Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Seek the Edge

I appreciate the poetics of Federico Garcia Lorca, the gypsy poet of Southern Spain. Lorca wrote an essay, “Theory and Play of Duende” suggesting most artists search for perfection at the cost of a need for struggle - duende. This force, not an angel or Muse, becomes more of an “energetic instinct.” A writer may have the voice, the style, and the ability but will never triumph unless duende resides within. All through Andalucia, people speak of duende and recognize it when it happens. It is a spirit that is more than one’s spirit.

Lorca does not want to confuse the duende with demons or devils, or as a destructive force. He says, “I mean, secret and shuddering…” Where the angel dazzles and the Muse dictates, surges from outside of us. The duende has “to be roused from the furthest habitations of the blood. Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all sweet geometry we understand, that it shatters styles.” Emotion is impossible without the arrival of the duende.

Lorca told about a singer who had to send away her muse and become helpless. And how she sang! "She was able to kill all the scaffolding of the song and leave way for a furious, enslaving duende, friend of the sand winds who made the listeners rip their clothes off.” It is the marrow of forms, the pure music. Duende also means a radical change to all the old kinds of form, “totally unknown and fresh sensations with the qualities of a newly created rose.” Each person finds something new that no one had seen before, that could give life and knowledge.

The essay mentions three arches which have within them the Muse, the angel and the duende. “ Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters, blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odor of a child’s saliva, crushed grass, and medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things.”

When asked why he wrote, “A thousand tambourines of crystal wounded the light of day break,” he replied, “I will tell you I save them in the hands of trees and angels, but I cannot say more. I cannot explain their meaning and that is how it should be. Through poetry a man quickly reaches the cutting edge that the philosopher and mathematician silently turn away from.”

As a poet, I have experienced a thrill that transported me beyond my understanding and expectation. When the mind becomes fueled by uneasiness on the edge of discovery or the rowdiness of creation, the writing takes flight.

Once one has felt the rush a feeling remains that it will return. In this state, all senses expand and melody flows through the body. Not knowing its next visitation will provoke the search for a variety of ways to coax it back. If the timing is not right and it tries to escape, one grasps only air. Yet, having it for a moment engages the highest form of communion with the self.

I seek the edge of helplessness in order to write with my greatest force. Often I cannot explain the meaning. For me, and I hope the reader, the feelings of wonder remain beyond the language and the story.

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