マリア。サンブラーノの動画紹介 Youtube on Maria Zambrano
Listening to Maria Zambrano
Contemplation on Consciousness of Life
―In the case of María Zambrano―
Mariko Sumikura, Essayist
I tried to overview María Zambrano’s entire life in the last issueｓ of this series (Bibliotequa Hispaniqua) as “Contemplation on Pathos” and “Contemplation on Happy Encounters” and now I am urged feel compelled to go deeper into details on this subject. Also, whenever I read her beautiful articles such as “The weight of time”, “Cervantes”, ”Ege of Life” and “Dream and time” and so on, I always feel the desire to share the eloquent phrases I encounter in her writings.
While overcoming her own edge of life, María Zambrano was skeptical of “existing philosophies” and tried to clarify women’s social status and its transitions by explaining human behavior throughout the history of wars and disorders as well as what roles the intellectuals took. She did this from a keen human perspective, particularly that of a woman. I am grateful to her for leaving behind thoughts that are very flexible but at the same time very powerful for us.
Consciousness of Life
In this issue, I would like to focus on “consciousness of life” as a key word of Zambrano’s philosophy. As I mentioned in the last issue, María Zambrano studied the existentialism that focuses on the source of sadness, and she sought to examine the fundamental structure of the consciousness of life in relation to “mind” and “words,” and came to find a key concept of “Razón Poetica (poetic reason)”
Consciousness fades in and out constantly but when we have one strong moment of consciousness, it remains as a memory in one’s mind. That moment differs from person to person. Then, María questioned when she would become conscious about her life. Her answer was when she loved somebody and when she became aware of death, and so she thought that it all had something to do with life and death.
She wrote in “Multiplicity of time” published in ”Delirium and Destiny” as follows.
Friendship corresponds to meditation, to the life of consciousness; it is walking together, being awake together, or at the same time. At the same time, but not in the time, as in love, which were it to be realized, would be living an identical time. And how can a time itself? To fuse both times or descend to one time, that of dreaming, where being forms, as in plants-this must be what people expect of love, what they pursue, and what a person can never be sure he’s attained, since the only expression of love we know are the “classics”, which are hard to understand. And besides, love flows into poetry, and poetry has its history, albeit an “internal one”. (Citation from María Zambrano’s Delirium and Destiny.)
Ordinary philosophers try to reach “truth” and find a diamond that cannot be hurt by any other stone. María, however, tried to collect the stones called “truth” that were left and neglected, and then tried to find the “truth” in the fact that they were not supposed to be left behind.
Xavier Zubiri may be one of the people who knew the defect of Zambrano’s philosophy. The following passage seems to be his grand message directed to her which explains the difference between truth and reality.
While Zubiri persisted on theories, Maria added “reality in consciousness” to “reality in experiences” and “reality in thoughts”. In “De la Aurora”, she revealed itwith the so-called “questioning method,” or the routine of introduction, question, and answer. In that book, we can find hundreds of questions. Then, as those questions present the essence of her thoughts, it is not at all difficult to read them by replacing all the question marks with commas, or sometimes even with exclamation marks.
María’s questions were not mere questions or self-directed questions, but they were the process of confirming her inner thoughts, and they were directed at the readers’ inner thoughts with definite frames of words.
Life and Reality
We learn about incidents and social trends in history and digest their impact one by one to accumulate them in our knowledge. However, human history is a large river, which began to flow around the time we began our lives on Earth, and we need to understand that it moves with its own direction and energy. It may be possible to say that personal history and the history of society are a part of it. The speed of the current is different depending on whether it is on the surface, in the middle, or at the bottom and there is a roaring undercurrent as well.
Why did María Zambrano persist with history although she was not a historian? The answer is obvious. She was sure that it would not be possible to find the cause of personal sadness in a “superficial history” which was edited for the next generations. An individual human being might be powerless, but she made it clear that consciousness of life deserves to be seriously respected for any one. Fate is harsh and it goes along with time. Poets and artists utilize their talent without hesitation in order to draw irony, social contradictions, and personal subtle emotions with metaphors, and they approach truth through the reality of consciousness of life. María Zambrano is a philosopher, but she established her own way to understand people’s suffering by departing from the conventional methods.
Reverse Side of Life
There is no way to avoid unconsciousness as long as we live. While we sleep, we have unrealistic dreams or dreams that could actually have happened. María Zambrano is said to have suffered from severe insomnia. It can be said that dreams are the reverse side of life. She discussed the consciousness of each moment of life as much as she could in“Dream and Time”. I will list the titles of contents. (Author’s translation)
Life: Dream and Sleeplessness
Dream and Sleeplessness
Dream and Sleeplessness: Occultation
Experience of Life
The subject of the dream
Enter into the dream, dreaming
Duration and time
Deepness of atemporality
The temporal inhibition
Being not synchronized
Dream without the form
Dream intimate with itself
The genesis of the dream
Myself in the dream
Emptiness, my place
Trip of myself
Defenseless and Development of myself
Coexistence Defenseless and Imagination
Structure of myself
Dream and reality
Situation to make a history
Transition from the dream and reality)
Follower from the reality to the dream
The way from time to dream, time not to reach
Conscious dream appeared but invisible
Abstract of dream
El absolute de los sueños
Truth of dream
Process of time
Dream getting after
“A dream” is generally a metaphor for “something unrealistic,” but in modern “clinical psychology,” it is used to unveil people’s psyche by means of oneiromancy, or dream interpretation, and María tried to use dreams to “unveil truth.”
