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lunes, 17 de abril de 2017

Miyazawa Kenji: Selections - Kenji Miyazawa

Rating: 
13/04/17

I said, “The evening sun the color of ancient gold,”
and your eyes reproach me:
Why seize on despicable gold
to compare to this solemn evening sun?

The family of Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) practiced Pure Land Buddhism, a prominent branch of Mahayana Buddhism. In 1915, the poet shook the foundations of their relative’s faith when he decided to convert to Nichiren Buddhism, another branch. Such conversion was prompted by the Lotus Sūtra – a deep influence on his poetry, which brims with Buddhist terms without actually delving into essential notions. I had to return to some texts since I had forgotten some concepts.

My rating is based on my inability to relate to most of Miyazawa’s poems. Perhaps their complexity exceeded my understanding and a clear image turned into labyrinthine symbolism. But I did find some enjoyment. Some of his poems are imbued with the serene expressions of nature, with the sense of a challenging yet reachable enlightenment. With the verifiable elements of science, the volatile human nature, and religion trying to build bridges between them.

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Other poems are infused with the monochromatic presence of death. Miyazawa's verse was deeply affected by the demise of his younger sister, Toshi, on November 27, 1922. That same day, he wrote three poems. With that loneliness you must make music. Always.

This collection of somewhat disjointed thoughts started with an excerpt of a poem called "Mr. Pamirs the Scholar Takes a Walk." I marveled at the juxtaposition of simple yet sophisticated visuals which express an ideal version of ourselves. A faithful portrait of the chasm between a sublime sight and a worldly kingdom, transient by definition. Someone subscribing to such values is a rare treasure. The rest is just noise.



* Picture: Kuon-ji, a temple founded by Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist priest, in 1281.


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miércoles, 5 de abril de 2017

The Book of Images - Rainer Maria Rilke

Rating: 
28/04/17

I would like to step out of my heart’s door
and be under the great sky.

— Rilke, “Lament”

A myriad of shades, a plethora of images, the juxtaposition of sentiments which soothe and unsettle. Das Buch der Bilder.
A miscellany of visuals and existential hues. A mélange of nuances and distinctive sounds. A sense of clarity with the scent of perplexity. The mystical and the ordinary fluctuate in harmony. Chaotic perfection takes this collection by storm. A vision. A metaphor. A book. A thousand mirrors. The book of images.
The last of his line
I have no paternal house,
nor have I lost one;
my mother birthed me out
into the world.
Here I stand now in the world and go
even deeper into the world
and have my happiness and have my woe
and have each one alone.
...

This poetry collection was first published in 1902, when Rilke was twenty-six years old. The second edition, which appeared in 1906, is the one I read, translated by Edward Snow and published in 2014. A work which apparently knew how to circumvent the challenges of poetry and translation, for Rilke’s verses acquire a natural fluency by virtue of Snow’s mastery.
Requiem
Life is only a part… of what?
Life is only a note… in what?
Life has meaning only joined with many
receding circles of increasing space, –
life is only the dream of a dream,
but waking is elsewhere.

The variety of themes and the original approach chosen by Rilke have distinguished his writing until evanescent categories were completely gone, elevating poetry to sometimes unfathomable levels. Sacred symbols and mundane illustrations coalesce in the land of polarity. If the reader finds a way to connect with the poetic expressions Rilke used to deconstruct the world, then a memorable journey will soon begin. A journey in which the light of day emphasizes the color of a rose, and the silence of a room shape the nights that never end. The days that bring solace. The nights that beg for poetry. The days of pressure. The nights that dislike the sound of echo; the nights that long for it afterwards amidst confusion. The nights of indifference and quick replacements too despicable to confess. The nights when childhood is a distant memory, when guardian angels seem oblivious, when life is heavier than the weight of all things.*




* From the poem “The Neighbor”


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Carta abierta de un escritor a la Junta Militar - Rodolfo Walsh

Rating: A testimony that can't be rated.
24/03/17


March 24, 1976. A dictatorship started ruling Argentina; the era of kidnapping and torturing any enemy of the state had begun. Bodies vanishing into thin air. The following year, writer and journalist Rodolfo Walsh sent a letter (Open Letter From a Writer to the Military Junta) by post to the editorial departments of local newspapers and foreign press correspondents expressing his opinion. The next day, he was kidnapped and never seen again.

El primer aniversario de esta Junta Militar ha motivado un balance de la acción de gobierno en documentos y discursos oficiales, donde lo que ustedes llaman aciertos son errores, los que reconocen como errores son crímenes y lo que omiten son calamidades. [...]
Quince mil desaparecidos, diez mil presos, cuatro mil muertos, decenas de miles de desterrados son la cifra desnuda de ese terror.
Colmadas las cárceles ordinarias, crearon ustedes en las principales guarniciones del país virtuales campos de concentración donde no entra ningún juez, abogado, periodista, observador internacional. El secreto militar de los procedimientos, invocado como necesidad de la investigación, convierte a la mayoría de las detenciones en secuestros que permiten la tortura sin límite y el fusilamiento sin juicio. [...]
Estas son las reflexiones que en el primer aniversario de su infausto gobierno he querido hacer llegar a los miembros de esa Junta, sin esperanza de ser escuchado, con la certeza de ser perseguido, pero fiel al compromiso que asumí hace mucho tiempo de dar testimonio en momentos difíciles.
24 de marzo de 1977

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The first anniversary of this Military Junta has brought about a year-end review of government operations in the form of official documents and speeches: what you call good decisions are mistakes, what you acknowledge as mistakes are crimes, and what you have left out entirely are disasters. [...]
Fifteen thousand missing, ten thousand prisoners, four thousand dead, tens of thousands in exile: these are the raw numbers of this terror.
Since the ordinary jails were filled to the brim, you created virtual concentration camps in the main garrisons of the country which judges, lawyers, journalists, and international observers, are all forbidden to enter. The military secrecy of what goes on inside, which you cite as a requirement for the purposes of investigation, means that the majority of the arrests turn into kidnappings that in turn allow for torture without limits and execution without trial. [...]
These are the thoughts I wanted to pass on to the members of this Junta on the first anniversary of your ill-fated government, with no hope of being heard, with the certainty of being persecuted, but faithful to the commitment I made a long time ago to bear witness during difficult times.
March 24, 1977


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