from The Murmur of Borders
So, the fish I ate last night echoes in the dendrites invoking the shark making its way through your mind as you move further from the COAST and already the rocks are the proximity; fixing the distance is irremediably altered by the vague irritation of the jellyfish that brushes you with its silver filaments exasperating the firmness.
Thus the rhythm installs itself in words, just as breathing tries to dictate an order, reverberations of sound to soothe what is unstable. And another belief presents itself to the need to bring calm to the living's simultaneous susceptibility, precise instability in Tandil's movable rock, overflowing waters, the Patagonian wind ontheprowl, while the coast becomes yours in the sand we adore, and gusts and lightning in the skies and fractures, fragments, FRACTIONS, fractals, fragility, fragrance, fraternal, and Gertrude Stein in the repletion of an inconceivable Cubism.
Every action is a reaction, Saint Thomas said, and vice versa; if one breathes it is because there is air, if one is thirsty it is because there is water, if I speak it because there is someone who can hear me, if I am afraid it is because human nature has the capacity of hate; but then, why does this generalization raise the suspicion of getting lost in the sense of the latter, of the minimal, in dissolution without joy? To seek that FRACTION which might break this cycle of evidence, that range of internal exclamations which makes one want to get up immediately.
To catalyze would be to get up now, grab María Moliner's dictionary from A to J, search among the LETTERS for c, open the huge tome and leaf through it until ca, cat, cata is reached: prefix of Greek origin meaning "down" or "downwards," cataplasm, cataclysm, catachresis, catacomb, catalepsy, catapult, catalysis, catarrh, catastrophe.
But sometimes there are wishes pressed to seal breathless, without air, tasteless, without salt, orderless, without order, a kind of forced optimism. I would like for no one to come today, to keep my nightgown on all day, without bathing, without leaving, without having to speak, just thinking about all this, keep thinking, insipid, because when you make something insipid it becomes disordered.
But here in this book, there will come a series of explanations about the origin of life, about what life on the planet is, the codification of language, of a vocabulary that represents the amino acids that form proteins.
– And just who was Proteus that gave proteins their name?
– The mythological god who changes appearance.
– And protean?
– That it presents him in various ways.
– And proteins?
– They are organic substances made up of four elements, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, which, with water, generally form colloidal solutions.
And so on, now I don't even remember what I was talking about, oh yes, about the twenty LETTER alphabet of proteins which according to their millenarian combinations form living beings, the only way of reading bio, bio, bio, ee-i-ee-i-o, Old McDonald had a farm, ee-i-ee-i-o, biological, biographical, biodynamic, biosophic, it might be called the wisdom of life, biosophy would be the name for it, biopoetry or biopoem.
– Poiesis, what's that?
– To be a poet and not know what poiesis is.
In conclusion, besides the headache and dizziness, biopoiesis, verbal creation related to living being, to life, and biopoem, 1) word chain which seeks to ape the language of genes, 2) intuitive deciphering of the genetic code, which condenses in its ancestral SECRETS the murmurs of life and death, 3) experimentation through images and the tactile sense which make out in impalpable substances the word that gives knowledge matter, 4) biopoem, evanescent membrane which marks and sets the boundary between shadow and light.
To Christian de Duve
translated from the Spanish by Manuel Fihman
The recording above is excerpted from an interview of Lila Zemborain at Cross Cultural Poetics, hosted by Leonard Schwartz. Click here for part one and part two of this interview, which includes a discussion of The Murmur of Borders as well as readings from it in Spanish and in English.