The language we use in everyday life is predominantly linear, analytical, conceptual and utilitarian. The language is used almost exclusively exo-referential without paying attention to its materiality and other possible modes of communication and expression. Poetic language, on the other hand, is often defined as self-referential or metalinguistic.
Neurologically, the functions of analytical verbal language are located in a small region of the cerebral cortex of the left hemisphere. The right cerebral hemisphere processes information in a holistic, synthetic and sensory way, that is, sound (prosody, rhythm and melody), color, texture, etc. It works through images. The ideal state of learning, creativity and mental health occurs when the two hemispheres work in sync.
Our education and culture are based mainly on the perceptual modes of the left hemisphere. In conventional reading (prose), we use predominantly our rational and analytical skills. For the reading of poetry, we need to include the functions of the right hemisphere to a greater extent and perceive the sound of the words, perceive the images they evoke. It is for this reason that poetry is rarely read and often poorly read, as poetry is made up of words - which we normally process with our rational analytical verbal part - but the word in poetry is more than concept - it is its materiality (sound , form) and its meaning is malleable, contextual, figurative and imagery. So we either read poetry partially, or we read with the two hemispheres of the brain (which is the whole body).
Poetic language is the counterpart, in the use of language, the language of life, both of life as an ecosystem, and of life as a code - DNA - which is a self-referring spiral language that reproduces itself. It is a language that revolves around itself, like poetic language. Verse means back. It is a language that turns towards itself to reveal and co-create with the other without imposing itself…, therefore, even though the themes of ecology or DNA do not appear explicit in a poetic work, their structural forms are similar and, even if in a different way. subconsciously, readers / listeners are sensitized to LIFE.
In Biology, one of the elements pointed out as being present in what is alive is autopoiesis - self-creation, self-generation ... isn't it interesting that the word poiesis appears there? Poiesis is poetry, it is the etymological root that comes the Greek and means to do, create, generate… One of the characteristics of life, perhaps the central one, is autopoiesis… this characteristic is perhaps due to the very form of DNA, which is a very sophisticated language , which revolves around itself, being, like poetry, a self-referring language ... Genetic code, poetic code ... Genesis also has a meaning similar to poiesis ... to generate, to create ...
Therefore, poetic language, in this broad sense, is a primary language. It is the language of the cosmos.
The American writer and poet Ezra Pound wrote that one of the important functions of literature is in the care of language, in a kind of language hygiene, necessary and beneficial hygiene for the whole nation, and also wrote that peace arises communication.
Improving communication is improving relationships. There are campaigns for people to respect the environment and others, but we are not educated in respect. To respect (re spectare) means to “see again”. To see and then to see again, to become aware of the presence of the other - that is to respect. If we don't even see anything, there is no respect.
Poetry is an instrument for sharpening vision. It can help us to see things, to see the world - nature, people. When we see, we perceive a presence, we can cultivate the ability to see beauty. And when we see something beautiful, we don't think about hurting or throwing garbage on it. Seeing is essential for respect. Recognizing beauty is essential for respect. Art can help us much more in this than any political ideology, religion, philosophy or ethics. Art helps us to see beauty, life, and, that, respect is natural. Art can perfect us as human beings, as perceivers. Art helps us to feel. And when we feel it, we respect it.
The role of the poet, the one who works with language at its most essential level and explores its vast possibilities of communication and expression, is and can be much more comprehensive than has been recognized:
“In any living and flourishing civilization, especially in archaic cultures, poetry plays a vital role that is both social and liturgical (…) The archaic poet's true designation is Vates, inspired by God, in a trance. These qualifications imply at the same time that he has extra-ordinary knowledge. He is a sage, sha'ir, as the Arabs called him…. All archaic Greek poets reveal traces of their common parent. Its function is eminently social; they speak as educators and guides for the people; They are the leaders of the nation, whose place was later usurped by the sophists. ”(HUIZINGA, 2004, pp 134-135).
The etymological study reveals that the more we return to the root of a word, we find something concrete and an image. For example, the word "question", which for us today is an abstract concept, appears through the analogy with an object and a concrete action. Asking comes the Latin “percontáre”. The prefix “per” indicates movement to the sides and “contus” was a stick used by boatmen to touch the bottom of the river and avoid stranding. It is the same stick that was also used by blind people to “feel” the environment and guide themselves in their trajectories. Hence we get the meaning of asking - to probe the bottom, the unknown, what we do not see or know, in order to move. To ask is to seek to know what is not yet within our reach, it is to probe the unknown ...
There is no denying that bringing an image linked to a concept enriches and expands it - and that is what poetry does. In the previous paragraph, we illustrated the formation of a new concept through the analogy of function - the function of probing the physical environment with the stick is analogous to the function of probing the conceptual informational environment with questions. The examples are countless. Languages like Chinese more clearly demonstrate this process of analogy within the language, which is vital and inherent in language.
