About that day I presented Daniel’s book…

In March I was invited by my friends, Daniel Pommers and Miguel Pruné (associated with their individual books, collaborations, nd tons of other publications) also known as Gato Malo Editores, to present Daniel’s book of poetry, Que Así Sea (which you can google to read lots more about it, or check it out locally at bookstores – or HERE).

This picture is just for fun:

This is the first time I present a book (surely not the last), and my experience was both intimate and alienating. Mostly alienating at first… repeatedly I asked Daniel, “Me? Are you sure…?” because our styles and backgrounds are somewhat different. Then the doubts, “what if I’m getting this all wrong…?” – which is fine, when you don’t personally know the author, or if the author is dead in a literal sense. But then, inclusive… reconstruction of a person and his literary work through deconstruction.

I read this is front of a crowd of mostly his friends and family, whose expressions were quite difficult to read. But he smiled the entire time, so I suppose my analysis wasn’t too off.

Considering this will otherwise be lost forever in a sea of digital documents, I’m sharing a shortened version of it here… and perhaps, to awaken some curiosity in you and motivate you to go look for it and read it!

It’s in Spanish, by the way. I suppose you’ll notice that… (Also: No accents on account of not understanding shortcuts on Windows8. I suppose you’ll notice that, but I do know my rules, please don’t be mistaken.)

You can read more about the event on this link.

Links related to the boys:

Photo by Abram Fuentes. I missed the joke.

 

 

 

Que Asi Sea de Daniel Pommers

 

 

[…] en principio, es evidente que es el hombre en efecto quien da su sentido a la   palabra. Y que, si posteriormente las palabras se encuentran en el común acuerdo de la comunicabilidad, es decir, que las mismas palabras sirven para reconocer la misma cosa, es precisamente en función de relaciones, de una relación de partida, que ha permitido a esas    personas ser personas que comunican.

(Jaques Lacan, Seminario: Real, Imaginario, Simbolico)

 

“Articular

no es suficiente”

 

(Daniel Pommers: Epílogo)

 

           Que Asi Sea. No hace falta ser una persona religiosa para comprender esta declaracion: Que Asi Sea, el deseo de lo que se acaba de pronunciar, como una encantacion magica (“y Asi Sera”) o, Que Asi Sea (“y Asi Es”), tu lo has dicho, eso es asi, asi es la cosa, has pronunciado verdad. Considerando estos significados, el titulo cumple lo que promete. El sujeto (ser social y voz poetica, el “yo” que narra o declama en primera persona) de Que Asi Sea es uno que a menudo se desplaza y se disuelve en su entorno. En otras palabras, al leerlo, podemos fundirnos, como si articulara por nosotros, como si afirmara lo que todos estamos pensando.

(Amen, hermano.)

Simultaneamente, es individuo que articula, en poesia, observaciones y vivencias subjetivas. A traves del poemario, domina una inquietud del individuo, sea el primero (el yo que tambien soy yo) o el segundo (el que yo que es él, Daniel Pommers). Sin embargo, no son meras quejas y observaciones: en muchas instancias, Pommers nos acerca un espejo al rostro, a veces diplomatica y cariñosamente, en otras, forzoandonos los parapados, para que podamos apreciar que nos hemos convertido en cucaracha. La frase “Que Asi Sea” a menudo es un sintoma de una enfermedad cultural/social, utilizada popularmente como afirmacion de la negacion. En otras palabras, wishful thinking, el que se da cuando la religion se utiliza como muletilla, como instrumento para librarse de toda responsabilidad en el pasado, presente y futuro. Como dice Pommers, “Articular no es suficiente.” Se me miro al espejo de Pommers y no veo que he sido convertido en insecto (el yo simbolico, el sujeto en sociedad), viendo en su lugar una imagen integralmente humana que, en el mundo material, es feliz, (el Yo imaginario), no me identifico (ese/esa NO soy yo) y al fin, se trata del otro. Pero si se articula de manera estrategica, articular, si verdaderamente existe comunicacion entre ambas partes, aunque no es suficiente, es un comienzo.

