Translation from Spanish by Joseph Mulligan

The following is excerpted from C. Vallejo, Against Professional Secrets, ISBN: 9781931824422, Pages: 100, Price: $14.95, available from Roof Books and Small Press Distribution]

AN ANIMAL IS LED...

An animal is led or is pushed. Man is accompanied in parallel.

THERE EXIST QUESTIONS...

There exist questions without answers, which fill the spirit of science and common sense with uneasiness. There exist answers without questions, which are the spirit of art and the dialectic consciousness of things.

THE HEAD AND FEET OF DIALECTICS

Facing the stones of Darwinian risk that compose the Tuileries palace, Potstam, Peterhof, Quirinal, the White House and Buckingham, I suffer the pain of a megatherium, who meditated standing upright, the hind legs on the head of Hegel and the front legs on the head of Marx.

THE DEATH OF DEATH

In reality, the sky isn’t far from or near the land. In reality, death isn’t far from or close to life. We are always before the river of Heraclitus.

EXPLANATION OF HISTORY

There are people who are interested in Rome, Athens, Florence, Toledo and other ancient cities, not because of their past––static and immobile––but because of their present––lively and dynamic. For these people, the world of El Greco, the green and yellow robes of his apostles, his house, his kitchen, his crockery, are not very interesting. What do they care about the cathedral of Toledo, with its five doors, its seven centuries, its refreshing cloisters, its silver choir and its enchanting Mozarab chapel? What do they care about the Inn of Blood, where Cervantes was to write The Illustrious Kitchen Maid...? What do they care about the Palace of Carlos V, all of its stone and its distinguished coffered ceiling? The celebrated Castle of San Servando on the other side of the ravine might as well disappear in broad daylight. The tombs of the heroes and cardinals of the cathedral might as well disappear. The Munitions Factory in Toledo––what do they care!? The Tránsito Mosque, constructed in the XIV century by the Jew Samuel Levi––what do they care!? These passersby are utterly indifferent to history in a text, in a legend, in a painting, in architecture, in tradition.


While the guide explains the date and political circumstances of its construction on the Bridge of Alcántara, I note that one of the tourists becomes a disengaged schoolboy and stares at an old Toledan, who is just arriving home on the back of his donkey. The old man laboriously gets down, in the middle of his receiving room. “Ah...!” the old man snorts and begins to loudly call to the watchmen on the corner, so that they help him remove the donkey’s saddle. This happens on the street that bears the name Sponge Cake Oven Way or on that slightly rougher one called Don Pedro’s Path to the Chicken Coop.


These are the scenes that interest certain people: the historical present of Toledo; not its past. They want to submerge in the fleeting present, which in the end recasts and crystallizes the essentials of past history. That old man, seated atop a donkey, summarizes in his snort El Greco, the Cathedral, the Palace, the Mosque, the Munitions Factory. It is a living and transitory scene of the moment, synthesizing, like a flower, Toledo’s uproar and defunct deeds.


The same can be said of all the ancient cities, historical ruins and treasures of the world. One does not narrate history, or see it or hear it or touch it. One lives history and feels it live.

THE INTRINSIC MOVEMENT OF MATTER

Parallels exist neither in the spirit nor in the reality of the universe. It is but an abstract supposition of geometry. There is no room for a parallelism within the single and linear continuity of life. History and nature unfold linearly and, in this single, solitary line, human events and natural phenomena occur, one after another, successively and never simultaneously.


The parallelism of a railroad does not have a greater living reality than that of two lines drawn on a chalkboard. Two trees or two children born at the same instant do not constitute an effective parallelism either. In all these cases, the geometrical illusion does not sustain objective events, but participates in the nature of so many other fictions of the senses or abstractions of intelligence, like when we see, from a train in motion, that the houses are on parade or when, a burning stick is moving in a circle (see Pascal), we believe that we see and affirm an arc of fire, etc.


Life is a succession and not simultaneity. The apparent parallels of a railroad do not develop at once, but one after another. Men do not live together, but they occur one after another. Towns do not live together either, but occur. Plurality is a phenomenon of time and not of space. The number 1 is solitary of place. The number 2 and the subsequent single or compound numbers do not exist as objective reality, but as abstract suppositions of thought.


Life does not play out in various forms at once. But in various successive forms. A planet does not have a destiny different from that of other planets, but the same and unique end that all the others have managed to carry out. A stone meets a destiny identical to that of a mollusk, and it goes before or after a man, but not at the same time as he. If one could depict the evolution of life, it would be represented by a line of beings and things, with one at the end. In abstract terrain, beings and things unfold with an apparent myriad character. But this is not substantive reality. Beneath the illusory simultaneity of things and beings, reality, at the end, is solely a succession in the movement of the universe. The masses are more a parade than a crowd. The asyndeton surging from history is more a line than a point.

