Viki Shock

Viki  Shock

The fiction writer and poet Viki Shock (real name Viktor Pípal) was born in Prague on 8 April 1975. After completing a secondary technical school he worked as a mechanic, medical orderly, librarian and porter, and has, since 1998, been employed as a production assistant with Czech Television. Apart from writing he engages in graphic art, especially photography and collage. He lives in Prague.

His first collection of verse, Dvacet deka něžností (Half a Pound of Tenderness), updates the chiefly Ginsbergian origins of beatnik poetics and seeks to sketch out new perspectives for a poetry that, in the mid-1950s, arrived with an aesthete’s programme of individual revolt against all civilization. In Shock, a Naturalistic and occasionally obscene portrayal of the crude stage-set of the world and the age mingles with ecstatic visions and Rimbaldian waking dreams, forming a mosaic in praise of the enigmatic quality of everyday things and the sacral beauty of ‘ordinary’ reality. But instead of Ginsberg’s praise for the supernatural sanctity and kindness of the soul, Shock pinpoints, as cynic and black humorist, motifs of the deification of the body and human physicality, while also capturing a sense of ‘being beaten’, defeated by life and predestined for ‘outsiderdom’. With the collection Dvakrát opakované ňadro (Twice-repeated Breast) Shock distances himself from the world even more, taking inspiration from the poetic ethos of nihilism and the radical artistic techniques introduced by the Dadaists in Zurich in 1916. Fortunately, Shock’s resuscitation of avant-garde aesthetics, which had mirrored the absurdity of the wartime and post-war world in the total destruction of poetic form and content, denying everything that poetry had created over the centuries, is not bogged down in the futility of revolt for revolt’s sake. The words that Shock plucks from Tristan Tzara’s hat or, like Hans Arp, randomly marks in the newspaper, discover the ‘lost presence of mind / in the delights of a single moment’, and the poet sets out in their company on an ’emotion-laden voyage in tenderness’. Paradoxically, the resultant image acquires order, specifically in the form of an intense amorous diction, which permeates the entire collection and relieves the primary absurdity of the texts. Dvakrát opakované ňadro is the work in which the poet stabilizes and defines the basic motif of his later writing: an unrestrained, all-consuming longing for the absolute woman, a Dalíesque Gradiva rediviva, André Breton’s Nadja and even a Baudelairean ‘princess of vice’, an ‘impure woman’. Indeed, it is to the inheritance of Charles Baudelaire and his Petits poemes en prose that Shock dedicates his third book, the very title of which paraphrases the name of the French post-Romantic and the title of his life’s work: Karel Bodlák – Květy bodláčí (Charles Thistle – Thistles´ Bloom). Shock’s thirty poems in prose focus on qualities of the diction itself, its aesthetic dimension. But whereas Baudelaire’s compelling linguistic stylization conceals an authentic confession – the poetic transposition of life’s experience into literature -, Shock constructs his pointed s tories from numerous references to the repertoire of motifs found in such frenetic Romantics as Borel and Nerval, the moralizing libertine de Sade and the pre-Surrealist Lautréamont. The world of the Karel Bodlák – Květy bodláčí is a fantastical world that manifests a boundless freedom of mind and body, but also a world that is loud in its disillusionment and shocking in its morbidity. The central character Bodlák is a prototypically Decadent and nihilist kinsman of Huysmans’s des Esseintes, who ‘all his life has celebrated purely crystalline Evil'; his femme fatale is a syphilitic courtesan and life itself is portrayed in Karel Bodlák – Květy bodláčí as the ultimate punishment. All Shock’s preceding poetics are summarized in the little volume Negropolis aneb Irracionálno dobyto! (Negropolis or, The Irrational Conquered!), a map of the poet’s journey from unbridled grotesque to compact and melancholy existent ial drama, at the end of which the author’s Gradiva rediviva still shines forth as the ‘blossom of eternal inspiration’.

Last year, the author has added a „light – hearted funerary novelette“ to the collection – Zahradníkův rok na hřbitově (A Gardener´s Year in a Graveyard).

Radim Kopáč