When Poetic Reality Starts Not With The External World, Not With Internal World, But The Psychological Objects/ Meanings


The Trumpet-Part

The Trumpet-Part
deep in the glowing
Text-Void
at Torch-Height,
in the Time-Hole
listen in
with your Mouth

By Paul Celan

Alongside the external objects which we from our infancy internalize into our psyche when we interact with the external world, there are two types of intra-psychic or internal objects which we are able to develop. The internal objects of the first type are “dramatic”, like personages of theatrical plays and enigmatic figures of our night dreams – they are the result of our perception of objects in the external world and are their “representatives” (distorted by our subjectivity) inside our mind. The internal objects of the second type are conceptual, “linguistic”, “analytical” – result of our self-reflective perception of both – external and intra-psychic objects. In other words, our intra-psychic objects or introjects are either our psychological versions of the objects in the external world or our “intellectual” reaction on both, the external or internal world (our desires, passions, thoughts and feelings and imaginings). These “intellectual” reactions are our “formalized” interpretations of how we ourselves perceive our social environment and our psychic life.

Usually, poetry is full of poets’ subjective reactions on the external world, but in “The Trumpet-Part” there is no, for example, Trumpet-Part in the common world of external, shared objects, and there are no, for example, Text-Void, Torch-Height or Time-Hole in our subjective reactions on the external world. These intra-psychic objects are metaphors of how poet’s creative ego reflects on his external and internal worlds. They are metaphorical coding of poet’s work with reality. We have to take his artificial, “monstrous”, non-existing words as we usually take the shared world external to all of us or the world of our subjective reactions. We take his linguistic architectural terms as signifiers of his poetic operations vis-à-vis the two realities he confronts. The poetic inspiration is not under the poet’s conscious control, and without this uncontrollability there is no creative Eros, like there is no creative reaction on the world if there is no passion in our perceptions. The form is like content compressed into densified particles of sense.

Like nature of the world is latently present in our reactions on it, even we don’t know what this nature is (our reactions cover it like a box – what is inside it), the nature of poetic inspiration is present in the poet’s constructivist work. The poetic inspiration is Eros transformed by spirituality into grace. The Trumpet-Part of the poetic inspiration is fluid, flying pleasure soaring over and simultaneously drowning into “the glowing Text-Void”, the very code of Eros transformed into grace. It is the text of the poem, partially written and partially not yet, text in a process of being born/materialized in words and dematerialized in its context. The poetic inspiration is “deep” inside “the glowing Text-Void” and at the same time – “at Torch-Height” (intellectual aspect of poetic work, its self-reflective vigil, where self means not the self in the psychological sense but a reflective part of poetic work applied to itself). Torch-Height is above “Text-Void” but it is still inside the womb of “the Time-Hole” we cannot escape from as soon as we are alive, like creations of poetic inspiration – from the poems.

The Trumpet-Part/poetic inspiration is able to listen and to hear the depth of “Text-Void” and its “Torch-Height” and the “Time-Hole” enveloping all alive as the trembling emanation of poetic inspiration. But poetic inspiration listens not with ears, but with the whispering mouth of the poet – it is what poet hears through whispering the words of the poem into Being. The possessive pronoun “your” used in the final line of the poem indicates the presence of a psychological wholeness (psychological agency representing the whole personality of the poet) in charge of the internal objects creating the alive organism of the poem. We see here that poetic inspiration is not mystical dissolution of the poet into space/time. It’s rather a communication with a timeless world the poet is a part of.

Let’s enumerate the actors of poetry-creating alchemical drama – “The Trumpet-Part” (poetic inspiration), “glowing Text-Void”, “Torch-Height”, “the Time-Hole”, and “listening Mouth”. These internal objects animated by their own will and “working together” are creators of poetry.

When we consider the area of psychological reactions and especially the level of their codification by the poet we need intuitive strategies to create a language that can be adequate to this blended new reality where participation in the world is combined with its self-transcendent nature. Using double nouns for one object/phenomenon, one actor/action, is one of these strategies Celan experiments with in this poem.