The Routines of Poetry

Agony, Arshile Gorky

This text, aimlessly penned, have taken on some spiritual flesh, twice over. An infinitesimal portion of what was hitherto unachievable. All things lag behind anyway.

The only method I ever took an interest in was a reversal and, then, only in its varieties of heteronymy, though not the personas, the masks, even the signatures; rather, the wrinkles and grimaces of one single face, of one single existence which spirals toward its expiry. Every metaphoric meaning met up with literalness, with emptiness.

In truth, everyone does to language what they do to themselves. But there are those, too, who live their language.

I’ve written some books; I am even writing one today. There is sleet outside, every so often I rub warmth into myself. Smokiness. Wine. The chronicle of an ongoing vigilance which, however, lacks a predecessor. Paris is now what Athens used to be, and Lisbon, Tangiers, Madurai. No city proves equal to the task. Nothing remains standing. Man is vital fluid in the sky’s watering troughs.

An excerpt still looking for its place in a no man’s land. This here is an aggregate of dangerous admixtures, experiences which like mentors brought to pass the work of a man’s destruction and reassembly, the restitution of his identity; a sense of humor designated as a universe.

Conviction, commonly called content, springs out of one’s own state of affairs. Out of the formations which allow, or not, the demystification of allure in favor of whatever is left in the end. Some indication of an adventure into the real. The unbearable. The stigmatization. The defilement of all categories by means of which one might capitalize on literature.

The ‘as is’ was up until recently a tragedy but from now on, young mistakes are biased in favor of a direction where seduction perseveres, incurable. What I offer to the commonplace is disillusionment. There is no basis in what I write and no surface, only a thud. This essay or text is just another sardonic poem on the parties that assemble to elaborate on the One, an exit permit for the worms running riot in the libraries, passed down from hand to hand for centuries.

Something out of nothing. Leaving aside what is self-evident about actions and words, one may also observe human geography; with its intentions and evolution. Bloodletting in person only. No other approximate stands capable of. Between debt and memories, I chose debt. I chose being enraptured. At one time I put the work aside, at another it does it to me. Because the spirit has apprehended everything, long before the senses.

Poetry, in addition to its affinity with eternity, has yet another thing in common with it, it agonizes over nothing.

I find defending our ego more sturdily than our ideas, even those which we do not have, sordid. Is there any better publicity than completing the vivisection? Into this text though, as in the poems I create, there is nobody who wishes to end up as a memory. There is, however, a paradoxical desire for the future reader, to whom at all events, I address.

Sooner or later the marquee will be plunged into darkness; that is its one and only certitude. Man is the technology of death, life his experiment. What is written is debited into his account for all eternity.

Poetry is a privilege. Language hosts the poet. The poet’s task is apotheosis. The defloration, that is, of every evidential proof. The reason being that poetic speech is always situated, by little or by far, ahead of its most recent interpretation.

Tin order to speak of contemporary poetry and the situation worldwide, it behooves us to get back, no matter how tedious that is, to the absolute basic issues that have wearied our ears and eyes.

Because in man’s acquired velocity for getting ahead, it has become evident that his memory can’t keep up and that he hasn’t apprenticed sufficiently in the characteristics and extremities of writing.

We may thus refer to certain traits, in the way of submitting another notion, rather than a view, about poetry and situation with no intention of ostracizing anyone or badmouthing their work.

The impetus of the commentary is spontaneous and inflicting harm is not among its aims; besides, a text underwritten by such intent would be useful for nothing.

Much is said and written about the quality of poetry currently, and all commentators base their observations on the platform of definitions and clarifications which we commonly accept as value.

Despite that, we do not critique or treat similarly the poetry being written today. Bypassing the comments of the philological tourists, we are left with a notably small set of creative commentators. Even in that limited context, diverging appraisals of contemporary poetic writing are to be found. Then, there are also others which have not been given a public airing. I will attempt to elucidate one such in the text that follows, despite my lack of attraction to the essay form, using excerpts from two small essays which I wrote some years ago.

