The archetypal image of the sound: the consonant M
Dr. Diego Frigoli*
MATERIA PRIMA Rivista di Psicosomatica Ecobiopsicologica – Ordine e Caos - Numero II - Giugno 2011 - Anno I
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Orior: I was born; M-orior: I am dying. Why did Latin use the same vital metaphor orior to define the birth and the death, the two fundamental phases of life just introducing an ‘M’ to make the difference? Which is the value of this consonant able to enlighten, with a different meaning, the two moments of the becoming? Is the ‘M’ only a symbolic mirror able to modify the vital image hidden in the word orior without altering the metaphysical meaning that sees the life and the death identical in terms of transformation? Or rather, is there a more hidden meaning whose value is that of explaining the inexorable continuity of any becoming? Is it interesting to trace the deep sense hidden in the graphic symbol of such a consonant?
Each sound, like any ‘’form’’ in the living world, besides a subjective meaning linked to the psyche of the listener, has got another meaning, an objective and symbolic one, that of being the representative of the original forms and events related to the archetype of the becoming.
Consequently, the sound has not only the value of making manifest through the word the meaning of what is meant as to allow a subjective fruition, but most of all, through the specific organization of the ethereal matter of the air, appears to be ‘’physiologically’’ linked to the mental image inspiring it. And that is not to be thought as the outcome of a series of psychic processes linked up in an irrational way, but as taught by the etymon (image = in me mag ago), in a figurative way of the mind, coming from the soft speaking of the body organs. A substantial continuity of the sound, of the word and the vibrations of the thought that cannot be heard, a concrete image of the vital ‘resounding’ essence of the organs of the body.
That is particularly evident in the natural sounds of man. A yawn, for example, is a sound of the voice of man revealing his hidden psychic feeling, that fatigue oppressing him reflected in a ‘primitive noise’ originated by the energetic exhaustion of specific internal organs. All the natural sounds of the body are then living symbols of a functional happening evident in the ‘resounding’ essence of the vital sound. But the natural sounds of the body do not only express a synchronicity of the physiological events of man in a substantial correspondence linking the microcosm to the macrocosm, they can also be considered the direct projection, in the material world of the human existence, of the rhythms and of those intangible events of an archetypal world.
In this perspective, the body ‘sounds’ will be that symbolic trace allowing him to rise to the understanding of those similar cosmic forces which have always animated the becoming of all the universe. Consequently, the resounding murmur of the ‘M’, coming from the vital centre of the throat, will show not only the sounding echo of the air flow coming from the respiratory organs but, because of the relation to the macrocosm, this sound will symbolically represent that inaudible vibration of the creation of the demiurge.
That is the approach to interpret those Indian myths that consider the cosmic sound of the Brahman as creating at each expiration a world that is then reabsorbed at each following inspiration through a millennial rhythm. And that is the same for the man being a concrete manifestation of the Àtman. This cyclicity is in fact well expressed by the respiratory function of man, it is the vital emblem of that more general rhythm of flux and reflux, of life and death, described in the iconographies of all the traditions as the ideal metaphor of the Genesis itself.
But which is the connection between the murmur of the air flow between the vocal cords and the handwriting of the consonant ‘M’ able to summarize in its form that cycle of the becoming, described by the traditions as an archetype of the genesis of the transformation?
The answer could be that to delimit the operative function of the archetype through its images, it is necessary to take into due consideration its expressivity as to trace, besides the onomatopoeia present in the modern language, those noises or natural screams representing that ancient code revealing the concordance between the sound and the natural gesture. In his essay ‘On the Nightmare’ Ernest Jones, examining the family tree of the language deriving from the use of the consonant ‘M’, shows that the sound of such a consonant in the Indo-European languages is differently combined with five other sounds, all labio-palatal sounds, the D, R, L, K, G, from which nine other roots derive.
On the basis of the etymological studies carried out by Jones, the ‘M’ is associated both with the maternal linguistic symbols and words referring to specific sexual activities like the masturbation and the vaginal intercourse. Also Groddeck in his essay on the ‘The Book of the It” came to the same conclusions. Concerning the etymology of the word morior, the author clearly highlights the affinity of meaning existing between love and death demonstrating how in the root mor is implicit a reference to the functions linked to a sexual intercourse.
To a scholar of hermeneutics that is obvious, this evidence can in fact be found in the hiero-grammatical analysis concerning the handwriting of the consonant ‘M’ especially if considering the letter as resulting from a cavity bounded by two symmetrical sections, the legs of the ‘M’. This cavity, on the basis of the linguistic relationship relating the primitive phenomena to specific body functions associated with well-defined feelings, shows that it broadly symbolizes that primitive ‘hollow space’ described in all the traditional cultures as the archetypal representation of the seat of gestation. The fact that this emblematic ‘intimate space’ generates a sounding fruit, the word, or rather a product interweaved of flesh and blood, a child, is not that important for a phenomenological evaluation regarding the vital function of the ‘M’.