THE MONUMENT TO BAUDELAIRE...

The monument to Baudelaire is one of the most beautiful headstones in Paris, an authentic cathedral tombstone. The sculptor took a lapidary block, split it in two and fashioned a compass. Such is the frame of the monument. A compass. An airplane, one of whose wings drags on the ground, due to its great size, just like the symbolic albatross. The other half is raised perpendicularly to the first and presents in its upper half a giant bat with outstretched wings. Above this creature, alive and floating, there is a gargoyle, whose jutting, vigilant and aggressive chin rests and does not rest upon its hands.

Another sculptor might have chiseled the heraldic cat of the bard, so groped by the critics. He, who worked this stone, however, delved deeper and chose the bat, this zoological binomial––between mammal and bird––that ethical image––between Lucifer and angel––who embodies the spirit of Baudelaire so well. And this, because the author of The Flowers of Evil was not diabolical, in the Catholic sense of the word, but diabolical in a lay and simply human sense, a natural coefficient of rebellion and innocence. Rebellion is not possible without innocence. Only children and angels rebel. Malice never rebels. An old man can only become spiteful and grow bitter. Hence, Voltaire. Rebellion is the fruit of an innocent spirit. And the cat carries malice in each of its paws. On the other hand, the bat––that airborne mouse of the mausoleums, that hybrid specimen of the cornices––has a knack for height and the shadows. It is a native of the kingdom of darkness and also a dweller of the cupolas. Due to its dual nature of flight and darkness, it possesses wisdom in shadows and, as in heroic acts, performs the upward fall.

COMMENTARY:

After publishing two major poetry collections, The Black Heralds (1918) & Trilce (1922), as well as the exceptional & under-celebrated book of prose, Scales (1923), César Vallejo headed for Europe, where he would immerse himself in the world of journalism. His three trips to an interwar Soviet Union, his innumerable personal interviews with a broad demographic, his more than two hundred articles (ranging from sports to theater, from archeology to modern marvels, from labor issues to judicial proceedings)—all this is in concert with his eventual socialist turn. Against Professional Secrets, written during his early years in Europe, is the product of Vallejo’s search for an integral poetics. The schools that were then flourishing in Europe & being imported to Latin America, for him, proved problematic in their search for social change by way of forming exclusive oppositional groups, open only to initiates.

Against Professional Secrets is indeed a critique (of what Vallejo saw as a pose in the European schools & as insincerity in Latin American poetry); yet it is also a proposal, & this I think is what makes his curious “book of thoughts” so compelling. Readers, who revere his indigenism in The Black Heralds, gawk at his experimentalism in Trilce, & hear his resounding call for solidarity in Poemas humanos, will find, amid his many well-employed metaphors, the stunning presence of chromophores (i.e. language matter absorbing light at specific frequencies & thereby imparting color onto its surface). It is due to chromophores that certain chameleons have the ability to adopt the appearance of their surroundings.

Vallejo’s writing in Against Professional Secrets is chromophoric in the sense that it adopts the very modalities that it has set out to critique. It creeps unnoticed like a chameleon through the European literature of the late 19th & early 20th centuries, taking on its likeness & surreptitiously proposing that the content of modern poetry should supersede its form. While at first this may seem contradictory, since in Vallejo’s writing there appears to be a certain preoccupation with technique, a close reading will show that, by including himself within the mark of his own critique, his proposal is one of an integral poetics instead of the conventional oppositional polemics.

—Joseph Mulligan

[Joseph Mulligan, poet and translator, was born in Batavia, NY. His translations include Trilce and Scales by César Vallejo, as well as major works by Jorge Eduardo Eielson, Oliverio Girondo and Alejandra Pizarnik. He lives in New York and Lima. He regularly publishes poetry, translations & essays on his blog The Smelting Process.]