How is one to evaluate the phenomenon of a “common” language or the absence of specific initiatives among the poets of a generation, an era or a critical summation? The poets’ testifying in the idiom of a wound by the thorns of the rose they have cut, in no way entails that they have created a poetic language of their own, i.e. that they’ve written new poetry. That’s because they’ve simply found recourse to pre-existing poetic inventions and recycled formulas, regardless of how select those might be. The issue is the fact that no personal idiom is produced. A language, that is to say, in which the poet stakes his claim to the unachievable. And the reason why is none other than this: quite simply, so-called poets long to lose themselves by writing. They believe that a “poet’s signature” will terminate that convention which secretly imposes on them the sense of the finite, the ill-defined, of whatever ailment stalls the man who is “ready” from tasting the “other life”.

Very simply, the poet can only possess, in creative terms, one idea and one alone, that of (his) personal language, and can only be subjected to the sovereignty of an ecumenical call, nothing less than that, nothing more limited. Unless all the keys on the keyboard are pressed, there can be no poetry.

The poets’ relationship with tradition, of which there has been frequent talk, is rather nonexistent. There is obviously grave confusion between intertextuality and tradition. To tradition belongs whosoever delivers unto it, not he who collects from it.

For that exact reason, poetic writing transcends every cultural, political, aesthetic, psychological or other convention, in order to constitute a tradition. If we consider that poetry acts in some way, then it does no more than exist as tradition within the idea which it itself uses in order to establish itself as a hyper-object. The ultimate expression of poetry is the poet himself.

In reading the works of more recent poets or their published essays, one gleans the following: poetry is treated as a “rational awareness” rather than as the epiphenomenon which it really is.

But above all poetry is a particular engagement with life, with things, it is a state of total exposure to what is other. Pure metaphysics. The poet is the shape, the receptacle for the acceptance of the other, within which the poet’s mind and body are situated and motivated. In truth, then, when the poet writes, he fails, rather than succeeds, he returns, rather than gains distance.

He fails and he returns in relation to the impossible. Because, and here a bright smile is appropriate, there is no poetry of the possible – though that is the kind that’s widely disseminated.

At this exact point, the first proof of art is located or, else, its absence is established. If the poet’s failure, and also his return, is appraised on the basis of a static awareness, then, there is no poetry produced. Besides, every awareness, as a genuine offspring of consciousness, which is an inherent illusion, provides too little a shape to accommodate art. Poetry is only accommodated in the vehicle of no-shape.

If writing is a wheel (as in fact it seems to be) it never does cease spinning. In other words, the potential bonus of success in the spin-it prize wheel, where the winner collects all the prizes, only exists in the morbid imagination of some people.

Deep down, it concerns society’s unspeakable longing to break out of its fetters as it attempts to become a society of poets, though not a society of free men. The point is evidently missed that the poet knows no slavery, but no freedom either; in relation to what we designate as ‘society’, the poet is a phenomenon both advanced and effectual.

So, then, some pretend that poets are the advertisers of our wounded longings. Alas! The poet is above all an attitude to life, a naturalness which continually brings to the fore without coming to the fore itself. What many consider poetry is a rigid decoration that does not partake of the flow of life, is not reflected in memory. In which case, it can’t be poetry we are talking about.

Poetry concerns exclusively becoming, not being. The poet constitutes a prodigal disturbance between the individual and the cosmic element – and being by necessity the flaming harbinger of the times, he must at all costs transfuse that disturbance by means of his life and writing. Only then will the poet’s work have succeeded.

The Muse bound on the rock of Prometheus. I am explicitly referring to the darkest cruelty human conscience could assimilate.

The poet is pitted against a draconian demand: that of living language which converses with synchronicity and with disintegration. Poetry is that which haunts death, disdains hope and lives with the never-ending torment. Even if this is the minimum prefiguration of a New Being that is the inexpediency the future will be under obligation to deal with.

Poetry is neither part of the decoration of the human world nor a priestess for the redemption of its wounds. It is the ultimate simulation of its destruction and creation. Therefore, timidity is a fundamental obstacle to achieving this simulation. By this, we mean the spirit’s timidity to venture past the word formulation in order for the poem to actually be poetry, rather than merely the aesthetic arrangement of a ‘declaration’, in order for it to be art.

Because a mere ‘declaration of independence’ on the part of the poet is essentially useless.

The creative implementation is required of a particular demand.