In her writing, she tried to find truth, which could not be found on the surface of life (reality), but was evident in the reverse side of life (dreams) where fragments of unconsciousness and consciousness are mixed together, and it is a comparable examination to Gaston Bachelard’s “Le droit de rêver”
Edge of Life
Bachelard wrote “a poem needs a moment, it does not need anything other than a moment, and that it creates a moment”. His analysis of the “weight of words” along with the “weight of time” became two major pillars of María Zambrano philosophy.
I was concerned about the nature of the danger of life that María had to face and when it happened. In “De la Aurora”, I finally found the answers. They were the words “memory,” “severe reality,” and “lost words” which were found in the esquisse.
Memory means something only in one’s consciousness. Then, as long as it is stored so well that it can be verbally reproduced, it continues to exist in one’s internal time frame. María Zambrano observed that “time varies,” and I must say that it is a clever observation.
Restitution of Life
In my opinion, In “De la Aurorais one of María Zambrano’s masterpieces. If someone asks me, “What kind of book is In “De la Aurora?” I would say without hesitation, “It is a book of the hope of a woman in existential despair that got out of the darkness to see the dawn which provided a meaning for living once again.” The ideal image of this aurora is the daylight just before day breaks. It is not the mysterious Northern Lights.
Lastly, I would like to add that Zambrano examined the image of dawn in the Greek and Roman myths. For her, Nietzsche and classical philosophy did not provide a true solution to free emotion and the actions of human beings or to the suffering and vanity derived from them.
She found a clue in Greek and Roman myths that expressed the primitive and pure lives of mankind with its shaking and dramatic emotions. It is well known that philosophy began in Ancient Greece. The origin of the word “myth” is the Greek word “mythos,” meaning something told, and it is different from “logos,” meaning reason or logic. The former is something that makes us feel sympathy, and the latter is something that forces others to give in.
María Zambrano doubted the way philosophy existed; philosophy had powerlessly become one of the scientific schools in modern times although all the schools were originally derived from philosophy. Also, we cannot forget that the life mentioned here is extended from referring solely to a “personal life” to “European lives.” Lost words can be interpreted as dual image of the loss of language caused by danger of life and oppression of speech.
For those who are going to read the original text of In “De la Aurora, I will introduce only the titles of contents since the space is limited here. (Author’s translation)
1 Before the comment
2 Impossible Prologue: Ayes
4．The appearance of confines
2. Since the sunset
3. Since the night
4．Age is breaking as a flame
5．The dawn all is sleeping
7．Before the occultation
8．Cross the aurora
10．The balance of the aurora
12 Silence of the aurora, and the germ
2 Word and the God, and the germ
3 Indescribable word
4 The most important and the element
5．Eyes and talk
7．Language and Word
8．Line and Letter
9．Language and Human
The aurora and the word, the flame
Chapter 4 At last, the aurora
Inedited previous : The geography of the aurora
1 The geography of the aurora
3 Kingdom of the sun
4 The occultation
5 Kingdom of the aurora
6 Series of the aurora
It requires some energy to read María Zambrano. It is because we have to deal with her seriousness. However, I began to think that the reason María intended to leave the details of her inner-conflicts and victories for unknown readers after she turned seventy, even though she had long tried to keep quiet and avoid publishing her writings, was that she wanted to leave a book of hope for women with the same problems.
She experienced inner-conflict, isolation, and a sense of vanity during her dramatic life, and she finally came to the conclusion of “poetic reason.” It is a story of a woman who asserted her identity by fixing a stake called “consciousness of life” in the roaring current of this tempestuous era.
In Buddhism, people say, “When you stumble with love, you recover yourself with love.” It is a light of hope that María’s life was brought about by “words” and was destroyed by “words,” and she found hope once again with “words.” We seem to have reached the highest wisdom of
María Zambrano’s manuscripts saw the light of day thanks to the fact that Latin American intellectual society accepted European intellectuals, whose speeches had been suppressed during World War II, as refugees and also due to such people as Victoria Ocampo.
In addition to her current publications, recently her anthology called “Reason andShadow” was compiled at last, and I would especially recommend reading it. I also heard that a film called “María querida” was released in 2004 that describes her entire life. (In the story, a journalist felt María’s mysterious charm as he interviewed her when she was awarded the Cervantes Prize, and then became increasingly attracted to her.) In Europe, exhibitions were held to present her feats, but how many years do we have to wait to see her introduced in Japan?
