Martín Monreal - International Research Institute for Climate and

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Martín Monreal - International Research Institute for Climate and
Martín Monreal
TOPOLOGICUM
TRACTATUM
TRATADO DE TOPOLOGIA
NY, Enero 2005
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Topology studies the properties that remain unchanged when shapes are deformed by twisting or
stretching or squeezing. Whether a shape is square or round, large or small, is irrelevant in topology,
because stretching can change those properties. Topologists ask whether a shape is connected,
whether it has holes, whether it is knotted. They imagine surfaces not just in the one, two and three
dimensional universes of Euclid, but in spaces of many dimensions, impossible to visualize.
Topology is geometry on rubber sheets. It concerns the qualitative rather than the quantitative. It
asks, if you don't know the measurements, what can you say about overall structure.
—James Gleick, Chaos.
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Lo que sigue debe ser leído y olvidado, a la manera de los mensajes secretos.
1. PROLEGOMENOS. En donde se cita a mucha y honrada gente que dice lo mismo, a la manera
de los libros antiguos.
In that silence, there is no mind; there is action. —U.G.Krishnamurti.
Invited to give some account of his reasons for now writing in French,...he replied that he would be
happy to do so and seemed then to have some views on the subject. But some months later he wrote
saying that he did not know why he wrote in French, nor indeed why he wrote at all.
—Transition forty eight, en Critical Essays on Beckett's Trilogy
What I have read is far more important than what I have written. For one reads what one likes—yet
one writes not what one would like to write, but what one is able to write.
(Borges, This craft of verse, pg. 98)
Sherlock Holmes: "Watson, el genio solo es la capacidad de esforzarse".
"My pleasures are the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting," Nabokov
Things are not difficult to accomplish. What is difficult is to prepare ourselves to do them.
—Constantin Brancusi, Aphorisms
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
—Beckett, Worstward Ho
Somewhat as if one were to hammer together a table with painful and methodical technical
efficiency, and simultaneously do nothing at all, and not in asuch a way that people could say:
"Hammering a table together is really nothing to him," but rather "Hammering a table together is
really hammering a table together to him, but at the same time it is nothing," whereby certainly the
hammering would have become still bolder, still surer, still more real and, if you will, more senseless.
—Franz Kafka
"For if you set out to mention everything you would never be done, and that's what counts, to be
done, to have done. Oh I know, even when you mention only a few of the things there are, you do not
get done either, I know, I know"
—Samuel Beckett, Molloy
Saben que un sistema no es otra cosa que la subordinación de todos los aspectos del universo a uno
cualquiera de ellos.
—Borges, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
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Philosophy would like to delay the day of reckoning for the world in order to be able to put its
question. It forgets that the world is not a universe of questions, but of answers - automatic answers,
though often poetic ones nonetheless; answers provided in advance to all possible questions.
Philosophy would like to transform the enigma of the world into a philosophical question, but the
enigma leaves no room for any question whatever. It is the precession of the answer which makes the
world indecipherable.
(...) There are no questions at all, in which case our resposibility becomes total, since we are the
answer - and the enigma of the world also remains total, then, since the answer is there, and there is
no question to that answer.
—Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories 2
—...Pero...sobran las explicaciones... Voy a decirte por qué... No, escucha, voy a decirte por
qué—. Y le dijo por qué, es decir, le contó un montón de cosas sin sentido.
—Jack kerouac, En el camino, 2.1
La literatura no es agotable, por la suficiente y simple razon de que un solo libro no lo es. El libro no
es un ente incomunicado: es una relacion, es un eje de innumerables relaciones.
—Borges, Nota sobre (hacia) Bernard Shaw; Otras Inquisiciones
On Sunday, Erland Josephson and I were in my room at the theatre talking about Bach, who had
returned from a journey to find that his wife and two of their children had died during his abscence.
He wrote in his diary: "Dear Lord, may my joy not leave me."
All through my conscious life, I had lived with what Bach calls his joy. It had carried me throgh
crises and misery and functioned as faithfully as my heart, sometimes overwhelming and difficult to
handle, but never antagonistic or destructive. Bach called this state his joy, a joy in God. Dear Lord,
may my joy not leave me.
—Ingmar Bergman, Magic Lantern, 43.
Aquello sobre lo que no se puede teorizar, hay que contarlo. —Wittgenstein
A truth in art is that whose contradictory is also true.
—Oscar Wilde, The truth about masks
"Estos son mis principios. Si no le gustan, tengo otros" — Groucho Marx
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2. ALGUNAS NOCIONES GENERALES
EL arte no es expresión. El mal arte es expresión. El arte es una serie de relaciones dispuestas en
una estrutura—es una continuación del mundo, una extensión, nunca una reflexión.
Art is simply the correspondence effected between this internal necessity, this clamant vision, and
certain gestures, movements, colour copositions, unified as a structure of two or three dimensions—
the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
—Herbert Read, A concise history of modern painting, 244
Todas las formas tienen su virtud en si mismas y no en un contenido conjetural. Esto concordaría con
la tesis de Benedetto Croce; ya Pater, en 1877, afirmo que todas las artes aspiran a la condicion de la
música, que no es otra cosa que forma. La música, los estados de felicidad, la mitología, las caras
trabajadas por el tiempo, ciertos crepúsculos y ciertos lugares, quieren decirnos algo, o algo dijeron
que no hubieramos debido perder, o están por decir algo; esta inminencia de una revelación que no se
produce, es, quizá, el hecho estético.
(Borges; La muralla y los libros; Otras Inquisiciones)
Cuatro momentos del proceso divino distingue Juan Escoto Erígena; cuatro momentos son quizá
distinguibles en la evolución de los escritores.
En el primero el escritor, aún indiferenciado, es casi cualquier hombre; su voz menos individual que
genérica es la de todos.
En el segundo el escritor ha elegido un maestro; lo confunde con la literatura y minuciosamente lo
copia, porque entiende que apartarse de él en un punto es apartarse de la ortodoxia y de la razón.
En el tercero que no todos alcanzan, el escritor se encuentra consigo mismo, como en ciertas
ficciones orientales, célticas o germánicas. Encuentra su cara, su voz.
Hay un cuarto momento que yo no he alcanzado, que muy pocos alcanzan.
En el primero, lo repito, el escritor es todos; en el segundo, es otro; en el tercero es él; en el cuarto, es
otra vez todos, pero con plenitud.
Así, los buenos versos de Shakespeare son manifiestamente de Shakespeare, pero los mejores, los
eternos, ya no son de él. Tienen la virtud de parecer de cualquier hombre, de cualquier país.
(Borges; Prefacio a "Antigua Lumbre" de W. Zenner. En Textos Recobrados 2 )
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¿Cuál es su mayor ambición literaria?
Escribir un libro, un capítulo, una página, un párrafo, que sea todo para todos los hombres, como el
Apóstol (1 Corintios 9:22); que prescinda de mis aversiones, de mis preferencias, de mis costumbres;
que ni siquiera aluda a este continuo J.L.Borges; que surja en Buenos Aires como pudo haber surgido
en Oxford o en Pérgamo; que no se alimente de mi odio, de mi tiempo, de mi ternura; que guarde
(para mí como para todos) un ángulo cambiante de sombra; que corresponda de algún modo al
pasado y aún al secreto porvenir; que el análisis no pueda agotar; que sea la rosa sin por qué, la
platónica rosa intemporal del Viajero querubínico de Silesius.
(Borges; Reportaje en Textos Recobrados 2)
La erudición le parecía una cosa vana, un modo aparatoso de no pensar.
(Borges, prólogo a Macedonio Fernández)
There is something far more important—something that may encourage us to go on not only
trying our hand at writing poetry, but enjoying it and feeling that we know all about it.
This is that we know what poetry is. We know it so well that we cannot define it in other
words, even as we cannot define the taste of coffee, the color red or yellow, or the meaning of anger,
of love of hatred, of the sunrise, of the sunset, or of our love for our country. These things are so deep
in us that they can be expressed only by those common symbols that we share. So why should we
need another words?
(Borges, This craft of verse, I)
"Tal vez nos convirtamos en sirvientes de la Cibernética. Pero sentimos que siempre sobrevivirá en
algún lugar de la tierra un hombre distraído que dedique más horas al ensueño que al sueño o al
trabajo y que no tenga otro remedio para no perecer como ser humano que el de inventar y contar
historias. También estamos seguros de que ese hipotético y futuro antisocial encontrará un público
afectado por el mismo veneno que se reúna para roderarlo y escucharlo mentir. Y será imprescindible
– lo vaticinamos con la seguridad de que nunca oirémos ser desmentidos – que ese supuesto
sobreviviente preferirá hablar con la mayor claridad que le sea posible de la absurda aventura que
significa el paso de la gente sobre la tierra. Y que evitará, también dentro de lo posible, mortificar a
sus oyentes con liteartosis."
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(Onetti, "Reflexión literaria", Acción, Montevideo 13.11.1966)
"El adjetivo debilita la expresión y es una debilidad. Hay cosas –un paisaje- que no tiene valor
darlas con varios epítetos...El Arte consiste en darlo todo sólo con sustantivos, y si se necesita un
epíteto ha de ser leve...."
Kavafis
7.No adjetives sin necesidad. Inútiles serán cuantas colas de color adhieras a un sustantivo débil. Si
hallas el que es preciso, él sólo tendrá un color incomparable. Pero hay que hallarlo.
—
Horacio Quiroga, Decálogo
Porque las ideas nunca envejecen, cuando son ideas verdaderas. Tampoco los sustantivos. Cuando el
Dios del Génesis luego de poner luminarias en la haz del abismo, procede a la división de las aguas,
este acto de dividir las aguas se hace imagen grandiosa mediante palabras concretas, que conservan
todo su potencial poético desde que fueran pronunciadas por vez primera. Cuando Jeremías dice que
ni puede el etíope mudar de piel, ni perder sus manchas el leopardo, acuña una de esas expresiones
poético-proverbiales destinadas a viajar a través del tiempo, conservando la elocuencia de una idea
concreta, servida por palabras concretas. Así el refrán, frase que expone una esencia de sabiduría
popular de experiencia colectiva, elimina casi siempre el adjetivo de sus cláusulas: "Dime con quién
andas...", " Tanto va el cántaro a la fuente...", " El muerto al hoyo...", etc. Y es que, por instinto,
quienes elaboran una materia verbal destinada a perdurar, desconfían del adjetivo, porque cada época
tiene sus adjetivos perecederos, como tiene sus modas, sus faldas largas o cortas, sus chistes o
leontinas.
El romanticismo, cuyos poetas amaban la desesperación -sincera o fingida- tuvo un riquísimo arsenal
de adjetivos sugerentes, de cuanto fuera lúgubre, melancólico, sollozante, tormentoso, ululante,
desolado, sombrío, medieval, crepuscular y funerario. Los simbolistas reunieron adjetivos
evanescentes, grisáceos, aneblados, difusos, remotos, opalescentes, en tanto que los modernistas
latinoamericanos los tuvieron helénicos, marmóreos, versallescos, ebúrneos, panidas, faunescos,
samaritanos, pausados en sus giros, sollozantes en sus violonchelos, áureos en sus albas: de color
absintio cuando de nepentes se trataba, mientras leve y aleve se mostraba el ala del leve abanico. Al
principio de este siglo, cuando el ocultismo se puso de moda en París, Sar Paladán llenaba sus
novelas de adjetivos que sugirieran lo mágico, lo caldeo, lo estelar y astral. Anatole France, en sus
vidas de santos, usaba muy hábilmente la adjetivación de Jacobo de la Vorágine para darse "un tono
de época". Los surrealistas fueron geniales en hallar y remozar cuanto adjetivo pudiera prestarse a
especulaciones poéticas sobre lo fantasmal, alucinante, misterioso, delirante, fortuito, convulsivo y
onírico. En cuanto a los existencialistas de segunda mano, prefieren los purulentos e irritantes.
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Así, los adjetivos se transforman, al cabo de muy poco tiempo, en el academismo de una tendencia
literaria, de una generación. Tras de los inventores reales de una expresión, aparecen los que sólo
captaron de ella las técnicas de matizar, colorear y sugerir: la tintorería del oficio. Y cuando hoy
decimos que el estilo de tal autor de ayer nos resulta insoportable, no nos referimos al fondo, sino a
los oropeles, lutos, amaneramientos y orfebrerías, de la adjetivación.
Y la verdad es que todos los grandes estilos se caracterizan por una suma parquedad en el uso del
adjetivo. Y cuando se valen de él, usan los adjetivos más concretos, simples, directos, definidores de
calidad, consistencia, estado, materia y ánimo, tan preferidos por quienes redactaron la Biblia, como
por quien escribió el Quijote.
— Carpentier: los adjetivos.
The Elements of Style, by W. Strunk & E. B. White
Principles of Composition:
1-Make the paragraph the unit of composition.
Sometimes it begins with a concise, comprehensive statement serving to hold together the details that
follow.
The breeze served us admirably.
The campaign opened with a series of reverses.
The next ten or twelve pages were filled with a curious set of entries.
But if used too often it becomes a mannerism. More commonly, the opening sentence simply
indicates by its subject the direction the paragraph is to take.
At length I thought I might return toward the stockade.
He picked up the heavy lamp from the table and began to explore.
Another flight of steps, and they emerged on the roof.
In animated narrative, the paragraphs are likely to be short and without any semblance of a topic
sentence. Event follows event, etc.
2-Use the active voice: is more direct and vigorous.
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My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.
I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.
A tame sentence of description or exposition can be made lively and emphatic by substituting a
transitive in the active voice for some perfunctory expression as “there is” or “could be heard”.
There were a great number of dead leaves lying on the ground.
Dead leaves covered the ground.
At dawn, the crowing of a rooster could be heard.
The cock’s crow came with dawn.
It was not long before he was very sorry that he had said what he had.
He soon repented his words.
3-Put a statement in a positive form. Use the word “not” as a means of denial or in antithesis, never
as a means of evasion.
He was not very often on time.
He usually came late.
He did not think that studying Latin was a sensible way to use one’s time.
He thought the study of Latin was a waste of time.
“The Taming of the Shrew” is rather weak in spots. Shakespeare does not portray Katherine as
a very admirable character, nor does Bianca remain long in memory as an important character in
Shakespeare’s works.
The women in “The Tame of the Shrew” are unattractive. Katherine is disagreeable, Bianca
insignificant.
not honest — dishonest
did not remember — forgot
did not pay attention to — ignored
Placing negative and positive in opposition makes for a stronger structure.
Not charity, but simple justice.
Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.
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If every sentence admits a doubt, your writing will lack authority. Save “would”, “should”, “could”,
“may”, for situations involving real uncertainty.
4-Use definite, specific, concrete language.
Prefer the specific to the general, the definite to the vague, the concrete to the abstract.
A period of unfavorable weather set in.
It rained every day for a week.
He showed satisfaction as he took possession of his well-earned reward.
He grinned as he pocketed the coin.
Be specific, definite, concrete. Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, they deal with particulars and report the
details that matter.
In proportion as the manners, customs, and amusements of a nation are cruel and barbarous,
the regulations of its penal code will be severe.
In proportion as men delight in battles, bullfights, and combats of gladiators, will they punish
by hanging, burning and the rack.
Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or
failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but
that a considerable element of the unpredictable must inevitably be taken into account.
I returned, and saw under he sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,
neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill;
but time and chance happeneth to them all. (Ecclesiastes; King James version)
5-Omit needles words.
he is a man who — he
in a hasty manner — hastily
6-Avoid succession of loose sentences.
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7-Keep related word together.
He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center.
He noticed a large stain right in the middle of the rug.
A dog, if you fail to discipline him, becomes a household pest.
Unless disciplined, a dog becomes a household pest.
An Approach to Style:
Plainness, simplicity, orderliness, sincerity. The mind travels faster than the pen; a writer is a gunner.
1-Place yourself in the background. To achieve style, begin by affecting none. Style will emerge.
2-Write in a way that comes naturally, using words and phrases naturally.
3-Imitate if necessary.
4-Design. Columbus didn’t just sail. He sailed west.
5-Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs.
6-Rewriting is a part of writing.
7-Do not over write.
8-Do not over state.
9-Do not affect a breezy manner. Don’t confuse spontaneity with genius.
10-Do not explain too much.
11-Do not add adverbs at the end of every dialogue (after every “he said”. Ej.‘he said consolingly”,
etc.) or action.
12-Do not overload with explanatory verbs (he consoled; she congratulated)
13-Do not construct awkward adverbs. Do not dress up words by adding –ly to them.
He climbed tiredly to bed.
He climbed wearily to bed.
The lamp cord lay tangledly etc...
The lamp cord lay in tangles...
14-Do not inject opinion. We all have opinions about everything.
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15-Use figures of speech sparingly. Similes are a useful devise, but one on top of another are
distracting.
16-Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.
17-The whole duty of a writer is to please himself, and the tru writer always plays to an audience of
one.
(The Elements of Style; Strunk and White)
De On Writing (sugestions)(Compu):
Five General Principles of Readability
1.Use an agent/action style:
Agent/Action: John hit the ball.
Passive: The ball was hit by John. or The ball was hit.
2. Keep the agent and action close together in the sentence.
Better: Knowing that her team depended on her, Joan hit the ball,.
Worse: Joan, knowing that her team depended on her, hit the ball.
3. Put modifiers close to the words they modify.
Better: Feeling satisfaction for the first time in his miserable life, Fred caught the ball that was hit.
Worse: Fred caught the ball that was hit, feeling satisfaction for the first time in his miserable life.
Worse Yet: Fred caught the ball, feeling satisfaction for the first time in his miserable life, that was
hit.
4. Put old information first, new or important information last in a sentence.
Better: Some astonishing questions about the nature of the universe have been raised by scientists
exploring black holes in space. A black hole is created by the collapse of a dead star into a point
perhaps no larger than a marble. So much matter compressed into so little volume changes the fabric
of space around it in puzzling ways.
Notice how the new information begins subsequent sentences as old
information.
Worse: Some astonishing questions about the nature of the universe have been raised by scientists
exploring black holes in space. The collapse of a dead star into a point perhaps no larger than a
marble creates a black hole. The fabric of space around it is changed in puzzling ways by so much
matter compressed into so little volume.
Notice here how the second and third sentences begin with new information, which not only makes
the passage read awkwardly but also taxes short-term memory.
5. When possible, put characters in the agent position in a sentence.
Better: Hitchcock implicates the viewer in Norman’s Oedipal guilt.
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Worse: Hitchcock’s implication is that the viewer shares Norman’s Oedipal guilt.
— De On Writing (suggestions)(Compu)
Aquello sobre lo que no se puede teorizar, hay que contarlo. —Wittgenstein.
Alguien pronuncia la palabra francesa “nu” (desnudo): un observador casual se sentiría
tentado de ver en ella un objeto lingüístico concreto; pero un examen más atento hará ver en ella
sucesivamente tres o cuatro cosas perfectamente diferentes, según la manera de considerarla: como
sonido, como expresión de una idea, como correspondencia del latín (nudum), etc. Lejos de preceder
el objeto al punto de vista, se diría que es el punto de vista el que precede al objeto.
feb.04
(Saussure; curso Lin. gen. p. 49)
Genet warned him that the artist must be on guard against whatever has influence on his work
from the outside. Otherwise, he said, he will constantly be wanting to make it more up to date, which,
here in Morocco, means more European. You must keep your music and your dance intact.
— (Mohamed Choukri; Jean Genet in Tangier)
El talento es tan sólo una larga paciencia. Se trata de observar todo cuanto se pretende expresar, con
tiempo suficiente y suficiente atención para descubrir en ello un aspecto que nadie haya observado ni
dicho. En todas las cosas existe algo inexplorado, porque estamos acostumbrados a servirnos de
nuestros ojos sólo con el recuerdo de lo que pensaron otros antes que nosotros sobre lo que
contemplamos. La menor cosa tiene algo desconocido. Encontrémoslo. Para descubrir un fuego que
arde y un árbol en una llanura, permanezcamos ante ese fuego y ese árbol hasta que no se parezcan,
para nosotros, a ningún otro árbol y a ningún otro fuego. Esta es la manera de llegar a ser original.
Hazme ver, mediante una sóla palabra, en qué se diferencia un caballo de coche de los otros
cincuenta que lo siguen o lo preceden.
28/02/04 (Flaubert a Maupassant)
1- escribir mucho, tratando de encontrale la voz y el ritmo a los personajes y la historia.
2- cuando no estamos seguros, usar frases cortas, sin adjetivos innecesarios, salvo que realmente se
justifiquen.
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3- no correr en la revisión. más bien detenerse en cada párrafo y ver de qué manera pueden decirse
mejor las cosas, por medio de:
a) la eliminación de toda voz del "autor". sobre todo divagaciones filosóficas o explicativas. dar
menos motivos y mas hechos.
b) la búsqueda de los medios expresivos más adecuados, como el borroneo de los referentes (ver
Vallejo en Trilce) o la sustitución de un verbo de uso corriente por uno que refuerce más una
sensación. por ejemplo, en vez de "se me fue el miedo",
"Además,en Valerio Trujano se me desterró el miedo" (Rulfo)
c) no abundar en comparaciones, las cosas que son "como" o "como si" tal otra cosa.
d) leer lentamente. intentar que cada oracion sea o lleve a una concepción relativamente original (o
un enfoque si se quiere, ya que las cosas que pueden ocurrir no son tantas). como por ejemplo en el
cuento de las Comadres, de Rulfo, cuando uno le clava al otro una aguja en el estomago y el tipo se
dobla se queda sentado en el piso, con el "susto asomándosele por el ojo". por ejemplo acá "susto"
queda mejor que "miedo", que es lo que probablemente debería ir. y agregarle detalles. por ejemplo,
en este cuento a continuacion el que esta muriendo empiez a tener cara triste y al otro le da pena, y le
saca la guja del vientre y se la clava más arriba, buscandole el corazón.
A veces (sobre todo en prosa) no trabajar sobre el efecto de cada línea, sino sobre el del
párrafo en su totalidad.
Estar atento a las tautologías. Sobre todo en poesía, que es asunto breve, ver si no estás diciendo
dos veces lo mismo de distinta manera. Condensar.
Criticism is not a circumscription or a set of prohibitions. It provides fixed points of departure. It may
startle a dull reader into alertness. That little of it which is good is mostly in stray phrases.
(Ezra; A retrospect)
(Bergson) says: "The object may remain the same, I may look at it from the same side, at the same
angle, in the same light; nevertheless, the vision I now have of it differs from that which I have just
had, even if only because the one is an instant later than the other. My memory is there, which
conveys something of the past into the present."
Dr. Joad's comment on this is: "Similarly with external things. Every body, every quality of a
body resolves itself into an enormous number of vibrations, movements, changes. What is it that
vibrates, moves, is changed? There is no answer. Philosophy has long dismissed the notion of
substance and modern physics has endorsed the dismissal... How, then, does the world come to
appear to us as a collection of solid, static objects extended in space? Because of the intellect, which
presents us with a false view of it."
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(Wallace Stevens; Modern Poetics)
We never arrive intellectually. But emotionally we arrive constantly (as in poetry, happinness, high
mountains, vistas).
(Wallace Stevens; Modern Poetics)
The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by findings an "objective correlative";
in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that
'particular' emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience,
are given, the emotion is immediately evoked. If you examine any of Shakespeare's more successful
tragedies, you will find this exact equivalence; you will find that the state of mind of Lady Macbeth
walking in her sleep has been communicated to you by a skilful accumulation of imagined sensory
impressions; the words of Macbeth on hearing of his wife's death strike us as if, given the sequence
of events, these words were automatically released by the last event in the series. The artistic
"inevitability" lies in this complete adequacy of the external to the emotion; and this is precisely what
is deficient in 'Hamlet'. Hamlet (the man) is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible,
because it is in excess of the facts as they appear. (...) Hamlet is up against the difficulty that his
disgust is occasioned by his mother, but that his mother is not an adequate equivalent for it; his
disgust envelops and exceeds her. It is thus a feeling which he cannot understand; he cannot objectify
it and it therefore remains to poison life and obstruct action.
(...)The intense feeling, ecstatic or terrible, without an object or exceeding its object, is something
which every person of sensibility has known; it is doubtless a subject of study for pathologists. It
often occurs in adolescence: the ordinary person puts his feelings to sleep, or trims down his feelings
to fit the business world; the artist keeps them alive by his ability to intensify the world to his
emotions. The Hamlet of Laforge is an adolescent; the Hamlet of Shakespeare is not, he has not that
explanation and excuse.
(T.S. Eliot; On Hamlet)
I put no particular value on the simple objective of "modernity". The element of the temporal location
of an artist's creation is of very secondary importance; it can be left to the impressionist or historian
just as well. It seems to me that a poet will accidentally define his time well enough simply by
reacting honestly and to the full extent of his sensibilities to the states of passion, experience and
rumination that fate forces on him, first hand. He must, of course, have a sufficiently universal basis
of experience to make his imagination selective and valuable. His picture of the "period," then, will
simply be a by-product of his curiosity and the relation of his experience to a postulated "eternity."
15
(...)
But to fool one's self that definitions are being reached by merely referring frequently to skyscrapers,
radio antennae, steam whistles, or other surface phenomena of our time is merely to paint a
photograph. i think that what is interesting and significant will emerge only under the conditions of
our submission to, and examination and assimilation of the organic effects on us of these and other
fundamental factors of our experience.
(Hart Crane; Moder Poetics)
.
..Stendhal's: Poetry with its obligatory comparisons, the mythology the poet don't believe in, his socalled dignity of style, a la Louis XIV, and all that trail of what they call poetic ornament, is vastly
inferior to prose if you are trying to give a clear and exact idea of the "mouvements du coeur"; if you
are trying to show what a man feels, you can only do it by clarity.
That was the great turning. The great separation of the roads. After Stendhal saw that, and said
it, the poetic bunk of the preceding centuries gave way to thw new prose, the creation of Stendhal and
Flaubert. Poetry then remained the inferior art until it caught up with the prose of these two writers,
which it ultimately did quitte largely on the basis of DICHTEN = CONDENSARE.
(Ezra Pound; ABC of Reading)
The above critique of Stendhal's does not apply to the Poema del Cid, nor to the parting od
Odysseus and Calypso. In the writers of the duo-cento and early tre-cento we find a precise
psychology, embedded in a now almost unintelligible jargon, but there nevertheless. If we cannot get
back to these things, if the serious artist cannot attain this precision in verse, then he must either take
to prose or give up his claim to being a serious artist.
(Ezra Pound; The serious artist; Essays)
Misquoting Confucius, one might say: It does not matter whether the author desire the good of
the race or acts merely from personal vanity. The thing is mechanical in action. In proportion as his
work is exact, i.e., true to human consciousness and to the nature of man, as it is exact in formulation
of desire, so is it durable and so is it "useful". (...)
One "moves" the reader only by clarity. In depicting the motions of the muman heart the
durability of the writing depends on the exactitude. It is the thing that is true and stays true that keeps
fresh for the new reader.
—Pound
(…) virtualmente, Quevedo no es inferior a nadie, pero no ha dado con un simbolo que se apodere de
la imaginacion de la gente. Homero tiene a Priamo, que besa las homicidas manos de Aquiles;
Sofocles tiene un rey que descifra enigmas y a quien los hados haran descifrar el horror de su propio
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destino; Lucrecio tiene el infinito abismo estelar y las discordias de los atomos; Dante, los nueve
circulos infernales y la Rosa paradisiaca; Shakespeare, sus orbes de violencia y de musica; Cervantes,
el afortunado vaiven de Sancho y el Quijote; Swift, su republica de caballos virtuosos y de yahoos
bestiales; Melville, la abominacion y el amor de la Ballena Blanca; Franz Kafka, sus crecientes y
sordidos laberintos. No hay escritor de fama universal que no haya amonedado un simbolo; este,
conviene recordar, no siempre es objetivo y externo. Gongora o Mallarme, verbigracia, perduran
como tipos del escritor que laboriosamente elabora una obra secreta; Whitman, como protagonista
semidivino de Leaves of Grass.
(Borges; Quevedo; Otras Inquisiciones)
Un hecho cualquiera –una observacion, una despedida, un encuentro, uno de esos curiosos arabescos
en que se complace el azar- puede suscitar la emocion estetica. La suerte del poeta es proyectar esa
emocion, que fue intima, en una fabula o en una cadencia (…) Whitehead ha denunciado la falacia
del diccionario perfecto: suponer que para cada cosa hay una palabra. Trabajamos a tientas. El
Universo es fluido; el lenguaje, rigido.
(Borges, Prologo a Historia de la Noche)
La condicion indigente de nuestras letras, su incapacidad de atraer, han producido una supersticion
del estilo, una distraida lectura de atenciones parciales. Los que adolecen de esa supersticion
entienden por estilo no la efiacia o la ineficacia de una pagina, sino las habilidades aparentes del
escritor: sus comparaciones, su acustica, los episodios de su puntuacion y de su sintaxis. Son
indiferentes a la propia conviccion o propia emocion: buscan tecniquerias (la palabra es de Miguel de
Unamuno) que les informaran si lo escrito tiene el derecho o no de agradarles.(…) Es decir, no se
fijan en la eficacia del mecanismo, sino en la disposicion de sus partes. Subordinan la emocion a la
etica, a una etiqueta indiscutida mas bien.
(…) basta revisar unos parrafos del Quijote para sentir que Cervantes no era estilista (a lo menos en
la presente acepcion acustico-decorativa de la palabra) y que le nteresaban demasiado los destinos de
Quijote y de Sancho para dejarse distraer por su propia voz. (…)Prosa de sobremesa, prosa
conversada y no declamada, es la de Cervantes, y otra no le hace falta.
La pagina de perfeccion, la pagina de la que ninguna palabra puede ser alterada sin daño, es la mas
precaria de todas. Los cambios del lenguaje borran los sentidos laterales y los matices; la pagina
“perfecta” es la que consta de esos delicados valores y la que con facilidad mayor se desgasta.
Inversamente, la pagina que tiene vocacion de inmortalidad puede atravesar el fuego de las erratas, de
17
las versiones aproximativas, de las distraidas lecturas, de las incomprenciones, sin dejar el alma en la
prueba. No se puede impunemente variar (asi lo afirman quienes restablecen su texto) ninguna linea
de las fabricadas por Gongora; pero el Quijote gana postumas batallas contra sus traductores y
sobrevive a toda descuidada version.
(Borges, La supersticiosa ética del lector)
Literature seemed to me, in a confused way, to be the institution which allows one to say everything,
in every way. The space of literature is not only that of an instituted fiction but also a fictive
institution which in principle allows one to say everything. To say everything is no doubt to gather,
by translating, all figures into one another, to totalize by formalizing, but to say everything is also to
break out of prohibitions. To break out oneself—in every field where law can lay down the law.
(Derrida; Acts of literature,p.36)
No sigas la huellas de los maestros. Busca lo que ellos buscaron.
—Basho, s.XVII
If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge of it is not enough. One has to
trascend technique so that the art becomes an "artless art" growing out of the Unconscious. In the
case of archery, the hitter and the hit are no longer two opposing objects, but are one reality.
—Daietz T. Suzuki, prologue to Herriguel
I think that for me it's been very useful to exercise other activities, such as working in a bank, or
publishing even. And I think also that the difficulty of not having as much time as I would like has
given me a greater pressure of concentration. I mean it has prevented me from writing too much. The
danger, as a rule, of having nothing else to do is that one might write too much rather than
concentrating and perfecting smaller amounts. That would be my danger.
—T.S.Eliot, THE PARIS REVIEW 2nd Series
18
Una curiosidad
Before Writing
In the beginning, all external vision and sound are suspended, perpetual thought itself gropes in time
and space; then, the spirit at full gallop reaches the eight limits of the cosmos, and the mind, selfbuoyant, will ever soar to new insurmountable heights.
When the search succeeds, feeling, at first but a glimmer, will gradually gather into full luminosity,
when all objects thus lit up glow as if each the other's light reflected. Drip-drops are distilled afresh
from a sea of words, from a time out of mind, as quintessence that savours of all the arome of the Six
Arts.
Now one feels blithe as a swimmer calmly borne by celestiall waters, and then, as a diver into a
secret world, lost in subterranean currents. Hence,, arduously sought expressions, hitherto evasive,
hidden, will be like stray fishes emerging out of the bottom of the ocean on the angler's hook; and
quick-winged metaphors, fleeting, far-fetched feathered tribes, while sky-faring are brought down
from the curl-clouds by the fowler's bow.
Thus the poet will have mustered what for a hundred generations awaited his brush to be uttered in
rimes for a thousand years unheard.
Let the full-blown garden flowers of the ancients stand in their own morning glory; to breathe life
into late blossoms that have yet to bud will be his sole endeavor.
Eternity he sees in a twinkling, and the whole world he views in one glance.
—Lu Chi, Essay on literature, 3rd century.
Reportaje a Onetti
Bueno, yo creo que usted se niega al mundo. Y su literatura es un reflejo muy claro de su forma de
vida... sus personajes desconectados de la realidad, moviéndose en un mundo distorsionado...
Primero tendría que preguntarlo por qué cree que "su realidad" es "la realidad". Mis personajes están
desconectados con la realidad de usted, no con la realidad de ellos. En cuanto al mundo
distorsionado, concedo. Pero... o uno distorsiona el mundo para poder expresarse o hace periodismo,
reportajes... malas novelas fotográficas.
¿Para quién escribe?
Le contesto lo que una vez Joyce le contestó a alguien que lo entrevistaba. Me siento en un extremo
del escritorio, decía, y le escribo a la persona que está en el otro extremo. En el otro extremo está
James Joyce.
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¿Qué función desempeña el intelectual en nuestra sociedad y cuáles son las actividades que según
Ud. le corresponden?
Onetti: No desempeña ninguna tarea de importancia social. Le corresponde tener talento.
El único compromiso que acepto es la persistencia en tratar de escribir bien y mejor y encontrar con
sinceridad cómo es la vida que me tocó conocer y cómo es la gente condenada a convertirse en
personajes de mis libros.
Dios me ha hecho así, sólo me resta cumplir.
—de un Reportaje a Onetti
Stravinsky says a composer should practice his trade exactly as a shoemaker does.
I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness
which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with the
arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.
—Saul Bellow, THE PARIS REVIEW 3rd series
20
ON MOTIVATION
de THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
You have to go through that.Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lies
all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.
The whole language of writing for me is finding out what you don't wnat to know, what you don't
want to find out. But something forces you to anyway.
—James Baldwin
Stendhal said that once he wanted to commit suicide, he couldn't abide to do it because he wanted to
find out what would happen next in French politics. I have a similar curiosity... when this long
project is over, what will fill the page next?
—John Barth
Emotion. Savy, the biologist, said something apropiate: in the beginning there was emotion, and the
verb wasn't there at all. When you tickle an amoeba she withdraws, she has emotion. A baby cries, a
horse gallops. only us, they've given us the verb. That gives you the politician, the writer, the
prophet. the verb's horrible. You can smell it. But to get to the poit where you can translate this
emotion, that's a difficulty no one imagines...
