Iz tiska je izašao novi dvobroj časopisa Most 3-4 2008
a new double issue of Most/The Bridge is before you and it brings certain changes. The thus far editor-in-chief SREĆKO LIPOVČAN had to — unfortunately, after five and a half years of editing the journal — leave his post, due to his health. I — as his years-long associate — thank him for our shared work in which I learned a lot, for his agility and skill in editing the journal and for the close contacts of Croatian literature worldwide. But, it should be emphasised that much of Srećko's work still lives on in Most/The Bridge. You will surely meet him — on the pages of the journal — as a columnist and author of various other texts. On the other hand, I — as the new editor-in-chief, appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Croatian Writers' Association — continue with the (thus far) unchanged concept of The Most/The Bridge.
It has already — since 2003 — been modelled upon two main segments: translations of entire works or individual fragments written by Croatian poets, prose writers, playwrights and essayists (who publish their work in several, primarily major world languages) and facts and reflections of the life of Croatian literature in Croatia and abroad (which are provided exclusively in English). With such a concept, we attempt at enabling — primarily the readers outside Croatia, who, most frequently, have very poor or no knowledge of Croatian literature — direct contact with the always lively pulsation of the text and the spirit of Croatian authors. That contact will definitely be most authentic if — as we strive to — in our journal — the entire diversification of the Croatian literary scene, but also some of the richness of its several centuries' long uninterrupted tradition, could be experienced. Our everyday literary life is characterised by a multitude of — frequently, mutually, poetically and also ideologically opposed phenomena, but we shall, like the Odyssey, resist the siren voices of nonliterary reasons and try to carefully interpret the most valuable in the always new and varied experience of Croatian writers.
And that what — in short — mostly characterises this double issue of Most/The Bridge is an attempt to make it an intersection of literary synchrony and diachrony. Thus, this issue's focus is the poet, essayist, literary critic and theoretician BRANIMIR BOŠNJAK, who has been playing an important role in the Croatian literary life for the last four decades. Then, for example, the translations of the most recent prose of DELIMIR REŠICKI, MIRKO KOVAČ and PAVAO PAVLIČIĆ are included, and — finally — a detailed chronicle of events associated with the five-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great Croatian Renaissance playwright MARIN DRŽIĆ. Why not —therefore — in this (still Postmodernist?) age that is particularly sensitive to diversity (is it also sensitive to the quality of that diversity?) — yield to the literary experience that can take us in mutually very different, but aesthetically equally relevant directions? The directions that might show us that literature is something more than each writer individually, as one of the greatest Croatian poets of all time TIN UJEVIĆ is undoubtedly right in his famous verse: “Ne gordi se! Tvoje misli nisu samo tvoje! One u drugima žive. / Mi smo svi prešli iste putove u mraku, / mi smo svi jednako lutali u znaku / traženja, i svima jednako se dive” (“Do not be haughty! Your thoughts are not exclusively yours! They live in others. / We all trod the same paths in the dark, / we were all equally straying in the sign / of searching, and everybody is equally admired”).
LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION
3 Poetry of VESELKO KOROMAN
7 Poesia de ANDRIJA VUČEMIL
9 PERO PAVLOVIĆ: Was trägt der Dichter in seiner Tasche
11 RUŽICA CINDORI: De la antología poética Ciudad, bosque, isla
15 DELIMIR REŠICKI: The Waste
20 MIRKO KOVAČ: From the novel City in the Mirror
25 PAVAO PAVLIČIĆ: Die literarische Sektion
LITERARY LIFE CWA
33 A. Janković Čikos: CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE AND MEMORY (A report on 29th Zagreb Literary Talks)
35 A PLETHORA OF ACTIVITIES OF THE CROATIAN WRITERS' ASSOCIATION
37 D. Šalat: ANTE STAMAĆ: YOUR AND MY SIGNS
39 THE YEAR OF MARIN DRŽIĆ (J. Rapacka: About Marin Držić + Events in the Year of Marin Držić)
49 D. Miščin: A GIANT OF CROATIAN POETRY (On the Occasion of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Death of Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević)
51 I. Golub: ZAGREBAČKA BIBLIJA (THE ZAGREB BIBLE) IS A MIRACLE (Forty Years Since the Complete Translation of the Bible into Croatian)
54 B. Primorac: IONESCO TO KUŠAN: “YOU HAVE AN AUDIENCE!” (Ivan Kušan - 75th Birthday)
55 D. Jelčić: IN MEMORIAM: ZLATKO TOMIČIĆ
59 A. Stamać: IN MEMORIAM:TOMISLAV LADAN
62 S. Primorac: THE CULTURE OF OBLIVION IN A CROATIAN MANNER
65 S. Begović: A WALK WITH PEBBLES (S. Lovrenčić: The River Must Love the Flood)
66 D. Šalat: THE QUINTESSENCE OF THE POSTMODERNIST APOCALYPTIC STATE OF MIND (G. Benić: A World Without Objects)
68 S. Begović: SURPASSING SPIRITUAL ANAEMIA (B. Zoko: The Red Sea)
69 S. Primorac: THE BOOK OF ALL KOVAČ'S BOOKS (M. Kovač: City in the Mirror)
70 S. Primorac: A WAR NOVEL OF POLYPHONIC STRUCTURE (P. Pavličić: Literary Group)
72 S. Primorac: A GREAT HOMAGE TO IVO ANDRIĆ (J. Mlakić: Following the Track of the Snake's Slough)
73 D. Šalat: CENTURIES OF CROATIAN POETRY IN ONE BOOK (A. Stamać: An Anthology of Croatian Poetry — from Long Ago to the Present Day)
75 Z. Gavran: CHRIST AS A POETIC MOTIF (Christ in Croatian Poetry: From Juraj Šižgorić to the Present Day — An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry, Selected and Edited by V. Lončarević)
77 M. Jurišić: A REALISTIC VIEW OF THE MORE RECENT PROSE PRODUCTION (J. Pogačnik: A Selection of Contemporary Croatian Prose Who Speaks, Who Writes)
78 Đ. Vidmarović: AN IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF LITERARY CRITICISM (I. Matičević: The Space of Freedom: Literary Criticism in the Periodicals of Zagreb, 1941-1945)
80 S. Tuksar: BOOK ABOUT AN INNOVATIVE THINKER IN POETIC THEORY (Lj. Schiffler:Frane Petrić on Poetic Art, A Selection of Texts)
84 V. Begić: BIBLIOGRAPHY, SCIENCE FICTION AND BREVIARY
87 V. Begić: A COMPREHENSIVE AND A QUALITY PUBLICATION (The Journal Riječi)
AWARDS & CONTESTS
89 THE LJUDEVIT JONKE AWARD PRESENTED TO DUŠAN KARPATSKY
90 D. Šalat: YET ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL INTERLIBER BOOK FAIR — THE GREATEST IN CROATIA
THE WORLD OF LITERATURE
91 N. Đuretić: ELECTRONIC BOOKS — A NEW FORM OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION OR MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
94 SEAD BEGOVIĆ: “A POET MUST NOT BE ENTIRELY ISOLATED IN HIS FICTIONAL WORLD”
THIS ISSUE'S FOCUS:
99 A NOTE ON THE AUTHOR
100 Poetry of BRANIMIR BOŠNJAK
103 B. Bošnjak: "EASY AND HARD LITERATURE" - WHAT IS THE LITERATURE OF POSTMODENISM
108 ART AS A GAME OF THE LANGUAGE AND THE WORLD (An Interview with Branimir Bošnjak)
