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PRELITERATE POETRY THROUGH A DIFFERENT LENS

Excerpts From ALICE HICKEY: Between Worlds

Sometimes difficult concepts can be illuminated through storytelling. These excerpts from my recent book “ALICE HICKEY: Between Worlds” and the On-Line Appendix associated with it, may help some to understand many critical aspects of preliterate poetry and the culture that gave birth to it.

The myth referred to in some of these excerpts is The Witnesses Log , a long, enigmatic poem that came to me in 2001. I have included it as well. For those interested in the book and appendix, a free PDF is available as well as Kindle and paperback forms: http://justinspringbooks.blogspot.com/

JULIAN JAYNES PART TWO

SOME THINGS JAYNES MISSED

NOTE: For those who are not familiar with Jaynes’ ideas, I suggest you check out this Wikipedia Link first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Jaynes

SUMMARY

One of Julian Jaynes’ pivotal insights in developing his theory of consciousness came from his study of preliterate poetry. The frequent occurrence of situations where the characters heard the Gods speaking to them as to how to proceed suggested to Jaynes that these poems might actually be reporting how pre-literate people experienced the world. It also led him to suggest that the mysterious Ka of Egyptian theology was none other than those same voices.

Prior to that time, most scholars took those voices to be metaphoric, or stylized ways of reporting insights, but Jaynes took them literally and for that we have to thank him.

The second insight Jaynes had came from his own personal experience with poetry, both as a writer and reader, where he quite correctly saw that the ecstatic mental and emotional state experienced by today’s poets during the advent of a poem was linked to what pre-literate people experienced when hearing bi-cameral voices.

Jayne’s lack of experience with spontaneous oral composition of poetry, however, led him to several inaccurate conclusions about the nature of preliterate poetry and the nature of the Muse’s voice, which is a quite different internal voice ( in its characteristics) from the guiding voices pre-literate peoples experienced and some 2% of us still hear in times of stress and high creativity.

My own experience with both kinds of voices leads me to believe that the Muse’s voice came out of a later evolutionary development that resulted from early humans imitating their right-brained guiding voices.

Jayne’s errors stemmed largely from the fact he was only acquainted with the written composition of a poem, which is quite different from spontaneous oral composition, the latter being a largely unconscious act, closer to dreaming while awake than conscious writing.

In addition, most of the scholarship on oral, preliterate composition that Jaynes relied on is inaccurate for the same reason: lack of actual experience. It is impossible to experience spontaneous oral composition from the fully conscious mindset of a scholar or scientist.

True oral composition It requires surrendering completely to the artistic unconscious, or more accurately, (in Jungian terms) to the Poetry “archetype” . My experience in doing so has led me to believe that the mindset I enter when spontaneously creating an oral poem is not only very close what was experienced by preliterate poets, but also, very close to the mindset of preliterate humans when the heard bicameral voices.

Finally, I have pursued Jaynes’ insight into the nature of the Ka a bit further than he did. Based on my own experiences, I have come to believe that the Egyptians desire to keep the Ka alive was the seed that gave birth to their elaborate and totally consuming mummification practices.

JULIAN JAYNES PART ONE

SOME THINGS JAYNES MISSED

SUMMARY

One of Julian Jaynes’ pivotal insights in developing his theory of consciousness came from his study of preliterate poetry. The frequent occurrence of situations where the characters heard the Gods speaking to them as to how to proceed suggested to Jaynes that these poems might actually be reporting how pre-literate people experienced the world. It also led him to suggest that the mysterious Ka of Egyptian theology was none other than those same voices.

Prior to that time, most scholars took those voices to be metaphoric, or stylized ways of reporting insights, but Jaynes took them literally and for that we have to thank him.

The second insight Jaynes had came from his own personal experience with poetry, both as a writer and reader, where he quite correctly saw that the ecstatic mental and emotional state experienced by today’s poets during the advent of a poem was linked to what pre-literate people experienced when hearing bi-cameral voices.

Jayne’s lack of experience with spontaneous oral composition of poetry, however, led him to several inaccurate conclusions about the nature of preliterate poetry and the nature of the Muse’s voice, which is a quite different internal voice ( in its characteristics) from the guiding voices pre-literate peoples experienced and some 2% of us still hear in times of stress and high creativity.

My own experience with both kinds of voices leads me to believe that the Muse’s voice came out of a later evolutionary development that resulted from early humans imitating their right-brained guiding voices.

Jayne’s errors stemmed largely from the fact he was only acquainted with the written composition of a poem, which is quite different from spontaneous oral composition, the latter being a largely unconscious act, closer to dreaming while awake than conscious writing.

In addition, most of the scholarship on oral, preliterate composition that Jaynes relied on is inaccurate for the same reason: lack of actual experience. It is impossible to experience spontaneous oral composition from the fully conscious mindset of a scholar or scientist.

True oral composition It requires surrendering completely to the artistic unconscious, or more accurately, (in Jungian terms) to the Poetry “archetype” . My experience in doing so has led me to believe that the mindset I enter when spontaneously creating an oral poem is is not only very close what was experienced by preliterate poets, but also, very close to the mindset of preliterate humans when the heard bicameral voices.

Finally, I have pursued Jaynes’ insight into the nature of the Ka a bit further than he did. Based on my own experiences, I have come to believe that the Egyptians desire to keep the Ka alive was the seed that gave birth to their elaborate and totally consuming mummification practices.

HOW TO CREATE SPONTANEOUS SPOKEN POEMS

A SIMPLE VIDEO TUTORIAL ON HOW TO CREATE NARRATIVE POEMS USING THE SOULSPEAK METHOD.

This is a short video tutorial on how create spoken (or written poems) using the SOULSPEAK method of accessing the artistic unconscious. These are the same type of spoken poems you hear on Radio SOULSPEAK and Video SOULSPEAK. The SOULSPEAK method can be used by anyone. It unlocks our inborn ability to create story poems by quieting the conscious mind and surrendering to the instinct, or archetype, of Poetry. This allows the unconscious to come into the conscious mind as a story poem. The process is automatic. Speaking or writing the emerging poem is your choice. These spontaneous poems are sometimes called Dreamstories.

ORAL POETRY

A discussion on preliterate and contemporary oral poetry

SUMMARY:
I am one of a handful of poets who can compose in the spontaneous oral tradition of preliterate poets. For those who would like to know more about me and see and hear samples of this contemporary oral poetry, which I call SOULSPEAK, you can visit the following blog, http://justin-soulspeak.blogspot.com/ which has links to a variety of articles, mp3 recordings and videos.

This knol discusses the background, culture and unique characteristics of spontaneous oral poetry both past and present, and its relationship to the written poetry of the the past 2000 years. Special attention is given to the art of Homer. It was adapted from my book, SOULSPEAK: The Outward Journey of the Soul, published by SPT press in 2002.

I have excerpted a small section of the book (Chapters 22-27) which discusses the essential nature of true oral poetry and how it differs from written poetry. If you wish to pursue the matter further, I suggest you link to my blog that contains a WORD version of the book. A fully featured PDF is also available.

The blog starts with Part V: A New Call for an Older Poetry. Chapters 18-31, which is the section that should be of interest to you.

Justin Spring

October 1, 2008

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