> Vu d’Athènes

Vu d’Athènes

Par |2019-01-23T23:19:55+00:00 16 juin 2012|Catégories : Chroniques|

Some thoughts on poe­try and cri­sis


I do not think an artist can des­cribe his pain while he is in pain. As a citi­zen he might want to express an opi­nion or take an action confron­ting the urgen­cy of facts. But as an artist he will do that on the terms of his art which requires a cer­tain dis­tance and ela­bo­ra­tion of the cir­cum­stances, a pro­cess much dif­ferent than say  that of the jour­na­list or the acti­vist. Especially since the last years we have heard almost eve­ry­thing from eve­ryone in this public debate about the European cri­sis, this kind of ela­bo­ra­tion is neces­sa­ry. We need time in order to get a dee­per unders­tan­ding which will trans­cend the com­mon places and the too obvious truths. “ ..to remain  aware of the weight of fact without yiel­ding to the temp­ta­tion to become only a repor­ter is one of the most dif­fi­cult puzzles confron­ting a prac­ti­tio­ner of poe­try. It calls for a cun­ning in selec­ting one's means and a kind of dis­til­la­tion of mate­rial to achieve a dis­tance to contem­plate the things of the world as they are, without illu­sion”, Cheslaw Milosz writes.

What I find extre­me­ly inter­es­ting is that this is a cri­sis of iden­ti­ty and values more than any­thing else. It raises many ques­tions about what we consi­der accep­table in the poli­ti­cal field about what kind of socie­ty we want to be part of. The chal­lenge is to rede­fine our­selves and to do that we should open up to other fields of thought besides the domi­na­tion of neces­si­ties. I do not believe in the role of the artist as a public figure who raises his voice to assert a lea­ding role. Because he is a spe­cial recei­ver he can become a spe­cial sen­si­tive trans­mit­ter.  Every jour­na­list who meets an artist today will ask the same ques­tion. “How does the cri­sis affect your art “. In dif­fi­cult times there arises the demand for art to give ans­wers. Usually this is just bad art. This appeal for ans­wers is the dis­gui­sed mis­trust that socie­ty holds against poe­try : That it should prove its use­ful­ness, become coun­table.

In our post-capi­ta­list world lan­guage often func­tions as a struc­ture of oppres­sion, of power and it is exten­si­ve­ly used as a tool, a mere ins­tru­ment valued for its appli­ca­tions. In poe­try, lan­guage is dis­rup­ted, is dis­lo­ca­ted  and this maybe brings for­ward the pos­si­bi­li­ty for us to deny the world as it is.

It seems now a days that our world is des­cri­bed through a unique nar­ra­tive, that is : eco­no­mics. But we can­not accept our lives to be redu­ced in num­bers. We need alter­na­tive nar­ra­tives in order to live . Poetry is an alter­na­tive nar­ra­tive of cru­cial impor­tance. By crea­ting new meta­phors, new vehicles of mea­ning, it rege­ne­rates our spi­rit, helps us deve­lop cri­ti­cal thin­king, des­cribe our­selves, inter­pret our lives with more com­plexi­ty and depth. It opens up a space of pos­si­bi­li­ties within what we consi­der as rea­li­ty.

More than, that it implies the fact that per­haps we need to think more care­ful­ly about the un-rea­lis­tic or even the unat­tai­nable in order to pre­serve what is real.

If we look at the recent his­to­ry of Greece we will see that we have been in an almost constant state of cri­sis, war, civil war, dic­ta­tor­ship. Many of the poets we know and love have writ­ten their poe­try in much more dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. The artist is always in a state of dis­pute with his time and envi­ron­ment, he is the cri­ti­cal mind and the wit­ness, the eye that is not afraid to look and report. I am just wor­ried about the notion that in times like that we ask art to become use­ful, to bring for­ward ans­wers for what we can­not explain, which is wrong. Poetry is always the field of the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of ques­tions, or it loses its cri­ti­cal qua­li­ty which is free­dom. In more obvious­ly tota­li­ta­rian regimes a poem could and has been a threat to their order of things. Today the oppres­sion, the way power is impo­sed is much more sophis­ti­ca­ted and insi­dious. It is in many ways inter­na­li­zed, so most of the times we do not even rea­lize we are control­led.

Artists do not change the world, they rather invent incon­cei­vable struc­tures of words, sounds, images, mea­nings. They are wor­riers and foun­ders upon the chaos of pos­si­bi­li­ties.

Poetry is a uni­ver­sal lan­guage  but more impor­tant­ly it is also the lan­guage of doubt , a space of risk where our conscience is awa­ke­ned, where we ques­tion our beliefs and ideas, where we become active. In poe­try we hear the foots­teps of others, the poem is the pas­sage and because of it we tra­verse bor­ders, genres, struc­tures, dis­truc­tions and trans­for­ma­tions. Listening to a poem is a conscious and ener­ge­tic act (praxis) that can change you. That is why to write or read poe­try is a poli­ti­cal act in itself.