—Louis Ferdinand Céline
If I paint what you know, then that will simply bore you, the repetition from me to you. If I paint
what I know, it will be boring to myself. Therefore I paint what I don't know.
—Franz Kline (painter), citado por Robert Creeley
I don't know exactly how it's done. I let it alone a good deal.
—Saul Bellow
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
—Thomas Mann
21
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
—Somerset Maugham
I used to say on Thursday afternoons when I was on my day off from the Albany Times Union and I
was waiting for the muse to descend and I discovered that it was the muse's day off too, you have to
beat the bastards. I didn't even know who the bastards were, but you have to beat somebody.
—William Kennedy
The great european novel started out as entertainment, and every true novelist is nostalgic for it. In
fact, the themes of those great entertainments are terribly serious—think of Cervantes!
The combination of a frivolous form and a serious subject immediatly unmasks the truth about our
dramas (those that ocuur in our bed as well as those that we play out on the great stage of History)
and their awful insignificance. We experience the unbearable lightness of being.
—Milan Kundera
While facts never become obsolete or stale, commentaries always do. When a writer tries to explain
too much, to psychologize, he's already out of time when he begins. Imagine Homer explaining the
dees of his heroes accordieng to the old Greek philosophy, or the psychology of his time. Fortunately,
Homer just gave us the images and the facts, and because of this the Illiad and the Odyssey are fresh
in our time.
—Isaac Singer
Writers that try to probe something are unattractive to me, because there is nothing to probe and
everything to imagine.
—Eugene Ionesco
Delay is natural to a writer. He is like a surfer—he bides his time, waits for the perfect wave on
which to ride in. (...) There are two faces t discipline. If a writer feels like going to the zoo, he should
by all means go to a zoo. He might even be lucky, as I once was when I paid a call to the Bronxs Zoo
and found myself attending the birth of twin fawns. (...) The other face of discipline is that, zoo or not
zoo, diversion or not diversion, in the end a man must sit down and get the words on paper, and
against great odds. This takes stamina and resolution.
—E.B.White
—de THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK, The Paris Review of Books
Another time i saw a child coming toward me holding a lighted torch in his hand, 'Where have you
brought the light from?' I asked him. He immediatly blew it out, and said to me, 'O Hasan, tell me
where it is gone, and I will tell you whence I fetched it."
22
—Claude Field, Mystics and saints of Islam
Creo que es un error buscar un tema; es un error, más bien de periodista que de escritor. Un escritor
debe dejar que los temas lo busquen, debe empezar por rechazarlos; y luego, resignado, puede
escribirlos para pasara a otros, ¿no? —Borges, Diálogos, n.2
The expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from
which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express.
—Beckett, Three dialogues on painting
I have to disappoint at first. I am expected to do things a clever fellow could easily make. But
my consolation must be that I am much more handicapped by my sincerity than by any lack of talent
or ability. I have a feeling that sooner or later I'll arrive at something valid, only I must begin, not
with hypotheses, but with specific instances, no matter how minute. For me it is very necessary to
begin with minutiae, but it is also a handicap. I want to be as though newborn, knowing absolutely
nothing about Europe; ignoring facts and fashions, to be almost primitive.
—Paul
Klee
23
RESEARCH AND PREPARATION
(Al día siguiente de haber escrito lo anterior, me topé con este pasaje:
Said the Philosopher: You think that I have learned a great deal, and kept the whole of it in my
memory?
Sse replied with respect: Of course. Isn't that so?
It is not so. I have reduced it all to one principle.
—del XV capítulo de las Analectas de Confucio, citado por Pound en Guide to Kulchur
La etapa que llamamos de investigación de "gathering materials" es infinita. La única solución es
decidirse a actuar antes de que sea tarde.
The Tao's principle is spontaneity. —Lao Tse.
Alan Watts, The Way of Zen
If the Truth is already manifest, what's the use of meditation? And if it is hidden, one is just
measuring darkness. (...) Whatever you see, that is it, in front, behind, in all the ten directions.
—Saraha's Treasury of Songs, Alan Watts, Zen, 78
The attempt to work on one's own mind is a vicious circle. To try to purify it is to be contamined with
purity. (...) Hui-neng's teaching is that instead of trying to purify or empty the mind, one must simply
let go of the mind—because the mind is nothing to be grasped. "To concentrate on the mind and to
contemplate it until it is still is a disease and not dhyana."
— Alan Watts, Zen, 93
Comprendí que las tres facultades del alma humana, memoria, entendimiento y voluntad, no son una
ficción escolástica. La memoria de Shakespeare no podía revelarme otra cosa que las circunstancias
de Shakespeare. Es evidente que éstas no constituyen la singularidad del poeta; lo que importa es la
obra que ejecutó con ese material deleznable.
—Borges, La memoria de Shakespeare.
De lo escrito, uno ha leído unas páginas nada más, y del mundo, uno ha visto unas cuantas visiones.
Pero, cabría pensar que en ésas están las otras, es decir, que platónicamente uno ha visto todas las
cosas, y que ha leído todos los libros. Aun los libros escritos en idiomas desconocidos. Por eso se
dice que todos los libros son un solo libro. Yo he pensado, tantas veces, que los temas de la literatura,
bueno, son escasos, y que cada generación busca ligeras variantes, cada generación reescribe en el
24
dialecto de su época, lo que ha sido escrito ya. Y que hay pequeñas diferencias, pero esas pequeñas
diferencias son muy, muy importantes, como es natural, por lo menos para nosotros.
—Borges, Dialogos, n. 1
BEGGINING - STARTING POINT
When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble.
(No titubées).
—Yun-men, en Alan Watts, Zen, 135
"For if you set out to mention everything you would never be done, and that's what counts, to be
done, to have done. Oh I know, even when you mention only a few of the things there are, you do not
get done either, I know, I know"
—Samuel Beckett, Molloy
And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if there were written ine by one, I
suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
—John, 21.25
Todo se ha escrito, todo se ha dicho, todo se ha hecho, oyó Dios que le decían y aún no había
creado el mundo, todavía no había nada. También eso ya me lo han dicho, repuso quizá desde la
vieja, hendida Nada. Y comenzó.
Una frase de música del pueblo me cantó una rumana y luego la he hallado diez veces en
distintas obras y autores de los últimos cuatrocientos años. Es indudable que las cosas no comienzan;
o no comienzan cuando se las inventa. O el mundo fue inventado antiguo.
—
Macedonio Fernández, Museo de la novela de la Eterna, pg.13
Estoy contento de haber tenido la voluntad de trabajar, en condiciones bastante desfavorables,
para dar fin a una obra que exigía soledad y recogimiento. Escribí siempre en redacciones
estrepitosas, acosado por la obligación de la columna diaria.
Digo esto para estimular a los principiantes en la vocación, a quienes siempre les interesa el
procedimiento técnico del novelista. Cuando se tiene algo que decir, se escribe en cualquier parte.
Sobre una bobina de papel o en un cuarto infernal. Dios o el Diablo están junto a uno dictándole
inefables palabras.
(...)
Pasando a otra cosa: Se dice de mí que escribo mal. Es posible. De cualquier manera, no tendría
dificultad en citar a numerosa gente que escribe bien y a quienes únicamente leen correctos miembros
de su familia.
25
(...)
Hoy, entre los ruidos de un edificio social que se desmorona inevitablemente, no es posible
pensar en bordados. El estilo requiere tiempo, y si yo escuchara los consejos de mis camaradas, me
ocurriría lo que les sucede a algunos de ellos: Escribiría un libro cada 10 años, para tomarme después
unas vacaciones de diez años por haber tardado diez años en escribir cien razonables páginas
discretas.
(...)
Han pasado esos tiempos. El futuro es nuestro, por prepotencia de trabajo. Crearemos nuestra
literatura, no conversando continuamente de literatura, sino escribiendo en orgullosa soledad libros
que encierran la violencia de un "cross" a la mandíbula. Sí, un libro tras otro, y "que los eunucos
bufen."
—Roberto Arlt, Prólogo a Los Lanzallamas.
The mind; a mad-killer elephant.
The mind's desires: hawks.
they can't be stopped by chants or charts.
When they like, they swoop and eat.
— Kabir sakhi 145
Set-up. The object is set before the mind, either in reality, as in sketching (before a landscape or
teacup or old face) or is set in the memory wherein it becomes the sketching from memory of a
definite image-object.
Procedure. Time being of the essence in the purity of speech, sketching language is undisturbed flow
from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject image.
Scoping. Not "selectivity" of expression but following free deviation (association) of mind into
limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought, swimming in sea of English with no discipline other than
rhythms of rethorical exhalation and expostulated statement, like a fist coming down on a table with
each complete utterance, bang! (the space dash)—Blow as deep as you want—write as deeply, fish as
far as you want, satisfy yourself first, then reader cannot fail to receive telepathic shock and meaningexcitement by same laws operating in his human mind.
26
Center of interest. Begin not from preconceived idea of what to say about image but from jewel
centre of interest in subject of image at moment of writing, and write outwards swimming in sea of
language to peripheral release and exhaustion.
—Jack Kerouac, fromEssentials of spontaneous prose.
Now that I am so far from my youth, I think that any kind of excuse is good to fire the imagination
and set the creative juices flowing. When you're young you need faith, anger and an ideological or
moral thrust, but when you're getting on, any excuse is good.
(Fellini, Conversations, 98)
Language itself is a kind of resistance to the pure flow of self. The solution is to become one's
language. You cannot write a poem until you hit upon its rhythm. That rhythm not only belongs to
the subject matter, it belongs to your interior world, and the moment they hook up there's a quantum
leap of energy.
—Stanley Kunitz, THE WRITER"S
CHAPBOOK
The first idea is vague, but I know it is the generative force—later everything can change. I can well
imagine Proust writing: "For a long time I used to go to bed early..." and not knowing what story he
was going to tell.
—Robbe-Grillet, THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
There is no need to wait for inspiration; no need to find your confidence; no need to know
exactly why or what you're writing; no need read wise and thoughtful books about how to write; no
need to be sure you're on the right track; no need even for your research to be complete. No need
'now'. Later on, it will be very nice to have some or all of these fine things. You will of course
eventually want inspiration and confidence and selfknowledge and faith in your project and informed
technique and a finished story with developed characters and completed competent research. But
every single one of these things—even the research—comes to you only in the process of writing.
They are the result of writing. If you let anyone of them immobilize you before you write, I can
guarantee that a year from now you will still be waiting to begin. The belief that you must have them
to begin is the most common mistake of all, and it is fatal. Right here—on the jagged rocks of that
false belief—is where most good ideas break up and sink without trace. Inspiration and confidence
and conviction and craft and knowledge are not what make writing possible. It's exactly the other
way around. Writing makes them possible.
"The common conception of how novels get written," says Martin Amis, "seems to me to be
an exact description of writer's block. In the common view, the writer is at this stage so desperate that
he's sitting around with a list of characters, alist of themes, and a framework for his plot, and
ostensibly trying to mesh the three elements. In fact, it's never like that. What happens is what
Nabokov described as a throb. A throb or a glimmer, an act of recognition on the wrier's part. At this
stage the writer thinks, Here is something I can write a novel about."
And you must sit down and write. It doesn't really matter if you feel like writing. As Tom
Wolfe says, "Sometimes, if things are going badly, I will force myself to write a page in half an hour.
27
I find that can be done. I find that what I write when I force myself is generally just as good as what I
write when I'm feeling inspired. It's mainly a matter of forcing yourself to write There's a marvellous
essay that Siclair Lewis wrote on how to write. He said that most writers don't understand that the
process begins by actually sitting down."
"One must be pitiless about this matter of mood. In a sense the writing will create the mood."
(Joyce Carol Oates). You cannot know a story until it has been told. First you tell it; then you know
it. It is not the other way around. What matters is not the idea's size but its resonance. (Do not try to
take control of a new idea, to assert yourself, to turn it into something.) It's not only the mind that
knows things. The heart knows things, the imagination knows things.
Stephen King compares stories to fossils and thinks stories need to be as much dug up as
made up. "Stories aren't souvenir T-shirts or GAmeBoys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered,
preexisting world."
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
la escritura como una sucesión de cosas que deben ser preservadas. una memoria y una sensibilidad
particular. el personaje, el plot, etc. no son sino centros alrededor de cuales se organizan los
distintos elementos. escribir es como hacer una antología de las cosas que me gustan. no se es fiel a
un argumento o a un personaje. se es fiel a uno mismo, a lo que leímos, lo que amamos, lo que
odiamos.
Sometimes I am asked to talk to groups of students about writing, and the poor souls are filled to the
brim with all the complex business about theories and types of narrative and this, that and the other.
What I say to them is, "If you are a writer, a real writer, you are descendant of those medieval
storytellers who used to go into the square of a town and spread a little mat on the ground and sit on
it and beat on a bowl and say: "If you give a copper coin I will tell you a golden tale".
—
Robertson Davies THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
Some little image, some detail you've noticed—you're writing about a little country shop, just
describing it, and yoour poem ends up with an existentialist account of your experience. But it's the
shop that started it off. You didn't know why it meant a lot to you.
—Robert Lowell THE
WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
Joyce said of the underlying structure of the Ulysses—the Odyssean parallel and parody—that he
really didn't care whether it was plausible, so long as it served as a bridge to get his "soldiers" across.
Once they were across, what does it matter if the bridge collapses?
—Joyce Carol Oates THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
28
Mice: Do you know what is going to happen when you write a story?
Y.C: Almost never. I start to make it up and have happen what would have to happen as it goes
along.
Mice: How much should you write a day?
Y.C.: The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when ypu know what will happen
next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most
valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.
Mice: All right.
Y.C.: Always stop while you are going good and don't think about it or worry about it until you start
to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about
it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and you brain will be tired before you start. Once you
are into the novel it is as cowardly to worry about whether you can go on the next day as to worry
about having to go into inevitable action. You have to go on. So there is no sense to worry. You have
to learn that to write a novel. The hard part about a novel is to finish it.
Mice: How can you learn not to worry?
Y.C.: By not thinking about it. As soon as you start to think about it stop it. Think about something
else. You have to learn that.
—Hemingway, By-Line
Cabanne: Several interpretations of the "Large Glass" have been given. What is yours?
Duchamp: I don't have any, because I made it without an idea. There were things that came along as I
worked. The ide of the ensemble was purely and simply the execution, more than descriptions of
each part in the manner of the catalogue of the "Arms of Saint-Etienne." It was a renunciation of all
esthetics, in the ordinary sense of the word... not just another manifesto of new painting. A sum of
experiments.
—Marcel Duchamp, Interviews, 42
Bergman desarrolla sus personajes "dejándolos hablar" en primera persona, es decir escribiendo una
especie de diario para cada uno (que obviamente se mezcla un poco con cosas personales). me parece
una técnica interesante. (Ver, por ejemplo, los notebooks de Persona).
JUAN RULFO
Considero que hay tres pasos: el primero de ellos es crear el personaje, el segundo crear el
ambiente donde ese personaje se va a mover y el tercero es cómo va a hablar ese personaje, cómo se
va a expresar. Esos tres puntos de apoyo son todo lo que se requiere para contar una historia: ahora,
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yo le tengo temor a la hoja en blanco, y sobre todo al lápiz, porque yo escribo a mano; pero quiero
decir, más o menos, cuáles son mis procedimientos en una forma muy personal. Cuando yo empiezo
a escribir no creo en la inspiración, jamás he creído en la inspiración, el asunto de escribir es un
asunto de trabajo; ponerse a escribir a ver qué sale y llenar páginas y páginas, para que de pronto
aparezca una palabra que nos dé la clave de lo que hay que hacer, de lo que va a ser aquello. A veces
resulta que escribo cinco, seis o diez páginas y no aparece el personaje que yo quería que apareciera,
aquél personaje vivo que tiene que moverse por sí mismo. De pronto, aparece y surge, uno lo va
siguiendo, uno va tras él. En la medida en que el personaje adquiere vida, uno puede, por caminos
que uno desconoce pero que, estando vivo, lo conducen a uno a una realidad, o a una irrealidad, si se
quiere. Al mismo tiempo, se logra crear lo que se puede decir, lo que, al final, parece que sucedió, o
pudo haber sucedido, o pudo suceder pero nunca ha sucedido. Entonces, creo yo que en esta cuestión
de la creación es fundamental pensar qué sabe uno, qué mentiras va a decir; pensar que si uno entra
en la verdad, en la realidad de las cosas conocidas, en lo que uno ha visto o ha oído, está haciendo
historia, reportaje.
Concretando, se trabaja con: imaginación, intuición y una aparente verdad.
En mi caso personal, tengo la característica de eliminarme de la historia, nunca cuento un cuento en
que haya experiencias personales o que haya algo autobiográfico o que yo haya visto u oído, siempre
tengo que imaginarlo o recrearlo, si acaso hay un punto de apoyo. Ése es el misterio, la creación
literaria es misteriosa, y uno llega a la conclusión de que si el personaje no funciona, y el autor tiene
que ayudarle a sobrevivir; entonces falla inmediatamente. Estoy hablando de cosas elementales,
ustedes deben perdonarme, pero mis experiencias han sido éstas, nunca he relatado nada que haya
sucedido; mis bases son la intuición y, dentro de eso, ha surgido lo que es ajeno al autor.
J. R. No puedo saber hasta ahora qué es lo que me lleva a tratar los temas de mi obra narrativa. No
tengo un sentido crítico-analítico preestablecido. Simplemente me imagino un personaje y trato de
ver a dónde este personaje, al seguir su curso, me va a llevar. No trato yo de encauzarlo, sino de
seguirlo aunque sea por caminos oscuros. Yo empiezo primero imaginándome un personaje. Tengo la
idea exacta de cómo es ese personaje. Y entonces lo sigo. Sé que no me va a llevar de una manera en
secuencia, sino que a veces va a dar saltos. Lo cual es natural, pues la vida de un hombre nunca es
continua. Sobre todo si se trata de hechos. Los hechos humanos no siempre se dan en secuencia. De
modo que yo trato de evitar momentos muertos, en que no sucede nada. Doy el salto hasta el
momento cuando al personaje le sucede algo, cuando se inicia una acción, y a él le toca accionar,
recorrer los sucesos de su vida.
(Acerca de “Pedro Páramo”)
Dejaba párrafos a la mitad, de modo que pudiera dejar un rescoldo o encontrar el hilo pendiente del
pensamiento al día siguiente. En cuatro meses, de abril a agosto de 1954, reuní 300 páginas.
Conforme pasaba a máquina el original destruía las hojas manuscritas.
Llegué a hacer otras tres versiones que consistieron en reducir a la mitad aquellas 300 páginas.
Eliminé toda divagación y borré completamente las intromisiones del autor.
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Primero la había escrito en secuencia, pero advertí que la vida no es una secuencia; pueden pasar los
años sin que nada ocurra y de pronto se desencadenan los hechos muy espaciados, roto el esquema
del tiempo y el espacio, por eso los personajes están muertos, no están dentro del tiempo o el espacio.
Lo que ignoro es de dónde salieron las intuiciones a las que debo su forma: fue como si alguien me
dictara".
Una de las cosas más difíciles que me ha tocado hacer, precisamente, es la eliminación del autor,
eliminarme a mí mismo. Yo dejo que aquellos personajes funcionen por sí y no con mi inclusión,
porque entonces entro en la divagación del ensayo, en la elucubración; llega uno hasta a meter sus
propias ideas, se siente filósofo, en fin, y uno trata de hacer creer hasta en la ideología que tiene uno,
su manera de pensar sobre la vida, o sobre el mundo, sobre los seres humanos, cuál es el principio
que movía las acciones del hombre. Cuando sucede eso, se vuelve uno ensayista.
Hay que aprender a tachar, y se debe, antes que nada, cuidar la velocidad que se quiere lograr.
—Juan Rulfo, extractos de varias entrevistas y artículos
One does not contrive an accident: one observes it to draw inspiration therefrom. An accident is
perhaps the only thing that really inspires us. A composer improvises aimlessly the way an animal
grubs about. [...] He seeks a satisfaction that he fully knows he will not find without first striving for
it.
— Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of music
To practice with an end in view is to have one eye on the practice and the other on the end, which is
lack of concentration, lack of sincerity.
—Alan Watts, Zen, 154
What really counts is to strip the soul naked. Painting or poetry is made as we make love; a total
embrace, prudence thrown to the wind, nothing held back...
—Joan Miró; Theories of Modern Art, 431
Cries and Whispers
That's the way it is: Images obstinately resurface without my knowing what they want with me; then
they disappear only to come back, looking exactly the same.
Four women dressed in white in a big red room. They came and went, whispered to one another, and
were utterly secretive. (...) In the beginning, of course, I didn't know what the women's names were
or why they came and went in the gray light od dawn in a red room. Time and time again, I rejected
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this image and refused to base a film (or whatever it is) on it. But the image has persisted and
reluctantly I have identified it: three women who are waiting for the fourth on to die. They take turns
sitting with her.
—Bergman, Images, 83
1. Provide Motivation:
Every story is what its characters do.
They will not act without motivation. Motivation leads to conflict, and conflict is the key to
drama. Students like to say that they stage no confrontations because peolpe avoid confrontations in
modern life. 'Modern life is so lonely,' they say. This is laziness. It's the writer's job to stage
confrontations, so the characters will say surprising and revealing things, etc.
(Nota: un buen ejemplo de "confrontation" y "motivation" a un nivel nada exagerado, es
Chejov. Sus personajes quieren algo que no tienen —puede ser tranquilidad, que los dejen en paz— o
están en oposición a otro, pero nunca de manera violenta. Incluso en Beckett está esa motivación de
ir hacia adelante, aunque ese 'adelante' no nos lleve a ninguna parte, como en Molly. I can't go on, I'll
go on.Motivación: pensar en Moby Dick. Aunque por otro lado hay novelas como Tristam Shandy,
en donde la motivación es difícil de localizar. En fin. Punto dudoso este.)
2. Look for a beginning or an end:
(Philip Roth) I need something driving down the center of a book, a magnet to draw everyting to
it—that's what I look for during the first months of writing something new. I often have to write a
hundred pages or more before there's a paragraph that's alive. Okay, I say to myself, that's your
beginning, start there; that's the first paragraph of the book. I'll go over the first six months of work
and underline in red a paragraph, a sentence, sometimes no more than a phrase, that has some life in
it, and then I'll tipe all these out on a page."
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
When i begin to write i don't stop and wonder if I am interfering too directly in the story, or if I know
too much about my characters, or whether or not I ought to judge them. I write with complete
naiveté, spontaneously. I've never had any preconceived notion of what I could or could not do. [You
have to get rid] of the naive idea that Joyce, Kafka and Faulkner hold the Tbles of the Law of
fictional technique. I'm convinced that a man with the real temperament would trascend these taboos,
these imaginary Rules. A novelist spontaneously works out the techniques that fits his own nature.
There is a point of departure, there are some characters...
I never make notes for future use. I don't observe, i don't describe; I rediscover.
—François Mauriac, THE PARIS REVIEW 1st Series
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...a peculair leap of concentration, comparable perhaps to the jolt which a man who has stayed up all
night gives himself when he knows that his life depends on all his senses being alert.(...) Before all
doing and creating, before ever he begins to devote and adjust himself to his task, the artist summons
forth this presence of mind and makes sure of it through practice.
—Eugene Herriguel, Zen in the art of archery, 38
"Wait without purpose in the state of highest tension. Wait patiently, and see what comes—and how
it comes!"
—Master to Eugene Herriguel, Zen in the art of archery, 51
If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I
could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with first true simple
declarative sentence I had written.
—Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Painting is not—or is no longer—the art of imitating an object by means of lines and colors, but the
art of giving our instinc a plastic consciousness.
—Jean Metzinger, Theories of Modern Art,, 209
(Algo similar podria decirse de la literatura.)
Escribir debería ser como ir de pesca. Sentarse y esperar y estar atento—una relajación tensa, como
un arquero japonés a punto de largar la flecha—y dejar que el anzuelo se hunda y siga su curso. La
actividad precede—envuelve—al hecho. La escritura, el acto de escribir, precede a la idea. Un buen
ejemplo es la carta famosa de Kafka a Milena:
"[Escribir cartas] se trata, en efecto, de un trato con fantasmas; y no sólo con el fantasma del
destinatario, sino con el propio, que nace bajo la mano en la carta que uno escribe..."
"Escribir cartas significa descubrirse ante los fantasmas, cosa que esperan con avidez."
"Los besos escritos no alcanzan su destino, son bebidos por los fantasmas en el camino. Gracias a ese
abundante alimento, semultiplican de forma inaudita."
El hecho de tener escribirla (el hecho de tener que contestar una carta anterior, etc.) hizo aparecer
esas frases maravillosas. Es como la poesía clásica, en donde la forma precede al contenido.
To use the imagery of a Tibetan poem, every action, every event comes of itself from the Void "as
from the surface of a clear lake there leaps suddenly a fish."
—Alan
Watts, Zen, 132
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Todo lo que el hombre de genio demanda para exaltarse es materia espiritual en movimiento. No
le interesa hacia dónde tiende el movimiento —sea a su favor o en contra—, y la materia en sí carece
por completo de importancia.
—Edgar Allan Poe, Marginalia 21
Mechanism regards the future as implicit in the past, since it believes that the end to be achieved
can be known in advance, denies that any essential novelty is contained in the result.
(...)
Bergson maintains that evolution is truly creative, like the work of an artist. An impulse to
action, an undefined want, exists beforehand, but until the want is satisfied it is impossible to know
the nature of what will satisfy it. For example, we may suppose some vague desire in sightless
animals to be able to be aware of objects before they were in contact with them. This led to efforts
which finally resulted in the creation of eyes. Sight satisfied the desire, but could not have been
imagined beforehand.
—Bertrand Russell, on Bergson, History of Western Philosophy
There is nothing real except the coincidence of a sensation and an individual mental tendency.
Jean Metzinger, Theories of Modern Art, 214
—
When a fish swims, he swims on and on, and there is no end to the water. When a bird flies, he flies
on and on, and there is no end to the sky. From the most ancient times there was never a fish that
swam out of the water, nor a bird that flew out of the sky. (...)
Yet if there were a bird who first wanted to examine the size of the sky, or a fish who first wanted to
examine the extent of the water—and then try to fly or to swim, they will never find their own ways
in the sky or water.
—Dogen, Shobogenzo, Alan Watts, Zen, 125
An assertion is Zen only when it is in itself an act and does not refer to anything that is asserted in it.
(...)
The idea of direct method appealed to by the master is to get hold of this fleeting life as it flees and
not after it has flown. While it is fleeing, there is no time to recall memory or to build ideas. No
reasoning avails here. Language may be used, but this has been associated too long with ideation, and
has lost directness or being by itself. As soon as words are used, they express meaning, reasoning;
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they represent something not belonging to themselves; they have no direct connection with life,
except being a faint echo or image of something that is no longer here. This is why masters often
avoid such expressions or statements as are intelligible in any logical way.
—When a man comes to you with nothing, what would you say to him?
—Cast it away!
Bokuju was once asked by a monk, "What is the doctrine that goes beyond the Buddhas and the
Fathers?" the master immediatly holdin up his staff, said to the congregation, "I call this a staff, and
what would you call it?" No answer was forthcoming, wherupon the master, again holding forth the
staff, asked the monk, Did you not ask me about the doctrine that goes beyond the Buddhas and the
Fathers?"
A monk asked Sozan, "How is the silence inexpressible to be revealed?" "I do not reveal it here."
"Where would you reveal it?" "At midnight las night," said the master, "I lost three pennies by my
bed."
Ryutan Soshin was a disciple of Tenno Dogo. He served the master as one of his personal attendants.
he was with him for some time, when one day he said to the master, "Since I came to you, I have not
at all been instructed in the study of mind." replied the master, "Ever since you came to me, I have
always been pointing to you how to study mind." "In what way, sir?" "When you brought me a cup of
tea, did I not accept it? When you served me with food, did I not partake it? When you made bows to
me, did I ot return them? When did I ever neglect in giving you instructions?" Rytuan kept his head
hanging for some time, when the master told him, "If you want to see, see directly into it; but when
you try to think about it, it is altogether missed."
—D.T.Suzuki, Selected Essays, Practical Methods of Zen Instruction
Pero no puedo volverme atrás; esta pérdida de tiempo, al aceptar haber errado el camino, me
resultaría insoportable. ¿Cómo, en esta vida tan breve, volver atrás y bajar una escalera? Esto es
imposible. El tiempo que te ha sido asignado es tan poco que en cuanto pierdas un sólo segundo
habrás perdido ya tu vida toda, puesto que ésta no es más larga; es siempre sólo tan larga como el
tiempo que pierdes, Por lo tanto, si has comenzado un camino síguelo bajo cualquier circumstancia;
únicamente puedes ganar.; no corres peligro alguno; quizá, al final, te vengas abajo, pero si después
del primer paso te hubieses vuelto y hubieses bajado la escalera inmediatamente, ya desde el
principio te habrías venido abajo, y no quizá sino con toda seguridad. Por lo tanto, si nada encuentras
en los corredores, abre las puertas; si detrás de esas puertas no encuentras nada, hay todavía otros
pisos; si arriba tampoco encuentras nada, esto no es nada grave: esfuérzate y sube escaleras arriba.
Mientras no dejes de subir no se terminan los escalones: crecen bajo tus pies que suben.
—Franz Kafka, Abogado.
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I see something, and I put it down as I see it. In the treatment of it, I abstain from comment. Now, if
I've done something that moves me — if I've portrayed the object well — somebody will come along
and also be moved, and somebody else will come along and say, 'What the devil is this?' And maybe
they're both right."
—Charles Reznikoff, interview 1968
NO HABLARÁS
If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth
shut.
--Albert Einstein
When the film is still just an idea I don't feel like talking about it, because of both a kind of
superstition and out of respect for the ide itself. Ideas need to be left in that form of limbo where they
appear beautiful and mysterious.
(Fellini; Conversations, 109)
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FEAR-WRITER'S BLOCK
Irrespective of anything that happens to you in life, you hold your communion.
—Bergman, Images, 274
Do one thing completely, all is done;
try to do all, you lose the one.
To get your fill of flowers and fruit,
water the root.
—Kabir, sakhi 273
Si pienso que debo escribir un libro, todos los problemas de cómo ese libro puede ser y de cómo
no debe ser me bloquean y me impiden proseguir. Si en cambio pienso que estoy escribiendo toda
una biblioteca, me siento repentinamente aliviado: sé que cualquier cosa que escriba se verá
integrada, contradicha, equilibrada, amplificada, enterrada por los cientos de volúmenes que me
quedan por escribir.
—Italo Calvino, Si una noche de invierno un viajero...
The mind cannot act without giving up the impossible attempt to control itself beyond a certain point.
It must let go of itself both in the sense of trusting its own memory and reflection, and in the sense of
acting spontaneously, on its own into the unknown.
—Alan Watts, Zen, 139
Conscious thought is itself founded upon its whole system of spontaneous functioning, for which
reason there is really no alternative to trusting oneself completely to its working. Oneself is its
working. —Alan Watts, Zen, 150
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As the religious aspect of my existence was wiped out, life became much easier to live. Sartre has
said how inhibited he used to be as an artist and author, how he suffered because what he was doing
wasn't good enough. By a slow intellectual process he came to realize that his anxieties about not
making anything of value were an atavistic relic from the religious notion that something exists
which can be called the Supreme Good, or that anything is perfect. When he'd dug up this secret idea,
this relic, had seen through it and amputated it, he lost his artistic inhibitions too.
I've been through something very similar. When my top-heavy religious superstruture collapsed, I
also lost my inhibitions as a writer. Above all, my fear of not keeping up with the the times. In
Winter Light I swept my house clean. Since then things have been quiet on that front.
—Ingmar Bergman, Bergman on Bergman, 219
You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless—there is only one thing to do with a novel
and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing.
—Hemingway,
Letter to Scott Fitzgerald
Scott took literature so solemnly. He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and
finishing what you start.
—Hemingway, Letter to A.Mizener
SOME INVENTION TECHNIQUES
1. Focused Freewriting : Write non-stop on your topic, that is turn off the editor-in-you and try out, in
writing, a variety of approaches to your topic.
2. Looping : This is a specific kind of focused freewriting, in which you freewrite, then pause to
determine the central or best idea in the preceding “loop” of freewriting. Then, you begin your next
loop by pursuing that idea.
3. Cubing : Describe your subject. Define it. Compare it and contrast it. Look at the cause(s) of it and
the effect(s) of it. Analyze it. Classify it.
4. Question-asking : Ask the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” of your topic.
5. Brainstorming : Using free association, list perspectives and points relevant to your topic.
6. Tagmemics, or the Grid : Look at your subject from three different perspectives:
a. As a particle or static object with individual parts
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b. As a wave or object changing over time
c. As a part of a field or larger system of comparable or contrastable parts.
7. Aristotle’s Topics :
a. Topic of Definition : Ask what larger class X is in and how it differs from other members of its
class.
b. Topic of Comparison : Ask what your topic is similar to and different from, in kind or degree.
c. Topic of Relationship : Explore the various relationships that may shed light on your topic.
1. What are the cause(s) and effect(s) of X? (Relationship of Cause and Effect)
2. What will happen if X occurs? What must have proceeded the occurrence of X?
(Relationship of Antecedent and Consequent)
3. What is contrary to, incompatible with and opposite to X? (Relationship of Contraries
and Contradictories)
d. Topic of Circumstance : Explore what is possible and impossible in a given circumstance.
e. Topic of Evidence : Ask what the following types of evidence reveal about your topic:
Authority, Testimonial, Statistics, Maxims and Proverbs, Law, and Precedent.
8. Imagine and talk to your reader.
9. Freewrite specifically on your purpose.
Sources:
Flower, Linda. Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing , Second Edition
Strategies for Overcoming Writer's Block
Weak Strategies:
I. Trial and error
Since our short-term memory is limited, trying to juggle in your head all the possible ways to phrase
something usually means we repeat the same rejected phrases over and over. One way to avoid this is
to make a quick list of alternative phrases.
2.lnsisting on a perfect draft
The surest way to writer's block. Expecting everything to jell at once leads to paralysis and heartburn.
This is really much slower than a several quick drafts focusing on different goals.
3.Waiting for inspiration
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. What seems like inspiration is usually the result of
internalized hard work. In a moment we'll talk about some useful strategies for pushing "inspiration"
along.
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Powerful Strategies for Avoiding Writer's Block:
1. Making notes
Jot down ideas and phrases as they occur to you. Free yourself from paragraphs and sentences for the
moment--use flow charts, arrows, boxes, outlines, even pictures. Right now, you are worried about
getting things down before you forget them.
2.FreewritingIBrainstorming
When you're not just blocked, when you're stonewalled, try freewriting. Sit down for ten minutes and
write down everything you can think of about your topic. The object is to write without stopping for
the whole ten minutes. If you can think of anything to say, write
"blah, blah, blah" over and over. If other things occur to you as you write, go ahead and record them,
even if they are not directly related to your topic. These distractions may be part of what is keeping
you blocked.
