The motif of “mil Federicos” does not occur with any great frequency in Lorca’s poetry, but it is consistent with his generally skeptical view of the unitary self. Overtly autobiographical versions of the self appear in Lorca’s work, but in many cases the speaker of the poem is virtually anonymous, as in traditional songs and ballads. Is the “Federico García” interpellated by Antoñito el Camborio the biographical author himself? Not in any real sense: he is simply the narrator of the story, not a confessional subject in any meaningful sense. The first-person singular does not appear very much in Romancero gitano or Poema del cante jondo. (“La casada infiel,” of course, is a dramatic monologue.) In Suites, the self often seems elusive or multiple. The pronoun yo sometimes seems to lose its referentiality:
Tú tú tú tú
yo yo yo yo.
ni yo! (259)
The first occurrence of the motif of the “thousand selves” is in the prologue to Impresiones y paisajes (1918), Lorca’s first published book:
Hay que vivir siempre escanciando nuestra alma sobre las cosas, viendo un algo espiritual que no existe, dando a las formas el encanto de nuestros sentimientos, es necesario ver por las plazas solitarias a las almas que pasaron por ellas, es imprescindible ser uno y ser mil para sentir las cosas en todos sus matices. Hay que ser religioso y profano. Reunir el misticismo de una severa catedral gótica con la maravilla de la Grecia pagana. Verlo todo, sentirlo todo. En la eternidad tendremos el premio de no haber tenido horizontes. (emphasis added)
In this well-known passage, with its effusively romantic tone, the young Lorca links the multiplicity of the self to a posture of aesthetic and ideological openness. The binary opposition of the “sacred and the profane” serves to refer to the entire universe of possibilities, with their implied contradictions. The horizons that Lorca would reject are artificial constraints.
Lorca would echo this sentiment in his “Poética a viva voz para Gerardo Diego,” improvised orally for the Diego’s landmark anthology. Here, Lorca seems tentative about defining his own poetics in any defined or limited way:
Yo comprendo todas las poéticas; podría hablar de ellas si no cambiara de opinión cada cinco minutos. No sé. Puede que algún día me guste la poesía mala muchísimo, como me gusta (nos gusta) hoy la música mala con locura. Quemaré el Partenón por la noche, para empezar a levantarlo por la mañana y no terminarlo nunca.
The idea of multiple self does not occur here in explicit form, but Lorca presents his aesthetic preferences as malleable and contingent, including even manifestations of bad poetry and bad music. We should not take this openness to all possible poetics too literally. Like any other author, Lorca has aesthetic preferences that can be deduced from a reading of his work. For example, he tends to avoid abstraction, thinking always in concrete metaphors. But it is not for the poet himself to give his poetics a label or definition, one that will constrain his future development.
Conventional taste (the difference between “good” and “bad” art) is another obstacle to the aesthetic openness Lorca craved. The possibility of loving bad poetry is a hyperbole of a sort, not necessarily an affirmation to be taken at face value. Lorca was also capable of denouncing kitsch in the harshest terms, especially in the theater. But he reserves the right to change his mind or to incorporate “bad taste” in his own work… where appropriate. He might have agreed with John Cage’s aphorism: “Permission granted, but not to do anything you want.”