Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On form and matter (again)

In 1939, José Gorostiza published one of the most interesting poems ever written by a mexican poet, "Muerte sin fin". It has been studied ever since by thousands of writers and philosophers to be.
In the first part of the poem, appears the connection between matter and form: water and vase.

(...)me descubro
en la imagen atónita del agua,
que tan sólo es un tumbo inmarcesible,
un desplome de ángeles caídos
a la delicia intacta de su peso,
que nada tiene
sino la cara en blanco
hundida a medias, ya, como risa agónica,
en las ténues holandas de la nube
y en los funestos cánticos del mar (...)

(...)No obstante -oh paradoja- constreñida
por el rigor del vaso que la aclara
el agua toma forma.
En él se asienta, ahonda y edifica,
cumple una edad amarga de silencios
y un reposo gentil de muerte niña,
sonriente, que desflora
un más allá de pájaros en desbandada.
En la red de cristal que la estrangula,
allí, como en el agua de un espejo,
se reconoce;
atada allí, gota con gota,
marchito el tropo de espuma en la garganta
¡qué desnudez de agua tan intensa,
qué agua tan agua, (...)

(...)¡Más qué vaso -también- más providente
éste que así se hinche
como una estrella en grano (...)

(...) tal vez esta oquedad que nos estrecha
en islas de monólogos sin eco,
aunque se llame Dios,
no sea sino un vaso
que nos amolda el alma perdidiza,
pero que acaso el alma sólo advierta
en una transparencia acumulada
que tiñe la noción de El, de azul.

14 comments:

Burruchaga said...

¡Magnífico! Es un poema mayor, tienes razón. El poema.

nanuka said...

...lo habìa leìdo en EUA, en un curso que tomè de poesìa durante la maestrìa. Y fuè como un maravilloso respiro en medio de muchos cursos àridos...desde entonces me fascina...

javierjwoo said...

Pues quién sabe qué estarías leyendo en esos áridos cursos, porque la Muerte sin fin como maravilloso respiro...está gruexo.
Yo también lo estudié hace mucho, pero fíjate que no había reparado cuidadosamente en esa parte de "Dios como un vaso", lo que me parece extremely convenient.

szalvador said...

Beautifull

garrett said...

I want to comment on one thing, and that is the remark about a vase as a metaphor for the poem, where the water, in Javier's words, refers to the matter. Today's lecture is going to conclude with a discussion of form, matter, content, and subject matter - we will try to form real definitions of these things that we take for granted - so I will only say one thing: if we are talking about a poem, what is the metaphor, what is the thing that as image is standing in for the poem? This is the vase. Just the vase. So then, what is the form of the vase, and what is the matter of the vase? (Teacher's answer sheet: the form of the vase is the shape the vase has taken on so that it is a vase. The matter is what the vase is made of.)

garrett said...

I apologize for not saying anything directly about the poem - I'm trying to find English translations.... Pobre maestro. What I found - a partial translation - interests me, and speaks to something I've been working on recently. Hmm. I think this means we're all having a good conversation....

javierjwoo said...

To speak about the vase and the matter it is made of seems a turn back to aristotelic metaphysics: material cause, formal cause..., whereas in Gorostiza's poem the vase acts as a container in which the content finds, at last, its truly worth. Perhaps, in the reunion of these two aspects, may we find the apparition of the most obscure of the aristotelian concepts, substance.

vagoimperial said...

philosophy keeps calling us!

garrett said...

That is true of a vase, perhaps, that the thing attains its value in its use. This is not true of a poem. What is the use of a poem? (And I'm thinking of metaphysics from Aristotle through Heidegger. See especially "What Is a Thing?" and "The Origin of the Work of Art.")

It's important to distinguish between matter and content, and subject matter and content. More tonight....

javierjwoo said...

I would really like to take part in the announced conversation of tonight, but I am sorry I won't be able to attend your lecture. Perhaps in another moment we will discuss all these subjects. Tank you very much.

garrett said...

Ay, ¿por qué? We missed you last week....

javierjwoo said...

You see, tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of my brother in law. I sing in an "ensamble" and my sister asked us to sing in the Mass. Today is the only possible date to rehearse a very complex scheme; I proposed another date, but majority won. I'm sorry. I also missed the last lecture.

garrett said...

I'm sorry about your brother-in-law. Sounds like you are doing a beautiful thing, singing. We'll just miss you, that's all.

szalvador said...

A poetic chain of cause and effect anyway.