Re-visiones #7

Review

Seminario Euraca. L/E/N/G/UA/J/E/o: Dispositivo transatlántico de publicación & republicación de textos del Seminario Euraca. Septiembre 2017 (1), Madriz.
Web: seminarioeuraca.wordpress.com/revista-lenguajeo/

Paula Pérez-Rodríguez & Diego Baena (paulap@princeton.edu|dbaena@princeton.edu)

Princeton University


“A politics of the possible implies understanding that the objective of such a politics is precisely this: the transformation of desire by any means available:” this phrase, by which Jara Rocha closes the first issue of L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o may serve as an entryway to the various tasks that the Euraca Seminar has taken on since 2012, from Madrid as well as its various outskirts and diasporas. The hope: another kind of poetry, a cultural field that exceeds the minimal variability of extant poetic practices in the national space. In their stead, L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o proposes desire: of language, body, politics, political and intellectual commitment. The medium: through the online PDF format and without legal registry or ISSN, L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o seeks to grant free and greater accessibility to areas of Euraca’s own databases of collective and collaborative thought, previously rather hard to come by between the ebbs and flows of blog posts, hyperlinks and mailing lists. L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o, in its search for referential universes contrary to the literary canon, and contrary to nationalist and centralist politics, offers, in some sense, a genealogical image of the 15M movement as a place in which all those nameless people who partook could see themselves as “euracas;” that is, not as Europeans but, rather, as people self-endowed the right to speak up, to “take up words,” tomar la palabra, as it were: re-apropriating a derogatory epithet like “sudaca,” or rather, one who comes from South America to European shores, and reframing the binome by which ‘euro’ can see itself only in diametric opposition to said global “souths,” both those outside and within the European continent itself. And though few if any ‘indians’ participated in the occupations of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol (Mafe Moscoso, “kilómetro 0, latitude 0”), it is perhaps through these and other figures marked by displacement and dispossession that one can come to understand a project such as this. Euraca has tried to measure itself by a search that is both of vitalist conception as well as a kind of projection, or as Charles Bernstein has said of poetry: “not a moral compass but a mortal rumpus” (Charles Bernstein, 10). Castrapo, linguistic blocks, linguistic consciousness: the linguistic (language) as utopian or dystopian process, in any case, constitutive, performative, and not a ready-made product-projectile.

As far as ‘rumpus’ within writing goes, there is perhaps nothing quite so intellectually elaborate as the poetic saga known as L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. To that end, L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o presents the article “Language: un proyecto radical para la escritura de fin de siglo”, originally published as prologue to La Lengua Radical: Antología de la poesía norteamericana contemporánea (1992). Although conceived as an introduction to the work of poets like Charles Bernstein, Ron Silliman or Lyn Hejinian, within its new context the text operates as a kind of theory/poetics that articulates a series of politico-philosophical postulates on language. One of the many strengths of Pujals’ text, which is reiterated in several other texts, is that there is no “normality” possible for language, and as a result, there wouldn’t be any kind of possibility for directionality in discourse. The validity of Pujals’ text from the 90’s today raises several still pertinent questions: does not the model of the “contemporary poem” that the Language poets seem to interpellate constitute the very center of what is typically called poetry? Literature’s “poorer sister” today continues to maintain and intensify this model, with consequences that tend toward a polarization whose “north pole” would be the relative success of a masticated web sensibility (Spain’s so-called ‘urban poetry’: Nach, Rayden, Marwan, @SrtaBebi), and whose “south” would be the utter disappearance of the noun “poem” in the realm of so-called “peninsular studies.” It behooves us to ask if one might not have to look for poetry in that which does not enunciate itself as such. In art, Ángela Segovia responds at the same time as she posits this question, attending to what becomes of poetry in performance in three specific aspects: “the zone of fragility and the zone of error,” “the zone of thought and the zone of sentiment;” “the zone of repetition, and the zone of repetition” (131). The error of the living, against the norm, would win the battle for illumination. “A knot of sentibility” performs the movement of body and the iterative formation of the thought process in process, a possibility in which “poetry’s home is that of the mouth, a mouth, that is, any mouth at all, all of them. Many mouths. And also (…) the ear, this ear, this one, any ear at all, all of them, many ears” (133).

