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The poet who exceeded the poetry

Arthur Rimbaud in Oslo:
This is the story of how a great poet could rise even higher: Rimbaud in Africa can represent a turning point in literary history. 



After fulfilling his duty as a writer, Arthur Rimbaud (1854 – 1891) chose a controversial new way of life by establishing himself as a businessman in Aden and Harar in Ethiopia. Business is exploring under the anarchist arena of society, and is thus not a first choice for most people. Forcing the stock market into violence requires some courage.

The time in Africa is a somewhat secluded chapter in this poet's life. The history of literature naturally concentrates on the good poems he wrote, just as I myself for a period discovered the originality of his poetry. Still – it is under the sun of Africa the last ten years of his life that the genius unfolds to the full, and a meaningful work for him is initiated. Here he gets precise things to work with – we talk numbers and mathematics, science and not least about being able to succeed, as well as reaching out with his message to be able to point to visible, concrete results. We may ask: What has written poetry brought about? Has it benefited the communities? Poetry is vague assumptions, hovering and without fixed clues; swarming attitudes, castles in the air, often self-centered utterances, assertions without hold in reality, abstract concepts, imagined truths, self-exalted presence, often condescending – near the limit of rude – appearance, little concrete and nothing result-oriented, imprecise, illogical, uncompromising, sometimes directly uncompromising and steadfast in his being. The wasteland of poetry gradually stood clear before Rimbaud, and something in him appealed to a revolt, a complete reversal. A few years after the poet has put down his pen, "the other" is established, which he seeks in Ethiopia. There he is transformed from brass to trumpet, that is, from artist to merchant. Characterization of this last personality is obtained by putting opposite concepts of what is stated above about poetry: a man with character and strength, well acquainted with the qualities a well-functioning society needs – that is, well-oriented in systems and ability to think in systems.

The boat's journey. Then one might ask: What kind of genius appears in this last chapter, in which the poet perishes in favor of the businessman? Is there any greatness in this? If you work with our control set, the answer becomes an unconditional yes. Rimbaud, who was allowed to develop artistically from the age of 16-19, produced almost criminal formulations, sentences previously not put into print – even a Baudelaire faded in comparison to his free verse. So have them

While former colleagues sat in Paris smoking cigarettes, a committed Rimbaud struggled to keep progress in the distribution of goods.

a misguided man got in the right place, and in contact with his mother's demands got a proper profession where there is money to be made. From another point of view, I can say that he surpasses the poetry by forcing the forms to reach "the other" which can only be found outside the comfort zone of art. The wild journey of the drunk boat, as depicted in his famous poem, can now be driven off and consumed by and in life itself! While former colleagues sat in Paris smoking cigarettes, a committed Rimbaud struggled to keep progress in the distribution of goods. He equips his camels and prepares caravans for the stubborn journey from the Ethiopian plain to the Somali coast at Djibouti – a stretch that runs through dangerous areas where tribal warriors could attack at any time.

Death Lessee. The poet's response to society's anarchy is silence. Rimbaud is described by those who knew him in Africa as silent, though he could well come up with lengthy dissertations on both the scientific and scientific subject. A trading partner who had been staying in his house for a couple of months never came to terms with where the host actually slept. In addition to his daily work with colleagues, he was a member of a native woman from the Tigre district in the north of the country, with whom he lived for some time. She was trained in French and often wore European clothes, it was said. The servant Djami was faithful to his side in Harar. At the deathbed in Marseille, he will testify most of his modest fortune to his friend, which Mama Vitalie found completely unheard of. A final letter is dictated to Sister Isabelle a few hours before the death occurs. It is addressed to the Maritime Steamship Company in Marseille, which has a ship at the port prepared for departure to Suez. Possible new trade shipments are discussed. The letter concludes with the desire for specific times for boarding, a last breath that announces the certainty of having found a home for one's own home. "The other" had fully consolidated. 

MODERN TIMES asked Øyno to write about Rimbaud on the occasion of his script and directing the play
I am Another. Rimbaud in Africa which is played from 26.1. in Oslo. Se www.grusomhetensteater.no.

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Lars Øyno
Theater director and writer. See also Theater of Cruelty or Wikipedia

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