In my long career at Kyoto University, I was lucky to have a happy encounter. I had the chance to work with the author of The Temptations of Emile Cioran (1997, Peter Lang Publishing Group) Michael Finkenthal*, and since then, we have been writing to each other. I am so glad to know that he is interested in the “mutual influence of Cioran and Zambrano in relation to Utopia.”
* Professor emeritus in Hebrew University and a visiting professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. He is one of the top researchers into nuclear fusion as well as a philosopher. He published books on Shestov, Fondane, Cioran, and Ionesco, and he also researches on Kitaro Nishida and other scholars of the Kyoto school. In 2004, his book “Interdisciplinarity: Toward the Definition of a Metadiscipline?was published from the Peter Lang Publishing Group. In the book, he questions the fact that the word “interdisciplinary” is widely used in the world recently without being discussed “what the word ‘interdisciplinary’ is all about,” and he begins his argument from the origin of Eastern and Western cultures to discuss how the real interdisciplinarity is supposed to be.
Contemplation on Pathos
- In the case of Spanish philosopher, María Zambrano -
Mariko Sumikura, essayist
For the last two years, I have habitually endeavored to follow María Zambrano’s psychological journey in order to remember her beautiful soul. I got some of her books from Spain, and everyday I recite a phrase from one of the books so as to ponder over its meaning the entire day. I have already finished reading “La Confesión” and “De la Aurora”. Without doubt, the former corresponds with St. Augustine’s “Confessions” and the latter with Jakob Böhme’s “Aurora”.
A journey has its beginning and its end. María Zambrano wrote “Individual Salvation on Spinoza” to her graduation thesis, so I am certain that her philosophical reflections were initially prompted by her pursuit of the origins of sadness. Then, I assume that she later philosophized about the pathos of St. Augustine, Jakob Böhme, Pascal, and Nietzsche. Pathos is sometimes translated as passion, but pathos differs slightly from its Japanese translation “Jou-nen(passion and thoughts)”. In Western thoughts, Pathos has opposite meaning with Logos. To start my essay, it may be necessary to define it, so I would like to cite some phrases from Pascal’s “Discourse sur les passions de l'Amour.”
“Il ya a de deux sortes d’esprits, l’un geometrique, et l’autre que l’on peut appeler de finesse.” Then, referring to an intense soul, “Les grandes âmes ne sont pas ci aiment le plus souvent; cést dún amour violrny que je parle: il faut une inondatión de passion pour les ebraler et pour leds renplir.” He continues to state, “La passion ne peut pas etre sans exces.” I definitely believe that these phrases may be the keys to explaining María’s philosophy, or even to unveiling the secret of “Un feu interieur qui se derobe, une ardeur qui dissimule sous une resignation ironique:…” which is stated by Cioran.
-The Labyrinth of Youth-
I have already mentioned in my last essay “On Happy Encounters” in the last publication that María Zambrano witnessed the climax of Spanish modern philosophy in University of Madrid. Although Spain was facing social anxiety and danger, when she looked back later on, María considered her youth spent in the closed university society to be glorious. The year 1928 was the last stage of the Primo administration, when there was an intense campus movement in University of Barcelona. As is shown in the movie Spanish “Butterfly Tongues (La Lengua de las Mariposas),” the communists were arrested and the dangerous elements were put under surveillance. Being a university intellectual, María’s promotion of the social activism was not unusual and it was natural for her to lean towards the left wing. However, writing was her only philosophical activity.
María’s writings vary a lot but they can be sorted into a few larger categories. As philosophical writings, she wrote “Descartes y Husserl” (age 24) as well as “La mujer camina en su evolucíon” (age 24), “Obreras” (age 24), “Nosotros creemos…” (age 24), “Nostalgia de la tierra” (age 29).
It is true that young María was pulled by the energy of Ortega. In “Obras de José Ortega y Gasset – Soňal de vida-“ (age 29), she pointed out the fallacy of Early Modern and contemporary philosophy and supported a new vision to analyze the reality necessary to real people.
Meanwhile, María had three problems of pathos on her mind. They were “revolution,” “love,” and “work.” She eventually experienced failures and despair in all of these domains, but misfortune occasionally turns out to be an ally in people’s lives. I believe that this is also God’s command. If she had been satisfied with even one of these, María Zambrano would not have existed and the Zambrano philosophy would never have been established.
-Into the Whirlpool of Feud-
It is not too much to say that María’s 30’s were her years of failure and disillusionment. The exit from the labyrinth was the entrance to the whirlpool of feud. With the ideal and the reality of facing a revolution, held back by the pretension and the lack of ability of an intellectual, the more she took action, the more she was pulled into the whirlpool. Grecian say “Te pathemata mathemata—to suffer is to learn”. Her 30’s were precisely her years of hardship. The thesis “Hacia un saber sobre el alma” was published in a Spanish magazine “Revista de Occident” when she was 30 and it is said that she wrote about her separation from Ortega y Gasset.
