The Poetics of Apocalypse: Federico Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York

The Poetics of Apocalypse: Federico Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York

The Poetics of Apocalypse: Federico Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York

The Poetics of Apocalypse: Federico Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York

Synopsis

"In June of 1929, Federico Garcia Lorca left his native Spain on a journey that would become a vision-quest through New York City, the Vermont countryside, and Cuba. While he failed miserably at learning English during his brief sojourn at Columbia University, he nonetheless created a powerful new poetic idiom to voice his perceptions of social injustice and apocalyptic retribution. Guided by the duende, liminal principle of creativity and death, Lorca represents New York as dystopia cum Armageddon, ultimately redeemed by the Blacks of Harlem and the telluric forces unleashed to retake the decadent, soulless civilization of North America." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Federico Garcia Lorca's poet in New York is an invitation to death, a vocative act whose object would seem to be the negation of being and language. Though such a negation inevitably ends in silence, that silence is not equivalent to a nothingness devoid of significance. Only from an oppositional point of view would "nothing" constitute the meaningless opposite of being. If instead "nothing" is considered to be the principle of irreconcilability, the Other that is always elsewhere and yet inhabits life—no-thing—then silence too is meaningful and makes itself felt by resonating in language.

Lorca develops an extraordinary antitheoretical theory about negation in his lecture "Play and Theory of the Duende," whose title conjoins theory and play in order to address both artistic technique and "true" inspiration. in under twenty pages, he explores the nature of the duende, mediator of death (the ultimate form of negation), as opposed to such meeker agents of inspiration like the angel and the muse, who look down upon life and death from a safely elevated distance. the duende, however, can only be invoked for the highest stakes: life itself. Lorca examines the mortal struggle between the artist and the duende in a myriad of cultural contexts: cante jondo (the "deep song" of Andalusian gypsies), dance, poetry, painting, architecture, and bullfighting. While he allows that the duende is not contained within national boundaries, Lorca considers Spain to be the most fertile ground to battle with this force due to a long tradition of being open to death: "Todas las artes, y aun los países, tienen capacidad de duende, de angel y de musa…. España está en todos tiempos movida por el duende. Como país de musica y danza milenaria, donde el duende exprime limones de madrugada y como país de muerte. Como país abierto a la muerte" (oc 3. 312) "All the arts and even all countries have the capacity for the duende, the angel and the muse.… Spain is at all times moved by the duende, for it is a country of ancient music and dance where the duende squeezes the lemons of dawn—a country of death. a country open to death".

The English translations of duende—imp, goblin, elf, or fairy— . . .

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