112 BIBLIOGRAPHY, LITERARY AWARDS
113 C. Milanja: SUMMARISED CRITICAL VIEWS ON THE COLLECTIONS OF POETRY OF BRANIMIR BOŠNJAK
CROATIAN AUTHORS AND LITERATURE ABROAD & INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
NEW BOOK RELESES
117 G. Borić: WITH HIS FATHER IN SEARCH OF HIS PASSED TIME (N. Ljubičić: A Homeland Novel or How My Father Became a German)
NEWS ABOUT MIRO GAVRAN
119 NEW SUCCESSES OF THE POPULAR CROATIAN PLAYWRIGHT AND PROSE WRITER
CROATIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE IN THE WORLD
120 SCIENCE OR SOMETHING ELSE? (Discussion about Zorić’s book The Creation of the Nation as a Cultural Lie)
INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIRS
137 G. Borić: CROATIA AT THE INTERNATIONAL FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR
GATHERINGS & FESTIVALS
139 ACTIVITIES OF CROATIAN WRITERS ABROAD
141 CROATIAN WRITERS IN MEXICO
HISTORY OF LITERATURE
143 D. Šalat: LA IMPUGNACIÓN DE LA BIBLIA Y LA IMPUGNACIÓN CON LA BIBLIA EN LA POESÍA DE JANKO POLI? KAMOV
THIS ISSUE’S FOCUS:
A NOTE ON THE AUTHOR
BRANIMIR BOŠNJAK, poet and essayist, was born in Vrbica on November 9th, 1943. He frequented elementary school and the lyceum in Vinkovci and in Zagreb. He studied at the Law School and the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, where he obtained his doctoral degree in 1996 with the thesis on Sever's poetry. He edited numerous journals and magazines, including "Studentski list«, "Polet", "Pitanja", "Republika" and "Most/ The Bridge«. Today he is editor of the drama programme at the Croatian Radio. As most of the members of the flPitanja « generation, Bošnjak, following the previous generation, also first appeared in Croatian literature with the existential analytics, which he will later on still partially keep, although not in the form and range of the "Razlog" generation. However, soon Bošnjak, as well as the entire generation, appears with the radical grammatological turn on the traces of the French post-structuralism and Derrida's critique of logocentrism, which was most consistently applied by Kolibaš. Nevertheless, within the entire generation, Bošnjak is the one most characterised by the essayisation of the poetic discourse, which relates to his emphasised essayistic- critical activity, most often being complementary with poetry and pointing to Bošnjak as a significant essayist and critic of the recent poetic production, especially of the avant-garde movements, which he did not interpret only in the restricted expert way, but also in the wider culturological and sociological context. The mentioned existential concern later enters certain particularities of life practices and speaking activities, mostly in his repressive modes. Considering that in 1970, Bošnjak and Kolibaš together edited the anthology Slovo razlike (the Letter of Difference), it is easy to understand their manifesto in the Lacan-Derridian context, however including the communicational-informational element. Yet, Bošnjak does not follow Kolibaš' scatterness, but orders his poems into more regular formal-morphological groups, not neglecting the thematisation of language, nor the ironical paradox, which aims to different institutions of power. As much as Bošnjak's poetry avoids to be strictly standardised in genre and poetics, it submits its "presentations" in the essayistic discourse, so it can thus be said that his entire collections are in fact one single "essay", which is also confirmed by Nove pjesme [New Poems, 1988). Same applies to Posude za vrijeme (Time Vessels, 1996), one of the most successful collections inspired by the Homeland War, structured on the codes of strategy of the lyrical subject, mode of constellation and the emotive-anthropological utopia.
ONLY IN DEATH
Only in death do I feel I live
Its love bears me
Like a child an unready mother
Mere solicitude is not love
Love differently extends the hand
To close your eyes
Dreaming its dreams in yours
So close are we and no war
Can divide us from ourselves
Only from that are we alive
In death alone do I feel I live
With you I am in every moment
Of your concern: do not care.
Cruel love embraces all
That wished for ever
To close our mouth
Now in death I feel I live.
EVERYWHERE AROUND US
There where there is dying
There is a moment too for living
Are snatched up
And wounds are opened
Dumb like pain
(Remember this oblivion)
Health sprawls out
In the midst of sickness
Fear cheers us on with truth
Brings good news
(Remember this oblivion)
To tea and toast
A little ray of sun
The world is sheer again
Into the dark I send
The images that watch me
While death brings good news
(Try to remember oblivion)
JUST WHEN NOTHING IS HAPPENING
Bent over the wound she looks
How we are in blood
All a bit the same
Blood still tells of passion
Although it comes out of us
In her it is still seen
She sees herself in us
If just a little bit of nothing
Every grain recalls it all
Entire worlds depart
In me is her face
In my blood she bathes her eyes
The entire bloody world
Her tears cannot weep out
While all depart
While all desert me
All blood smells of her
COLLECTOR OF CROCKS
Does death pick through the crocks of life?
The little teapot that I have
Hardly taken hold of
Are we struggling for it?
The little Chinese ultraviolet
Has already gone
Here by some miracle a protractor
The cell phone is turned off
She was used to calling
While she smoothes my damp forehead
On her taciturn mask
I draw the crescent of the new moon
She wants conversation
Someone will die from it
Leave her the head of the table
February 9, 2007
BELOW THE LASHES
All the images are tucked close
One next the other
They merge and by the way converse
Death has reset worlds
Planted in countless memories
Sistine Versailles Uffizi
Has closed my eyes to
What will it with those lads
Who with such vitality
Move with the electrons
Seeing nothing except it All
DRIVEN FROM THE MARKETPLACE
Among the blades of grass we sit
This exile is more to some steppe
Than some model arboretum
Offers a cheek to us, the other hides
Behind the wild fig lurking in the depth
On all sides chlorophyll rubs cheeks
Damped with tears
Serious music moving even
Makes us joyful unto tears
And we are in that part of the garden
From which we may freely exit
By the spear-shaped cacti toxic
Oleanders over which
We can discern the red wine the neighbours relish
Rakishly clinking rims of glasses
And the glasses stream tears of crystal
In a loving cramp of resonant joy
The body shamelessly offers itself
With arms and legs mouth and breasts
Wash the ears and behind the ears!
Already it threatens you: save me!
You have done so much for many,
Do something now for me, your body!
Take me in your arms, tell me a story
Like exclamation mark between
Two sentences of joy
While the grey clouds of smoke
Waft the weary head
There’s no saving us my body
THAT WHICH IS USED
Behind illegible wording some Chinese
Endeavours to engrave reality
It has existed thousands of years by now
Disquiet crumples registered reality
How to know what now with it
What was yesterday what is today
May it laugh with a face without a smile?
