Who is like God?

I sense the man

but defining him is the art

of interring bullets into a wall

of feathers

of mingling the air within their barbs

until one grasps his breath

and observes his essence:

are you like God or aren’t you?

If I were inhaled into your awoken tissues

and BloodBalled the wall,

If every quill were an idea

dormant at the threat of bloom,

could we lie on them on broken night crystals?

If time branched among sheets of ice

and on millions of instants I learned your body,

If lying on each other networked every neuron and thought,

could I yell Eureka?

If you weaved medullas and pierced tongues

to a domain-range sonata

doodling axes through sweaty umbilici,

fluttering under curves around limits through

the inflections of silence

Will I find proof of divinity?

Sarah Kemble Knight came to my rescue!

Among diverse historic fiction, diaries, poetry and other fashions of literature produced during the colonial American Epoch, my self has found comfort in the vivid lines of The Journals of Madam Knight.  This diary of her travel from Boston to New York early in the 18th century has anything you could ask for: adventure, humor, sarcasm, prose, verses and the briskest descriptions to expect. I will let this post drift along my considerations, as no formality is necessary.

First stamp: It’s a girl! The most spherical one -not physically, that I ignore-, that who, as nature rules, is a mother. But who is also a teacher, a businesswoman and even gets involved in judicial processes. That who, while pondering the threats of a voracious river in the middle of a manly trip, mentions the horror of wetting her clothes. But more relevantly, a non-self-discriminating female. Compare to Anne Bradstreet… wait, stop for a while: the first American poet was a woman, period. Now restart: Anne Bradstreet, 17th century Puritan, produced poems on various topics throughout her entire life with certain remorse: “Men have precedency, and still excel/ It is but vain, unjustly to wage war,/Men can do best, and Women know it well.”  But not Knight. She is solid and she knows it.

Second rock: a genre mash-up. Would you like to read a diary? There’s the journal. Like narrations? There’s the journal. Probably get mellow? There’s the journal. Plastic descriptions? There’s the journal. Verses? There’s the journal. Embedded dialogues? There’s the journal. No  text written in America before the 1760’s gets up to her knees on the compacting quality of the different formats. The rest of the offer consists of monotonic, long descriptive texts for record purposes: scurvy, natives, famine, war, settlement, grace.

Third nail: graphic power. Not a single prostituted adjective, and fine precision:

“…having called for something to eat, the woman brought in a twisted thing like a cable, but something whiter; and laying it on the board, tugged for life to bring it into a capacity to spread… The sauce was of a deep purple, which I thought was boil’d in her dye kettle.”

Fourth thorn: distilled humor, intermittently bathing her narrations. Her keen sensibility to differences in social and ethnic groups sometimes permits her to render them absurd and/or ridiculous. Also her evident capacity of self-mockery screams yet another sign of ingenuity. The best examples are too long to be mentioned here, and I will trust my ability to induce my readers to check the full text (link below) and find that for themselves :).

As time to regurgitate arrives, I shall say much of the above again. Sarah Kemble Knight came to my rescue, when I thought everything was lost amid drunken sailors, the disappointment of some Englishmen, Pocahontas, theories on reaching a superior level of grace and several other topics I couldn’t care less about.  A handful of resources, styles and shapes are intermingled into this multi-layered -literary, historic, sociological- piece, leaving lots of scraps for entertainment. So if you have any interest… there’s the journal!

Read!: http://www.bartleby.com/163/219.html

Poema de no amor

 I don’t know if I saw you
If I would kiss you or kill you.
Bob Dylan

Hay ese cliché
y no en vano.
Aún con ese tu rito de masticar cayenas
sobre mis pechos
y el recuerdo de la niña en eNagua
vaciando el Atlántico con una cuchara,
no te toca amor en poema.
A ti te dedico mi suela perdida de inviernos
y la sábila que baja
dentre mis piernas,
el tenedor que clava la mano del ladrón
para regresar a mi lengua,
la pesadilla dentro de la pesadilla
en que alacranes se suicidan aunque ganen.
-No hay rosas rojas ni finas yeguas-
aunque solo desee tus manos en mis costillas
te regalaré orejas,
un océano nauseabundo de cartílagos
y un pincel para juegues con sus cenizas.

12/11 > 12/12 : Highlights Literarios

“Si tú supieras que cada vez que la veo, veo un artista y no pienso en química”, dijo Ivette a Joshabel en mi última visita al Centro Franklin. Ambas han trabajado de cerca durante todas las etapas de mi participación en el programa de intercambio Global U-GRAD. Es por ellas, su acogimiento caluroso, y su solicitud de mantenerlas al tanto de mis actividades extra-curriculares que escribo esta entrada. Sin intención de darme bombos, aquí un recuento de lo más relevante de mi último año de recreo literario.

