Keys to a Great Poetic Game
by Rene Daumal
NO is my name.
NO NO the name.
NO NO the NO.
The individual mind attains its absolute through successive negations. I am that which thinks, not that which is thought. Pure subject matter is only conceived as a limit of perpetual negation.
Even the idea of negation is thought; it is not “I.” A negation that is denied affirms itself at the same time. Negation is not simply privation, but a positive act.
This is the concept of negation in its practical application to individual asceticism is called “negative theology.”
Again, retreat behind yourself and laugh
The NO is pronounced upon your laugh.
The Laugh is pronounced upon your NO.
Deny your name. Laugh at your NO.
I could repeat this every day for years. It is very probable that even and above all if you tell me you understand, you will have had the experience. So, take advantage of the opportunity as fast as you can, even as you read my words—that’s right. I am writing to you who are reading me right now; to you in particular. Ask yourself seriously:
“What am I?” You will learn to laugh or to cry about all you believe in yourself to be (your physical appearance, the interplay of your senses, your moods, your personality, your job, your social position, your preferences your affections, your opinions, your virtues, your talent, your genius…). The irony is that the refusal to believe you are these things becomes the hammer which will break their shells. Make methodical doubt alternate with methodical sarcasm. Thus, you will perhaps avoid intellectual mummification.
If my despair were able to touch you, I would continue to persist, playing on this feeling in the illusive effort to involve you for a few seconds in true thought.
and from all that, ponder this:
in front of you, a foaming Sea.
The word YES shines all about, reflected by each bubble.
The Male NO looks at the female.
The same negative act which makes us conscious of the subject makes us able to perceive the object. To awaken is to begin to contemplate something exterior to the self. He who identifies himself with this body, or with whatever it might be, falls into the same state of sleep.
Negation is a simple, immediate and procreative act, like unto the male. That which is negated, taken in general and a priori, can be considered as the common principle in all appearances, like unto the female.
The act of negation, devoid, by definition, of all positive determination, is identical to itself in its perpetual movement. The negated object rises up continuously, multiple & diverse, like that which is not me, that which is not part of my substantial reality, like, as it states in the Cabale, an emptiness, a bubble without absolute substance.
Do not stop retreating behind yourself.
And from that vantage point contemplate:
The pure No, stained with the names of gods, saw the world boiling with a skin of bubbles:
He projected, he evoked this nature.
He lived, he knew this nature.
He loved this nature.
Here, insanity still holds the secret of the Reversal of the Mystery.
True causality is conscious creation, the effect being made whole by the cause. That which is consciousness and, at the same time, cause, is the negative act by which the subject is seized and the object is projected.
The causal rapport between subject and object is made by the very act that separates them. The resultant understanding of this rapport is based upon the fait accompli of that separation.
In addition, there exists, between subject and object, a connection of love which is made by the affirmation of the principal identity in spite of their separation.
If you want to take the trouble to think about what has been said, take note of this advice: pay close attention when you go from the microcosmic order to the macrocosmic order, or vice versa; in other words, from the ascetic order to the metaphysical order, or vice versa. One will appear to you as an inverse reflection of the other; because, as it relates to the macrocosm, the microcosm is the subject. I repeat to you that this is a dangerous point. But after all, no one is making you concern yourself with these questions.
It is absurd to be included in a tiny part of innumerable bubbles—provoked, evoked, prokected—a NO is pronounced “I” and I observe:
I am the cause of All this, if I am NO.
I am the connoisseur of All this, if I am NO.
I am the lover of All this, if I am NO.
It is absurd to be, but not to be NO.
Absurd freedom, absurd truth, absurd love.
Being it—not being it—I become it.
I conceive the act of taking on consciousness as a negation, but this negation is far from being immediately and presently absolute.
The contradiction between my notion of being absolute and my condition of being a limited individual can be resolved, according to the the first motory triad of the Dialectic: “Being, Non-Being, Becoming,” by the need to make progress towards my true nature as it focuses upon the absolute being.
The act of consciousness, through its regeneration, makes itself endure. And time is the but the outline of consciousness, of the perception that materializes duration.
Once again, I dig in behind myself and I see in the bubbling Sea YESes aspiring to become living forms.
Under my denying eye, a knot of bubbles asserts itself and becomes organized into systems of cooperating, circular movements.
Thus, a living body, made of physical and non-physical masks, stands out as an individual in the bubbling Sea where heaps of others are also organizing themselves and declaring:
“I am at your service.”
To the contradiction of perfect consciousness, conceived but not achieved, corresponds, in the area of forms, the production, within primary and a priori negated Matter of organized beings, that is, creatures limited in space who establish upon a life principle, that of the denying male, systems of movements which collaborate in order to give to the whole an enduring quality. These corporeal movements are those of the appetites and of their sensory manifestations, desires.
