Mihăilescu’s interdisciplinary approach to Charles Olson’ poetry, characterized by her as distinctive and highly original in spite of various influences undergone, is based on three entries meant to facilitate her the decoding of his criptic and symbolic verse. Jung’s Theory of Archetypes, Plato’s Idea of the Third Man and Bachelard’s Poetics of Elements have been turned to good account by Mihăilescu in order to facilitate the promotion of Olson’s closed nature, closed within himself due to the social, emotional and spiritual refusals of his contemporaries to understand the catalogue of his inner torments and the history of his silence  (in Bachelard’s terminology). By approachig the poem „Said Adam”, where Adam stands for the modern man, for Olson himself, Mihăilescu has offered us the  poetic demonstration how two conceptual entities- the sensitive man, the sinful Adam after the fall and the Ideal Man, Adam before the fall- can participate in recreating a new Idea of Man, through will and conscience.This happens precisely through Cornea’s argument, invoked in the article, that the Ideal Man can stand for Jesus Christ , called by Jung the master of the collective unconscious, and suggested by Mihăilescu  as that model that teaches us to take an inward journey and bring our dark socilally unaccepted unconscious drives to conscious view, no matter how painful such a process might be.

Keywords: Olson, Jung, Plato , Cornea, Bachelard, Ideal Man, sensitive man, individuation


Charles Olson’s poetry, approached by Mihăilescu Clementina via an interdisciplinary perspective and published in Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies, University of Bucharest Review, reveals the issues that his poetic contributions influenced by Ezra Pound, Williams Carlos Williams, Cummings, have preserved the poet’s distinctive voice and that his main intention is to retrieve temporality and all the spiritual values associated with it (morality, kindness, selflessness, empathy). The concept of retrieving “primal values” has been related to “the will to change”, a concept borrowed from Liicianu, ”whose profound implications reverberate within the very first verse of the second section of “The Kingfisher” as follows “What does not change/is the will to change”. Since the “will to change” has permanently been counteracted by “the betrayal of humanly modes of life”, the proposed interdisciplinary interpretation of Olson’s poem “Said Adam” involves Plato’s metaphysics built on his Theory of Forms and Ideas.

The author has focused on Andrei Cornea’s approach to Plato’s metaphysics that has been expanded upon in his article entitled “What Are We to Do with ‘The Third Man’”. Assuming  that “all sensitive people” together with the “Ideal Man” take part in creating a new Idea of man – the third man, Cornea’s article, regarded by Mihăilescu as a precious entry to decoding Olson’s poem, has offered her an interesting interpretative methodology. In Mihăilescu’s  opinion, “the sensitive man” is the sinful Adam, or Adam after the Fall. The Ideal Man has been associated with Jesus Christ, called by Jung “the master of the collective unconscious”. It has further been assumed  that the relation between the sinful Adam (the modern sensory man) and Jesus Christ (the Ideal Man) generates within ourselves what Jung calls the phenomenon of individuation (the necessity of growing aware of our unconscious inner nature by bringing it to conscious view).

As this methodological model demonstrates, Mihăilescu Clementina has in view to show how one can profitably approach a poet’s poetic testament, because what else is “Adam Said” but Olson’s testamentary stance, by viewing his individual authorial works as reflecting, what Gilder called ,”certain selves of his private ethos”. The reconciliation between the inner and outer worlds has been contemplated in terms of the relation between the emotional self (Pathos) and his logical self (Logos). This relation has further been explained via the archetype of the self regarded as the archetype of psychic totality (apprehension of our unique nature and of our intimate relation with cosmos itself – symbolically represented by the bird’s song).

Before analyzing Mihăilescu’s approach to Olson’s poetry, that has arisen from the  ˮaffection” side of her personality, from ˮthe deeper knowledge of the heart”, as she herself, using Gilder’s terminology, claimed as concerns Adam’s stance and mourning for his sinfulness, we will remain in the area of pure perception while responding to this emotive quality  poet.