May it bite that of yesterday?
May it live tomorrow?
How will now be once
Or perhaps never
Around us whole continents
Revealed, without a future thus
All around the world hides chatting dumbness
Lord, if they pronounce you are caught by the throat
They are pure gleanings a light veil
Hides the worn out faces
While the hungry mouths gulp us
Full of our so very tasty poem
CITY IN TOILS
Something entirely ordinary
In the midst of silence: you don’t speak
Don’t die, it’s ever harder to live
Among those who wake by you
Lean the cold cheek and proffer
Still deeper anxiety
Words have gathered
Wanted to say something
Already depart smiling
Somewhere else to someone
To those who even in grief
Can take pleasure
SOMETHING ABOUT UTOPIA
Unease of conjoined division
Hence its abstraction
It made all things joyful
In disagreement with itself
And yet, the world came somehow
Into diverse hands
So it was said:
The world’s salvation in our hands!
We had to
Hold its maddened ends
Daggers hack only the centre
From which dry blood scatters
Walls incessantly look us
Directly in the eyes
Although there is no guardian
Isolation guards itself
Raises the world into the air
Leaving the deserted
With no place at the table
Forever with no place
As if there never had
Been any such thing:
Some place for useless hope.
A man cannot
Only just step out:
While you walk everything is invisible
Starting from the steps that you
And perhaps not
The reality of the world
Is all increasingly
Striding along with you
Not reality alone
Is somehow lost; when you look
Into the distance
And in it for a moment there is all
And then is nothing
The sun sets
It is not just lost
It lights up nothing any more
And language is
Its mere keeping quiet
AMONG EYES THAT HAVE SEEN EVERYTHING
I wished to beguile the world so I too
Beguiled and unwounded could reach the very
From which the eye sees death and bread
And feels the hunger that they do not quench:
Bring me a bit of self, the moment
That they bend above the face suddenly is incised
In all this acquired freedom
They talk so many languages
At the very bottom rings the tongue of heart
Nobody assumes the blame
And all are in the jubilant parade
She remembers all the difference of the world
But, ungrateful I have forgotten all
Rubbed out all that eye understands
When it says: you see me!
We are nothing at all with a view
Lean over open eyes and you shall see
The dark depths of the shaft, make it transparent
And drink it with every glass of water
So everyone can on its own side
Live, drink a glass of water
Still she wiped away the sweet love confirming tear
From lips that take the bitter portion sighing
Her happy face already lit with brand new love
In an instant passes over oceans of storms and in
Danger surrenders herself completely
To new love
In her mighty ray
A sparrow bathes in summer dust
Love owes nothing anyone
Lives on its own interest spending
The principal of others’ hearts
Here we like penurious beggars
Beg it to take our all and
Sweep our sense away with it
Lest we should count that gain
][ Translated by Graham McMaster
“EASY AND HARD LITERATURE”1
— WHAT LITERATURE IS
by Branimir Bošnjak
Great influence on the formation of literary practice of the second half of the twentieth century in Croatian literature was enjoyed by “stylistic changes” that occurred not only, as Solar2 explains, through deviation from imposed and often indoctrinating forms of writing, but also as an attempt at finding new ways of reaching the readers by “more direct” or, in the literary sense, even non-literary means. Together with the authority of the model of the Zagreb School of interpretation, which had only just gained recognition in European circles, the literary theorist was confronted with the question of its decomposition and marginalization as well as the ever more strongly posed question of the essence of literary reception. The drama of this problem amplifies even further the question put to literary theory concerning its “rights to appropriate an arbitrary role in the creation and dissemination of value judgments about contemporary literary practice and its interpretations.” As Ante StamaE warns us, these are, of course, not judgments about the “readability” of a literary work, but rather the relevance of its “poetic structuredness and conformity to specified principles,” which derive from rhetorical, esthetic, communications, and semiotic systems. StamaE concludes that “If something is the theory of literature, then that something is the theory of literary works!” (A. StamaE, Ranjivi opis sustava / The vulnerable description of systems, 1996)
The process of the “secularization of literary practices” of the sort which is actually provoked by the history of the literary avant-garde and a separation from literary science that attempts to explain the systems of evolving literary worlds as a part of its philosophical or analytical goals, gives way to a “fall into theoretical pluralism and a type of theoretical barbarism.” The impression of “theoretical anarchy” still prevailed in Croatian literature of the 1960s, which fed the expansion and blooming of criticism of this interesting form of symbiosis of emerging literary practices and “mentorship” of criticism. However, this was not any great novelty, because the critics and their schools were a kind of pedagogy of avant-garde processes, and soon every emerging practice either created or was initiated from pedagogical and critics’ enclaves. The emerging state of crumbling literary practice and its conceptualist shaping by subsequent critical “wittiness” was assessed (D. Cvitan, A. Šoljan, and others) as “the unnatural metastasizing of criticism at the expense of literary practice.” Literary criticism in the ensuing crisis of the theory of literature and its interpretative separation became a substitute for theoretical interpretation, and soon promoted the structure of literary work, regardless of its value, to a sort of “theory of literature.” As the process of separating literary practice from philosophical-ideological sponsorship occurred in an accelerated fashion, it would be useful to subtly observe what actually happens when one uses the existing literary “glossary,” with its application, and with its interpretation by the prevailing current of literary criticism. Part of the confusion is certainly due to the original ignorance and the superficial naming of the emerging literary “streams” by the first available conceptual terms. However, part of the emerging critical practice still attempts at indirectly “hiding” sources, which shows and attempts a sort of domestication of new concepts, but within such an emerging space of “legalization” they realize often different literary and literary-theoretical goals.