“You know, each time I see her, I see an artist, I don’t think of chemistry”, said Ivette to Joshabel last time I visited Centro Franklin. They both have worked close up to me during all the stages of my participation in the exchange Global U-GRAD. It is because of them, their warm welcome and their request to keep them posted on my extra-curricular activities that I write this post. With no intention of blowing my own trumpet, here is a count of the most relevant that has happened this last year of literary leisure.

Dic/Dec 2011:
Dos de mis cuentos (“Crónica de dos cuadras” e “Historia sin zapatos”) son publicados en el primer libro del Taller de Narradores de Santo Domingo. Titulado “Santo Domingo No Problem”, todos los textos están basados en dicha ciudad.

Tow of my short stories (“Crónica de dos cuadras” e “Historia sin zapatos”) are published in the first book of Taller de Narradores de Santo Domingo (Narrators Workshop of Santo Domingo). Titled Santo Domingo No Problem, all the texts in the book are based in the aforementioned city.

El primer libro del TNSD.

Invitación a la presentación del primer libro del TNSD.

Abr/Apr 2012:
La única actividad de poesía en la que participé en Bozeman, Montana: Poetry Night en la biblioteca pública de la ciudad, Bozeman Public Library. El diario The ASMSU Exponent, de Montana State University, dedica un párrafo a mi intervención (más abajo).

The only poetry activity I was part of in Bozeman, Montana: Poetry Night at the Bozeman Public Library. The ASMSU Exponent, Montana State University’s Student Newspaper, dedicates a paragraph to my intervention:

MSU’s own Lusmerlin Lantigua, originally from the Dominican Republic, read one of her poems. Titled “Safari” and written originally in Spanish, her poem filled the audience’s minds with wonderful and seemingly random imagery like a “wake of butterflies”.

An article on the Poetry Night

An Article on the Poetry Night by The ASMSU Exponent (MSU).

El Colectivo Literario El Arañazo publica su primer libro Esto no es una antología: palabras que sangran durante la XV Feria Internacional del Libro Santo Domingo. En él, varios de mis poemas.

The literary collective I am part of, El Arañazo, publishes its first book Esto no es una antología: palabras que sangran during the XV International Book Fair of Santo Domingo. In it are some of my poems.

La No-antología de El Arañazo

Blog de El Arañazo : http://elaranazo.wordpress.com

Ago/Aug 2012:
Para la segunda edición de Cien Mil Poetas por el Cambio, un evento simultáneo distribuido realizado en 110 países, El Arañazo coordinó las actividades en Santo Domingo. Lusmerlin organizó el recital poético. Otros miembros se encargaron de los músicos y artistas plásticos.

For the second edition of A Hundred Thousand Poets for Change, a distributed simultaneous event in 110 countries, El Arañazo coordinated the activities in Santo Domingo. Lusmerlin organized the poetry recital. Other members were in charge of musicians and visual artists. 

100 Thousand Poets for Change 2012’s blog: http://www.100tpcmedia.org/100TPC2012/

Sep/Sep 2012:
Participación a distancia en Encuentro de Escritores en Ciudad Juárez, evento también distribuido en aproximadamente 130 ciudades del mundo con el objetivo de provocar la convivencia en lugares de alta violencia. Santo Domingo contó con 13 poetas seleccionados por los organizadores. Un fragmento de Poema Expreso se utilizó para un e-poster.

Remote participation in Encuentro de Escritores en Ciudad Juárez, an event distributed in approximately 130 cities of the world, with the goal of stimulating peace in violent communities. Santo Domingo counted with 13 poets selected by the organizers. An excerpt from Poema Expreso was used for an e-poster.

Dic/Dec 2012 (Upcoming):
1) El recital de cierre de año de El Arañazo.
1) The end of the year recital of El Arañazo.

2) La publicación del segundo libro del Taller de Narradores de Santo Domingo con otro de mis textos(ver invitación abajo).
2) The publication of the second book of the Narrators Workshop of Santo Domingo featuring another of my short stories (see invitation below).

El Fondo del Iceberg

The LSD Nation

A counterculture movement is characterized by the opposition of its members to the current behavioral norms and usually emerges during moments of political tension. The Merry Pranksters, as read in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, was a group led by Ken Kesey in the 60’s. It represented the beginning of a new counterculture in America, as the Pranksters started a trip on a bus named Furthur, experimenting LSD as a way of transcendence. The objective of their leader is to spread his idea to the whole nation. However, basic features of the Pranksters’ ideas and organizations make their goals unfeasible. Their negligence towards racial and gender issues and the obsession with power of Kesey are two factors that would lead to chaos and tyranny should the movement expand. The following paragraphs are dedicated to support this idea by analyzing an LSD Nation based on the Pranksters’ principles.

