Notes on Alexander Korotko’s poetry, Illustrated by several verses and the poem
F. V. Lazarev, Ph.D., professor, academician of Petrovsky Academy of Arts and Sciences (St. Petersburg), Crimean Academy of Sciences, Member of the International Community of Writers' Unions
The 21st century that has just started for the humanity is characterized by unprecedented dynamism. Both technical progress and transformation in the spiritual sphere are dynamic. Modern poetic idea in search of new means of expression is in a state of permanent experimentation. What’s more discoveries of new art form are often supplemented by new ways of seeing the world, a new aesthetic optics, which allows to look at the usual course of events from unexpected angles and perspectives. What are the specifics features of innovation search in art of the 21st century?
It is well known that experimentation in the arts started long ago. The first quarter of the last century was marked with appearance of many innovative movements in literature, art, music, theater both in Europe and in Russia. In fact, our Silver Age if filled with the spirit of renewal and critical break of the traditional rules. Meanwhile, it should be mentioned that the concept of experiment in relation to the individual artist underwent a significant change. Philosopher–existentialist Georges Bataille saw the deep connection of genuine artistic innovations with the strategy of experimentation as the way of life of a restless personality, set in a situation of "face-to-death." According to Bataille existence is a special type of experiencing the world when a creative person builds up his presence in the stream of life as a never-ending attempt of self-experimenting. "I think that experience is travelling to the edge of human contrivance", - wrote Georges Bataille in his once-sensational books "The Inner Experience." Georges Bataille contrasts the idea of "life as his own project" (J.P. Sartre) with the notion of life as "the spirit of determination", which moves the inner experience of man, who finds himself on the edge of maximum loneliness and despair in the face of the unknown Nothingness.
Later, post-modernism paid its attention to another important part of human presence in the world - the idea of uniqueness and originality of everything that happens to us and around us. In this context, postmodernists' attention is drawn to the category of Other, which symbolizes the idea that the genuine existence of "I" is possible only as being that includes being of others in its development. In the view of all the abovementioned the answer to the question we asked at the beginning of our notes is clearer. It seems that the specificity of experimentation in the literature of the 21st century is that the different searches for the art form merge with the attempts to find new meanings in the existential world of the artist in his complex and dramatic relationships with Other. We see through the example of Alexander Korotko’s creative works that all three of the above-mentioned phenomena combine in his poetic thought. The spirit of experimentation, existence as an internal experience, sensitive feeling of the Other - that is the source that determines the initial semantics of images and constant inner motive of the writer's works.
The question at issue of any creative work is the following: what reflects a particular work of art and what is ultimately a particular work of art? There are three possible answers.
This work of art is: - An artistic reflection of life in all its diversity; - Self-expression of the author, demonstration of subjective ways of reality perception; - Pure experimentation in artistic form.
At first glance it may seem that the poems of Alexander Korotko are the author's self-expression, a sort of stream of consciousness. But this feeling is deceptive. In fact it is an attempt to grasp with a poetic word the real state of the human soul, the states, that the existentialists (Jaspers, and J.P. Sartre and A. Camus) wrote so much about, and that are fixed in such categories as abandonment, fear, sadness, boredom, and concern. All of these states are not phantoms. They are socio-cultural reality of modern technocratic civilization, that fix the experience of modern life, seized with persistent worries, nervous disorders, stress. Breaking the traditional meanings and values in the era of total alienation and intensifying processes of globalization is in the basis of such phenomena.
The secret of artistic discoveries of the author is in his personal involvement in to everything he is thinking about and everything his feelings respond to. Deeper and unexpected dimension of human life behind the foreground for the event-based continuum of this or that described situation are felt thanks to such personal involvement.
…..I am riding into the Silver age with silver of generations as an eternal rider of a white horse of my own vigil. It’s night, voiceless truth of tired events, rest and lean to the ground, it always has continuation of life, and when you try this world of senses you will realize that it hasn’t been yours for a long time, do not enrage mother’s cradle with your last passion ("Melancholy")
In one of the poems Alexander Korotko turns to the eternal topic of existential experience of the world – to the issue of death. Philosophers of the twentieth century examined this topic thoroughly and painfully as the most important problem. Indeed, there is only life and death. The rest is the work of the devil. Is there anything else? Absolutely nothing. However, there is immortality. But it depends on good luck. The principle of Hope comes into effect. This is the principle of Passion of hope, (Bloch’s interpretation), and timid hope (Castaneda’s interpretation). How shall we live? Maybe, according to Kant: with the stars above us, and with the moral laws in our hearts.
This problem is experienced and interpreted by this or that particular author in his own way, from some new viewpoint. This is especially true when we talk about art. Special value of the poetic perception of the world is in its originality.