“A buen comienzo

se le debe trazar

el apetito infinito de caminar

de rumiar los años.” (Pommers 134)

El comienzo es la esperanza de que, aunque habiendo revivido escenas desagradables (internas o externas), Asi Es, pero podria ser diferente. Creando consciencia a traves del espejo, contemplando nuestra realidad (sujeta y subyugada, abyecta o abnegada), podemos comprender que Asi No Debe Ser/ no tiene que ser. El poema Justo (p. 59) por ejemplo, ofrece una posible solucion: el reinventarse. Y el reinventar una sociedad comienza con reinventarse el individuo, con abandonar muletillas materiales o espirituales, y pensar para encaminarnos hacia la resiliencia.

Las incomodidades de Pommers en Que Asi Sea, en algunos poemas, son manifestados en actos de violencia (sintoma). Agresion fisica o verbal hacia el otro, donde el yo aparenta defenderse del mundo, cuando en realidad, la infelicidad profunda emana de lo mas profundo del yo. Por ejemplo, el poema Desorbitados (p. 49) bien expresa el concepto de la pulsion de muerte: la repetecion de una accion que produce sufrimiento y a la vez, satisfaccion[1].

El poema no necesariamente se trata de un individuo aislado, sino del sujeto: la autodestruccion del sujeto puede tambien ser una via, hacia la evolucion (o como lo llamaria Miguel, la mutacion). Al destruir a los demas, yo me destruyo. Mi violencia hacia los demas, tanto como el amar a los demas, es un reflejo de lo que se origina en mi interior: “(…)en la culminación del enamoramiento amenaza esfumarse el límite entre el yo y el objeto. Contra todos los testimonios de sus sentidos, el enamorado afirma que yo y tú son uno, y está dispuesto a comportarse como si realmente fuese así.” (Freud)

Que Asi Sea re-liga en el sentido de que unifica sujetos que hablamos el mismo idioma (que nos comunicamos porque conocemos los significados de sinificantes particulares, como por ejemplo, La Winston Churchill y Luis Muñoz Marin). Aunque a menudo incluye el mas alla que esa un poco mas alla de lo inmediato (El Caribe), se trata de un sujeto puertorriqueño – sujeto enfermo que, como ha aprendido, calma el sintoma con remedios temporeros. Lacan dice,

[…] Para sintetizar diremos con Saussure, que ‘el sujeto alucina su mundo’ ; es decir que sus ilusiones o sus satisfacciones ilusorias no pueden ser de todos los órdenes. Evidentemente él va a desviarlas hacia un otro orden que el de sus satisfacciones, quienes encuentran su objeto en lo real puro y simple. Jamás un síntoma ha calmado el hambre o la sed de un modo duradero, si no es por medio de la absorción de alimentos que les satisfagan, aún cuando una baja general del nivel de la vitalidad pueda, en los casos límites, ser la respuesta; por ejemplo: la hibernación natural o artificial. Todo esto es concebible sólo como una fase que no podrá, ciertamente durar, si no es con el riesgo de arrastrar daños irreparables.

El sujeto puertorriqueño de Pommers, en muchas instancias, es uno que busca saciar necesidades (o, tratar sintomas de su malestar), confundiendo las ordenes (real con simbolico, o real con imaginario[2]) y por lo tanto, superando necesidades fisiologicas o psicologicas cuyos resultados son de poca duracion. (Antidoto Fiesta, p. 38)

Todos somos ese sujeto, en muchas instancias a traves del poemario, las tres partes incluidas. De cierto modo, hay un nivel palpable de religiosidad en Que Asi Sea. El microcosmos (el yo) proyecta el macrocosmos (“todos somos”). El otro no figura algun lugar en el “nosotros.”  En el sentimiento oceanico nos fundimos, liquidos, con ilusiones de eternidad en la forma de pequeños destellos: en la purificacion de las llamas que permite un nuevo comienzo. (Postapoca, p. 104)

Pommers consistentemente rechaza la fe y la falsa ilusion, pero promete para todos esperanza real: “Mejor preparado. Mejores dias vendran.” (De la Muerte por Rendimiento, p.52)

