Rod Jellema

Two Short Essays

from his Manuscript Titled

“Finding the Undercurrent”

(see another three essays in Innisfree 20)


Mythic Consciousness

I believe there exists, in human experience and in language, a level of awareness that is beyond the beck and call of the conscious intellect. It has to do with what we imagine, with what we feel deeply that’s beyond understanding, with what we dream. Even more, it has to do with the associations that come shimmering off things when we let them in—awarenesses that we don’t quite know how to state. Often they seem related to a dark and distant human past. In the process of being made, poems and stories, paintings and sculptures, concerti and jazz jam sessions and symphonies, touch and use that level of awareness. I call it mythic consciousness. . . .

[Read the full essay here: Mythic Consciousness]

We Remember More than We Know

The easy way through what we hate to remember about ourselves is to shrug and say, “Well, just forget it.” For individuals that often works. But I’m thinking here about social ethics—the mental health of the whole society’s imagination, of the collective psyche, or even of the guiding vision of a national conscience. How and how much should we allow these to forget? Do we assume that those who suffer our actions will, like the Judeo-Christian God, “remember them no more” and thus leave us alone? For example, can American civilization forget that it exterminated entire nations of people native to American lands, and still humiliates their survivors? . . .

[Read the full essay here: We Remember More than We Know]

Rod Jellema, long associated with the University of Maryland and with The Writer's Center (Bethesda, MD), won the Towson University Prize for Literature for A Slender Grace. His most recent book, Incarnality: The Collected Poems (Eerdmans, 2010), includes a CD of his readings of many of them. Jellema was the subject of our Closer Look in Innisfree 12.



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