I Am Looking For Words01.03.2019
I Am Looking For Words
I am the staff of the whole world
The spine of the universe starts to creak
I am looking for words, confesses the poet. This is not the simple action, but the symptom of the mission called “poet”, where the Falknerian madman standing outside his time and another one feeling every minute the destructive influence of his own time-flow merge. The one, to whom is given from above the creative passion of counter-time and on whose “forehead the sun has etched a command / get up and kill death!” The poet lasts between this command and the consciousness of this mission, a place, /where the accounting of time runs backwards,/ where everything is as strong / as in their beginning/ and revealing the language, as ” a cypher binding all breathing things together, as equally empowered to define all things. Poetry, as universal Esperanto. This is the well-known status and time of inspiration and revelation, when…
…Voices are heard far from the Infinite,
Words are dancing at the tip of my tongue –in new forms,
Of the infinite opening on bastions in front of me.
And my speech starts with prayer…
With prayer addressed not to God, but to language.
The energy of the line results from this kind of adoring obsession with language, being left alone with word at home, from the almost erotic passion of performing whatever activity with it and particularly that focus resulting from the realization of the universality, openness, inclusiveness, potency, impersonality (like God) of language and its availability and its nature to learn all equally (like a prostitute). This posture of language to be as indifferent and unbiased towards man as nature, therefore also being unable to personally get involved, simply drives the poet crazy, making bringing language to the ground of compassion and personal love, reining in the prostitute a life’s work. To put it bluntly, turning God into man. The poet’s well-known temptation to dismantle and reassemble language probably comes from this, along with his addiction to look for new words.
I want to find the buried words
They are fruitjuice and fish,
That sparkle in the dark.
Solving such an essential issue by finding new words at a moment of inspiration not only seems plausible, but also bears such a measure of erotic promise, that to the poet endowed with absolute sensitivity of wits, who “can look into autumn’s eyes and see its soul/ slightly inebriated…”, who remembers clearly,”that girl’s face, bronzed like earth…” , who can differentiate every sound and tell precisely, that ”it is the swishing of a girlish dress/ and not a bull ruminating grass” , was accompanying in the monochrome blue of the night, solely to remain there alone with the word.
In that sense, nothing depresses me as much, at this moment, as the proof that in my hand is not the original of the poet’s choice of words, but the translated line, and whether how accurate is one of the many suppositions of the chosen author? By how much is the given translator’s choice integrated with the author’s greater artistic status, expresses the author’s logic of preferences, poetic stance, style and particularly their tonality, the most important factor accommodating the reader into the authenticity of the poet. That, which determines the form of acceptance, since the promise of poetry is not in its subject, but in the effect it leaves, in poetic effect. Each translation endangers the power of “poetic effect”, but in this case, in its poetic era, in these days of inflated mind and deflated spirit, Majia’s poetic magnifying glass keeps its continuous focus on man, on his personal and collective tragedy, alienated from the Gods and roots, with primitive excitements, cheap laughter, and led strictly by instincts to the destiny of toppling the planet into the ravine, like Bosch’s “Ship Full of Fools”. Reality of the Absurd, which can either turn man cynical, or spiritual. To turn the evolutionary wheel of the Soul back, to keep man human with the word, Majia’s writing has the probability to return him to the field of ideals and morality where, before the chosen style and other poetic implements, the infector is the writer’s stance – to bear the continuity of human trial and morality. This kind of poetry comes to satiate the reader’s nostalgia towards the notable line in our new market of now consumerist literature where the contemporary tendency is to keep a safe distance from moral and existential questions. This tendency is present also in post-Maoist China (after 1975), where the contemporary writer hurries to integrate with the global literary market, bypassing Chinese literary traditions and adopting the experimental road of imparting life impulses to man’s gradually anesthetized nerves through short-lived shocks — without concrete formal or stylistic physiognomy, mired between absurdity, nihilism and psychotherapy. As