3.Piecework
Sometimes, starting at the beginning induces Perfect Draft Syndrome. It may be easier to get started
if you approach the task sideways. If you've got a plan for the article or manual, choose a section
from the middle or a point you know well and start there. Then do another section. After you've
gained some confidence, you can work on the opening and smooth out the transitions.
4.What I Really Mean Is (WIRMI)
When you're stuck in a quagmire trying to find the perfect phrase, switch to What I Really Mean Is
and just say it the way you think it. Once you know what you mean, it is easier to refine the phrasing.
5.Satisficing (satisfy + suffice)
You 'satisfice' when you take the first reasonable solution instead of searching endlessly for just the
right word or sentence. If you're unhappy with the choice, you can bracket it and promise yourself
you'll fix it later.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving
--Albert Einstein
In old Arabic poetry love, song, blood, and travel appear as four basic desires of the human heart
and the only effective means against our fear of death. Thus travel is elevated to the dignity of the
elementary needs of humankind. "To sail is necessary, to live is not" (Navigare est necesse, vivere
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non est necesse)—these words were, according to Plutarch, pronounced by a Roman before the
departure of a ship in tempestuous weather.
—Czeslaw Milosz, A book of
luminous things, Travel
NOTEBOOKS: (Nota posterior—ahora creo que esto no es realmente tan importante )
Write it down immediatly. Never trust your memory. Get it on paper, not tomorrow, but now.
(pg. 17)
Never try to 'think' your way out of a problem, unaided by the written word. Write your way out—in
the notebook. Nabokov once remarked that most of his novels emerged from seeing the pattern in a
cluster of seemingly unrelated images.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
I've forgotten who it was that said creation is memory. My own experiences and the various things I
have read remain in my memory and become the basis upon which I create something new. I couldn't
do it out of nothing. For this reason, since the time I was a young man I have always kept a notebook
handy when I read a book. I write down my reactions and what particularly moves me. I have stacks
and stacks of these college notebooks, and when I go off to write a script, these are what I read.
Somewhere they always provide me with a point of breakthrough. Even for a single lines of dialogue
I have taken hints from these notebooks. So what I want to say is, don't read books while lying down
in bed.
—Akira Kurosawa, Autobiography, 194
Anotado en el final de Calvio, Seis propuestas...
Julio Agosto 04
Tomar nota de ciertos "gestos" (ej. la forma en que Teseo cuida la cabeza de Medusa, pg. 6 de Seis
Propuestas...) tomados directamente de los libros. Es decir, una enumeración de cosas que nos
gustan, sacar de los libros leídos y marcados.
Hacer una lista de relatos como los que te gustaría escribir (no que te guste leer, sino lo que crees que
podrías hacer). ver por qué.
leer los comienzo de los libros que nos gustan
nota en pg. 69 de Axel's Castel de E.Wilson
el mundo es caotico porque hay demasiadas cosas ocurriendo simultaneamente. pero todo obedece a
una ley. el hecho de que la comprendamos o no, no importa en primera instancia. importa que la
intuyamos. una obra deberia ser asi.
LLEVAR SIEMPRE UN NOTEBOOK, UN DIARIO. MAS IMPORTANTE QUE DETALLAR
'QUE' PASA, ES INTENTAR COMPRENDER LOS HECHOS, LOS CAMBIOS, POR QUE
ACTUAMOS DE CIERTA FORMA, EL LIMITE EN EL cUAL UNA COSA DEJA DE SER ESO
Y PASA A SER ALGO COMPLETAMENTE DIFERENTE (EJ, CAMBIOS DE HUMOR, ETC.).
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USAR EL DIARIO (RECORDAR LOS NOTEBOOKS DE BERGMAN, EN "IMAGES") PARA
NO VIVIR Y QUE LAS COSAS SE DILUYAN EN EL TIEMPO, SINO PARA APRENDER LO
MINMO QUE NOS ES POSIBLE.
DRAFTS
First draft for your eyes only. Commentaries can be dangerous. Even positive ones. Take time off.
Not too much. Come back and read the manuscript in as close as ine sitting as you can get. Get your
notebook handy. The goal is to read it with the cold detachement of a doctor looking at an X ray.
When something is wrong, mark it down, and keep going. The same when something is good. When
you are done: don't make a judgement.
The manuscript is ready to be improved, not judged. Now you will have something you didn't have
befor: you will know your story. Well enough at least.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
The wrong method is to write a paragraph and emend it. Then write a second paragraph. But that
made the whole thing jolting all the time. But I think the real way is to write as much as you can and
then to emend it. But not to revise one sentence and then begin the rough draft of another. You begin
by making a rough draft of the whole thing.
(Borges at Eighty, pg. 133)
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FIRST DRAFT:
1. Do it. The only thing that matters about the first draft is getting it done. You are looking for the
sound and shape of a story.
2. Do it quickly. Eloquence, according to Cicero, resides in "an uninterrupted movement of the
mind.'
3. MAKE the time. Only you can defend the time you need for your work. Nobody is going to give
to you.
4. Right now, perfection is your enemy. "Write freely and as rapidly as possible, " John Steinbeck
advised, "and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is
down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with
the flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the
material."
5. Fast or slow, once your first draft is done, be ready for it to be bad. Use the badness. The
inarticulate parts point to where you must make the words say exactly what you mean. The
ragged parts point to to what you must polish. The gaping holes tell you what has to be filled. The
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dull parts tell you unfailingly what must be cut. The blank spots show exactly what you must go
out and find.
6. Write the way you want to write, not what is supposedly 'allowed'.
7. The wish to appear original is a form of vanity. Chekhov taught himself by rewriting, in his own
terms, whole stories by Tolstoy and Turgenev—transposig them into his own language.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
Fiction Workshop for One
by Sherry D. Ramsey
What you're going to do is read through your manuscript several times, concentrating on a different
aspect of the writing each time and making notes and corrections as you go.
The First Pass
The first time, pay attention to the structure of the story. Try to answer the following questions (and
don't skip any! If they're difficult to answer, it may indicate a problem area):
1. Have you presented an arresting opening scene? (It doesn't need fireworks, but it must be
interesting.)
2. Identify each scene in your story. What is each one's purpose?
3. Does the action flow logically from scene to scene?
4. Do scenes vary in pace so that the story flows smoothly from start to finish?
5. Is the story firmly grounded in time and space?
6. Is viewpoint established and consistent?
7. Does the story build progressively on what has gone before?
8. Are there scenes, action or information that could be eliminated or combined without damaging
the continuity of the story?
9. Does the story come to a believable conclusion?
10. Are all story lines and loose ends resolved?
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Mark up all your structural changes with a single color, and make lots of notes to yourself. If there's
something that you think works particularly well, mark that, too, with an explanation of why you
think it works. There's always room in a workshop for a few pats on the back.
The Second Pass
The second time through, you're going to concentrate on your characters. Consider:
1. Who are the main characters?
2. Who are the secondary characters?
3. What do you know about each of them?
4. Why are they doing and saying those things?
5. Have you told the reader enough about the characters to make their actions make sense?
6. Are their names, voices, and knowledge suitable for the time and place of the story?
7. Have you kept to consistent viewpoints?
8. Are the characters unique and believable? Does each character have his or her own voice?
9. Have you portrayed them through their actions, words, habits, abilities and background?
Underline each instance.
10. Are there "extras" cluttering up the stage whom you could eliminate or combine?
Mark up all your character changes, and things you think you did well, with a second color.
The Third Pass
1. Read with an eye to grammar and punctuation Check punctuation rules for common problem
areas such as quotation marks, comma use, colons and semicolons, and dashes and ellipses. Even if
you think you're doing all this right, it doesn't hurt to check.
2. Crack open that dictionary if you've used a word that you're even slightly uncertain about, or
that's outside your normal vocabulary.
3. Don't trust that your spell checker has caught all errors -- look it up! Remember, too, that it
doesn't catch all typos or improperly used words.
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4. Delve into the style guide to make sure you're following the rules.
5. Read all your dialogue out loud. Mark up and improve awkward speeches.
6. Look for long paragraphs and sentences that need further breaking up.
7. Consider sentences for brevity, clarity and energy. Do you alternate sentence patterns to keep
reader interest high?
8. Change passive voice to active wherever possible.
9. Look for awkward scene transitions or confusing flashbacks.
Use a third color to mark up your changes. Then walk away again for a while.
The Final Pass
The last stage of our workshop for one is probably the most difficult, because you're going to be
evaluating your writing style. For this you want to start with a clean copy of your manuscript that
incorporates all the changes you've made so far. Now is the time to really apply your effort and
determination, because these can be the most difficult changes to make. Keep your thesaurus handy.
You're looking for:
1. dull word choices
2. cliches and common phrasing
3. missed opportunites to include sensory appeals (you should have at least one appeal to vision,
hearing, smell, taste, or touch on every page)
4. awkward or too unusual word choices or phrases
5. lackluster description
6. over-description (purple prose)
7. wordiness (watch especially for redundancies, qualifiers, and weak adverbs)
8. improperly used or too much jargon
9. any other opportunities for stylistic improvements
Why were we saving those marked-up copies? Take a quick look over all the changes you made.
Which color appears most often? That's the aspect of your writing (structure, characterization,
technique or style) that seemed to need the most work. This knowledge can alert you early to possible
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problem areas when you're tackling your next story, or help you choose topics for further
instructional reading. If you didn't understand what to look for or how to improve it for any
workshopping topic, look for print or online articles that further explain those points.
TRAINING
Everything you write will take longer than you think it should.
Teach yourself to work in busy places, under the barrage of noises the world makes (tv, music,
children playing, etc. Watch out for e-mail and the telephone.
Your other job can serve you (think of Chekhov, a physician, think of Borges writing during workhours at the library), as long as it does not consume you.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
Imagining:
Do not think. Dream. The intellect can understand a story—but only the imagination can tell it. Prefer
concrete to abstract. At this stage it is better to see the story, to hear it, to feel it, than to think it.
Remembering:
The structure of memory is not narrative in form but associative (remember Genet's writing, or
Nabokov).
Observing:
Searching for the unnoticed things that made emotions, such as the way an outfielder tossed his glove
without looking back to where it fell, the squeak of resin on canvas under a fighter's flat-soled gym
shoes, the gray color of Jack Blackburn's skin when he had just come out of stir and other things I
noticed as a painter sketches. (Hemingway)
Chejov visitó un lugar donde había pasado gran parte de su triste infancia. Cada día le escribía una
carta a su hermana detallando el viaje y su estadía en el lugar. Cuando volvió, su hermana le pasó el
manojo de cartas y a partir de ahí Chejov construyó su primer gran 'nouvelle': La Estepa.
You are looking for what you can put into words, you are looking for narrative. You are noticing
what imparts vividnesss, feeling, and meaning.
Writing:
A writer writes. Constantly. Chekhov advised one aspirant: " You must not forget that every line you
write now constitutes your capital for the future. If you do not train your mind and your hand to
discipline and forced marches now, you will find that in three or four years it will be too late... You
must force yourself to work for hours every day. You work too little.
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Productivity is the only path to confidence. The most dangerous enemies of a young writer's
productivity are his mismanagement of time and an undues vulnerability to self-doubt and selfcriticism. A bad novel is better than an unwritten novel, because a bad novel can be improved. Keep
the typewriter going.
Deadlines sometimes help (contests or a daily quota to fulfill, ex. two pages, three pages, etc.)
A daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules. (Trollope)
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
If a writer stops observing he is finished. But he does not have to observe consciously nor think how
it will be useful. Perhaps that would be true at the beginning. But later everything he sees goes to the
great reserve of things he knows or has seen. If it is any use to know it, I always write on the priciple
of the iceberg. There is seven-eights of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know
you can eliminate and it only strenghtens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn't show. If a writer
omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story.
—Ernest Hemingway, THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than
knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
--Albert Einstein
Mice: How can a writer train himself?
Y.C.: Watch what happens today. If we get into a fish see exactly what it is that everyone does. If
you get a kick out of it while he is jumping remember back until you see exactly what the action was
that gave you the emotion. Whether it was the rising of the line from the water and the way it
tightened like a fiddle string until drops started from it, or the way he smashed and threw water when
he jumped. Remember what the noises were and what was said. Find what gave you the emotion;
what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader
will see it too and have the same feeling that you had. That's a five finger exercise.
Mice: All right.
Y.C: Then get in somebody else's head for a change. If I bawl you out try figure what I'm thinking
about as well as how you feel about it. If Carlos curses Juan think what both their sides of it are.
Don't just think who is right. As a man things are as they should or should'n be. As a man you know
who is right and who is wrong. You have to make decisiones and enforce them. As a writer you
should not judge. You should understand.
Mice: All right.
Y.C.: Listen 'now.' When people talk listen completely. Don't be thinking what you're going to say.
Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you
come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling
you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice. When you're in
town stand outside the theatre and see how the people differ in the way they get out of taxis or motor
cars. There are a thousands ways to practice. And always think of other people.
—Hemingway, By-Line
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That is where it all comes from. Seeing. Listening.
—Hemingway, Letter to Fitzgerald
SHAPING THE STORY
This is clichéd, this is sentimental, the other is embarrasing, stupid, overdone, boring, unoriginal.
These are the killer words. Well, of course, they are on target—at first. Every idea is vulnerable at
first. Any idea that moves or ecites you deserves the privilege of at least a month or so in your
notebook totally protected from critical abuse.
Originality:
Any idea that happens to strike you will be unoriginal in some way. This is good, not bad. Familiarity
may form the bedrock of interest; it may be shaped by the classic deep narratives of humanity: the
primal stories of quest, redemption, exile, struggle and war, homecoming, rebirth, romantic love.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
En mi caso, la sospecha de otro orden más secreto y menos comunicable, y el fecundo
descubrimiento de Alfred Jarry, para quien el verdadero estudio de la realidad no residía en las leyes
sino en las excepciones a esas leyes, han sido algunos de los principios orientadores de mi búsqueda
personal de una literatura al margen de todo realismo demasiado ingenuo.
Lo excepcional reside en una cualidad parecida a la del imán; un buen tema atrae todo un sistema de
relaciones conexas, coagula en el autor, y más tarde en el lector, una inmensa cantidad de nociones,
entrevisiones, sentimientos y hasta ideas que flotan virtualmente en su memoria o su sensibilidad; un
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buen tema es como un sol, un astro en torno al cual gira un sistema planetario del que muchas veces
no se tenía consciencia hasta que el cuentista, astrónomo de palabras, nos revela su existencia.
—Julio Cortázar, Aspectos del cuento
The search for a story is a matter of slowly, calmly, carefully, tentatively coaxing a hidden set of
somethings into visibility. The fragment is only part of something already in your imagination,
waiting to be found and dug out, like the thigh bone of a dinosaur. The writer's job is to get as much
of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small: a
seashell. Sometimes it's enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. (S. King)
In what sense a dream preexists its dreaming?
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
Had I to analyze Huckleberry Finn, I would say that, in order to create a great book, perhaps one
central and very simple fact is needed: there should be something pleasing to the imagination in the
very framework of the book. In the case of Huckleberry Finn, we feel that the idea of the black man,
of the boy, of the raft, of the Mississippi, of the long nights—that these ideas are somehow agreeable
to the imagination, are accepted by the imagination.
(Borges, This craft of verse, V)
EL CONCEPTO DE FICCIÓN
Saer
Pero que nadie se confunda: no se escriben ficciones para eludir, por inmadurez o
irresponsabilidad, los rigores que exige el tratamiento de la ìverdadî, sino justamentepara poner en
evidencia el carácter complejo de la situación, carácter complejo del que el tratamiento limitado a lo
verificable implica una reducción abusiva y un empobrecimiento. Al dar un salto hacia lo
inverificable, la ficción multiplica al infinito las posibilidades de tratamiento. No vuelve la espalda a
una supuesta realidad objetiva: muy por el contrario, se sumerge en su turbulencia, desdeñando la
actitud ingenua que consiste en pretender saber de antemano cómo esa realidad está hecha. No es una
claudicación ante tal o cual ética de la verdad, sino la búsqueda de una un poco menos rudimentaria.
La ficción no es, por lo tanto, una reivindicación de lo falso. Aun aquellas ficciones que
incorporan lo falso de un modo deliberado ófuentes falsas, atribuciones falsas, confusión de datos
históricos con datos imaginarios, etcéteraó, lo hacen no para al lector, sino para señalar el carácter
doble de la ficción, que mezcla, de un modo inevitable, lo empírico y lo imaginario. Esa mezcla,
ostentada sólo en cierto tipo de ficciones hasta convertirse en un aspecto determinante de su
organización, como podría ser el caso de algunos cuentos de Borges o de algunas novelas de Thomas
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Bernhard, está sin embargo presente en mayor o menor medida en toda ficción, de Homero a Beckett.
La paradoja propia de la ficción reside en que, si recurre a lo falso, lo hace para aumentar su
credibilidad. La masa fangosa de lo empírico y de lo imaginario, que otros tienen la ilusión de
fraccionar a piacere en rebanadas de verdad y falsedad, no le deja, al autor de ficciones, más que una
posibilidad: sumergirse en ella. . La masa fangosa de lo empírico y de lo imaginario, que otros tienen
la ilusión de fraccionar a piacere en rebanadas de verdad y falsedad, no le deja, al autor de ficciones,
más que una posibilidad: sumergirse en ella. De ahí tal vez la frase de Wolfgang Kayser: ìNo basta
con sentirse atraído por ese acto; también hay que tener el coraje de llevarlo a caboî.
Pero la ficción no solicita ser creída en tanto que verdad, sino en tanto que ficción. Ese deseo
no es un capricho de artista, sino la condición primera de su existencia, porque sólo siendo aceptada
en tanto que tal, se comprenderá que la ficción no es la exposiciónnovelada de tal o cual ideología,
sino un tratamiento específico del mundo, inseparable de lo que trata. Este es el punto esencial de
todo el problema, y hay que tenerlo siempre presente, si se quiere evitar la confusión de géneros. La
ficción se mantiene a distancia tanto de los profetas de lo verdadero como de los eufóricos de lo
falso.
....................
Por eso, no podemos ignorar que en las grandes ficciones de nuestro tiempo, y quizás de
todos los tiempos, está presente ese entrecruzamiento crítico entre verdad y falsedad, esa tensión
íntima y decisiva, no exenta ni de comicidad ni de gravedad, como el orden central de todas ellas, a
veces en tanto que tema explícito y a veces como fundamento implícito de su estructura. El fin de la
ficción no es expedirse en ese conflicto sino hacer de él su materia, modelándola ìa su maneraî. La
afirmación y la negación le son igualmente extrañas, y su especie tiene más afinidades con el objeto
con el discurso. Ni el Quijote, ni Tristam Shandy, ni Madame Bovary, ni El Castillo pontifican sobre
una supuesta realidad anterior a su concreción textual, pero tampoco se resignan a la función de
entretenimiento o de artificio: aunque se afirmen como ficciones, quieren sin embargo ser tomadas al
pie de la letra.
................
Desde ese punto de vista la exigencia de la ficción puede ser juzgada exorbitante, y sin todos
sabemos que es justamente por haberse puesto al margen de lo que Cervantes, Sterne, Flaubert o
Kafka nos parecen enteramente dignos decrédito.
A causa de este aspecto principalísimo del relato ficticio, y a causa también de sus
intenciones, de su resolución práctica, de la posición singular de su autor entre los imperativos de un
saber objetivo y las turbulencias de la subjetividad, podemos definir de un modo global la ficción
como una antropología especulativa. Quizás (no me atrevo a afirmarlo) esta manera de concebirla
podría neutralizar tantos reduccionismos que, a partir del siglo pasado, se obstinan en asediarla.
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Entendida así, la ficción sería capaz no de ignorarlos, sino de asimilarlos, incorporándolos a su propia
esencia y despojándolos sus pretensiones de absoluto. Pero el tema es arduo, y conviene dejarlo para
otra vez.
—de "El concepto de ficción", J.J.Saer
STORY, STRUCTURE AND PLOT
Structure is the residual deposit of duration.
(Roland Barthes; What is writing?, Degree Zero)
The literary work does not have a form and a content but a structure of significations whose relations
must be apprehended.
—Tzvetan Todorov, Poetics of Prose, Poetics and Criticism
Whatever you see is changing, losing its balance. The reason everything looks beautiful is because it
is out of balance, but its background is always in perfect harmony.
—S.Suzuki,
Zen
Mind, Beginner's Mind, 32
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A letter from a colleague informed him that many systems were not so well-behaved as he had
imagined, and it described a counter example, a system with chaos and stability, together. This
system was robust. If you perturbed it slightly, as any natural system is constantly perturbed by noise,
the strangeness would not go away. Robust and strange. (...) Chaos and stability, concepts only
beginning to aquire formal definitions, were not the same at all. A chaotic system could be stable if
its particular brand of irregularity persisted in the face of small disturbances.
—James
Gleick,
Chaos.
Escribir sobre lo que nos apasiona, sobre lo que amamos, sobre lo que nos llama la atención. Esa es
la única manera de presentar una visión única (la nuestra) del mundo. Es la única regla que hay que
seguir para alcanzar la pura sinceridad. Las reglas impuestas de afuera (del mercado, de la
actualidad) son imposible de armonizar con las nuestras, salvo en los casos en que esas reglas SON
las nuestras. Pero si no, no.
Recordar la entrevista a Celine en The Paris Review (muy larga para transcribirla acá). Tiene la
justeza de un drama, va creando poco a poco una situación especial, sumando detalles que en sí te
interesan etc. pero que sólo estallan en el momento en que Celine dice esa frase
And, you know... experience is a dim lamp which only lights the one who bears it... and
incommunicable...
si uno se esfuerza por encontra "frases lindas" todo el tiempo, no funciona.. hay que hacer avanzar
la accion, tender una trampa para, en el momento preciso empujar al que lee adentro para siempre,
y uno caer con él.
Todo le es útil al artista, porque el arte no es más que una determinada organización de los
materiales disponibles, cualquiera sean.
Fiction is a narrative art form. Writing fiction means telling stories, a sequence of linked events.
Plot is what makes the story move: twists and turns (a kind of organizative mechanism). Plotting is
possible once you have a story.
Some structural ideas are not narrative (like the beginning, middle and end) but musical. Music is by
far he most powerful way human beings have discovered to endow time with structure. " I should
think that what one learns from composers and the study of harmony and counterpoint would be
obvious." (Hemingway)
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—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
From Aristotle:
Discovery: a transition from ignorance to knowledge (ex. Oedipus story); from love to hate, etc.
Complication: all from the beginning of the story to the point just before the change in the hero's
fortunes.
Resolution: from the beginning of the change to the end. (When Jocasta comes to the stage).
Peripety: the change from one state of things to its opposite (The messenger who, thinking he brings
good news, reveals the secret of Oedipus birth). It is the event which is at once perfectly probable and
yet unforeseeable which precipitates or gives its final direction to the action.
—en C.Gordon, THE HOUSE OF FICTION
7.4 Beauty depends on magnitude and order. Hence an exceedingly, small picture cannot be
beautiful; for the view of it is confused, the object being seen in an almost imperceptible moment of
time. Nor, again, can one of vast size be beautiful; for as the cannot take it all in at once, the unity
and sense of the whole is lost for the spectatore; as for instance if there were a picture a thousand
miles ling. 7.5 As, therefore, in the case of animate bodies and pictures a certain magnitude is
necessary, and a magnitude which may be easily embraced in one view; so in the plot, a certain
lenght is necessary and a lenght which can be easily embraced by the memory.
7.7 We may say that the proper magnitude is comprised whithin such limits, that the sequence of
events, according to the law of probability or necessity, will admit of a change from bad fortune to
good, or from good fortune to bad.
Examples of "general outlines" given by Aristotles:
17.3. Iphigenia: A young girl is sacrificed; she disappears mysteriously from the eyes of those who
sacrificed her; she is transported to another country, where the custom is to offer up all strangers to
the goddess. To this ministry she is appointed. Some time later her own brother chances to arrive.
The fact that the oracle for some reason ordered him to go there, is outside the general plan of the
play. So is his purpose. However, he comes, he is seized, and, when on the point of being sacrificed,
reveals who he is. He exclaims very naturally: "So it was not my sister only, but I too, who was
doomed to be sacrificed"; and by that remark he is saved.
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17.4. The Odyssey: A certain man is absent from home for many years; he is jealously watched by
Poseidon, and left desolate. Meanwhile his home is in a wretched plight—suitors are wasting his
substance and plotting against his son. At lenght, tempest-tost, he himself arrives; he makes certain
persons aquainted with him; he attacks the suitors with his own hand, and is himself preserved while
he destroys them. This is the essence of the plot. The rest is episode.
23.1 (Narrative Poetry) will differ in structure from historical compositions, which of necessity
present not a single action, but a single period, and all that happened whithin that period to one
person or to many, little connected together as the events may be.
23.3. Homer never attempts to make the whole war of Troy the subject of his poem, though that war
had a beginning and an end. It would have been to vast a theme, and not easily embraced in a single
view. If, again, he had kept it within moderate limits, it must have been overcomplicated by the
variety of the incidents. As it is, he detaches a single portion, and admits as episodes many events
from the general story of the war—such as the Catalogue of the ships and others—thus diversifying
the poem.
24.3. Adequate scale or lenght—the beginning and the end must be capable of being brought within a
single view.
—Aristotle, Poetics
The poet ... (the "maker of plots or fables" as Aristotle insists)... is pre-eminently the maker of
the plot, the framework—not necessarily of everything that takes place within that framework! the
poet creates a situation wherein he invites other persons & the world in general to be co-creators with
him!
—Jackson Mac Low, in J.Rothemberg, Technicians of the Sacred
Even while admitting that there is something "natural" in the relations of man and the world, it turns
out that writing, like any form of art, is on the contrary an intervention. What constitutes the
novelist's strenght is precisely that he invents, that he invents quite freely, without a model.(...)
All the technical elements of the narrative-systematic use of the past tense and the third person,
unconditional adoption of chronological development, linear plots, regular trajectory of the passions,
impulse of each episode toward a conclusion, etc.—everything tended to impose the image of a
stable, coherent, continuous, unequivocal, entirely decipherable universe.(...)
But then, with Flaubert, everything begins to vacillate. (...) The demands of the anecdote are
doubtless less constraining for Proust than for Flaubert, for Faulkner than for Proust, for Beckett than
for Faulkner... (...)
Yet it is wrong to claim that nothing happens any longer i modern novels. Just as we must not assume
man's absence on the pretext that the traditional character has disappeared, we must not identify the
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search for new narrative structures with an attempt to suppress any event, any passion, any adventure.
The books of Proust and Faulkner are, in fact, crammed with stories; but in the former, they dissolve
in order to be recomposed to the advantage of a mental architecture of time; whereas in the latter, the
development of themes and their many associations overwhelms all chronology to the point of
seeming to bury again, to drown in the course of the novel what the narrative has just revealed. Even
in Beckett, there is no lack of events, but these are constantly in the process of contesting themselves,
jeopardizing themselves, destroying themselves, so that the same sentence may contain an
observation and its immediate negation. In short, it is not the anecdote that is lacking, it is only its
character of certainty, its tranquillity, its innocence.
Did not balzac already note the "confusion" in the descriptions of The Charterhouse of Parma? It is
obvioous that the Battle of Waterloo, as described by Stendhal, no longer belongs to the Balzacian
order.
— de FOR A NEW NOVEL - ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET, ON SEVERAL OBSOLETE NOTIONS
Asimetría en Beckett
Procedimiento moderno (en música, en pintura, en literatura, etc.). Estamos acostumbrados a
esperar siempre una forma ordenada. La incongruencia, la asimetría, son procedimientos modernos.
Lo "complejo" (la sensación de complejidad) proviene del hecho de que la "base" de las dos partes
de la novela (Molloy) es la misma, pero los detalles están cambiados. Es decir, la historia de la
segunda parte parece ser otra, pero poco a poco vamos encontrando los mismos "motivos"
(repetición de acciones, de frases, encuentro con personajes secundarios o paisajes) que en la
primera. Es como algunos de los ejemplos de paralelismo dados por Shklovsky. O como el ejemplo
que da Borges acerca de las biografías; que de la vida de un hombre uno puede elegir escribir la
serie a, m, o, z, y otro la serie b, c, m, q, w. Según cómo se escriba podrían parecer biografías de dos
hombre distintos. En las dos partes de Molloy hay algo parecido, salvo que está el elemento 'm', que
se repite en ambas.
Editing: you always cut during movement.
—Bergman en el documental sobre Winter Light
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The depiction of things from a "sentimental point of view" is a special method of depiction, very
much, for example, as these things might be from the point of view of a horse (Tolstoi's
"Kholstomer") or of a giant (Swift).
By its very essence, art is without emotion. Recall, if you will, that in fairy tales people are shoved
into a barrel bristling with nails, only to be rolled down into the sea. In our version of "Tom Thumb",
a cannibal cuts off the heads of his daughters, and the children who listen rapturously to every detail
of this legend never let you skip over these details during the telling and retelling of the story. This
isn't cruelty. It's fable.
In art, blood is not bloody. It just rhymes with "flood". It is material either for a structure of sounds or
for a structure of images.-159
It is hard, indeed, to write any piece of literature that corresponds to anything as such (an external
ideology). This is so because art is not the shadow of a thing but the thing itself. A work of art makes
a poor accompanist.
Lev Trotsky said somewhere that when engaging in polemics a man shoud maintain his emotional
distance. He should know. He has been polemicizing for a long time.
An artist must adopt an ironic attitude toward his material and not let it get to him. Same as in boxing
or fencing.—172 y 174
— SHKLOVSKY, THEORY OF PROSE
GENRES: The Real and the Ideal
Frye characterizes 'romance' (based on the ideal), 'irony' (based on reality), 'comedy' (which involves
a transition from reality to the ideal), and 'tragedy' (which involves a transition from the ideal to
reality).
—Todorov; The Fantastic, Genres
8.Toma a tus personajes de la mano y llévalos firmemente hasta el final, sin ver otra cosa que el
camino que les trazaste. No te distraigas viendo tú lo que ellos no pueden o no les importa ver.
10.No pienses en tus amigos al escribir, ni en la impresión que hará tu historia. Cuenta como si tu
relato no tuviera interés más que para el pequeño ambiente de tus personajes, de los que pudiste
haber sido uno. No de otro modo se obtiene la vida en el cuento.
—Horacio
Quiroga, Decálogo
En la mejor ficción narrativa, la trama no es una sucesión de sorpresas, sino una sucesión cada vez
más emocionante de descubrimientos, o de momentos de comprensión. Un o de los errores más
habituales de los escritores noveles (de los que entienden que escribir novela es contar historias) es
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creer que la fuerza del relato radica en la información que se retiene, es decir, en que el escritor
consiga tener al lector siempre en sus manos, para descargarle el golpe definitivo cuando menos se lo
espera. La ficción avara es aquélla en la que el autor se niega a tratar al lector de igual a igual —John
Gardner
"Durar frente a un tema, al fragmento de vida que hemos elegido como matería de nuestro trabajo,
hasta extraer, de él o de nosotros, la esencia única y exacta. Durar frente a la vida, sosteniendo un
estado de espíritu que nada tenga que ver con lo vano e inútil, lo fácil, las peñas literarias, los mutuos
elogios, la hojarasca de mesa de café. Durar en una ciega, gozosa y absurda fe en el arte, como en
una tarea sin sentido explicable, pero que debe ser aceptada virilmente, porque sí, como se acepta el
destino. Todo lo demás es duración física, un poco fatigosa, virtud común a las tortugas, las encinas y
los errores."
(Onetti, alias Periquito el Aguador, Marcha n° 6, Montevideo 28.7.1939)
Tesis sobre el cuento
Los dos hilos: Análisis de las dos historias
Ricardo Piglia
I
En uno de sus cuadernos de notas, Chejov registró esta anécdota: "Un hombre, en Montecarlo, va al
casino, gana un millón, vuelve a casa, se suicida". La forma clásica del cuento está condensada en el
núcleo de ese relato futuro y no escrito.
Contra lo previsible y convencional (jugar-perder-suicidarse), la intriga se plantea como una
paradoja. La anécdota tiende a desvincular la historia del juego y la historia del suicidio. Esa escisión
es clave para definir el carácter doble de la forma del cuento.
Primera tesis: un cuento siempre cuenta dos historias.
II
El cuento clásico (Poe, Quiroga) narra en primer plano la historia 1 (el relato del juego) y construye
en secreto la historia 2 (el relato del suicidio). El arte del cuentista consiste en saber cifrar la historia
2 en los intersticios de la historia 1. Un relato visible esconde un relato secreto, narrado de un modo
elíptico y fragmentario.
El efecto de sorpresa se produce cuando el final de la historia secreta aparece en la superficie.
III
Cada una de las dos historias se cuenta de un modo distinto. Trabajar con dos historias quiere decir
trabajar con dos sistemas diferentes de causalidad. Los mismos acontecimientos entran
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simultáneamente en dos lógicas narrativas antagónicas. Los elementos esenciales del cuento tienen
doble función y son usados de manera distinta en cada una de las dos historias. Los puntos de cruce
son el fundamento de la construcción.
IV
En "La muerte y la brújula", al comienzo del relato, un tendero se decide a publicar un libro. Ese
libro está ahí porque es imprescindible en el armado de la historia secreta. ¿Cómo hacer para que un
gángster como Red Scharlach esté al tanto de las complejas tradiciones judías y sea capaz de tenderle
a Lönnrott una trampa mística y filosófica? El autor, Borges, le consigue ese libro para que se
instruya. Al mismo tiempo utiliza la historia 1 para disimular esa función: el libro parece estar ahí por
contigüidad con el asesinato de Yarmolinsky y responde a una casualidad irónica. "Uno de esos
tenderos que han descubierto que cualquier hombre se resigna a comprar cualquier libro publicó una
edición popular de la Historia de la secta de Hasidim." Lo que es superfluo en una historia, es básico
en la otra. El libro del tendero es un ejemplo (como el volumen de Las mil y una noches en "El Sur",
como la cicatriz en "La forma de la espada") de la materia ambigua que hace funcionar la
microscópica máquina narrativa de un cuento.
V
El cuento es un relato que encierra un relato secreto.
No se trata de un sentido oculto que dependa de la interpretación: el enigma no es otra cosa que una
historia que se cuenta de un modo enigmático. La estrategia del relato está puesta al servicio de esa
narración cifrada. ¿Cómo contar una historia mientras se está contando otra? Esa pregunta sintetiza
los problemas técnicos del cuento.
Segunda tesis: la historia secreta es la clave de la forma del cuento.
VI
La versión moderna del cuento que viene de Chéjov, Katherine Mansfield, Sherwood Anderson, el
Joyce de Dublineses, abandona el final sorpresivo y la estructura cerrada; trabaja la tensión entre las
dos historias sin resolverla nunca. La historia secreta se cuenta de un modo cada vez más elusivo. El
cuento clásico a lo Poe contaba una historia anunciando que había otra; el cuento moderno cuenta dos
historias como si fueran una sola.