Let me list some of her works from her 30’s.
She expressed her philosophical thoughts in “Materialismo español” –Spanish materialism-(age 34), and wrote about her political thoughts and history in “El año universitario” –On the university- (age 31), El espanol y su tradicion –Spanish tradition- (age 33), “La Alianza de Intelectuales Antifacistas.-Mission of Intellectual” (age 33), “La guerre- Antonio Machads” –The war-(age 33), “Isra de Puerto Rico” (age 36),”(La agonia de Europa.” –Agony of Europe-(age 37), and she pointed out the European inclination toward war, which was obvious from the glory and downfall prevalent in the European history.
After this period, however, it appears that she began to think about words and existence in some of her writings. As is seen in the following works “El abogado del Diablo ante Rilke” (age 37), “Las dos metaforas del conocimitnto” –Metaphor of Knowledge-(age 38) as well as the works in which she talked about social problems of women—“La vocation de ser hombre.”-On the vocation of human” (age 32), “La nueva oral”(age 34), “La mujer de la culture medieval”l (age 36), and “La mujer en el Renacimiento” (age 36)—, she departed from the path walked by her marstro and found her own way. These works were published in a Spanish magazine, and “La agonia de Europa” was published in “Sur’ Magazine, edited by Argentine Victoria Ocampo. María might not notice about close relationship between Victoria and Ortega’.
In her 30’s, María experienced a period of hardship induced by the despair she suffered on account of love, farther’s death, and career work. She wrote the manuscripts to earn some money for living and all of them were the results of her agony. It is impossible to comprehend from her writings how much she suffered in the whirlpool of gossip, feud, and criticism. Indeed; a current of her philosophy—where a poetic rational mind depends on words to find an existence—was born from her suffering. In other words, a poem is not an expression of exclamation or feeling but an obvious rational mind proving with language that we are actually living. At the same time, she said that a poem was like a seawall that would stop the flood of pathos. As Japanese famous philosopher Nakamura Yujiro quoted from Kenneth Burke’s “A grammer of Motivation” in his book, A poem—as its origin ”poeima” indicates—a deed of what we have done.
-Getting Out of the Whirlpool-
María, having started a new life as a professor at Molelia University in Mexico, succeeded in escaping from the whirlpool at least geographically. In the New Continent, her writings became richer since she analyzed herself as if medically examining and treating her own wound, seeking for a magnificent reality.
The works in her 40’s are as following; “El abogado del Diablo ante Rilke” (age 40), “Sobre la vacilacion actual” (age 41), “Ecritos sobre F.Nietzche” (age 41), “Eloisa o la existencia de la mujer.” (age 41), “Aparacion historia del amor” (age 42), “El sobre de experiencia” (age 41), “El rumor.” (age 42), “Franz Kafka: un matter de la lucidez” (age 43), “El problema de la filosofia Espanola” (age 44), “La Cuba secreta” (age 44), “Le regard de Cervantes” (age 44), “L’Amour et la mort ans les dessins de Picasso” (age 47), “El sembrador Rousseau” (age 47), “Dos fragmentos sobre el amor.” (age 48), “El realismo del cino italiano” (age 48), “Sentido de la derrota”(age 49), “El enigma de los estruscos” (age 49).
The range of her interest expanded. While María was excellent in literature, film, and art, her insight into love was even superior. At that time, she had already overcome the agony of her first love and divorce at the age of 43. I would say that she had already experienced a true love with someone whom she really respected and had trust in. José Lezama Lima, whom she met at the age of 33, was 7 years younger than María, and he earnestly supported her mentality.
-The Whirlpool Observed from Outside-
María was 51 years old when she received the news of Ortega’s death. Subsequently, she started writing many books as if she were released from some sort of bewitchment. Having escaped from the whirlpool, María started to view the Spanish reality as well as her own consciousness. The books of this sort are as following; “A puntes sobre La accion de la Filosofia.” (age 52), “La Hiatoria como juego” (age 52), “Literatura y sociodad” (age 52), “Ortega y Gasset-Filosofia” (age 52),”Les Réves et la Temps” (age 53), “El espejo de la Historia” (age 53), “El payaso y la Filosofía” (age 53), “Tragedia y novella, el personaje” (age 53), “Deliro, esperaza,razón” (age 55), El alba en la historia (age 55), “Dos fragmentos acerca del pensar” (age 55), “Qué es la adolescencia” (age 57).
What happened to María after the death of her beloved Ortega, the Maestro with whom she shared her time of youth and agony? What did being successful in love mean to her? Why did love come with pain? She was going to find the answers by herself to her own questions that were making her suffer.
