UNDOING FORGETFULNESS: Chiasmus of Poetical Mind – a Cultural Paradigm of Archetypal Imagination


  • Nicoletta Isar


This paper tries to investigate the problem of memory through one of its most intriguing patterns – chiasmus – reflected in old poetry, sacred texts, philosophy and theology, visual arts, as well as biology. It aims to search for some provisory explanation of why man was able once to acquire such excellence in memorizing internally thousands of lines of poetry, whereas now memory is expelled outside the human body and mind in a mere digital file. Contrasting the so-called “wish-dream for immortality” of the contemporary post-human body, this paper takes another path and looks into some old cosmologies and visions in which chiasmus constantly emerged as an enduring cultural paradigm with ontological relevance. Spanning from Plato to Christian theology, up to the contemporary Neo-Platonism of archetypal psychology, this paper hopes to put forth, if not a theory, at least a vision about man and cosmos, cosmos and man, a chiastic epiphany in which the body and the material world partake both of the sacred.