words by Cira Romero
It is a difficult to present a book like Lebensraum by the also painter, sculptor, ceramist and photographer Jesus Lara Sotelo, author of books like ¿Quién eres tú, God de Magod?, Domos magicvs, Mitología del extremo, and more recently Lina de Feria y Jesus Lara Sotelo. A dos manos, where he shares pages with Lina de Feria, which was recently presented at Villena room. Now we are dealing with a Spanish/English edition edited by Coleccion Sur, whose title Lebensraum means something like “vital space”.
Going back to the beginning, I say that it is difficult for me because in Lebensraum is felt so many and multiple scents born from life itself and its multiple experiences, Lara’s in this case, which I think that every one of the texts are a consummated adventure, not only literary or existential, but also philosophical: and also because with each one of his proposals the author gives way to the idea of healing to the idea of saving, in the sense of achieving the not always dreamed rise to happiness, without avoiding the problem (s) that he outlines to solve.
In a first reading I thought it was a heroic book, but short afterwards I realized that it was an honest book, an idea that can make you laugh, but I uphold it because honesty is a possible mean to fight against the injustice and remorse of the present world, our inner one and the one that surrounds us. Because Lebensraum also has texts where the “realism” of happiness is boldly hostile and evidences that joy on earth is the most uncertain thing in the world. Lara does not say more than what he wants to say, and this does not mean that happiness is the destiny of man, but rather that man should make his happiness with what he already has.
With this group of singular proses, poetic from time to time, direct and sharpen from time to time, we assist to Lara’s loyalty with himself and certain sacred nature that he gives to life, nature and writing, identified without fraudulence, with a sort of salvation made with no selfishness and with commitment to himself. But deep down, the poet in Lara asks the man’s heart to give him some certainty that he is afraid will not find in the spirit field. When he demands to live and die for one feeling, not an idea, he consecrated this way the supremacy of the hear as a source of love, only that in Lara the love expression, or better, love has its peculiarities: it is not a defeat of the spirit, does not evade any misfortune, does not delights in subtle reasons, but even being rationalist, certain fragility would be the characteristic of a particular philosophy, and his helps as a scape door between the most justified desperation and the risky reasons to escape from it. But, at the same time, and on the contrary, does ever the true strength of Lara’s realism, which is at the end the only solid thing, is not the same realism that provides a rich and true life, even the only really living thing based on the power to love? In this sense, Lara’s position in this book is more spiritual than intellectual, in spite of his shortcomings, and such trait gives a more eminent dignity to his humanism.
In such man of thinking, Lara’s thinking, as it is proven in this work, can be very bitter, it can say words of terrible harshness, but is never false. Certain pessimism of his own does not drag the man on the mud, but he venerates as weak as he might be, the spark that lights in the disaster of our condition. The realism of these texts is cynically materialist but places all his hopes in the less measurable and less visible present in the human forces, and quite often this gives him the appearance of a great lack of realism. However, Lara does not betray anyone or betray himself because he accounts for in his texts of the presence of the unknown we all have within. But sometimes he manages to trouble us a bit in his constant moving from one text to the other, and in that addition of progress that tours the roads that life gives us through our own shadows.
As every poet, Lara is a man demanding perpetuity, but he is also through an extremely moving means of getting closer thanks to his modesty, good doubts and a faithful affection to—and for—life, so his word turned into desire, regrets, painful knowledge and recognitions, and this is what must be highlighted in the book of such particular tone and whose delicate mystery strives to be as clear as clean.
Lara Sotelo is not even vague nor confuse; he lands in these pages with the entire retinue of earthly life and he directs his figuration on the non-ambiguous or confused road of his meditations, always restless due to certainties and uncertainties, always the friend of precision. He never moves in the limbo and he constantly tries to move towards a greater clarity. And when he thinks and writes, he does not do so through an image or an obscure comfort of words, but as a subtle reality that in his dreams and nightmare reaches the truth, the absolute truth that is poetry when it is inclined towards a delicate simplicity.
Many times the impression that predominates when reading Lebensraum is the one of a crushed world, a sort of carpet of wonderful glasses on the edge of an extinct volcano, but his poetic force arises in a so pronounced way, in differences and similarities, that if we even pretend to go further we would realize that with this book and the other previously published, plus the unknown ones, Lara is in fact, one of the most new and authentic voices in the present Cuban poetry and that’s because of the communicative efficiency in his ways of saying, the excellent use of words, the precision with which he offers new vocabulary in his ways of saying, and at the same time, irreplaceable, in a verbal game that is not purely casual but that he gives himself as a virgin act when the words fall like a hard light to reveal us what the poet finds and nothing can equal: purity or impurity of life, exposed with the words that are so hard not to repeat and proliferate in what’s impure.
The poetry in Lebensraum is part of Lara’s spiritual existence, not only of his intellectual life, and he projects and destroys in order to provoke an energetic sense of freedom. Provided with not so few challenges, it flows full of a frenetic will to protest. Henry Miller said that “more obscene than everything else is inertia. More blasphemous than the oath, crueler, is the paralysis. If there is nothing left but an open wound, it is precise for it to flow, even though it should only produce toads, bats and homunculus”. For Lara, the mortal wound of the world we live in would probably be the horrible and incurable ulcer of hypocrisy and he expresses this in not few texts which arises their voices to reveal an immense, but repairable, human anxiety.
If I have not managed to express the effect that provokes the vigor of Jesus Lara Sotelo’s poetry, then I don’t think it could be believed for a moment this poet of dignity is isolated over our shortcomings. I would also have to quote his pages of wisdom when he writes his aphorism, rara avis in our present literature, full of understanding due to the very own nature of man. All what’s arrogant and weird in Lebensraum is entrusted in the poetry –prose present in him, and this can give a general idea of his extraordinary gravity and the delicacy, cleaning and vigor of his texts, presided over by the demand of a man called Jesus Lara Sotelo, whose words never slips to ambiguity or grandiloquence.