe the unconscious. Robert Brockway in his biography Young Carl Jung, Continuum International Publishing Group (September 1997), wrote that "the prime source of Jung's concept of the collective unconscious was probably his idea of the geology of the human personality or Bodenbeschafftenheit." Each new word that springs up into consciousness resonates with feeling, which is felt through desire, desire for the sacred, the numinous, and the primordial. These primordial words are, in effect, incarnations of the spirit that are ultimately made flesh, arriving on pigeon feet (Heidegger and Celan), from the unknown, moving toward the known, and then settling into everydayness before disappearing in plain sight, like a stone beneath our feet. Once they disappear, we miss them and feel extreme Sehnsucht.