0 Response to 'César Vallejo: from Against Professional Secrets (Book of Thoughts)'

Post a Comment

Tattoos Picture Page 1 Tattoos Picture Page 2 Tattoos Picture Page 3 Tattoos Picture Page 4 Tattoos Picture Page 5 Tattoos Picture Page 6 Tattoos Picture Page 7 Tattoos Picture Page 8 Tattoos Picture Page 9 Tattoos Picture Page 10 Tattoos Picture Page 11 Tattoos Picture Page 12 Tattoos Picture Page 13 Tattoos Picture Page 14 Tattoos Picture Page 15 Tattoos Picture Page 16 Tattoos Picture Page 17 Tattoos Picture Page 18 Tattoos Picture Page 19 Tattoos Picture Page 20 Tattoos Picture Page 21 Tattoos Picture Page 22 Tattoos Picture Page 23 Tattoos Picture Page 24 Tattoos Picture Page 25 Tattoos Picture Page 26 Tattoos Picture Page 27 Tattoos Picture Page 28 Tattoos Picture Page 29 Tattoos Picture Page 30 Tattoos Picture Page 31 Tattoos Picture Page 32 Tattoos Picture Page 33 Tattoos Picture Page 34 Tattoos Picture Page 35 Tattoos Picture Page 36 Tattoos Picture Page 37 Tattoos Picture Page 38 Tattoos Picture Page 39 Tattoos Picture Page 40 Tattoos Picture Page 41 Tattoos Picture Page 42 Tattoos Picture Page 43 Tattoos Picture Page 44 Tattoos Picture Page 45 Tattoos Picture Page 46 Tattoos Picture Page 47 Tattoos Picture Page 48 Tattoos Picture Page 49 Tattoos Picture Page 50 Tattoos Picture Page 51 Tattoos Picture Page 52 Tattoos Picture Page 53 Tattoos Picture Page 54 Tattoos Picture Page 55 Tattoos Picture Page 56 Tattoos Picture Page 57 Tattoos Picture Page 58 Tattoos Picture Page 59 Tattoos Picture Page 60 Tattoos Picture Page 61 Tattoos Picture Page 62 Tattoos Picture Page 63 Tattoos Picture Page 64 Tattoos Picture Page 65 Tattoos Picture Page 66 Tattoos Picture Page 67 Tattoos Picture Page 68 Tattoos Picture Page 69 Tattoos Picture Page 70 Tattoos Picture Page 71 Tattoos Picture Page 72 Tattoos Picture Page 73 Tattoos Picture Page 74 Tattoos Picture Page 75 Tattoos Picture Page 76 Tattoos Picture Page 77 Tattoos Picture Page 78 Tattoos Picture Page 79 Tattoos Picture Page 80 Tattoos Picture Page 81 Tattoos Picture Page 82 Tattoos Picture Page 83 Tattoos Picture Page 84 Tattoos Picture Page 85 Tattoos Picture Page 86 Tattoos Picture Page 87 Tattoos Picture Page 88 Tattoos Picture Page 89 Tattoos Picture Page 90 Tattoos Picture Page 91 Tattoos Picture Page 92 Tattoos Picture Page 93 Tattoos Picture Page 94 Tattoos Picture Page 95 Tattoos Picture Page 96 Tattoos Picture Page 97 Tattoos Picture Page 98 Tattoos Picture Page 99 Tattoos Picture Page 100 Tattoos Picture Page 101 Tattoos Picture Page 102 Tattoos Picture Page 103 Tattoos Picture Page 104 Tattoos Picture Page 105 Tattoos Picture Page 106 Tattoos Picture Page 107 Tattoos Picture Page 108 Tattoos Picture Page 109 Tattoos Picture Page 110 Tattoos Picture Page 111 Tattoos Picture Page 112 Tattoos Picture Page 113 Tattoos Picture Page 114 Tattoos Picture Page 115 Tattoos Picture Page 116 Tattoos Picture Page 117 Tattoos Picture Page 118 Tattoos Picture Page 119 Tattoos Picture Page 120 Luxury Villa and Home Page 1 Luxury Villa and Home Page 2 Luxury Villa and Home Page 3 Luxury Villa and Home Page 4 Luxury Villa and Home Page 5 Luxury Villa and Home Page 6 Luxury Villa and Home Page 7 Luxury Villa and Home Page 8 Luxury Villa and Home Page 9 Luxury Villa and Home Page 10 Luxury Villa and Home Page 11 Luxury Villa and Home Page 12 Luxury Villa and Home Page 13 Luxury Villa and Home Page 14 Luxury Villa and Home Page 15 Luxury Villa and Home Page 16 Luxury Villa and Home Page 17 Luxury Villa and Home Page 18 Luxury Villa and Home Page 19 Luxury Villa and Home Page 20 Luxury Villa and Home Page 21 Luxury Villa and Home Page 22 Luxury Villa and Home Page 23 Luxury Villa and Home Page 24 Luxury Villa and Home Page 25 Luxury Villa and Home Page 26 Luxury Villa and Home Page 27 Luxury Villa and Home Page 28 Luxury Villa and Home Page 29 Luxury Villa and Home Page 30 Luxury Villa and Home Page 31 Luxury Villa and Home Page 32 Luxury Villa and Home Page 33 Luxury Villa and Home Page 34 Luxury Villa and Home Page 35 Luxury Villa and Home Page 36 Luxury Villa and Home Page 37 Luxury Villa and Home Page 38 Luxury Villa and Home Page 39 Luxury Villa and Home Page 40 Luxury Villa and Home Page 41 Luxury Villa and Home Page 42 Luxury Villa and Home Page 43 Luxury Villa and Home Page 