La teoría del iceberg de Hemingway es la primera síntesis de ese proceso de transformación: lo más
importante nunca se cuenta. La historia secreta se construye con lo no dicho, con el sobreentendido y
la alusión.
VII
"El gran río de los dos corazones", uno de los relatos fundamentales de Hemingway, cifra hasta tal
punto la historia 2 (los efectos de la guerra en Nick Adams), que el cuento parece la descripción
trivial de una excursión de pesca. Hemingway pone toda su pericia en la narración hermética de la
historia secreta. Usa con tal maestría el arte de la elipsis que logra que se note la ausencia de otro
relato.
¿Qué hubiera hecho Hemingway con la anécdota de Chejov? Narrar con detalles precisos la partida y
el ambiente donde se desarrolla el juego, y la técnica que usa el jugador para apostar, y el tipo de
bebida que toma. No decir nunca que ese hombre se va a suicidar, pero escribir el cuento como si el
lector ya lo supiera.
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VIII
Kafka cuenta con claridad y sencillez la historia secreta y narra sigilosamente la historia visible hasta
convertirla en algo enigmático y oscuro. Esa inversión funda lo "kafkiano".
La historia del suicidio en la anécdota de Chejov sería narrada por Kafka en primer plano y con toda
naturalidad. Lo terrible estaría centrado en la partida, narrada de un modo elíptico y amenazador.
IX
Para Borges, la historia 1 es un género y la historia 2 es siempre la misma. Para atenuar o disimular la
monotonía de esta historia secreta, Borges recurre a las variantes narrativas que le ofrecen los
géneros. Todos los cuentos de Borges están construidos con ese procedimiento.
La historia visible, el cuento, en la anécdota de Chejov, sería contada por Borges según los
estereotipos (levemente parodiados) de una tradición o de un género. Una partida de taba entre
gauchos perseguidos (digamos) en los fondos de un almacén, en la llanura entrerriana, contada por un
viejo soldado de la caballería de Urquiza, amigo de Hilario Ascasubi. El relato del suicidio sería una
historia construida con la duplicidad y la condensación de la vida de un hombre en una escena o acto
único que define su destino.
X
La variante fundamental que introdujo Borges en la historia del cuento consistió en hacer de la
construcción cifrada de la historia 2 el tema del relato. Borges narra las maniobras de alguien que
construye perversamente una trama secreta con los materiales de una historia visible. En "La muerte
y la brújula", la historia 2 es una construcción deliberada de Scharlach. Lo mismo ocurre con
Azevedo Bandeira en "El muerto", con Nolam en "Tema del traidor y del héroe".
Borges (como Poe, como Kafka) sabía transformar en anécdota los problemas de la forma de narrar.
XI
El cuento se construye para hacer aparecer artificialmente algo que estaba oculto. Reproduce la
búsqueda siempre renovada de una experiencia única que nos permita ver, bajo la superficie opaca de
la vida, una verdad secreta. "La visión instantánea que nos hace descubrir lo desconocido, no en una
lejana tierra incógnita, sino en el corazón mismo de lo inmediato", decía Rimbaud.
Esa iluminación profana se ha convertido en la forma del cuento.
—Ricardo Piglia
Think of the chief novels of our time—say, Joyce's Ulysses. We are told thousands of things
about the two characters, yet we do not know them. We have better knowledge of characters in Dante
or Shakespeare, who come to us—who lived and die—in a few sentences. We do not know thousands
of circumstances about them, but we know the intimately. That, of course, is far more important.
I think that the novel is breaking down. I think that all those very daring and interesting
experiments with the novel—for example, the idea of shifting time, the idea of the story being told by
different characters—all those are leading to the moment when we shall feel that the novel is no
longer with us.
But there is something about a tale, a story, that will be always going on. I do not believe men
will ever tire of telling or hearing stories.
(Borges, This craft of verse, III)
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I think plots are important; besides plots are also symbols; the plot is a way of conveying something.
(...)
Now, you don't need metaphors because the real metaphors, the essential affinity, is between things
that have already been discovered
(Borges: Conversations, pg. 156/7)
Con dos millas cuadradas de terreno y doscientas bifurcaciones, curvas y ángulos rectos, el
último chapucero es capaz de un buen laberinto... El ideal es el laberinto psicológico: el fundado
(digamos) en la creciente divergencia de dos caminos que el explorador, o la víctima, supone
paralelos. El laberinto ideal sería un camino recto y despejado de una longitud de cien pasos, donde
se produjera el extravío por alguna razón psicológica. No lo conoceremos en esta tierra, pero cuanto
más se aproxime nuestro dibujo a ese arquetipo clásico y menos a un mero caos arbitrario de líneas
rotas, tanto mejor. Un laberinto debe ser un sofisma, no un galimatías.
—Borges, Laberintos, Textos recobrados 2
Shklovski
No more of the real world impinges upon a work of art than the reality of India impinges upon the
game of chess.—pg. 36
The action of a literary work takes place on a field of battle. the masks and types of modern drama
corresponds to the figures of chess. The plots correspond to the moves and gambits, that is, to the
techniques of the game, as these are used and interpreted by the players. The tasks and the peripeties
correspond to the moves made by the opponent.
The methods and devices of plot construction are similar to and in principle identical with the devices
of, for instance, musical orchestration.—pg.45
Structure
From a letter by Tolstoi:
In everything, in almost everything that i have ever written, I have been guided by the need to collect
my thoughts, to connect them in such a way that may express myself. (...) The structure of words
consists not of ideas as such (i believe), but of something else, and it is impossible to express the
basis of this structure directly through words. this basis can be expressed only through the mediation
of words, that is through images, actions, situations... —pg. 46
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A story must have not only action but counteraction as well (to be understood as something truly
complete).—53
— SHKLOVSKY, THEORY OF PROSE
Entre los ejemplos que da Shklovsky de literatura sin "plot" está este:
The ventilator in the little corridor whistled tediously, , if not crudely. I almost broke down in tears.
Yes, I want to go on living so I can hear it. What really matters is for someone, a friend, to live. And
the thought ocurred to me: Is it really true that he (a friend) will not be able to hear the ventilator in
the next world? And the longing for immortality seized me so violently by my hair that I nearly fell
on the floor. (Rozanov, Solitaria)
It is the very concreteness of his horror that constitutes Rozanov's literary device.—195
— SHKLOVSKY, THEORY OF PROSE
The people around us, the places we visit, the events we witness — it is the spatial and temporal
relations these have with each other that have a meaning for us today, and the tension that is formed
between them.
—Michelangelo Antonioni, The event and the image
For modern physics, all our observations of what goes on in the universe are relative: they depend
upon where we are standing when we make them, how fast and in which direction we are moving—
and for the Symbolist, all that is perceived in any moment of human experience is relative to the
person who perceives it, and to the surroundings, the moment, the mood. The world becomes thus for
both fourth dimensional—with Time as the fourth dimension. The relativist, in locating a point, not
only finds its co-ordinates in space, but also takes athe time; and the ultimate units of his reality are
"events," each of which is unique and can never occur again—in the flux of the universe, they can
only form similar patterns. (...) The events, which may be taken arbitrarily as infinitely small or
infinitely comprehensive, make up an organic structure, in which all are interdependent, each
involving every other and the whole; so Proust's book is a gigantic mesh of complicated relations:
cross-references between different groups of characters and multiplication of metaphors and similes
connecting the phenomena of infinitely varied fields—biological, zoological, physical, aesthetic,
social, political and financial. (These similes seemed far-fetched and silly to the first readers of
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Proust's novel—but Proust insisted that one of his principal concerns was to discover the real
resemblances between things which superficially appeared different. And we remember that the farfetched comparisons of the poetry of the age of Gongora and Crashaw, to which the poetry of the
symbolists seesms akin, have been defended as indicating relations where none had previously been
perceived.)
—Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle, Marcel Proust
Like all the graduates of the symbolist school, Proust was a determined opponent of Naturalism: in
the last part of "A la Recherche...", when he explains the plan of his novel, he expresses himself
emphatically and at great lenght on the futility of trying to represent teality by collecting and
organizing data of the external world, and he handles with what is evidently deliberate carelessness
all those facts which a Naturalistic novelist would have been scrupulous to have consistent and
precise. What is more, there is no explicit logical connection between the different elements of "A la
Recherche...". There is a story, the story of the narrator, his illusions and disillusions in connection
with the world of snobbery and his attachements for Gilberte and Albertine; yet what must have been,
what would by any other novelist be presented as having been, some of the most important relations
and experiences of his life are scarcely touched upon at all. We hear much about the narrator's
grandmother, but almost nothing about his father and are never told precisely what his father does;
we hear much about his holidays at the seashore, but nothing about his education; we are told at
lenght about his visit to Saint-Loup when the latter is doing his year of military service, but nothing
save through casual allusion about his own term in barracks. On the other hand, certain of the
characters that figure most prominently in the novel have almost no relation to the hero at all—at
least no relation which the story accounts for: Swann is merely a friend of the family whom the
narrator has occasionally seen in his youth, Charlus a person he sometimes meets later on. Yet these
two characters almost dominate, respectively, the earlier and the later parts of the book—and as we
read, we never question their significance: it is only when we think to examine Proust's novel from
the point of view of ordinary fiction that we become aware of their irrelevance to the main narrative.
Then we perceive that "A la Recherche...," which begins in the darkened room of sleep, stands alone
as a true dream-novel among works of social observation. It has its harmony, development and logic,
but they are the harmony, development and logic of the unconsciouss.
—Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle, Marcel Proust
Characteristic of Joyce = to neglect action, narrative, drama of the usual kind (direct impact on one
another of the characters) for a psycoogica protraiture.
There is vitality but little movement. Symphonic rather than narrative. Musical progression rather
than dramatic.
The Dead = about the modification brought about during a single evening in the relations of a
husband and wife by his becoming aware that she has once been loved by another man.
Ulysses = another small but significant change in the relations of another couple as a result of the
impingement on their household of the personality of an only slightly known young man.
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Most of these stories cover a period of a few hours, and they are never carried any further. When
Joyce has explored one of these situations, when he has established the small gradual readjustement,
he has done all that interests him.
All, that is, from the point of view of ordinary incident. But though Joyce almost entirely lacks
appetite for violent conflict or vigorous action, his work is prodigiously rich and alive. His force,
instead of following a line, expands itself in every dimension (including that of time) about a single
point.
—Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle, James Joyce
The Struggle with Ulysses
Now the Homeric parallel in "Ulysses" is in general pointedly and charmingly carried out and
justifies itself: it does help to give the story a universal significance and it enables Joyce to show us
in the actions and the relations of his characters meanings which he perhaps could not easily have
indicated in any other way—since the characters themselves must be largely unaware of these
meanings and since Jpyce has adopted the strict objective method, in which the author must not
comment on the action. And we may even accept the arts and sciences and the organs of the human
body as making the book complete and comprehensive, if a little laboriously systematic—the whole
of man's experience in a day. But when we get all these things together and further complicated by
the virtuosity of the technical devices, the result is sometimes baffling or confusing. We become
aware, as we examine the outline, that when we went through "Ulysses" for the first time, it was
these organs and arts and sciences and Homeric correspondences which sometimes so discouraged
our interest. We had been climbing over these obstacles without knowing it, in our attempts to follow
Dedalus and Bloom. The trouble was that, beyond the ostensible subject and, as it were, beneath the
surface of the narrative, too many other subjects and too many different orders of subjects were being
proposed to our atention.
(...)
I have offered the criticisms above only tentatively and without assurance: when we come to think
about what we take at first to be the defects in Joyce's work, we find them so closely involved with
the depth of his thought and the originality of his conception that we are obliged to grant them a
certain necessity.
—Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle, James Joyce
Nota: Ulysses es un libro "hecho" para ser releído. Lo que puede parecer un exceso en Joyce no es
sino la "marca" de Joyce y del Ulysses. Pero la crítica esta es útil para recordar un error a veces
común en literatura: la "superproducción," la sobreescritura innecesaria.
Simplicity is not an objective in art, but one achieves simplicity despite oneself by entering into the
real sense of things.
—Constantin Brancusi, Aphorisms, Theories of Modern Art
Limitation of means determines style, engenders new form, and gives impulse to creation.
In art, progress does not consist in extension, but in the knowledge of limits.
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One does not imitate appearances; the appearance is the result.
The goal is not to be concerned with the reconstitution of an anecdotal fact, but with constitution of a
pictorial fact.
The subject is not the object, it is a new unity, a lyricism which grows completely from the means.
I never had a goal in mind. A goal is a servitude, wrote Nietzche, I believe, and it is true.
—Georges Braque, Theories of Modern Art, 260
Music that is based on ontological time is generally dominated by the principle of similarity.
The music that adheres to psycological time likes to proceed by contrast. To these two principles
which dominate the creative process correspond the fundamental concepts of variety and unity.
Contrast produces an immediate effect. Similarity satisfies us only in the long run. Contrast is
an element of variety, but it divides our attention. Similarity is born of a striving for unity.
Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of music
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a
lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
--Albert Einstein
A sailor of antiquity in his oat, enjoying himself and appreciating the comfortable
accommodations. Ancient art represents the subject accordingly. And now: the experiences of a
modern man, walking across the deck of a steamer: 1. His own movement, 2. the movement of the
ship which coud be in the opposite direction, 3. the direction and the speed of the current, 4. the
rotation of the earth, 5. its orbit, and 6. the orbits of the stars and satellites around it.
The result: an organization of movements within the cosmos centered on the man on the
steamer.
An apple tree in bloom, its roots and rising saps, its trunk, the cross section with the annual
rings, the blossom, its structure, its sexual functions, the fruit, the core with seeds.
An organization of states of growth.
—Paul Klee, Creative Credo.
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También el estado de ánimo de mi acompañante mejoró, y empezó a cantar en falsete y con
extraordinaria falta de oído, sin acertar nunca ni con la melodía ni con el tono y dejándose llevar
caprichosamente; el resultado, sin embargo, tenía algo de natural y de placentero, como el canto de
los pájaros. A medida que oscurecía, yo me iba sintiendo cada vez más dominado por el hechizo de
aquél espontáneo gorjear, esperando poder reconocer algún tema concreto, cosa que nunca llegaba a
suceder; cuando por fin le pregunté qué era lo que cantaba, exclamó:
—No sé, yo me limito a cantar.
Me fascinaba en especial su costumbre de repetir incansablemente la misma nota a pequeños
intervalos; no era tan monótono como se podría pensar o, al menos, no resultaba nada desagradable;
y sobre todo parecía comunicar una maravillosa conformidad con el mundo tal como es: esa
conformidad que imaginamos descubrir en la forma de los árboles o en la quietud de los estanques.
—R.L.Stevenson, Olalla
Palomar, que espera siempre lo peor de los poderes y los contrapoderes, terminó convenciéndose
de que lo que verdaderamente importa es lo que sucede a pesar de ellos: las formas que la sociedad
toma lentamente, silenciosamente, de manera anónima, modificando sus costumbres, sus formas de
pensar y de actuar, su escala de valores. Estando así las cosas, el modelo de los modelos soñado por
Palomar tendría que permitirnos obtener modelos transparentes, diáfanos, tan sutiles como telas de
araña; un modelo que tal vez pueda disolver a los otros modelos y hasta disolverse con ellos.
—Italo Calvino, Palomar
La sabiduría es sólo una: conocer la razón por la cual todas las cosas son dirigidas por todas.
—Heráclito, frag. 41
That is to say, although the composition is derived from reality, there is no immediate perceptual
image to be represented—rather a group of visual elements associated with a memory-image. These
associated elements may indeed, as Picasso always insisted, be derived from visual experience; but
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the important distinction is that the painting becomes a free association of images (a construct of the
visual imagination) and not the representation of a subject controlled by the laws of perspective.
—Herbert Read, A concise history of modern painting
A structure becomes architecture, and not sculpture, when its elements no longer have their
justification in nature. (...)
The architect, the engineer, should have sublime aims: to build the highest tower, to prepare for time
and ivy the most beautiful of ruins, to throw across a harbour or a river an arch more audacious than
the rainbow, and finally to compose to a lasting harmony, the most powerful ever imagined by man.
—Apollinaire, The cubist painters
Recent psycological researches have drawn a comparison between the construction of a bird's
nest and the beginning of a melody tending towards a certain characteristic conclusion...
—Breton
In other words, the work of art is a construction of concrete elements of form and colour which
become expressive in the process of synthesis or arrangement: the form of the work of art is in itself
the content, and whatever expressiveness there is in the work of art originates with the form.
—Herbert Read, A concise history of modern art, Kandinsky
One reason why the Epic of Gilgamesh still has great power to move us is a poetic style that
does not depend on elements like rhyme or meter but on rhetorical devices, parallelism and anthitesis,
and the antiphonal organization of short and long phrases, all of which are translatable [...]
This solemn style, like the words of some great ritual, is the direct embodiment of a vision and
judgement of the human condition that is permanent and universal. The absurdity of life and death,
heroic wistfulness, nostalgia for lost possibilities, melancholy of missed perfection were as
meaningful five thousand years ago to the Sumerians as they are to us. We look at them tody in
museum cases—round heads, curly hair, immense eyes and noses, plump hands folded over plump
chests, cloaks like leaves or feathers—and they look out at us, and we know that the love of
comrades cannot prevail against the insult of death, that erotic women destry men with impossible
demands, that nothing endures, that the memory of heroic action lasts a little while and sometimes
the walls of empires a little longer, that the meaning of life can be revealed but never explained, and
that the realization of these truths constitutes the achievement of tru personality. From the first
narrative in the world's literature Gilgamesh emerges as the first conscious self. In the course of four
thousand years of fiction, self-consciousness will be achieved in many different and more elaborate
ways, but it will in fact and essence vary not at all.
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—Kenneth Rexroth, Classics Revisited
MUSICAL FORMS
Oxford University Press titles we recommend...
form. The structure and design of a composition. Whereas in the 16th and 17th cents. instr. comps.
were usually very brief (e.g. a movt. in a kbd. suite of Byrd or Purcell), by the 19th cent. they were
frequently long (e.g. a sonata or sym. movt. of the later Beethoven, Bruckner, and Mahler). This
implies an enormous growth in the understanding of the principles of form and in mastery of the
application of those principles. In general, however, despite continuous experimentation the mus.
forms so far devised can be classified into no more than 6 categories, all of them exploiting the idea
of contrast plus variety both in the domain of content (thematic material) and in that of key
(combinations of these are, of course, possible, e.g. in simple ternary form each section can be in
binary form, and so on). (1) SIMPLE BINARY FORM (e.g. in the movts. of Bach's kbd. suites) has
no strong contrast of material. The 1st section opens in the tonic key and then modulates, as it ends,
into the key of the dominant (or in the case of a minor key, sometimes the relative major). The 2nd
section then opens in that 2nd key and, before it ends, modulates back to the 1st. There are, then, 2
67
distinct main cadences, or points of rest, the 1st in the dominant (or relative major), and the 2nd in
the tonic. This form, although it sometimes attained fairly considerable dimensions in the 18th cent.,
is unsuitable for very long pieces, since the variety offered to the listener is almost entirely confined
to details of treatment and the element of key, the thematic material employed throughout being the
same. This form has been little used since c.1750. (2) TERNARY FORM. This is one of the most
commonly used forms for short comps. It consists of a first section (more or less complete and selfcontained), a 2nd section, contrasting as to mus. material and key (normally in the dominant or the
tonic minor or relative major), and then the first section repeated. See ABA. (3) COMPOUND
BINARY FORM (also known as SONATA FORM, because often employed in the first or some
other movt. or movts. of a sonata; and as FIRST MOVEMENT FORM for the same reason). This
derives historically from simple binary form but has developed into something more resembling
ternary form. Like simple binary it falls into 2 sections, of which the 1st modulates to the dominant
and the 2nd takes us back to the tonic. But the sections have become elaborated as follows:
1st section. Strain I (first subject) in tonic key; followed by Strain II (2nd Subject) in dominant key.
Those 2 strains (or subjects) are generally contrasted in character. This section is called the
exposition.
2nd section. Some development (also called ‘working-out’ or ‘free fantasia’) of the material in the
previous section, followed by a repetition (recapitulation) of that section, but this time with both
subjects in the tonic key so that the piece may end in the key with which it opened.
Further details may incl. (a) a bridge passage, leading (in both sections) from the first subject to the
second; (b) a closing passage (coda), at the end of each section.
A tendency towards the evolution of simple binary form into compound binary form may be
observed in some of Bach's movts., but its first real exploitation is connected with the name and fame
of his son, C. P. E. Bach, and the further exploitation and elaboration with the names of Haydn,
Mozart, Beethoven, and their contemporaries. This form is still in frequent use, but 20th cent.
composers have modified it in detail. (4) RONDO FORM This may be considered an extension of
ternary form. If the 3 sections of that form are indicated by the formula ABA, then the rondo form
must be indicated by ABACADA, or some variant of this. (The sections B, C, D, etc. are often
spoken of as episodes).
SONATA-RONDO FORM, as its name implies, offers a combination of compound binary and rondo
forms. The general plan is as follows: 1st section. Subject I, subject II in another key, subject I
repeated. 2nd section. Development of the previous subject-material. 3rd section. Subject I and
subject II again, but the latter this time in the same key as subject I.
Sometimes the development above mentioned is replaced by new material. And there are other
variants. (5) AIR WITH VARIATIONS. This form, which from the 16th cent. to the present day has
been popular with composers of every class from the most trivial to the most serious, consists, as the
name implies, of one theme (or ‘subject’), first played in its simplicity and then many times repeated
with elaborations, each variation thus taking on its own individuality.
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There are very many types of comp. to which distinctive names are given, each representing not a
‘form’ but rather a style in which one of the above forms is presented; such as the nocturne, the
gavotte, the barcarolle, the Konzertstück, and others.
With the development of elec. mus. and the use of aleatory techniques in 20th-cent. comps., the use
of form is stretched to meet whatever the composer may wish to do. Infinite flexibility would seem to
be the guiding principle in works of this kind. (6) See fugue.
fugue (Fr. ‘fugue’, Ger. ‘Fuge’, It. ‘fuga’). Type of contrapuntal comp. for particular no. of parts or
‘voices’ (described thus whether vocal or instr., e.g. fugue in 4 parts, fugue in 3 vv.). The point of
fugue is that the vv. enter successively in imitation of each other, the 1st v. entering with a short
melody or phrase known as the subject (different from sonata-form ‘subject’ in that it is merely
melodic and short). When all the vv. have entered, the exposition is over. Then (normally) there
comes an episode or passage of connective tissue (usually a development of something that has
appeared in the exposition) leading to another entry or series of entries of the subject, and so on until
the end of the piece, entries and episodes alternating.
Contrasts of key constitute an important element in fugal construction. In the exposition the subject
first appears, naturally, in the tonic key; the 2nd v. to enter with it does so a 5th higher (or 4th lower),
i.e. in the dominant key, the name answer now being attached to it; the 3rd is a repetition of the
subject (in a higher or lower octave) and so on, subject and answer, tonic and dominant keys, thus
appearing alternately, according to the no. of ‘voices’ engaged. One function of the episodes is to
effect modulation to various related keys, so that the later entries may have the advantage of this
variety, but once the exposition is over it is not considered necessary that further series of entries
shall always alternate as to keys in the subject-answer manner.
In addition to the subject there is often a counter-subject appearing in the exposition and probably
later in the fugue. It is of the nature of a melodic acc. to the answer and subject (generally in double
counterpoint). The v. which has just given out the subject or answer then goes on to the
countersubject whilst the next v. is giving out the answer or subject and so on.
Sometimes in later entries there is overlapping of the subject, each v., as it gives out, not waiting for
the previous v. to finish it but breaking in, as it were, prematurely. This device, which is called
stretto, tends to increase the emotional tension of the entry in which it occurs.
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Occasionally, after the exposition (and possibly before the 1st episode) there is a counter- exposition,
much like the 1st exposition in that the same 2 keys are employed. Appearances of the subject (in the
exposition or elsewhere) are sometimes separated by something of the nature of the episode, but
shorter, called a codetta.
The exist 2 types of fugue with 2 subjects (or double fugue), one in which the 2 subjects appear
together from the outset, and another in which the 1st subject is treated for a certain time, the other
then appearing and being likewise treated, after which both are combined. In choral fugues (e.g. in an
oratorio movement) there is sometimes a free instr. part, an accompanied fugue. The device of pedal
is often employed in fugue, especially near its close.
There are cases in which, instead of the answer being an exact replica of the subject (real answer), it
is slightly changed in 1 or 2 of its intervals (tonal answer), resulting respectively in a real fugue and a
tonal fugue (an absurdity since the tonal treatment may not extend beyond the exposition).
A shortened type of fugue is sometimes called a fughetta. A passage in fugal style, not in itself an
actual fugue, is called fugato.
The above descriptions are of the academic fugue form, but the great composers have, naturally,
varied it, e.g. Bach in Die Kunst der Fuge. Superb fugues occur in many works, e.g. Beethoven's
Grosse fuge for str. qt., Op.133, in Elgar's Introduction and Allegro for str., and in many choral
comps. Fugue-form is also used effectively in opera, e.g. the finale of Act 2 of Die Meistersinger von
Nürnberg and the finale of Falstaff.
[Home] Top-of-page
counterpoint. The ability, unique to mus., to say two things at once comprehensibly. The term derives
from the expression punctus contra punctum, i.e. ‘point against point’ or ‘note against note’. A single
‘part’ or ‘voice’ added to another is called ‘a counterpoint’ to that other, but the more common use of
the word is that of the combination of simultaneous parts or vv., each of significance in itself and the
whole resulting in a coherent texture. In this sense counterpoint is the same as polyphony.
The art of counterpoint developed gradually from the 9th cent. onwards and reached its highest point
at the end of the 16th cent. and beginning of the 17th cent. When, at a later date, attempts were made
to formulate rules for students of the art they were based on the practice of that period of culmination.
The chief theorist responsible for the formulation of those rules was Fux whose Gradus ad Parnassum
of 1725 is a book which still shows its influence in modern textbooks of strict counterpoint (or
student's counterpoint), a form of training intended to be preparatory to the practice of free
counterpoint (or composer's counterpoint).
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In strict counterpoint the processes are studied under 5 heads, the result of an analysis which dissects
the practice of the art into 5 species. Following the practice of early composers a cantus firmus (fixed
song) is employed, i.e. a short melody, set by the master, against which another melody is to be
written by the student— or, it may be, several such melodies. It is usually set out with one note to a
measure (bar).
The species are as follows: I. The added v. proceeds at the same pace as the cantus firmus, i.e. with
one note to a measure. II. The added v. proceeds at twice (or 3 times) the pace of the cantus firmus,
i.e. with 2 or 3 notes to a measure. III. The added v. proceeds at 4 (or 6) times the pace of the cantus
firmus, i.e. with 4 notes to a measure. IV. The added v. proceeds (as in Species II) at the rate of 2
notes to 1, i.e. 2 to a measure; but the second note is tied over to the first note of the following
measure, i.e. syncopation is introduced. V. (Sometimes called florid counterpoint.) The added v.
employs a mixture of the processes of the other 4 species and also introduces shorter notes (quavers).
The use of strict counterpoint as a method of study has tended to decline, its ‘rules’ being felt to be
too rigid.
Combined counterpoint (strict or free) is that in which the added vv. are different species. Invertible
counterpoint is such as permits of vv. changing places (the higher becoming the lower, and vice
versa). Double counterpoint is invertible counterpoint as concerns 2 vv. Triple counterpoint is that in
which 3 vv. are concerned, which are capable of changing places with one another, so making 6
positions of the v. parts possible. Quadruple and quintuple counterpoint are similarly explained, the
first allowing of 24 positions and the second of 120.
Imitation is common in contrapuntal comp.—one v. entering with a phrase which is then more or less
exactly copied by another v. When the imitation is strict it becomes canon.
In the 20th cent. there have been no new contrapuntal procedures but composers have made much
freer and more daring use of traditional forms. In particular they have concentrated on what is known
as linear counterpoint, i.e. on the individual strands of the texture and on thematic and rhythmic
relationships rather than on harmonic implications. Linear harmony is the opposite of vertical
harmony, i.e. confluences. With the blurring or virtual elimination of the boundaries between
consonance and dissonance a much wider range of confluences is open to the composer.
Sonata form. Type of mus. construction (sometimes known as compound binary form) normally used
in 1st movt. of a sonata, sym., or conc. (and in other types of work). Used also in other movts.
Regular sonata form implies 3 sections: 1. exposition (containing first subject, in tonic key, and 2nd
subject, in dominant, and sometimes further subjects), often repeated and followed by 2. development
(in which the material of the exposition is worked out in a kind of free fantasia), and 3. recapitulation
(in which the exposition is repeated, though often with modification, and with the 2nd subject now in
the tonic). The recapitulation has a coda, a peroration of moderate length though some composers,
incl. Beethoven, extend it into what amounts to a 2nd development section. The basis of sonata form
is key relationships.
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Copyright © 1996 Oxford University Press - By permission of Oxford University Press
CONFLICT:
The key to access into every story is conflict. It's the thing that makes us say: what happens? Style
alone, character alone, situation alone don't turn the trick unassisted. "The cat sat on the mat," as le
Carré points out, "is not the beginning of a story, but 'The cat sat on the dog's mat' is."
In the early stages don't force a definition. You are searching, you are experimenting. Crime and
Punishment came out of Dostoievsky's trying to write an attack on alcoholism.
Every story—like avery human situation—swims in a vast shoreless sea of possible information and
detail. What separates details that matter from those that don't is the force field of conflict. It is
conflict that pulls scattered information into an articulated shape, extracting relevant detail from the
detritus of the irrelevant.
And, of course, conflict also shapes character, more than the so called "personality." Juliet has a
personality, but it is made dramatic only by her destiny.
One of he writer's primary unity of thought, his basis for selecting and organizing details of his
work—is genre. The writer is presenting not so much what he knows about a particular literary genre.
(John Gardner)
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—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
(Chejov) Un mecanismo muy utilizados para hacer funcionar un relato de manera drmática es la de
un "evento crucial" que haga al personaje reevaluar las situaciones: ej. la muerte de alguien cercano,
la muerte de un enemigo, una enfermedad, verse "abandonado" de repente en un lugar que uno
desconoce, etc.
la entrevista a celine en the paris review tiene la justeza de un drama. va creando situaciones poco a
poco, sumando detalles que en sí te interesan etc. pero que sólo estallan en el momento en que celine
dice esa frase
And, you know... experience is a dim lamp which only lights the one who bears it... and
incommunicable...
si uno se esfuerza por encontra frases lindas todo el tiempo, no funciona. hay que hacer avanzar la
accion, tender una trampa para, en el momento preciso empujar al que lee adentro para siempre, y
uno caer con él.
NARRATIVE THINKING:
You are looking for a story. So ask questions that have to be answered with a story. Rather than ask
what something means, ask what its outcome is going to be, and ask how that outcome will be
reached.
"What happens?" is the narrative question par excelence (What happens if? What happens when?
What happens after?). It can be answered only by what people do.
Others: What does the character wants? Is he/she going to get it? How or why? Ask them right and
they will invariably produce some sort of tale.
About the setting. Do not ask 'What does this place looks like?', unless you are writing a travel book.
Ask: Who lives here? Who wants to come here? Who wants to leave here? Why? Now you can tell
what a place looks like in the context of people and their desires.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
73
Verosimilitude is the mask which is assumed by the laws of the text and which we are meant to take
for a relation with reality. (Todorov takes as example Lang's fil "Beyond a reasonable doubt" in
which an innocent man fabricates all kinds of clues that lead to his own arrest to demonstrate the gap
between verosimilitude and truth).
—Tzvetan Todorov, Poetics of Prose, Intr. to verosimilitude
Escrito al final de Images, de Bergman
Básicamente está 1) qué hacemos, 2) cómo lo hacemos, 3) con qué intención (o falta de intención—
compulsión, etc.), 4) cuándo y 5) dónde.
Pero lo importante es el desplazamiento de una acción hacia otra, la cadena (que no es tal, sino un
movimiento permanente de un terreno sobre otro terreno). Ej. pg 88 (Bergman, Images—Cries and
Whispers) En la descripción de los personajes. Tía Amalia sentada en el inodoro (y) comiendo un
sandwich de paté (y) con la puerta del baño abierta (+) who keeps an excesively detailed monologue
about her digestion, her intestines, and her stools).
DRAMA AND IMPROBABILITY
Embrace drama. Embrace improbability.
Drama rests on improbability and together they are our prime means for uncovering the unseen
significance of things. Exceptional happenings are the writer's business.
All drama is based upon unlikely events surging up into ordinary life and changing it. Make the
improbable credible, and then inevitable.
(81)
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
74
Judge the tree by its fruits then, and do not meddle with the roots. Function justifies an organ,
no matter how strange the organ may appear in the eyes of those who are not accustomed to see it
functioning. Snobbish circles are cluttered with persons who, like one of Montesquieu's characters,
wonder how one can possibly be Persian. They make me think unfailingly of the story of the peasant
who, on seeing a dromedary in the zoo for the first time, examines it at lenght, shakes his head and,
turning to leave, says, to the great delight of those present: "It isn't true."
— Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of music
6.9 Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its
end is a form of action, not a quality.
6.10 Dramatic action, therefore, is not with a view to the representation of character: character comes
in a subsidiary to the actions.
6.17 Character is that which reveals moral purpose, showing what kind of things a man chooses or
avoids.
8.3In composing the Odyssey Homer did not include all the adventures of Odysseus—such as his
wound on Parnasus, or his feigned madness at the mustering of the host—incidents between which
there was no necessary or probable conexion: but he made the Odyssey, and likewise the Illiad, to
centre round an action that in our sense of the word is one. 8.4 As therefore, in the other imitative
arts, the imitation is one when the object imitated is one, so the plot, being an imitation of an action,
must imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one
of them is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjointed and disturbed.
13.2. Pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves (13.3. a
man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or
depravity, but by some error or frailty).
24.7. The poet should speak as little as possible in his own person, for it is not this that makes him an
imitator. Homer, after a few prefatory words, at once brings in a man, or woman, or other personage,
each with a character of his own.
24.8. (...) Now, the wonderful is pleasing. (...) 24.9. It is Homer who has chiefly taught other poets
the art of telling lies skilfully. The secret of it lies in a fallacy. (...) 24.10. Accordingly, the poet
should prefer probable impossibilities to improbable possibilities.
—Aristotle, Poetics
75
Kitto: Greek Tragedy
Kitto señala que la inclusión de un segundo actor (Esquilo) hace que el drama pueda moverse
longitudinalmente (acción), además de verticalmente (tensión) que es lo que sucedía con un
personaje solo (aparte del coro). El argumento de la Tragedia Lírica era, en cierto sentido, estático;
cuando el coro y el actor se encontraban, el círculo estaba cerrado. Ya no es más así; hay un segundo
actor que puede venir con noticias frescas o puede presentar distintas facetas de la situación al héroe.
