The poetry of a body without organs
“I know more than I want to
But not nearly enough
I thought I was writing for the love
But it just turns out to be lust”
Amir Sulaiman – Dead man walking
An esoteric review of A. Sulaiman, Love, Gnosis and other suicide attempts (2012).
Body and soul. If you cannot find peace within this idea you don’t belong here: A body that is as much soul as the soul is body. If (as if) you cannot find struggle – signs of the eternal war – in this idea… you don’t belong here; if you are able to submit to truth then you do belong here. Where is this terrifying here? Here is the vacuum left by the poetry of Amir Sulaiman, his spoken words and shreds of his performances…
(let the drama talk)
A long time ago Amir Sulaiman pronounced himself a poet, a religious/gnostic novice and hence sentenced himself to a lifelong Promethean torment of ripping out his own organs… repeating the same procedure of creating poetry in his own peculiar way which lingers somewhere between a gnostic ritual, lovemaking and pulling the trigger on his own mind.
Amir’s process of writing is quite a bit off the beaten path among poets. Especially as an Islamic inspired poet his poetry strikes us immediately as too intimate, too sensual. As if it surpasses the reader’s mind and goes straight to the heart…But not before inviting the body to regard itself as a sign of the unseen..
who would want their heart broken
but now that mine has been split open
I wonder who would want their heart closed
(of beauty and breaking
For Amir poetry is not primarily concerned with meaning. His poetry starts with sensations. Tasting and turning around different words and putting them next to each other, as strangers. It’s all part of the meaning he looks to express in his work: questioning what it would feel like to incorporate all those sensual elements that precede the meaning of a word in a poem. In his creative process it is the consciousness of the physical language that announces itself first even before the object itself: how one pronounces a word, the shape your mouth makes when you pronounce it, the way the air has to escape to form the end of a sentence: “It would be just a word that pops up, the sound of it… for example sleeplessness… the strangeness of how the syllables feel in my mouth and how I start liking it… and then the poem will start creating itself.. Usually I don’t know what the poem is about until I’m already in the middle of it…’’
And yet despite his focus on the sensuality of language, of ideas, the whole process serves an almost ascetic goal. Amir describes this ascetic goal as an act to silence parts of himself, i.e., to let other parts speak so that he can hear them out: “It’s like our hearts.. you have a heart, I have a heart, and I’m already having it for 34 years now. It’s a good amount of time to get to know it but if I have the opportunity to cut it to see it, I’ll understand it better.. I’ll know things I would never have known… if only something as simple as how it looks in reality… pulsing in my hand.. That’s what my poetry is for. Instead of keeping those parts quiet I try to let them express themselves as such that I can more properly diagnose my diseases.” One can hear Artaud’s legendary phrases for the body without organs resonate clearly in in Amir’s process of poetry
When you will have made him a body without organs,
then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reaction
and restored him to his true freedom.
As we wish not to dishonour this process of inquiring into the state of organs let us attempt to give an esoteric review of Amir’s anthology Love, Gnosis & Other Suicide Attemps and his attempts to hold on to his organs by describing two of them:
It’s easy to forget the reality from where we arrive. It is as easy to fall asleep in your body, in this hastily assembled small identity…walking through the process of writing poetry keeps you awake…the experience of the sensuality of words, the experience of strangeness when putting certain words in a new pair functions as a reminder. As easy as it is to forget it is also to say: ‘I know’…
Gushing out words like infinite, love, remembrance or the truthful death, yet only saying them with your tongue… not being effected by their meaning nor their sensuality…. For us to be really awake we must talk without a tongue… or through the tongue.. to keep the sensuality, the strangeness and immensity of the words fresh in the consciousness..
We al have our own rules and roots. Pieces of given identity we are forced to consider, or reconsider, for the sake of their hidden value. Religion has always had most of these pieces in its possession for me. But what do you do with it? Do you express your religious identity or form one by experience? Some people say that allowing the poetical, the art into your religion reduces the experience too much to a form of expression. But I strongly believe there is no distinction to be made between expression and experience. It is like making love: is lovemaking experiential or expression? It contains both, since the act of making love is how I experience love so the expression of love and the experience of love is the same… the basic characteristic of Tawhid. All experience is expression; there is no experience without expression. The whole material world is expression. A symbol for the unseen; a symbol of the potential of experience. As our lungs express the experience of gasping for air, our breathing forms already a silent expression of gratitude for the fullest of experience called life.
What is a poet
When he runs out of poetry
It is a man who has run out of blood
A woman who has run out of breath
Photos: © Redouan Tijani
This post is also available in: Dutch