Mihăilescu Clementina’s pure perception uncovers itself while she inspiringly  suggests that the bird’s song ˮwhippoorwill”, the light motif in Olson’s poem, artistically responds to the poet’s need to recreate a psychological reality. The profound ontological connotations of the bird’s song have been interpreted as being synonymous with a profound apprehension of the individual’s existence.

Moreover, we highly appreciate the author’s response to the proactive, committed subject of this poem, namely to Adam’s endeavour to accomplish spiritual trasformation. This happens by regarding Olson’s poetic space as the space of „cosmic solidarity where man interconnects with his own profound nature and with nature itself, symbolized by the bird and other animals.

The archetypal approach to this poem has offered to Mihăilescu the opportunity to turn to good account Jung’s archetype of change in terms of its  rendering the symbolically living of apparently irreconciliable experiences of losing and winning, of confronting oneself with the light and dark side of his personality. The acquisition of a superior ˮwise” conscience, the goal of personal enlightenment, is related to the acquired potential to surpass unpleasant situations. And yet, the poem abounds in poetic instances associated with ˮglobal depoeticization”, associated with ˮthe diminishing of poetic wisdom”.

The fourth stanza, best translates the idea of our being engrossed in sensuality and concerned with the ephemeraal values, through the poetic statement that we look ˮaimless as cattle feed”.

Olson’s poetic career ethos is depicted empathetically by Mihăilescu who dialectically mediates the ˮlogos”,the thinking part ot the poet’s mind with ˮpathos”, his feeling self, through observing  his personal ethos, in Gilder’s terminology. Olson’s personal ethos is revealed through the solution offered to modern man, that of detaching ourselves from the prosaic reality and retreat within some sort of ˮpoetic locus”, symbolized in the poem  by the tree, which stands for the tree of knowledge, for poetic wisdom which can be found within ourselves.

The need to return within ourselves is methodologically approached resorting to Jung’s archetype of the self, the archetype of psychic totality. The tree being regarded as some sort of perfect locus poeticus has also been associated with the Adamic garden, with the possibility of retrieving the eternal temporality. To retrieve temporality would also imply, according to the author of this contribution, to rediscover our intuition as concerns the valuable thing in our lives.

In order to avoid to understand life via abstract models (those models that are unrealistic and too bound to perfection), Olson reveals the other side of the coin, that implies to visualise ourselves as animals if we fail to meet the moral  demands mentioned above. To resemble animals would make us feel ˮcaught in habit”, ˮmaking enigmas”,”lacking what we want/ locked in what we have”, become joyless, refuse colour,”leave light no place to go”,all interpreted as standing for ˮthe essential idea of things”, in Calvus terminology. Such negative poetic instances have been interpreted as suggesting the ˮlabyrinth of our daily depresonalization, reproduction and globalization”.

The employment of Bachelard’s theory of ontological plenitude, reiterates the goal of Mihăilescu’s interdisciplinary research, namely to identify the psychological aspects of Olson’s poetry and to show how they contribute to retrieve temporality and, by extension, to integrate time and spiritual destiny into eternity.

The author has also interpreted Olson’s poetic contribution resorting to Levinas’ concept of “infinite” – irreducible to a finite bounded entity. Associating “alterity” and “totality”, both related to his political and social implications, Mihăilescu has concluded that his obsession with infiniteness has ensured him the cognitive capacity to permanently doubt the finite quantity of the infinite detail of the real in favour of the infinite quality and potential of the infinite detail of the real.

Mihăilescu’s analysis, grounded in Jung and Plato’s theories, has pleasantly striken us, her reviewers, as being logically and emotionally in tune with the modern intellectual need of performing correct acts of choice and judgment making connecting with our innermost needs and aspirations.

Assist. Prof. Brândușa Oana Niculescu, Academia Forțelor Terestre, Sibiu

Recenzie publicată în revista Demersuri Cretive nr. 27/ iunie 2018



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