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Quæ est ista quæ progreditur – VIII Centenary School of Salamanca

A poetic excursion
Five Centuries of Manchego poetry
Quae est ista progreditur
The lady who advances
Tragic optimism

A poetic business excursion

Embracing the solstice with the days from June 20 to 22, 2018, a time frame was constituted during which a group of people from all over the world set off to meet in the Chapel of the Faculty of Geography and History of the University of Salamanca, the space where a International Symposium was localized under the titled: Life, Poetry, Art and Thought in Dionisio Cañas. Among them was also part of the Lilit Hirsch team.

Within the framework of the IB Program, specifically the Research Project of the University of Salamanca (USAL) denominated “Happiness and Literature: Social Effectiveness of Literary Discourse”, it was intended that “the attendees would know the intellectual and literary development of the poet and retired professor of the University of New York, Dionisio Cañas, in his different facets as a writer, poet, essayist and artist. And they learned skills and competences of a creative nature and management of audiovisual projects. Experts in the work of the referred author, coming from Spain, France, and the United States, took part in the Symposium, addressing all perspectives “.

The participants were: Juan Antonio González Iglesias, Amador Palacios, Luis Beltrán, Manuel Juliá, Orlando Hernández, Marithelma Costa, Idoli Castro and Sonia Kerfa, Clara López Cantos, Manuel Mas Martín Cortés, Santiago Arroyo Serrano, Claire Laguian and Dionisio Cañas himself.

Tabea Hirzel, Dionisio Cañas y Marithelma Costas (from left to right.)

But such emblematic date and place also brought surprises with them. Some events halted the course of the event, such as the unexpected and sudden death of the Egyptian Hispanist Ali Menufi of the Al Azhar University (Cairo, Egypt) or the absence of Céline Pegorari of the Paul Valéry University Montpellier (France) for reasons of Health. Other surprises were inspiring, like the chance of a casual meeting with other Spanish poets of great nature.

Five centuries of Manchego poetry

To conclude the symposium, on June 22 at noon we visited some historical places of Salamanca, related to the work of Dionisio Cañas, closing with a brief visit to the Sky of Salamanca (Cielo de Salamanca). There we met by chance (!) with a group of some of the most important Spanish poets of our time, gathered in the courtyard of the Minor Schools to inaugurate two days dedicated to poetry on the occasion of the VIII Centenary of the University of Salamanca, the International Congress of Poetry Fray Luis de León under the motto “Ab ipso ferro” .

We arrived just in time to witness the end of the poetry recital, as well as to have the honour of sharing an aperitif with them at the gates of the Sky of Salamanca (Cielo de Salamanca).

The International Congress of Poetry Fray Luis de León “Ab ipso ferro”, organized by the University of Salamanca, the municipalities of Cabrerizos and Salamanca, the Government of Castilla y León, the Provincial Council of Salamanca, the Salamanca City of Culture and Knowledge Foundation and the Casino of Salamanca, intended to gather, on the occasion of the VIII Centenary of the USAL, national and international poets around the figure of Fray Luis de León (Cuenca, Spain, 1528 – Avila, Spain 1591) commemorating the Second Congress of Poetry celebrated in Salamanca and La Flecha in June 1953.

It was a special pleasure to have coincided with Nuno Judice, Antonio Colinas and César Antonio Molina. A poem of this last one is especially inspiring when connecting through five centuries the to two poets of Manchego origin; the conquense Fray Luis de León (Belmonte, 1527 or 1528) and Dionisio Cañas (Tomelloso, 1949).

Antonio Colinas, César Antonio Molina, y Nino Judice (from left to right)

QUAE est ista quae progreditur
Who is the one who advances
by the escalator
of the station’s old platform
Beautiful lady without mercy, without time, without space.
Only she knows the schedules because she always
delay all appointments.
On the other side of the avenue, in the rain,
under the snow, under a sun of justice
standing firm like an old tree
that grows on cold rocks,
I wait, I wait. If we did not wait
always for someone we would be calmer,
but already, definitely, dead.
There is no hope without fear
nor fear without hope.
QUAE est ista quae progreditur.

Calmas de Enero [Calms of January]

Quæ est ista quæ progreditur

This “progressing”, the unorthodox translation of Fray Luis de León of the Hebrew word “shaqaph” (הַנִּשְׁקָפָה) resonates in the poem by Molina.

מִי־זֹאת הַנִּשְׁקָפָה כְּמוֹ־שָׁחַר

יָפָה כַלְּבָנָה בָּרָה כַּחַמָּה

אֲיֻמָּה כַּנִּדְגָּלוֹת ס

De León, the native manchego who became nomadic because of his studies, the professor and teacher in theology licensed by the University of Salamanca, had the audacity to favour this translation in his interpretation of the Hebrew in the Song of Songs as part of his uncensored version of the sacred texts, which led him to the Inquisition.

Quae est ista quae progreditur
quasi aurora consurgens, pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol,
terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata?

