Sunday, February 8, 2015

Such barghests of the minds design

Dark Things, Poems by Novica Tadić
Dark ThingsAnomie (Anomy), in societies or individuals is a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals. The term was introduced by the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, in his influential work “Suicide” (1897). When a social system is in a state of anomie, common values and meanings are no longer understood or accepted, and new values and meanings have not developed. According to Durkheim such a society produces in many of its members, psychological states characterised by a sense of futility, lack of purpose, emotional emptiness and despair – Striving is considered useless because there is no accepted definition of what is desirable.
Although Durkheim’s concept of anomie referred to a condition of relative normlessness* of a society or social group, other writers have used the term with reference to the individual. In this psychological usage anomie relates to the state of mind of a person  who has no standards, or sense of continuity or obligation & that has rejected all social bonds.
Someone Whispered To Me In A Dream 
Someone whispered to me in a dream
that on this Earth, there’ll be no
more water, only blood.

We’ll drink each other’s blood
as we have always done
and won’t dream of it anymore.

Over dried out springs,
bones of dead animals and last humans
will pile up.

Young hyenas with our faces
will titter and fight
around their gnawed and dry remains.
The individual may feel that their community leaders are indifferent to their needs, that society is basically unpredictable, lacking order and that goals are not being realised, leaving them with a sense of futility & that they are no dependable sources of support.
May I open the door into the world of Novica Tadić
About The Knife
I think well about the knife,
think, think.
For you covered in feathers,
I am permitted to be a monster.
Because of the curse of drink,
I collided with a fence, fell down,
And became a quarrelsome and desperate man
Ready to jump into the fire._
My blood wouldn’t let me rest.
Mercy walked away from me.
Now, quickly, you do the same
In his introduction to “Dark Things” Charles Simic, writes that “Tadić is a poet of the dark night of history” going on to say that his protagonist, like the condemned Christ, in some painterly depiction of Ecce Homo is surrounded by an enraged mob, who although wretched themselves find some pleasure in the mindless torture of others.
A Straitjacket
Is being woven
And cut to measure
On you.

This theme appears to haunt Tadić, like some personal barghest and as such it is this weltschmerz that inhabits all his work, the meek & mild are merely badly abused playthings of the powerful, who themselves are wretched and played upon by those more powerful. There are great but no good, this is a world where the hand not seen carries a dagger and the hand seen is not raised in salutation but merely to club you or holding some other means of doing you down. Dark Things is a world of folk/fairie tale, but one devoid of hope or moral compass, a world where Prince Charming, is no handsome hero out to save the heroine, his motif, if defined would be his own will regardless of harm, his name a term of abuse, a sarcastic tag hung upon him by those with the power to do little else but snipe from behind masks of ill intent.
Armful Of Twigs
Armful of dry twigs
I carry to the fire
through busy streets.

I can't see the stake,
don't know who is being
burnt alive or why.

Flames rise in the glow
beyond the ecstatic crowd
singing, shouting and firing guns.

(This dream, I am not
bound to forget.)

Don't sway like that, O my curtain.

On a more personal note, I first came across this writer sometime in the early 1990’s through a wonderful anthology of East European poetry called “Child of Europe”, this had a fantastic collection of poets/poetry such as Tomaž Šalamun, Gojko Đogo & Sylva Fischerova, but for some reason Novica Tadić, was the poet that stayed with me, one that I kept returning to in particular the poem “A Conversation” which doesn’t appear in this collection, however I’m posting it here because it was the reason I went on to buy the book.
A conversation
One of the Cyclopes
Met me in the street and
---------where was my
where was my
where was my
other eye little eye
I don’t have it
I don’t have it
I don’t have it
It never
This for some reason resonated with me, baffled me no end, I kept trying to find why this rung true for me and the closest I could get was to do with hope or lack of it, that the other eye that was being constantly denied represented a hope that couldn’t be acknowledged, but was there - it had just never opened from beneath the sealed eyelid, never had a reason to open. This is probably nonsense and nothing like what Novica Tadić had in mind when putting those words on paper, he was just writing his response to a world gone mad, in fact Charles Simic states in his introduction that “if Hieronymus Bosch had gotten around to writing poems, they would sound like Tadić’s, He also said that the only way to write realistically about the Balkans is through Surrealism.

Novica Tadić was born in 1949 in a small village in Montenegro, but lived most of his life in Belgrade dying there 2011. The author of fourteen previous collections of poetry, he was considered the most respected living Serbian poet and linguistic “heir” to the late, great Serbian poet Vasko Popa. The author of many celebrated collections, including The Object of Ridicule, Monster, The Unknown, and Dark Things, Tadić has won almost every major Serbian literary award, including the prestigious Laureat Nagrade. In the last two decades, he served as editor of several Serbian literary magazines, and his books of poems have been translated into more than two dozen languages.
Prior to the publication of Dark Things (BOA, 2009), only one full-length collection of his poetry had previously appeared in English: Night Mail: Selected Poems (Oberlin College Press, 1992), this was also translated by Charles Simic.

People Went By
People went by in waves,
Stared at and admired
All sorts of things in shop windows,
And bought a few.

The one dressed in black
said to the one with a briefcase.
“Why do I need that?”
And didn’t wave away his hand
as ordinary mortals do
when they deny something
to themselves.

As years pass,
I find that little tableau
more and more bewitching
and appealing.

A day will come
When I’ll only
think about that.

Dušan "Charles" Simić  1938) is a Serbian-American poet, translator, essayist and was co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007
Charles Simic
BOA Editions

* Normlessness, Durkheim never uses the term normlessness, American sociologist Robert K. Merton studied the causes of anomie, or normlessness, finding it severest in people who lack an acceptable means of achieving their personal goals.


Brian Joseph said...

Outstanding commentary on this poet Gary.

I had never heard of Tadić before but I really like the poems that you posted. Sometimes I am drawn to darkness and nihilism.

I think that you are on to something with your analyses of the conversation. The never opened eye seems like it must represent such unrealized potential.

James said...

Brilliant commentary showing how a poet can demonstrate a concept. I find this poet's work challenging and appreciate the background information about him.

Violet said...

Well, the poems in this post, and your previous one, had me pinned to my chair for quite some time, reading and re-reading. How timely. And how perfectly spot-on. And what a reminder of the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sometimes I think that humankind has gone too far down the path of doom to find its way back, and that one of the reasons humankind is so lost is that most people don't pay attention to the wise souls amongst us.

The third eye? I think you demonstrate how poems can be received in myriad ways. For me, the third eye represents wisdom, waking up to what is, but that's just one more way of seeing it. (Heh)

Thanks for the poems. I do get unutterably tired of the whole blogging thing sometimes, but then there are posts such as yours, posts that communicate heart to heart.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi Brian Tadić's poetry strikes a chord with me & has am ambience that is similar to the writing of the Hungaria writer laszlo Krasznahorkai. There seems to be something about East European writers that rings my bell.

Hello James Thanks & I can see how this writer's poetry can be challenging, but for some reason & to be honest I don't know why but it resonates

Hi Violet, Thank you.

Ps Not sure Tadić believed there were any wise souls left in his world, or if there were they were incarcerated.