If we enter more systematically into the researched paradoxes of the writing of postkrugova?i (i.e., Croatian authors who were writing after the literary journal Krugovi stopped publication in 1958), we notice at least two powerful streams in Croatian poetry at that time. Part of the razloga?ka stream (i.e., authors associated with the literary journal Razlog, published in the 1960s), conditionally speaking, attempts to create “hard literature” in collusion with current philosophical thinking, and it also carries out the great task of “purging” Croatian poetry and literature of its then “emotional stereotypes” and hypertrophy of emotional metaphors. But “poetry in blue jeans” (to use Flaker’s term for prose!) seemingly attempts to do the opposite: to create a communicational collusion with the readership by using a toneddown variety of urban slang. MajetiE’s and Majdak’s poems function in synergetic collusion with the emerging media innovations and popular music, film, and the innovated stereotype of the poetic hero as the “dudes from the street.”3 Thus, we have different forms of “hard” and “easy” literature, which show how specified “foundation concepts” in literary practice begin to move, covering an ever broader field of meaning. I would say that literary discussions are practically spread by some kinds of literary-theoretical analogies and that a part of the task of some possible cultural “comparative history of literature” is perhaps precisely the attempt to identify the broadening of the space of particular concepts and the verification of the possible original fundamental meanings. It was not completely by accident that I mentioned analogy as a form that in its own way is woven into thus organized thinking about postmodernism and its effects. Solar demonstrates that Lyotard’s interpretation is mainly used for analogical comparisons, explaining in the same way the resulting difference not only in taste, but also in artistic practice. Precisely because of “analogical reading,” the emerging literary practices “discover” answers in the emerging postmodernism. Solar uses irony somewhat ironically, citing the need of postmodernism to identify exactly its own “beginning” — for example, with the demolition of a certain “modern” building — and thus to exactly determine the initial status of an emerging novelty. I am referring to Solar’s citation of a book by Charles Jencks about postmodern architecture:
“Let me remind you, said Jencks, that modern architecture died on 15 June 1972 at 3:32 p.m., when the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, which had been built in the 1950s by Minoru Yamasaki, was demolished. The project was torn down because, after a long process, the city government decided that it was so ridden with crime and poverty that there was no point in preserving it. As it is well known that the entire project was built according to all the principles of modern architecture, it is clear that the notion of the entirety of modern architecture, with all of its ideas about functional living and appropriate conditions of life, was in a specific way ‘physically’ brought to an end.” One epoch was finished, writes Solar, and another began. In fact, one should even quote part of Solar’s praise: “For me, the important thing here is Jencks’s fundamental way of speaking about postmodernism because, first of all, I consider it to be striking because of its explicit use of metaphors; secondly, I think that it is consistent, because regardless of the fact that it broadly elaborates the problems and that it is also based on other assumptions, it explicitly follows the logic of the initial thesis; and third, I think it is well-defined, because in one artistic field it clearly applies the procedures of so-called occurrent history.” (Milivoj Solar, Laka i teška književnost, 1995).
One could imagine how “postmodernism” uses analogy so that it does not strengthen virtual “reception”: attempting to present itself as an emerging art that practically shares common features and has important points of contact (which, in fact, is not even disputable!) with the previous art. Finally, analogy is a favorite and critical methodological paradigm of the comparative study of literature. However, if we use Solar’s example from architecture, by offering the proximity of analogy and the authenticity of comparative literature, postmodernism in this case emerges from “ruins”: analogy suddenly becomes the relationship between reality and its postmodern projection, between “modernism” and “postmodernism”. The exactness of the architects indicates the part of the model that postmodernism would use in literature, attempting to achieve the perfect “mapping of reality by the emerging text” and the replacement of the text with replaceable repetitiveness as well as the replacement of the entire literature with “that which emerges as a transition into textual reality. Lyotard (now let’s make use of his interpretations) explains how the collapse of the “social relationship” and the transition of “social communities into a mass consisting of individual atoms... caught by Braun’s absurd movement” actually hides another great danger: and not without reason, in the very place where he explains the analogical “defense” of postmodernism, Lyotard asserts that the emerging chaos of the masses essentially hides the absurd impulse toward an idea of “some lost ‘organic’ society”. That society is in fact the original opponent of postmodernism and the “mythical” hindrance of its task of “adding to the world.”
Let us remember: the central structural principle, established through the practice of historical avantgardes is above all the status of innovation, the ultimate novelty, as a crucial, and in my mind permanent, category. This is how the peculiar oxymoron of the avant-garde was created: constant, radical innovation and change became associated with continuity and eternity. It is a change which constantly “subverts” the world of literature because only in that way will it challenge reality itself. “The continuity of change,” innovations remains for literature some kind of bare sign in its avant-garde and post-avantgarde period. The “globalization” of the innovational fund of the avant-garde as its main feature — again by analogy — attempts to represent itself as a certain position of “fluid science”. It is significant that innovation becomes central “institution” of modernity by losing “privacy” of the procedure and the “author’s” connection with the emerging literary work. Innovational writing as a constant subversion of the existing sense becomes a planetary principal. When Baudrillard writes about capital and its virtual circulation around the planet, pointing out its planetary faithfulness, one should by analogy observe the sources of the globalizational planetarization of avant-garde innovation. The conviction that the avantgarde is a part of the utopian engineering of the creation of the “new world” is only a part of the simplified truth: the avant-garde appears as the more qualified and more conscious part of the utopian project, until revolutionary realism throws it back into the ghetto of literary practice. However, through “utopian analogy” and radicalism, avant-garde (literary) practice itself has shown that in the creation of a new world, everything goes. Therefore, Solar’s assertion that “Russian formalism was first to reject the need for philosophy when dealing with literature”4 is accompanied by a bitter taste that ideologized philosophy (e.g., socrealism) deprived literature of its right to have literature at its disposal (autonomy of literature!) and made the alienation in question symbolic but also final.
However, as we are still in a world of observing analogies, let us simply say this: that which is most sublime — human knowledge and its beauty — resides closest to chaos and the downfall of humanity. Is it not true that the author whom Solar rightfully cites in his introduction is in fact Kant, who sees the fate “of sensoriality of moral ideas” in the fact that beauty must make them sensorial, illuminating them with the light of ingenious synthesis5 (is that not a grotesque analogy of that which attempts to create, among other things, socrealism?). By simplifying things, are we not always searching for a choice that, as Kant mentions, conforms to the idea that in beauty we see a symbol of moral good and that its power to reunify the dispersed world and its human heritage is constantly leading us toward the very edge of fatal choices? Or does a power choose a form of beauty by means of which, enshrouded as in a magic veil, it awe-inspiringly rules the world and leads it to a state of dependent irresponsibility? Only in this way does the individual suddenly appear as “the everything”, and even more than that, the individual “symbolizes reality as a whole” and makes it practically superfluous, because it presents itself as “everything” which is also the one and “only”, bearing the right (albeit spent) to “constancy of innovation and the new.” With invariability, there is also a danger that the discourse of the world, life, and death may change.
For, obviously we are not only talking about how an author is making his way through the forest, or rather, through a “thunderous noise” of different opinions in order to show us that it is actually made up of noble and “sublime trees”. However, this no longer suits the “spirit of emerging novelties”, so Solar cites Lyotard’s assessment that “our time is characterized by an abandonment of the need for great final syntheses,”6 and therefore, the entire form of the theory of literature as a form is rejected or used as a path leading toward the analysis of “knowledge” as language in which it is assumed that all statements are equal.
The poetry of linguistic concretism or forms of prose that explore the wealth of language as a selfsufficient form reject the theoretical base and — through mere practice, if I am not mistaken — attempt to organize a form of “linguistic game” that could by enigmatic means become an analogy to “the game of the world”.7 Solar discretely warns us of the impossibility of a theory to grasp that which negates science, and the only theoretical base he accepts is that which is linguistic. That becomes a reason for the annulment of choice and the constant supplementation of the selected array of representative literary works. Linguistic games are actually acceptable forms of “simulated reality” in order to point out the importance of “the only Individual”, which accepts all ornaments and thoughts, while giving nothing of itself in return. To paraphrase Camus’s Breton, utopia as revolution and radical change “felt obliged to create some sort of order, although it initially dreamt only about the destruction of the entire world” and, I would say, its new beginning. Therefore, postmodernism is perhaps a form of that deceptive introduction of “order into chaos” which emerged from the fact that “the real world became the process of creation”, as stated by Albert Camus in The Rebel, in so far that language remained its last resort. The ultimate individualism crowned itself with ideologized collectivism, which, as Pierre Naville would say, persisted in its intention to escort man to his downfall, trying to make it at least useful!