En conclusion, en Que Asi Sea, Pommers articula un pais, una cultura, para ordenarla. Nuestro presente en tiempo y espacio, construido sobre y arrastrando rastros del pasado, mediante la articulacion, el lenguaje, como un intento de hacer ver, cuestionar, evaluar y concluir. Pommers crea un orden de deseo, pasado y futuro: Que Asi Sea (asi es y asi sera) – palabras que fulminan y, como encantacion magica pero no ingenua,“abren camino a la posibilidad, al renacimiento, la ambicion y la cognicion”. (Miguel Pruné)

Lacan, sobre el orden simbolico del lenguaje, comenta: “lo que hay que significar, a saber, las cosas hay que acomodarlas, dándoles un lugar.” Pommers nos obliga a contemplar recovecos incomodos del presente invita a un futuro donde aun se puede gozar.

———————————————————————————————-

[1]           Lo que en el sentido más estricto se llama felicidad, surge de la satisfacción, casi siempre instantánea, de necesidades acumuladas que han alcanzado elevada tensión, y de acuerdo con esta índole sólo puede darse como fenómeno episódico. Toda persistencia de una situación anhelada por el principio del placer sólo proporciona una sensación de tibio bienestar, pues nuestra disposición no nos permite gozar intensamente sino el contraste, pero sólo en muy escasa medida lo estable. Así, nuestras facultades de felicidad están ya limitadas en principio por nuestra propia constitución. En cambio, nos es mucho menos difícil experimentar la desgracia. (Freud)

 

[2]           La reversibilidad misma de los problemas neuróticos, supone que la economía de las satisfacciones en ella implicadas fueran de otro orden e infinitamente menos ligadas a ritmos orgánicos fijos, aunque determinando ciertamente una parte de ellos. Esto define la categoría conceptual que resuelve este tipo de objetos. Es justamente aquello que estoy en vías de definir: lo imaginario si se acepta y reconoce todas las implicaciones que le son apropiadas. A partir de ahí es muy simple, claro, fácil, de ver que este tipo de satisfacción imaginaria no puede ser encontrado nada más que en el orden de los registros sexualeso las discrepancias entre las ideas y las acciones de los hombres son tan amplias y sus deseos tan dispares que dichas reacciones seguramente no son tan simples. (Lacan)

 

 

 

 

Featured on Naelle Devannah’s blog!

Naelle Devannah is a long time friend whom I met about a decade ago on deviantART. (Well, here she found me.)

She an all-around loveable person, anyone can confirm it. But we became friends immediately because of our mutual admiration. This is how I first started getting to know her, her visual art. I felt a kinship with her because of our similar circumstances (isolated goth girls from “the country,” creatures of the web) and our love for the aesthetic contrast of darkness and bold, bold color. (A tropical symptom, I suppose).

Visit her site, there’s lots to love that will keep your eyes busy for days.

I asked for her feedback on Stars Like Fish (which is printed on the back of the book) because I knew she would understand. Our imaginations are neighboring lands.

We plug each other often, but yet, I was beyond flattered to have a space in her blog (which is quote popular!)

This is part of her series “Getting to Know…” – where she asks personalized questions to artists of all kinds, giving an in-depth look into their intentions, motivations and personality.

READ IT HERE!

Photo by Naelle Devannah.

She also took some really fabulous photos of the insides of my books.

Here’s an excerpt:

 

You work with a combination of painterly words, photography and illustration. What’s your perception of the term visual art? What can you foresee in future creative generations?

Maybe my “painterly words” are my frustration… I know my writing is very visual. When I discovered photo editing, I got the same satisfaction as I did describing scenes. Illustration, you flatter me so, but yes, I like to doodle.
My perception of visual art is something arcane and academic that I am only vaguely familiar with and learn about through people like you and observing what they do… perhaps it shouldn’t be, but having spent so many years in academia can make you a little insecure before talking about something without a theoretical background. However, and this is a total contradiction, visual art is, at the same time, something so accessible to absolutely anyone with properly functioning eyes… we can interpret images as signs, in a manner that they should say something, or ask us something, but then again, we can also just enjoy something beautiful or ugly for what it is. So I guess I shift from one starting point to the other, depending on what’s comfortable at the moment. You can either have a long conversation about a piece of art, or write a long paper about it, or just like it. And I guess the same goes for the creation of visual art… you might transmit, transgress, transcend, or just make something.