The idea that any attempt at normalization and standardization is at its heart an (inefficient?) apparatus of capture and disciplining underlies the entirety of L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o. The final consequences of such apparatuses would approach the creation of “dead languages,” utilizable only for hypothetical ‘ideal’ speakers that, via a presumed social consensus, must relinquish any form of participative desire in language’s creative “becoming.” The article “Inestabilidad y agencia lingüística” proposes against this process of capture a polysemic bifurcation of the “marriage” between SIGNIFIER/SIGNIFIED,” veering it along a series of queer and polysemic, polyphonic, poly-affective vectors. It is wagered that lectal variation implies de facto a perpetual process of rupture, mis-understanding, opacity. In line with Pujals, we wager that language is not a kind of tunnel by which to glance at and arrive at signification; rather it is paramount that we break that wedding band by which one would presume to so objectively gaze at, objectify and dominate meaning. It is not the opacity of its own forms that poetry reveals, but rather the opacity and polyvalence of language itself. Poetry would thus be a practice of “patience with regard to opacity,” an empowerment and an estrangement within discourse that reminds us that we do not speak in order to understand one another, but rather because we understand one another. Pujals’ and Pérez-Rodríguez’s ideas, which recur throughout L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o, appear to go against the comfort zone of “the passive reader,” making of reading an activity that is in every sense just as participative as writing. In effect, reading L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o is itself an interweaving of planes between which one can form connections that are as illuminating as they are unexpected, both in and between the texts themselves as in their idioletcal variation.

It would be apt to mention that the journal’s very form, in its collaborative dimension, would in itself be a challenge to both the monologue-ish individualism as well as the monoglossic standards from which the Spanish literary system frequently announces itself, as demonstrated by María Salgado in her review of Luz Pichel’s book of poems, ‘Tra(n)shumancias’ (2015). Pichel, who seeks out a place for the border, the diasporic, for castrapo, proposes a radical formulation of the lughar (place) in the context of a long and rapidly accelerated modernity, conditioned and at once re-elaborated by the flow of capital as well as the flow of human tra(n)shumant bodies. We can thus give nuance to the flows, fugues, and drains (cerebral as well as corporeal) that so much challenge the Spanish state, contrasting them to a whole range of experiences of dislocation that, while by no means “incommunicable,” are perhaps untranslatable. At the same time that Salgado invokes the need to lend one’s ear to stories of the current refugee crisis (told “from [refugees’] own action and decision as peolple”), Pichel asks, from her own ever-unstable condition of aldeá (villager) about the meaning of words like “nation,” “place,” “territory.” She focuses in this way on the always plural/diasporic condition of language, as well as the chiasmus that is entailed by any process of deterritorialization: “return” in order to “belong in a dignified way to the world” but at the same time bring things from without in order to restore that locality. Poetry, Pichel reminds us, can indeed be a place of refuge, but it is built always with materials imported from elsewhere.