Postmodernism attempts to replace the “objective correlative” with the “spiritual state” and therefore gives up on literary-theoretical evaluation, founding its basic occupation on its own literary production and its global dissemination. Habermas rightly mentions that the emerging postmodernism behaves as philosophy without seeking any affirmation outside of itself.8 The absurdity of sameness warns us of the danger of equating the values of different cultures and, instead of critical reflection, it offers the social correctness of false egalitarianism.
But it is not my intention here to trace all of the dilemmas of literary-theoretical dealings in the postmodern practice of writing that Solar lists, but to point out that the author arrives at the pragmatic conclusion that “the dispute over the spiritual state of the epoch must . . . agree to move on two levels: on one level it should follow the feelings and thoughts contained in the greatest cultural accomplishments, and on another level it should talk about everyday life.”9
It seems to me that Solar rightly warns us about the diffuseness of the offered definition, which no longer even attempts to “erase from the slate everything civilizationally done until then” and start from the beginning, but rather sees the world as space inhabited by texts which, referring to each other, are constantly filling the possible cracks or empty spaces and thus conceal the possibility of its “beginning” and “end”. Postmodernism in some simplified way actually is supplementation, some kind of redundancy, a textual charade which through constant supplemental writing creates a certain analogy of the world !10
Lyotard touches upon the question of genesis and therefore postmodernism does not have, as Solar observes, only “artistic pretensions”. The critical question here is not the question of the “collapse of great Narrations” and its consequences in the “automatization of society” and the individual, but rather the principle which the historical avant-garde did not use so directly as the social perfect, as much as the desirable, utopian future. Lyotard, in the end, mentions that even the audience of postmodernism is perhaps concealed, “befogged by a celestial play about some lost organic society,” as opposed to one in which the emerging “communicational wheel” offers to everyone with even the smallest human fate the opportunity to participate in a system that can be reduced to the problem of language and “linguistic games”.11 The new world has already been created and postmodernism uses the induced fatigue of great Narrations in order to intensify oblivion. Oblivion is in its mythical and “organic” sources actually more dangerous for the communicational brittle structure that postmodernism offers as virtual vigilance. A world of so-called “natural reality” “threatens” with the possibility of reaching some differently based “reality”.
Through reflection and theorizing, Solar sought ways in which not to destroy, but to renew and sharpen our insight into inflated literary practice, even when it openly refutes the possibility of its own evaluation. Therefore, Predavanja o lo?em ukusu (Lectures about bad taste, 2004) shows that Solar as an author “gives himself up” to the emergent “barbarism”, while remaining open he attempts to make knowledge a challenge, even in a period of its complete negation! “Parallel theories of literature” do not “only” engage in dialogue, but also wage real “war”, both in reality and in fiction, while the theory refutes literature, stating that the reality of its “construct” is an artificial formation and attempts to affirm priority or at least the right to the emerging world of “theoretical practice”. Thus emerges the multitude of microstructures that become a “theoretical preparation” and which do not reach the level and fate of a “work of literature”. Indeed, it seems as if earlier features of literature, for example, “the power of innovation and recreation”, are taken over by criticism and literary theory,12 while the planetariness of the innovatory as a modus of change, is replaced by its general virtuality, by the wish that postmodernism “tame” the vast “field of history” (if we are talking about history) or “theoretically pacify” both “man as such” and “reality as such”.13 The deconstruction of the system of “values” made everything in the conclusion of postmodernism more and more “valueless” or “of equal value” (as Solar ironically states!).
However, one cannot say that Solar is not engaged with these dilemmas or that he does not overtly express them. In The Philosophy of Literature, he points out the fact that “the notion of literature being a form of art... neither makes evident modern literary production, nor is it confirmed by scientifically oriented poetics -- nor can it be justified by esthetics.” He thus introduces the process of evaluation and verification of “traditional foundations” of literature.14 However, even more important, his statement that every investigation of literature reaches the turning point “which requires a decision: either scholarly studiousness, with restriction of interests, or a wide range of interests with a loss of any systematicity”. The nature of this decision is understood by every contemporary scholar, and it is his decision upon which the paths of the future theory of literature are determined.
][ Translated by Alexander Hoyt
ART AS A GAME
OF THE LANGUAGE
AND THE WORLD
“Between Writing and Power, Art Chooses Experiment,
Apolitical Views and Non-Didactic Methods,
Working on the Textuality of the Body and Objects”
by Davor Šalat
Most][The Bridge: Mr Bošnjak, you — very early on — “absorbed” Poststructuralist theoretical trends, particularly those that rely on French theoreticians. How did you then, already at the end of the 1960s, experience what was later to be considered as the beginning of the “Postmodernist state”?
Branimir Bošnjak: The Croatian poetry of the twentieth century already recorded a certain “parallelism” between poetic traditions and modernisms (JEŽIĆ) as a characteristic that vaguely defines the Croatian poetic practice. The poets associated with the literary journal Krugovi (Circles) in the 1950s (ANTUN ŠOLJAN, IVAN SLAMNIG) initiated a process of osmosis between the tradition and modernity in a new manner, choosing the Eliotian form of “individual modernisation of traditions”, while the poets associated with the literary journal Razlog (Reason) in the 1960s (ANTE STAMAĆ, VJERAN ZUPPA, and VLADO GOTOVAC) attempted at uniting the poet and the philosopher, elevating the poet above the triviality of the everyday, but also above the mere ideological “tasks”. The writers associated with the journal Pitanja (Questions, 1968-1974), coming from different sides of the realised poetic practices, silently “adopted” the grammatological shift as possibly the only remaining “subversive” poetic textualness that would unmask writing as a form of the constant renewal of logocentrism. The logocentric subject — as the constant producer of the world's false “sense”, “progress”, the model of the organisation of the society, ideology — must “make way” to the world. The common basis of the then efforts of the poets who associated with the journal Pitanja is the deconstruction of the existing context of the “hostile cooperation” of ideological “utopias”: the technological utopia of the West and the ideological utopia of the gulag, which “occupied” the right to the only interpretation of the world/language, in order to constantly keep it in the power of the self-renewing interpretation.
][: How and when did the first Croatian journal that promoted Poststructuralist theories and the literary practice of Pitanja emerge? What were the basic conceptual guidelines of the journal whose first editor was you?