 

Poetics of Dream Translation 3

This was the last part of my conference, see during which a handful of people from the audience shared recurrent dreams.

Rene Magritte – The Explanation

When I translated the dreams in that chapter of SLF, nurse which were collected years later for the book, my only intention was to write for the sake of writing. I have a habit of reflecting upon my dream content to better understand my current state of mind in my waking life, so this exercise of writing down dreams was a way of doing so. Since I had been publishing them online, friends and readers reacted to them, which was a source of positive reinforcement. I never expected, however, to be explaining any of them.

About dream analysis, Freud says:

The first thing that becomes clear to the investigator when he compares the dream-content with the dream-thoughts is that a tremendous work of condensation has been accomplished. The dream is meagre, paltry and laconic in comparison with the range and copiousness of the dream-thoughts.

The dream, when written down fills half a page; the analysis, which contains the dream-thoughts, requires six, eight, twelve times as much space.

As you have probably observed, the time it took me to explain only 3 aspects of the dream sequence “Daisy” and “Recollection” took nearly as long to have narrated the events in their entirety.

Literary analysis of poetry will probably result in “six, eight, twelve times as much space” as well.

Dreams, if you are able to remember them, are an excellent source for creative material. As a writer, you are able to exploit, through writing them down (or write based on them), what Freud calls the dream-content (what you perceive with your senses) and your condensed dream-thoughts (what you felt and thought in reaction to the dream-content). Both dream-content and dream-thoughts, as played out by your unconscious as you dream, are fragmented, disjointed.

The act of re-arranging this puzzle, to join the loose ends, is the act of translation. As with all translations, original meanings might be lost, but new meaning will be gained, and perhaps even deeper levels of meaning will be revealed through word choice.

magritte

The words we choose to name what we see might be clues to what we were really dreaming about – though wordplay and puns, homophones or homographs, or even rhyme. Language structures our very way of thinking, so the relationship between images and language does not go in only one direction.

As an example, I will quote Freud re-telling a dream to illustrate this point, that “one scarcely finds a dream without a double meaning or a play upon words.”

Photo credit unavailable

C in a dream sees a girl on the road to X bathed in a white light and wearing a white blouse.

The dreamer began an affair with a Miss White on this road.

After translating your sequence of dream images to words that are comprehensible to yourself (as well as your potential readers), you will probably have achieved effective poetic prose. By effective poetic prose I mean a combination of words that conveys sensorial experiences as well as emotions with minimal explanations about their particular symbolism (which is what “good” poetry should do – though it’s a matter of opinion).

And if you aren’t a writer, you have poetry within you. Some people might think dreams are a waste of time discussing or even bothering to remember, but the exercise if recalling, wording and sharing what we’ve dreamt can help us cope with the frustrations or questions that bother us in our waking lives. Dream interpretation, which is almost identical to literary interpretation, has much to teach us about ourselves and those around us, but only if we are aware. Like an oracle, or like Shelley’s figure of the poet as a prophet, dreams allow us to look inward and relate to the world outside our minds, therefore providing glimpses of the unknown.

We may never fully understand it, but, as we look out into the ocean and up the sky, there is a promise in all that is uncertain.

Poetics of Dream Translation Part 1

From The Poetics of Dream Translation. In this first part, I’m explaining why the dreams in SLF are not short stories, but should be interpreted as poetry, given the similarities between dreams and poems in structure, content and language. I mean… in a nutshell.

As many of you might be aware of (or perhaps not), many of the pieces in the second part of Stars Like Fish are what I call “dream transcriptions.”

The subject of the creative process has come up often after the publication of Stars Like Fish.  In The Poetics of Dream Translation I will explain the process I engaged in while transcribing dreams, as well as the similarities between dream language and poetic language.

