Non-poems and the Paradoxism
Pradeep S. Rana
I am quite surprised when I read Florentin Smarandache's poetry book Non-poems which I received from him in September 22, 1995. Things of surprises in his poetry are entertaining to an unexpected extent and are equally intricate to define; however the beauty of individual poems, clustered together in a single file, is most worth having for sheer delight in creativity, and when artistic values are getting derailed. The formless beauty captured in Non-poems is a splendid thing of surprise to me. Perhaps surprise offers a case of de leuxe aromatic spices even to the last broken man to get reawakened to his past circle of excitement, strength, willingness and creativity; it is towards this point Non-poems adds some of the finest skills to the paradoxist literary movement today.
Only a decade back in his native land Romania, Florentin Smarandache pioneered the paradoxist literary movement, with his contemporary enthusiasts: Constantin M. Popa, Traian Nica --- all ardent writers of courage, endurance and intelligence. His Non-poems, among his other creative works - Laws of Internal Composition: Poems With - Problems! (Romania, Morocco, 1982); The Sense of the Nonsense (French, Morocco, 1983 and 1984); Ante-rooms, Anti-poems, strange- verse (English, France, 1989)- renders blockbuster strength and continuity to transmission and expansion of paradoxist ideas on all sides of the globe, and bring awareness in the community of intellectuals all about things of surprises, from unfair art's marketing to arts for feelings to the sample of emblematic and broken English, the American speech of tomorrow. Smarandache's efforts, projected in all creative works, elucidate his ambitious drive towards making the paradoxist literary movement stable, expanding and viable in the world, which, indeed, bears the stamp of genuine passion of freedom-fighters in the realm of creativity, art's marketing and the future of civilization.
The paradoxist literary movement incorporates a list of sixteen basic points as featured in the American Manifesto of Non-poems: ideas that are mere paradoxes in themselves prima facie; but, on the whole, the American Manifesto streamlines cultivation of new creative thinking, new course for creation of arts and their interpretation, and new ways for making impossible things possible and new dimension to creative world literature. It marks the dawn of ultra-modern form of freedom of expression, thought and choice, and the movement of human mind, feeling and perception. It further confirms that beauty and truth are realized even in some kind of formlessness like movements of waters in the sea, river, stream and pond- so much so that the formless things like snow, wind, fire and sound strike us spellbound with beauty and wonder. These movements and formlessness are much too often deciphered by feelings and senses. No concrete forms are needed.
I have found contents of Smarandache's Non-poems verifying the second boldness enshrined in American Manifesto: flexible forms fixed, or the live face of the death! Contrary to orthodox conventions, the contents, receding many chapters and titles of poems, come only on page 94, which provide more space to the titles of two of the upset poems printed in verticle style, four super-poems and the second last poem of poems in Pirissanorench, the first line of which serving the title for the poem.
Eight upset poems of Non-poems are presented in 'upset manners' that actually upset the readership for a moment or so, but a little reflection over them enlightens truth in each of their paradoxes respectively. These poems highlight linguistic fiasco in many divided communities in America where most of the minority groups and fresh emigrants, from European and North American countries, hardly communicate in American English.
Next section deals with graphic-poems. Each of this category of poems runs on the same line with the abstract form of fine arts. They are catchy, each in its own way. These new specimen of modern poems reinvigorate codes of imagination to virtual points of action and analysis; just a page of any graphic-poems gestates amplitude of imagination when one sits in the silent room and browse it. Smarandache's graphic-poems take us back to the nature. Just as one finds innumerable things, animate and inanimate combined, in nature to see, feel and touch, or to let one's imagination hover over, so as one discovers its verisimilitude of this experience in them. Each poem has its unique feature; each poem is capable to tickle one's fancy, leading one to the very depth of feeling, sensation, rumination and perception. They are no more boredom, but amusement in themselves.
Four super-poems denounce all forms of dictatorship, repression of human rights, war and crime, and focus power on God, from whom we receive strength, intelligence and fortitude; not that power lies in the system of any kind, be it military science, scientific achievements, or any level of development; not that mankind creates power on earth apart from divinity. Hence the paradoxist literary movement does not provoke contradiction, it directly brings to the fore all human liberation from all evil power.