44 Luxury Villa and Home Page 45 Luxury Villa and Home Page 46 Luxury Villa and Home Page 47 Luxury Villa and Home Page 48 Luxury Villa and Home Page 49 Luxury Villa and Home Page 50 Luxury Villa and Home Page 51 Luxury Villa and Home Page 52 Luxury Villa and Home Page 53 Luxury Villa and Home Page 54 Luxury Villa and Home Page 55 Luxury Villa and Home Page 56 Luxury Villa and Home Page 57 Luxury Villa and Home Page 58 Luxury Villa and Home Page 59 Luxury Villa and Home Page 60 Luxury Villa and Home Page 61 Luxury Villa and Home Page 62 Luxury Villa and Home Page 63 Luxury Villa and Home Page 64 Luxury Villa and Home Page 65 Luxury Villa and Home Page 66 Luxury Villa and Home Page 67 Luxury Villa and Home Page 68 Luxury Villa and Home Page 69 Luxury Villa and Home Page 70 Luxury Villa and Home Page 71 Luxury Villa and Home Page 72 Luxury Villa and Home Page 73 Luxury Villa and Home Page 74 Luxury Villa and Home Page 75 Luxury Villa and Home Page 76 Luxury Villa and Home Page 77 Luxury Villa and Home Page 78 Luxury Villa and Home Page 79 Luxury Villa and Home Page 80 Luxury Villa and Home Page 81 Luxury Villa and Home Page 82 Luxury Villa and Home Page 83 Luxury Villa and Home Page 84 Luxury Villa and Home Page 85 Luxury Villa and Home Page 86 Luxury Villa and Home Page 87 Luxury Villa and Home Page 88 Luxury Villa and Home Page 89 Luxury Villa and Home Page 90 Luxury Villa and Home Page 91 Luxury Villa and Home Page 92 Luxury Villa and Home Page 93 Luxury Villa and Home Page 94 Luxury Villa and Home Page 95 Luxury Villa and Home Page 96 Luxury Villa and Home Page 97 Luxury Villa and Home Page 98 Luxury Villa and Home Page 99 Famous People Page 1 Famous People Page 2 Famous People Page 3 Famous People Page 4 Famous People Page 5 Famous People Page 6 Famous People Page 7 Famous People Page 8 Famous People Page 9 Famous People Page 10 Famous People Page 11 Famous People Page 12 Famous People Page 13 Famous People Page 14 Famous People Page 15 Famous People Page 16 Famous People Page 17 Famous People Page 18 Famous People Page 19 Famous People Page 20 Famous People Page 21 Famous People Page 22 Famous People Page 23 Famous People Page 24 Famous People Page 25 Famous People Page 26 Famous People Page 27 Famous People Page 28 Famous People Page 29 Famous People Page 30 Famous People Page 31 Famous People Page 32 Famous People Page 33 Famous People Page 34 Famous People Page 35 Famous People Page 36 Famous People Page 37 Famous People Page 38 Famous People Page 39 Famous People Page 40 Famous People Page 41 Famous People Page 42 Famous People Page 43 Famous People Page 44 Famous People Page 45 Famous People Page 46 Famous People Page 47 Famous People Page 48 Famous People Page 49 Famous People Page 50 Famous People Page 51 Famous People Page 52 Famous People Page 53 Famous People Page 54 Famous People Page 55 Famous People Page 56 Famous People Page 57 Famous People Page 58 Famous People Page 59 Famous People Page 60 Famous People Page 61 Famous People Page 62 Famous People Page 63 Famous People Page 64 Famous People Page 65 Famous People Page 66 Famous People Page 67 Famous People Page 68 Famous People Page 69 Famous People Page 70 Famous People Page 71 Famous People Page 72 Famous People Page 73 Famous People Page 74 Famous People Page 75 Famous People Page 76 Famous People Page 77 Famous People Page 78 Famous People Page 79 Famous People Page 80 Famous People Page 81 Famous People Page 82 Famous People Page 83 Famous People Page 84 Famous People Page 85 Famous People Page 86 Famous People Page 87 Famous People Page 88 Famous People Page 89 Famous People Page 90 Famous People Page 91 Famous People Page 92 Famous People Page 93 Famous People Page 94 Famous People Page 95 Famous People Page 96 Famous People Page 97 Famous People Page 98 Famous People Page 99 Famous People Page 100 Famous People Page 101 Famous People Page 102 Famous People Page 103 Famous People Page 104 Famous People Page 105 Famous People Page 106 Famous People Page 107 Famous People Page 108 Famous People Page 109 Famous People Page 110 Famous People Page 111 Famous People Page 112 Famous People Page 113 Famous People Page 114 Famous People Page 115 Famous People Page 116 Famous People Page 117 Famous People Page 118 Famous People Page 119 Famous People Page 120