Nicanor Parra avoids the appearance of didacticism, claiming that he is not a preacher and that he is suspicious of doctrines, yet his purpose is to goad the reader with his corrosive verses, caustic irony, and black humor until the poet’s response to human existence is shared. Satiric rather than political, antipoetry’s sad, essentially moralizing, verse of hopelessness contains a strange and infinite tenderness toward humanity in its fallen condition. Neither philosophical nor theoretical poetry, it is intended to be an experience that will elicit a reaction and simulate life itself.
Even though he is a mathematician and a physicist, Parra does not consider life to be governed by a logical system of absolutes that, when harnessed, can direct humans toward organization and progress. On the contrary, he believes that the poet’s life is absurd and chaotic, and the world is in the process of destruction and decay. Humans either accept this fact, together with their own powerlessness, or they deceive themselves by inventing philosophical theories, moral standards, and political ideologies to which they cling. Parra views his own role as that of obliging humanity to see the falsity of any system that deceives one into believing in these masks that hide the grotesque collective condition in a chaotic universe. Parra makes fun of love, marriage, religion, psychology, political revolutions, art, and other institutions of society. They are rejected as...
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