At the other extreme, eleven poems in Pirissanorench are composed in the language spoken in the south-west of the United States by a single person. Who could be this single person? The author himself, or the checkered population structure residing in colonies in the different parts of the United States of America, where each colony has its own distinct tongue unheard of, or neglected, by other colonies? Yet repercussions of lingua - cultural syndrome and vanity of these colonies, are gaining more perceptible effects outside too. Going through those nine pages of Smarandache's poems, I feel like living among those people who do not understand me and whom I do not understand any more, except for the fact that I can, at least, get the hang of highly symbolic structure of poems in Pirissanorench. Given the similar situation in some colony, one tends to have my experience. Yet there is beauty and wonder in them, despite some existing boredom in them.
Another batch of poems in Smarandache's Non-poems is fifteen drawn-poems that capture vivid pictures of fractured progress of mankind in various sectors of development and life, sophistication of life, civilization and its elevation, civilization and its adverse impact on mankind in advanced countries, civilization and its own near suicidal growth. His drawn-poems meet adequacy in exploring origin of mankind and achievement of development so far in the century, analysis whereof could make an epic in its own right, which is no apparent necessity in itself to go into for preparation since it is the commonplace matter today.
His poem-drafts present dichotomy of mankind: one intensely willing to go to the other side, the other strongly unwilling to receive one into his areas. This split-up personality of mankind strikes one point clear that there is an amber of paradox in life anywhere; that marginal approaches to the existing problems of mankind, are blunt and, therefore, always off the tracks. Ever since paradoxes are on the safe side, and catching up with every good thing we intend to score, any perspectives opened up in our mind for mutual understanding, or bilateral or multi-lateral relationship, are always on the wane, or they are the same side of the paradox being inexplicable and inescapable in itself.
I do not, of course, claim myself to be able to pass precise comment on his self-portrait poem without having any encounter with Smarandache. Yet I have a curious feeling gruelling up in me that I want to spill here any way, whenever and whatever it might have been. I think Smarandache has, consciously or unconsciously, pinned up his self-portrait against the background of innocence which look like being lit up in the process towards a return to the Om, the shapelessness, onto where each one of the enlightened beings strive, one way or other, to cut off the abiding line of life-cycle and gain perfection. This inner spirit, as is seen in his facial expression, is incessantly propelling him towards the imaculate light from Romania to Morocco to the United States. Not surprisingly, his permanent abode is nowhere other than in himself. I repeat here that every man is everything in himself, he can mould him to anybody he thinks fit to be. This everyman is a poet in himself, the only difference is that some are mute, some expressive. Everything we commit ourself to carry on, is one way to approach to perfection, be it poetry, medecine, science, philosophy, or whatever. There is yet another unique perfection which is finally scrambled for, the knowledge of which comes to every man sooner or later.
I have found his twenty one poems-without-verse having virtual affinity to the sublimity of creation, one that serves the connective objective of creative poetical works of, so to say, a non-poet Smarandache who has dedicated bounteous space to each one of the infinite terms: meditation, transcendental sense, universality, absolute, perfection, eternity, infinity, spirit, time, space and abyss. These words mirror different spectrum of the Om, the only thing to which all enlightened beings aspire to reach and merge up, which is, indeed, the centripetal force for living beings on all planets of the Universe. Every unseen effort in the universe is being geared to the connective line between the Om, and His missing particles, the living beings; its realization in real life situation costs many precious things which man can hardly afford, and which is further entangled by modern achievement of civilization.