B.B.: The journal emerges in a time of an unbearable bipolarism in the world: the tragedy of the Vietnam war, but also the strengthening of the anti-war movements in the United States, with the simultaneous Soviet suppression of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia and JAN PALACH's setting himself on fire in protest. It illuminates the European student movements of 1968 and their demand for a society that would turn the massive resources for destruction to the benefit of creating, and eventually, also, in the direction of the projects on the “society as a work of art”. From the texts — ranging from literary to sociological — by the contributors to the journal, it is noticeable that the intention is not a mere criticism of the existent, but the deconstruction of the basis of the renewability of the fully expended ideological sense which hangs over as the transcendentally signified, renewing always the same matrix of possessing the interpretation of the logocentric element. We should mention a productive osmosis of the socalled Tel Quel theoretical thought (SOLLERS, KRISTEVA, BAUDRY, GOUX) with all objections to their “theoretical terrorism”, but also DERRIDA, LACAN, as well as MARCUSE, S. SONTAG, and AXELOS. The central interest of the journal is, on the one hand, the sociological record of the state of the society, while on the other, the “search” of the creation of the logocentric matrix of the language/sense, writing and power, the deconstruction of the basis of the might of the language in power of the logocentric ideologies. DARKO KOLIBAŠ and IVAN ROGIE NEHAJEV, together with numerous poets associated with the journal Pitanja, initiated the theme of the body as a subject of writing/speech, with which they, in fact, cut the oxygen supply to the renewal of logocentrism which would dictate the restricted space of the literary matrix. Between “writing and power”, art chooses experiment, apolitical views and non-didactic methods, working on the textuality of the body and objects, in order to summon the traces of its own history and make a certain “inventory” of the eschatology of redemption. The art that emerges is a certain game of the language and the world, inscribing one's own mark, creating and suppressing “history”, making room for the Other.
][: What was the status of the deconstructionist thought and the journal Pitanja itself in the context of the official socialist ideology and the social system of the former Yugoslavia?
B.B.: The bipolar scene of the world and the then position of the non-alignment of the former state used the principle of “positive criticism” in order to preserve the power over the ideological discourse and, by increasingly using the mass media and the so-called “mass culture”, aimed at preserving its own status of an ideological arbiter. The journal Pitanja would not ideologically “align” itself, it was against ideology. That very position, at the same time, exposed it to the criticism of being “hermetic”, while, at the same time, that “hermetic characteristic” was tried to be used as a certain kind of ideologemic remnant. Let us not forget that in 1971 the Croatian Spring Movement was also suppressed and with it, also, the hopes in the possible reform of the ideological state. During that period, one issue of the journal was banned owing to the interview on gerontocracy as a form of petrifying the society.
][: Your poetry was also being created in the ambience of deconstruction, fragmentisation of the sense, “the trifles of the everyday”, namely the expendable reality, and the establishing of the body as, at the same time, the subject and object of writing. To what extent have you, therefore, detached from the existential orientation of the poetry of the 1960s, and to what extent is a consistent deconstruction mitigated by the still powerful role of the lyrical subject and its existentialist “incident”?
B.B.: The two first books Sve što nam prilazi (Everything That Approaches Us) and Trošenje maske (Using Up the Mask) are a certain combination of the themes of defeat, desolation and textualisation of history, its deconstruction as it is detached from the body but is trying to shape its fate. Thus, the world is, in fact, not only a certain stereotype, but it has been used up and has continued to watch over the “property” like a certain fictional form. But, that fictionality of the world continues the production of ideologems, so that the society is merely the society of masks, masked bodies. Thus, the book Gimnastičar u pidžami (The Gymnast in Pyjamas) uses the fictional subject of the body, and in order to avoid the property, it textualises some of the investments that the body “temporarily possesses”: freedom, the power of breathing, erotic narcissism, wish for the Other. I see the unbearable reality, but a paradoxical “inauthenticity of the world” as the central theme of the book SemantiËka gladovanja (Semantic Starvations). Nove pjesme (New Poems), in fact, announces the return of the world of fiction, of “history”, anticipating that it would happen through a war, as it is only through a war that an ideological stereotype can “win possession” over reality. The book Posude za vrijeme (Receptacles for Time) is an epilogue of that wrestling of the body with the vampire-like revenge of the master of logocentrism. The poems of SusaËke razlednice (The Postcards of Susak) are a postwar announcement that Postmodernism finally gained the right to use fiction, intertextuality and citation, as a certain owner of the developing discount of goods and robots, the trifles of everyday life! It is the only one in the times of the world economy and fiscal crisis that can fill the empty barns of banks and stock exchanges. Logocentrism is the core of the power that is renewed by the constant vampire-like return of the “saviours of the world” who maintain it as a trifle of a joyful victim, convinced that it is rescued. The book of poems Svrhe malih stvari (Purposes of Small Things) will be published soon. It is a kind of short messaging system from that virtual world of reality, which is the “reset death”. Isn't this an interesting, short reinterpretation of my poems?
][: Has your relationship with the world and the language, with poetry, gradually evolved or have there been more considerable poetic turning points?
B.B.: Nowadays, the poet has become the owner of the entire space — a large space of entire blankness (on paper, on the computer) which he can, to a certain point, textualise by sewing “to his own size”, or by modestly dealing with “ready-made clothes”, but the consequence of the deconstructionist cut precisely refers to the fact that again everything has to be written! Not only “can it be written”, but exactly in the way I explained.
][: Your poetry has increasingly, especially since the 1990s, gained essayistic characteristics, but lately you have increasingly turned to verse and a more compact lyrical voice. What has caused the above mentioned poetic amplitudes? How have you actually experienced the poetic expression lately?
B.B.: The essay and the prose poem — apart from the Postmodernist trivialisation of the classical poetic forms — will be a certain sign of the time, yet we — who are writing in it — are not the readers of this time. Essays, and scholarly texts (such as my books Modeli moderniteta / Models of Modernity; or Pisanje i moE / Writing and Power; Aanrovi audnje / The Genres of Lust ; Aanrovske prakse hrvatske proze / The Genre Practices of Croatian Prose) are always in accord with new poetics: writing precisely on the models of writing, I tried to indicate that they were essentially determinate in the creation of “new emotionality” and “new sensitivity” (as writing is in fact the reading into and the revealing of model nuclei of the practices of writing that have offered us the formation matrix that has not been entirely “developed”). In the same way in which ELIOT said about DANTE that he could not be fully understood without the world view that surrounded and created him, I would like to say that writing nowadays is entwined with granulated microcosms; thus, a certain kind of bubbly shuffle is a sign of the constant local liveliness that is continuously reflected in the short-lived mirror of the globalised moment. Writers are constantly some Others, so that the lyrical or the writer's I is seemingly hidden from the reader, but at the same time, it experiences its renewal as a globalised particle which is adopted by the virtual mechanism of consumerism. Therefore, nowadays, microscopes are needed in order to discover the size of the danger of writing!
][: What were some of the main collections of your essays and what were their chief preoccupations? To what extent did they establish the permeation of social, theoretical and literary processes?
B.B.: I have already mentioned some of my books, and almost all of them tried to follow writing as a revolutionary, revealing, liberating practice that offers the reader insights into new worlds, or at least an insight into the one that surrounds us.
][: Apart from being a poet, essayist, literary critic and editor, you are also a literary scholar. What diachronic segments of literary work have you particulary analysed and how would you describe your theoretical approach to those literary phenomena?
B.B.: I think that I have already discovered my own “theoretical approach” to literary phenomena, which I, first and foremost, understand as an irreplaceable textual mark, as Antun ©oljan said, “Icarus with mired wings”, which not only try to reach the heights, but they also incidentally carry the “earthly shackles”, probably in order to get burned by the heights.
