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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versión On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versión impresa ISSN 0041-4751

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.49 no.4 Pretoria  2009


'n Onvoltooide Naam digterlik verbeel - verkennings aangaande 'n enigmatiese Goddelike Wese in TT Cloete se oeuvre


An Incomplete Name poetically represented - explorations of an enigmatic Divine Being in T T Cloete's poetry



Rensia Robinson

Onafhanklike Navorser, Durbanville.




Eksistensiële vrae na oorspronge en bestemmings is een van die deurlopend herkenbare temas in TT Cloete se digterlike oeuvre. 'n Belangrike aspek van hierdie vrae is die naspeur van essensies aangaande 'n enigmatiese Goddelike Wese. Vir die digter is die onomlynbaarheid van dié konsep "'n digterlike speelding". Vormgewing deur middel van die gedig impliseer enersyds presisie maar andersins meerduidigheid. Dit word benut as potensiaal vir 'n spel met verbeeldingryke kennis. In die Cloete-oeuvre beteken dit om voortdurend op reis te wees. Die onoorsigtelikheid van 'n sogenaamde "gekoekte heelal" ondermyn sekerhede en erns word gedekonstrueer tot parodie. Intertekstualiteit speel 'n belangrike rol in die wydlopende waarnemings en bevraagtekenings. Geykte konseptualiserings van God word gedekonstrueer en gegewens uit die religieus-Christelike kanon word in 'n satiriese lig gestel. Onversoenbaarhede in die komplekse verhouding tussen mens en 'n oënskynlik afsydige Maker word op die spits gedryf na aanleiding van die vraag na die sin van lyding en rampe. Godsbeelde uit verskillende tye en kontekste word gejukstaponeer. Evolusie en 'n "Big Bang"-teorie as deel van die menslike drang om te verstaan, word as alternatiewe wetenskaplike uitkomste op gelyke voet ondermyn. Enkele raakpunte tussen Cloete se kreatiewe digterlike spel en die groter religieuse diskoers word aangedui. Die artikel is 'n beperkte leesverslag met vele oopgelate moontlikhede.

Kernbegrippe: heilige nuuskierigheid, T T Cloete en Goddelikheid, insinjes, Juksta-ponering, parodie


Existential questions concerning origins and destinies are some of the continuous recognizable themes in T T Cloete's poetry. An important aspect of the origin of such questions is an awareness of design which suggests a possibility of super human origin. Cirlot, for instance, refers to the "psychic fact 'God' as a collective archetype, a psychic existent" and that "the universality of an archetype affirms rather than denies the reality of the principle". Through eight volumes of poetry Cloete's fascination with the recognition of such an archetype and the possibility of Divine origin becomes apparent. The titles of these volumes signify "a humble love of earthly and divine things",
as the motto at the beginning of one of these volumes suggests. To the poet the impossibility to find an adequate concept signifying Divinity invites not only a tracing of plausible signs, but also a stimulation of poetic creativity. In Cloete's extensive body of poems such mysterium tremendum creates "a poetic toy". Poetic design implies precision as well as multiplexity, the outcome of which is a potential for exploration through play with imaginative knowledge. Cloete's urge for poetic discovery is aptly registered in the title of another of his volumes of poetry, by means of the phrase "holy curiosity", a quote from Einstein which is also included in a poem in the same volume. What is significant of the latter poem is its title, namely "senile thinker" ("geront-denker"). It may suggest that such curiosity is a lifelong quest. In Cloete's body of poetry such creativity signifies to be on a journey continually. Such explorative voyages, which are simultaneously real and imaginative, implement the penetrative eye of the artist, as can be deduced, for example, from a volume of poetry entitled: "From my viewpoint" ("Uit die hoek van my oog"). The poet's urge to get some grip on a so-called "knotted universe" through poetic discovery induces him to focus intently on the appearance of insignia of such variety and complexity that it confronts the explorer with the reality of an enigmatic Divine Being. Cloete's perceptions of "insignia" can be compared to Derrida's philosophical concept of "traces". The poet is not only fascinated by the wonders and wisdom of what he discerns but likewise exhilarates in the many appearances of caricatures. Although he finds himself in inescapable juxtaposition to a Being who can not be confined to an intelligible Name, this complex relation similarly leads to discoveries which can only be played out in poetry. Incompatibilities in the complex relation between human being and a seemingly aloof Maker become particularly apparent when the meaning of suffering and catastrophe is questioned. The immensity of an intertwined surrounding universe continually undermines certainties and deconstructs seriousness into parody. Intertextuality plays a significant role in the diffuse observations and questionings of the poet. It includes texts of a wide variety, namely religious, scientific, artistic and even high-tech examples. Stereotyped conceptualizations of God are deconstructed and examples from the religio-Christian canon are presented satirically. However, the inescapability of incorporating such a Book about God is suggested by the urge of eating as a metaphor for internalizing the Word of God. God images from different eras and contexts are juxtaposed. Evolution and a Big Bang theory as alternative scientific answers are undermined on an equal basis.
Efforts to characterize Cloete's signifying of the Numinous must be content with dialectic approaches. Ricoeur likewise warned, from a philosophical viewpoint, that "the dialectic of the naming of God cannot be transformed into a form of knowledge...The being that humanity cannot really name, is held at the mercy of our language." This is one of the most remarkable opportunities for poetic speech, recognized by the poet who becomes aware of "perfect sight".
Cloete's diverse and meticulous as well as cosmic perceptions of the human condition, pose a continuous challenge to the researcher. This article, therefore, presents but a limited reading report on the issues mentioned above, conscious of leaving open many spaces or the possibility of alternative viewpoints.

Key concepts: holy curiosity, T T Cloete exploring Divinity, traces, juxtaposition, parody


Full text available only in PDF format.



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1 Die betrokke gedigte is vantevore verken in 'n artikel (Robinson, Scriptum (2004:1): 54-72).
2 Vroeër verken: Robinson In Literator 16(3): 61-79.



Rensia Robinson promoveer in 1992 met die proefskrif "Poësieteks en Bybelse interteks" aan die Potchefstroomse Unversiteit vir CHO (tans Noordwes-Universiteit) onder promotorskap van prof. TT Cloete. Sy publiseer vakwetenskaplike artikels in literêre sowel as teologiese tydskrifte en lewer referate by internasionale kongresse in 1995 (Christendom en literatuur) en in 1999 (Poetics and Linguistics Association) asook 'n referaat by die kongres van die Afrikaanse Letterkundevereniging in 2006. Sy lewer 'n bydrae tot die bundel "Over grenzen" (2009) wat vergelykende studies van Nederlandse, Vlaamse en Afrikaanse gedigte bevat. Sy is tans betrokke by poësieleesgroepe, asook 'n Dante-studiegroep. Sy neem aktief deel aan boekbesprekings vir Leeskringe.

Rensia Robinson obtained a doctorate on a dissertation entitled "Poetic text and Biblical intertext" at the University of Potchefstroom for CHE (presently Northwest University) in 1992 under supervision of prof. TT Cloete. She has published several academic articles in literary as well as theological journals and delivered papers at international congresses in 1995 (Christianity and Literature) and in 1999 (Poetics and Linguistic Association) as well as a paper at a congress of the Afrikaans Literary Association in 2006. She recently contributed to a volume of comparative studies of Dutch, Flemish and Afrikaans poetry entitled "Over grenzen" (2009). She is at present involved in poetry reading groups as well as a Dante study group. She is an active participant in book discussions for reading groups.

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