representative of Chinese renaissance literature (“Literature of Mists”, “New Wave”, “Third Generation Literature”), having adopted the dialogue style of free-verse, Majia circumvents the tradition of disdain and the tendency of radical simplification, thus, filling the crack between literary fathers and sons with his measure of literary inheritance. The panic caused by the “Time of Spirit” forces the writer to act anachronistically where man is liquidated not by the mechanism of religious punishment, but by the consciousness of sin and compensation, adopting new measures of love and tenderness and tonality of voice bearing the note of the moment’s fateful inevitability, while answering the five Kafkaesque questions of the true line: who? What? When? Where, and why? Here, the writer’s function is not to present the mangled reality, but to affect it, to transform it. Otherwise, it is not necessary to play at literature, or try to appear contemporary. That is something from which, as Dali says, it is not possible to escape. Isn’t it a fact, that time passes through you? Literally, Majia opposes the “art for art’s sake” approach, particularly today, when man’s soul and body are caught in the biological agony of being torn apart.“When the time is a cocktail of blood and tears / in the tasty mouth of hopelessness”, when “woman and child have dreamt reaching the sea / to find the the last juncture in water / preferring to drown / than find themselves slaves to barbarians” (this reminds me of mothers and daughters rushing to the river in in 1915, fleeing from Turkish yataghans) Confronting such a reality, the poet makes a moral decision and without fear of platitude, states: “ We are men, it is our duty to shift to our shoulders a fraction of the calamity weighing on the land of Palmyra” while
lyricism may safeguard a bit later, comparing bullet-ridden walls of passages to “…asterisks / scattering gleams in peaceful skies…” Majia refuses the contemporary tendency to maltreat the beauty and traditions of literature when the bloody hand of warfare fails to do it completely. These lines are born not so much from mindless mental meanderings, as from the consciousness of being man, not so much to sing, as to the need to cry / And now, I am examining the depths of darkness, / until tears flow from my eyes. / The poet does not stop searching for that true word, that with the explosive power of Lorcaesqueduende can shake up the man who has flung a glove at nature’s face, waking him up from his deadly slumber.
The line is complete, if it is simultaneously unmistakable and recognizable, when the reader feels the author’s emotion and unwillingly becomes its emotive perpetuator. Word traps and labyrinths, or the building of labyrinths, word games, willful complication are outside of Majia’s poetic toolbox. “… I write poetry, since I wish it to keep the finer hues of my people’s feelings and, at the same time, keep them accessiblke to everyone”, confesses the author. Then he adds: “ since I saw hopelessness in someone’s eyes in Rome and understood, that human sorrow is the same at different ends of the world.” It is the global Whitman-ian style of poets with philanthropic and egalitarian perception of man, to transport words to the plains of the absolute, where they are enabled to do God-pleasing work – TO SAVE. Independently of the chosen tonality (lyrical, rhetorical, journalistic, philosophical, promotional, confessional) Majia’s line becomes recognizable thanks to that deep pulsation, with which he penetrates the depths of the metaphysics of existence resulting in the form revealing itself as an intimate exposé of life – and not the opposite. It is only in the case of such continuity of the author’s metaphysical, moral and professional concerns , that the reader is enabled to stroke the “democratic thing” pulsating in the depths of the writer, which wishes to die with all dying things – whether a gazelle, tree or snow leopard, of whom, the poet — having assumed the identity — promises:
I cannot fashion songs with your words,
Yet, with my toes, I can depict on the snow-white cover-paper a testament to my generations, leaving them my last words as testament.
In the “I am a snow leopard” poem, Majia adopts the speckled body of the snow leopard as his alter ego, becoming from birth the panther appearing in the black square of the hunter’s hideaway that, in its turn, stalks its prey among the herd of goats. This is the cosmic dance macabre set up between hunter and prey through a mysterious magnetism within the whirling circle of eternal transmutations of deaths and lives. It is the poet’s wish, positioned between the parallel states of consciousness of animal and man, that the crime of killing leave traces not only in man’s, but also in animal’s conscience. So that the snow leopard also, from time to time,
/ may hit the drum of destiny, for the sake of atonement /.