-Into her Abyss
In her 60’s, María fell into despair and became lost in the emotional abyss. “Lugares de la Filosofía” (age 60), “Considerciones acerca de la poesia” (age 64), “Cuba y la poesia de Jose Leama Lima” (age 64), and “Arete,Virtus,eficacia” (age 69) show that emotional change.
María recounted her descent into this abyss in the memorandum of “De la Aurora”. For me, working on its interpretation is a fantastic and exciting process. Let me show you a part of it.
Esquisse—A plot of “De la Aurora”
“La unidad preexistentia que es el amor preexistente.
Sobre el abismo de la vida.”
“El ser que irreprimiblemente, con riesge de que sea irreprimiblemente, anhenla va a existire”
Here María expresses the depth of the pathos as “abyss,” and Logos is a contrast with pathos. Like a soldier who is not supposed to fall in love with an enemy, she has to confront Logos as a soldier of pathos.
She also wrote “Arete,Virtus,eficacia” in which she considers love and marriage. Then she wrote “Acerca de la generacion del 27” at 73 looking back on her youth. If the process of aging enables one to organize one’s mind and unburden oneself, María’s aging can teach us many lessons. She was able to publish her work “De la Aurora”, with a persistent subject thanks to her pathos which encouraged her to organize and edit her own writings.
I would like to dedicate following Jacob Böhme’s phrase to her soul;
“I have become a troublesome field that requires hard labor and heavy sweat. For we are not now searching out the tracts of heaven, or measuring the distances of the stars or inquiring about the weight of the earth. It is I myself –I, the mind-who remember. This is not much to marvel at, if what I myself am is not far from me. And what is nearer to me than myself?” (Dover Publication, Inc.p.186)
-The Ascending Spiral-
What characterizes María Zambrano the most may be her glorious last days. There is no other female writer who edited the past works of her own, categorized by subject and published so thoroughly.
In her 80s, she published “” (age 82), “Delirium y Destiny” (age 85), “Hacia un saber sobre el alma” “Claves de razon poetica” (age 83), “Horizonte de liberalismo” and ”Cielos pintados” (age 82) as books. “Dos visions objectives” (age 81), “El aliento divino” (age 84), “El conocimiento. La legitimidad del conocimiento” (age 85), “El exillio, alba interrampida” (age 84), “El misterio de la flor” (age 81), “El misterio de la quena” (age 84), “El silencio” (age 85), “La palabia perdida” (age82), “Metamorfocis” (age 81).
María lived until the age of 87. Her body was weak but her mind was very sharp. At this time, she began her final preparations to conclude her own life. When she looked back on the journey of her life, she only had the memory of pathos. Only her beautiful soul was left in the form of language. (Cioran expressed it “Words beyond words”.) Although language was the overflow of pathos, it was already providing her with a rich psychological environment. In “Confesión” written by María Zambrano, we can find her figure that was trying to discover the nature of pathos.
I find a beauty in the deep wrinkles that were visible on her face in her later years. Through her sharp eyes, I have learned that there is work that can only be accomplished when one is aged. It is true that María received an offer from a publisher because she won the Cervantes Prize, but I cannot accept this fact easily. “Things” were not that simple for María. To use one of María’s favorite ideas, to accept this fact would be “to annul” all that she was to achieve. In other words, she came to the conclusion that there was no reason for her to have rejected it.
I would like to quote one passage from “Confesión “(1943) as an example
“La insercion de ese centro interior, si de versa lo es, hace que ese mundo del desvaris cobre forma y se ordene, porque las entranas doloridas y rencorosas al punto se hacen de algrien, de un ser que las recoge.”
However, perhaps only people of the same predisposition may find this interesting. Xavier Zubiri shows his cool and discerning perspective; a citation from “Dinamic Structure of Reality” (1968)
“Now It would be an enormous error to think that the transcendental structure of being hinge only on the structure of electrons or inanimate matter. We are always love or to persons, we are speaking of some anthropomorphic and metaphoric things, but that what count are the electromagnetic fields and the electrons. Yet why? Are not those other things realities?
Comparing these two, if I were to liken Xavier Zubiri’s phenomenology to a spirit, María Zambrano’s philosophy would be wine.
Zubiri captures reality as a dynamic structure. His logical structure is completely pure, almost perfect in fact, that it is like ethyl with a blue flame and one has to be very brave to attempt to get drunk with it. In other words, it is an alcohol that is made to reject people to get drunk.
On the other hand, anyone can get drunk with a good wine, and María Zambrano’s philosophy comes with this sweetness and astringency. I hear that a particular environment and time is needed in order to make a good wine. “Urgency and adherence” and “philosophy and wisdom to escape”—these two conflicting notions exist together in her cask called “life.” And it is still under the process of fermentation.
