myth and poetry



Quiddler & Hide
Part One: A Soul Retrieval Of Spiritual Disinheritances
~stephanie pope

Henry Moore, 1945 A Crowd Looking At An Unknown Object
Henry Moore, 1945 "People Looking At A Tied-up Object"

quiddler n. One who hangs around wasting time & making conversation while people are working.

people (n.) late 13c., "humans, persons in general," from Anglo-French people, Old French peupel "people, population, crowd; mankind, humanity," from Latin populus "a people, nation; body of citizens; a multitude, crowd, throng," of unknown origin, possibly from Etruscan. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish pueblo, Italian popolo. In English, it displaced native folk.

people (v.) late 15c. (intransitive), c.1500 (transitive), from people (n.), or else from Middle French peupler, from Old French peuple. Related: Peopled; peopling.

In a people’s work, the work of peopling sometimes will be “a people working”. Sometimes a quiddler interrupts such a joint effort but that is a ripple on the surface of the stream of what’s working underneath in peopling as people work.  

Heraclitus says something like this. The waters are ever, newly flowing in the one stream every two or more enter but no two people enter the same stream. And no matter what happens, it doesn’t change the underworld water barrier in its course. A lot of argument can happen as a result of misunderstanding what is picturing itself in the simultaneously, ever-present nature of streaming flux. For some folk crossing over this underworld water barrier is a trifling task. They already tap into poetic way-making.  For others it is a monumental and nearly impossible achievement.

The choice of the nature of the water barrier seems to depend on the nature of the solution envisioned; for an obstacle that can only be overcome by monumental heroic effort, a huge expanse of water that requires great time and effort to cross is appropriate, whereas if the solution is simply a ritual like a burial or a deity’s aid, the body of water has a symbolic function and need not seem physically impassable. 1 ~Radcliff Edmonds III

Edmonds is writing about Aristophanes’ Frogs and a descent into the depths of comedy. If you can look both ways at once you can sometimes catch humor in the humours of underworld streams.

Not everyone can switch easily into a poetic mode of seeing; some folk get caught in heroic models of imagination. Two people entering the one stream peopling do not always enter the same waters.

So when something becomes a quiddle do what I did.  Disengage in the heat of the quiddle because that quiddler’s quiddling in the form of “a finger pointing at the moon” is a finger pointing at the moon; it is not the moon lingo talking what is talking to you.

Psyche’s Humor Blooms Like a Black Flower

Sometimes an inner life’s wit blooms suddenly from elsewhere.  An inner life has a way of interrupting the best laid insults of quiddlers. And when I see this happening to my narrative’s “voice” recently in a Jungian Facebook strand, I also know I need only resituate myself in the depth space of a reverie and allow the underworld to work its way into words from deeper down. If I do not do this I will have let this unknown narrative voice be stoppered by someone else’s snips and snails or tongue-wagging tale talking moons and fingers as it throws an unnecessary covering over something already veiled in what is important working away in my inner life. This nonliteral veil is psyche, psyche not merely unique to me but something from farther out  belonging to the nature of cosmos itself. A Jungian facebook friend reminds me recently Jung says all cosmos is present to the personal unconscious.  

I have gratitude for Psyche’s veil. It is the way “Nature loves to hide.” ("Phusis kruptesthai philei."  ~ Heraclitus)

And there you catch it. The image, the veil, is the image itself as veil, as the covering that hides and that is itself this hide. The unknown object of dreams is an image of psyche-making. In the myth, the gods give humanity to man this way. In form, feminine. But in material, immaterial, veil-like. Her name is Pandora, which means all-gift. Her psyche-making is this. She is a personfied notion for "image of psyche" which we inherit in its entirety without knowing what "it" "is".

Now, nature is what is and psyche is that nature "all-given" through which all participate in what is. Nature is… real. One inherits all that psyche really is just as one inherits all nature is. Psyche’s lingo presents to the mind an image of “real” nature in the material sense as fiction, fantasy and myth. But, image first. Image is the ore in the ore-dialect. And, image displays a material imagination while conveying a formal imagination invoking idea.

Imagine letting the image in the breath of the myth carry inward the scent you’ve just sniffed in the air regarding eternal, archaic matters. I will come back to that word in Part Two of this essay.

I think you may already guess which way finger-pointing has led me. I am following the night scent of this June’s full, strawberry, moon lingo―which is a rose!