In our days of striving for facelessness, globalization and standardization, the personal trace becomes essential — be it man, or snow-leopard – the personal struggle and the personal tragedy. It’s beyond argument, that each and every poet is the result of their time and their gales. That time, as Baudelaire used to say, “ …drives the poet with its hooked staff as the steer, yelling, “hey, you beast! Show some sweat! Hey, damned slave, keep alive!” In this context, those gales decide also the tonality of the poetic voice and it is difficult to say, whether Mayakovski (one of the author’s literary idols) would have sounded as original, if he hadn’t echoed the originality of the revolution of his time. Would his high-pitched tone, like the loudspeaker enhanced voice of a sailor hailing a vessel from another, have been received with the same endorsement, if the winds of the time did not blow the right way? If the need for pathos had not ripened in the ear of the listener, the degree of that pause, following which, all is to start again? From zero?
Adopting the more acceptable version of form and the conversationalism of free-verse, the poet, even in an abundance of words, remains able to receive an epigramic or aphorismic density of meaning, securing the feeling of galactic distance as a factor securing the lyricism of the line. This is poetry of sympathy, where metaphor is utilized not for effect, but to underline the similarity of human experimentation, to save man from the inordinate size and uniqueness of his own suffering. It is not one time that the reading is interrupted by remembrance of Akhmatova’s lines.
You and I are summits of suffering.
You and I are never to meet in this world…
And continued under your breastbone; but don’t let that bother you. Stretch and try to touch me, nevertheless – through stars and skies. Otherwise, the poet never avoids death or pain: “Let, at last, the crown of thorns squeeze my head / Pain! I need you / And this is my personal choice.” To live as a man and abandon man as a poet – this is Majia’s chosen way to exist, in the meantime move like the wind, opening doors…even if half way. Meanwhile, the Majian lyrics of broken objects does not exclude the possibility of being broken and beautiful at the same time, while his poetic hand of seeing everything completed once more prefers to fill the crack not with invisible glue, but a dense mixture of gold dust, which turns the breakage more visible – like the Japanese master mending the broken teacup. In our time of doubt and cynicism, the poet tries to create such a dynamics by means of language, that in its maelstrom hope, memory, meaning become visible again. Choosing snow as an all sparkle-reflecting environment, he places the object of his interest in the atmosphere of elegance, mystery and revelation, with the consciousness of the gaze viewing it and the talismanic air generated by it all, where nothing is permanently secured with the nails of form and method. Where there is always room for mistake, sin and indulgence. Where everything is equally cherished and equally despised.
On this earthly globe
Full of deceit, cringing, and murder,
There is no place,
Not even an inch of soil I could belong to.
Generally, it is possible to put all poems under the title, “Song About Me”, where there is no reverence to any concrete religious dogma, or ideology – the altar is man, the theme, the apotheosis of being and existence – the similarization of nature, man and God. To God, the odyssey of recovering the lost twin and though it the recognition by man of his own self – from the dawn of time, the consecutive voyage of the epic hero – the journey, so that he may once more recognize long- past eras — to turn into what used to be. And if there is mysticism, then it only bows to the inconceivable and the traditional. Daily mysticism, in the Orwellian dance circles of finding miracles in the ordinary and turning them into language – not as believer, but from positions of observer and witness, placing all in the immobility of one eye with pretensions of Proustian acumen.
Having already covered his journey with generalities and now passing through his personal road in the transformational guise of a snow-leopard, the poet climbs through the dazzling whiteness of snow to the loftiest summit,
“cleansing himself in that unpolluted sublimity, / amid fecundity- offering rays of light,” the voice reaches the reader with the certainty of a mountain prayer. This is snow of a kind notable not by its whiteness, cleanliness or frigidity, but by the amount of light it contains and “the miracle of reflecting all manner of radiance.” With that mirage-conjuring glow, in which «” are brightened the colors of the rose floating in mid-air,” in which the poet “sees time in its liquid state.”
Like a movie hero, who with Borgesian enthusiasm assures, that only poetry can turn darkness into light, Majia continues to seek words, “that like a priest’s dream / can revive the dead / and snatch a certain echo / from all, all living souls.”
Like a feather, that submits to the rules of neither life, nor death and stoic as a snail, the poet extricates the line – shimmering and visible, leaving as it goes on the snow his promised trace,
That perhaps is more beautiful
Than the black plum tree in full bloom…