Mindish poetry

Mindish poetry touches epic poetry like the Kalevala represents the ‘soul of the Finnish people’.

Mindish poetry can be translated in German as ‘seelische Poesie‘. ‘Seelisch‘ is usually translated as ‘mental’ but that is not all what Germans mean with it. Seele means also soul so following ‘seelische Schmerzen’ means pain of the soul which touches the South-American conception of SUSTO (soulloss). This cultural concept of distress is mentioned in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V).

This translating exercise is of anthropological importance. Two anthropologists gave their name to the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: language determines how a community/people/nation is-in-the-world and deals with it. My conclusion: the absence of an equivalent in Dutch and English-speaking peoples for ‘seelisch‘ says something about how the Germans experience the world.

We, in the west, are already for centuries in some trouble to stay close to the ways of our collective, hence personal, souls. See my ‘Lost Powers Reteurning’ (1996)

For me this is why we turn, for the last hundred years, increasingly to Eastern ways to learn how to take care of our personal souls. The word spiritual emerged from our craving to rediscover our spirits (souls) after centuries of ‘soul colonizing’ by the Roman-Catholic church (Foucault ‘Pastoral Power‘ (1978).

It is probably the right time too to learn from, for example, the Chinese how to take better care for our family souls (family shrine).

Because all human families seem to need more and more ‘seelische‘ maintenance too after centuries of war, by Empires, nation-states and World religions, against the intrinsic live giving forces of families (Scott 2009; Kumar 2010; Tjin A Djie & Zwaan 2010, 190).

Empires and world religions are dependent for thier existence and survival on families/communities and not the other way around. Human families and their indigenous communities are already around for hundreds of thousands of years. Empires, nations, worldreligions, let alone business corporations, are not older then 10.000 years.

Anthropologist Gregory Bateson coined the self-corrective groupsouls of families of dolphins, of humans and of trees as Ecologies of Mind.

According to Bateson different kinds of biological communities have minds and memories of their own in order to reproduce themselves succesfully over many generations in ever-changing habitats. In Bateson’s world Beautyand Grace are inherent to nature and biological, thus human, systems.

The German biologist/philosopher/writer Andreas Weber turns out to be a worthy successor of Bateson’s world view. In his numerous articles and papers he enacts a cosmology which tries to, like Bateson, ‘to think his way back to sync more with how nature works’.See his ‘Enlivement‘ (2013) and Towards An Anthropocene Manifesto (2015)

I myself uses mindish poetry to enter, roam and perform ‘seelische‘ maintanance in my father’s and mother’s families’ and my other mindish communities. I take it as one of my tasks to find words for the riches, abundances and hospitalities of Dutch and other human ‘ecologies of mind’.

In doing so I complemented the concepts and language I co-developed with troubled young men in multicultural contexts as a clinical-systemic anthropologist.

(See Dirck van Bekkum ‘Three Innovations from Clinical Fieldwork’ 2014)