][: How do you, as a powerfully present participant in the contemporary Croatian literary scene, see its present intensity, size and quality? What would you, as particularly worthy, single out in that scene?
B.B.: I think that the general assessment is: the textual quality, a variety of genres, a lively exchange of procedures and prose and poetic models, the virtualisation and permeation of literature with the new media (primarily with computer and internet spaces), trivialisation, renouncing mentorship, and I would agree with the literary historian and theoretician CVJETKO MILANJA and his shrewd prognosis: “If nothing else, with Postmodernism, the Other entered the scene without discrimination, in spite of and 'only' in discourses upon practices.”
][: It is interesting that you, as a years-long collaborator of the Drama Programme of the Croatian Radio, ardently promoted the Croatian radio drama that has been and remained the most award-winning part of Croatian literature abroad.
B.B.: Radio drama is a fundamental part of the Croatian literary practice. Šoljan's radio drama “čovjek koji je spasio Nizozemsku” (“The Man Who Saved the Netherlands”) has been translated into some twenty world languages, has been performed around the world and heard by an audience of a million people. But it is not an exception: ZVONIMIR BAJSIĆ created the world famous Zagreb School of Documentary Radio Drama. The radio drama is an important connection with the prose work of SLOBODAN NOVAK, VOJISLAV KUZMANOVIĆ, IVAN SLAMNIG, MATE MATIŠIĆ, IVAN VIDIĆ, FILIP ŠOVAGOVIĆ, as well as many others who have — during the last several decades — won more than thirty international awards at world festivals. The drama programme prepares annually some two hundred premieres, and the listening audience is several times larger than the viewers of all performances of Croatian theatres! This enormous work is carried out by some twenty dramaturgists, directors, recording engineers and hundreds of actors of Croatian theatres. With its innovativeness and openness to the world and to the Croatian listener, the Drama Programme of the Croatian Radio is definitely a phenomenon of creative vitality that can — let us hope — survive all the media challenges.
"Sve što nam prilazi" — poems, 1969
"Slovo razlike" — esseys, coauthor, 1969
"Trošenje maske" — poems, 1974
"Pisanje i moć" — esseys, 1977
"Demon žudnje" — teatrical esseys, 1977
"Gimnastičar u piđami" — poems, 1978
"Potrošeni govor" — esseys, 1980
"Ubili so ga z opekami" — antology of Croatian avantgard poetry; Franci Zagoričnik, epilogue, 1981
"Apokalipsa avangarde" — esseys, 1982
"Semantička gladovanja" — poems, 1983
"Zlatno književno runo" — poems, 1983
"Nove pjesme" — poems, 1988
"Proizvodnja života" — esseys, selection by Cvjetko Milanja, 1988
"Sječivo za nevine" — poems, selection by Branko Maleš, 1989
"Hrvatsko pjesništvo u ratu 1991/1992" — panorama, magazine "Dometi", 1992
"Dom i tekst" — eseji, 1993
"Hrvaška bojna 1991/92" — panorama, coauthor with Franci Zagoričnik, magazine "Borec", 1994
"Posude za vrijeme" — poems, 1996
"Modeli moderniteta" — Science project for the Masters degree in Croatian literature, 1998
"Susačke razglednice" — poems, 2001
"Smrt između programa" — selection of poems, 2001
“Čarobni prostor mašte i dokumenata” — on Radio-Drama Works, 2004
"Žanrovi žudnje" — esseys on theatre, radio-drama and culture, 2005
"Žanrovske prakse hrvatske proze" — esseys on Croatian literature, 2007
“Znanstveno djelo prof. dr. sc. Milivoja Solara” — Miscellany of Papers on Different Ideas and Functions of Literature, 2006
”Svrhe malih stvari” — poems, 2008
1974 — CITY OF ZAGREB AWARD
1983 — TIN UJEVIĆ AWARD OF THE CROATIAN WRITERS' ASSOCIATION
1989 — VLADIMR NAZOR AWARD
2003 — JOSIP AND IVAN KOZARAC AWARD for lifetime achievement
2005 — DUHOVNO HRAŠĆE AWARD for lifetime achievement
][ Translated by N. N.
ON THE COLLECTIONS OF POETRY
OF BRANIMIR BOŠNJAK
by Cvjetko Milanja
SVE ŠTO NAM PRILAZI
(EVERYTHING THAT APPROACHES US, 1969)
Already in this selection of poetry, BRANIMIR BOŠNJAK offers poems that with their metaphorical, but not essayistic, expression develop a perspective on a different world — this here is a natural essence, while later it is a social one — and the possibilities of uniting with and protecting that world (“Ludi vjetar” / “Crazy Wind”) — the world that should be monitored and that is the antithesis of the first that gives testimony to disaster. Furthermore, Bošnjak, yet again merely by hinting, outlines the theme of the body — the capital theme in the concept of the poetry of the poets associated with the journal Pitanja (Questions), but different with every individual poet (KOLIBAŠ, ROGIĆ NEHAJEV, MAKOVIĆ, MANOJLOVIĆ). Writing opens to “everything” — which is why one can subconsciously recognise the strategy of taxonomy — but not yet to Austinian and Searlean speech acts that will later give primacy to the body. For the time being, here, the Voice still has primacy. However, the body is smuggled into the search, wandering, and it will be Rogić’s obsession (for instance, straying) thus providing the trace and search, and not the Truth, the Place, the Presence, and the Voice (“Kako” / “How”, “Još jednom o mojoj radoznalosti” / “Once More on My Curiosity”, and almost the entire last cycle, after which the collection, indicatively, was named).
(USING UP THE MASK, 1974)
The collection offers the remnants of the primary existentialist analysis, but the poems are formally, in stanza, and in verse, more regular, and semantically more coherent. The collection also offers the awareness of the concrete and objective, in fact of the corporeality of the world, which was the discovery of the poets associated with the journal Pitanja. They no longer write on that corporeality only as a phenomenological reduction of appearance, when the description of that appearance would be important as, for instance, in the early DRAGOJEVIĆ, but also as a possibility of the signifier’s “masking” — “interweaving”, in which their Wittgensteinean trace is positive, while their Lacanean is in the work of the “language and/as the unconscious” (MILANJA). Fragmentariness is obvious, but it does not refer to the “reflection” of the reality of the world. The poets associated with the journal Pitanja, as well as Bo?njak, already then had discovered pragmatism and reality, but they did not merely “take photographs” as they had more theoretical knowledge and awareness of the signifiers. The category of everyday expendability of existence stems from that reality. Therefore, the concrete motives that “enter” the corporeality, to a great extent, disempowered the metaphysical position, significant for the earlier groups. The extent to which the poetic discourse became the speech from the corporeality was the extent to which the theoretical-scholarly masking of projection was missing, while the speech of the biological-vitalistic gesture of experience and events was increasingly manifested.