The photo above these lines is a photo-sketch of Henry Moore, “People Looking at a Tied-up Object” (1945) paired with a quote by Carl Jung regarding how to approach the dream.  The definition of people, which can mean both peopling and a crowd of people, is nicely portrayed in Moore’s sketch.

This photo-image expressing a Moore-Jung aesthesis finds home in a Jungian facebook strand where first I see it.  It is quite a poetic thing to have done, or so I think as I respond to it.  It invites me, through ekphrasis, to go between the two ideas portrayed, on the one hand, Jung’s idea for how to approach the dream, and, on the one hand, Henry Moore’s depiction of an unknown but decidedly “feminine” image. This “going between” opens to the possibility of a third space, a space where a third blossoming is unconsciously at work.  Call that a rose. Call that “feminine” blossoming.  It is a way and a light.

Many today agree that somehow this “unknown”  “femininity” blossoming matters to our times, this planet and all nature which I would like to remind, is at bottom that  “stuff” we call “psyche”.  So feminine blooming matters to what matters in matters shaping a eudemonia, a fully flourishing fantasy of peopling that extends beyond the personal to include one’s fellow human beings, animals, plants, rocks, etc.

The scent of it can be sensed opening like petals of a black flower, black as in unknown content but also one must consider this contentment may not be knowable through the usual mode of knowing literally, tangible things.  A poetic mode of seeing is required, poetic, as opposed to rational seeing. Poetic seeing is an attempt at soul retrieval where black flowers bloom.2

A Black Blooms Black Blooms.

My early reflection didn’t seem to be well-received this past June in the facebook strand.  When I see the photo-image with the Jung quote and enter between what another has suggested as conversation partners I question the idea “femininity” because of the unknown object’s feminine shape wondering if it carries inherently its own ordering pattern.

I am reminded that in myth, “psyche” takes on literary value and female form in the blossoming unconscious life of peopling and enters consciousness in the form of a literary tale about the becoming of a young, beautiful woman, Psyche. Psyche is not literalized but mythologized, you see. It is this Psyche people call “a second Aphrodite.”  

You see “people” tell one story. But when they do, they can only speak “about” her. But myth tells another story, the story Psyche herself tells. In mythologizing psyche, Psyche speaks to you in the stuff of her own design. Think myth within. But this within is also without and this may just be how cosmos and personal psyche cannot be told apart even as they must be told apart. In mythologizing psyche, Psyche, now a personified notion, is speaking directly to her own “peopling” underway, her own black bloom/ing. That's going on right under the nose of consciousness. Sometimes, one can pick up the scent of psyche-making, too. Somehow every peopling, both individually and collectively understood, needs this “femininity” to fully flourish. Psyche’s “psyche-making” is like a strawberry moon that is a rose!

Now that thought of mine is not the very grey sense imitated in the Moore sketch. Does a mythic pattern somehow operate to hold the two fantasies together? This is when the myth of Pandora pops into my head. Yes, that fits here. Pandora is given a veil by Athena. Her image operates in the shadow of the fire-stealing titan, Prometheus who, after stealing fire from the gods must make reparation in an animal sacrifice but in so doing tricks the gods using the animal hide to veil what is thieved. What is stolen along with fire is cunningly withheld in “body” while presented as that which gives body to forms.  I’ll try to explore that in the next blog, too.

You can see how the inner narrative continues to open and carry inward and how it will begin to break apart and dissolve an unconscious rage. Carried inward by people (myself included), projected outward unconsciously onto the unknown, we, in our peopling ways, both consciously and unconsciously inherit from patristic, rational models of the past psyche split apart from archaic ways of seeing matter and spirit more wholly entwined. That splitting off of an idea from its image is pretty hard on very real natures cut off from access to likenesses re visioning the likes of their inner, very real, living psyche-making.


Alas, what happens to the literal narrative exchange in the Facebook strand is another story.

I can liken what happens to what happens in the Seinfeld skit of the soup Nazi. A lot closes down. It takes the personified notion in a feminine role functioning as breaker of taboos to shift accent. A good laugh, like a myth functioning properly, opens things up. Sometimes, one even hears Aristophanes' frogs.   

Part Two coming soon

1 Radcliffe G Edmonds III. Myths of the Underworld Journey: Plato Aristophanes and the 'Orphic' Gold Tablets. New York: Cambridge, 2004, p.125.

2 “In the depths of matter there grows an obscure vegetation; black flowers bloom in matter’s darkness. They already possess a velvety touch, a formula for perfume.” Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay On The Material Imagination, Pegasus Foundation: Dallas, 1983.

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