The main motif in the perception of life and death for Alexander Korotko is associated with the idea of borderline human existence . The man lives at the border of reality and dream, eternity and transience, the sacred and profane, the obvious and incomprehensible. This border is sometimes barely perceptible, but its absolute existence gives a secret sense to the human existence:
Time and separation hide behind the minutes, and time, and separation, it happened in the fatigue seducing nights; in the inscrutability, lack of will the only thing I need is only a point.
Your eyes with their eye pupils-points can’t slow down and even make everything what is happening longer, and the stumbling block is breathing, the forgiveness of unspoken words, as an accomplished fact, as the subject standing in front of the door of predicates of events. ("Death")
A person suddenly who finds himself in a borderline state realizes the terrible truth of human existence – it’s a fragile, but the only reality, and there is no other being, except the human one. This is a closed from all sides being "inside". And then enlightenment comes: "The drama is simply to be" (G. Bataille):
.......There is room without exit and entrance, and the walls don’t seem to be whitewashed , but their color is misty, and your empty and suffocating breath is a match for the room and the body. It sways like a dandelion in the wind. ("Death")
The idea of "being at the border," is the refrain that goes through other poetic stories of the author. The soul and body, yin and yang, good and evil, day and night rush and want to meet:
.... Express of reality that does not exist the Dawn asks to call it the final destination, the era of return to the destiny, and it is the equinox of day and night on the horizon, it talks to the good and evil about something, and as a referee takes them corners. They rush around and want to meet again, but the fight is ahead, the soul is back and it is time for us to do some work, the earthly work that is not so sublime and strange on this border strip. ("The Dream")
Since post-modernism proclaimed follow the example of "the origins" the "text" and "contexts" – everything is mixed up in the European cultural identity - the truth and falsehood, good and evil, logos and myth. We see that at the turn of XX and XXI centuries the man’s lot is to live in such a historic moment, when there is blurring of the foundations of ancient and traditional culture. There is unpredictable in its consequences cultural mutation of the human race. New aggregate state of all the old values and meanings, re-mixed in one pot appear in the multicultural crucible. We can see the same thing quite often: any religious, scientific and ethical truth is turned inside out or rejected. Is it possible to be on firm ground in this situation when "fiction and truth are all mixed up, intertwine, and only your faith accepts everything and protects you from the truth that is not yours, not your people’s truth." ("Even more")? Faith in the truth and in the moral order of things preserves even now although "not everyone has the chance to get closer, not to move away from the inmost essence of trouble, that take the truth unawares..." ("Eyes of doubt")
In the short poem "Beloved of the Sun", we hear several basic existential motives and intentions. First of all it addresses to the issue of time. Modern man is experiencing the phenomenon of the flow of time differently in comparison with the flow of time 20 - 30 years ago. Today, the future breaks into our lives by fantastic success of scientific and technical progress, changes the perspective of viewing the modern history. And now the future is more then ever a global problem, not only for civilization in general, but for each individual person. The thing is that in the environment of coming crises there is a chance that there won't be any future. This is the tragic paradox of our time. Of course, a poet is not a political scientist; his goal is to understand the problem in a purely human, personal dimension. Do not trouble a poet with your questions: "Wait, I’ll answer, and this is a signal - a connecting thread between what was and what won’t be. And yet it was, and now it is like a fireball rolling through my veins and it burns me with fiery passion of what happened, occurred; it is an unattainable luxury of possessing in the sinking consciousness; where there is no time, no present, no me. There is only an image of loss, still shadow of the past, entangled in a web of vague illusions. " ("Beloved of the Sun")
One more motif of the poem – addressing to the concept of "I" - "You" or, as the postmodernists say, the concept of the "Other." For a contemporary philosophical mind another is not just one of the people around me. Another – is someone I can not become a real man without. "I need Another - says J.P. Sartre - to understand the structures of existence integrally". Everyone who says "I" at the same time, even unconsciously, addresses to "You." For the poet, "You" - is first of all the image of his beloved, a human being, the horizon is infinite:
……time is on tiptoe for you, it is noisy, it bristles, and flies at a gallop for me. You are still young; evening doesn’t touch your gentle eyes with sleepy hand. you do not live in that distant land, where life is easy for a lonely dream, and the tired heart wears the unobtrusive clothes of colorless existence and it does not know why you are walking on a rope in the impenetrable wilderness... ("Beloved of the Sun")
Happiness talks to us in the language of another. That's why we remember it for all our life as the first love, first star, as an exciting mystery and foreboding of meeting.
The star fell and faded, but its shadow it alive - says a poet. It lives in our hearts, in our feelings, as the moral law lives within us.more
PrefaceHillary Shears, translator and poet. December 2019, London