Could you tell us more about your background?
My background is atypical. I was lucky enough to be raised in a family that valued love and thought in all its forms of expression: philosophical, scientific, and artistic. I was a bright student, but I was reluctant to follow the rules of a school that I found uninteresting and outdated. I loved to read and create. I considered that I had more to learn from Homer, Plotinus, Horace, and Shakespeare than I did from this school. The classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles proved me wrong. Two teachers there changed my life. They pushed me to examine my thoughts and gave me the keys to express them. From that moment on, I wrote with more regularity.
Artistic practices such as painting and music and my studies in literature and philosophy have undoubtedly had a major influence on my way of looking at the world and on my style. The rest of my life has been a succession of trips around the world to places like New Caledonia, Bulgaria, the USA, and England. I’ve had interesting encounters with pictorial and literary creations at the great universities of Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and also in the influential artistic circles of San Francisco, London, and New York. This diversity has fostered in me a more nuanced mind and more assertive values.
Why did you choose poetry?
I have written in other genres under different pseudonyms, but I’ve often said that poetry is the supreme art. The magnetic forces of the images mix with the raptures of a tamed music that compels the soul to sing more highly the drama of its depths. Through poetry, senses and thought are sharpened, and the worlds they covet and desire to conquer are hollowed out. This fact is essential — today’s world is devoured by the god “Useful,” with its superficial and usurped splendors, and poetry appears to be the only remedy. Its invincible light pierces the darkness of the ineffable and conquers the sacred fire to set existence ablaze. Poetry animates life, in the Latin sense. That is to say, it endows it with soul and freshens it with a pneuma, a nourishing and fertile breath.
Tell us about your trophies ? What themes do you address?
Trophies is a collection of poetic aphorisms. As I explained in the book’s hidden preface, the short thought-form became necessary because it forces the reader to reconstruct a line of reasoning. My poetic thoughts imply an intellectual effort of interpretation and deepening on the part of my readers. I share with Nietzsche the idea that it is better to not be understood than misunderstood and that one should write only for those whose minds are capable of unfolding and enriching. My poetry is profoundly metaphysical and ontological; that is to say, it embodies (in the mystical form of the symbol) the forces that move invisibly in the misty regions of the inexpressible and try to accomplish the high destinies of being.
Your readers report a “secret.” You yourself speak of an “intellectual experience” on your website www.jeanarno.com/home. Is your collection an initiation?
Over time I have developed a palimpsestic habit. I hide messages in my poems and art that need to be identified and deciphered. The reader is thus led to discover secret and hidden works. This tendency developed when I was younger and practiced techniques that were close to what is called “sfumato” but which corresponded to my soul’s natural inclination. My esoteric and philosophical readings probably influenced me — the Chaldean oracles, for example, or the writings of Proclus, Porphyry, or Jamblique.
The final word?
If your mind is rich with worlds and your thoughts wish to bloom with resplendent stars, let its bold flight rise to the blazing peaks of my Trophies.