J. M. Briceño Guerrero
A message to somebody
who hasn't yet been born
Rafael Gallardo and Dafny Giannitsopulos
What has been the most important
discovery of your life?
The tradition of knowledge, to discover
that since very ancient times some people have thought the life, have felt it
and have done a work that transmits as heritage to the new generations a
knowledge; this is my greatest discovery, that there is a linage of thinkers, poets
and fine artists that left a heritage, a legacy.
Since the moment I discovered it, I felt myself inherited by
the Universe, inherited with an immense fortune, and it seemed to me as if I was
a privileged, that I belonged to a noble family, the Human family, and it
bothered me that this huge inheritance were abandoned, deprecated; and it seemed
to me that keeping such a thing the up coming generations would have the same
privilege than me. Some how my profession as a Professor has to do with
the continuation of that tradition, and if it were possible, my highest pride
would be to enrich it with some new contribution.
THE ORIENTAL AND OCCIDENTAL SUBJECT
The origin of my interest is the need to understand my own
country, my own people, and myself, those cultural discrepancies among us, the
same order from the ancient mysteries that said "get to know yourself," and I
found that it involves to know the world where one has been culturally formed;
then I saw that it was important to get to know the cultural situation of
Hispano-America, which is my closest environment as cultural reference,
and I saw the whole presence of what is called 'The Occidental'. There is
no doubt that 'the occidental', in the Occidental Europe sense -of which we are
inheritors-, has as a foundation the ancient Greek culture, regarding the
philosophy and the letters; and Rome in regard of the social organization, the
state, legislation, and the quest for a worldwide-centralized universal
state. And concerning to religion, the root is Hebrew, because the
Christianity originally was a Jew sect that had
many fortunes outside of the Jewish people, and then, through the Roman Empire,
became a religion of state, expanding over the world, together with the
But we have to understand that these three roots are mounted
over the traditions of peoples that were not Greeks, Romans or Hebrews:
Celtics, Gauls, Germans, Iberians; so many peoples that were
there with their own traditions, and that penetration by Rome's Empire, together with
the Greek tradition, and that Christian tradition, did not die; they are still
alive and emerge as an important factor. This factor is the one that
gets complicated in America.
When Europe expanded toward America, in America there was
also this substrate of peoples and powerful cultures, some of them with
great importance, now a days not well measured, so our belonging to the
occidental world seems to be enriched by this participation of the African
and Aboriginal of America and by certain characteristics of our history.
Then, one discovers, as a contrast, those enormous
oriental cultures of the Hindus, Chinese, Tibetans, Japanese; and one discovers that
there was a different orientation, a quest different to that one that has been
following the occidental world, in its official circle, in such a manner that
it represents a distance and a a feeling of strangeness and difference.
But as soon as I started to deepen in the hidden traditions
of the occidental culture, I found other traditions that, once known, are the
same as oriental traditions. When one studies the Pre-Socratics, for instance,
study the middle edge alchemy's traditions, and then, more specifically in the
Renaissance, the doctrines that can be learned from the Templars, one achieve to
understand that it is the same tradition than the Hindus and Tibetans with a
different language, in such a way that occidental culture had and has masters
that are at the same levels of the oriental masters, and we can easily
understand that the problem of the differences is generated at other levels, the
level unfolding toward the social, technological, judiciary, bureaucratic,
politic; the difference is there, but not in the levels of Parmenides,
Heraclites, Plato, and poets like Homer where I don't think there exist a bottom
line distance with the Hinduism's traditions, with Buddha nor Lao Tzu and these
linage of Zen masters from Japan.
The magic's occidental tradition is the same than the oriental; they have the
same roots. We are accustomed to the sciences and technology of the latest
centuries, to the scientific method, and it is admirable, has good results.
It seems to me a great and noble commitment of the occidental world that can be
very positive to the human kind, even if, in fact, it hasn't been so in all the
cases: it has a terrible dark side that places us at the edge of the planet's
The magic is, in certain form, other way to do science and
other way to do technology, perhaps more connected with the intimacy, with the
inner human being, with one's spiritual values. Of course, it has also
degradations like the witchery and black magic, in the bad sense of the word,
but also it is not a despicable thing, because those who originally were called
witches were priestesses of religions forbidden by the Christianity's imposition, and the devil and all that, were conceptions of God disfigured
and caricaturized by a religion that became official and unfortunately allied
with the Empire in such a manner that it lost its apostolic value in exchange for
political and economical power.