In America and in Europe, the Zambrano research has finally been getting heated. The María Zambrano Foundation releases a list of books and journals on their website that María left behind. http://www.ayto-velezmalaga.es/mzambrano/ Of course, in the library, she has many fascinating books on philosophy, theology, poetry, literature, history, and art—Ortega y Gasset, Böhme, Pascal, Nietzsche, St. Augustine—that assisted in the development of María’s soul. Among them, I found “De l'inconvénient d'être né “(1933) which was offered by Cioran. Why did he choose this book? Which book did María offer him? I would hope these questions to be clear someday by researchers.
Original article is written in Japanese and published in "Biblioteca Hispanica" by Terutulia Celvantina de Kioto
Contemplation on Happy Encounters
-In the case of Maria Zambrano, the first female winner of Cervantes Award-
Mariko Sumikura, essayist
At this moment, I am experiencing the happiness of writing about the exceptional Spanish philosopher, María Zambrano. One may consider me reckless for writing her profile with only the small collection of information I have, but I cannot help writing about her. By listening to her feeble voice tell stories and by feeling her words in my heart, I want to grasp her existence and absorb it. I cannot help feeling this way. There is no other purpose for me.
It was about ten years ago that I found her name. While reading the E. M. Cioran’s series, I found an interesting passage in Exercices d'admiration.
“Elle fait parti de ces êtres qu’on regrette de ne rencontrer que trop rarement mais auxquels on ne cesse de penser et qu’on voudrait comprendre on tout au moins deviner Un feu interieur qui se dérobe, une ardeur qui se dissimule sous une résignation ironique: tout débouche chez Maria Zambrano sur autre chose, tout comporte un ailleurs, tout.” (Citation from “Exercices d'admiration”, E.Cioran)
María was the one who had a power to make skeptical Cioran, who was very outspoken, say so. “If she existed in this world, what kind of person would she be?” I also wanted to know. But I had no clue, and I even came to forget her name as my busy days passed by.
Seeing someone again… Can we say it is also a type of encounter? After quite some time had passed, I came across her name and it triggered my memory. I found a portrait of her with an earnest look on the cover of “Delirium and Destiny”, and it would not be hard to guess, I ordered the book very happily. Finally, the book arrived from the United States.
I opened the book and read a few lines. I became a big fan of her at once. Calm but powerful voice—in her talks exist things that contradict each other simultaneously. There is reflectiveness in her passion and passion in her reflectiveness. There is resignation in her adherence and adherence in her resignation. After all, Cioran was not lying. Nevertheless, what did Cioran know about her?
To talk about her entire life means to talk about the stormy 20 century in Europe. María was born in Málaga, Spain, in 1904. Her father was a progressive educator with philosophical interest. Also her mother was a teacher. When she was four, the family moved to Segovia, and there she spent a wonderful childhood as the eldest daughter of three sisters. Very intelligent as she was, she stepped further into a higher education and became a student at University of Madrid.
There are not many people who have a chance to meet good professors and good friends, but in her case there may have been some divine guidance, since she was so lucky in her encounters. Needless to say, it was lucky for her, but at the same time I believe that the people who met her must have been lucky too. An university, as the word indicates, is a universe where many types of wisdom encounter each other and fuse. In the following, I would like to talk about whom María came to encounter.
-The Encounter with the philosopher Ortega y Gasset -
While studying at the School of Philosophy at University of Madrid, she was instructed by Professor Ortega y Gasset, a forty-year old philosopher who was very spirited. Under his instruction, María became so interested in idealism and pantheism that she took up the Spinoza’s mysticism for her graduation thesis. If Spinoza’s philosophy is likened to architecture, each column and timber will be what is scattering the weight of the truth. It is not difficult to guess that she examined each of his words very carefully.
In Ortega’s life philosophy, “the role of poetry” has an important meaning. His logic was that language and forethought supported the exuberant silence and he stressed the importance of cultivating people’s spirit. María adopted his ideas, but at the same time she deepened them further in her own way. She wrote a small piece on the day of separation from Ortega. According to it, she ran out of his office crying. Without reaching as high as the boiling point where things spout out, thoughts would not be crystallized. It is the same in the modern days. Philosophy cannot be cool as well as ordinary. Nonetheless, when the fire of knowledge is passed on from the maestro to the follower, it will not be reduced either; nor will its quality change. Still, the fire is definitely split into two. The way of thinking is the waver of the fire and the speculation is the shape of it. It is given the heat and the light.
-The Encounter with the phenomenologist Xavier Zubiri -
When María Zambrano was 24 years old, Xavier Zubiri was already 4 years ahead at University of Madrid, 28 years old, and he was a head professor of the history department. While Ortega was called to Germany for a year, he entrusted his work to Professor Zubiri. In any case, they say that María, as a graduate student, fell in love with Professor Zubiri.