In the first case, it will mean the creating reality of the mouth cavity whose form opens between the two symmetrical branches of the chin and of the nose as revealed by the stylized analysis of the profile of a face; in the second case the reference is to the vaginal access, when the lower limbs of the woman take the usual position during the face-to-face intercourse or during the childbirth. Archetypically, that is the deep meaning of the handwriting of the consonant ‘M’. The handwriting of the ‘M’ expresses in its generating structure of life just that primordial sound, that vibrating murmur represented in nature by the motion of the waves of the sea and in the man by the air flow that makes the roof of the mouth and all the skull vibrate. Both the sound and the handwriting are living emblems of the process of the genesis of the life and of the transformation. In this perspective also the etymological relation between the oriri and the moriri clearly appears in its phenomenological function of representing the process of transformation that allows the unmanifest, the unreal to make itself manifest and real. The orir, the birth that allows the archetypal function getting that ‘form’ that represents in the here and now its manifesting both if it is a cell or a word but also the body itself of man, while m-oriri means that moment of transformation of the ‘form’ generated by the archetype.
Referring to the vital logic specific of the archetypal function, the oriri represents the ‘form’ of the archetypal function manifesting in the phenomenon of the life, while the m-oriri represents the very moment of transformation. The oriri, the birth, allows the archetypal function in existence to get that “form” representing the here and now of its revealing both in case of a cell, of a word and also of the body of man, while the m-oriri means the moment of the transformation of the “form” generated by the archetype.
With the oriri, the specific ‘form’ coming from the generating archetype of the generation enters the world of its existence experimenting in life all the complete heritage of the experience that has determined its birth. These experiences are signed up as indelible engrams in the unconscious of the ‘form’ and the individuation of them will be possible thanks to the experience of the vital analogies able to get the operative functions of the generating archetype.
For example, the intuition that is present in our blood, all that subtle experience of the ‘liquidity’ of the sea and of all the living things generated by the water, is not a mere understanding dictated by the scientific knowledge of the evolution, but conversely, by the sensible experience of a mental process of identification with that morphogenetic field materially determined by the archetypal function. This identification concretely made active by each ‘form’ represents the possibility for our consciousness to have access to the ‘anima’, the core of that specific ‘form’, of understanding its ‘fate’, of representing its evolution and indirectly perceive not only the generating function but also the transforming one of the archetype.
In fact, each living ‘form’ as well as each symbolic image – the ‘vital’ cipher of the archetypal expressivity – has got its own ‘history’, its own ‘becoming’, a personal vision that if properly perceived, can give us information on the generating totipotentiality of the archetype and of its manifestation in the specific direction of its genesis.
Referring to the man M-oriri is, according to the ecobiopsychological approach, the function of the oriri, that is the concrete manifestation of the human form that entering the cosmic vagina, expressed in the handwriting of the ‘M’, undergoes its transformation.
The result of this transition of the existing in the concrete crossing of the Wandering Rocks of the death, brings us to an extremely important philosophical conclusion concerning the meaning of the existence itself.
According to this way of thinking, the existence will be not only that necessary and sufficient reason to make each living thing aware of the world and of itself but, most of all, it will represent concerning the becoming, the concrete manifestation of the Original Being, the existence will become the prerequisite to the Being as to allow the Being to become aware of its potentialities concretized in the specific evolution of each single living thing as a partial moment of its becoming.
The rules of the vital logic which does not know the separation between the facts of the microcosm and those of the macrocosm, can make us perceive the absolute meaning of the birth and the death. A cell, during its life, gets a precise experience that is a limited state of consciousness, and that is left with its death in its genetic heritage as to direct the development of a following cell according to a previously traced program. The existence of a living form has only the meaning of allowing the archetype – incarnated into its physiological structure – to acquire those vital experiences that will be deposited at the moment of the death of the form we are referring to, in that uroboric vagina, that symbolical ‘M’ receptacle of all the collective experiences of the species as to be used by the archetype according to an evolution programme of a becoming that is without interruption. In this perspective the birth and the death does not know any separation.
The oriri, the vital premise of the becoming is considered, according to the philosophy of life, as a fecundating phallus of that condition we call death as to deposit in it the deep sense, the meaning of all a life. The result of this hierogamic union between the oriri and the ‘M’ of the moriri, will be the concrete realization of a cycle, that of the becoming opened at the birth and now closed again as to allow the consciousness an ‘eternal return’ to the perennial sources of its generating archetype.
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*Dr. Diego Frigoli - Founder and promoter of the ecobiopsychological thought. Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and Director of the ANEB Institute – School of Specialization in Psychotherapy. Innovator in the study of the imaginary focusing on the symbol in relation to its dynamics between the individual and the collective knowledge.
Translated by Dr.ssa Raffaella Restelli – Psychologist, member of the British Psychological Society (UK), Ecobiopsychological Counselor and expert in ANEB Psychosomatic Medicine. Linguist in ANEB Editorial area.