Skopje Slave Gjorgjo Dimoski The Triptych of Language, 2015, PNV Publications
Translated by: Milan Damjanoski
The latest poetic work by Slave Gjorgjo Dimoski consists of three lyrical-epic poems. The first poem, “The Triptych of Language” thrice announces the occurrence of Creation in its poems: “The Egg of Language”, “The Logos” and “What Could Be Seen From the Grand Cosmic Stage”. The crystal clear and translucent verses of these poems start off by layering on and piling up the ferment and vortex of the tension from which everything is born, only later to establish the symbolic order of things (in the second poem) and then in a flash in the third poem establishes the exit into the irreversibility of time- the exit into history. The three cantos form three stone portraits, poetic images of the moment before the moment, of the time in which all is about to come into existence, but all is still absent. Then, afterwards out of the blue, all of a sudden – the act is done, all is already there. All. Both poems that follow as an appendix, afterwards, paint in a monomythic style the only hero or anti-hero of history. It is the poems in the Appendix, “Cain” and “Anabasis”, the texts left out of the invocation of the sacred, open this poetic manuscript to an analysis in the context of the “creation myths” (Campbell1F).
It would seem superfluous to talk today about myth as the basis for literature. In fact, myth is primarily and singularly a specific kind of poetic craft, a notion already established by Vico, the first modern observer of myth and the creator of the first philosophy of the myth. Romanticism, through its revived interest in folklore, ritual and myth established the myth as the basis of all art in general, especially emphasizing the link between myth and poetry:
“If poetry is the representation of matter as art in the narrower sense of the form; then one can argue that mythology is absolute poetry, natural poetry. It is the eternal matter from which all forms are born with infinitesimal splendor and variety “(Schelling2F).
Regardless of further differentiations of the notion of the myth done by symbolical theories, analytical psychology, structuralism and countless contemporary approaches to mythocriticism, there is a sense that the link between myth and poetry still remains undisputed, being implicitly present even in those views, though not as frequent, which primarily recognize the relation between myth and music3F.
On the other hand, the poetic experiment of the avant-garde in its striving to rediscover the lost magic of the utterance, to strengthen its symbolic and ontological creative power, has contributed for the mytheme(s) of Creation in conjunction with the initial Sound or Letter/Logos of Creation to become one of the dominant poetic subjects or sub-texts for the development of poetry during the course of the 20th century. Every poetic attempt to reach the holy ground of utterance, to express and materialize a new sense is grounded in the myth of the initial cosmogonological and symbolical utterances. The echoes of the imaginary, pre-lexical magical essence of the voices – seen as the resonance of the cosmic vibration which is the breath of the being of the world, is one level of this poetic undertakings wanting to lead the mind and the experience into a territory free from the dead and labeled meanings, to evoke the pure emotional participation in the act of perception of the sound. The evocation of the mytheme about the creation of the world, thus invokes the contemplation of the primacy of the attempts to focus the mind on the simplicity/singularity of the mythic, archetypal image of the birth of the Being. By concentrating on this image, it tries to intensify, renew and purify its own expression, through an act of imitation and magic to bring and make equal the utterance with the uttered primary word. “The Triptych of Language” by Slave Gjorgjo Dimoski is executed and realized exactly on this level of intentionality.
The first poem, the title of which makes a parallel between the cosmic egg and the “egg of language”, through this simple and singular intervention of dislocation, insertion of the meaning of the cosmogonological myth towards an emphasis and actualization of the issue of language in conjunction with that of creation, writing and poetry, concentrates on the simple and direct invocation of the moment of the first instance of the creation of the “insideness”4F of the being – „the egg of language”. What is inspiring is the innovative mode of telling the story of this primary act, a mythopoetic act of mythical retelling of the poetic dream of capturing the original magical power of language: “Maybe that was an / Aery feathery / Creature/ Like a bird / That flew / In the ancient dream / Of things / And laid / The grand egg / Of language”. In his attempt to capture the poetic image, the poet approaches it with care and concern, on the wings of the dream in order to nestle it in an equally aery manner in the focus of his poetic observation. He comes to it treading lightly, from the outside (“The egg of language/Had the form/ of a sphere”), stopping at the limits of the sphere as a boundary which naturally calls upon its outside (the surrounding heavenly bodies) and its inside (“the impenetrable dark blue”). Lightly and tamely, the poetic language licks to taste the sphere of the egg before it dares to dip and sip from its “insideness” which will then equally lightly, unassumingly and gradually start to spin and transform into a “blazing twister” and “the spire of the Tower of Babel”. Finally, with equal lightness of touch and exquisite poetic touch and skill in the finale of the poem, it will again be laid down in space, laid in the nest of the dream.
