Thursday, 2 April 2020

Symbols of Transformation

Wm James on the perennial attraction of the cross is echoed in Robert Lowell’s Prayer for the Union Dead -  “he rejoices in man’s lovely, peculiar power to chose life and die.” Lowell would have been familiar with James’s Varieties of Religious Experience.  As the reading runs deeper, sacrifice returns with Jung, seeing the direction of the adult life-energy broadly channelled – canalised - towards rebirth, utilising the unconscious as the ‘creative matrix of the future… establishing a relationship between ego [consciousness] and the unconscious.’ I won’t confound myself offering more.  ‘Nietzsche probably means something of the kind in his poem:

Why hast thou enticed thyself
Into the old serpent’s Paradise?
Why hast thou stolen
Into thyself, thyself?

A sick man now,
Sick of the serpent’s poison;
A captive now
Who drew the hardest lot:
Bent double
Working in thine own pit,
Encaved within thyself,
Burrowing into thyself,
A corpse –
Piled with a hundred burdens,
Loaded to death with thyself,
A knower!
The wise Zarathustra!
You sought the heaviest burden
And found yourself.’

Frederick Nietzsche

Perhaps this brings Pound’s The Return, to mind. And we might find deeper significance if we bear in mind Christ’s last journey through Jerusalem.  Jung concludes his passage on what it is the hero carries – the burden is himself – noting :  ‘As Gerhart Hauptmann says:  “Poetry is the art of letting the primordial word resound through the common word.

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