Mandalic Expansion of the Centre in the Poetry of Gennady Aygi: Boundlessness of the Self and Cosmification of the Poem
About the Polilogic View of Literature
In our collaborative, 'polylogic' project called ”The Centre from the Periphery”, the words centre and periphery are used primarily within a historical, social and political associative framework, where centre designates authority, power, and the mainstream of cultural movements, whereas periphery refers to minority and a marginal position. This everyday interpretation of the words 'centre' and 'periphery' and the historical limitations of our project (focusing on the middle and the second half of the twentieth century) may seem to involve a marginalisation of the mythic centre, which is a typical feature of dominant trends of contemporary culture.
The three articles that I have written for the project are an attempt to integrate the archetypal-mythical associations of 'centre' and 'periphery' into the primarily historical and social perspective of the project. In mythical thought, the concept of the centre designates those timeless, universal, enigmatic, elusive, and trans-conscious (or 'trance-conscious') dimensions of existence and of the mind that are accessible only through a mystical experience of abolishing ego-consciousness, whereas periphery (or circumference) is associated with the multiplicity of the empirical world, perceptible by the senses, and organised within the coordinates of time, space and logical causality. The mythical semantic field of concepts of centre and periphery is related to the archetypal centre of human thought, whereas the social-historical-political aspect of these key concepts is related to the mythically perceived gais a dominant role.
According to the (mythically peripherical) viewpoint of our project, the perceiver, especially an Eastern-European one, perceives himself to be at a periphery, in a marginal, somewhat inferior, position. However, a mythic perspective can shift o enrich this perception, since it enables the perceiver to be at the mythic centre, as long as they think and perceive mythicalli, regardless of their actual place in society and in the world of affairs. Mythic thought regards every contemplative perceiver to be at the mythic centre, as it regards every home, temple, yurt, and so on, is a symbol of the Axis Mundi. Mythic contemplation involves the simultaneity of outward and introspective perception, revealing that every human being is a microcosm.
Within a mythic perspective, the archetypal centre (representing a mystical revelation of the sacred) can be attained anywhere and at any time, and mythically, the perceiver is the centre itself, re-discovering over and over again that what is within himself is around himself also, that is to say, the seer and the seen, mind and nature, inside and outside worlds, microcosm and macrocosm are metaphorically intertwined within the network of the unus mundus.
My article in the first volume (p/c 1) discusses the centrovertal nature of Gennady Aygi's poetry, where the word 'centrovertal' is used in the mythical-archetypal sense, as related to universal and timeless dimensions of existence and of the mind. The article focuses on the poetic re-enactment of the threshold situation of cosmogony, a mytho-ritual experience that is traditionally symbolised by attaining the psycho-cosmic centre of the mandala. The article gives a brief guidance on how to approach Aygi's poetry within the wider theoretical context of free intertextuality that is based on Frye's and Bakhtin's notion of semantic convergence (the literary text functioning as an anagogic monad.). This theoretical context is discussed in more detail in the second article (p/c 2), which provides a brief outline of how to integrate the 'spatial' model of free intertextualiy and the more-than-dialogic perspective of our project into the wider intellectual movement of dynamical systems theory. The article discusses some of the main points of contact between these literary approaches and the new intellectual paradigm, which are summarised as follows:
(1) A shift of focus from the investigation of the properties of phenomena to an investigation of their relationships.
(2) The definition of system as an integrated whole, whose essential properties arise from the relationships between its components. The applicability of the word 'system' for the literary text and for intertextual networks of literary texts.
(3) The epistemic (mind-reflecting) nature of the systemic method.
(4) Arthur Koestler's term holon (a sub-system that is an integral part of a larger system yet in itself is an autonomous whole), is proposed to be adapted to literary theory, to reconcile the intertextual and the structuralist-formalist understanding of the nature of the literary text.
(5) The applicability of notion of systemic properties (properties that an entity obtains as a result of being part of a system) to the study of literary texts and their dialogues.
(6) Literature demonstrating the scientific concept of spontaneous self-organisation (autopoiesis). It is a process of constant change and transformation, which results in an oscillation or a dynamic balance of order and disorder. Within the framework of this principle of dynamic stability, the debates between organicism and deconstruction (representing two, seemingly contradictory views of literature) could be resolved. For organic unity could be seen as a dynamic system, where relations between components are continuously and simultaneously being dissolved and reconfigurated, while the integrity of the system is maintained. This 'autopoietic' mechanism produces a kinetic structure that is never complete, finished, defined, or determinable, due to the dynamic relation of the parts to each other and to the whole. The essence of a system is that it is constantly changing; it can grow, and evolve, yet it does not fall apart; its integrity is maintained.
(7) If one accepts that the literary text, and a network of literary texts, can function as dynamic, autopoietic systems, then one can establish a link between the holistic Gaia-hypothesis and the archetypal notion of the imagination as a vital psycho-cosmic creative power (cf. Coleridge's description of the Imagination as an 'essentially vital', 'living power', producing organic forms that are characterised by a dynamic stability, or an inner dynamics within a unity.) With such re-integration of literature into the totality of being, we find ourselves rediscovering the archetypal notion of the unus mundus. Thus we are closing up a circle that turns out to be an ancient model of the textual nature of the world; of course, the world that has been brought into existence through naming, by the power of the creative word.
The second part of the article illustrates some of these theoretical concepts through a brief introduction to Roberto Calasso's Ka (1996; Ka 1999).
The third article (p/c 3) continues the exploration of the interaction of the mythic centre and periphery, as it is captured in the archetypal diagram of the mandala. The article focuses on one of the essential features of the mandala, its simultaneouosly centrifugal and centripetal dynamics, an ordering principle, whereby the centre and the periphery contain and reflect each other. This interplay is revealed to be one of the crucial aspects of mystical experience, as distinguished from the common belief that mystical illumination is related to the unitive centre exclusively. The translucence of primordial one-ness through the multiplicity of the created world is one of the revelations of mystic vision, and it can be captured by symbols and metaphors. The article briefly discusses the link between mystical perception and the poetic devices of metaphor and symbol. These units of figuration are pre-eminent embodiments of the imagination; they express the inexpressible in their structure and semantics, through a mystical synthesis of identity and difference, of matter and psyche, of rational and irrational, of concrete and abstract, of real and unreal, of the inside and the outside worlds, of mind and nature, and of other opposites. The article refers to two contemporary mystic poets, Nicholas Hagger and Kathleen Raine, and reminds the reader of one of the ancient, concise formulations of the mystical wonder, in the first verse in the Tao Te Ching.
Kiadványunk felsőoktatási segédanyag, mely A Pécs / Sopiane Örökség Kht,a Pro Renovanda Cultura Hungariae Alapítvány „Klebelsberg Kunó Emlékére” Szakalapítványa,valamint A Pécs2010 Programtanács „Európa Kulturális Fővárosa - 2010” cím elérésére kiírt pályázatán megítélt Nívódíj segítségével, a kiadványhoz kötődő konferencia pedig a Pécsi Tudományegyetem Rektora, a Pécsi Tudományegyetem Bölcsészettudományi Karának Dékánja, a Modern Irodalomtörténeti és Irodalomelméleti Tanszék, a magyar szakos levelező képzés és a Liber-Arte Alapítvány által nyújtott támogatásokkal jöhetett csak létre. Segítségükért ezúton is köszönetet mondunk.