Las implicaciones trágicas del segundo actor son incluso más importantes que las dramáticas. Dado
que la situación está en movimiento, el héroe debe ser de determinada manera; debe—para que haya
tragedia—ser de una constitución moral tal como para oponerse a este movimiento y no conformarse
a él. El héroe de la tragedia antigua era el Hombre, casi indiferenciado; el de la nueva es alguien
específico, cuyo carácter moral va a ser exhibido y testeado, para dar lugar a la elección moral y sus
consecuencias.
Sófocles introduce el tercer actor para que haga lo que Esquilo definitivamente se rehusa a hacer en
Agamemnón, es decir iluminar al personaje pricipal desde varios puntos de vista. La concepción de
Esquilo implica al "single-minded" héroe trágico: el pecado a sido cometido y el Cielo responde, a
través de su instrumento designado. Sófocles no ve lo simple sino lo complejo. Ciertas personas,
porque son de esta manera y no de aquella, y porque sus circunstancias son éstas y no ésas, se
combinan para atraer una catástrofe. Si cualquier detalle hubiese sido diferente, el desastre no
hubiese ocurrido. El trabajo de la Ley es visto en la forma en que todas estas delicadas complejidades
se entretejen, dibujando una figura que se revela repentinamente como inevitable.
Un ejemplo aparte: las consideraciones prácticas y políticas de los dos personajes que aparecen en el
prólogo de Electra, hacen un contraste excelente con la desolación y las penas personales de Electra
(tanto Ajax como Electra empiezan con personajes secundarios para prepararle el camino al héroe).
En éstas yuxtaposiciones hay una relevancia imaginativa muy fina; sófocles logra la mitad de su
efecto gracias a una disposición arquitectónica de masas, y esto fue hecho posible por la fluidez que
introdujo el tercer actor.
El poder dramático surge de esto: cada uno de los tres personajes tiene su propia preocupación, su
propia actitud hacia el hecho central. Creón se encuentra con la noticia increíble de que el rebelde no
es un agente político sino su propia sobrina; Antígona, el hecho ya consumado, se mantiene apartada,
fuera de contacto con la escena, envuelta en su confianza casi mística; el Guardia, encontrando en la
situación su propia vindicación y escape, está cómodo, asaltado por la extraordinariamente
irrelevante idea de que un hombre no debe negar nada—esta es la moraleja que él extrae. Qué
efectivo es el tono informal de su 'Ocurrió así...' contra este trasfondo. Él, una persona en la periferia
del drama, ha escapado. Así es como lo afecta. (...) Una vez más, ésta es la forma burlona en que las
cosas pasan.
En 'Edipo' la escena del mensajero corintio duplica su poder por la presencia de Yocasta. Su paso de
la confianza al horror contrasta con el movimiento contrario de Edipo y con la jocosa simpleza del
mensajero (que debe estar sorprendido por los tremendo efectos que su sencillo mensaje acarrea).
76
Kitto on Dramatic contrast:
Tragedy will fail of his true effect unless it is set off and as it were measured by moments when the
tension is removed. To do this is one of the functions of by-plo in the modern drama, and in by-plot
we may include the Shakespearian comic relief—which is not always so purely comic as thename
suggests. Another of its functions is to assist in the mechanics of the plot, to provide a curtain, a
necessary interval in the evolution of the dramatic events. Obviously both this requisites are met in
Greek drama by the Chorus.
A choral ode, though it still bears on the issue of the tragedy, appeals to different parts of our minds.
It is a lyrical relief instead of comic relief, but comic relief is often only a different kind of tension.
The Gravediggers are no farce.
Sophocles paid particular attention to relief and variety, not merely by the use of the Chorus, but also
by the continuous changing of pace, drmatic emotion, situation, and point of view. For comic relief
we have an Attic equivalent in such sharply-drawn minor characters as the Watchman and the
Corinthian, with their suggestion of vulgar speech and vulgar preoccupations. We have too the
contrast between the closely packed thought and implication of the dialogue and the epic swiftness
and brilliance of a messenger-speech. We have the most carefully calculated contrast between
slowness of thought or stillness in action—as when Creon and Haemon discuss, to the point of
tedium, duty to a parent, and Clytemnestra or Iocasta suspend movement by praying to a statue—and
the extreme of swiftness.
The Euripidean Tragedy:
The tragedy o fthe Sophoclean hero is that such strenght is nullified by such weakness; of Medea,
that such character should exist at all. She is bound to be a torment to herself and to others, leaving
wreackage behind her. That she suffers herself is a great and no doubt a necessary part of the drama,
but it is not the point of the tragedy, which is that passion can be stronger than reason, and so can be
a most destructive agent.
The great difference between Euripides' and Sophocles' approach to tragedy is that Sophocles
concentrates into one hero what Euripides splits up, prismatically, among a group. In Sophocles it is
the hero himself who prefigures Man; he is strong and weak; he, and no one else pays for his
weakness. It is because Euripides analyses his tragedy into the tragedy of society instead of
synthesizing it in the tragedy of a representative hero, 'like us', that he does not need these virtues,
and will use them less and less.
This implies no tragic interlock between character and situation (like in Sophocles); the situation is
nothing but the setting for the outburst of unreason, the channel along which it rushes. What matters
now is not thet the situation must be convincing and illuminating (Aristotle's Poetics), not even that
the heroine must be convincing as a person; but that her passion must be, in however extreme a form,
a fundamental and familiar one.
77
The end of the Medea does not come out of the logic of the action by the law of necessity and
probability, but is contrived by Euripides, deliberately, as the final revelation of his thought. When
we begin to see Medea not merely as the betrayed and vindictive wife but as the impersonation of
one of the blind and irrational forces in human nature, we begin to find that catharsis for which we
looked for in vain in the mesenger-speech. (...) Euripides resorts to a manipulation of the plot, an
artificial ending which, like Aegeus, would have been ruinous to Sophocles. This imaginative and
necessary climax is not the logical ending to the story of Medea the ill-used wife of Corinth, but it is
the climax to Euripides' underlying tragic conception.
— Kitto: Greek Tragedy
The Odyssey is entertainment. It is entertainment of the highest order, but it is difficult to
imagine anyone saying, "Reading the Odyssey changed my life fundamentally." The Iliad can be read
only superficially as entertainment. If we make ourselves available to it, it confronts us with a vision
of the nature of reality and the being of man. The Iliad says: "This is life. It is tragic, and is it has
meaning, that meaning is an incommunicable mystery; it can be presented, but never explained." The
Odyssey says: "This is life. It is comic, and it is full of meanings. These meanings are all the
multiform techniques for living; they can be learned by work, intelligence, and a canny conscience."
Tragedy is a posture; comedy is an activity. If one read enough comedies, they might change
one's life fundamentally. Life as comedy can be learned; as tragedy it can only be assumed. Most
men are predominantly one type or the other; an individual's view of life is seldom equally balanced
between tragedy and comedy. However, the dramatic artists of the world' s literature have usually
written both; they have realized that there are two faces of the coin of life: on one side, the head of an
implacable and beautiful god; on the other, a curious animal.
—Kennet
Rexroth,
Classics Revisited, The Odyssey
This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.
—Horace Walpole, letter to the Countess of Upper Ossory
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Es notable cómo a los escritores de hoy les falta energía vital. ¿Por qué Michel Houellebecq tiene
tanto éxito? Es a causa de su nulidad, es por su mediocridad y por esa falta de energía que es visible
tanto en su persona como en su texto. Que llame a eso Plataforma es muy normal, es la forma más
chata posible. Él piensa que no se puede hacer otra cosa porque dice: “Soy un mediocre, vivo en un
mundo mediocre y todo el mundo es mediocre”. Los personajes viajan a Tailandia para coger
mediocremente, con partenaires mediocres, etc. Y eso es para la gente una imagen del mundo actual.
Y, de repente, aparece un libro que da, al contrario, la impresión de vitalidad y juventud.
En La reprise se alternan dos narradores que desarrollan versiones contradictorias de los
acontecimientos, inclusive en los detalles. Pero estas dos voces no están destinadas a converger hacia
la resolución del enigma policial. Lo que parece estar verdaderamente en juego es la lucha por la
conquista del texto como un espacio donde cada uno trata de imponer su mirada. –Sí, siempre hubo
en mis libros fuerzas incompatibles que luchan entre sí. Por ejemplo: las tonterías que se escribieron
sobre “la novela objetiva” en los 50 y 60 venían del hecho de que los lectores no podían admitir que
había una objetividad y una subjetividad que eran, ambas, totales y que al mismo tiempo luchaban
entre sí.
¿Podríamos decir que este combate por imponer una mirada es una de sus definiciones de la
escritura?
–Uno de los aspectos que hacía del nouveau roman algo tan difícil hace cincuenta años es que para el
lector de novelas tenía que existir un mundo real –lo que la crítica literaria llama “referente”– y la
novela no era más que el relato vinculado a un referente que existía fuera de la novela. Eso era muy
importante para el lector. El efecto de realidad era representación de eso real que, en definitiva, no
necesitaba al libro para existir. Es el caso de las novelas de Balzac o de Dickens, donde el mundo
existe fuera del libro, donde el libro habla de un mundo que preexiste. Desde Kafka, Joyce y
Faulkner tenemos la sensación, al contrario, de que es el relato el que crea el mundo, que el escritor
no representa un mundo que ya existía, sino que lo está creando. Aunque Berlín en La reprise, Nueva
York en Proyecto para una revolución (1970) o Hong-Kong en La casa de las citas (1965) existen en
realidad, esa realidad es un fantasma que existe quién sabe dónde. La verdadera realidad es la que el
libro crea. Y, para mí, el verdadero Berlín es éste (toca la tapa de su novela). Lo que es interesante en
todos los libros de Juan José Saer es que hay una creación de un mundo: de hecho cuando uno de sus
libros transcurre en Sante Fe, no dice que es Santa Fe, es una ciudad imaginaria.
Hubo una discusión entre Georg Lukács y Leo Bersani. Lukács, que era el gran teórico del
realismo socialista, me detestaba, me había condenado en la revista Siglo Veinte por mi formalismo
burgués y porque yo había presentado a Flaubert como un escritor revolucionario. Lukács escribió un
texto muy largo para decir que el escritor revolucionario era Balzac, porque él se interesaba por los
problemas materiales de la existencia, por la revolución, y que Flaubert ni siquiera había sido capaz
de bajar a la calle en el 48. Y Leo Bersani, un gran profesor de literatura norteamericano de Berkeley,
escribió un texto notable para explicarle a Lukács que quizás en la obra de Balzac se cuestionan los
verdaderos problemas de la gente, pero que la narración tranquiliza a la burguesía. Es decir que la
narración balzaciana no pone en tela de juicio el funcionamiento de la narración y, por ende, no
cuestiona el funcionamiento del poder. Lo que quiere decir que la narración es el poder. Flaubert va
aser el primero en cuestionarse lo que ya se preguntaba Diderot: ¿en nombre de qué puedo contar
como si fuese Dios? Y efectivamente ocurre lo mismo entre Houellebecq y yo. Probablemente él
habla del mundo real, de la mediocridad e incluso de los atentados islamistas, pero lamentablemente
lo hace a través una narración perfectamente lineal, tranquilizadora y que no molesta a nadie. El
contenido molesta a los islamistas (risas), sí, ¿y entonces?
(Robbe-Grillet, sobre Repetition)
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Hay treinta y dos maneras de escribir una historia, y yo he utilizado todas y cada una de ellas; pero
sólo hay una trama posible: las cosas nunca son lo que parecen.
—Jim Thompson.
El autor no comenta lo que refiere. En las sagas, como en la realidad, hay hechos que al
principio son oscuros y que luego se explican y hechos que parecen insignificantes y luego cobran
importancia. Así, uno de los capítulos iniciales de la Saga de Njal refiere que Hallgerd la Hermosa
obró una vez de un modo mezquino y que su señor, Gunnar de Hlítharendi, el más valiente y pacífico
de los hombres, le dio una bofetada. A˜õs después, los enemigos sitian la casa. Las puertas están
cerradas; la casa, silenciosa. Uno de los agresores trepa hasta el borde de una ventana y Gunnar lo
hiere de un lanzazo.
—¿Está Gunnar en casa? —preguntan los compañeros.
—El, no sé; pero está su lanza —dice el herido, y muere con esa broma en los labios.
Gunnar los tiene a raya con sus flechas, pero al fin le cortan la cuerda del arco.
—Téjeme una cuerda con tu pelo —Le dice a Halgerd.
—¿Te va en ello la vida? —Pregunta ella.
—Sí — responde Gunnar.
—Entonces recuerdo la bofetada que me diste uuna vez y te veré morir —dice Hallgerd.
Así Gunnar murió, vencido por muchos, y mataron a Samr, su perro, pero antes el perro mató a
un hombre.
El texto nada nos había dicho de es rencor; ahora lo sabemos bruscamente, actual y terrible, con
el mismo asombro de Gunnar.
—Borges, Literaturas Germánicas
—Todo es maravilloso, Dios existe, conocemos el tiempo. Todo ha sido mal formulado, de los
griegos para acá. No se consigue nada con la geometría y los sistemas de pensamiento geométricos
¡Todo se reduce a esto! — Hizo un corte de manga; el coche seguía marchando en línea recta—. Y
no sólo eso sino que ambos comprendemos que yo no tengo tiempo para explicar por qué sé y tú
sabes que Dios existe.
En un momento me lamenté de los problemas de la vido motivos por los que Dios existe (...) Lo
importante es no quedar colgado...—
Pasamos junto a un niño que apedreaba a los coches.
—Piensa en esto —siguió Dean—. Cualquier día romperá un parabrisas con una piedra y el
conductor se estrellará y morirá. Y todo por culpa de ese chico. ¿Ves lo que te quiero decir? Dios
existe sin escrúpulos...
—Jack Kerouac, En la carretera, 2.3
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Alb. Where have you hid yourself?
How have you known the miseries of your father?
Edg. By nursing them, my lord. List a brief tale;
And when 'tis told, O that my heart would burst!
The bloody proclamation to escape
That follow'd me so near (O, our lives' sweetness!
That with the pain of death would hourly die
Rather than die at once!) taught me to shift
Into a madman's rags, t' assume a semblance
That very dogs disdain'd; and in this habit
Met I my father with his bleeding rings,
Their precious stones new lost; became his guide,
Led him, begg'd for him, sav'd him from despair;
Never (O fault!) reveal'd myself unto him
Until some half hour past, when I was arm'd,
Not sure, though hoping of this good success,
I ask'd his blessing, and from first to last
Told him my pilgrimage. But his flaw'd heart
(Alack, too weak the conflict to support!)
'Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief,
Burst smilingly.
Edm. This speech of yours hath mov'd me,
And shall perchance do good; but speak you on;
You look as you had something more to say.
Alb. If there be more, more woful, hold it in;
For I am almost ready to dissolve,
Hearing of this.
Edg. This would have seem'd a period
To such as love not sorrow; but another,
To amplify too much, would make much more,
And top extremity.
Whilst I was big in clamour, came there a man,
Who, having seen me in my worst estate,
Shunn'd my abhorr'd society; but then, finding
Who 'twas that so endur'd, with his strong arms
He fastened on my neck, and bellowed out
As he'd burst heaven; threw him on my father;
Told the most piteous tale of Lear and him
That ever ear receiv'd; which in recounting
His grief grew puissant, and the strings of life
Began to crack. Twice then the trumpets sounded,
And there I left him tranc'd.
Alb. But who was this?
Edg. Kent, sir, the banish'd Kent; who in disguise
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Followed his enemy king and did him service
Improper for a slave.
...
Enter Lear, with Cordelia [dead] in his arms, [Edgar, Captain,
and others following].
Lear. Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stone.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I'ld use them so
That heaven's vault should crack. She's gone for ever!
I know when one is dead, and when one lives.
She's dead as earth. Lend me a looking glass.
If that her breath will mist or stain the stone,
Why, then she lives.
Kent. Is this the promis'd end?
Edg. Or image of that horror?
Alb. Fall and cease!
Lear. This feather stirs; she lives! If it be so,
It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows
That ever I have felt.
Kent. O my good master!
Lear. Prithee away!
Edg. 'Tis noble Kent, your friend.
Lear. A plague upon you, murderers, traitors all!
I might have sav'd her; now she's gone for ever!
Cordelia, Cordelia! stay a little. Ha!
What is't thou say'st, Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low- an excellent thing in woman.
I kill'd the slave that was a-hanging thee.
Capt. 'Tis true, my lords, he did.
Lear. Did I not, fellow?
I have seen the day, with my good biting falchion
I would have made them skip. I am old now,
And these same crosses spoil me. Who are you?
Mine eyes are not o' th' best. I'll tell you straight.
Kent. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
One of them we behold.
Lear. This' a dull sight. Are you not Kent?
Kent. The sameYour servant Kent. Where is your servant Caius?
Lear. He's a good fellow, I can tell you that.
He'll strike, and quickly too. He's dead and rotten.
Kent. No, my good lord; I am the very manLear. I'll see that straight.
Kent. That from your first of difference and decay
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Have followed your sad steps.
Lear. You're welcome hither.
Kent. Nor no man else! All's cheerless, dark, and deadly.
Your eldest daughters have fordone themselves,
And desperately are dead.
Lear. Ay, so I think.
Alb. He knows not what he says; and vain is it
That we present us to him.
Edg. Very bootless.
Enter a Captain.
Capt. Edmund is dead, my lord.
Alb. That's but a trifle here.
You lords and noble friends, know our intent.
What comfort to this great decay may come
Shall be applied. For us, we will resign,
During the life of this old Majesty,
To him our absolute power; [to Edgar and Kent] you to your
rights;
With boot, and Such addition as your honours
Have more than merited.- All friends shall taste
The wages of their virtue, and all foes
The cup of their deservings.- O, see, see!
Lear. And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!
Pray you undo this button. Thank you, sir.
Do you see this? Look on her! look! her lips!
Look there, look there!
He dies.
Edg. He faints! My lord, my lord!
Kent. Break, heart; I prithee break!
Edg. Look up, my lord.
Kent. Vex not his ghost. O, let him pass! He hates him
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.
Edg. He is gone indeed.
Kent. The wonder is, he hath endur'd so long.
He but usurp'd his life.
Alb. Bear them from hence. Our present business
Is general woe. [To Kent and Edgar] Friends of my soul, you
twain
Rule in this realm, and the gor'd state sustain.
Kent. I have a journey, sir, shortly to go.
My master calls me; I must not say no.
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Alb. The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.
Exeunt with a dead march.
—William Shakespeare, King Lear 5.3
Lo más increíble de los milagros está en que acontezcan... La vida posee cierto elemento de
coincidencia fantástica, que la gente acostumbrada a contar sólo con lo prosaico nunca percibe.
Como lo expresa muy bien la paradoja de Poe, la prudencia debiera contar siempre con lo imprevisto.
—G.K.Chesterton, La cruz azul.
Truth is ever incoherent. —Herman Melville (carta a Hawthorne)
CHARACTERS
8.Toma a tus personajes de la mano y llévalos firmemente hasta el final, sin ver otra cosa que el
camino que les trazaste. No te distraigas viendo tú lo que ellos no pueden o no les importa ver.
10.No pienses en tus amigos al escribir, ni en la impresión que hará tu historia. Cuenta como si tu
relato no tuviera interés más que para el pequeño ambiente de tus personajes, de los que pudiste
haber sido uno. No de otro modo se obtiene la vida en el cuento.
—Horacio
Quiroga, Decálogo
Characters life consists almost exclusively of actions: any thought, word, or deed that engages your
character with some other character, becoming an event. Dramatic exhange is the thing that makes
characters visible, even to their authors.
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A story does not achieve unity, as some people think, merely by being about one person. Many
things, indeed an infinite number of things, happen to the same individual, some of which have no
unity at all. (Aristotle)
So what does supply unity, if not point of view? Coherence comes from "unity of action." That is,
coherence comes from finding the dramatic conflict of some true protagonist, putting it into play, and
pursuing it to its outcome. (Wholeness).
Flat Characters: types, caricatures. Constructed around a single quality or idea. Unchangeable,
memorable, predictable (Iago in Otello, most Dicken's Characters, except the heroes). Immortals,
fixed in time. Ex. "I will never desert Mr. Micawber." There is Mrs. Micawber—she says she won't
desert Mr. Micawber, she doesn't, and there she is."
Round Characters: Exist in time, because the hero or heroine is always in some sense equipped with
purpose. Something they want or need that makes them capable of change.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
Characters
Now watch one thing. In the third volume don't let yourself slip and get any perfect characters in—no
Stephen Daedeluses—remember it was Bloom and Mrs. Bloom saved Joyce. (...) Keep them people,
people, people, and don't let them get to be symbols. Remember the race is older than the economic
system...
—Hemingway, Letter to Dos Passos
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a
caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is
possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel. If the people the writer is
making talk of old masters; of music; of modern painting; of letters; or of science then they should
talk of those subjects in the novel. If they do not talk of those subjects and the writer makes them talk
of them he is a faker, and if he talks about them himself to show how much he knows then he is
showing off. No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not
absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not
interior decoration.
—Hemingway, Death in the afternoon
CHARACTER:
(...) Beckett changes his hero's name and shape in the course of the same narrative. Faulkner
purposely gives the same name to two different persons. As for the K of The Castle, he is content
with an initial, he possesses nothing, has no family, no face; he is probably not even a land surveyor
at all.
The examples can be multiplied. As a matter of fact, the creators of characters, in the traditional
sense, no longer manage to offer us anything more than puppets in which they themselves have
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ceased to believe. The novel of characters belongs entirely to the past, it describes a period: that
which marked the apogee of the individual.
(Nota: de todas formas, recordar novelas como Lolita, escritas más de cien años después de Madame
Bovary, que quizá no son una gran novedad formal, pero están "bien escritas", por decirlo así, y
evidentemente llenas de personajes que nos importan.)
—de ON SEVERAL OBSOLETE NOTIONS (1957), en FOR A NEW NOVEL - ALAIN ROBBEGRILLET
Oblique devices provide characterization:ief, almost incidental gesture, a distinctive manner of
speaking, a certain timbre of the voice or a recurrent detail which becomes a leitmotif. Father
Anastazi is associated with a light cough.
There are also the shorthand devices for characterization by the use of brief external descriptions.
Thus Egor's uncle has no beard, wears glasses, and "looks more like a bureaucrat than a merchant."
The uncle Kuzmichov is metonimically identified by his "businesslike dryness." Other characters are
also drawn by a few strokes. The superficial Father Khristofor has a broad top hat, moist eyes, and an
ever-present smile. The caravan drivers, who are almost "humors", are defined by their marionettelike appearance. Varlamov, the business agent, is similarly presented. he appears only fleetingly
toward the end of the narrative, but he is frequently mentioned and his presence is felt. He is
described as "whirling around" the steppe and when he finally appears, as seen by Egor, he is sitting
on an ugly horse, shouting crassly at his subordinates. When Varlamov becomes angry the horse,
with which Egor sympathizes, appears to feel his burden increase in weight.
Many characters are identified by distinctive speech traits. The priest speaks rapidly, mumbling as
though he were reciting a litany; his remarks are filled with clichés. his self conscious tone is
indicated by his use of Latin phrases remembered from boyhood and his bookish Russian. Puns and
plays with words denote his superficiality. The dry personality of uncle Kuzmichov is reflected in his
brief, matter of fact phrases.—54
When I write I put all my faith in the reader, presuming that the subjective elements which are
lacking in my tale will be supplied by him.
—82 Winner - Chekhov and his Prose
Wilde atribuye la siguiente broma a Carlyle: una biografia de Miguel Angel que omitiera toda
mencion de las obras de Miguel Angel. Tan compleja es la realidad, tan fragmentaria y tan
simplificada la historia, que un observador omnisciente podria redactar un numero indefinido, y casi
infinito, de biografias de un hombre, que destacan hechos independientes y de las que tendriamos que
leer muchas antes de comprender que el protagonista es el mismo. Simplifiquemos desaforadamente
una vida: imaginemos que la integran trece mil hechos. Una de las hipoteticas biografias registraria la
serie 11, 222, 33…; otra, la serie 9, 13, 17, 21…; otra, la serie 3, 12, 21, 30, 39…No es inconcebible
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una historia de los sueños de un hombre; otra, de los organos de su cuerpo; otra, de las falacias
cometidas por el; otra, de todos los momentos en que se imagino las piramides; otra, de su comercio
con la noche y con las auroras.
(Borges, Sobre el Vathek de
William Beckford; Otras Inquisiciones)
Don Segundo Sombra, pese a la veracidad de los dialogos, esta maleado por el afan de
magnificar las tareas mas inocentes. Nadie ignora que su narrador es un gaucho, de ahi lo doblemente
injustificado de ese gigantismo teatral, que hace de un arreo de novillos una funcion de guerra.
Güiraldes ahueca la voz para referir los trabajos cotidianos del campo, Hudson (como Ascasubi,
como Hernandez, como Eduardo Gutierrez) narra con toda naturalidad hechos acaso atroces.
Alguien observará que en The Purple Land el gaucho no figura sino de modo lateral,
secundario. Tanto mejor para la veracidad del retrato, cabe responder. El gaucho es hombre taciturno,
el gaucho desconoce, o desdeña, las complejas delicias de la memoria y de la introspeccion;
mostrarlo autobiografico y efusivo, ya es deformarlo.
(Borges,
Sobre
The
Purple Land; Otras Inquisiciones)
6.9 Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its
end is a form of action, not a quality.
6.10 Dramatic action, therefore, is not with a view to the representation of character: character comes
in a subsidiary to the actions.
6.17 Character is that which reveals moral purpose, showing what kind of things a man chooses or
avoids.
24.7. The poet should speak as little as possible in his own person, for it is not this that makes him an
imitator. Homer, after a few prefatory words, at once brings in a man, or woman, or other personage,
each with a character of his own.
24.8. (...) Now, the wonderful is pleasing. (...) 24.9. It is Homer who has chiefly taught other poets
the art of telling lies skilfully. The secret of it lies in a fallacy. (...) 24.10. Accordingly, the poet
should prefer probable impossibilities to improbable possibilities.
—Aristotle, Poetics
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The white clown tries to make the Auguste elegant. But the more authoritatively he tries, the more
ragged, clumsy and dusty the other becomes. It is the perfect image of an education that shows life in
idealised and abstract terms. Lao Tse says: If you make a thought (= the white clown), laugh at it (=
the Auguste).
(Fellini, Why Clowns/, Fellini on Fellini)
Beckett is the author of lovely novellas and wretched plays in the Maeterlinck tradition. The trilogy is
my favorite, expecially Molloy. There is an extraordinary scene in which he is crawling through a
forest by dragging himself, by catching the crook of his walking stick, his crutch, in the vegetation
before him, and pulling himself up, wearing three overcoats and newspaper underneath them. Then
there are those pebbles, which he is busily transferring from pocket to pocket. Everything is so gray,
so uncomfortable, you feel that he is in constant bladder discomfort, as old people sometimes are in
their dreams. In this abject condition there is no doubt some likeness with Kafka's physically
uncomfortable and dingy men. It is that limpness that is so interesting in Beckett's work
—NABOKOV; "Novel" interview
*En la tragedia griega no hay malos. Se constata en ella un hecho, un destino. (C.Pavese)
Ocupaciones de los personajes:
Los personajes de Kafka son gente práctica (Gregor es vendedor de seguros, Joseph K. oficinista, K.
un agrimensor, etc.); de ahí que el lenguaje sin adornos, sin metáforas, sea precisamente el más
adecuado. Mme. Bovary padece de romanticismo incurable, y Flaubert juega entre un lenguaje
florido (cuando es pasado a través de Emma) y un detallismo despectivo o irónico, cuando narra
hechos o describe.
Los protagonistas "prácticos" de Kafka, de repente (nuca es algo progresivo, siempre repentino), se
encuentran en una situación impensable o imprevista (no siempre absurda). Su respuesta es tratar de
seguir adelante con su rutina. El choque con su nueva realidad hace posible el relato.
Have You heard the six words, and the six becloudings?
There is the love of being benevolent, without the love of learning, the beclouding here leads to
foolish simplicity. The love of knowing without the love of learning, whereof the beclouding brings
dissipation of mind. Of being sincere without the love of learning, here the beclouding causes
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disregard of consequence. Of straightforwardness without the love of learning, whereof the
beclouding leadeth to rudeness. Of boldness without the love of learning, whereof the beclouding
brings insubordination. The love of firmness without the love of learning, whereof the beclouding
conduces to extravagant conduct.
—
Confucious, Analects
Hay una diferencia fundamental entre el método proustiano y el joyceano de abordar a los personajes.
Joyce presenta primero a un personaje completo y absoluto, sin secretos para Dios ni para Joyce; a
continuación lo fragmenta en trocitos, y esparce esos trocitos por toda la extensión espaciotemporal
del libro. El buen relector reúne estas piezas del rompecabezas y las ensambla poco a poco. En
cambio, Proust sostiene que un personaje, un carácter, no es nunca conocido como algo absoluto sino
siempre como algo relativo. No lo trocea, sino que lo muestra tal como le ven los demás personajes.
Y tras ofrecer una serie de prismas y sombras, espera combinarlos en una realidad artística.
—Nabokov, Proust.
The peculiar magnificence of Shakespeare is in his power of representation of human character and
personality and their mutabilities. (...) Shakespeare saw 'nature' through clashing perspectives, those
of Lear and Edmund in the most sublime of the tragedies, of Hamlet and Claudius in another, of
Othello and Iago in yet another. You cannot hold a mirror up to any of these natures, or persuade
yourself convincingly that your sense of reality is more comprehensive than that of Shakespearean
tragedy. (...) A tragic idea is also like a person, or like change in a person, or like the final form of
personal change, which is death.
(...) Each character speaks with a different voice from the others.
—Bloom, on Shakespeare
Then what is 'character'? the Arabian Nights gives us a very clear answer, which is repeated and
confirmed by The Saragossa Manuscript: a character is a potential story that is the story of his life.
Every new character signifies a new plot.
—Tzvetan Todorov, Poetics of Prose, Narrative men
Proust's Characters
For it is only the the presentation, and not the development, of Proust's characters which is
discontinuous. They are designed, in Proust's language, to illustrate certain laws; and though they
appear to us in a succession of different aspects, as they are seen at different times and different
places and by different observers, their behavior, their personalities, have a compelling logic. Proust's
method of presenting them, however, so as to show only one aspect as a time is one of his great
technical discoveries, and we must stop a moment to illustrate it. (...)
(Ejemplos abreviados)
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Ex. (...) Mme. de Villeparisis takes the grandson (of her friend) out driving, and she seems to him the
perfect type of great lady; she enchants him with anecdotes of the famous people whi had been
friends of her father's and whom as a child she had used to see at their house. When the boy has
returned to Paris, however, she invites him to one of her receptions, and he learns now that her social
position is by nomeans so brilliant as he had supposed: for some reason, she has lost her caste; many
people will not come to her house. She is also a sort of blue-stocking: she paints and publishes
memoirs, and has thereby ceased to be typical of her class. She is envious, sometimes mean, a little
stuffy and a little pathetic. (...) Charlus (a relative of hers) explains the young man, however, that the
late Mr. de Villeparisis was a nobody, with no title of his own, and that they had merely invented the
"de Villeparisis" in order that she might still have one. But years afterwards, at Venice, the narrator
sees Mme. de Villeparisis in the dining-room of the hotel where he is stopping, and he overhears her
conversation at table with the old diplomat, M. de Norpois, who has been her lover for years. It is one
of those banal and laconic exchanges between persons who have lived long together and who have
nothing new to say to each other: they discuss their shopping, the stock market, the menu. Mme. de
Villeparisis is disfigured by some sort of eczema which has broken out on her face: she seems tired
and old. When an Italian prince comes over to their table, M. de Norpois wtches her relentlessly with
a severe blue eye to see that she does not commit any of the slips which, when they had both been
younger, had amused him. An ordinary novelist would have left it at this. But with Proust, the point
of the story is still to come—in a final transformation which is retrospective. When tha narrator
leaves the dining-room and rejoins his mother outside, he finds also a Mme. Sazerat, an old, excellent
and rather boring neighbor from Combray. Mme. Sazerat, ever since they have known her, has been
living in very reduced circumstances. When the narrator happens to mention that Mme. de
Villeparisis is in the dining-room, Mme. Sazerat begs him to poit her out: it was for her sake, Mme.
Sazerat explains, that her father had ruined himself: "Now that father is dead," she adds, "my
consolation is that he loved the most beautiful woman of his time." The hero makes her into the
dinning-room and tries to show her Mme. de Villeparisis—but, "We can't be counting from the same
place," Mme. Sazerat objects. "As I count, there's nobody at the second table but an old gentleman
and a dreadful blowzy little hunched-up old woman." We realize with astonishment that what the
young man had never been able to imagine was simply that Mme. de Villeparisis had once been
beautiful, unscrupulous and cruel, had wasted lives and broken hearts, like Odette de Crécy herself.
(...) As each succesive revelation is made, we see perfectly that the previous descriptions of the
character fit equally well our new conception, yet we have never foreseen the surprise. behind the
varied series of aspects, we are aware of the personality as a complete and unmistakeble creation: the
series, as Proust says, describes its curve.
—Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle, Marcel Proust
pg. 150 — Bergman, 28 años. Va a dirigir Ghost Sonata. Es el primer día. En la oscuridad del teatro
vacío se queda mirando a los actores de lejos.
Far far away out in front, I could hear the actor's voices and occasionally catch a glimpse of them in
the circle of the spotlights. I stood quite still and listened. A large theatre contains every possibility,
great actors and great demands. I would not like to say I was frightened, but I did quake.
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Suddenly, I was no longer alone. At my side was a tiny little creature, or possibly a ghost, the rand
old lady of the theatre. Maria Schildknecht, dressed up in the parrot dress and hideous mask of the
Mummy. " I assume you are Mr. Bergman," she whispered, smiling kindly but terrifyingly. I
confirmed my identity and bowed awkwardly. We stood in silence for a few moments. "Well, what
do you think of thi then?" said the little ghost, her voice stern and challenging. "To me it's among the
greatest works in the history of drama," I replied truthfully. The Mummy looked at me with cold
contempt. "Oh," she said. "This is the kind of shit Strindberg knocked up so that we should have
something to play at his Intimate Theatre." She left me with a gracious nod. A few minutes later, she
went on stage, out of the greenroom, startled by the sunlight, shaking her trailing dress in the way a
parrot ruffles its feathers. Imperishable, in a role she hated under a producer she hated.
Nota: Dos cosas: a) el contraste de la reverencia de Bergman hacia la obra y de la opinión de
la vieja y b) la revelación del personaje (al menos para quienes no conocemos su nombre) en la frase
del insulto, que con un "shock" nos hace darnos cuenta de que ella trabajó con Strindberg.
Después, pg 150 y ss. viene la parte en que el productor de la obra se sube al escenario y empieza a
dirigir a los actores porque según él Bergman no entiende nada. Bergman se enfurece. El otro le
contesta de espaldas : Sit down and shut up, then perhaps you'll learn something at last. Bergman se
va furioso. Al otro día, decide ir a matarlo a patadas. Ya adentro del teatro, en un recodo
inesperado, tropiezan los dos. La situación los hace reír y se amigan. Ese tipo de reacciones,
inesperadas pero verdaderas, son las que hay que buscar.
