Vallejo on Arts

Enter the domain of arts, a native milieu for César Vallejo – compared to, say, the phenomenological question of technology – Vallejo, in Aphorisms (p.60) while explicating the arts, addresses the existential significance of the mundane, remarks,

Las artes (pintura, poesía, etc.) no son solo éstas. Artes son también comer, beber, caminar: todo acto es un arte.

The arts (painting, poetry, etc.) are not just these. Eating, drinking, walking are also arts; every act is an art.

Though Vallejo never builds the idea further, it is extremely interesting that half a century later, we find the same thought pattern surfacing in Michel Foucault’s epistemological stance on arts, which is remarkably similar; he writes in On the Genealogy of Ethics (p.236)

What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?

I am neither aware of any source that maps Foucault’s epistemology to Vallejo’s poetics, though it seems to be an interesting project. Another temptation to investigate Vallejo-Foucault link is Vallejo’s work on madness, a subject which Foucault investigated thoroughly. Linking it with the mundane praxis and arts, César Vallejo writes in his essay Madness in Arts,

The principal vocation of the mad is madness. Such is their art, its fundamental motive in life.

Whatever are the similarities between the two, none the less, Vallejo’s influence on arts is seismic; a departure note, take for example Roy Andersson’s amazingly surreal sånger från andra våningen which builds phenomenological parallels to Vallejo poetry – the film, in its entirety, is based on Vallejo’s works and is feast for eyes as well as the inner eye, definitely worth watching.

To purchase your own copies, you can get all the three of them online: Get Andersson’s film, Vallejo’s aphorisms and Foucault’s essay from Amazon.


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