That ‘elsewhere’ could very well be an outside well beyond the aesthetic canons through which, all too often exclusively, we are taught to do things with words. From here stems the act of re-valorization through which Rafael Sánchez-Mateos and Germán Labrador seek to imbue some oft-neglected popular cultures and poetics (all too often seen as mere ‘banalities’ before the impossible standard of “serious art”) with a dignity of their own, something which can serve to both poeticize and politicize our present. It is in this way that Sánchez-Mateos recalls to us the sounds of his adolescence in his mother’s kitchen, cooking, kneading, and listening to Vainica Doble’s hit “Con las manos en la masa” (With One’s Hands in the Dough). Sánchez-Mateos invites us to dwell a while in this music, to see Vainica, a pop group of the seventies and eighties too often relegated by some studies to the realm of mere “Transitional Culture” (a reference to the supposedly ‘banal’ state-sanctioned culture of the 70’s democratic “Transition”), as an entry point to an entire micropolitical universe –full of care, affect, shared acts of listening– that goes far beyond the purely nostalgic or gourmet act of “savoring” old pop. It is also an invitation to reflect on all those people who, often unaided and without recompense, disproportionately carried out the role of having to care for our present. Bonito fish with tomato, the “little bit of parsley” left to us by Vainica stand in vivid contrast to the lavish and near ubiquitous images of contemporary Spain’s culinary “boom:” from the great (male) figures of the Nueva Cocina Española and Molecular Gastronomy, to Gordon Ramsay, the judging rounds and placement/entrance exams of Master Chef, the austerity politics and ‘bailouts’ of Desastre en la Cocina (Kitchen Nightmares). These are some of the themes explored by Germán Labrador’s essay on the gastro-politcs and gastro-poetics of the economic crisis and subsequent radical democratic movements, moments that to his mind would represent an all-out clash on Spain’s gastro-political stage, between some of the most popular reality shows of the financial crisis years (in Labrador’s view, the most vivid distillations of neoliberal social hygiene) and a series of counter-imaginaries and counter-poetics that stir in the wake of the 15M movement. Thus, popular sayings that crop up on placards during demonstrations such as “no hay pan pa tanto chorizo” (“there is no amount of bread enough for this much pork sausage, i.e. thievery, corruption), or the appearance of a giant chorizo about to be chopped in half by a cardboard guillotine (so as to be symbolically redistributed among those present), activate a kind of sans-cullote imaginary that effectively cannibalizes (and takes for its own) the power of the state, not only re-casting the chef-sovereign of the reality show as sausage-sovereign, but in a sense, following Judith Butler, “framing the framers,” that is, effectively reversing the austere and cannibalistic gaze/voice of regulatory institutions (the Partido Popular, the IMF, the CEB) that paint southern subjects as PIIGS, and turning that self-same gaze and voice onto the institutions themselves.

The last proposal of the journal, “Open call to the PIIGS for a text-mining of the troika”, can be aligned against the growing, more anti- than democratic, institutionalization of language/s. The SOUTH political fiction tries to turn around, “along the making of the everyday life”, the extractivist schoolyard that countries such as Spain or Greece constitute for Central Europe. While the Troika drains itself through the PIIG, Rocha inscribes and tests an “aesthetics of dispossession” able to mine the lettered textualities that would gather the onto-political distortion by which the PIIG is codified, for example, in “menus, delivery notes, furniture renta, confirmations, accommodation receipts, invoices, promissory notes, certificates” (140). There is no bread enough to eat them. The bread is baked: ‘having one’s hands in the dough.’, ‘mother dough-mass’. There is no valid state alongside the dough-mass. And not the kind of mass (or masses) thought of as impotent and formless in the clutches of an invisible hand. The moment of mashing matters (with Vainica Doble), the preparation matters, the baking, the matter. “4h 09” in the oven, or some months in the Sun. In and around “Fervor Salado” (Remedios Linares), between immolation and neologism, one can find the care for the instant which massive inflammatory interventions forget. There is no mashable dough-mass, but hands that mash or knead. Mashing words to be read-heard: “he de decir / me gustaría decir / poder decir” (122). The response to letters and dossiers and application forms and ballots that in the end do not wish for any answer. The “persecución de un zumbar”, “mientras otros escriben poesía” (124). The poetry collected in L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o tends to thematize, and at the same time, perform, the zones in which language, subjectivity and discourse find each other. Six poetic works, apart from the one by Linares, are specific objects of analysis/reproduction: the already mentioned Luz Pichel, the mysterious ‘Madrileña’? poet Miriam Martín and the Argentinian poets Daniel Durand, Martín Gambarotta, Marcelo Díaz and Tomás Bartoletti.