It is necessary for me to define the character of the object or of the body that I wish to paint. In order
to do this I study certain salient points very carefully: If I put a black dot on a sheet of white paper
the dot will be visible no matter how far I stand away from it—it is a clear notation; but beside this
dot I place another one, and then a third. Already there is confusion. In order that the first dot may
maintain its value I must enlarge it as i proceed putting other marks on the paper.
—Matisse, Theories of Modern Art, 134
Es tonto preocuparse/esforzarse por dar una impresion de infelicidad o angustia a tus personajes o a
la obra en genereal. Los que evitan a toda costa y porque sí un arte complaciente, descansado,
ocioso (reassuring, es mas justo), un tipo de arte que nos dio a Matisse, a Chaplin, a los libros de
caballería y, hasta cierto punto, incluso el Quijote,—y dicen que lo hacen porque la vida es así, que
no quieren dar una falsa imagen atemperada de los sufrimientos del hombre, etc. están cayendo en
un didactismo estúpido y engreído.
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No dependemos de ellos para darnos cuenta de que en la vida hay sufrimiento, caos, tristeza, abuso,
humillación y toda la prole. Es como depender de los noticieros para asegurarnos cada día de que
en el mundo "pasan cosas." Hay que seguir el impulso de cada uno, hay que ser honesto y tratar los
temas que realmente nos interesan. El resto es de otros.
Pensar en Hitchcock, en sus criminales casi queribles, en su humor, en la forma perfecta de sus
películas, que disipan todo el caos y la muerte que presentan.
When I was a young man I thought Dostoievski was the greatest novelist. And then after ten years or
so, when I reread him, I felt greatly disappointed. I felt that the characters were unreal and that also
the characters were part of a plot. Because in real life, even in a difficult situation, even when you are
worrying very much about something, even when you feel anguish or when you feel hatred or love or
fury maybe, you also live along other lines, no? I mean, a man is in love, but at the same time he is
interested in the cinema, or he is thinking about mathematics or poetry or politics, while in novels, in
most novels, the characters are simply living through what's happening to them. No, that might be the
case with very simple people, but I don't see, I don't think it happens.
—Borges, Conversations... (R.Burgin), pg. 71
Edgard— The winds and persecutions of the sky.
The country gives me proof and precedent
Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare arms
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
And with this horrible object, from low farms,
Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes, and mills,
Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
Enforce their charity. 'Poor Turlygod! poor Tom!'
That's something yet! Edgar I nothing am.
—William Shakespeare, King Lear, 2.3
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Un personaje es una forma de hablar:
My nerves are bad tonight. Yes, bad. Stay with me. Speak to me. Why do you never speak?
Speak. What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? I never know what you are thinking. Think.
—Eliot, Waste Land, 2
Esto dicho, volvió Sancho las espaldas y vareó su rucio, y don Quijote se quedó a caballo,
descansando sobre los estribos y sobre el arrimo de su lanza, lleno de tristes y confusas
imaginaciones, donde le dejaremos, yéndonos con Sancho Panza, que no menos confuso y pensativo
se apartó de su señor que él quedaba; y tanto, que, apenas hubo salido del bosque, cuando, volviendo
la cabeza y viendo que don Quijote no parecía, se apeó del jumento, y, sentándose al pie de un árbol,
comenzó a hablar consigo mesmo y a decirse:
-Sepamos agora, Sancho hermano, adónde va vuesa merced. ¿Va a buscar algún jumento que se le
haya perdido? ‘’No, por cierto’’. Pues, ¿qué va a buscar? ‘’Voy a buscar, como quien no dice nada, a
una princesa, y en ella al sol de la hermosura y a todo el cielo junto’’. Y ¿adónde pensáis hallareso
que decís, Sancho? ‘’¿Adónde? En la gran ciudad del Toboso’’. Y bien: ¿y de parte de quién la vais a
buscar? ‘’De parte del famoso caballero don Quijote de la Mancha, que desface los tuertos, y da de
comer al que ha sed, y de beber al que ha hambre’’. Todo eso está muy bien. Y ¿sabéis su casa,
Sancho? ‘’Mi amo dice que han de ser unos reales palacios o unos soberbios alcázares’’. Y ¿habéisla
visto algún día por ventura? ‘’Ni yo ni mi amo la habemos visto jamás’’. Y ¿paréceos que fuera
acertado y bien hecho que si los del Toboso supiesen que estáis vos aquí con intención de ir a
sonsacarles sus princesas y a desasosegarles sus damas, viniesen y os moliesen las costillas a puros
palos, y no os dejasen hueso sano? ‘’En verdad que tendrían mucha razón, cuando no considerasen
que soy mandado, y que mensajero sois, amigo, no merecéis culpa, non’’. No os fiéis en eso, Sancho,
porque la gente manchega es tan colérica como honrada, y no consiente cosquillas de nadie. Vive
Dios que si os huele, que os mando mala ventura. ‘’¡Oxte, puto! ¡Allá darás, rayo! ¡No, sino ándeme
yo buscando tres pies al gato por el gusto ajeno! Y más, que así será buscar a Dulcinea por el Toboso
como a Marica por Rávena, o al bachiller en Salamanca. ¡El diablo, el diablo me ha metido a mí en
esto, que otro no!’’
Este soliloquio pasó consigo Sancho, y lo que sacó dél fue que volvió a decirse:
-Ahora bien, todas las cosas tienen remedio, si no es la muerte, debajo de cuyo yugo hemos de pasar
todos, mal que nos pese, al acabar de la vida. Este mi amo, por mil señales, he visto que es un loco de
atar, y aun también yo no le quedo en zaga, pues soy más mentecato que él, pues le sigo y le sirvo, si
es verdadero el refrán que dice: “Dime con quién andas, decirte he quién eres”, y el otro de “No con
quien naces, sino con quien paces”. Siendo, pues, loco, como lo es, y de locura que las más veces
toma unas cosas por otras, y juzga lo blanco por negro y lo negro por blanco, como se pareció cuando
dijo que los molinos de viento eran gigantes, y las mulas de los religiosos dromedarios, y las manadas
de carneros ejércitos de ene-migos, y otras muchas cosas a este tono, no será muy difícil hacerle creer
que una labradora, la primera que me topare por aquí, es la señora Dulcinea; y, cuando él no lo crea,
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juraré yo; y si él jurare, tornaré yo a jurar; y si porfiare, porfiaré yo más, y de manera que tengo de
tener la mía siempre sobre el hito, venga lo que viniere. Quizá con esta porfía acabaré con él que no
me envíe otra vez a semejantes mensajerías, viendo cuán mal recado le traigo dellas, o quizá pensará,
como yo imagino, que algún mal encantador de estos que él dice que le quieren mal la habrá mudado
la figura por hacerle mal y daño.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.10
2 de mayo
Deseoso de apartarme de todo asunto que tuviera relación con el dinero, con incapacidades y
codicias, con la tristeza irremediable de que el vasto mundo estuviera habitado por gente así, por
gente como yo mismo, aunque me protegieran la indiferencia y el desdén, resolví enclaustrarme en la
casona. La basura mundial sólo molestaba por una radio antigua. Pero era inevitable usar el jeep —
quién es su dueño sigo ignorando— para buscar comida, visitar a don Lanza, hombre tan querido,
para regresar con un montón de periódicos y algunas detestables novelitas que él llamaba mierditas
policíacas. «Parece mentira que usted».
Sus ofertas de buena literatura chocaban siempre con mi obstinada negativa. Tiempo después me
felicité por no haber querido enterarme. Escuchaba a veces las noticias de la radio y allí todo era
igual a los periódicos. El horror de las noticias internacionales alteradas con la prosodia arrabalera de
locutores y políticos. En los periódicos también brillaban joyas como «soles de justicia», «defensas
numantinas» y los reiterados «dijo de que». Una gloria, pero yo no tenía ganas de festejar con alegres
«pero qué animal».
En aquella mi paz y soledad los camiones llegaban y descargaban regularmente. Pero no pude
disfrutar mucho de aquella pereza del alma.
Alguien estaba afuera aplaudiendo mis pensamientos. Aplaudía fervorosamente. Bajé a ver o insultar
y allí estaba, sonriente y no muy borracho, Habib el cartero. Nada más verme intentó una venia, me
dijo doctor y se introdujo en la casona, que estuvo recorriendo como si imitara la vuelta del
propietario. Terminó por sentarse en mi sillón repitiendo el título de doctor.
Apagué las suciedades y bobadas de la radio y estuve un rato de pie cambiando sonrisas con Habib.
Nos estuvimos mirando un buen rato y sonriendo como si hubiéramos apostado quien de los dos
mantenía más tiempo aquellas sonrisas de calaveras que nada significaban. No nos estábamos
saludando ni burlando. Nada. Fue como un momento de idiotez en que él y yo nos miramos pensando
conozco tu secreto. Pero no había secreto alguno aparte del secreto a voces del mal olor que rodeaba
el cuerpo de Habib.
Por fin el cartero se levantó golpeándose las rodillas con las grandes manos.
—Dos cosas, mi doctor. Ya sé que no. Lo digo doctor por respeto. Oí ese ruido del gran comentarista
deportivo. Ese hombre dice verdades de a puño. Le digo una de las cosas pero póngase cómodo y
tomamos una copita si le parece.
Me moví, tomamos copitas crecidas del vino vomitivo que él acostumbraba tomar. Me llevó tiempo
encontrar una botella entre las de cosas buenas, regalos de Díaz Grey y los compañeros de la costa.
Y estuvimos bebiendo y él conversando, entreverando idioteces. Lo escuché paciente sin
preocuparme de entender lo que decía con el murmullo propio de las graves confesiones o los gritos
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del manejador de multitudes. Era un bicho muy raro, de una especie jamás extinguida y me
interesaba observarlo.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, Cuando ya no importe
An old man in a lodge within a park;
The chamber walls depicted all around
With portraitures of huntsman, hawk, and hound,
And the hurt deer. He listeneth to the lark,
Whose song comes with the sunshine through the dark
Of painted glass in leaden lattice bound;
He listened and he laugheth at the sound,
Then writeth in a book like any clerck.
He is the poet of the dawn, who wrote
The Canterbury Tales, and his old age
Made beautiful with song; and as i read
I hear the crowing cock, I hear the note
Of lark and linnet, and from every page
Rise odors of plowed field or flowery mead.
—Longfellow, Chaucer.
With his sharp nose, red at the tip, and his thin pinched lips, he always looked as though he were
raging inwardly; and he was concise in his speech to the point of rudeness. All his time off duty he
spent in his cabin with the door shut, keeping so still in there that he was supposed to fall asleep as
soon as he had disappeared; but the man who came in to wake him for his watch on deck would
invariably find him with his eyes wide open, flat on his back in the bunk, and glaring irritably from a
soiled pillow. He never wrote any letters, did not seem to hope for news from anywhere; and though
he had been heard once to mention West Hartlepool, it was with extreme bitterness, and only in
connection with the extortionate charges of a boarding-house. He was one of those men who are
picked up at need in the ports of the world. They are competent enough, appear hopelessly hard up,
show no evidence of any sort of vice, and carry about them all the signs of manifest failure. They
come aboard on an emergency, care for no ship afloat, live in their own atmosphere of casual
connection amongst their shipmates who know nothing of them, and make up their minds to leave at
inconvenient times. They clear out with no words of leavetaking in some God-forsaken port other
men would fear to be stranded in, and go ashore in company of a shabby sea-chest, corded like a
treasure-box, and with an air of shaking the ship's dust off their feet.
—Joseph Conrad, Typhoon
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MACBETH. Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,
She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed. Exit Servant.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going,
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest. I see thee still,
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before. There's no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes. Now o'er the one half-world
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
Pale Hecate's offerings; and wither'd Murther,
Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,
Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
Thy very stones prate of my whereabout,
And take the present horror from the time,
Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives;
Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.
A bell rings.
(2.1)
...
MACBETH. I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?
LADY MACBETH. I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
Did not you speak?
MACBETH. When?
LADY MACBETH. Now.
MACBETH. As I descended?
LADY MACBETH. Ay.
MACBETH. Hark!
Who lies i' the second chamber?
LADY MACBETH. Donalbain.
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MACBETH. This is a sorry sight.
[Looks on his hands.
LADY MACBETH. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
MACBETH. There's one did laugh in 's sleep, and one cried,
"Murther!"
That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them,
But they did say their prayers and address'd them
Again to sleep.
LADY MACBETH. There are two lodged together.
MACBETH. One cried, "God bless us!" and "Amen" the other,
As they had seen me with these hangman's hands.
Listening their fear, I could not say "Amen,"
When they did say, "God bless us!"
LADY MACBETH. Consider it not so deeply.
MACBETH. But wherefore could not I pronounce "Amen"?
I had most need of blessing, and "Amen"
Stuck in my throat.
LADY MACBETH. These deeds must not be thought
After these ways; so, it will make us mad.
MACBETH. I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murther sleep" -the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravel'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feastLADY MACBETH. What do you mean?
MACBETH. Still it cried, "Sleep no more!" to all the house;
"Glamis hath murther'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more."
LADY MACBETH. Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy Thane,
You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brainsickly of things. Go, get some water
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there. Go carry them, and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.
MACBETH. I'll go no more.
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on't again I dare not.
LADY MACBETH. Infirm of purpose!
Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead
Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood
That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed,
I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal,
For it must seem their guilt.
Exit. Knocking within.
MACBETH. Whence is that knocking?
How is't with me, when every noise appals me?
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What hands are here? Ha, they pluck out mine eyes!
Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
Re-enter Lady Macbeth.
LADY MACBETH. My hands are of your color, but I shame
To wear a heart so white. [Knocking within.] I hear knocking
At the south entry. Retire we to our chamber.
A little water clears us of this deed.
How easy is it then! Your constancy
Hath left you unattended. [Knocking within.] Hark, more knocking.
Get on your nightgown, lest occasion call us
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost
So poorly in your thoughts.
MACBETH. To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself.
Knocking within.
Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!
Exeunt.
—William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 2.2
For his talks with the dead, he also employed a kind of marked saucer and some other strange
contraption with a pencil protruding underneath. The conversations were recorded in special
notebooks. A dialog might go thus:
WEINSTOCK: Have you found rest?
LENIN: This is not Baden-Baden.
WEINSTOCK: Do you wish to tell me of life beyond the grave?
LENIN (after a pause): I prefer not to.
WEINSTOCK: Why?
LENIN: Must wait till there is a plenum.
A lot of these notebooks had accumulated, and Weinstock used to say that someday he would have
the more significant conversationsa published. Very entertaining was a ghost called Abum, of
unknown origin, silly and tasteless, who acted as intermediary, arranging interviews between
Weinstck and various dead celebrities. He treated Weinstock with vulgar familiarity.
WEINSTOCK: Who art thou, O Spirit?
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REPLY: Ivan Sergeyevivh.
WEINSTOCK: Which Ivan Sergeyevich?
REPLY: Turgenev.
WEINSTOCK: Do you cotinue to create masterpieces?
REPLY: Idiot.
WEINSTOCK: Why do you abuse me?
REPLY (table convulsed): Fooled you! This is Abum.
Sometimes when Abum began his horseplay, it was impossible to get rid of him throughout the
séance. "He's as bad as a monkey," Weinstock would complain.
—Vladimir Nbokov, The Eye
It is nown that one elephant, which was rather slow-witted in understanding instructions given to it,
and had been punished with repeated beatings, was found in the night practising the same. It is
surprising that they can even climb up ropes, but especially that they can come down them again, at
all events when they are stretched at a slope. Mucianus, who was three times consul, states that one
elephant actually learnt the shapes of the Greek letters, and used to write out in words of that
language: "I myself wrote and dedicated these spoils won from the Celts"; and also that he personally
had seen elephants that, when having been brought by sea to Pozzuoli, they were made to walk off
the ship, were frightened by the lenght of the gangway stretching a long way out from the land and
turned round and went backwards, so as to cheat themselves in their estimation of the distance.
—Pliny, Book VIII, III
Empecé a saberlo, desaprensivo, irónico, sin sospechar que estaba enterándome, cuando el habilitado
de Miramonte vino a sentarse en mi mesa en el Universal, un sábado poco antes del mediodía; pidió
permiso y me habló del hígado de su suegra. Exageraba, mentía un poco, andaba buscando alarmas.
No le hice el gusto. Tiene largos los bigotes y los puños de la camisa, mueve las manos frente a la
boca como apartando moscas con languidez. Sugerí, por antipatía, la extracción de la vesícula, me
dejé invitar y, a través de la ventana enjabonada, miré con entusiasmo el verano en la plaza, intuí una
dicha más allá de las nubes secas en los vidrios. Después mencionó al chivo —fue ésa la primera
noticia que tuve y podría no haberla oído— mientras yo fumaba y él no, porque es avaro y remero y
supone un futuro para el cual cuidarse. Yo fumaba, repito, desviando la cara para hacerle entender
que debía irse, mirando el torbellino blanco que habían dejado en el vidrio de la ventana el jabón y el
estropajo, convenciéndome de que el verano estaba de vuelta.
—Juan
Carlos Onetti, Para una tumba sin nombre
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-Tonto, pero valiente -respondió el del Bosque-, y más bellaco que tonto y que valiente.
-Eso no es el mío -respondió Sancho-: digo, que no tiene nada de bellaco; antes tiene una alma como
un cántaro: no sabe hacer mal a nadie, sino bien a todos, ni tiene malicia alguna: un niño le hará
entender que es de noche en la mitad del día; y por esta sencillez le quiero como a las telas de mi
corazón, y no me amaño a dejarle, por más disparates que haga.
—
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c. 13
-No le sacarán del borrador de su locura cuantos médicos y buenos escribanos tiene el mundo: él es
un entreverado loco, lleno de lúcidos intervalos.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.18
Hamlet—. Seems, madam, Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
'That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play;
But I have that within which passeth showThese but the trappings and the suits of woe.
...
Ham. O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world! (1.2)
...
King, father, royal Dane. O, answer me?
Let me not burst in ignorance, but tell
Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre
Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd,
Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws
To cast thee up again. What may this mean
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That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel,
Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous, and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? wherefore? What should we do? (1.4)
...
Ham. To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleepNo more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after deathThe undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.- Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins rememb'red. (3.1)
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
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Rabier is part of the Nazi police in Paris. It is near the end of the war.
In group photographs of the Central Committee of the Supreme Soviet in Moscow, the
murderer-members look to me as if they're lonely in the same way as Rabier—the solitude of cholera
victims, or worse, with moth-eaten souls, each loneliness in its own disguise, its teeth chattering for
fear of its neighbor, for fear of tomorrow's execution.
But there was something about Rabier that made him lonelier than the rest. Apart from the art
book-shop, he must have been waiting for a nightmare to end. But that was something he never even
mentioned to me. For him to have assumed the identity of a dead man, to have stolen the identity of
that young man who died near Nice, there must have been some criminal act in Rabier's former life,
an unresolved episode still actionable under the law. He was living under an assumed name. A
French name. And that makes a man even lonelier than other men. I was the only person who listened
to Rabier. But Rabier himself wasn't audible. I'm speaking of his voice, Rabier's voice. It was made
up, calculated, an artificial organ. Detoned, you could call it; but what was the wrong with it was
something much more, something more shocking. It was partly because it wasn't audible, listeneableto, that I listened to it so intently. Every so often it would have a trace of accent. But what accent? At
the most you might have said, "Is it a trace of a German accent?" It was that which prevented him
from having any kind of identity, that strangeness, seeping out from the memory into the voice. No
one ever spoke like that who had a childhood and schoolfriends in the country of their birth.
—Marguerite Duras, Monsieur X, Here called Pierre Rabier, The War, p. 93
Él se acordaba: Don Lupe Terreros, el dueño de la Puerta de Piedra, por más señas su
compadre. Al que él, Juvencio Nava, tuvo que matar por eso; por ser el dueño de la Puerta de Piedra
y que, siendo también su compadre, le negó el pasto para sus animales.
Primero se aguantó por puro compromiso. Pero después, cuando la sequía, en que vio cómo
se le morían uno tras otro sus animales hostigados por el hambre y que su compadre don Lupe seguía
negándole la yerba de sus potreros, entonces fue cuando se puso a romper la cerca y a arrear la bola
de animales flacos hasta las paraneras para que se hartaran de comer. Y eso no le había gustado a don
Lupe, que mandó tapar otra vez la cerca para que él, Juvencio Nava, le volviera a abrir otra vez el
agujero. Así, de día se tapaba el agujero y de noche se volvía a abrir, mientras el ganado estaba allí,
siempre pegado a la cerca, siempre esperando; aquel ganado suyo que antes nomás se vivía oliendo el
pasto sin poder probarlo.
Y él, y don Lupe alegaban y volvían a alegar sin llegar a ponerse de acuerdo.
Hasta que una vez don Lupe le dijo:
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-Mira, Juvencio, otro animal más que metas al potrero y te lo mato.
Y él contestó:
-Mire, don Lupe, yo no tengo la culpa de que los animales busquen su acomodo. Ellos son
inocentes. Ahi se lo haiga si me los mata.
"Y me mató un novillo.
"Esto pasó hace treinta y cinco años, por marzo,porque ya en abril andaba yo en el monte,
corriendo del exhorto. No me valieron ni las diez vacas que le di al juez, ni el embargo de mi casa
para pagarle la salida de la cárcel T odavía después, se pagaron con lo que quedaba nomás por no
perseguirme, aunque de todos modos me perseguían. Por eso me vine a vivir junto con mi hijo a este
otro terrenito que yo tenía y que se nombra Palo de Venado. Y mi hijo creció y se casó con la nuera
Ignacia y tuvo ya ocho hijos. Así que la cosa ya va para viejo, y según eso debería estar olvidada.
Pero, según eso, no lo está.
"Yo entonces calculé que con unos cien pesos quedaba arreglado todo. El difunto don Lupe
era solo, solamente con su mujer y los dos muhachitos todavía de a gatas. Y la viuda pronto murió
también dizque de pena. Y a los muchachitos se los llevaron lejos, donde unos parientes. Así que, por
parte de ellos , no había que tener miedo.
"Pero los demás se atuvieron a que yo andaba exhortado y enjuciado para asustarme y seguir
robándome. Cada que llegaba alguien al pueblo me avisaban:
"-Por ahí andan unos fureños, Juvencio.
"Y yo echaba pal monte, entreverándome entre los madroños y pasándome los días comiendo
verdolagas. A veces tenía que salir a la media noche, como si me fueran correteando los perros. Eso
duró toda la vida . No fue un año ni dos. Fue toda la vida."
.............
Tenía que haber alguna esperanza. En algún lugar podría aún quedar alguna esperanza. Tal
vez ellos se hubieran equivocado. Quizá buscaban a otro Juvencio Nava y no al Juvencio Nava que
era él.
Caminó entre aquellos hombres en silencio, con los brazos caídos. La madrugada era oscura,
sin estrellas. El viento soplaba despacio, se llevaba la tierra seca y traía más, llena de ese olor como
de orines que tiene el polvo de los caminos.
Su ojos, que se habían apeñuscado con los años, venían viendo la tierra, aquí, debajo de sus
pies, a pesar de la oscuridad. Allí en la tierra estaba toda su vida. Sesenta años de vivir sobre de ella,
de encerrarla entre sus manos, de haberla probado como se prueba el sabor de la carne. Se vino largo
rato desmenuzándola con los ojos, saboreando cada pedazo como si fuera el último, sabiendo casi
que seria el último.
—Juan Rulfo, Diles que no me maten
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Meantime the chief mate, with an almost visible effect of collaboration on the part of his round eyes
and frightful whiskers, was trying to evolve a theory of the anchored ship. His dominant trait was to
take all things into earnest consideration. He was of a painstaking turn of mind. As he used to say, he
"liked to account to himself" for practically everything that came in his way, down to a miserable
scorpion he had found in his cabin a week before. The why and the wherefore of that scorpion--how
it got on board and came to select his room rather than the pantry (which was a dark place and more
what a scorpion would be partial to), and how on earth it managed to drown itself
in the inkwell of his writing desk--had exercised him infinitely.
—Joseph Conrad, The secret sharer
Just say in the most natural tone: when I was in Paris; BOUL' MICH', I used to. Yes, used to carry
punched tickets to prove an alibi if they arrested you for murder somewhere. Justice. On the night of
the seventeenth of February 1904 the prisoner was seen by two witnesses. Other fellow did it: other
me. Hat, tie, overcoat, nose. LUI, C'EST MOI. You seem to have enjoyed yourself.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.46
Un personaje puede vivir en un puñado de líneas, como éste de José Hernández, cautivo de los
indios:
Había un gringuito cautivo
que siempre hablaba del barco,
y lo augaron en un charco
por causante de la peste.
Tenía los ojos celestes
como potrillito zarco.
—José Hernández, La vuelta de Martín Fierro.
Aquel color que el miedo pintó en mi rostro cuando vi a mi guía retroceder, hizo que en el suyo se
desvaneciera más pronto la palidez insólita, púsose atento, como un hombre que escucha, porque las
miradas no podían penetrar a través del denso aire y de la espesa niebla.
—Sin embargo, debemos vencer en esta lucha —empezó a decir—; ¡si no!... pero se nos ha
prometido...¡Oh!¡Cuánto tarda el otro en llegar!
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Yo vi bien que ocultaba lo que había comenzado a decir bajo otra idea que le asaltó después,
y que estas últimas palabras eran diferentes de las primeras: sin embargo, su discurso me causó
espanto, porque me parecía descubrir en sus entrecortadas frases un sentido peor del que en realidad
tenían.
Quel color che vilta` di fuor mi pinse
veggendo il duca mio tornare in volta,
piu` tosto dentro il suo novo ristrinse.
Attento si fermo` com'uom ch'ascolta;
che' l'occhio nol potea menare a lunga
per l'aere nero e per la nebbia folta.
<<Pur a noi converra` vincer la punga>>,
comincio` el, <<se non... Tal ne s'offerse.
Oh quanto tarda a me ch'altri qui giunga!>>.
I' vidi ben si` com'ei ricoperse
lo cominciar con l'altro che poi venne,
che fur parole a le prime diverse;
ma nondimen paura il suo dir dienne,
perch'io traeva la parola tronca
forse a peggior sentenzia che non tenne.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia, Infierno, 9
—Esta montaña es tal —me respondió—, que siempre cuesta trabajo empezar a subirla, y
cuanto más arriba se va, es menos fatigoso. Cuando te parezca tan suave que subas ligeramente por
ella como van por el agua los barcos, entonces habrás llegado al fin de este sendero: espera, pues, a
conseguirlo, antes de descansar de tu fatiga. Y no respondo más, pues sólo esto tengo por cierto.
Cuando hubo terminado de decir estas palabras, resonó cerca de nosotros una voz que decía:
"Quizá te veas precisado antes a sentarte." Al sonido de aquella voz, volvímonos, y vimos a la
izquierda un gran peñasco, en el que no habíamos reparado antes ninguno de los dos. Nos dirigimos
hacia allí, donde estaban algunos espíritus reposando a la sombra detrás del peñasco, como quien lo
hace por indolencia. Uno de ellos, que me parecía cansado, estaba sentado con las rodillas abrazadas,
reposando sobre elas su cabeza.
—¡Oh amado Señor mío! —dije entonces—: contempla a ése, que se muestra más negligente
que si fuese hermano de la pereza.
Entonces se volvió hacia nosotros, y no examinó, dirigiendo su mirada sobre los muslos, y
diciendo:
—Ve, pues, allá arriba, tú que eres tan valiente.
Conocí entonces quién era; y aquella fatiga que agitaba todavía un poco mi respiración, no me
impidi´ø acercarme a él. Cuando estuve a su lado, alzó apenas la cabeza, diciendo:
—¿Has comprendido bien por qué el Sol dirige su carro por tu izquierda?
Sus perezosos movimientos y sus lacónicas palabras hicieron asomar una sonrisa a mis labios,
105
y dije:
—Belacqua, ahora ya no me conduelo de tí: pero dime, ¿por qué estás aquí sentado?¿Esperas
algún guía, o es que has vuelto a tus antiguas costumbres?
Contestóme:
—¡Oh, hermano! ¿Para qué he de ir arriba, si no ha de permitirme llegar al sitio de la
expiación el Ángel de Dios, que está sentado a su puerta? Antes que yo entre por ella, es necesario
que el cielo dé tantas vueltas en torno mío, cuantas dio en el transcurso de mi vida, por haber
aplazado los bueos suspiros hasta la hora de mi muerte; a no ser que me auxilie una plegaria, que se
eleve de un corazón que viva en la gracia. ¿De qué sirven las demás, si no han de ser oídas en el
cielo?
Ed elli a me: <<Questa montagna e` tale,
che sempre al cominciar di sotto e` grave;
e quant'om piu` va su`, e men fa male.
Pero`, quand'ella ti parra` soave
tanto, che su` andar ti fia leggero
com'a seconda giu` andar per nave,
allor sarai al fin d'esto sentiero;
quivi di riposar l'affanno aspetta.
Piu` non rispondo, e questo so per vero>>.
E com'elli ebbe sua parola detta,
una voce di presso sono`: <<Forse
che di sedere in pria avrai distretta!>>.
Al suon di lei ciascun di noi si torse,
e vedemmo a mancina un gran petrone,
del qual ne' io ne' ei prima s'accorse.
La` ci traemmo; e ivi eran persone
che si stavano a l'ombra dietro al sasso
come l'uom per negghienza a star si pone.
E un di lor, che mi sembiava lasso,
sedeva e abbracciava le ginocchia,
tenendo 'l viso giu` tra esse basso.
<<O dolce segnor mio>>, diss'io, <<adocchia
colui che mostra se' piu` negligente
che se pigrizia fosse sua serocchia>>.
Allor si volse a noi e puose mente,
movendo 'l viso pur su per la coscia,
e disse: <<Or va tu su`, che se' valente!>>.
Conobbi allor chi era, e quella angoscia
che m'avacciava un poco ancor la lena,
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non m'impedi` l'andare a lui; e poscia
ch'a lui fu' giunto, alzo` la testa a pena,
dicendo: <<Hai ben veduto come 'l sole
da l'omero sinistro il carro mena?>>.
Li atti suoi pigri e le corte parole
mosser le labbra mie un poco a riso;
poi cominciai: <<Belacqua, a me non dole
di te omai; ma dimmi: perche' assiso
quiritto se'? attendi tu iscorta,
o pur lo modo usato t'ha' ripriso?>>.
Ed elli: <<O frate, andar in su` che porta?
che' non mi lascerebbe ire a' martiri
l'angel di Dio che siede in su la porta.
Prima convien che tanto il ciel m'aggiri
di fuor da essa, quanto fece in vita,
perch'io 'ndugiai al fine i buon sospiri,
se orazione in prima non m'aita
che surga su` di cuor che in grazia viva;
l'altra che val, che 'n ciel non e` udita?>>.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia, Purgatorio, 4
Y tras este adiós puso otro en dos palabras —A Dios—; lo que consideraba de excelente gusto.
—Ahora, ¿cómo firmo?¿Su incondicional?... No. ¿Su amigo?... Eso es.
Y firmó: "su amigo".
Releyó la carta y la encontró muy bien.
—¡Pobrecita! —pensó enternecido—. Va a creer que soy más insensible que una roca. Unas
lagrimitas hubieran estado muy a su punto. Pero yo no puedo llorar; la culpa no es mía.
Esto dicho, llenó un vaso de agua, sumergió en él un dedo y, elevándolo, dejó caer una gruesa
gota, que puso una desvaída mancha sobre la tinta. Luego lacró el sobre y, buscando un sello, se
encontró con la sortija que decía Amor nel cor.
—No es lo más apropiado para las circunstancias. ¡Bah!¡Qué importa!
Tras esto se fumó tres pipas y se fue a acostar.
—Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, p.174
107
Y, sin embargo, mentiría si dijera que la extraño. Es el hechizo más perfecto y más doloroso.
Usted está aquí, igual que yo y con mayor intensidad aún; allí donde estoy yo, está usted, como yo y
más intensamente aún. No bromeo. A veces imagino que usted —que está aquí— extraña mi
presencia y pregunta: "¿Pero dónde está?¿Acaso no escribía diciendo que estaba en Merano?"
(...)
En este sentido, mis tres amigas locales (tres hermanas, la mayor de las cuales tiene cinco años)
han mostrado una actitud más sensata: buscan cualquier oportunidad para tirarme al agua, estemos o
no junto al río; y no porque yo les haya causado el menor daño. De ninguna manera. (...) Los niños
son serios y no conocen el absurdo. El décimo fracaso en el intento por derribar algo no logrará
convencerlos de que la próxima vez no resultará. Es más, ni siquiera saben que en los diez casos
anteriores fracasaron. Los niños resultan inquietantes si uno llena sus palabras e intenciones con los
conocimientos del adulto. (...) Unas criaturas sensatas o intuitivas quisieron arrojarme al agua sin una
razón especial, quizá porque me consideraron superfluo y, sin embargo, no conocían ni siquiera las
cartas de usted ni mis respuestas.
—Franz Kafka, Cartas a Milena
Artemis requires the same perfect chastity from her companions as she practices herself. When Zeus
seduced one of them, Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, Artemis noticed that she was with child.
Changing her into a bear, she shouted the pack, and Callisto would have been hunted to death had she
not been caught up to Heaven by Zeus who, later, set her image among the stars.
On another occasion, Actaeon, son of Aristaeus, stood leaning against a rock near Orchomenus
when he happened to see Artemis bathing in a stream not far off, and stayed to watch. Lest he should
afterwards dare boast to his companions that she had displayed herself naked in his presence, she
changed him into a stag and, with his own pack of fifty hounds, tore him to pieces.
—Robert Graves, Greek Myths, 22
»Era el tiempo en que llega el descanso primero a los cansados mortales
y, como regalo de los dioses, se difunde dulcemente en sus sentidos.
En sueños, escucha, se me apareció tristísimo Héctor
ante mis ojos, derramando un largo llanto,
tal como lo viera en otro tiempo, arrastrado velozmente por caballos
negro su cuerpo de sangriento polvo y atravesados por una correa
sus pies tumefactos. ¡Ay de mí, cómo se me aparecía!
¡Qué distinto del Héctor aquel que volvió revestido
de los despojos de Aquiles o que lanzaba los fuegos frigios
a las naves de los dánaos! Llevava sucia la barba
y el cabello con grumos de sangre... y aquellas heridas,
que muchas recibió rodeando los muros de la patria. Entre mis propias lágrimas
me veía llamando al héroe y expresarle estos tristes lamentos:
270
275
“¡Oh, luz de Dardania, de los teucros la más firme esperanza!
¿Qué ha podido retenerte? ¿De qué riberas vienes
108
Héctor ansiado? ¡Cómo te vemos, después de tantas muertes
de los tuyos, agotados por tantas fatigas de los hombres
y de nuestra ciudad! ¿Qué indigna causa manchó tu rostro
sereno? ¿Por qué esas heridas estoy contemplando?”
