Category Archives: Poetry

On death in Vallejo. On Pyncheon.

Is it something like this? Something in an apocalyptic landscape? My piece, which is “killing” me, begins and ends with Nelson Osorio and the avant-garde as a “reajuste cultural a nivel global.”

The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can’t sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.

The linked article is really worth reading. This is another piece about modernity and the subject that one should really consider. Vallejo is about being in modernities, and so much work on him that does not reduce to biography still reduces to individual experience and a few clichéd problems or philosophical ideas. I exaggerate, of course, as there is other and better work.

Still I think there is something yet larger afoot in this writer than has yet been articulated — and at the same time as I say this so grandly, I know I have not mastered either his texts or the bibliography on them. Some of the bibliography, it must be said, is highly illuminating and other parts of it are so stultifying as to make one want to give up the field. The patience for sifting is what I need, and the time — and the courage, because I lack necessary intellectual background to grasp all of these things, and that is not my usual situation, even with unfamiliar material. A good scholar told me in October that that is how it is with this poet.

Axé.

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Filed under Bibliography, Poetry, Questions, Theories

“y siempre en el sepulcro estaré ardiendo”

This is a mestizo post because it starts with some famous jarana criolla with my old professor Pepe Durand! After that, it offers an article by Charles Hale on the future of Latin American Studies. Then, it just keeps on mixing. ¡Adentro!

My Vallejo problem is and always has been a research problem and not a writing problem. I can expand on this if asked but I will not write the reasoning out because I understand it perfectly. I have had this problem with other projects as well, always under pressure, and my entire series of “What Is A Scholar?” posts, together with all of my ranting and raving against academic advice, are in essence a long defense of research.

If I had a student of the right kind I would suggest a dissertation topic: Quevedo and Vallejo. I have found this book on Quevedo that I would like to read. We know Vallejo studied Quevedo’s use of language very closely but I wonder to what extent his themes are also Quevedian themes. This would, or could at least, mean that still more of his work than we realize is literary and not autobiographical (although it is also that).

Anger, chaos, mirrors, tombs, dust, shadows, distortions, faith, non faith …

I am reminded here, once again, of this piece on Robert Johnson where it is revealed that he got much of his material not from direct experience but from books.

Axé.

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Filed under Bibliography, Poetry, Resources, Songs, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

A new kind of synaesthesia

When sound is translated into a blow on the nape of the neck, and light into a flash so bright that it actually scorches the skin, when feeling is lost in one disintegrating jar of every nerve and fibre […] the mind, at such moments, is like a compass when the needle has been jolted from its pivot.

A World War I stretcher-bearer wrote this. It is as though Vallejo had read it. Derek Gregory’s discussion of Corpographies is truly worth studying.

Axé.

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English mestizaje

The True Born Englishman

Thus from a mixture of all kinds began,
That het’rogeneous thing, an Englishman:
In eager rapes, and furious lust begot,
Betwixt a painted Britain and a Scot.
Whose gend’ring off-spring quickly learn’d to bow,
And yoke their heifers to the Roman plough:
From whence a mongrel half-bred race there came,
With neither name, nor nation, speech nor fame.
In whose hot veins new mixtures quickly ran,
Infus’d betwixt a Saxon and a Dane.
While their rank daughters, to their parents just,
Receiv’d all nations with promiscuous lust.
This nauseous brood directly did contain
The well-extracted blood of Englishmen.

–Defoe; read the whole thing.

Axé.

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John Berger on Translation

True translation demands a return to the pre-verbal. One reads and rereads the words of the original text in order to penetrate through them to reach, to touch, the vision or experience that prompted them. One then gathers up what one has found there and takes this quivering almost wordless “thing” and places it behind the language it needs to be translated into. And now the principal task is to persuade the host language to take in and welcome the “thing” that is waiting to be articulated.

This is quite suggestive for Vallejo.

Axé.

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Nature

As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends what we know.

–Longfellow

Seeing someone die is such a profound thing. I will write about my dream, and about a newly discovered strategy for writing books.

#OccupyHE

Axé.

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El son entero

La guitarra

Dejó al borracho en su coche,
dejó el cabaret sombrío,
donde se muere de frío,
noche tras noche,

y alzó la cabeza fina,
universal y cubana,
sin opio, ni mariguana,
ni cocaína.

Cógela tú, guitarrero,
límpiale de alcohol la boca,
y en esa guitarra, toca
tu son entero.

El son del querer maduro,
tu son entero;
el del abierto futuro,
tu son entero;
el del pie por sobre el muro,
tu son entero. . .

#OccupyHE

Axé.

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