Translated from the Spanish by T.G. Huntington
This is from the final section of this long and excellent essay by Aura Estrada, who, as the notes below tell, died tragically in a swimming accident in 2007, barely 30 years old.
I never knew Aura Estrada or anything of her before reading her essay; it's linked and quoted from as a Thank You for her remarkable work and a Tribute to her memory.
What especially interests me here is Estrada's lucid paean to the "unkempt prose of Cervantes" that Borges speaks of and poetry as the "idiot song of ghosts" in Bolano's words.
Both Borges and Bolano echo the famous list of Rimbaud's, with its "debased" elements in which he finds poetry, and also the Duende of Garcia Lorca, a powering forth of the inner deepest soul through the cracked battered off-key voice of an aging Flamenco singer in a form that no "perfect" singing and singer can ever approach. As Borges puts it:
Conversely, any page that has an immortal vocation can endure the fire of errata, of approximate versions, of distracted reading, of incomprehension, without leaving its soul behind in the proofs.
The arrival at the existence of a cracked battered, off-key voice of the Duende has a story in it and with it, igniting the visions of Borges and Bolaño that in an unkempt prose may be a conjunction with poetry, and a return to the epic, the poet as story teller.
Bolano's idea of such a poet is "valiant" and "lucid," courageous in the face of disaster; and he would hire such a poet to help him rob the most secure bank of Europe. (Perhaps he would choose--Villon?!--) Borges chooses Don Quixote as the figure of the valiant poet--the "sorrowful knight" who emerges as a "real poet" from the wreckage his figure as a satire of the tales of valiant knights, courageous rescues, the daring of the "impossible dream."
Bolano notes Joyce as a great contemporary example--a poet who turned to writing epics which directly take Homer's epics as examples.
In essaying to create the epic "Legend of Duluoz" Kerouac also chose the unkempt style and raged against "craft."
The ongoing expansion of the absolutely immense industry in the USA of writing programs, poetics programs, workshops, retreats, walks with poets, talks with prose persons via chat --the drive is n the opposite direction--towards craft, at expense often of two detested elements--a story, (or, that bane of contemporary existence, its great Fear--a "-plot"--) and the unkempt jumble of "content" that lies all around one.
The most beautiful world is a heap of rubble tossed down at random/in confusion--Heraclitus
The emphasis on Formalism, craft, style, opacity, smoothness of surfaces--a cleanliness--a lack of detritus and uncomfortable elements--historically has often been associated with the aesthetics of Fascism A "style" widely found in Totalitarian reactionary regimes is the elevation and celebration of "clean presentations" of "elegant configurations." The geometry of massed elements a al Leni Reifenstahl's Triumph of the Will, organized and in full uniform and professional attires, holding the symbols of the different crafts practiced by the "people."
(Busby Berkeley in the US at the same time was using geometric massed formations in quite different ways, of the kinds which the Reich was from day one against as "degenerate.")
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness," as the saying goes, and so in American writing of today, the cleanliness is often the scrubbing out, erasing, eradicated built over, rebranded non-presences of actuality's stories in favor of craft and the ever greater movement towards mass and group conformism, which swerve as the smooth surfaces on which Deleuze and Guattari's War Machine may function without a hitch.
(In Visual Poetry also, the Clean has almost completely eliminated the traces of the Dirty.; though to be sure there always a few spots that "nothing can remove.")
The War Machine functioning so well on these smooth surfaces, erases the Wars from the spheres of Craft and Cleanliness, and puts a big kabosh also on the "valiant" poet or figure critiquing the language of a "Civilized, "Stylish" society which unquestioningly enables War Crimes, Apartheid, genocides ethnic cleanings, torture, and the conformities demanded by Fear.