285
Nada repuso él a mis vanas preguntas, nada repuso.
—Virgilio, Eneida, Libro 2
Nota: el pasaje es más largo y Héctor habla al final, pero me ineteresaba la descripción de
su apariencia sobre todo.
La broma la había inventando Blanes; venía a mi despacho – en los tiempos en que yo tenía
despacho y al café cuando las cosas iban mal y había dejado de tenerlo – y parado sobre la alfombra,
con un puño apoyado en el escritorio, la corbata de lindos colores sujeta a la camisa con un broche de
oro y aquella cabeza – cuadrada, afcitada, con ojos oscuros que no podían sostener la atención más de
un minuto y se aflojaban en seguida como si Blanes estuviera a punto de dormirse o recordara algún
momento limpio y sentimental de su vida que, desde luego, nunca había podido tener –, aquella
cabeza sin una sola partícula superflua alzada contra la pared cubierta de retratos y carteles, me
dejaba hablar y comentaba redondeando la boca:
—Porque usted, naturalmente, se arruinó dando el Hamlet—. O también: —Sí, ya sabemos. Se
ha sacrificado siempre por el arte y si no fuera por su enloquecido amor por el Hamlet...
Y yo me pasé todo ese montón de años aguantando tanta miserable gente, autores y actores y
actrices y dueños de teatro y críticos de los diarios y la familia, los amigos y los amantes de todos
ellos, todo ese tiempo perdiendo y ganando un dinero que Dios y yo sabíamos que era necesario que
volviera a perder en la próxima temporada, con aquella gota de agua en la cabeza pelada, aquel puño
en las costillas, aquel trago agridulce, aquella burla no comprendida del todo de Blanes:
—Sí, claro. Las locuras a que lo ha llevado su desmedido amor por Hamlet...
Si la primera vez le hubiera preguntado por el sentido de aquello, si le hubiera confesado que
sabía tanto del Hamlet como de conocer el dinero que puede dar una comedia desde su primera
lectura, se habría acabado el chiste. Pero tuve miedo a la multitud de bromas no nacidas que haría
saltar mi pregunta y solo hice una mueca y lo mandé a paseo. Y así fue que pude vivir los veinte años
sin saber qué era el Hamlet, sin haberlo leído, pero sabiendo, por la intención que veía en la cara y el
balanceo de la cabeza de Blanes, que el Hamlet era el arte, el arte puro, el gran arte, y sabiendo
también, porque me fui empapando de eso sin darme cuenta, que era además un actor o una actriz, en
este caso siempre una actriz con caderas ridículas, vestido de negro con ropas ajustadas, una calavera,
un cementerio, un duelo, una venganza, una muchachita que se ahoga. Y también W. Shakespeare.
Por eso, cuando ahora, solo ahora, con una peluca rubia peinada al medio que prefiero no
sacarme para dormir, una dentadura que nunca logró venirme bien del todo y que me hace silbar y
hablar con mimo, me encontré en la biblioteca de este asilo para gente de teatro arruinada al que dan
un nombre más presentable, aquel libro tan pequeño encuadernado en azul oscuro donde había unas
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hundidas letras doradas que decían Hantlet, me senté en un sillón sin abrir el libro, resuelto a no abrir
nunca el libro y a no leer una sola línea, pensando en Blanes, en que así me vengaba de su broma, y
en la noche en que Blanes fue a encontrarme en el hotel de alguna capital de provincia y, después de
dejarme hablar, fumando y mirando el techo y la gente que entraba en el salón, hizo sobresalir los
labios para decirme, delante de la pobre loca:
—Y pensar. .. Un tipo como usted que se arruinó por el Hamlet.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, Un sueño realizado
-Yo me confío de vuestra merced -respondió Sancho-. Déjeme, iré a ensillar a Rocinante, y aparéjese
vuestra merced a echarme su bendición, que luego pienso partirme, sin ver las sandeces que vuestra
merced ha de hacer, que yo diré que le vi hacer tantas que no quiera más.
-Por lo menos quiero, Sancho, y porque es menester ansí, quiero, digo, que me veas en cueros, y
hacer una o dos docenas de locuras, que las haré en menos de media hora, porque, habiéndolas tú
visto por tus ojos, puedas jurar a tu salvo en las demás que quisieres añadir; y asegúrote que no dirás
tú tantas cuantas yo pienso hacer.
-Por amor de Dios, señor mío, que no vea yo en cueros a vuestra merced, que me dará mucha lástima
y no podré dejar de llorar; y tengo tal la cabeza, del llanto que anoche hice por el rucio, que no estoy
para meterme en nuevos lloros; y si es que vuestra merced gusta de que yo vea algunas lo-curas,
hágalas vestido, breves y las que le vinieren más a cuento.
(...)
Y, subiendo sobre Rocinante, a quien don Quijote encomendó mucho, y que mirase por él como por
su propria persona, se puso en camino del llano, esparciendo de trecho a trecho los ramos de la
retama, como su amo se lo había aconsejado. Y así, se fue, aunque todavía le importunaba don
Quijote que le viese siquiera hacer dos locuras. Mas no hubo andado cien pasos, cuando volvió y
dijo:
-Digo, señor, que vuestra merced ha dicho muy bien: que, para que pueda jurar sin cargo de
conciencia que le he visto hacer locuras, será bien que vea siquiera una, aunque bien grande la he
visto en la quedada de vuestra merced.
-¿No te lo decía yo? -dijo don Quijote-. Espérate, Sancho, que en un credo las haré. Y, desnudándose
con toda priesa las calzones, quedó en carnes y en pañales, y luego, sin más ni más, dio dos zapatetas
en el aire y dos tumbas, la cabeza abajo y los pies en alto, descubriendo cosas que, por no ver-las otra
vez, volvió Sancho la rienda a Rocinante y se dio por contento y satisfecho de que podía jurar que su
amo quedaba loco. Y así, le dejaremos ir su camino, hasta la vuelta, que fue breve.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, Parte 1, c. 25
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215 At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
220 At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
225 Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
On the divan are piled (at her night bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene and foretold the rest_
230 I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent's clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
235 The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which are still unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
240 Exploring hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
245 I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows one final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit . . .
She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
250 Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.'
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
255 She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
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And puts a record on the gramophone.
— T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, III. The Fire Sermon
"Bartleby," said I, "Ginger Nut is away; just step round to the Post Office, won't you? (it was but a
three minute walk,) and see if there is any thing for me."
"I would prefer not to."
"You _will_ not?"
"I _prefer_ not."
I staggered to my desk, and sat there in a deep study. My blind inveteracy returned. Was there any
other thing in which I could procure myself to be ignominiously repulsed by this lean, penniless
wight?--my hired clerk? What added thing is there, perfectly reasonable, that he will be sure to
refuse to do?
"Bartleby!"
No answer.
"Bartleby," in a louder tone.
No answer.
"Bartleby," I roared.
Like a very ghost, agreeably to the laws of magical invocation, at the third summons, he appeared at
the entrance of his hermitage.
"Go to the next room, and tell Nippers to come to me."
"I prefer not to," he respectfully and slowly said, and mildly disappeared.
"Very good, Bartleby," said I, in a quiet sort of serenely severe self-possessed tone, intimating the
unalterable purpose of some terrible retribution very close at hand. At the moment I half intended
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something of the kind. But upon the whole, as it was drawing towards my dinner-hour, I thought it
best to put on my hat and walk home for the
day, suffering much from perplexity and distress of mind.
Shall I acknowledge it? The conclusion of this while business was, that it soon became a fixed fact
of my chambers, that a pale young scrivener, by the name of Bartleby, and a desk there; that he
copied for me at the usual rate of four cents a folio (one hundred words); but he was permanently
exempt from examining the work done by him, that duty being transferred to Turkey and Nippers,
one of compliment doubtless to their superior acuteness; moreover, said Bartleby was never on any
account to be dispatched on the most trivial errand of any sort; and that even if entreated to take upon
him such a matter, it was generally understood that he would prefer not to--in other words, that he
would refuse pointblank.
—Herman Melville, Bartleby the scrivener
In the next room I could hear my aunt talking quietly to herself. She never spoke save in low tones,
because she believed that there was something broken in her head and floating loose there, which she
might displace by talking too loud; but she never remained for long, even when alone, without saying
something, because she believed that it was good for her throat, and that by keeping the blood there
in circulation it would make less frequent the chokings and other pains to which she was liable;
besides, in the life of complete inertia which she led she attached to the least of her sensations an
extraordinary importance, endowed them with a Protean ubiquity which made it difficult for her to
keep them secret, and, failing a confidant to whom she might communicate them, she used to
promulgate them to herself in an unceasing monologue which was her sole form of activity.
Unfortunately, having formed the habit of thinking aloud, she did not always take care to see that
there was no one in the adjoining room, and I would often hear her saying to herself: “I must not
forget that I never slept a wink”—for “never sleeping a wink” was her great claim to distinction, and
one admitted and respected in our household vocabulary; in the morning Françoise would not ‘call’
her, but would simply ‘come to’ her; during the day, when my aunt wished to take a nap, we used to
say just that she wished to ‘be quiet’ or to ‘rest’; and when in conversation she so far forgot herself as
to say “what made me wake up,” or “I dreamed that,” she would flush and at once correct herself.
...
My aunt had by degrees erased every other visitor’s name from her list, because they all committed
the fatal error, in her eyes, of falling into one or other of the two categories of people she most
detested. One group, the worse of the two, and the one of which she rid herself first, consisted of
those who advised her not to take so much care of herself, and preached (even if only negatively and
with no outward signs beyond an occasional disapproving silence or doubting smile) the subversive
doctrine that a sharp walk in the sun and a good red beefsteak would do her more good (her, who had
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had two dreadful sips of Vichy water on her stomach for fourteen hours!) than all her medicine
bottles and her bed. The other category was composed of people who appeared to believe that she
was more seriously ill than she thought, in fact that she was as seriously ill as she said. And so none
of those whom she had allowed upstairs to her room, after considerable hesitation and at Franchise’s
urgent request, and who in the course of their visit had shewn how unworthy they were of the honour
which had been done them by venturing a timid: “Don’t you think that if you were just to stir out a
little on really fine days...?” or who, on the other hand, when she said to them: “I am very low, very
low; nearing the end, dear friends!” had replied: “Ah, yes, when one has no strength left! Still, you
may last a while yet”; each party alike might be certain that her doors would never open to them
again. And if Françoise was amused by the look of consternation on my aunt’s face whenever she
saw, from her bed, any of these people in the Rue du Saint-Esprit, who looked as if they were coming
to see her, or heard her own door-bell ring, she would laugh far more heartily, as at a clever trick, at
my aunt’s devices (which never failed) for having them sent away, and at their look of discomfiture
when they had to turn back without having seen her; and would be filled with secret admiration for
her mistress, whom she felt to be superior to all these other people, inasmuch as she could and did
contrive not to see them. In short, my aunt stipulated, at one and the same time, that whoever came to
see her must approve of her way of life, commiserate with her in her sufferings, and assure her of an
ultimate recovery.
In all this Eulalie excelled. My aunt might say to her twenty times in a minute: “The end is come at
last, my poor Eulalie!”, twenty times Eulalie would retort with: “Knowing your illness as you do,
Mme. Octave, you will live to be a hundred, as Mme. Sazerin said to me only yesterday.” For one of
Eulalie’s most rooted beliefs, and one that the formidable list of corrections which her experience
must have compiled was powerless to eradicate, was that Mme. Sazerat’s name was really Mme.
Sazerin.
“I do not ask to live to a hundred,” my aunt would say, for she preferred to have no definite limit
fixed to the number of her days. —Marcel Proust, In search of time past.
The next day was Thursday. John Divney said that his work was now done and that he would be
ready to go home to where his people were on Saturday. It was not true to say that his work was done
because the farm was in a poor way and most of the year's work had not even been started. But on
Saturday he said there were a few things to finish and that he could not work on Sunday but that he
would be in a position to hand over the place in perfect order on Tuesday evening. On Monday he
had a sick pig to mind and that delayed him. At the end of the week he was busier than ever and the
passing of another two months did not seem to lighten or reduce his urgent tasks. I did not mind
much because if he was idle-minded and a sparing worker, he was satisfactory so far as company was
concerned and he never asked for pay. I did little work about the place myself, spending all my time
arranging my papers and re-reading still more closely the pages of de Selby.
A full year had not passed when I noticed that Divney was using the word 'we' in his
conversation and worse than that, the word 'our'. He said that the place was not everything that it
might be and talked of getting a hired man. I did not agree with this and told him so, saying that there
was no necessity for more than two men on a small farm and adding, most unhappily for myself, that
we were poor. After that it was useless trying to tell him that it was I who owned everything. I began
to tell myself that even if i did own everything, he owned me.
—Flann O'Brien, The third policeman
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We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That's fine with us. Every morning
we glow and the evening we glow again.
They say there's no future for us. They're right.
Which is fine with us.
— Rumi
a veces pienso que sos como ese caballero del Ariosto al que hirieron de muerte en un combate, no se
dio cuenta de que lo habían morido y siguió peleando. cuando el asesino tiró, seguro te distrajo una
mujer inapagable, un pliegue del verano, el misterio sin fin del pobrerío.
siempre escapaste a las fusilaciones, la muerte equivocada, y escribís en las tripas de la noche.
—Gelman, Roque Dalton, Eso
Aquel nuevo año yo empecé a llorar por el oeste y llegué a una ciudad. donde mis conciertos habían
tenido éxito; la segunda vez que estuve allí, el público me había recibido con una ovación cariñosa y
prolongada; yo agradecía parado junto al piano y no me dejaban sentar para iniciar el concierto.
Seguramente que ahora daría, por lo menos, una audición. Yo lloré allí, por primera vez, en el hotel
más lujoso; fue a la hora del almuerzo y en un día radiante. Ya había comido y tomado café, cuando,
de codos en la mesa, me cubrí la cara con las manos. A los pocos instantes se acercaron algunos
amigos que yo había saludado; los dejé parados algún tiempo y mientras tanto una pobre vieja —que
no sé de dónde había salido— se sentó en mi mesa y yo la miraba por entre los dedos ya mojados.
Ella bajaba la cabeza y no decía nada; pero tenía una cara tan triste que daban ganas de ponerse a
llorar...
—Felisberto Hernández, El cocodrilo
Un día, caminando por la calle Corrientes, fijé mi mirada, prolongada, en una vidriera (¡Qué
honor para el Sr. Gombrowicz!). Le dije al muchacho que estaba conmigo que tenía hambre. (¡Qué
honor!) 'No te preocupes', dijo. 'Tengo un muerto. Habrá suficiente para los dos.' Tomamos un
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tranvía y fuimos a los suburbios, a una casa en un barrio proletario donde, efectivamente, un hombre
muerto yacía en su ataúd. No sé de qué nacionalidad sería, pero estaba cubierto de flores. Y su
familia, amigos y conocidos aceptaban su partida en un silencio macabro. Después de decir nuestras
oraciones pasamos al cuarto contiguo donde había un buffet para los participantes –¡sandwiches y
vino!. Mientras comíamos mi amigo me dijo que por lo general buscaba muertos en aquel barrio, y
que la mejor manera de obtener las direcciones era preguntando al sacristán.
— W.Gombrowicz - "A kind of testament"
"My first interview with the manager was curious. He did not ask me to sit down after my
twenty-mile walk that morning. He was commonplace in complexion, in features, in manners, and in
voice. He was of middle size and of ordinary build. His eyes, of the usual blue, were perhaps
remarkably cold, and he certainly could make his glance fall on one as trenchant and heavy as an axe.
But even at these times the rest of his person seemed to disclaim the intention. Otherwise there was
only an indefinable, faint expression of his lips, something stealthy -- a smile -- not a smile -- I
remember it, but I can't explain. It was unconscious, this smile was, though just after he had said
something it got intensified for an instant. It came at the end of his speeches like a seal applied on the
words to make the meaning of the commonest phrase appear absolutely inscrutable. He was a
common trader, from his youth up employed in these parts -- nothing more. He was obeyed, yet he
inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect. He inspired uneasiness. That was it! Uneasiness. Not
a definite mistrust -- just uneasiness -- nothing more. You have no idea how effective such a . . . a. . .
. faculty can be. He had no genius for organizing, for initiative, or for order even. That was evident in
such things as the deplorable state of the station. He had no learning, and no intelligence. His position
had come to him -- why? Perhaps because he was never ill . . . He had served three terms of three
years out there . . . Because triumphant health in the general rout of constitutions is a kind of power
in itself. When he went home on leave he rioted on a large scale -- pompously. Jack ashore -- with a
difference -- in externals only. This one could gather from his casual talk. He originated nothing, he
could keep the routine going -- that's all. But he was great. He was great by this little thing that it was
impossible to tell what could control such a man. He never gave that secret away. Perhaps there was
nothing within him. Such a suspicion made one pause -- for out there there were no external checks.
Once when various tropical diseases had laid low almost every 'agent' in the station, he was heard to
say, 'Men who come out here should have no entrails.' He sealed the utterance with that smile of his,
as though it had been a door opening into a darkness he had in his keeping. You fancied you had seen
things -- but the seal was on. When annoyed at meal-times by the constant quarrels of the white men
about precedence, he ordered an immense round table to be made, for which a special house had to
be built. This was the station's mess-room. Where he sat was the first place -- the rest were nowhere.
One felt this to be his unalterable conviction. He was neither civil nor uncivil. He was quiet. He
allowed his 'boy' -- an overfed young negro from the coast -- to treat the white men, under his very
eyes, with provoking insolence.
—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
116
I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons,
And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.
This man was a wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person,
The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and
beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness
and breadth of his manners,
These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were
massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome,
They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him,
They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal love,
He drank water only, the blood show'd like scarlet through the
clear-brown skin of his face,
He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail'd his boat himself, he
had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had
fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him,
When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish,
you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of the gang,
You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit
by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.
—Walt Whitman, I sing the body electric, Leaves of grass
Ulf is said to have been a very clever farmer. He made a habit of getting up early to inspect what
his farmhands or craftmen were doing and to keep an eye on his cattle and cornfields. Sometimes he
would talk to people who wre in need of his advice, for he was shrewd and always ready to make
useful suggestions. But every day towards evening he would grow so bad tempered that few people
dared even address him. He always went to sleep early in the evening and woke up early in the
morning. People claimed that he was a shape-shifter and they called him Kveldulf (Night Wolf).
Kveldulf and his wife had two sons. The elder one was named thorolf and the younger one Grim,
and they both grew up to be big, strong men like their father. Thorolf was an attractive and highly
accomplished man. He took after his mother's side of the family, a cheerful, generous man, energetic
and very eager to prove his worth. he was popular with everyone. Grim was swarthy and ugly,
resembling his father in both appearance and character. He turned out to be an active man; he was
gifted at working in wood and iron, and grew to be a craftsman. In winter he would often set off on a
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fishing boat to lay nets for herring, taking many farmhands with him.
—Egil's Saga, 13th century
King Audjorn sent around an arrow of war as signal to call men to arms throughout his kingdom
and dispatched messengers to powerful men asking them to meet him.
But when the messengers told Kveldulf that the king wanted him to bring all the men on his
farm to join him, he replied, 'The king would consider it my duty to go with him if he had to defend
his land and battles had to be fought in Fjordane province. But I don't think it's any duty of mine to
go up north to More and fight there to defend other people's land. Tell your king straight out when
you meet him, that while he rushes off to battle, Kveldulf will be staying home, and will not muster
any forces or set off to fight Harald Tangle-hair. I have a feeling Harald has plenty of good fortune
in store for him, but our king doesn't have enough to fill the palm of his hand.'
—Egil's Saga, 13th century
In our house, this immense building in an outer suburb, a tenement house the fabric of which is
interspersed with indestructible medieval ruins, the following manifesto was distributed today, on
this foggy, icy winter morning.
To all my fellow lodgers:
I am in possession of five toy rifles. They are hanging in my wardrobe, one on each hook. The
first belongs to me, and the others can be claimed by anyone who wishes to send in his name. If more
than four people send in their names, the supernumerary claimants must bring their own rifles with
them and deposit them in my wardrobe. For uniformity must be maintained; without uniformity we
shall get nowhere. Incidentally, I have only rifles that are quite useless for any other purpose, the
mechanism is broken, the corks have got torn off, only the cocks still click. So it will not be difficult,
should it prove necessary, to provide more such rifles. But fundamentally I am prepared, for a start,
to accept even people without rifles. At the decisive moment we who have rifles will group ourselves
round those who are unarmed. Why should not tactics that proved successful when used by the first
American farmers against the Red Indians not also prove successful here, since after all the
conditions are similar? And so it is even possible to do without rifles permanently, and even the five
rifles are not absolutely necessary, and it is only because they are, after all, there, that they ought also
to be used. But if the four others do not want to carry them, they need not do so. So then only I, as the
leader, shall carry one. But we ought not to have any leader, and so I, too, shall then break my rifle or
put it away.
That was the first manifesto. Nobody in our house has either time or inclination to read
manifestoes, far less to think about them. Befor long the little sheets of paper were floating in the
stream of dirty water that, beggining in the attics and fed by all the corridors, pours down the
staircase and there collides with the other stream mounting up from below. But after a week there
came a second manifesto.
Fellow inmates:
118
Up to now nobody has sent in his name to me. Apart from the hours during which I have to earn
my living, I have been at home all the time, and in the periods of my abscence, when the door of my
room has always been left open, there has been a piece of paper on my table, for everyone who
wished to do so to put down his name. Nobody has done so.
—Franz Kafka,
from the Blue Octavo Notebooks, 1
Psychology is impatience.
—Kafka
DIALOGUE
Say it aloud as you write.
Dialogue should be better left for the culminating moments, and regarded as the spray into which the
great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore. (Wharton)
Actually, in life, conversation is more often likely to be an attempt at deliberate evasion, deliberate
confusion, rather than communication. We're all cheats and liars, really.
—
James Jones
119
Tyhe speaker is making up his drama as he goes along, and he doesn't know how good he is or how
bad he is.
—Pritchett
Un personaje es una forma de hablar.
Recordar que la gente, cuando habla, se interrumpe una a otra; se producen lapsos de silencio, un
personaje inicia un chiste y aquel con el que está hablando se lo termina, se empieza hablando de un
tema trivial y se termina en uno importantísimo, etc.
—Algunas notas sobre los diálogos, Rodolfo Martínez
Escrito al final de Images, de Bergman
O en La Niña Santa (L.Martel)— Excelentes diálogos. En los diálogos siempre (salvo en momentos
dramáticos) agregar comentarios que no tengan que ver directamente con el tema que se habla.
Prestar atención a cómo hablamos en la realidad, de a saltos, asociando—tener en cuenta lo que los
personajes están viendo o tienen en la mano o lo que están haciendo al mismo tiempo que hablan. A
veces uno intercala un comentario sobre o que está haciendo. Por ejemplo, una madre está peinando a
su hija. Están discutiendo sobre cualquier tema. En el medio la mdre dice, che, tenés el pelo todo
seco ¿con qué te lavás? La hija no contesta, ni la madre espera que lo conteste, sino que la
conversación sigue con su "main theme." Recordar ese tipo de cosas.
El farmacéutico guiñó lentamente el párpado izquierdo y luego dijo:
—No te aflijás. Los tiempos de tribulación de que hablan las Escrituras han llegado. ¿No me
ha casado ya con la Coja, con la Ramera? ¿No se ha levantado el hijo contra el padre y el padre
contra el hijo? La revolución está meas cerca de lo que la desean los hombres. ¿No sos vos el
fraudlento ye l lobo que diezma el rebaño?...
—Pero, decime, ¿vos no podés prestarme esos seiscientos pesos?
El otro movió lentamente la cabeza:
—¿Te pensás que porque leo la Biblia soy un otario?
Erdosáin lo miró deseperado:
—Te juro que los debo.
De pronto ocurrió algo inesperado.
El farmacéutico se levantó, extendió el brazo y haciendo chasquear la yema de los dedos
exclamó ante el mozo del café que miraba asombrado la escena:
—Rajá, turrito, rajá.
Erdosain, rojo de vergüenza,, se alejó. Cuando en la esquina volvió la cabeza, vio que Ergueta
movía los brazos hablando con el camarero.
120
—Roberto Arlt, Los Siete Locos, 13
[Los Rooney tienen alrededor de setenta años. El hombre es ciego. No tienen hijos.
El tren que traía a Mr.Rooney se retrasó. Mientras caminan de vuelta a casa, su esposa le pregunta
qué fue lo que detuvo el tren en mitad del camino, pero el hombre dice que no sabe, que él siguió
leyendo el diario y ni siquiera se asomó por la ventanilla.]
MR ROONEY: I hear something behind us.
[Pause.]
MRS ROONEY: It looks like Jerry. [Pause.] It is Jerry.
[Sound of Jerry's running steps approaching. He halts beside them, panting.]
JERRY: [Panting.] You dropped—
Mrs R.: Take your time, my little man, you will burst a blood-vessel.
J:[Panting] You dropped something, sir. Mr Barrell told me to run after you.
Mrs R: Show. [She takes the object.] What is it? [She examines it.] What is this thing,Dan?
Mr R: Perhaps it is not mine at all.
J: Mr Barrell said it was, sir.
Mrs R: It looks like a kind of ball. And yet it isnot a ball.
Mr R: Give it to me.
Mrs R: [Giving it.] What is it, Dan?
Mr R: It is a thing I carry about with me.
Mrs R: Yes, but what—
Mr R: [Violently.] It is a thing I carry about with me!
[Silence. Mrs Rooney looks for a penny.]
Mrs R: I have no small money. Have you?
Mr R: I have none of any kind.
Mrs R: We are out of change, Jerry. Remind Mr Rooney on Monday and he will give you a penny for
your pains.
J: Yes, Ma'am.
Mr R: If I am alive.
J: Yessir.
[Jerry starts running back towards the station.]
Mrs R: Jerry! [Jery halts.] Did you hear what the hitch was? [Pause.] Did you hear what kept the
train so late?
Mr R: How would he have heard? Come on.
Mrs R: What was it, Jerry?
J: It was a—
Mr R: Leave the boy alone, he knows nothing! Come on!
Mrs R:What was it, Jerry?
J: It was a little child, Ma'am.
[Mr Rooney groans.]
Mrs R: What do you mean, it was a little child?
J: It was a little child fell out of the carriage, Ma'am.
[Pause.] On to the line Ma'am. [Pause.] Under the wheels, Ma'am.
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[Silence. Jerry runs off. His steps die away. Tempest of wind and rain. It abates. They move
on. Dragging steps, etc. They halt. Tempest of wind and rain.]
—Samuel Beckett, All that fall.
En el camino dijo el del Bosque a Sancho:
-Ha de saber, hermano, que tienen por costumbre los peleantes de la Andalucía, cuando son padrinos
de alguna pendencia, no estarse ociosos mano sobre mano en tanto que sus ahijados riñen. Dígolo
porque esté advertido que mientras nuestros dueños riñeren, nosotros también hemos de pelear y
hacernos astillas.
-Esa costumbre, señor escudero -respondió Sancho-, allá puede correr y pasar con los rufianes y
peleantes que dice, pero con los escuderos de los caballeros andantes, ni por pienso. A lo menos, yo
no he oído decir a mi amo semejante costumbre, y sabe de memoria todas las ordenanzas de la
andante caballería. Cuanto más, que yo quiero que sea verdad y ordenanza expresa el pelear los
escuderos en tanto que sus señores pelean; pero yo no quiero cumplirla, sino pagar la pena que
estuviere puesta a los tales pacíficos escuderos, que yo aseguro que no pase de dos libras de cera, y
más quiero pagar las tales libras, que sé que me costarán menos que las hilas que podré gastar en
curarme la cabeza, que ya me la cuento por partida y dividida en dos partes. Hay más: que me
imposibilita el reñir el no tener espada, pues en mi vida me la puse.
-Para eso sé yo un buen remedio -dijo el del Bosque-: yo traigo aquí dos talegas de lienzo, de un
mesmo tamaño: tomaréis vos la una, y yo la otra, y riñiremos a talegazos, con armas iguales.
-Desa manera, sea en buena hora -respondió Sancho-, porque antes servirá la tal pelea de
despolvorearnos que de herirnos.
-No ha de ser así -replicó el otro-, porque se han de echar dentro de las talegas, porque no se las lleve
el aire, media docena de guijarros lindos y pelados, que pesen tanto los unos como los otros, y desta
manera nos podremos atalegar sin hacernos mal ni daño.
-¡Mirad, cuerpo de mi padre -respondió Sancho-, qué martas cebollinas, o qué copos de algodón
cardado pone en las talegas, para no quedar molidos los cascos y hechos alheña los huesos! Pero,
aunque se llenaran de capullos de seda, sepa, señor mío, que no he de pelear: peleen nuestros amos, y
allá se lo hayan, y bebamos y vivamos nosotros, que el tiempo tiene cuidado de quitarnos las vidas,
sin que andemos buscando apetites para que se acaben antes de llegar su sazón y término y que se
cayan de maduras.
-Con todo -replicó el del Bosque-, hemos de pelear siquiera media hora.
-Eso no -respondió Sancho-: no seré yo tan descortés ni tan desagradecido, que con quien he comido
y he bebido trabe cuestión alguna, por mínima que sea; cuanto más que, estando sin cólera y sin
enojo, ¿quién diablos se ha de amañar a reñir a secas?
-Para eso -dijo el del Bosque- yo daré un suficiente remedio: y es que, antes que comencemos la
pelea, yo me llegaré bonitamente a vuestra merced y le daré tres o cuatro bofetadas, que dé con él a
mis pies, con las cuales le haré despertar la cólera, aunque esté con más sueño que un lirón.
-Contra ese corte sé yo otro -respondió Sancho-, que no le va en zaga: cogeré yo un garrote, y, antes
que vuestra merced llegue a despertarme la cólera, haré yo dormir a garrotazos de tal suerte la suya,
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que no despierte si no fuere en el otro mundo, en el cual se sabe que no soy yo hombre que me dejo
manosear el rostro de nadie; y cada uno mire por el virote, aunque lo más acertado sería dejar dormir
su cólera a cada uno, que no sabe nadie el alma de nadie, y tal suele venir por lana que vuelve
tresquilado; y Dios bendijo la paz y maldijo las riñas, porque si un gato acosado, encerrado y
apretado se vuelve en león, yo, que soy hombre, Dios sabe en lo que podré volverme; y así, desde
ahora intimo a vuestra merced, señor escudero, que corra por su cuenta todo el mal y daño que de
nuestra pendencia resultare.
-Está bien -replicó el del Bosque-. Amanecerá Dios y medraremos.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.13
A la noche, Marie ha venido a buscarme y me ha preguntado si quería casarme con ella. He
dicho que me daba igual y que, si quería, podíamos hacerlo. Ella ha querido saber si la amaba. Le he
contestado, como lo había hecho ya otra vez, que eso no significaba nada, pero que, sin duda, no la
amaba. "Si así es como sientes ¿Por qué casarnos entonces?", ha dicho. Le he explicado que eso no
tenía ninguna importancia y que si lo deseaba podíamos hacerlo. Por otro lado, le señalé que había
sido ella la que había preguntado; yo me contentaba con decir sí. Entonces observó que el
matrimonio era una cosa seria. He respondido: "No". Se ha callado un momento y me ha mirado en
silencio. Luego ha hablado. Quería saber si yo habría aceptado la misma proposición de otra mujer
que me atrajera del mismo modo. He dicho: "Naturalmente". Se ha preguntado entonces si realmente
me amaba, pero yo no podía decirle nada sobre ese punto. Tras otro momento de silencio, ha
murmurado que yo era algo raro; que, sin duda, era por eso mismo que me quría, pero que, quizá, un
día le dejaría de gustar por las mismas razones. Como yo callaba, no teniendo nada que añadir, me ha
tomado del brazo sonriendo y ha declarado que quería casarse conmigo. He contestado que lo
haríamos cuando quisiera.
Entonces le hablé de la proposición del patrón y Marie me ha dicho que le gustaría conocer
París. Le he hecho saber que en un tiempo vi ví allí y me ha preguntado cómo era. Le he dicho: "Es
sucio. Hay pichones y patios negros. La gente tiene lapiel blanca".
—Albert Camus, El extranjero
Japhy me enseñó lo que debía pedir y cómo se comía con palillos, me contó anécdotas acerca de
los lunáticos zen del oriente y me puso tan contento (teníamos una botella de vino en la mesa) que
acabé por levantarme, acercarme al viejo cocinero que estaba en la puerta de la cocina y preguntarle:
—¿Por qué Bodhidharme llegó desde el oeste? (Bodhidharma fue el indio que llevó el budismo
al este, a China)
—¿Y a mí qué cuernos me importa? —me dijo el viejo cocinero, con los ojos entornados.
Di cuenta de esta contestación a Japhy, y éste dijo:
—Perfecta respuesta, perfecta como no puede serlo más. ¿Comprendes ahora lo que yo entiendo
por zen?
—Jack Kerouac, Vagabundos del Dharma
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Alice knocked and rang in vain for a long time; but at last a very old Frog, who was sitting under
a tree, got up and hobbled slowly towards her: he was dressed in bright yellow, and had enormous
boots on.
"What is it, now?" the Frog said in a deep hoarse whisper.
Alice turned round, ready to find fault with anybody. "Where's the servant whose business it is
to answer the door?" she began angrily.
"Which door?" said the Frog.
Alice almost stamped with irritation at the slow drawl in which he spoke. "This door, of course!"
The Frog looked at the door with his large dull eyes for a minute: then he went nearer and
rubbed it with his thumb, as if he were trying whether the paint would come off: then he looked at
Alice.
"To answer the door?" he said. "What's it been asking of?" He was so hoarse that Alice could
scarcely hear him
"I don't know what you mean," she said.
"I speaks English, doesn't I?" the Frog went on. "Or are you deaf? What did it ask you?"
"Nothing!" Alice said impatiently. "I've been knocking at it!"
"Shouldn't do that—shouldn't do that—" the Frog muttered. "Wexes it, you know." Then he
went up and gave the door a kick with one of his great feet. "You let it alone," he panted out, as he
hobbled back to his tree, "and it'll let you alone, you know."
—Lewis Carrol, Through the looking-glass
En el cine
—Bonito, ¿verdad? —dijo Irene, refiriéndose a San Pedro—. Trabaja bien, de veras, ¿no?
—¡Tiene clase! —dijo Tommaso.
Y, calculando que la frase de Irene era una incitación. movió el dorso de la mano un poco sobre
el muslo.
Pero Irene, como si tal cosa, volvió a llevar la mano hacia la rodilla, arrastrando la mano mano
apretada de Tommaso.
"¡Me cago en tus muertos!", pensó Tommaso.
—¡Ay, Dios! —dijo Irene llevándose a la boca la otra mano, llena de aprensión por la suerte de
los cristianos, que aguardaban para entrar en la arena y hacerse devorar.