These infinite terms are so vague and unfathomable that no one could find satisfactory explanation of each of them, so each is as enormous and as profound in structure and meaning as the Om. Man is incessantly in search of each of their vivid interpretations in nature only to no avail. Needless to say, if anything to the point is accomplished, it is, no doubt, a pure endeavour to reach the point of perfection. At one time in the past, I used to wonder when I was naive, how perfection is achieved on this line of thinking, and always thought everything around me was quite surreptitious and awe-inspiring. I now think, maybe it seems fanatical a bit, there are yet many wonders to see, hear and analyze as long as mankind continues to reign the planet. I am modestly faithful to my predecessors who taught me not to waste any time going to explore things of mystery in nature and life. It still sounds odd and provocative, however.
Seven poems-without-poems do not carry anything except page numbers: both sides of each one of them are left totally blank; perhaps blank pages, if I may say so, outline Smarandache's belief in the fact that something comes out of nothing, or that nothing does not come out of nothing. It is likely that at birth man is blank both at thinking and in principles: so in going back to the Om, the Unknown, man needs blank things, like Smarandache's poems-without-poems, in order to gain his purity, revive his innocence. Maybe one can attain anything in the plain blank state and it is equally safer and easier for one to leave what is attained back into the plain blank thing, or one can simply enjoy mental liberation when there is no one but himself in the blank. This new beginning of intermission with some blank pages in the book, leaves me wandering into philosophical thought, little away from the subject-matter, and then suddenly into the relief from the hide-bound conventions. The relief that is quite soothing and equally hard to explain in words; perhaps, it is such a paradox that exists only at such point in Smarandache's Non-poems. I want to leave the other half of my surprises in his blank pages.
What interests me most in his Non-poems is "better a book of blank pages than one which says nothing". Reductive impression in creative arts has emerged following the growth in the ratio of temptation for luxurious life style which drives creativity into the deadly lure for hoarding money. With the speedy technological and scientific achievements, the causes for enhancement of temptation for dazzling life-style are multiplying annually, especially in the developed regions of the planet, the other side of which is still calm and content with the model of life their seniors have left back to them. They are happy the way they were born and bred. I do not see any difference in the growth of these two sides, taking for granted their ways for gratification. Both sides, in essence, vie for beauty and comfort of the other, one way or another, which may be implicit and disagreeable to many other people.
True arts have almost vanished at the wake of World War II; Yet there is, at lest, a steady growth in the number of artists of various dimensions, dogmas and creation. But, at worst, a handful of syndicate has glorified and commercialized the arts of non-arts. Who enjoys, for example, crime, sex and horror? Nobody does, of course, except for the class of sybaritic people who are addicted to ulterior things of pleasure. No doubt, a great number of books have been written on these themes in the name of true arts, only to fulfilling the commercial objectives. And when the population structure is large, the role of media is effective in confirming the quality of materials, by courtesy of exclusive class of people, or syndicate, who give rise to undue taste even among the least active structure of population. There is no one to blame for this, however. Of course, those who intend to entail standards upon others, face the similar situation eventually: black vs. white, developed vs. developing, empty vs. full, good vs. bad, to take but a few strewn examples in nature.
But for art of poetry, I am on the side of Smarandache's Non-poems because writing anything whatever in the form of poetry bears no response from modern-day intellectuals, even for the minimum degree of evaluation of creation, let alone good reception and appreciation. The most denominating etiquette is overlooking them for anachronism. These people hardly think that they are real poets themselves, they never realize that true arts are within themselves too. Of course, they often miss them drifting into other forms of crafts. So when poetry is losing its lustre, image and razzle-dazzle regions in the planet, Smarandache's Non-poems, so far as his assertion that it is nothing to read, is a new version of old poetry which new generations of all regions need today. The paradoxist literary movement will fight freedom for this category of poetry and other literary matters, with its new-fangled approaches, which are being introduced in the world for new generation of the old, such as anti-literature and its literature; literature beyond words; art of the non-art; free form, context and medium; future language of the world. The movement is quite the opposite to grotesquerie since it aims at new ways for creating arts in the context of dwindling and degrading standards of arts and other creative works. Perhaps this is the right medium and the form of true arts for consolidation of creative endeavours in all fields of human activities. No other theory offers so much freedom and choice than the paradoxist literary movement. Where creative arts are concerned, no bars of any kind ought to be imposed, not even the orthodox practices of formalities and unnecessary norms.
