“The religious image and the poetic image are close in turn to the psychological archetype of Jungian analysis which seeks to arouse the content and form of the individual life from the collective unconscious.”
Had a great discussion about chapter 4 in the H.D. book in last night’s class…but this sentence above has stuck in my mind.
Duncan’s constant use of the trope of “arousal” (the evocation of Eros) seems to highlight his “libidinal apparatus” of interpretation. “Meaning is not given to the world about us but derived from the world about us, that our human language is a ground in which we participate in the cosmic language. Such a sense of the universe as a meaningful creation and of experience as coming to apprehend that meaning determines the change from the feeling that poetic form is give to or imposed upon experience…to the feeling that poetic form is found in experience, that content is discovered in matter.”
Duncan argues that Pound’s ideogram and H.D.’s hieroglyph are evocations of received signs from the “great language that the universe itself is written.” Thus, the image resembles both the religious (iconographic) and the psychological (archetypal) as other examples of this evocation…of the universal language existing within the image itself.
The difficulty i have with this particular argument is not the idea itself of evoked image as received sign, but of the ground itself of the “meaningful creation.” It seems that the same critique that Deleuze and Guattari pose against Freudian interpretation in Anti-Oedipus (a reduction and rewriting of the heterogeneity of experience into a contained family narrative, which becomes proposed as the ultimate meaning (albeit hidden) of experience).
Reading this into both the religious image and the Jungian archetype, it seems that these interpretative methods employ a similar reductionism (granted that the collective unconscious is more of an extended family). This reductionism of the ground, or “containment strategy”, is present also in chapter 3 of the H.D. book, Duncan’s clunkily poetic attempt at the mytho-historical.
Besides the dangers of this kind of reductionism, which doesn’t leave space for “others” to work the ground, there is the problem of his determinism. The ground is always-already fixed. Levertov picks up on this tendency in their letters (which i posted on a few weeks ago). One is not able to re-vision the ground – i.e. the collective unconscious as formulated by Jung is always-already closed. This does not allow us to revise our collective unconscious, in the same way that we are contained, if within a Freudian matrix, in the drama of the family.
This “containment strategy” is present throughout chapter 4. Particularly in the ways in which Duncan banishes particular tendencies from his Garden (perhaps his “Household” is more appropriate). Amy Lowell, Early Williams, Pound the pedegogue and activist, are caught “disobeying orders of the imagination.” The acceptance of the visionary Pound as opposed to Pound the pedagogue highlights what Duncan is willing to contain within his ground. This is similar to his dismissal of “Lilli” in chapter 1. Lilli as poetic nurse/muse is acceptable, but Lilli as “Trotskyite partisan” is “disobeying orders.”
As romantic as the cosmic language sounds, as the idea of a “community of meaning”, it is equally problematic because of its tendency towards reductionism, closure, and exclusivity.