THE CONJURING OF THE IMAGINARY BEAST
About the poetry book "The Imaginary Beast" of Antonio de Santos
BY RICARDO LOEBELL
Antonio de Santos has the eye of a cinematographic poet. He knows how to revert the processes of nature, considering that tragedy’s time twists itself in sequences of the creative process. In his poetry coexists the esthetic of a sculpted time, in which the bodies and nature decipher each other. In that coming and going of the subject that implores to a loved one, time and space fuse together intimately. Love is described in his poetry as a different perception. In the poem « We don’t have anything to say to each other while we love each other », writing transforms into a disturbing register. It abstains itself before a judgement while describing the events from the perspective of the glance of a child that narrates in a trustworthy way each moment without feeling the need of understanding it to be able to give a testimony.
Different from what happens in a film, the universe of poetry englobes everything that is the record of the filming, together with what is left out of the screen. If you think about Raul Ruiz, everything that is out of the screen is even more significant. Antonio lets the poetic subject sing to an absent nature through the metaphoric body of a loved one, to miss everything that surrounds and that we don’t perceive when we look through the lens or when we love. There, every presence is the message of absence; the being walks close to the shadow of his non-being, the face in its infinity character -if you think of Levinas- is not presented to the subject as a vulnerable life, fragile and ephemeral, but instead by contrast, it is a memento mori that reminds death. Here, writing is seized and fills itself with its non-writing. The same way, each poem recalls the veiled universe of his work/composition, that, because it doesn’t have any defined or finite dimensions, circulates outside of the book. This is evinced in the poem « Your face is like death to me ».
The empathy with nature happens when the subject lets the nature inhabit the remote place of his being. This lets him express and claim feelings and sensations that while they are being metabolized inside of him they proceed to consciousness in a language that announces that communion. Goethe, in his famous poem « The nature », adjudicated initially to Christoph Toble and writen around 1782, adopts a voice of an anthropomorphic nature, a nature that feels, like an individual can image his encounter in the consciousness of his original separation. In that nature that has settled him, that will take him and will hate his work, he trusts the subject of Goethe, developed in a poetic speech that tends to reborn.
Different is the process of the work of Antonio de Santos, who starts with the grey evening of the first poem « Your nocturne flights » and finishes with the darkened sky in the last one. « In the end of the fainted light ». The mystic of the poetry matches the definition of life in a halt of the infinite flow and there, everything that happens, moves and excites, looks as if it can’t go further than the inconsolable, when ‘you live without living in itself, you die when you don’t die’, this can be read in Saint Teresa’s verses that were written in the limit of life and eternity. To understand that after the subject’s death everything continues in its never-ending course, equals to think that when the poem ends it will continue writing itself.
The loving writing in de Santos has the power of reassembling the spreadded sand of the hourglass or searching the marks in the bodies metabolism that allows to mesure time. It’s for a reason that everything is destined to finish from the start. « The imaginary beast » is written in an ochre esthetic, in yellow and golden verses that establish the flagrant course of humanity constituted by fearful and lonely passengers in the asphalt cities, exiled of the earth. It seems it has always been that way, that « the end » lives in the core of the conscience of each one of us. This transforms the subject in an « imaginary beast » that allows to live the illusion of life as an unambiguous dream.
The restless eye of Antonio de Santos that unleashes this poetry, allows us to establish a relation with the last film of the hungarian director Béla Tarr, The Turin Horse (2011). Through the story of the life of a traction horse, it is told in an indirect way, how the stinginess and ruse of men has depredated the world with their actions and have poisoned the earth. The nobleness and dignity of human kind seem to have extinguished, his existence lacks of sense in a world dominated by the limitless avidity. In this story, the slow deterioration of everything that surrounds them can be seen, like a sort of rebellion of nature against the distant ethic of men. The termites stop feeding on wood, the elements become dissolved from the density of the primordial matter, the well dries up, the ember is consumed. Like in an apocalypse, everything gets dark into an eternal night like an endless dream… Here in the last poem, the subject ‘in the end of the fainted light’ comes back to his dream, ’the sky darkens’ and everything calms down; it seems that the bodies give themselves to a superior metabolism. Maybe, in the dark kingdom, there is time to pay attention to that process of slow and temporary dissolution. (2015)