Thus, individuality is organized and preserved. It is linked so closely to consciousness that the latter basically gets used to thinking of it as its own if not as itself.
Because the No wants to speak a universal language, he raises the visible veils that cling to him.
And here I am Him in the living prison.
I have form, having rejected all form.
The visible image of suffering is multitudinous.
And you will free yourself from your limits when you have thought and decided: “This individuality is but a covering, it is not me.” At the same instant, you will notice your individuality as on object and you will notice as well the countless individuals that surround you whose nature is to joint he masses.
An individual is the limitless person thinking of himself as limited, denied, as such, of his “selfness” and tortured within a particular form. If you understand this, you will no longer cease to see the atrocious spectacle of this mass of visible sufferings under corporeal forms.
I undergo all this: from the Other I suffer, I for whom the NO evoked all this, I who in denying myself cause the Other to appear.
There are some hinges on this armour made to effect the rare movement of freedom, normally held to be unselfish acts, little articular games.
The basic contradiction to individual consciousness must be overcome. Consciousness becomes contradictory through renunciation which, in the field of action, emerges as a result of the unselfish act. In this way, I cease to confuse myself with my covering, which has its own limits.
I can offer you no other Precept.
Ignorance retrieves me, I for whom the No contemplated all existence.
It knew the Other; it saw wisdom.
There are some hinges on this armour made to effect the rare movement of intuition, normally held to be the five sense, limited fissures.
It is the same, immediate, ascetic necessity that we will consider as the foundation of true Science, a science which must encompass immediate knowledge, that is intuition; intuition being limited, for the ordinary man, to the exercise of a few separate senses whose imperfections are, fortunately, quite well known.
How the NO, wanting to be free, frees himself: he refuses all actions that conform to the living circle of his prison.
Denying the cyclic movements that enclose him, he allows them to develop, to rejoin the universal movement; he gives to universal necessity all harmonized movement; he gives to universal necessity all harmonized movement and only this movement, determinate and libertating, does he permit.
Freedom on the order of action is the denial of all self-interested acts. Briefly, this refusal of all acts that conform to the individual status quo corresponds to a complete adhesion to a universal dialectical determinism. Indeed, if I stop thinking of my self as an article of clothing having its own limitations, “my” individuality is not more “me” than it is the rest of the universe. (This truth i the fundamental theme of the Bhagavad-gita, for example.)
Awakened by Love, the animals in your body want to come out.
The snake uncoils in the marrow of your bones.
The lion stretches in your chest.
The elephant bumps against your forehead’s enclosure.
The primary matter of poetic emotion is coenesthetic chaos. A confused mixture of diverse emotions is at first painfully felt in the body, like a multitude of living things crawling around inside, looking for an escape. It is ordinarily this painful feeling that forces the poet to take up his pen. He feels it either as a vague but urgent need to exteriorize himself or as something less refined.
Once again, in the distance the death rattle is heard, this time, as a prelude.
And animals, formerly bound and gagged, are head: victory, uproar, unbridled outcries, caused by their union within the flash of an image.
The male word and female breath couple inside the poet’s human wrapping. It is by design that I preserve the contradiction between the grammatical uses of the terms “word” and “breath” and their dialectic sexuality. It is always useful to underscore the notion of their reversibility and balance according to which the male sometimes thinks himself as female and the female, male.
That said, I can speak, I repeat, without figures of speech, of a real union between Word and Breath in the throat of the poet. It is at this moment that all the disorderly content of breath, this automatic nebulae of dissociated images with contrary intentions, receives the shock of the Word which imooses upon it form and sense and, like a flash, causes an image to appear.
Here are found animal passions within cyclically imprisoned lives.
Over there is their Mother, the Mother of Bubbles.
Here is found breath bringing together many animals.
Over there is the Great Breath of the All-encompassing Female.
Listen well. Not to my words but to the noise that builds up inside your body when you listen to yourself. It is the uproar of combat, the snoring of sleepers, the whining of animals, the noise of an entire universe.
Here is found the I speaking about the absolute zenith from a particular vantage point.
Over there is the NO speaking about the absolute Zenith from all vantage points.
Here is the found the little word that opens the doors of the vocal palate of a particular man.
Over there, the Great Word, the perfect, All-penetrating Male.
And now, try to speak. Say something important. Speak! The thing or the fact that you state will immediately become real, if it is really you who are speaking.
Here is found the little poet, calling out, free as the rhythm of his poem.
Over there, the Great Poet, bringing about, free as the Total Word.
In conclusion, Listen. Have you ever dreamed of being free? I’ll let you think about it. From all I have said, try to draw conclusions concerning your personal case and you will do what you will, if you are what you are.