First off, to help clarify the difference between writing and interpreting both genres , I will compare narrative fiction to poetry.

Writing narrative fiction is one process… in order to write a narrative, we must first imagine a situation, a conflict, a main character with a unique personality. Then, we involve our character in the conflict, and have him or her struggle, resulting in an outcome. Although sometimes characters (and maybe even the plot itself!) take on a life of their own (when we, as writers, become them as we write), there is still a formula to writing narratives that we must take care to follow.

Poetry, on the other hand, if we choose to write in free verse, is free of formulas.

Its structure is a series of images intended to move the reader; it reveals meaning through symbols more often than narrative does because it consists mainly of symbols. A poem may be one extended metaphor or a series of metaphors.

In order to compare the effects and intentions of narrative versus those of poetry, I will quote Percy B. Shelley’s Defence of Poetry:

A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth. There is this difference between a story and a poem, that a story is a catalogue of detached facts, which have no other connection than time, place, circumstance, cause and effect; the other is the creation of actions according to the unchangeable forms of human nature, as existing in the mind of the Creator, which is itself the image of all other minds. The one is partial, and applies only to a definite period of time, and a certain combination of events which can never again recur; the other is universal, and contains within itself the germ of a relation to whatever motives or actions have place in the possible varieties of human nature.

In other words, poetry speaks to us in a universal language (that of symbols), and its content is not limited to time and space. We relate to poetry regardless of the century, geography or society we exist in.

My creative process of writing poetry usually consists of being overwhelmed by a feeling (any feeling at all) then sitting down, whether with paper and pen or in front of a keyboard, and writing what I see through my mind’s eye or what I feel. Sometimes feelings come to us as images only, and we must try our best to transcribe, or rather, to translate them.  Some poets have a good idea of what they want to write poems about before they do. As a habit, I usually don’t, and most of the time I don’t even realize the meaning(s) of what I’ve written until I feel that the poem is finished and have re-read it.

As an example, I’ll read you a poem I wrote last summer:

non-text 

there is a notion that words couldn’t catch

only an image that haunts, that plays back

like a silent film,

in pieces

like colors on a palette of memories

(and melodies)

painting over in shades that cannot be reproduced

not exactly

there is a notion that couldn’t be translated

couldn’t be worded

couldn’t be recognized,

(not if you heard it)

it looks like a spatter,

like the silence of night

reflected on rolling

waves of dark light

it flickers

it is

(and it isn’t)

never the same

like the shore

like paint…

What I was feeling at the moment was manifest in images. The source of these images, of course, is memory, but my individual experience is beside the point, because it is as much about my actual life experience as it is about the experience of writing the poem itself.  Writing poetry can sometimes become a half-dreaming trance, where we do pay attention to the mechanics (such as cadence, rhyme, or alliteration), but the focus is usually sensorial.

This poem was an example of writing based on memories of images used to convey emotion. In a similar way, dreams are not necessarily derived from events of the day, or any given moment. They are sensory images that may date back to our early childhood or recent events, which may be recalled from an actual lived experience or a vicarious one.  For instance, images from a movie, photographs or the emotions of a character in a novel.  Perhaps we might even dream of songs we’ve heard before but don’t even like. What we dream is beyond our voluntary control, but comes, undeniably, from our own consciousness. I will quote Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams to illustrate the difference between waking and dreaming consciousness:

[…]  the distinguishing characteristic of the waking state is the fact that its psychic activity occurs in the form of ideas rather than in that of images. But the dream thinks mainly in visual images, and it may be noted that with the approach of sleep the voluntary activities become impeded in proportion as involuntary representations make their appearance, the latter belonging entirely to the category of images.

So, as dreams metaphorically speak to us through sensory images to interpret later, so does poetry. Poetic language is one to be decoded by the reader. The experience of reading and interpreting poetry should not always take into account the poet’s ideological intention. Language and symbols (sensory images) are subject to individual interpretation, which is why I prefer readers not to attach my personal experience or intentions to the dreams in Stars Like Fish, but their own.