Haiti: A Man Who Wails is Not a Dancing Bear

With so much imagery.. In so little rhyme.. The title of this essay is by him. In his poetry, Aime Cesaire goes beyond doctrine, and in doing so takes the only path that takes us toward a just world, in love, heart and mind-wisdom to each embody, pr what he calls the road “of minds that are always free”.

Cesaire is an enigma. Anyone who writes like him is. Sometimes a old greek rhetorician, sometimes a humorous alchemist, sometimes a legba opening and offering the sun to us, no line he himself has written is correct about his poetry more than “le chercheur de sources perdues le démêleur de laves cordées”, which translates to “a seeker of lost sources, the unraveler of corded lava”, which he writes about Haitian vodou. Cesaire exists beyond his negritude. With Cesaire, idealism, grounded in love, which his negritude was the first version of, as opposed to mass culture phenomenon l exists as an undeniable force.

Cesaire is lava. Another way of saying this is that Cesaire’s poetry aims to regenerate. It is the wildfire that John Trudell speaks of. It aims to flood and destroy, melting existence, or what poses as essential existence, into carbon good for recycling. In love with the aconite flower, with butterflies in passage, he aimed these signs at a false polis that tried its best to harm him, zombify him. His opposition to this false polis (because of which he names his flowers, as we’ve said) is the context in which he seeks to go beyond the polis towards lavalas.

Lavalas emerged in Haiti as an answer to neo-liberalism that had taken root in Haiti. Lavalas also sought a wildfire, the sort that Natives here know to regenerate land. Through it a man who wails becomes a dancing bear. They named it a flood, a flood of thought, poetry, action, in order to achieve a post colonial project similar to Sankara’s “Burkino Faso”, or polis (and not deathly battle between) between upright men.

Lavalas, in other words freedom, failed in Haiti because a polis was not founded. A polis cannot be founded when prejudice, corruption, etc, destroys souls. The first poems, poems, ceremonies, gospels, did not lead to second versions of them, and so the deathly battles continued that have rendered Haiti almost lifeless and almost heartless.

Adjectives and nouns come together as a horizon of thought toward a horizon of living. “Oiseaux profonds” or “Deep birds” is another example of this, asking us to get closer to the world we live in, and to deepen our experiences. These adjectives, postcolonial, are rebellions, definitions that should eventually lead to new objects.

Cesaire’s poetry is a flowering of leftism. The mind’s reverie is not an antithesis to justice, but central to it. It is with reverie, it’s poetry, its language, that we will become those who can go beyond the polis’s massive contradiction that though people vote, inequality plagues our existence. Cesaire’s poetry does just that, offering us a horizon. Why did Aristide not achieve the same? It’s a big question. What we know is that the polis dreamed by Lavalas, a twin or marassa of Cesaire’s poetry, does not exist. Instead, war rages.