Acerca de por qué Alfredo Silva Estrada era un Mago de Oriente con poder y ciencia rara / Luis Enrique Belmonte

Regarding Why Alfredo Silva Estrada Was A Magician of the Orient with Rare Power and Science


Speaking about magicians isn’t easy, since they are prodigious by nature and what is prodigious tends to be fleeting. Magic is one of man’s deepest influences. When we encounter a magician the first thing that impresses us is his incantatory power. The spell of magicians seduces because it creates a temporal suspension of the senses, as happens when we look at a Persian carpet or at a gang of bluebirds fluttering at the window (I’m watching them right now). This is the source of the hypnotic nature of magical operations. F. Vergesen tells us that in Alfredo Silva Estrada’s poetry “the poem heads along a route where the near totality of data of sensibility, thought and the imaginary cross paths.” A poem like “En delirio de piedra,” for example, is nothing more than a prodigious verbal artifact capable of enchanting and disordering our senses. Alfredo was a delightful person; that’s why children, dogs and exalted creatures loved him and greeted him.


Magicians defy the possibilities of matter and subvert the order of things. They produce explosions where we least expect it. An explosion is a sudden and vivacious manifestation of something that wasn’t there and that by the force of the art of magic appears. This is the source of the sparks and illuminations in life and in Alfredo’s poetry. His poetry is like dynamite for language. It contains marvelous hidden mines that when stepped upon provoke unexpected conflagrations of the sign. They are like ritual fires: fascinating, celebratory, cathartic. Alfredo was a subversive, a rebel of forms (of “the form that in its own self liberates itself.”)


All acts of magic have to do with transmutation, that is, with the transformation of one thing into another. For Alfredo this was a daily practice. To transmute experience into word and the word into experience was the substrata of his alchemy. This is what he refers to when he speaks to us of “existing in the duration of the poem,” or when he wagers for “the poetic word rooted in existence itself.” This implies an ethics of language and a way of life. And his life was a transgression of the limits of expression: his poetic word sought the experimental encounter with other material worlds. That explains the approaches to the plastic arts (with Gego), to music (with Del Mónaco), to graphic design (with Leufert), or to Hertzian waves (with Ofrendas, on Radio Nacional de Venezuela, one of the longest running programs in the history of national radio). In El libro de las puertas one of his preferred poetic operations is manifested, which by the way is very closely related to transmutation: it is the transfer, the passing through what is unknown, the exploration of the edges of being to found, in the open, new spaces that might expand the possibilities of matter. We’re talking about the transmuted word. Zoroaster (or Dr. Faustus) did the same thing.


Simon Magus was persecuted by Saint Peter. Simon possessed the secret to levitation and Peter couldn’t stand this. They say that once Simon was trapped and taken to Rome to be tried, Peter asked him to fly and once the magician was in the air they began to throw stones at him and this is how they got rid of him. The thing is that Peter bought stones to establish churches, while Simon flew through the air establishing other kingdoms, less apprehensible, more suggestive. The poetry of our magician is light and ludic. But it turns out that when interacting with his fellow beings Alfredo was also like that. Alfredo took a lucid stance against intellectual and literary shyness. His humor erased with a spark the impostures of the serious and the pretentious. When facing the cardboard nature and prejudice of those who insist on making certain spaces hostile, Alfredo preferred to open up the vents of light and sound so as to avoid the blockade. He belonged to no court, nor did he set up obstacles for anyone. Alfredo would fly in his famous chair and sing “Alma libre” with fervor, a song that begins like this: “Like a magician of the Orient / With rare power and science / I will break the chains / That bound me without pity...”


Obliquity is another superpower that belongs to magicians. They tell you one thing goes here and it ends up showing up over there. They make you climb into a suitcase, for example, so as to then have you emerge from a mirror. That’s what Alfredo’s poetry is like. The phenomena of refraction appear in his work and in his life. And those reflections cast spells on us. They produce strange resonances, echoes, explosions, syncopations, cracks. You never know where a verse is taking you until you find a reflection of it somewhere else and it surprises you because you weren’t expecting it. His poetry is endless because it has that reverberational quality that’s found in acts belonging to magic. As though it were a reticularea of light.


Magicians generate spaces for connivance. A moment comes when those who witness an act of magic find an element of communion in wonder. Magical phenomena have an enveloping nature and they tend to set bridges of unity between beings, circuits under the auspices of shared delight and the celebration of life. Alfredo made his house a home of tolerance and brotherhood around the poetic word. He was a server of friendship. He didn’t cultivate any type of hatred and he respected human beings profoundly. Magicians radiate warmth and they tend to wink an eye at you when you are surprised by amazement.


Now we’ll have to talk about what is most precious for a magician: revelation. This is the true card a magician hides under his sleeve. And revelation only manifests itself to visionaries (those who can see through, the authentic revolutionaries). Alfredo is a visionary because he invites us to see what no one else has seen before. Bordering the limits he lifts himself to glance at the horizon in search of the place where the unspoken arises, because “in poetry the only thing worth saying is the unspeakable,” as Reverdy said, fifth member of the Reverdy quartet. Alfredo’s poetry is highly stimulating because it’s difficult and is full of occult codes that, thanks to patience and chance, manifest themselves to us suddenly. It’s what Alfredo called the superlife [supervivencia] of the poetic act, that is: “The surprising place of the poem with its own structure that resists, even in its vacilations and faults, all possible readings.” Because the mystery of the unspeakable is revealed to us and that mystery is as endless as the imagining consciousness.


To finish this indagation regarding why Alfredo Silva Estrada was a Magician of the Orient with rare power and science, all I have left to say is that magicians exist on borders and they spend their time feeling, scanning, gathering herbs from one place to plant them in another. Magicians are in contact with the hidden forces of the matter they manipulate. They are transgressors of limits (sometimes, with dynamite). They speak with the absent. They weave webs of astonishment. They proceed with joy of the bow [alegría de proa] towards the confines, well-planted in the going. We know they have always been among us. Bon Voyage! Cheers! (Greetings, Sonia.)

{ Luis Enrique Belmonte, Papel Literario, El Nacional, 24 October 2009 }

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