The changes of perspectives in the poetic narration in the first poem take their subject gently in their hands, just like an egg which playfully rolls in the valley of the hands, and it is in this iconic sense that the first poem maybe most explicitly presents the mode of narration in these verses. The unassuming, almost unnoticeable shifting of perspectives of the external and internal cosmos (“mushy density/impenetrable blue”) undermines the perception of the cosmic spatial-temporal organization through binary oppositions: inside-outside up-down, past-future. The second poem “Logos”, which semantically follows the opened theme of the birth of the All in the symbolic order of things, is especially consistent in the realization of the reversal of the inside-outside semantic dichotomy for the purpose of emphasizing the intertwining of all with everything. The third poem, the third meditation on the same cosmic and symbolic birth of the world and of the meaning, “What Could Be Seen From the Grand Cosmic Stage”, introduces the “great watchful eye” of the universe. Through the use of the eye and its perspective of an observer following all events and changes , the poet introduces the spatial-temporal category of up-down and the category of time: “It sheds a light: cosmic dust/ Caused by slowness/Trying in haste to create/ The measuring unit of time/ Which will limit time/And create/That gap – the meantime/Where everything shall happen/But that everything shall have no/Past, present/or future:” The ending of this poem, with the embodiment of the snake, of the ambiguity of the world (“Cold twin inside of herself”), accelerates the coming of the change, the events leading to the Exit into History: “She saw: the eclipsed garden (…)/One still feeling the pain of the rib/Which flourishes on the other side.” (…)/And he saw: mountains/Valleys, rivers, mists (…)/swords and spears, bows/Chariots, besieged cities/Dust, blazing dust.”
The theme of the exit into history is present in the poems in the Appendix: “Cain” and “Anabasis”, the title of which refers to the work of history “Campaigns of Alexander the Great” or “Anabasis” („Ἀνάβασıς Ἀλεξάνδρου“), where the Greek philosopher Flavius Arrianus (95-175 A.D.) describes the military campaigns of Alexander in the Orient. It is through this split personality which is immanent to both characters – that of Cain, the character from the Bible, the biblical fratricide (“I resurrect/The Emptiness inside of me/I hide/The dead man in me”), and of Alexander, whose split is introduced through the ambiguity of his historical actions as seen through the categories of progress and fall, which are essentially monomythic, as well as through the shared characteristics – that the poet is painting a character which is not that of the historical hero anymore, but that of the hero of history. In this sense the last poem “Anabasis”, which consistently develops and applies the undermining of the previously mentioned dichotomies of the symbolical order, intensifies and sharpens their mutual mirroring, while at the same time rounding off and underlining the meaning of the whole manuscript through a subtle and unexpected reversal of the ritual repeatability of the meanings into a new poetical sense. The basis of this is the portrayal of the character of Alexander, finally stopped on the historical stage, mired in mud and entangled in moss, his gaze directed at the light in the sky. Even his name is written in small letters. Even His name, that of the Great One. Consequently, the exclusive use of small letters is a feature solely of this last poem in the manuscript.
Alexander on the stage/wrapped in weed and moss/mouth half-open/in spasm while his heart pulsates/in a moving ellipse/he gives an order/march toward the sun!/his voice turns into bronze/-the stage lights go off/ – darkness slowly falls into folds
To this point, however, we are led by a number of scattered images of the organization of the world: “”earthly sky on which/you walk and fall”, while the ambiguity of the historical actions is also contained in the ambiguity of the title of the poem itself: referring both to a breakthrough and progress, but also to a fall, a straying from the path, a loss. In fact, we come across this ambiguity of the title, but this time developed and reiterated, in the verses that stretch the thin line, the boundary where the uncatchable in the “web of language” lives, the unraveled threads of the spindle – the egg of language. The metaphor of the “web of language” in the closing poem completes the historical portrait of the mythical image of the cosmic egg:
The web of language / catches the time / the web is the language / in the bliss of time/ that is unable to skillfully draw the line/ between this and that/ this that moves forward/ and that which goes backward/ this that retreats/ and that which progresses
The detailed observation of the sequences of images, analogies and meanings flowing from one poem to the other would lead to uncovering numerous other additional layers and overflows of meaning. Similar to the overflowing of the dark blue into light blue and violet in the poems of the triptych. What this reading intends to point out, in fact, as the dominant feature is the creation myth characteristics of the manuscript (Campbell) which are consistently applied in each poem and achieved on the level of the work as a whole. The use of Campbell’s notion with which he highly values the innovative thematic and poetic parallels between literature and myth might lead some to look for additional guidance and explanations. However, careful reading of the whole manuscript shall provide you with everything that needs to be said. Through the subliminal simplicity and purity of the poetic expression, one can clearly hear the echo of both the primordiality and the existence in the moment of the historical continuum. The poetic cycle of Slave Gjorgjo Dimovski also allows the readers to share the joy in the recognition of the repeatability of things which echoes in the opportunity to create new forms, which lures and seduces you with the simplicity and sublimity of the language. Finally, it also asks carefully, but unambiguously new riddles, encouraging us to continue to play and try to find their solution.
1. The terms “monomyth” and “creation myths” are taken from Joseph Campbell (J. Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand faces, 1949; The Masks of God, 1959-1970). Later in the text, these terms are closely more defined according to the context.
2. F. W. von Schelling, Einlitung in der Philosophie der Mitologie, 1856, cited here according to E. M. Meletinski Poetika mita, Beograd: Nolit, стр.20.
3. Sussane Langer makes this observation in conjunction with her symbolic study of myth on the level of the individual, thus music appears as the “myth of inner life” in-between the biological experience and the higher spiritual state – though the symbolical nature of the myth and the music remains incomplete (S. Langer, Filozofija u novome ključu, 1967:344). Compared to his earlier works in which he focuses exclusively on linguistic models in the study of myth, Claude Levi-Strauss in the preface to his Mythologiques partially turns from language to music as an art form which like myth expresses the unconscious structures.
4. The term „insideness “ appears, in fact, in the second poem of the Triptych.