» nasty » Rimbaud: Poetic Annihilation_
BY: Adrian Gargett (Page 2)

As if the pandemonic cyclone of poetry had already laid waste the resources of articulation, Rimbaud says that he cannot explain himself; just two years later in "A Season in Hell" he will write: "I understand, and not knowing how to explain myself without pagan words, I would rather be silent" (R 304) This is not to say that words come to an end, but only that discourse ceases to dominate them. The motor is not discursive competence, but the vacant eye of the storm. In a further letter, this time to Paul Demeny, dated the 15th of the same month, Rimbaud repeated the phrase "a deregulation of all the senses" (R 10) (only the emphasis is changed), the phrase "I am other", and the rhetoric of the "poete maudit" from the Izambard letter, stressing the necessity of intoxication, suffering, and exile:

"The poet makes himself a visionary by a long, immense and rational deregulation of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness: he searches himself, he exhausts all poisons in himself, in order to preserve only their quintessence. Unspeakable torture where he has need of all faith, all superhuman strength, where he becomes among everyone the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed one - and the supreme scholar! - Because he arrives at the unknown, since he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anybody! He arrives at the unknown, and when, bewildered, he ends by losing the intelligence of his visions, he has seen them! Let him die as he leaps through unheard of and unnameable things: other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where the other collapsed!" (R 7-17).

A method or an anti-method, the will to chance, a voyage into loss of control, and this impossibility is the desolate core of poetry, a space of slippage. To slip is not to plan, to work, and to struggle. "I have a horror of all trades. Masters and workers, all peasants, ignoble. The hand at the quill just as the hand at the plough" (R 301). Rimbaud confesses that he is "lazier than a toad" (R 301-2) without decency, an alien to the civilization of toil. "I have never been of this people; I have never been a Christian; I am of the race who sings under torture; I do not understand the laws, I am a beast: you fool yourselves…" (R 308). An explorer of the sacred, traversing a wilderness beyond piety or sense charred by the flame of the impossible, Rimbaud treads the edge of the maze, scraping away his tight European skin.

"I am of an inferior race to all eternity" (R 304).

The poet-seer will create a new universal language:

"This language will be soul for soul's sake, summing up everything, perfumes, sounds and colours, thought latching on to thought and pulling" (R 13).

To write the edge of the impossible is a transgression against discursive order and an incitement to the unspeakable: poetry is immoral. Rimbaud is not the locus of secular reason but of shamanic religion; a poet who escapes any literary conceptuality in the direction of ulterior zones, and dispenses with the "thing in itself" because it is an item of intelligible representation with no consequence as a vector of becoming/travel. Shamanism defies the transcendence of death, opening the tracts of "voyages of discovery never reported " (R 327) There is a fissure of immoral scepticism, which passes out of the Kantian "noumenon" - or intelligible object - through Kant and Schopenhauer's "thing in itself" - stripping away a layer of residual Platonism - and onwards in the direction of acategorical, epochal, or base matter that connects with Rimbaud's "invisible splendours" (R 296): the immense deathscapes of a "universe without images" (R 293).

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