Despite of the deviations than happen at a low level, the
magic is a very high way of science, of nature's knowledge, of knowledge of the
human being and the power to be able of acting over oneself and over the
There is a lot to learn about magic.
What makes the people to achieve its highest dignity is the Art.
It seems to me that the worst disgrace that might happen to a
country is not to have poets. I think, for instance that Portugal remains
being a nation because of (Luís Vaz de) Camoes (1524-1580),
and that Greece, even if it were physically erased from Earth, would continue
living because of its thinkers, its poets, and it seems to me a disgrace the
fact that in Venezuela the artists allow to be seduced by politicians,
politicians that are not statists like Pericles, for example. I am
adherent of the idea that the artist keep distance from this process, that
finds him/herself, that finds his/her own language, own ways to communicate with
the people, the manner to bring it to everybody else, because we are doing in a
sense of inheritance:
We are inheritors of the Humanity's great tradition, of all
the poets, wise men and fine artists that there have been, because we are men
and women and this inheritance belongs to us; but also belongs to us to be
ancestors, specially in these countries. It belongs to us to be ancestors,
that there is communication among us, because we are all going to die.
There is a collective environment that forms a continuous spiritual, and right
there we should sow our seeds, our best seeds, because surely we have seeds pure
enough. We have to choose the most noble and sacred of ourselves and
plant it. And, how could we do it without a comprehension, first, of our
finitude, and second, a feeling of tenderness and fraternity?
It is good to cultivate what Nietzsche used to call 'love for
the distant': we have been taught about the 'love for thy neighbor', that has
resulted in a hypocrite attitude, because not always one has good relationship with the
neighbor, the one closer; instead one feels fenced by the neighbor, like
The love to the distant deploys very strong bridges, the love
for those that have died or are living in other countries and are cultivating
things in other cities; and I see the love for the distant that hasn't yet been
born, and it seems to me highest glory that a message from us remains, after
having understood the traditions, having assimilated them, having lived and
felt, and to achieve to transmit a message that be receiver by someone that
hasn't yet been born. There, the value is not only the permanency of the
name, despite that it is important, but the continuation of the human
kind's nobleness, the continuation of something marvelous; and I think that the
individual glory cannot be other than this, that there be the possibility
of transcending the egoistic and low interests toward achievements,
creations, ideas, works of beauty, that could be received with love by somebody,
as well as we have received the message from the Masters.
For instance, how is it possible that appear in Mérida some
graffiti with poems
by Sappho, if Sappho lived before Christ, in the 5th. or 7th. century, and since 25
or 26 centuries still survives a poem, a thing so fragile, a conjugation of
"The land of plenty garlands
multiplies its colors"
And who supports it? No one government has
built it, not any political party. It holds up by its own strength.
I discover it as I was teaching some poems by Alceus (c 630 BC) to a
youngster. I was teaching him about the metrics, the long and short
spellings, how to pronounce them; teaching so happy of doing so, I could see that
a poem is eternal if somebody likes it and tells it to someone else, and this
one to another one...
Now see: If in a given moment a political party supports a poet, but the poet is
bad, he/she would survive while the political party remains supporting and
doing propaganda. But the true permanency of a work, its true test, is
that it flies alone, that one enjoys it.
Now a days, despite of all difficulties, wars, arsons,
destructions, priesthoods disappeared, academies and libraries set afire, all
the violence that is capable the human being, we can, nevertheless, say a poem
by Alceus; how the poetry survives!
I think that the battle develops in the interior of each
human being, because I have seen, regarding the collective acts, the
institutions, the organized powers, have an insane attitude!
How is it possible that after having gathered an amount of
atomic bombs, enough to blast the whole planet Earth, still they are making
atomic bombs? From a rationalistic, logical point of view, it is a
dementia, a form of insanity specially self-destructive, irrational in a scholar
sense, like a pupil that make mistakes when resolving additions and
Nevertheless, I believe that there is some sort of beginning
of some kind of shy form of disarmament. We don't have to despair.
Even if we don't have individually the possibility to decide, the hope for peace
and health is not useless.