Arcaniam a Writer’s Duty

…The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail – William Faulkner’s speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1950.

Today is an especial day, no, it’s not my birthday, at least not my own, but since you’re here, please give me a few minutes of your time, I’ll try to be brief.

Oh! Are you still there? Thank you! There are so many things that I would like to tell you… I have spending so many days planning what I would say… Excuse me? I know, I know, we haven’t met yet, but if you get use to visit me, I would not only treat you with impossible worlds and unforgettable characters through my short stories and poetry, but maybe, you would be also be able to learn a little about yourself and together we can explore the beautiful craft of what writing is.

There are so many things that I would like to tell you… But first, I must be completely honest and confess that, if you are reading this entry on my blog, you have automatically become a witness of the site’s birthday  – The day of the opening of my blog have arrived,  I wish you all a heartfelt welcome!

Since I decided to create the web page, I have thought many times about what the first blog post would be, what would my readers like to see first? what is it that would make them understand a little more the reason for the existence of this small site in the vastness of the web?… and then, like almost everything in life, I realized that the answer was simple, in fact, it was my readers who told me the answer in the first place:

You see, since the publication of my book of poems “From the Exile” that have been described as a dystopic collection of poems about the Venezuela’s dreadful reality by the literary critics, I have often been asked why I published under a pseudonym (Arcaniam).

The first reaction (and the reason that I am less proud of) was that I was initially afraid to write about an authoritarian state like the Venezuelan narco-dictatorship with my real name for fear of repercussions.  To write and expose the reality of the Venezuelan dictatorship means that the writer, journalist or photographer can become part of the regime’s persona non-grata lists, which involves censorship, threats to you and your family and in some worst cases, prison, torture and death. However, this is not new, over the centuries the profession of writer I would say, is one of those things that dictators most fear. Why? for an interesting reason I can explain as follows: Writing is in some cases closer to photography that most people think – A shorty story, a novel, a poetry can be perceived as a cluster of illustrations about the experiences, injustices and dreams of the characters, yes, but also, on other occasions, the characters represent the voices of those who cannot be heard in real life: that mother who says goodbye to her children not knowing when she will see them again, that father who wakes up at dawn looking for food when there is a shortage, those goodbye reunions with your friends, hunger, diseases and the stolen dreams of millions.

The writer can blur and draw the lines between reality and fantasy, to rescue those memories that haunt us in our nightmares and, above all, safeguards the memory of what it was. A dictator who controls TV channels, newspapers and public opinion, fears that writers will continue to denounce what happens, fears that their words will cross borders, becoming swarms that duplicate in the voices of readers. A writer can reach the hearts of those who understand the reality of his words and that, that is why dictators are deeply afraid of.

Although I have been in  the exile since several years ago, for a time I felt that one cannot be careful enough, then I thought that this was what the dictatorship wanted – having all of us so frightened that we were not able to denounce what we have saw and I did not want to demonstrate that all those years of fear and terror that our society have been suffering had broken me.

The reality is that I had a lot of doubts and pain as I walked away from everything I loved, my family, friends, my city. You could say that physically I was away from my country, but there wasn’t a single day that went by without thinking about what I had left behind and what I, an unknown writer, could do for those who were left behind. It was at that time that Arcaniam was born, although I had already used the pseudonym for years in the digital world and in literary contests, publishing my book under this pseudonym took Arcaniam’s name to another level, because it became my alter ego, that version of me that since I left Venezuela, had been destroying and recreating as if I was a phoenix.

Arcaniam allowed me to start from scratch, with the experience of the past and uncertainty for the future. Since Arcaniam was inspired by the meaning of the Latin word arcanus, which means mysterious, but also, it means the set of knowledge, language or secret information. Thus, Arcaniam became that link that through art would reveal others the reality of the Venezuelan authoritarian regime and the creation of other literary worlds.

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