One Possible Way of Getting Beyond Postmodernism


Felix Nicolau


In the Manifesto of the European Poetry, Friedrich Michael urges the return to Pythagorean poetry, based on number and harmony. Even the title stands as a proof for the holistic vision – and this if I don’t label it as a globalized one. Poetry should have rhythm and should regain its access to the “Divine Fundament of nature”[1]. The Christians lost contact with the intellective Intellect of the Neo-Platonists, after they replaced it with the sacred Logos - that is a mere ritualistic incantation. The pagan esoterism should overthrow the supremacy of the Christian one and the philosopher-priest should take the place of the priest. The post-metaphysical epoch needs a soteriologic poetry; the trinity ought to be replaced by the monad. If Radu Vancu took position in favour of an authenticity of individuation, Friedrich Michael pleads for an orphic and pantheist authenticity. Although the language of The Manifesto of the European Poetry strikes some keys of religious exaltation and generates confusion by proclaiming monotheist paganism, by reinstating the poet as a vates it gets an unexpected political dignity. The utopian and past-ridden sides are salient. That’s why it is a beautiful manifesto: on account of its philosophical (Neo-Platonist) reverie and of its belief in the strength of that poetry in which inspiration is structured by rhythm.


A poetry of Greek origin, a poetry based on number and harmony”, implicitly involves a tight, even rigid prosody. It should “forecast the beat of action”. So, the strict shape would, however, wrap up a consistent content. But it is only about forecasting and anticipation. Consequently, the shape is more important than the contents. This is where I spot the real problematic side of this manifesto and not in the hazy links taking to the fundament of the “European spirituality”. Because such a fundament is not a solidary one.


The manifesto is remarkable when it comes to the criticism directed against the arthritic contemporary Christianity. And exactly in the sense of this spiritualistic (a term the author cares much about) brawl, postmodernism is asked to make room for “the poetic esoterism”, “a soteriologic poetry”.


Indeed, the manifesto is densely sprinkled with locutions specific to Neo-Platonism. But in order to revive Orpheus, to find again “the henologic plan”, which means a return to the One along artistic ways, we would need poets and poetry consumers willing to abolish their scepticisms, respectively their critical spirit. That is, basically, their intelligence. Nothing harmful in this. The problem is: could we survive in the present-day world without intelligence? Surrendering in the hands of what tradition? Even Friedrich Michael warns about the risks of suppressing intelligence: “the European’s spirituality differs depending on the chosen historical moment”. Consequently, with such a versatile, not to say wobbling, spirituality, how could we rediscover ourselves in an obscure, ciphered poetry, aiming at a restrained elite? And how could we come back to a tightly-screwed prosody without revising the already old-fashioned formulae or without getting trapped into mere versification? It’s true that Bergson drew the intelligence back to the rank of a simple tool in the hands of homo faber. Humble instrument destined to seize a perimeter where the material comfort could be finally worshipped. And maybe exactly because the intelligence has been wrongly used, it turns against itself, in a critical manner, in postmodernism. How could a literature be deprived of irony it is difficult to imagine. Maybe it would be like in paradise or like in a Byzantine cathedral during liturgy time. It is hardly believable that I or even my nephews’ nephews will live to see these times.


“A post-metaphysical vision compulsory determines a post-modern poetry”. Only that for our author accepting postmodernism is like continuing in Rimbaud’s steps. Which is more like a confinement to Orphism and Neo-Platonism. Paradoxically, Neo-Platonism used to be called until the beginning of the 19th century eclectism. So the unified, homogenous vision is out of question. Even like this, The Manifesto of the European Poetry is an elegant utopia which, as it happens in so many other utopias, recasts the future into the past. And is it not wonderful to produce with desperate ingenuity utopias like this in the epoch of dystopias?



Works cited:


Friedrich Michael, Manifestul poeziei europene, in Tiuk Magazine. Consulted on the 27th of November 2010.


[1] All quotations come from Friedrich Michael, Manifestul poeziei europene, in my translation.