Zaum (Beyonsense, Educanto) in the Komi Tradition of Incantations: Revisiting the Issue of Origins

Anatoly Panyukov, Komi Science Centre, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
2019 Folklore  
In order to provide a general overview of particular aspects of the topic in the title of this article, the author suggests having a look at one specific example from the Komi tradition of incantations. In the analytical part of the article, the author makes a hypothesis: Linguistic transformations verified as zaum (beyonsense, educanto) can occur as a result of compression of a source text (pretext, prototext) into a rhythmical matrix of the act of incantation. By the rhythmical matrix we mean
more » ... a complex fixed structure of rhythmical subsystems: sound-rhythmical, rhythmo-melodic, metrical-rhythmical, and other dimensions. The compression of the prototext into the text of an incantation can have a non-linear character and be the result of a peculiar strategy of the transfer of knowledge pertaining to incantations from a teacher to a student. By virtue of a number of specific psychophysiological attitudes and limitations, the student does not remember the text of the incantation, but reproduces some deeper levels of the magical and ritual performative related to the rhythmical matrix. And it is into the matrix reproduced by his or her consciousness that a new verbal stream made up of the components of the source text, fixed in the short-term memory of the student, is incorporated. even though the formal and grammatically correct language structures are used, it is still fundamentally unclear what the text refers to) (Janecek 1996) . The interrelation of all kinds of zaum with the mother tongue of the carrier, which is generally recognized today (any kind of zaum is the actualization of the linguistic and cultural dominating idea) assumes the search for meanings, engrained in it, on the fringes of the standard language, within the realm of sound-semantic associations that are relevant for the performer/listener (Shlyakhova 2006). The subjective factor, the predominance of the emotional and intuitive origins in terms of perception of zaum determines the probabilistic nature of textual research. However, it does not deny us the opportunity to speak about certain formal and conceptual rules of organizing zaum texts (Panyukov 2010). The approaches to the interpretation of poetic zaum that currently prevail assume the search for the semantics of the texts through semantic 'translation' of detectable implications: intralinguistic, foreign, pertaining to a foreign culture. The most radical analysts have put forward the opinion of the fundamental semantic openness, i.e., the decipherability of zaum (Davydov 2007: 66). With regard to the Komi tradition of incantations, the pathos of the avenues for interpretation is mainly held back by the blurriness of the borders of the linguistic mode itself, which is determined as zaum. If we approach it from the perspective of distancing ourselves from the dominant linguistic structure, we will see that there are linguistic 'shifts' that can be qualified as zaum in almost every single incantation text. First of all, it is related to the abundance of Russian-language components that take on a different underlying rationale in the monolingual environment and are not simply incorporated into the repertoire, but also into a poetic armoury of the tradition (in the form of text-building elements with ambiguous semantics -quasi morphemes, quasi words, quasi syntactic structures of different levels of complexity). In addition to that, the 'internal' specific character of this genre contributes to the semantic ambiguity of the texts of incantations. In an extended sense, the word нимкыв 'incantation' means a combination of the means of word-magical impact on nature, which are different in the means of organization of verbal text (Ulyashev 1999). The incantations -нимкыв -get their specific ellipsoid structure, which requires the context of knowledge, from the nominative mode of text-building that is concept-based and correlates with the literal meaning of this term (ним 'name' + кыв 'word, language'), while нимкыв represents a certain combination of key words or consists of one word only (Ulyashev 1999). Hence a number of topical issues arise when enunciating the topic of zaum (beyonsense, educanto) in the Komi tradition of incantations itself, which are related both to the origins of certain phenomena of zaum and their existence. In order to specify the gist of the problem, let us have a look at the text of a borrowed incantation which is representative of the current state of the tradition.
doi:10.7592/fejf2019.76.panyukov fatcat:tsvwuyv7tfayte573yfovtd7ea