Jean Arno’s Trophies is an intellectual journey which perfectly weaves together chaos and balance. Trophies, the new collection of poems of the celebrated French multidisciplinary artist and philosopher, is a tour de force, a riveting triumph, and a universal must-read. In an age when humans are fearing loss of agency and autonomy to digital technology and automation, Arno brings us back to our beginnings and reminds us of what matters most.
Deeply humanist and palpitating with dignity and depth, Arno writes, “It is up to us to change into Destiny the forces of which our being is composed (…) so that in the unity of the work triumphs all the immensity of the worlds that we carry.” Arno’s poems in Trophies evoke the paradoxes of contemporary realities which leave the reader newly enlightened. As Arno expresses, we are drawn to the darkest of webs and simultaneously to the lightest of entertainments. In today’s modern yet also antiquated world, we are destined to be constantly tempted by original sins and original NFTs; apples to Apple. “We are ALL the humanity that will be.” The more our environments change, the more the banalities of evil – but also the joys of creativity and compassion – remain constant.
With extraordinary talent, Arno writes his poetry in a way which cracks open the algorithmic blackbox that is our human mind. As poetry penetrates the reader, Arno muses that it “releases from the darkness of the being the invisible powers and lets bloom in their supreme clearness the germs of light inside them.” But there are always layers upon layers of complexity and ideas in art, as in life, and Arno places hidden gems, in a style akin to Leonardo da Vinci, to be discovered by his readers through many iterations of engaging with his magnificent poetry. “In our reasons murmur/Mysteriously/the eloquent speeches/of our obscure passions.” In this way, discovering the truth behind Arno’s crafty poetry requires intellectual effort, which Arno deems necessary since “the greatest truths are conquered.” Even the preface of the book is hidden, and nothing is as simple as it seems.
His poems are palimpsestic with as much to be found beneath the surface, encoded and cyphered. You will find echoes of great poets, philosophers, and writers that have shaped the history of our collective thought. From Homer, Plotinus, Horace, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Shakespeare, intellectual history radiates throughout the text while the future becomes ever closer to our touch. Arno creates for those willing and able to co-create. He says that he “shares 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.” The theme of Trophies, which is “poetic aphorisms,” forces the reader to construct their own line of reasoning, and thus an informed reader must create the meaning of the poems alongside Arno in this exploration of the human mind. Arno strives to stimulate creation in this way because, once again echoing Nietzsche, Arno believes that creation is the pinnacle of freedom for human beings.
As a poet and an artist at the cutting edge of humanist digital technology, Arno lives by his words. He grew up in an intellectual environment that encouraged questioning authority and searching for truths beyond the conventional, beyond what is trendy and acceptable at any given moment in time. His teachers encouraged him to break boundaries and be the voice of a new generation of thinkers. A world traveler and a teacher and student of the world, he inspires collaboration and experimentation. He creates, combines, remixes, innovates, and moves the needle on what is possible. “The mighty poet/performs alchemy on/ the scents of life/ in red symphonies.”
The alchemy continues to happen even after you have closed the pages of Trophies, for now, like benevolent malware inserted into our digital programs, Arno’s poems have infiltrated our minds, souls, and hearts and have altered who we are and who we can become. Man becomes God when he creates – essentially, to live – to truly live – is to live creatively. Arno is celebrated as an artist and as a leader in both Europe and the United States, and his works are showcased in the first Metaversal art gallery, Art & Above. Heraclitus said that no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man. Trophies is a must-read and no person ever steps in Arno’s beautiful verses twice, for his poetry radiates and evolves, and changes the reader’s mind at the same time, as it penetrates the soul: “Every soul that darkness stirs up digs the world with such a stubbornness that chasms blossom with stars of unknown splendor.”