words by María Elena Llana
If in Jesus Lara’s poems is encouraged the author’s indeclinable alter ego, then in prose—poetic, of course—this same duality accompanies him in his wandering around dissimilar points of the world and feelings and in showing the colorful fresco of life as well as its dark spaces.
It is enough to enter this world to perceive a constant and infinite dialogue of the man with himself, the deep conversation of the poet with that other person that always accompanies him.
It is curious that this special prose, close for its harmony to the Zen’s view of the world, is presented with the restless German word “Lebensraum”—that is, vital space—since what Jesus Lara actually proposes is an approach to his own existential space, expressed in texts with analysis and literary value.
But beyond the meaning of the title we are in front of a game with concepts, a violent chiaroscuro to bring out, against the darkness, the light of a possible world for us all, where every personal space can spread without damaging other lives and other dreams.
Now, concentrating on the ethical and aesthetical proposal of this prose, is important to add that it is not only the analysis of himself or himself in front of the world what the author gives us, but an inherent poetic postulate, able to unite the many thematic sides the author approaches as a thought or as an experience.
Throughout this reading we can be near rudeness, as well as the fascination of love, and we share the author’s feelings in front of racial talking-shops or before the unexpected fact of watching the rain pouring down on two dead bodies with no name that lie on the grass.
Regarding race it should be said that this is an aspect dealt with an unusual, ironic and relaxed background. Here the author tells us that he had no other choice but to be superior, ungovernable like a country, and he decided to invoke old demons and pains… without renouncing his right to reply.
That is then; he recognizes that his nose is incapable of holding his glasses but he can smell a supernova the moment it is born in the firmament. Or the fact that Elisa is afraid of black men but she sleeps with me two or three times a week.
And if he complains about the ritual in the building every Wednesday, about the drums of which he has had enough, maybe because “I have had it in my blood for several generations”, it’s because it doesn’t let him concentrate to paint.
An aspect which is only based in suggestions is the link he has to this country. For this philosopher/traveler of the world and knowledge, Cuba is not a sort of absence or a claim, nor the lost or found paradise or the waste, promised or devastated land. It is, without actually proclaiming it, the place reserved for his last moving truth: I dream I die in Havana.
Of course there are more general allusions: the nostalgia for a false winter has been here a way to scape. Or any other generalization with its full name: maybe those of us who were born in an island always have the sea in our heads.
Both postulates, race and origin, are clearly shown in one same statement: I am a black painter who has learned to combine colors in the middle of the street, in a corner in Cayo Hueso neighborhood.
All that, the sea, the no winter, the emblematic neighborhood are referents that identify us with the author, as well as with his demands for the reorganization of ideals against violence everywhere around the world, against the starvation which produces loss, and for the end of those psychopaths that create laws as they please and of those who live badly carrying death on their backs…
I mean, in that place where the topic burns deep, the author, despite his constant boundaries with lyric sonority, revolves inner depths, screams, it upbraids false prophets, falsified saviors, insatiable resentful people for whom bitterness is a trademark. And all without clichés, indifferent to any common place. Another value of the book.
Worthy to highlight are his well rationed references to authors and works, even if they are so different figures like Dante or Andy Warhol, his quotes or annotations are part of the text with the precision of a suitable fortune.
If any of the philosophical reflections that go with him in his walks around our streets or faraway squares, can be summarized by Lara in four lines, in other lines he takes his time to explain and to explain himself, to swim for oxygen in order to propose ways to disobey the most sinister canons, to allow himself to dream with the victory of hope.
Apart from his literary images with touches of cobalt-blue or golden yellow, apart from his right devotion to Chagall, Klee or the miserable Dutchman creator of those famous sunflowers, Jesus Lara combines his artistic paths in a unique proposition of smart sensibility.
Above his own lacerations and rebelliousness that might as well include others, millions of others, his verse in prose cries out for a kind of perspective, which far from fading utopia in the distance, can go beyond the mathematical limits and it takes over the light to show the best of the human being in an eternal first foreground.
Havana, May 2016.