One of the main premises of this group is doing your thing, whatever you feel you are meant to in life, which leaves little room for sustainability and stability of the LSD Nation. “If somebody is an ass-kicker, then that’s what he’s going to do on this trip, kick asses . . . He can just say, ‘I’m sorry I kicked you in the ass, but I’m not sorry I’m an ass-kicker. That’s what I do, I kick people in the ass’” (pg. 73). This leads us to a big question: Would our concept of justice (our moral rightness based on ethics and our system of keeping this correctness by reward and punishment) be substituted by another concept of justice or would it simply disappear? The establishment of a fair and reasoning society is not possible if everything is accepted under the excuse of nature, and this is the first of their contradictions. Another aspect of doing your thing is the sacrifice of the production power of a nation. This would force a big scale parasitic communal system where an unstable and maybe minimal fraction of the people would actually provide money and services. Such society would eventually break down due to individualistic desires inherent to human beings, and individuals would be forced back to finding sources of survival outside their thing.

Counterculture currents reacted to World War II and the Cold War and social issues, such as discrimination for race, gender and sexual orientation. However, The Pranksters pose intersubjectivity (merging with other people, objects and beings by the use of LSD) as an answer, while completely ignoring the situation and needs of the victims of these problems. This is exemplified by the episode where the Pranksters go into a Negroes beach and therefore cause the irritation of the people there. Even though everything ends up in an integrated party, this result is not replicable in other situations or at other levels. Deep cut beliefs, such as racism, cannot be changed in short terms and they would arise at any moment, specially during bad trips, or disturbing experiences, from both sides. Another case is their alignment with the Hell’s Angels gang simply because of the outlaw condition. Put all these pieces together, we find but potentially increased violence at a psychedelic level.

Something probably more important than the features of the group is the methods of leadership by Ken Kesey, which is packed with such manipulation and control appetite that changes the original course of the voyage. Evidently, Kesey is the master mind and provider of the resources and therefore exercises coercion methods on the group. As consciousness of power arises, he tries to expand his mass psychology abilities. At this level, what the purpose of this movement is becomes arguable. No member of the Pranksters really is in power. They follow a charismatic, prophet-like man who has promised the road of self-divinity but who would become a tyrant in case of a successful expansion of the movement. It is certain that founding a complete new regime involves a hard fist and tight constraints, but the intentions behind the beautiful people alter the complete panorama. Kesey’s behavior goes along with the nurse character in his book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, for he would command the LSD nation. This mere exchange of the predominant system does not eliminate the fact that any society shapes and controls its branches. This system too would yield societal wastes: people who would be manipulated like Billy, fight like McMurphy or disguise themselves like the Chief. Furthermore, this would occur at a higher rate, as a consequence of abuse and addiction to drugs.

It is attributed to LSD the ability to regain sensorial and creative faculties that were lost throught time under the imposition of rules of society. “We are shut off from our own world. Aand these drugs seem to be the key to open these locked doors” (pg. 44). This power of thinking beyond common sense and accessing the absoluteness of the mind could possibly trigger major changes in current reasoning and technology. An example of this is the work of Steve Jobs, a very creative and smart man who left school because of the ideas of Timothy Leary of achieving a higher spiritual level by using LSD. Jobs stated that “definitely taking LSD is one of the most important things in my life”. 1 The use of psychedelic drugs does not necessarily lead to destructive trends and it could be the beginning of a big wave of invention and revolution.

The case of Jobs, however, is exceptional. The use of LSD just coincided with an ambitious and accurate person. If psychedelic methods had as general consequences certain types of novelties, the latter would be substantial (and the amount of authors would also be exponentially higher). Moreover, it would be questionable to sacrifice the welfare and security of a big mass of people for attaining any type of ideas or objects. We are hence redirected to challenging the objective of converting the whole United States of America to an LSD Nation. It is not worth to forgo moral values to achieve an apparently less demanding society. Our actual regulated society is preferable, in spite of its flaws and inequalities. An LSD Nation would not really be able to survive with its chaos and maintain a goal of freedom.

 1CBS News. 60 Minutes: Steve Jobs. 2011. Minutes 5:03-5:30. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51J5K7VMsg4

Levels of Rationality: the Convergence of Whitman, Ginsberg and Pirsig

Our quest of what constitutes an American identity has started with the analysis of a set of literary and philosophical writings related to despair and enlightenment. The humble intention of the author is to give an overview of the texts and expose the (dis)convergent points of Walt Whitman in Song of Myself, Allen Ginsberg in Howl and Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. We will see that two of these pieces, the ones by Whitman and Ginsberg, are the reaction to comparable historical contexts, but represent different stages of the despair/enlightenment process. In the pursuit of enlightenment, Ginsberg falls short by getting carried away by madness while Whitman takes a more rational and therefore more efficacious approach; we will also be able to appreciate how the work of Pirsig presents some relevant perspective in the subject due to his methodical address.