This is the basic process of poetic creation. We see, therefore, that the birth and development of a language obey the same principles that govern poetic creation. Enhance etymology and communicate effectively figurative floor revitalize language and culture:
“Concepts, prisoners of words, are always inadequate in relation to the torrent of life; therefore, it is only the word-image, the figurative word, that is capable of giving expression to things and, at the same time, bathing them with the luminosity of ideas: ideas and things are united in the image. But while vulgar language, which in itself is a practical and useful instrument, is constantly wasting the images contained by words, and acquiring its own superficial existence (which is only apparently logical), poetry continues to cultivate figurative qualities, or that is, bearers of images, deliberately (…) In archaic culture, the language of poets is the most effective means of expression, playing a much broader and more vital function than the mere satisfaction of literary aspirations. ” (HUIZINGA, 2004, pp 149)
In so-called archaic cultures, the function of the poet is similar, when it does not overlap or mix, with that of the shaman, curator and poetic spokesman of the various layers of the collective psyche and beyond:
“The 'speech-thought', a complex set of poetic formulas articulated by the shamans in their rituals and evening conversations, constitutes the hard core of this 'shamanistic translation' (…) It is through it that a shaman, apprentice or advanced, can effectively know myth-chants and healing chants (…) Such 'speech-thinking' has several similarities to the well-known 'twisted language' (tsai yoshtoyoshto) yaminawa studied by Townsley (1993: 460), employed 'to examine things carefully - to see them clearly '(ibidem), as a shaman explained to the author.
Valid, above all, because it indicates the necessary character of the metaphorical use of language in shamanism, since it offers the shaman knowledge about the emergence (wenía) or the formation (shovia) of all beings in the cosmos - knowledge, in fact, whose transmission links are threatened today. It is because they are unaware of such use of language, for example, that young people get sick: they get sick because they 'have no thought' (china yama); they do not know the entities existing in their completeness and are, therefore, permanently subject to threats the socio-economic field. ”CESARINO, 2012.
The passage quoted above and especially the bold and underlined parts illustrate very well one of the central aspects of this article - poetic language as an agent of healing and education, as a crucial aspect of individual and community cohesion.
In fact, the shaman / shaman can be seen as a prototype, and his role within the community can be seen in a similar way.
The poet approaches the figure of the shaman, the shaman, who heals through a special language - sung and poetic, which reveals new horizons and perceptual and behavioral models. One of the shaman's functions is to communicate with the forces of nature and mediate communication with the tribe. Language is the indispensable element of its function, a very specific language - the language of singing, the metaphorical and symbolic language, which is exactly the language of poetry. The “beautiful words”, as the Guarani call them; “speech-thinking”, as the Marubo say; twisted language (which revolves around itself), as the yaminawa say ...
Our culture's trend is analytical and linear, which has led to a fragmentation of knowledge. We managed to research the detail of the detail, but we lost the connections and the totality. Losing the perception of the connection and interdependence of everything is what is leading us to the crisis in the most diverse aspects: social, ecological, educational, political, etc.
How do we really have ecological awareness - that is, awareness of the connection and interdependence of all life, if we do not use the language of art properly, which is the language that reveals connections, the language of synthesis, the language that unifies?
Poetry is the language of return. It is the language of neural integration; of the unification of the intellect with feeling and imagination, with transpersonal languages. Musical language by resonance. Ecological awareness through the ecology of language.
Poetic language has the property of connecting the functions of the two cerebral hemispheres, enriching the life and perception of those in contact with it. It has the ability to help integrate different layers of the psyche, since it uses symbols and metaphors, the natural language of the unconscious. In doing so, the poet recovers a role that has been lost over time - the role of curator-educator in the community. Poetry has an effect similar to that of the songs and myths of indigenous oral peoples. Today, we are looking to rescue and integrate these cultures, but in order for us to really understand these other cultures, we have to get in touch and understand the mythical-poetic language that is the base language of their communities, and in essence, trans-cultural.
In Japan, haiku - which was explored a lot in the beginning of modernism, mainly in what z respect to form - conciseness, synthesis and image - in its original exercise was inextricably linked to meditation. “The haiku is transformed and becomes the quick note - a true recreation - of a privileged moment: poetic exclamation, calligraphy, painting and meditation, all together. Bashô haiku is a spiritual exercise. ”(PAZ, 2003)
In the East, in tribal societies, and in some aspects of Western poetry, poetic creation involves silence, contemplation of nature, attention to interior images, dance, music, etc.
Finally, poetic exercise is one of the archaic techniques of ecstasy, one of the precious timeless and transcultural methods of knowledge and expansion of consciousness.
- Pedro Ivo, excerpt the book “Reversão da Perversão”. 2014.