María’s existentialism is the same as Zubiri’s thoughts in seeking the essence of philosophy and reaching the truth, although they took different paths. Zubiri tried to disclose the essence logically with precision. In other hands, María indicates that it is “love for wisdom” as follows,
“El poeta so se cuida de hacer el recuento de sus bienes y de sus males; el inventario de su fortuna sabe lo que busca y por ello se define –filo-sofo-. Porque el poeta no puede sobre signiera lo que busca filosofo, al menos.”(Citation from Filosofía y poesía.)
(The poet undertaking care of her/himself to make the count of his goods and the evils; the inventory of fortune knows what the reason looks for – love wisdom –defined. Because the poet can not look for philosophy in a sign at least. (My translation)
The Encounter with the composer Gustavo Pittaluga -
María could not get the position as a professor in Spain like Zubiri and Luis-Aranguren, but she was invited to take a position at a university in a town called Molelia in Mexico. Next, the University of Havana in Cuba and the University of Puerto Rico… she hopped around. Then, she got divorced… And on top of that, her father’s death meant a lot to her. María had to support her mother and two sisters.
Havana, Cuba is located 360 km away in a straight line from Miami in the Florida Peninsula of the United States. Standing on the Miami Beach, you can see the country beyond the sea. What did María feel about the Cuban open ethos? You can find the answer in the fact that she did not leave the land for as long as 50 years.
Mexico and Cuba were filled with people of culture who had fled from the devastation of the World War II. Philosophers, writers, musicians, etc… all sorts of people with different professions gathered and engaged in activities. The sensitivity to the emotional Mexican music must have shaken María’s feeling. Wouldn’t it be true that her narrative writing is like music?
The music of Gustavo Pittaluga is used in the film Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie directed by Luis Buñuel. Considering the separations from Xavier Zubiri and from her husband, it is not possible to negate the story that she directed her feelings of unsatisfied love toward Pittaluga.
- The Encounter with the poet José Lezama Lima -
Latin feeling is better expressed with poetry. And poetry inspires the heart of mass, and influences politics. One example is the Cuban poet José Martí (1853-1895), who was defeated in the battle for the homeland’s independence. Among his famous words are “Without women’s spirit, the people fight becomes weaker,” “The revolution supported by women never fails.” This is one of his most famous phrases: “Hold up the liberty higher than palm trees.” As such, the philosophy and the literature were not ideas but were their life itself. It is logical that María jumped to be absorbed in that charm.
For the literary magazine Origines, for which María was working, Fina García Marruz and many other literary people wrote articles. The literary magazines of any period or place, with their flexible directions, give me a positive feeling that a vein that is yet to be valued is being dug.
The encounter with poet José Lezama Lima was also a lucky one. One spirit and another attract each other. Lima was 26 years old when he met with her. “I met with the unforgettable spirit, María Zambrano.”, he noted the impression in his diary. Their correspondence continued for 50 years, until he deceased at the age of 76. Through their letters, you can see María’s true face.
Lima writes earnestly his “extraordinary solitude” and María accepts it. María sends Filosofía y poesía (Philosophy and Poetry) to him and Lima responds with Paradiso (Paradise). Then, Lima offers poems and makes María happy. She wrote to José Lezama Lima, “I feel much pain with my right hand so it is unable to type. It is also hard me to hold a coffee cup because of trembling” Was there a woman who described the aging in such a beautiful manner in the past? Yes, she declined too much. I feel to have got a glimpse of Maria’s true face in her letters. Though not young, tranquil affection starts to flood between them and the time they spend together fills the letter like nostalgia and tenderness.
- The Encounter with the philosopher Emile Cioran -
In talking about this encounter, there is too little information here and it does not go beyond my imagination, but there was an encounter with Emile Cioran. It can be seen in “Exercices d'admiration”, and I have heard that the Cioran’s letters are kept in the María Zambrano Foundation with the letters from René Char, Albert Camus, and others.
The solitude of Cioran and that of María must have rung each other. The correspondence between them must have resounded up in the sky beyond the Pyrenees. Such sort of people shares the same language and the same music. The following passage proves this:
“Where does our loneliness rise if it is not from love which have not a way to overflow and run out? What was the food of our solitude if it was not that love being closed inside of us?
(My translation: Citation from Cioran’s Le livre des leurres)
-The Encounter with Poetry –
Poets and philosophers find what is lacking inside each other. Philosophers feel pleasant listening to the poets’ emotion expressed unhesitatingly in their poems; the poets are attracted to the philosophers’ realistic vision. Then, poets and philosophers are filled with the happiness of encounters deep in their minds. It is a difficult task to comprehend “talks in a language that is common to each other,” but at the same time, there is no other work that I would feel happier than this.