Creativity of any nature ought to be generalized, brought easy to the deserving communities of the common people, and their participation in the age-old arena of creativity has to be sustained for all time to come. Technical factor matters much as to the involvement of common people in creative activities from work-shops to conventions. Exclusive barriers of nationality, language, culture regional background, political status, preliminary standard, etc., have seriously handicapped many genuises in the world; they are virtually nipped in the bud. It is equally undeniable that some class of undeserving people are getting popular and much published by dint of their loyalty and servitude to the superiors. Many genuises have gone highly frustrated and nervous about themselves under these circumstances. Who knows their pinches unless he or she herself is the wearer of their shoes? In a smoldering milieu of this order, nobody could expect creation of true arts, the real arts of life and death in every field of human achievements. When nothing is possible without money, creativity flourishes, needless to say, in financial resources captured by a handful of persons anywhere. As I said before, this genre of people are free chamelion who can determine whom to bring to light, whom to destroy and how to keep media under finger-tips for their interests. These elusive elements are undermining the quality of arts today.
The paradoxist literary movement is supplied with abundant resources for waging on revolution in form, content and covention concerning creative arts. What is in dire need in the field of creation, is liberation for expression, both in form and content, and recognition to due level of all categories of creation that focus on various aspects of human civilization on earth. Within this comprehensive periphery a myriad of items for consideration and analysis occur, which could be ranging from ethnicity to discrimination. Hardly a few of the world population have so far been bold enough to write about dissatisfactory episodes in their respective countries. Going closer to the truth is painful and barbaric; the more the blind vision on sensitive issues, the more the safer side for immediate opportunities.
Curious enough, Cecero's "right reason" is paralized every so often. One who writes everything from start to finish, all that is in one's mind, is the most unwanted person to so many people, that is quite surprising to see, feel and believe: one is politically interpreted, though one is not talking about politics. Many others of this type are mute figures in modern societies, who, I think, are non-resistant and well-versed in the art for existence. If the Darwinian idea of struggle for existence applies to intellectuals, and if they accordingly struggle for mere existence contrary to struggle for free intellectual growth and realization of truth about their own life, the fundamental objectives of the "life missions" are absolutely warded off. This marks the beginning of the era of evil action, the antidote to which being lost in the store of knowledge itself. New awakenings do not begin unless some form of movement, similar to the paradoxist literary movement, is organized and mobilized effectively world-wide.
According to the American Manifesto in Non-poems, conventional constraints in creativity, ought to be whittled down. But I don't think this is a possibility in itself unless people get detached from bogus temptation and realize ultimate truth about their own life. Moreover, this is far from reality and truth, for man is not born equal, nor think on the similar line for all things of common concern. There are many classic example chronicles for the fact that men are born unequal and die unequal too. Nothing can alter this truth anywhere, yet one element is endowed on every man who can, if illusive mudane temptations are given up, bring other fellow men into a central point and apply themselves to the sacred mission to the Om, the final destination of mankind. No luxury, no gain, no sucess, nothing of the material kind, can discover total satisfaction to any man; if ever it does, it is always temporary. The focal point, man's final destination, is no other than the Om, no matter how much man keeps wandering in luxury in this world where everything is temporary and unreal. Of course, the medium does, indeed, vary. One is not dubbed pessimistic to go this far while making a short-cut discussion on Smarandache's paradoxist literary movement.
Every new starting of its kind, more or less, invites curiousity, suspicion, wonder, appreciation and criticism. Yet every new starting is natural because it is nowhere but in man himself, a generous gift of the Om. One can feel its discovery only with concrete efforts. Hence, I say everything is natural, from love to tragedy, rags to riches, surprise to reality, discovery to convention, war to peace, crime to punishment, one-nation to one- world concept ---
I have no doubt Smarandache's paradoxist literary movement could find better expression and acclaim in all parts of the earth.["Information Bulletin", Romanian-American Heritage Center, Jackson, MI, Vol. XVII, No. 3, 18-20, 21, 2000.]