Canticum Canticorum 6: 9

There are those who say that the Song of the Hebrew king is the praise of a lover to his beloved, perhaps the mythical queen of Sheba, called Mâkedâ ( ሚካ ) by the Ethiopians and Bilqīs ( بلقيس ) by the Arabs ? Could it be that it was a kind of erotic literature, almost pornographic, or rather an allegory, a symbolism hidden in everyday words, touching the vulgar and representing the intimate and existential relationship between the community and its creator, as speculated by the mystics?

This is where the political force of poetry, which frightened so much the medieval inquisitors, lied. Translation does not make the text more accessible, it transforms it. Learning the language is what opens a new world towards understanding, transforming not so so much the text as the reader.

Thus Fray Luis de León returned to the Hebrew, and the scholastics saved the Semitic languages ​​for the rest of Europe, where the arrival of the original Arabic texts of an Al Farabi or, in Hebrew, of a Maimonides would still be delayed a little more.

“Who is the one who advances like the dawn,
pure as the moon, elected as the sun,
terrible as an army with its banners? ”
(Translation of the author)

The lady who advances

In the contemporary translations of the Bible in the Spanish language – and in many other languages ​​as well – the idea of ​​associating a lady with such categorical and warlike words apparently was not received well. One catches the basic idea, the lady was nice, maybe beautiful. But it wasn’t allowed to her to advance; by giving preference and converting the active, almost aggressive, word into a state, a description.

Something similar happens with ethics in our days. Ethics in capital letters degrades into corporate responsibility. It does not speak of the good way of acting, of living and developing business, it only limits the different responsibilities on a case-by-case basis. This is why today’s ethics does not speak of the responsibility of the businessmen, but of the corporate enterprise; an anonymous entity in most cases without civil personality.

Poetry and business seem to have little in common. And businesses in turn do not want to be related to politics either. They should be neutral, so they can agree with the government of the day and take advantage of everyone equally.

Is it possible that King Solomon was enchanted with some physical aspects of the beautiful Queen of Sheba? It is. But a man with 700 women and 300 concubines certainly needed a bigger stimulus to feel so impacted. He did not write many poems dedicated to women. Some scholars point out that possibly he was not even the author of the Song of Songs . Still, oral traditions say that the meeting between the two governors had a great impact on Solomon. And we have already learned to value oral history in our days.

Pellegrino Tibaldi. (1586). Fresco de «Salomón y la Reina de Saba» en la Biblioteca de El Escorial

The woman who advances with strength and power impressed the Hebrew patriarchs, scared the academics of the medieval church, and inspires contemporary politicians. And so, the 2007 poet-minister Cesar Antonio Molina converts this light song with a tendency towards the lascivious, once again, into something political. The great paradigmatic changes in history claim political philosophers from Solomon to Molina, and the politicians in turn try to silence them – by means of the Inquisition or, as today, through technocrats.

Beautiful lady without mercy, without time, without space.
Only she knows the schedules because always
delays the appointments.
No mercy, no time, no space

– translation by the author

Molina, who was part of Zapatero’s government, knows what it means to arrive late. The 2008 crisis caught everyone by surprise. We knew something, yes, but we had bad schedules. Like the citizens who sold their time to grey men in the history of Momo . This is what characterizes times of crisis-to be without mercy, without time, without space. The year 2008 gave us a first sign of it. But nothing was overcome.

The big blow is just around the corner and entrepreneurs are looking like crazy for solutions to the change towards a society 4.0; to advance without enlarging disproportionately the unemployment, the imbalance in education, the uprooting of the people with great labour mobility, the reconciliation between the social-biological reproduction and the economic reproduction, the harmony between industrialization and environment. Politicians are concerned about the collapse of our currency, hence the financial system, mortality from environmental pollution, social peace and terrorism, in this Night of Europe, as Dionisio Cañas  calls it.

Tragic optimism

A “tragic optimism” in the style of Viktor Frankl  is what unites Fray Luis de León, César Antonio Molina and Dionisio Cañas. Even though in the darkest hour of the night, they do not lose the hope for a new day to come.

Heidegger says at one point that poetry is seeking
‘the center of a circle whose periphery is nowhere’

This “field […, beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing” as Rumi depicted it to us, should not worry you – dear business partner, shareholder, associate, competitor, client … .

I know it’s a paradox, it’s not possible – in terms of economics, eco-nomics, the logic of present life. It’s pure magic!

It is not about Max Weber’s  creative destruction, the creativity so praised by current human resources managers. We do not need to paint red cars blue.

We don’t require to find fantastic geniuses starting up companies which would appear on the Forbes 500. Do not worry.

The economist Carl Menger , based on the philosophy of Franz von Brentano, taught us that all value (especially economic one) emerges from a mutually complementary demand between two people (physical not legal persons!).

We want to inspire you to meet up with real people again – not standardized consumers, statisticians, marketing profiles.

We want to inspire you to do magic for good, to be the executor hand of God – not like the inquisitor, but like Mary Magdalene
who was the first to recognize the divine transcendence and shared her knowledge for the good of all .

If you want to accompany us to find this field of Rumi, to give name to the Child Empress whose world was dismembered … .

continue here …