On January 20, 2021 in Washington, Joe Biden was invested forty-sixth president of the United States of America. As is customary, a poet was invited to read a poem celebrating the event. This year, the poet in question was a young black woman of twenty-two years: Amanda Gorman. And it was she who received the unanimous homage of the country and eclipsed, by her performance, the president. It was she who conquered the hearts of Americans, she who caused a sensation and triggered a media frenzy even reaching Europe.
An enthusiasm of such magnitude, of such spontaneity can neither be foreseen, nor programmed, nor premeditated, which is why it is interesting to understand its meaning and scope. Why so much enthusiasm for a young poetess hitherto unrecognized? Why such unanimity, such transport?
→ PORTRAIT. Amanda Gorman: a young poet enchants the world at the nomination of Joe Biden
Perhaps a little because of the poem, a poem for the occasion, militant, invoking a democratic ideal shattered in an America in disarray, a poem of resistance calling for reconstruction and reconciliation. More surely because of Amanda Gorman herself, who, at the height of her twenty-two years, crowned with fire and dressed in the sun, upset an America in a state of shock.
By the sheer force of his verb, by the hypnotic effect of the scansion, the repeated waves of his sentences, the surf of alliterations and other assonances, by the grace of his living hands offering and projecting his words like so many flights and of colors, with her smile, she re-enchanted more than an audience, a time in this world.
With Amanda Gorman, it was grace, youth and faith in a future that were expressed. Regardless of the literal meaning, it is the symbolism that prevails here, enthusiasm gaining even among non-English speakers. Because it is not necessary to understand a work to admire it.
→ CHRONICLE. Amanda Gorman, no to identity translation!
Admiration is first and foremost a feeling, a fulfillment that wins you in the face of greatness or beauty. And the uninitiated, too, can be called upon to feel it, like this taxi driver, unwitting witness to a rehearsal of Fabrice Luchini in his vehicle, the latter memorizing out loud Rimbaud’s Drunken Boat. ” How beautiful ! he cried suddenly, I didn’t understand anything. “
This is what art is, a delight if not nothing. All the analyzes, all the exegesis and commentaries, however relevant they may be, cannot give this sudden accession to the work, the ecstasy and the joy that follow. Why is America getting carried away, marveling and laughing at a youth that was still unknown yesterday? Why does she arouse such fever, such effervescence, and why does she suddenly become “the poet prodigy”? Why suddenly millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter?
Because America has just experienced a mystical experience live and on its screens. What is a mystical experience? A revelation: that of a beauty generating ecstasy and illumination. From then on, we will come out transfigured. We will never be who we were before. And we don’t know how deep this experience can go, or who it will touch.
“Gentlemen! Today is the first time that I realize the
presence of life. Gentlemen! I beg you to leave me free this moment to
savor this wonderful, spontaneous and recent emotion in life, which today,
for the first time, makes me ecstatic and happy to tears. “
(César Vallejo, The Discovery of Life.)
In a humanity in perdition, helpless witness of its downfall and bewildered spectator of the over-mediated abjections, abominations and turpitudes saturating the news; at a time when everything is becoming monstrous and normal; in a world doomed to ugliness in all its forms, at a time when lying is becoming an alternative fact, we understand better that the irruption of Beauty is more like a commotion than just another anecdote.
In a world where language is no more than an “idiom of service where we operate without critical distance”, where the global language is no more than an economic-utilitarian-communicational jargon, we hear that the poetic word detonates. suddenly like a word of truth insurgent against the powers of Death and its builders of ruins. And Vallejo added: “Life hit me right now in my death. And now I will die of life and not of time ”.