Congratulations to Caio Yurgel on his recent publication!
God, a Metaphor: A Meditation on Alejandra Pizarnik’s ‘Awakening.’ TEXT 27 (Special 70): 1–14. 2023.
Alejandra Pizarnik’s life was a long preparation for suicide. But instead of letting the Argentine poet’s death define her legacy, this article will focus on her intellectual sparring with the notion of God – and her ultimate strategy of turning God into a strawman for her own processes of creation. In her diaries, Pizarnik vows – like a prayer – never to call on God, never to invoke him. This is, she writes, the ultimate test: her blood may boil, her screams may consume her, her veins may burst, but she would rather keep her mouth shut. Pizarnik couldn’t bring herself to believe in God – which means she couldn’t stop writing about him.
This article will centre its analysis on Pizarnik’s most famous poem, “Awakening,” in which she repeatedly invokes the Lord (“Lord / the cage has turned into a bird / and taken flight”) until she turns him into something else, something darker still. By resorting to her diaries spanning the late 50s until her death in the early 70s, as well as her connection to the oeuvres of Sylvia Plath, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Jacques Lacan, this article will show how Pizarnik – labeled as a “gifted girl” – was placed (and placed herself) in the impossible position of being expected to be ambitious (because she was gifted) but not too ambitious (because she was a woman). “Awakening,” written and published between 1956 and 1958, articulates the turning point of Pizarnik’s extreme position toward God: how can someone who pushed herself so hard accept a God that would be willing to forgive anything?
Caio Yurgel is an Assistant Professor of Humanities at Duke Kunshan University. He has a background in philosophy, creative writing and comparative literature. His teaching and research are primarily concerned with literatures written in Chinese, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, with a focus on comparative and interdisciplinary approaches. He is the author of “Landscape’s Revenge: The Ecology of Failure in Robert Walser and Bernardo Carvalho” (DeGruyter, 2018) and the collection of essays “A Estética do Espetáculo: Cinco Teses em Walter Benjamin” (NEA, 2013), and is a winner of the prestigious Mario Pedrosa Award for Essays on Contemporary Art and Culture, awarded by the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. He has also authored two award-winning novels: “Samba Sem Mim” (Saraiva, 2014) and “As Noites de Hong Kong São Feitas de Neon” (Gato Bravo, 2019).