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Santiago de Chile
July 31, 1977

Los Despojos del Sol (The Remains of the Sun)
David Rosenmann-Taub

Publicado por Esteoeste

Por Alberto Rubio


Before addressing his readers, the poet not only endeavors to say something to himself but also, if we may so put it, to construct himself for himself by means of the word; that is why in him language strays far from its usual meanings. Genuine poetry frequently offers resistance to the reader. It even sprouts new terms: such as First Ananda, the name given to the first of the basic units of Los Despojos del Sol, by David Rosenmann-Taub, a book recently published under the hallmark of esteoeste (Argentina). The term will eventually reveal its organizing sense with the publication of the Second Ananda.

Do nature, activity, events on the one hand, or mere consciousness on the other, create the reality of the person in all its singularity? In the incidents of life, in our acts, in the events that affect us, in the exterior world, do we recognize ourselves, or do they actually exist in order for us "to be"? Or do we perhaps achieve that singularity only through the intimate, deep perception of ourselves?

It seems to me that it is among such questions that the experiences in "Diary of A Pebble" and other poems in the book ripen--the expression of a dramatic split in man between his existence and his consciousness of himself.

Without doubt, one is a person as soon as there is consciousness of oneself; but the surrender of oneself to existing – that is, the giving of oneself over to habitual acts and reactions – is like losing this consciousness. The paradoxical result: one is not a person as soon as one exists. If one perceives oneself in a pure act of consciousness, one apprehends oneself as made almost of emptiness. What is this emptiness? Where is the reality of oneself? From another point of view, the full knowledge of oneself is not possible: one lives unavoidably imprisoned in existence or in consciousness, worlds that do not communicate.

I left, out of fidelity. To whom? says Poem I. One leaves in order to exist and to demonstrate to oneself one's own existence – if we may say so – in order to encounter oneself; but one does not encounter oneself, since one ceases to perceive oneself, to recognize oneself, in ordinary acts. On the other hand, this amounts to not having left, to not having existed fully, since full existence requires consciousness:

To touch myself, to open myself, now, to close myself, with limpid stealth (if not, what would happen?), clasping the sheaf that has purified me ever since I have known that I do not exist.

This means, in turn, to deny movement or to demonstrate its ineffectiveness: Motionless, I captured the corner where the Emporium of Everything revolves. [Poem I.]

Nor does nature nourish the reality of the person. I summoned the tree-lined avenues in order to help myself to them. [Poem III.] But those three-lined avenues "doze parched." They are not enjoyed. We are not reflected in the mirror, but the mirror is reflected in us. The empty mirror does not reflect anything; at most, it almost reflects, barely, the form of the formless. If we want to help ourselves to nature, it helps itself to us; if we want to assimilate it, it is the one that devours us. Thus, the dinner guest says of the endives, in the poem Manjar ("Delicacy"):

they begin
the voracity: they enjoy the way
they take on my saliva.

Our bodies – "shoulders, eyelids, hands" – do not belong to us; nor do our portraits represent us; they are horizons impossible to grasp, "torrential," "greedy" for us, which absorb us and remove us from our own identity [Poem VIII]. Divinity is not outside of the enclosure in which we struggle. God is not beyond, but here, between the wardrobe and the bed [Poem VII]. We are identical with him rather than similar. God imposes silence and is the silence. He does not help us to know ourselves. To know ourselves proves to be more difficult than to know God.

The vision of the universe in Rito ("Rite") is extremely daring. The cosmos wanders about "dilapidated," but as if in diapers – in fact at the stage of its first, newborn's defecation – without even becoming aware of its own orphanhood and fragility, in the dark, and searching for more darkness, as if its highest degree of evolution were to look dizzily for the consciousness of man, intuiting that only in this, the sole light, will its journey be able to achieve meaning. Thanks to the contact with that "I" of the poem, beauty will emerge triumphant. A ritual act, with the rhythm of the cosmos in pursuit of its maturity of "dung," but maturity at last:

Fragile, hopeful,
on its bosporus of wilted stumbles,
still baby's first defecation, dilapidated,
not even hearing gethsemane,
blind in search of more blindness,
the sluggish, clattering cart,
of the constellations,
will ask, at the next house,
confused, for me:
mature dung, forever beautiful!

We reread a page of Jean Rostand, the biologist. It may be that life has appeared only on this planet, and consciousness only in man. Pure chance. Human consciousness, sole light of the universe: the very idea of it puts our feeling of orphanhood and isolation into horrifying relief. "It would not seem to me at all impossible that our world might have the tragic privilege of the human brain and that it might be the only place in the universe where the blind play of the molecules has ended up in reflection and torment."

With the passage of years, seeing consciousness as a true refuge in life takes on more importance – in spite of that sensation of isolation that this can cause – an attitude that must have originated with Jesus of Galilee. The final stanzas of "Dark Evening," a poem by Luis Cernuda, say:

Through these sordid
suburbs, with no north,
you go, like the useless
destiny of man.

And in your thought,
for light or faith
you now search, while outside
darkness conquers.

We believe that David Rosenmann-Taub, with his hallucinatory vision, and a lot of strange humor, exalts consciousness and creative will in the poem quoted above and in others in the book. He leaves us in some way cosmically desolated, but at the same time he comforts us with that calm which comes about after the witnessing or experiencing of a drama that is followed by the attainment of a truth.

It would be worth dwelling longer on these poems. Perhaps Ecclesiastes, Pascal, and existentialist thought would offer points of reference and comparison. And Le Cimetière Marin. Somehow we feel that Zeno's arrow, which wounded Valéry, also wounds Rosenmann-Taub.

Let us hope that this short account of a reaction to the very first reading of a demanding book does not do too much violence to its readers or to the author himself. In these lines we may have interpreted or digressed more than we have given the work its proper value; but let this reaction before a remarkable text of poetry be duly recorded.