5 jun 2009

Valente is very, very closely identified with the study of Spanish mysticism, especially Miguel de Molinos and san Juan de la Cruz. Since I've always known this, it's taken a while for the full implications to sink in. Valente criticism just tends to echo Valente's own positions, so there's a problem, or a series of problems, here that hasn't quite been resolved. What does it mean for a basically secular intellectual to be so invested in mysticism? In other words, there is nothing in Valente's writing that makes any more or less secular person reject it: everything is framed just so. The reader doesn't even know the confessional status of the authorial voice. Of course, we take the side of the mystic, Molinos, against the Inquisition that sentenced and imprisoned him, the side of heterodoxy against orthodoxy, but presumably a reader would do that whether he or she was agnostic or a Catholic believer--or the believer in any other creed for that matter. So Valente gets to have it both ways. He gets to be the modern secularized intellectual and the champion of mysticism.

My second idea for the day is this: Valente's poetic theory / combined with Claudio Rodríguez's poetry. Rodríguez is known as a dumb poet rather than a smart poet like Valente (Julián Jiménez Heffernan makes this distinction--questioning if of course). A dumb poet is someone like Lorca or Rodríguez, that is, a poet without a theory of poetry. A smart poet is someone like Valente, who develops the theory of what he's going to do and then does it exactly like that. My idea is that Valente's theory--developed mostly on the basis of María Zambrano's philosophy--predicts and explains Rodríguez's poetry. But that Valente tended to ignore the existence of Claudio, after an early review praising Claudio with some reservations. Claudio's poetry, in fact, is a better exemplification of Valente's theory than Valente's own poetry.


This lightbulb went off in my head yesterday evening. The lightbulb flash should happen to you when you are working on a project, maybe an average of once or twice every day. This is when an idea falls into place, the "aha" moment. You should notice when this happens. It calls for a brief moment of self-congratulation. Most of the work of writing does not consist of light-bulb flashes.

2 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

I cast my vote with the Dumb Poets Party....

Unknown dijo...

speaking of dumb, can i ask a question:

why are there so few translations of contemporary Spanish poets published?

every other year there's a new anthol of contemp Mexican poets——

but the last two anthols from Spain (the Hammer and the Kay Pritchett) are two decades ago... (are there any more recent, and if not, why not) (it was my reading of those anthols that led to my buying and reading your first book, which i still have on my shelf)

why Mexico but not Spain? proximity governs? or what?