Hugo Mujica, the poetry that emerged from hippie spirituality and monastic silence

Hugo Mujica spent seven years in a vow of silence in three monasteries of the Trappist order. “This is how I learned to listen,” he says. In the third year he began to write poems, and not on purpose: one day, while making tea, he noticed how the sun was setting through the round window. Thus, as when a dam is broken, opened the gates to his poetic output, which has since become “basic” but prolific.

Mojica, petite, smiling, with a bald head reminiscent of a monastic one, opens the door of a friendly, spacious and bright house, where he spends several seasons, in the Salamanca district of Madrid: he usually escapes from the Argentine summer, although he has now reached the Spanish. He never goes downtown, packed with tourists: “This is barbaric,” says someone who values ​​stillness and silence. He was born in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, 81 years ago, but could be 15 years younger than him due to his physical and mental agility. He is now presenting two new books at Vaso Ruto Publishers: deeperselections of his poetry from 1983, and nods to the openArticle from Philosophy of Martin HeideggerYour head thinks.

but on the flap of those books a biographical narrative is so dense and startling that it is inevitable that the books mislead themselves: from this lively place of reproduction, in addition, texts emerge, though not in an obvious way. Although Mujica did many things, and many other things happened to him, his poems do not recount his adventures, but are metaphysical, essential, handmade from the purest wickerwork of life and language. Mujica’s subject matter is so essential that when he gives poetry lessons he has plenty of time, telling everything in 10 minutes. It has been compared to Poet Jose Angel Valente and the current of the “Poetry of Silence”, though there is undoubtedly also the presence of stillness and dispossession of Eastern poetry: “The poem I yearn for / To which I aspire, is one that can be read aloud without hearing anything”.

Hugo Mujica, poet and philosopher, pictured in Madrid on June 30, 2023. Jaime Villanueva

Mujica was born into a working-class family, with anarchist and unionist roots, his father became blind very soon due to an accident, and the boy started working in a glass factory when he was only 13 years old. “but The working class no longer exists“The worker’s charm has been lost,” says the poet, “now the workers have shown their integration, and they complain that the system does not include them.” He soon ran away at 19 to Greenwich Village, New York, in the mid-1960s “not because it was the neighborhood extravagant than now, but because it was cheaper,” he explains.

New York counterculture

There he joined the counterculture hippiewho was tumultuous at the time, as an abstract expressionist painter (the reign of such giants as Rothko y Pollock). Eastern spirituality arrived, in which Mujica also participated, and with it psychedelic drugs: Mujica was a friend of an LSD teacher. Timothy Leary He was part of the Allergic Research Groups. “As soon as I met him, I saw that he was crazy,” he jokes.

He’s never made a bad trip, but he’s got great teachings, such as that nothing is solid and everything is illusory: “You come to see the world as forms of energy, which is why the journey fits so much with Eastern mysticism, where everything is energy and not a concept.” By the time he had taken most of the drugs, he had transformed into an animal and started sniffing his friend’s leg. He also dealt with the poet Allen Ginsberg, an essential member of the previous counterculture generation, the Beat Generation. Is there anything left of that in today’s youth? “What happened is that a system that had the ability to sweep away everything gained ground,” he says. “Capitalism has a remarkable ability to capture people’s desire, and it uses those words from the ’60s: freedom, play, creativity.”

Is there anything left? Anarchist roots Who is his family? “Yes, the Sufi is an anarchist, he is the one who deconstructs the symbolic. The anarchist is the one who deconstructs power in the social sphere. And in poetry he is the one who deconstructs the baroque of language.” It was after all this when he joined a monastery in search of silence, and when poetry was born. “I was fascinated, aesthetically, by the silence,” he says. He was in three monasteries (the United States, France, and Argentina), where he lost his language and control over his agendas and projects, was left naked as a human being, wandering in a void, and at the end of his monastic journey was ordained a priest. “It was the best way to pass on everything I learned,” he says. He came to establish a parish in Argentina.

Coming from silence in a world where everyone wants to talk all the time, Mujica is viewed with intrigue like the one who comes from the other place, the one who knows what he’s lost. Silence, that lost paradise that surrounds us in mystery. “We also miss living, because what we do is work: we work 10 hours to get home and caress our little son before going to sleep. But who gets swag, ”says the poet.

Heidegger Road

“What interests me in Heidegger,” he says, referring to his essay on the German philosopher who gave many turns to being and entities, “is the space he opened up and which I use to reflect on what I have.” Metaphysics in general and Heidegger in particular have been criticized for it positivist currents, focused on scientific knowledge and empirical verification, just as a pun. “Depending on how you look at it, physics is also narrative,” says Mojica, “but yeah, it’s all just play on words. And it’s not a small thing: puns are all we have.”

He believes that advancing age causes the landscape to “disintegrate”, and one remains “face to face with life”. Life loses its daily charm. But there are things that don’t change. One of the basic concepts of Heidegger’s philosophy is wonder. “It amazes me to be alive and now that I am so close to death, the idea of ​​an end amazes me too. Not for the sake of thinking about what will be on the other side, but for the mere fact of having to face goodbye. But the main amazement is born: that place where nothing happens. It still haunts me.”

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