"El milagro de la poesía surge en plenitud cuando en los instantes de gracia ha encontrado las cosas, las cosas en su peculiaridad y en su virginidad sobre ese fondo último: las cosas renacidas desde su raíz. Ya el hombre, la existencia humana, su angustia, su problematicidad, quedan entonces anuladas. La poesia anula el problema de la existencia humana, allí donde se manifesta el ser de las cosas y de todo. El hombre que no se lanzó a ser sí mísmo, el hombre perdids, el poeta, lo tiene todo en su deversidad y en su unidad, en su finitud y en su infinitad. La posesión la colma; rebosa de tesoros quien no se ahincó en afirmar su vaciedad, quien por amor, no supo cerrarse a nada. El amor le hizo salir de sí, sin poder ya jamás recogerse; per dió su existencia y ganó la total aparicion, la Gloria de lo presencia amada. （Citation from Filosofía y poesía by María Zambrano.）
María lived through the stormy period to retain her own existence. The words she wrote as one human being are heavy, and they keep silent as veins that are yet to be discovered. It is not the excavator called logic that you dig them up with. It is the “poetic rational mind” at the very bottom of human being, which remains farthest from the war, disorder, authority, or honor. Today she rests in peace in her homeland Málaga.
Finally, let me conclude with María’s word. It is from the close of Filosofía y poesía. María Zambrano— a woman who always looked at the truth straight and lived sincerely. The truth she found as a result of elimination can be found in the following question. It is the thought of how a human being can fulfill something without being able to control him/herself.
“Pero, i es eso la Poesía? ¿La poesia no se ha dado en la dispersion? ¿Es que su unidad no ha sido distinta de la del pensamiento y hosta ahora era indefinible? El solo hecho de que ha dejado de se fiel a sí misma, no puede definirse a sí misma. No puede en suma, pretender enconttrarse, porque entonces se pierde.”
-The last encounter-
If her life can be divided roughly, there are three periods: the youth in Spain (0-34), about 50 years in Cuba (34-79), and the later years in Spain (80-88)**.
The encounter during the first period is, of course, with University of Madrid, which is said to be the glory of Spanish “Silvery Age,” and there María had the luck to listen to the lectures of José Ortega y Gasset and Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo. Then, she met with the phenomenologist Xavier Zubiri. The spirit which has stronger magnetic force attracts objects near by but it repulses even with a weak force as well.
During the second period, there were many encounters in the New Continent. The New Continent back then was the last resort for declining Spain and was the land of hope. Europe was being pushed back by the power of the United States, and it was not already the age to obtain the land by wars. Moreover, there was a collection of European wisdom in the New Continent at that time.
In the third period, she had the last encounter – the glory in the later years. Her homeland welcomed and embraced her. She became the first woman to receive the Cervantes Prize.
When a person dies, someone who knows the person’s real value starts to research. The researcher collects his/her manuscripts, organizes his/her correspondences, and tries to interview the people who know the person while they are alive. This comes from the feeling of condolence and affection towards the person.
María was aging and vaguely aware of that. The books and thesis she published and the letters were not returned to her, but she still had the note, unfinished works, and writings she wanted to hide secretly, and she decided to burn them by her own hands. Something to hide and something to release; she had only two ways. They say that the former was incinerated by her own hands. Nevertheless, she had some manuscripts she could not throw away. They were left in one suitcase. It is stored in the María Zambrano Foundation in Málaga, Spain.
At last I have completed tracing María Zambrano’s life. She placed her solitude at the extreme opposite from the European delirium. “Delirium” means “the wild situation that no one can have control over with the mob psychology,” and the word that is at its other extreme is solitude, or the selflessness inside it. She only holds the selfless love towards friends, love towards wisdom, and love towards family, describing them indifferently from the other end without being enraged at “the irresponsibility of the mob itself.”
Since the day I obtained the books “Delirium and Destiny” and “Filosofía y poesía”, I spend my little time in the early morning reading them. I start my day by listening to her tranquil talk. Picking up a passage of flowers, I take the oath to live the day earnestly today.
The name María Zambrano has seldom been introduced in Japan. Even in the form of translation, her language never loses its brilliance. I cannot wait to see the book on her in the shelves of the bookstores in town and the library. It is said that Walter Benjamin was well influenced by her narrative writing. Since she had rich relationship with E. Cioran, René Char, Albert Camus, Octavio Paz and other philosophers, poets, or writers back then, the research on her will be done from that point of view in the future.
Young María could no longer find the way in Spain, so she went on a journey by ship to the land ten thousand kilometers away, Central America. There is no way to know what she felt as she was looking at the horizon. Nevertheless, it is certain that her grief was healed by the encounters with the people being highly endowed music and poetry.
Today, the airplane by the name of María Zambrano flies cheerfully to the world, carrying the Real Madrid soccer players.
p.s. On writing this essay, my guidance was the official website of the María Zambrano Fundacíon http://www.ayto-velezmalaga.es/mzambrano/ and the detailed commentary on “Delirium and Destiny.” (STATE UNIV OF NEW YORK PR
) I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the authors and for their effort
Original article is writtten in Japanease and published in "Biblioteca Hispanica" by Terutulia Celvantina de Kioto
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