GIMNASTIČAR U PIĐAMI
(THE GYMNAST IN PYJAMAS, 1978)
Gimnastičar u piđami will confirm some of the discoveries and realise them at the level of the pragmatic “everyday trifles”. There are no pretensions to the entirety of the sameness and the truth, but to the fragment, irony, infantilization, the deconstruction of Logos, System, Apparatus, Centrum. It is what Bošnjak does differently from Kolibaš. While the latter is the only true and literal advocate of DERRIDA and LACAN — which means that his starting point is the language, the signifier, and that he primarily breaks the language, Bošnjak’s starting point is together with the language. Furthermore, that means that with Kolibaš nothing exists but the language (in other words, it is what he would like), there is no world “before” the language. However, with Bošnjak, there is a world, and he in fact “describes” the “meeting” of the world and the language in which they happen, both of them, but more the world, in their stages “before” and “after” Poststructuralism (The Same, One — The Difference, the Other). The erotic and the ironical here determine the deep blueprint for the world. This permits the subject self- irony, particularly from his position of an outsider. That position, at the same time, permits him to criticise the above mentioned logic of the System: of the world, of history, of the society, and their corresponding enlightenment, culture and the language.
(SEMANTIC STARVATIONS, 1983)
On the occasion of the book Semantička gladovanja, professional critics noticed again that Bošnjak earned his reputation more with his literary-critical and theoretical work than with verse (KOVAČ). We have seen that he is with these harmoniously and creatively complete. Namely, Bošnjak possesses the awareness of the development and expendability of literature and poetic concepts, and he — in accord with the Wittgenstanean attitude of the poets associated with the journal Pitanja — significantly purified the poetic language from the excessive, non-transparent and overused metaphor, and, furthermore, reduced the representation and interpretation of reality to the potentials of the language, as opposed to Kolibaš who also, with the language, wanted to “go beyond” the language. Bošnjak’s effort lies in stating that the language/world is greatly emptied of meanings, and, what is more, of complete, full, conventional meanings on the part of the “owner” of reality, as well as on the “other”, literary side, on the part of the “owner” of literary concepts. The world simply continues to function without meaning and it should be — literarily and poetically — described and presented as such.
(NEW POEMS, 1988)
It has been emphasized that the collection Nove pjesme is a synthesis, but the collection also possesses one relevant novelty. The synthesis implies that the poems also acknowledge the sphere of the theoretical mind and that they use essayistic expressions, that they renew certain earlier author’s thematic preoccupations, particularly existentialist disputability that was filtered by the avant-garde poetic experience. However, the emphasis now is on the ethical dimension of the world, and this is where the novelty of this collection is obvious. This is related to the subject’s social being and his activity. As opposed to the previous collections — in which Bo?njak insisted on understanding the language as non-otherness — these poems also preserve part of the poetic legacy of the poets associated with the journal Pitanja. However, the author does not radicalise this legacy, but provides examples from the thematic horizon, uses the essayistic discourse and the position of the subject that is no longer narcissistically selfsatisfied, or only analytically rational, but confessedly melancholic. That is — I would like to emphasize — a fundamental novelty of Bošnjak’s lyrical subject/narrator, and it will be increasingly manifested in the collections that follow.
POSUDE ZA VRIJEME
(RECEPTACLES FOR TIME, 1996)
On the one hand, the four cycles of this collection, so to say, “explain” it, while on the other, they create a coherent and closed unity. However, it should be noted that the collection is built upon the poems in free verse, the prose poems — which will also be characteristic of Susačke razglednice (The Postcards of Susak) — and, even more, micro essays that define the framework of the collection. That micro-essayistic property “betrays” the emotional and protesting status of the lyrical narrator, which is, to a certain extent, psychologically understandable. Thus, the collection is a certain combination in the formative and morphological sense. Regarding that level, it has been stressed that the book is not just an ordinary sum of a defined number of poems, but a coherently created unity, which is why — in that sense — we can “compare” it to a long poem or an epic. The book allows it also with another structural plane, in other words, with primary thematic focuses as well as a deep, genotypical layer. The book is that even with the dominant stylistic flavour, i.e. with the pathos of the threatened subject before death and the indifference of the world (the West), therefore, with the noble surprise before the emptied human values. As the poems emerged during the Croatian Homeland War — together with the pathos and disappointment at the lack of humanity and the bankruptcy of morality — on which the western-European civilisation and culture was based — they gained a foothold in the concrete social and historical reality as well as in the author’s personal (private) experience. A clash — the war — (in certain social and historical circumstances) the clash of reality — as a product of the political practice and its autarchical, imperialist and totalitarian mind — with the basic moral, ethical, anthropological and artistic sphere of the cultural and civilised model that should be promoted by the political mind — resulted in a kind of stratification that Bošnjak describes in his collection.
(THE POSTCARDS OF SUSAK, 2001)
In a certain sense, this collection is a continuation of the same style that the author — to a more considerable extent — began practicing in Nove pjesme, and that is confession, i.e. the experience of the lyrical subject and the testimony of the lyrical narrator. Such testimony has been also met in his previous collections (Gimnastičar u piđami, Semantička gladovanja), but this time — and it refers to both collections — the author does not use only the pragmatic situations of the “everyday trifles”. On the contrary, sometimes it (the body) stands in its mute given form as the antithesis of the “verbose trifles of the world” (“Spektakli tijela” / “Spectacles of the Body”). Therefore, the lyrical subject might be said to revive — from the aspect of wisdom and maturity — several layers: firstly, the direct experience that is secured by the insularity, not as much in its isolated exoticism as much as it provokes, and that is the second layer, memorable figures. They reminisce his own (the lyrical subject’s) childhood and gestures that were made by the living body — itself, in the family, on first trips, on first summer holidays at the seaside, and those memories that are provoked by the real and fictitious postcards as the testimonies of the Other. That means I/the Subject as experience, process and event, and the Other as experience and an experience of the communal. Thus, the subject/body, experience and the Other are basic thematic determinants. Locations topographically determined by the Mediterranean should also be added. This does not mean that the insular “isolation” excluded the current social and historical incident; it also “sneaks” in the memories, and the memories also (war, for example) simultaneously “fill” the meanings in the moments “when the reality and fiction have drawn closer” (“Razglednica o glasovirima”/ “The Postcard about Pianos”). Thus, we are not surprised by the entirely defined topographic characteristics (Opatija, Rijeka, Zadar, Crikvenica, Makarska). Apart from the memorable figures of the past and present, the experiential fact is frequently “complete” with and “commented” upon by the intertextuality, which has no such explicit parodic and ironic functions, but discreet and detached ones.
SJEČIVO ZA NEVINE
(THE BLADE FOR THE INNOCENT,1989)
A collection of poems; Selection and Afterword by Branko Maleš
In the five books of verse — published between 1969 and 1988 — Branimir Bošnjak defines the poetic model of the negative existentialist analysis and its legacy (Sve što nam prilazi, 1969; and to a certain extent also Trošenje maske, 1974); the model of the concretization of the space by the allusive and erotic associating of dispersed objects in the relation: space — earth (Gimnastičar u piđami, 1978); the model of the deconstruction of the phonic-logocentric library of the civic world and its alleged compactness (SemantiËka gladovanja, 1983); and the model of the mildly-existentialist, yet bitter confessionalism (Nove pjesme, 1988).