That implementation is the difference which, nevertheless, obtains only as an advantage rather than retreat (convention) unlike what some imply and the distinguished ‘fathers’ of writing endorse.

So, where some see the coming of a new generation of poets with a renewed critical stance, others only see caricatures parading with bestowed credentials, in the service of paltry vanity. And they see, too, the outcome of those formulations that so misguidedly made a large mark on generations past, leaving afterward an enormous gap to recently again leave their mark, completely arbitrarily, resulting in a batch of new poets who are merely constructing word puns with the stubs of their premature retirement.

I consider that the ‘new generation of poets’ is not necessarily the one which presents itself like that. There are worthwhile poets who have had no recognition or official acknowledgment, who are situated somewhere off to the side. At a place which the artificial light of the critics, academics, and experts, has not managed to reach, just like it never did in the past.

True poets are aware that what persists is one and the same, the investigation of an Absolute Existence, the question of faith in the Sacred. Every differentiation of this phenomenon is yet another layer of the undifferentiated. All the successive peelings of mantles make up the history of poetry; written by those who have undertaken to denude, to reach the climax. What is apical is what which is thoroughly unpredictable and which emerges from the intentional ridding of poetic speech from its evident balance and its apparent strategy.

But here, the palms begin to sweat and the shadow disappears from under one’s feet, to wit: what is it one deals with when one says he’s a poet? With warming up exercises in the face of impending extinction or with the ultimate vindication? Is it a longing for ‘other worlds’, is it ‘purified forgetfulness’, is it striking a high note on a rarefied concern?

So, then, let this view also be heard: the poet functions as an overseer, as an intelligence which discerns and suggests; it leads the world to a new point of departure whose aspects he possesses and is in charge of, after the fashion of an “emperor in his own right.” as Emerson would say. He proposes to the world novel perceptual experiences and ascertains that man needs to be revealed, that man lags tragically behind and that, even if the poet rises to the occasion, or even higher than that, man has weakened internally to an alarming degree, to be able to accept his contribution. And for that reason, it is the poet’s responsibility to alter the world and not to make his way in accordance with its orchestrated perception.

The poet manages to not submit to humanity by taking on the weight of its collective fall. He is the human being that is emerging, rather than the homunculus who belittles existence, who oscillates between self-definition and social appearances.

The lucid mythology of personal death which gradually builds the mosaic of poetry from within is met with disdain. Poetry falls ever lower in the dumping ground of formulaic rationality, especially when it is derailed by melancholy and shifts into the mere need to be recorded. Isn’t it the case that many of our young poets and poetesses write using the carbon paper of ‘sorrowfulness’? Does not the same go for most of the acclaimed poets and poetesses who have been long established as our topmost?

Precisely because it is (meta)nature, poetry is nothing other than a constant presence. Its meaning is its own existence. Poetry is taken up with something which is not intellectually possible to complete.

The void. The inconclusive investigation into the central truth of things and of those boundaries which are posited in order to be abolished. Poetry acts with indifference or in opposition to general possibilities, it is a great specialization, insofar as it constitutes a part of the absolute hyper-Object and, as such, does not question its place, being itself an absolute expression of that. It does, nevertheless, question versions of it.

That is why, then, the poet does not write on the basis of talent (he goes past that); he writes by refusing to make things easy, to highlight. The poet is on the way to nowhere. The poetic work is defined by the creator’s poetic constitution and by the poetic potency that renders him a poet. Because poetry begins with one’s initiative to realize it and not with the whimsy to ‘become’ a poet.

Poetry is that cohesive force of the poet’s spirit and body, which comes to pass every time it is written on paper. The instrument of poetry is not the poem, it is the poet. In truth, poems are the parasites of this consummation. Once poetry enters circulation in printed form, it is dead. The poem is from now on a death announcement; despite that, it says a lot. The reader and the aspiring poet ought to raise their own poetry out of this announcement, taking in consideration both the fact of its being publicly posted and what is written on the paper. True poetic creativity is indifferent to poetic speech, is indifferent in the face of the infamous ‘resurrection’, which is, in our case, the evidence of a poetic disclosure, very simply because nothing is dead but the poet. The poet (i.e. poetry) is the dead; the truly manifest. The egregious of an ongoing potential aspect of becoming.