The entry to Argentinian poetry is made through an analysis, in linguicist terms, of the poetry of Martin Gambarotta done by Sergio Raimondi, a poet himself. In the subjects that inhabit Punctum, Seudo or Angola, the language is experimented pathologically, as a consequence of the impossibility of naming and recognizing one(-)self inside of the neoliberal regime. The grammatical articulations of past-present-future, additionally, won’t be effective for keeping the historical-political experience (the linear temporality is interrupted: “Sacó el cuchillo y en cualquier momento corta”). “Díptico para ser leído con mascara de luchador mexicano”, de Marcelo Díaz, places us in a similar situation: prints of some “they” who appear on a presumably ‘theirs’ place, with images of that space as a background ("el cartel azul y verde que dice MOVISTAR" (116)) that recalls their past usurpation and contains a local? indigenous? population “que juzgamos típic[a]” (11), “aunque no sepamos / típicos de qué, de pie y agradeciendo la llovizna”. Neoliberalism and minor stories: if the language keeps, as use, that which the discourses of the neo-liberal order means to erase, how to look for “a new political language” (57)? If it does not remain, what to do? The end of Raimondi’s text leaves us puzzled: is he proposing the liberation of linguistic uses, or rather are we in front of the populist hypothesis of winning by naming?

The conflict caused by this question is precisely the object that articulates a work such as Mujer de Manuela, written at the moment immediately prior to the victory of Ahora Madrid, and reviewed in L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o by Carlos Rod. Experiment of writing & calque of Hombre de Cristina (Washington Cucurto, 2013), Mujer de Manuela condenses “a super precise moment” (110), towards which the Hombre and the Mujer seem to hold different positions: while Cucurto declares himself man of Cristina, in the woman of MDM live together “allegiances and ironies” (113) that show the impossibility of univocity in the here&nows, as well as the effort required in order to close what is lived in the shape of ‘History’. It is over this closure where Amparo Arróspide places La Kelpertina, by Tomás Bartoletti, a poetry book that puts us in front of the act of naming, this time to look at what is “Argentinian” through the Malvinas: “el bautismo del territorio nacional” (74), which functions granting nominal property to what can only be immaterial, paradoxically using that non-place to build its core (“no es el con / tenido / lo es la conchi / tución” (75)).

The article by Erea Fernández Folgueiras addresses the articulation of poetry and politics in reverse of identity formation, departing from El Estado y él se amaron, written by Daniel Durand, poet on the side of chaos and ‘hot messes’. If Raimondi looked for the slogan, Durand is recalled precisely from the side in which naming is not about finding an “empty signifier” (Laclau), but about inscribing what is lived. Fernández Folgueiras lists all of those nominations that build worlds and memories in El Estado y él se amaron: "Mi madre, mamá, Gómez Ricardo, Pérez Héctor, Cristina, César, Martínez, Echeverry José Pedro, Segovia (...)", reminding us, with the poet, that the proper noun is not necessarily the emptiest of all the signifiers (not at least without a trick, as Laclau would have wanted). Conversely, on the one hand, the proper noun would be the noun that makes more world-memory: stream of experiences; on the other, it would be the dehorizontalizing conviction of whoever writes inside a literary field (“el poder en mi apellido: Durand”: 64). The poet would not be able to stand on the side of the nation, but only on the side which stacks worlds, a process by all means “more democratic (in the precise sense that it belongs more to the people) because it contains more voices” (67-8).

“How would a popular verbal democracy be, in order to ensure the right and duty of every speaker or communal core of speakers to take over their tongue (…)?” (6): this question, in Seminario Euraca’s “Greetings” (“Saludo”) to the readers, opened up a heterogeneous body of texts that, without seconding any single theoretical position, proposes practicable poetic-political chores for a citizenship based in emancipation from “centuries of lettered culture at the service of a few” (83). From a precarious horizon of subsistence within the frame of the chronic crisis of the Spanish State, L/E/N/G/U/A/J/E/o conforms a zone of utopian overexistance and resistance through the poetic, where participation, rather than discipline, could always and foremost be readiness.


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Re-visiones - ISSN 2143-0040
 
HAR2013-43016-P I+D Visualidades críticas, reescritura de las narrativas a través de las imágenes