Howl represents the very first stage of the despair/enlightenment process. This first stage is characterized by despair, the quasi-hopelessness state of the self, is the knife of the poem. The discontent generated by racism, homophobia and World War II gives birth to a counter culture reflected in the poetry of the Beat Generation. Howl is the torn voice of demand. Demand to the system for an answer in the middle of existential crisis, need of love and freedom. It is also an attempt to escape, by the means of drugs and liberation of sexuality, from the cruel reality that yields hollow men and sufferance. All this is expressed in a prose of rupture with previous aesthetic trends, where words and ideas that would be considered coarse and irreverent predominate. The pursuit of a condition with no pain, ignorance or desire (enlightenment) is a common factor of all of the texts analyzed here. However, the self-destructiveness of Ginsberg’s approach makes it inefficient, which results in the absolute absence of a real solution and increase of desperation and irrationality.

Chronologically first, about a hundred years before Howl, we find Song of Myself, a revolt against national tensions which is on a higher stage on the road of enlightenment: it incorporates the necessary rationale to distinguish the origin of problems and the potential clarifications. The social crisis derived from slavery issues, such as the emergence of Abolitionism and the division of church, is the root of Transcendentalism, a philosophy that twirls up and down the verses of Whitman. In this case, claiming the system is neither a method nor a solution. He goes through numerous descriptions of moments of life and history, such as battle events, contact with nature and with women and men of different ages, races, origins and experiences. The declaration of the deity nature of the human being and the detachment from any kind of groups are the main axes of his proposal: “Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from/ The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer/ This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds”. Whitman takes a trip of merging with nature and preparing the soul for happiness. Even though Whitman’s work has traces of Romanticism, it is far off from the initial phase of disorientation present in Howl, bringing promises and breezes of consolation.

Last in both historical time and resolution there is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a philosophical narration that digs in romantic vs. classical appreciations and the conflicts between them, the concept of quality and other issues. The main character of this book embarks on a motorcycle trip with his son and friends. On the way to Bozeman, Montana, he develops his ideas and gets closer to identifying his old identity. According to the character, classic understanding is based on reasons and objective laws, while romantic understanding is mainly guided by perceptions and emotions. For the first time along the texts a theory about despair driven by a social/political system is given: “To some extent the romantic condemnation of rationality stems from the very effectiveness of rationality in uplifting men from primitive conditions. It’s such a powerful, all-dominating agent of civilized man it’s all but shut out everything else and now dominates man himself. That’s the source of the complaint”. This is, people do not understand the reason-based development of cultures and hence are in imbroglios of identity and purpose.

If this idea is considered, we could say that Ginsberg’s breakdown and Whitman’s disjoining of institutions are the results of a superficial conception of the world. There is no reasoning behind the abuse of hallucinogens and desperate protest; overthrowing the current system is not possible if no changes are made to the underlying mesh of everything, it would imply the establishment of a completely new reasoning scheme and the subsequent societal structure. Such a revolutionary path is more of a constituent of the Transcendentalist point of view. However, it is not completely rational and further crisis would result from the inability of the people of America to feel that it is one with the universe, when heterogeneity is one of its intrinsic qualities.

It can be argued about this model of conjunction of authors that although there are different reactions to crisis among Whitman and Ginsberg, the more or less rational profile of them is not a sufficient criterion to determine a true solution. The set of ideas, feelings and ways of looking for an answer grows from not only macro factors in society, but also from individual features shaped by personality and experience. The mere fact that emotions are involved in the whole approach does not make it invalid or false and therefore dividing them into “stages” of acquirement of enlightenment stands on quicksand. Defining the steps of a process requires previous knowledge of it and consequently having the solution.

Whether any of the routes analyzed here is the one actually guiding to enlightenment is a matter outside our competency. Nevertheless, subjectivity is unable to provide any type of guidance about what is enlightenment, how to achieve it and what the elements are related to the process. Only by reasoning manners is it possible to do so. The pursuit of enlightenment is a road of revising and revisiting our concepts of reality, society and meaning of being human by objective analysis, while keeping our most primitive impulses aside.

Catapalooza and the Marching Band

At the end of august, before starting classes there was this very interesting fair on campus called Catapalooza. It was basically a bunch of stands promoting the different community and on campus organizations. From sororities to community service, there was everything you could imagine.

Before coming here I had already checked the huge amount of clubs you can join here… and you guys will have the chance to see little by little everything I’ve been doing!

What I loved the most during Catapalooza was the huuuge amount of free cute stuff I got and the wonderful performance of the marching band. I got different videos but right here I got a little demonstration for you. FOR SOME REEEEASON the speed is higher and it looks really shaky, but at least you’ll get the idea!