Octavio Paz: Ontology and Surrealism discusses poet Octavio Paz (1914–1998), one of Mexico´s most controversial intellectuals. Over several decades, Paz has been celebrated for his impact on literature and culture as a poet as well as an essayist, and he is recognized as a great thinker and as a student of German ontology and phenomenology. Roberto Sanchez Benitez analyzes in detail Paz’s training within the European philosophical thinking of the twentieth century, as well as in the artistic avant-garde, to illustrate the way in which philosophical, anthropological, linguistic, sociological, literary, and artistic proposals enriched his work and Mexican culture during the post-revolutionary period. Sanchez Benitez posits that Paz moved from a phenomenological ontology to a historicism of the human condition, wherein morality, politics, and the arts all reside in an ideological context where dogmatisms where impose in the face of a lack of internal criticism. This book explores the themes of the poetic act that Paz associated with his ontological and surrealist readings, leading up to when they were transformed by his experience in India and the assimilation of Eastern philosophies, along with going through a set of Western proposals relating to love, eroticism, and art. Scholars of literature, philosophy, Latin American Studies, and history will find this book particularly useful.
Roberto Sanchez Benitez is professor-researcher at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez
Chapter 1: Poetics in Modernity
Chapter 2: Erotic Metaphysics
Chapter 3: Magnetic Fields
Chapter 4: The Writing on Desire
About the Author
Sánchez Benítez primarily explores the influences on Paz’s literary production from the early 20th century cultural movement of surrealism and Western philosophical readings from such authors as André Breton, Martin Heidegger, and John-Paul Sartre, among others. In addition, the author analyzes the changes in Paz's works that occurred due to his life experiences in India and exposure to Eastern philosophies. Sánchez Benítez guides the reader through a revealing and comprehensive inquiry, incorporating these and other influences on Octavio Paz and his ideas of what poetry is, its purpose, and how it relates to life and the human experience. Recommended.
Thorough, sensitive, by the hand of his philosophical knowledge and his attraction to literature - his way of doing philosophy -, with a broad understanding of the work of the author who is the subject of this book, Roberto Sánchez Benítez makes clear the magnetic fields with which Octavio Paz shaped his ideas about the poem as a site of contradictions, about poetry in society, poetry as a critique of society, about being and its freedoms: ontology and surrealism. Sánchez Benítez imposed himself on reading a work whose author, eager to establish a relationship with the other, the other, placed himself in a large discussion with a long horizon: a poet of his time, to whom one must always return.
The poet reveals from the unspoken; he is always thinking about something else, his true being is elsewhere, he is nobody, none, but he is everyone and everything, he looks at and writes with passion: the passion for language, the language of passion, because the powers of the word are not different from those of passion. This is the spirit that runs through the pages of this wooded book, sometimes intricate, sometimes flat, but always bright and pleasant, around the labyrinths of being and the surreal influence on the work of Octavio Paz, undoubtedly the poet who has fully exercised the freedom of the poetic thinking in Mexican poetry. The skillful and documented essay by Roberto Sánchez Benítez manages to unravel in Octavio Paz the condition so dear to Osip Mandelstam that the poet, the true poet, is always a disturber of meaning.
This book writen by Roberto Sánchez has an academic purpose but - above all - a tone that invites distant readers from the university world to follow the route of travelers that the author has unintentionally structured. It is not a book for tourists, it is for adventurers. It is an update of the thought and action of a universal Mexican poet installed in modernity to which he devoted so many pages to grasp it. Octavio Paz was not a courteous Mexican who avoided debate or confront. Unlike the good and very fine manners of Alfonso Reyes, Paz stood up in the face of circumstances and exposed, debated, criticized. "Asking permission" was not part of his temper. With his book, Roberto Sánchez —a passionate about the work of a poet— acts as a gambusino so as not to leave the universal streaks of an essential Mexican in the Spanish language without light.
An artist, a poet, touches the fibers of our being, over and over again, in an inexhaustible way. The precisely launched web of words arouses awe and knowledge concerns, particularly around unraveling the mystery of poetic experience in the cameo of words, as they are alive. This is part of what the book Octavio Paz: Ontology and Surrealism, by Roberto Sánchez Benítez, reveals to us. The author delves precisely, deeply and clearly, into the philosophical side of the Mexican poet, to offer us substantial moments of modern thought in the poet, with which better to read and enjoy his poetry and essays. Each page of this original and remarkable book deciphers ontological passages in poems and essays: ponder the number of debates that Paz had with authors like Heidegger, Husserl, Sartre, Lévi-Strauss, Breton...; offers the gallery of his concerns. It fills us, as readers, with pleasure, thanks to good workmanship, intelligence and pleasant writing.