—Bueno, ¡no son historias verdaderas! —dijo Tommaso, acostumbrado a consolarse de esa
manera—. ¡Cosas del cine!
—¡Menos mal! —dijo Irene, resentida—. ¿Así que no son historia verdaderas? ¿Qué pasa,
ahora? ¿El Evangelio es un cuento chino?
—Bueno —dijo Tommaso expeditivo, porque el asunto le interesaba poco—, habrán ocurrido de
veras esas cosas, pero ¿cuándo? ¡Hará por lo menos mil años!
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—¿Y con eso? —replicó Irene; pero estaba demasiado impresionada a la vista de los mártires
que subían por la escalerita cantando canciones de iglesia, y se quedó callada. Tommaso aprovechó la
ocasión para volver a llevar las manos apretadas hacia arriba, pero Irene oponía resistencia, pese a
estar sumida en la contemplación de la película. "¿Ah, sí? —pensó torvamente Tommaso—. Te pasas
de lista, ¿eh?"
Empezó a cabrearse; estaba muy excitado, despatarrado en la butaca con las rodillas contra la
balaustrada, de manera que tenía las tetas de Irene casi bajo las narices, hinchadas y duras bajo el
jersey de la nilla, diez kilos de carne cada una. (...)
Cuando las dos manos estuvieron un poco más arriba, hacia el pubis, Irene empezó a desasir
la suya. "¿Qué haces, ahora? —pensó Tommaso, amenazador—. ¿Te lo estás pensando, ahora?"
Ahora que se veía una antigua romana aristocrática en su palacio, con esclavos que tocaban el
arpa, Tommaso volvió a intentarlo.
Irene giró la cara hacia él y dijo:
—¡No quiero, quédate quieto, Tomá'!
—¿Y eso por qué? —dijo el.
—Porque no —repuso Irene, y nuevamente empezó a soltarse la mano.
"Me cago en tus muertos —pensó Tommaso furioso—. Ahora te doy una coz en la cara, te doy".
Y en voz alta:
—¡Qué tiene de malo! ¡No estamos haciendo nada!
—Déjame —murmuró ella—; mira que contigo al cine no vuelvo más.
—¡Qué tiene de malo! —repitió Tommaso, cada vez más congestionado por el esfuerzo que les
costaba mantenerla aferrada sin removerse demasiado. "Y a mí, ¿qué coño me importa —pensaba—
si no vuelves más? ¡Basta con que hayas venido hoy, gilipollas! Y ahora que estás aquí, con
Tommaso no irás a pasarte de lista, ¡por favor!"
La estrechó con más fuerza, como para hacerle crujir los huesos de esa manaza que tenía. Irene
hizo una mueca de dolor y dejó de tironear. Se quedó quieta, mirando la pantalla, abatida, con los
ojos relucientes.
"Te has enterado, ¿vale?", pensó Tommaso con mala baba. Y poco a poco empezó a restregar la
mano como él quería; pero ella realmente no quería.
—Eh, Tommaso —dijo con un tono distinto—, ¡yo no pensaba que fueras así! ¡De haberlo
sabido, no hubiera venido contigo al cine!
Y de vuelta con el tira y afloja. Tommaso se puso hecho una fiera.
—Pero ¿Qué tiene de malo? ¡Por semejante bobada! —le dijo casi gritando. Y tiró con rabia
hasta que la mano llegó a donde tenía que llegar. Pero Irene la mamtenía cerrada, tirando en sentido
contrario. "Mala puta, hija de una soplapollas —pensaba Tommaso, que a esas alturas sentía que
estaba en juego todo su honor—. ¡Anda! ¿Por qué crees que te he pagado el cine? ¡Se trata de
trescientas liras, ¿sabes?, por quedarme corto!"
—¡Y dame aquí esa mano! —añadió con un tirón rabioso. "Trescientas liras —repitió para sus
adentros, furioso—; pero ¿qué son para tí? ¿Nada? ¿Y eso para qué? ¿Para mirarte tan sólo, me cago
en tus muertos, por lo guapina que eres? Y hasta las palomitas te he comprado —rememoró con un
nuevo arrebato de rabia—. ¡Cincuenta liras!¡Que te den por culo!"
Y apretó debajo la mano cerrada.
—Un minuto —le dijo—, ¡solamente un minuto, te lo juro por mi madre, que está muerta! —
pero justamente en ese momento vio en el rostro y en los ojos de Irene una especie de resignación, y
entonces añadió, cariñoso y ´mas bien alegre—: El hombre ha de tener sus satisfacciones, ¿no?
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Poco a poco, siempre contemplando la película y como si o fuese suya, Irene le dejó la mano a
Tommaso, que le dijo, esta vez en voz alta:
—¡Qué buena eres, Irene! ¿Sabes que de veras me gustas? —y después agregó también—: ¡Ire,
mira que te quiero, hablo en serio, te quiero, te lo juro!
Irene se acurrucó en la butaca, muda como una sombra.
—Pier Paolo Pasolini, Una vida violenta
En el que estuvieron encerrados don Quijote y Sancho, pasaron las razones que con mucha
puntualidad y verdadera relación cuenta la historia. Dijo Sancho a su amo:
-Señor, ya yo tengo relucida a mi mujer a que me deje ir con vuestra merced adonde quisiere
llevarme.
-Reducida has de decir, Sancho -dijo don Quijote-, que no relucida.
-Una o dos veces -respondió Sancho-, si mal no me acuerdo, he suplicado a vuestra merced que no
me emiende los vocablos, si es que entiende lo que quiero decir en ellos, y que, cuando no los
entienda, diga: ‘’Sancho, o diablo, no te entiendo’’; y si yo no me declarare, entonces podrá emendarme; que yo soy tan fócil...
-No te entiendo, Sancho -dijo luego don Quijote-, pues no sé qué quiere decir soy tan fócil.
-Tan fócil quiere decir -respondió Sancho- soy tan así.
-Menos te entiendo agora -replicó don Quijote.
-Pues si no me puede entender -respondió Sancho-, no sé cómo lo diga: no sé más, y Dios sea
conmigo.
-Ya, ya caigo -respondió don Quijote- en ello: tú quieres decir que eres tan dócil, blando y mañero
que tomarás lo que yo te dijere, y pasarás por lo que te enseñare.
-Apostaré yo -dijo Sancho- que desde el emprincipio me caló y me entendió, sino que quiso turbarme
por oírme decir otras docientas patochadas.
-Podrá ser -replicó don Quijote-.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.7
Hemingway remembers a trip he made with Scott Fitzgerald in France. They are travelling on a car
with no top, with bad weather, stopping whenever the rain became strong.
Scott cheered a little after this but he began to fail again shortly and asked me if we would make
a big town before the onset of the fever and delirium by which, I had told him, the true congestion of
the lungs, European, announced itself. I was now translating from an article which I had read in a
French madical journal on the same malady while waiting at the American Hospital in Neuilly to
have my throat cauterized, I told him. A word like cauterized had a comforting effect on Scott. But he
wanted to know when we would make it in twenty-five minutes to an hour.
Scott then asked me if I were afraid to die and I said more at some times than at others.
It now began to rain really heavily and we took refuge in the next village café. I cannot
remember all the details of that afternoon but when we were finally in a hotel at what must have been
Châlon-sur-Saône, it was so late that the drug stores were closed. Scott had undresses and gone to
bed as soon as we reached the hotel. He did not mind dying of congestion of the lungs, he said. It was
only the question of who was to look after Zelda and young Scotty. I did not see very well how I
126
could look after them since I was having a healthily rough time lookinf after my wife Hadley and
young son Bumby, but I said I would do my best and Scott thanked me. I must see that Zelda did not
drink and that Scotty should have an English governess.
We had sent our clothes to be dried and were in our pajamas. It was still raining outside but it
was cheerful in the room with the electric light on. Scott was lying in bed to conserve his strenght for
his battle against the disease. I had taken his pulse, which was seventy-two, and had felt his forehead,
which was cool. I had listened to his chest and had him breathe deeply, and his chest sounded all
right.
"Look, Scott," I said. "You're perfectly O.K. If you want to do the best thing to keep from
catching cold, just stay in bed and I'll order us each a lemonade and a whisky and you take an aspirin
with yours and you'll feel fine and won't even get a cold in your head."
"Those old wives' remedies," Scott said.
"You haven't any temperature. How the hell are you going to have a congestion of the lungs
without a temperature?"
"Don't swear at me," Scott said. "How do you know I haven't a temperature?"
"Your pulse is normal and you haven't any fever to the touch."
"To the touch," Scott said bitterly. "If you're a real friend, get me a thermometer."
"I'm in a pajamas."
"Send for one."
I rang for the waiter. He didn't come and I rang again and then went down the hallway to look
for him. Scott was lying with his eyes closed, breathing slowly and carefully and, with his waxy color
and his perfect features, he looked like a little dead crusader. I was getting tired of the literary life, if
this was the literary life that I was leading, and already missed not working and I felt the death
loneliness that comes at the end of every day that is wasted in your life. I was very tired of Scott and
this silly comedy, but I found the waiter and gave him money to buy a thermometer and a tube of
aspirin, and ordered two citron pressés and two double whiskies. I tried to order a bottle of whisky
but they only sell it by the drink.
Back in the room Scott was still lying as though on his tomb, sculpted as a monument to himself,
his eyes closed and breathing with exemplary dignity.
Hearing me com in the room, he spoke. "Did you get the thermometer?"
I went over and put my hand on his forehead. It was not as cold as the tomb. But it was cool and
not clammy.
"Nope," I said.
"I thought you'd brought it."
"I sent out for it."
"It's not the same thing."
"No. It isn't, is it?"
You could not be angry with Scott any more than you could be angry with someone who was
crazy, but I was getting angry with myself for having become involved in the whole silliness.
...
When the waiter arrived with the two glasses with the pressed lemon juice and ice, the whiskies,
and the bottle of Perrier water, ho told me that the pharmacy was closed and he could not get a
thermometer. He had borrowed some aspirin. I asked him to see if he could borrow a thermometer.
Scott openen his eyes and gave a baleful Irish look at the waiter.
"Have you told him how serious it is?" he asked.
"I think he understands."
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"Please try to make it clear."
I tried to make it clear and the waiter said,"I'll bring what I can."
"Did you tip him enough to do any good? They only work for tips."
"I didn't know that," I said. "I thought the hotel paid them something on the side."
"I mean they will only do something for you for a substantial tip. Most of them are rotten clean
through."
I thought of Evan Shipman and I thought of the waiter at the Closerie del Lilas who had been
forced to cut his mustache when they made the American bar at the Closerie, and how Evan had been
working out at his garden in Montrouge long before I had met Scott, and what good friends we all
were and had been for a long time at the Lilas and of all of the moves that had been made and what
they meant to all of us. I thought of telling Scott about this whole problem of the Lilas, Although I
had prbably mentioned it to him before, but I knew he did not care about waiters nor their problems
nor their great kindnesses and affections. At that time Scott hated the French, and since almost the
only French he met with regularly were waiters whom he did not understand, taxi-drivers, garage
employees and landlords, he had many opportunities to insult and abuse them.
...
His eyes were open now and were looking far away. I was reading the crime in the inside of the
paper and was quite happy, too happy it seemed.
"You're a cold one, aren't you?" Scott asked and lloking at him I saw that I had been wrong in
my prescription, if not in my diagnosis, and that the whisky was working against us.
"How do you mean, Scott?"
"You can sit there and read that dirty French rag of a paper and it doesn't mean a thing to you
that I am dying."
"Do you want me to call a doctor?"
"No. I don't want a dirty French provincial doctor."
"What do you want?"
"I want my temperature taken. Then I want my clothes dried and for us to get on a n express
train for Paris and to go to the American hospital at Neuilly."
"Our clothes won't be dry until morning and there aren't any express trains," I said. "Why don't
you rest and have some dinner in bed?
"I want my temperature taken."
After this went on for a long time the waiter brought a thermometer.
"Is this the only one you could get?" I asked. Scott had shut his eyes when the waiter came in
and he did look at least as far gone as Camille. I have never seen a man who lost the blood from his
face so fast and I wondered where it went.
"It is the only one in the hotel," the waiter said and handed me the thermometer. It was a bath
thermometer with a wooden back and enough metal to sink it in the bath. I took a quick gulp of the
whisky sour and opened the window a moment to look out at the rain. When I turned Scott was
watching me.
I shook the thermometer down professionally and said, "You're lucky it's not a rectal
thermometer."
"Where does this kind go?"
"Under the arm," I told him and tucked it under my arm.
"Don't upset the temperature,: Scott said. I shook the thermometer again with a single sharp
downward twictch and unbuttoned his pajama jacket and put the instrument under his armpit while I
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felt his cool forehead and then took his pulse again. He stared straight ahead. The pulse was seventytwo. I kept the thermometer in for four minutes.
"I thought they only kept them in for one minute," Scott said.
"This is a big thermometer, I explained. "You multiply by the square of the size of the
thermometer. It's a centigrade thermometer."
Finally I took the thermometer out and carried it over by the reading light.
"What is it?"
"Thirty-seven and six-tenths?."
"What's normal?"
"That's normal."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure."
I shook the thermometer down and opened my pajamas and put the thermometer in my armpit
and held it there while I watched the time. Then I looked at it.
"What is it" I studiet it.
"Exactly the same."
"How do you feel?"
"Splendid," I said. I was trying to remember whether thirty-seven six was really normal or not. It
did not matter, for the thermometer, unaffected, was steady at thirty.
Scott was a little suspicious so I asked if he wanted me to make another test.
"No," he said. "We can be happy it cleared up so quickly. I've always had great recuperative
power."
—Ernest Hemingway, A moveable feast, p.160
Aparte del diálogo que sigue, que es de por sí genial, notar el uso de las itálicas para dar
énfasis a ciertas palabras que en la oración leída de forma corriente no tendrían.
But finally, after I was riding a while, the cab driver and I sort of struck up a conversation. His
name was Horwitz. He was a much better guy than the other driver I'd had. Anyway, I thought maybe
he might know about the ducks.
"Hey Horwitz," I said. "You ever pass by the lagoon in Central Park? Down by Central Park
South?"
"The what?"
"The lagoon. That little lake, like, there. Where the ducks are. You know."
"What about it?"
"Well, you know the ducks that swim around in it? In the springtime and all? Do you happen to
know where they go in the wintertime, by any chance?"
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"Where who goes?"
"The ducks. Do you know, by any chance? I mean does somebody come around in a truck or
something and take them away, or do they fly away by themselves — go south or something?"
Old Horwitz turned all the way around and looked at me. He was a very impatient-type guy. He
wasn't a bad guy, though. "How the hell should I know?" he said. "How the hell should I know a
stupid thing like that?"
"Well, don't get sore abot it," I said. He was sore about it or something.
"Who's sore? Nobody's sore."
I stopped having a conversation with him, if he was going to get so damn touchy about it. But he
started it up again himself. He turned all the way around again, and said, "The fish don't go no place.
They stay right where they are, the fish. Right in the goddam lake."
"The fish—that's different. The fish id different. I'm talking about the ducks," I said.
"What's different about it? Nothin's different abot it," Horwitz said. Everything he said, he
sounded sore about something. "It's tougher for the fish, the winter and all, than it is for the ducks,
for Chrissake. Use your head, for Chrissake."
I didn't say anything for about a minute. Then I said, "All right. What do they do, the fish and
all, when that whole little lake's a solid block of ice, people skating on it and all?"
Old Horwitz turned around again. "What the hellaya mean what do theu do?" he yelled at me.
"They stay right where they are, for Chrissake."
"They can't just ignore the ice. They can't just ignore it."
"Who's ignoring it? Nobody's ignoring it!" Horwitz said. He got so damn excited and all, I was
afraid he was going to drive the cab right into a lampost or something. "They live right in the goddam
ice. It's their nature, for Chrissake. They get frozen right in one position for the whole winter."
"Yeah? What do they eat, then? I mean if they're frozen solid, they can't swim around looking
for food and all."
"Their bodies, for Chrissake — what'sa matter with ya? Their bodies take in nutrition and all,
right through the goddam seaweed and crap that's in the ice. They got their pores open the whole
time. That's their nature, for Chrissake. See what I mean?" He turned way the again to look at me.
"Oh," I said. I let it drop. I was afraid he was going to crack the damn taxi up or something.
Besides, he was such a touchy guy, it wasn't any pleasure discussing anything with him. "Would you
care to stop off and have a drink with me somewhere?" I said.
He didn't answer me, though. I guess he was still thinking. I asked him again, though. He was a
pretty good guy. Quite amusing and all.
"I ain't got no time for no liquor, bud," he said. "How the hell old are you, anyways? Why
ain'tcha home in bed?"
"I'm not tired."
When I got out in front of Ernie's and paid the fare, old Horwitz brought up the fish again. He
certainly had it on his mind. "Listen," he said. "If you was a fish, Mother Nature' take care of you,
wouldn't she? Right? You don't think them fish just die when it gets to be winter, do ya?"
"No, but—"
"You're goddam right they don't," Horwitz said, and drove off like a bat out of hell. He was
about the touchiest guy I ever met. Everything you said made him sore.
—J.D.Salinger, The catcher in the rye, c.12
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NARRATOR
"Tú" significa ser conciente del universo en forma de tú, y "yo" en foma de yo. Tú y yo no son
más que puertas oscilantes.
—Shunryu Suzuki
The 4 Narrators
1.The First Person Narrator
He has no way of arriving at an understanding of the other characters except by his observation of
what they say and do. Hi authority is that of the eye witness.
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2.The Omniscient Narrator
Allows a continual shifting of focus from the large, over-all picture to the close view. This gives the
feeling of the "complexity of human life." Mistakes associated with this method are lack of focus,
formlesness and the temptation of telling the reader what happened and leaving the actual happening
vague. See in Madame Bovary how the transition from one character to another is made in a swift
way, not by jumping from one to the other as one changes chapters.
3.The Concealed Narrator
(Flaubert) The reader seems to see with the eyes of the character, hear with his ears, etc. In the case
of Madame Bovary, the narrator is an intelligence superior to that of the characters. He knows more
than the character. He jumps from one character to other.
4.The Central Intelligence
The 'real actors' are the thoughts, emotions and sensations of the hero. The hero is never off-stage
and everything relates to him. We don't have access to the other character's thoughts. Their words and
deeds impact on the hero's conciousness is what matters about them. (Ex. Joyce's The Dead)
—Gordon, THE HOUSE OF FICTION
The first opposition between the narrative James extols and that of the Arabian Nights can be
illustrated as follows: if there is a proposition "X sees Y," the important thing for James is X; for
Scherezade, Y. Psycological narrative regards each action as a means of access to the personality in
question, as an expression if not a symptom. Action is not considered in itself, it is 'transitive' with
regard to its subject. A-psycological narrative, on the contrary, is characterized by intransitive
actions: action is important in itself and not as an indication of this or that character trait.
—Tzvetan Todorov, Poetics of Prose, Narrative men
A propósito de esto, Borges recuerda la historia del Genio encerrado en una botella en el fondo del
mar, que jura hacer rico al hombre que lo encuentre y lo libere. Pasan mil años y promete más y
mejores cosas. Al cabo de diez mil años jura matar a su redentor. Borges señala este sencillo y a la
vez admirable rasgo psicológico, tan lejos de las entramadas estructuras de James.
The ignorant narrator
In a much noted passage in Tom Jones, the narrator assures us that he has been unable to discover
what, at one point, Tom ate for dinner. The remark's humor is based on our assumption that narrators
are omniscient, at least in the sense that authors invent their stories and therefore can never be at a
loss to know what happens in them. Of course novelists have frequently taken on themselves the task
of communicating ideas through ignorant narrators, as in Huckleberry Finn, Ulysses, and The Secret
Sharer. Their method has been to put the character's perceptions in a context—of the work or life—
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that will contradict, modify, or supplement his limited point of view. Huck Finn approves of slavery,
but we don't; Twain relies in our morality to correct Huck's.
The Beckett narrator is not permitted to rewrite or omit what he does not understand; he is forced
onward by the pressure of his narrative and can only insert 'perhaps', 'maybe', 'it seems', or 'I don't
know', leaving us to use these frases ourselves.
This limitation of the ignorant narrator significantly affects our sense of his tale. An omniscient
narrator, describing things unseen or unknown by the hero, necessarily creates a world external to
and independent of that heo. But the world of a first person narrative is necessarily solipsistic;
nothing exists in it until perceived.
This ignorance, when it attempts to deal with fundamental issues, is Beckett's subject in the trilogy.
He has expressed himself about it primarily in an interview he gave Israel Shenker:
"The kind of work I do is one in which I'm not master of my material. the more Joyce knew the more
he could. i'm working with impotence, ignorance. i don't think ignorance has been exploited in the
past. there seems to be a kind of esthetic axiom that expression is achievement—must be an
achievement. My little exploration is that whole zone of being that has always been set aside by
artists as something unusable—as something by definition incompatible with art."
"I think that anyone nowadays, who pays the slightest attention to his own experience finds it the
experience of a non-knower, a non-can-er. The other type of artist—the Apollonian—is absolutely
foreign to me."
—O'Hara, Introduction, Beckett Criticism
STYLE
Beyond certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.
—Kafka
Style is not consciously arrived at. Style is you. (Capote)
I am unable to distinguish between the feeling I have for life and my way of
expressing it.
—Matisse, Theories of Modern Art, 132
19. Accept loss forever.
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20. Believe in the holy contour of life.
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind.
22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better.
—Kerouac, Belief & Technique for modern prose.
Use stimulants, loved passages of the prose that matters most to you. You are going to strenghten and
guide your own voice with its sound in your ear.
Style is an exchange, the place to find your voice is among the voices of others.
Making things "sound good" can be a motivation and a guide to advance the book. A voice of a
certain kind (and every book has its voice) can tell certain kind of things. Ex. Raymond Chandler's
voice is capable of telling certain kinds of stories about certain kinds of people, etc.
What really makes for readability is not clarity but attitude: the attitude of your prose toward the
reader and the role you invent for that invented being in your invented world. It is in precisely that
relationship to the reader that you will find most of the classic faults of style: pretension,
condescension, servility, obscurantism, grandiosity, vulgarity, academicism, etc.
Mere information is never enough. But then, neither is mere imagination. Two reliable signs of a
healthy imagination are a hunger for facts and a will to satisfy that need.
Do not write what you know. Write what you have come to take control of and posses as your own.
Let your facts come from the South Bronx or the twelfth century. Personal experience is always a
kind of guide but also is, generally, quite dull.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
Juzgado por los preceptos de la retórica, no hay estilo más deficiente que el de Cervantes. Abunda en
repeticiones, en languideces, en hiatos, en errores de construcción, en ociosos o perjudiciales
epítetos, en cambios de propósito. A todos ellos los anula o los atempera cierto encanto esencial.
Hay escritores —Chesterton, Quevedo, Virgilio— integralmente susceptibles de análisis; ningún
procedimiento, ninguna felicidad hay en ellos que no pueda justificar el retórico. Otros —De
Quincey, Shakespeare— abarcan zonas más refractarias a todo examen. Otros, aún más misteriosos,
no son analíticamente justificables. No hay una de sus frases, revisadas, que no sea corregible; las
observaciones son lógicas, el texto original acaso no lo es; sin embargo, así incriminado el texto es
eficacísimo, aunque no sepamos por qué. A esa categoría de escritores que no puede explicar la mera
razón pertenece Miguel de Cervantes.
(Borges; Prólogo a las Novelas Ejemplares de Cervantes)
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Descartes writes, not as a teacher, but as a discoverer and explorer, anxious to communicate
what he has found.
—Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy
When you come right down to it, all you have is your self. Your self is a sun with a thousand
rays in your belly. The rest is nothing.
—Paul Klee
If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor
--Albert Einstein
The simplest means are those which enable an artist to express himself best. If he fears the obvious
he cannot avoid it by strange representations, bizarre drawing, eccentric color. His expression must
derive inevitably from his temperament. He must sicerely believe that he has painted only what he
has seen.
Rules have no existence outside of individuals: otherwise racine would be no greater genius than a
good profesor. —Matisse Theories of Modern Art, 136
L'exactitude n'est pas la vérité.
—Matisse, Theories of Modern Art, 139
—When you write a canto now, how do you plan it? Do you follow a special course of reading for
each one?
—One isn't necessarily reading. On is working on the life vouschsafed, I should think. I don't know
about method. The 'what' is so much more important than how.
Technique is the test of sincerity. If a thing isn't worth getting the technique to say, it is of inferior
value. All that must be regarded as exercise. Richter in his Treatise on Harmony, you see, says:
"these are the principles of harmony and countepoint; they have nothing whatever to do with
composition, which is quite a separate activity."
The transition from the reception of stimuli to the recording, to the correlation, that is what takes the
whole energy of a life.
—Ezra Pound THE PARIS REVIEW 2nd Series
THE HUNGRY FAMISHED GULL
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FLAPS O'ER THE WATERS DULL.
That is how poets write, the similar sounds. But then Shakespeare has no rhymes: blank verse. The
flow of the language it is. The thoughts. Solemn.
HAMLET, I AM THY FATHER'S SPIRIT
DOOMED FOR A CERTAIN TIME TO WALK THE EARTH.
...
It's always flowing in a stream, never the same, which in the stream of life we trace. Because life is a
stream.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.163
To express that there is nothing to express, nothing to express with, nothing to express from, no
strenght to express, no desire to express, along with the necessity to express.
—S. Beckett
I am interested in the shape of ideas even if I do not believe in them. there is a wonderful sentence in
Agustine. I wish I could remember the Latin. it is even finer in Latin than in English. "Do not
despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of thethieves was damned." That sentence
has a wonderful shape. It is the shape that matters.
—Beckett
Cuanto más abstracta es la verdad que se quiere enseñar, más importante es hacer converger hacia
ella todos los sentidos del lector.
El tacto del buen prosista en la elección de sus medios consiste en aproximarse a la poesía hasta
rozarla, pero sin franquear jamás el límite que la separa.
No es sensato ni hábil privar al lector de sus refutaciones más fáciles; es muy sensato y muy hábil,
por el contrario, dejarle el cuidado de formular él mismo la última palabra de nuestra sabiduría.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Decía Isak Dinesen que ella escribía un poco todos los días, sin esperanza y sin desesperación. Algún
día escribiré ese lema en una ficha de tres por cinco, que pegaré en la pared, detrás de mi escritorio...
Entonces tendré al menos es ficha escrita. “El esmero es la ÚNICA convicción moral del escritor”.
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Lo dijo Ezra Pound. No lo es todo aunque signifique cualquier cosa; pero si para el escritor tiene
importancia esa “única convicción moral”, deberá rastrearla sin desmayo.
Tengo clavada en mi pared una ficha de tres por cinco, en la que escribí un lema tomado de un relato
de Chejov:... Y súbitamente todo empezó a aclarársele. Sentí que esas palabras contenían la maravilla
de lo posible. Amo su claridad, su sencillez; amo la muy alta revelación que hay en ellas. Palabras
que también tienen su misterio. Porque, ¿qué era lo que antes permanecía en la oscuridad? ¿Qué es lo
que comienza a aclararse? ¿Qué está pasando? Bien podría ser la consecuencia de un súbito
despertar. Siento una gran sensación de alivio por haberme anticipado a ello.
El escritor no necesita de juegos ni de trucos para hacer sentir cosas a sus lectores. Aún a riesgo de
parecer trivial, el escritor debe evitar el bostezo, el espanto de sus lectores.
Por mi parte, debo confesar que me ataca un poco los nervios oír hablar de “innovaciones formales”
en la narración. Muy a menudo, la “experimentación” no es más que un pretexto para la falta de
imaginación, para la vacuidad absoluta. Muy a menudo no es más que una licencia que se toma el
autor para alienar -y maltratar, incluso- a sus lectores. Esa escritura, con harta frecuencia, nos despoja
de cualquier noticia acerca del mundo; se limita a describir una desierta tierra de nadie, en la que
pululan lagartos sobre algunas dunas, pero en la que no hay gente; una tierra sin habitar por algún ser
humano reconocible; un lugar que quizá sólo resulte interesante para un puñado de
especializadísimos científicos.
Tanto en la poesía como en la narración breve, es posible hablar de lugares comunes y de cosas
usadas comúnmente con un lenguaje claro, y dotar a esos objetos -una silla, la cortina de una ventana,
un tenedor, una piedra, un pendiente de mujer- con los atributos de lo inmenso, con un poder
renovado. Es posible escribir un diálogo aparentemente inocuo que, sin embargo, provoque un
escalofrío en la espina dorsal del lector, como bien lo demuestran las delicias debidas a Navokov. Esa
es de entre los escritores, la clase que más me interesa. Odio, por el contrario, la escritura sucia o
coyuntural que se disfraza con los hábitos de la experimentación o con la supuesta zafiedad que se
atribuye a un supuesto realismo. En el maravilloso cuento de Isaak Babel, Guy de Maupassant, el
narrador dice acerca de la escritura: Ningún hierro puede despedazar tan fuertemente el corazón
como un punto puesto en el lugar que le corresponde. Eso también merece figurar en una ficha de tres
por cinco.
— Escribir un cuento, Raymond Carver
En Oriente existe el concepto de que un libro no debe revelar las cosas; debe, simplemente,
ayudarnos a descubrirlas. Pensar en los libros sagrados (Zohar, Sefer Yetzirá) que son para ser
interpretados, son acicates para que el lector siga el pensamiento.
—Borges, El Libro.
137
Onetti
I.
No busquen ser originales. El ser distinto es inevitable cuando uno no se preocupa de serlo.
V.
No sacrifiquen la sinceridad literaria a nada. Ni a la política ni al triunfo. Escriban siempre para ese
otro, silencioso e implacable, que llevamos dentro y no es posible engañar.
IX.
No desdeñen temas con extraña narrativa, cualquiera sea su origen. Roben si es necesario.
X.
Mientan siempre.
—Onetti, Juan Carlos Onetti: El credo
Para mí siempre ha sido fundamental la lección del maestro Juan Carlos Onetti, un gran escritor
uruguayo muerto hace poco, que me guió los primeros pasos.
Siempre me decía: "Vos acordate aquello que decían los chinos (yo creo que los chinos no decían
eso, pero el viejo se lo había inventado para darle prestigio a lo que decía); las únicas palabras que
merecen existir son las palabras mejores que el silencio". Entonces cuando escribo me voy
preguntando: ¿estas palabras son mejores que el silencio?, ¿merecen existir realmente?
Hago una versión, dos o tres, quince, veinte versiones, cada vez más cortas, más apretadas: edición
corregida y disminuida.
Inflación palabraria El problema de la inflación monetaria en América Latina es muy grave, pero la
inflación palabraria es tan grave como la monetaria o peor; hay un exceso de circulante atroz.
— Eduardo Galeano
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Language.— We should not turn the mind from one thing to another, except for relaxation, and that
when it is necessary and the time suitable, and not otherwise. For he that relaxes out of season
wearies, and he who wearies us out of season makes us languid, since we turn quite away.
—
Pascal, 24
Style
imagery, delivery, vocabulary spring from the body and the past of the writer and gradually become
the very reflexes of his art. (...) It has its roots only in the depths of the author's personal and secret
mythology (...) and unfolds beyond his area of control. (...) Style is properly speaking a germinative
phenomenon, the transmutation of a Humor. (...) It plunges into the closed recollection of the person
and achieves its opacity from a certain experience of matter; style is never anything but metaphor,
that is, equivalence of the author's literary structure (it must be remembered that structure is the
residual deposit of a duration). So that style is always a secret; but the occult aspect of its
implications does not arise from the mobile and ever-provisional nature of language; its secret is
recollection locked whithin the body of the writer.
(Roland Barthes; What is writing?, Degree Zero)
Modes of writing:
A language and a style are blind forces; a mode of writing is an act of historical solidarity. A
language and a style are objects; a mode of writing is a function: it is the relationship between
creation and society, the literary language transformed by its soial finality, form considered as a
human intention and thus linked to the great crises of History. Mérimée and Fénelon, for instance, are
separated by linguistic phenomena and contingent features of style; yet they make use of a language
charged with the same intentionality, their ideas of form and content share a common framework,
they accept the same type of conventions, the same technical reflexes work through both of them. (...)
In contrast, writers who are almost contemporaries, Mérimée and Lautréamont, Mallarmé and Céline,
Guide and Queneau, Claudel and Camus, who have shared or who share our language at the same
stage of its historical development use utterly different modes of writing. Everything separates them:
tone, delivery, purpose, ethos, and naturalness of expression: the conclusion is that to live at the same
time and share the same language is a small matter compared with modes of writing so dissimilar and
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so sharply defined by their very dissimilarity. (...) namely the writer's consideration of the social use
which he has chosen for his form. (...) Writing is thus essentially the morality of form.
(Roland Barthes; What is writing?, Degree Zero)
Hébert, the revolutionary, never began a number of his news-sheet Le Pére Duchêne without
introducing a srinkling of obscenities. These impropieties had no real meaning, but they had
significance. In what way? In that they expressed a whole revolutionary situation. Now here is an
example of a mode of writing whose function is no longer only communication or expression, but the
imposition of something beyond language, which is both History and the stand we take in it.
(Roland Barthes; Introduction, Degree Zero)
The point I discovered is that the best technique is none at all.. I never feel that I must adhere to any
particular manner of approach. I try to remain open and flexible, ready to turn with the wind or with
the current of thought. That's my stance, my technique, if you will, to be flexible and alert, to use
whatever I think good at the moment.
—Henry Miller , PARIS REVIEW 2
One mark of an originality that can win canonical status for a literary work is a strangeness that we
either never altogether assimilate, or that so assimilates us that we cease to see it as strange. Dante is
the largest instance of the first possibility, and Shakespeare, the overwhelming example of the
second. (The Jewish Bible is another).
—Harold Bloom, Western Canon, Introduction
de THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order
—Jean Cocteau
Men shoul use common words to say uncommon things, but they do the opposite.
—Schopenhauer
Any fool can make a rule. And any fool will mind it.
—Thoreau
When a writer is young he feels somehow that what he is going to say is rather silly or obvious or
commonplace, and then he tries tohide it under baroque ornament, under words taken from the
seventeenth-century writers; or, if not, and he sets out to be modern, then he does the contrary: he's
140
inventing words all the time, or alluding to airplanes, railway trains, or the telegraph and telephone
because he's doing his best to be modern. (...) Perhaps in order to write a really good book, you must
be rather unaware of the fact. You can slave away at it and change every adjective to some other
adjective, but perhaps you can write better if you leave the mistakes. I remember what Bernard Shaw
said, that as to style, a writer has as much style as his conviction will give him and not more. Shaw
thought that the idea of a game of style was quite nonsensical, quite meaningless. (...) In this country
(Argentina), there is a tendency to regard any kind of writing—especially the writing of poetry—as a
game of style. (...) They take things for granted. They know that when they have to write, then, well,
they have to suddenly become rather sad or ironic.
—Borges
I suppose style is the mirror of an artist's sensibility...more so than the content of his work. (...) I don't
think style is consciously arrived at. Any more than one arrives at the color of one's eyes. After all,
your style is you.(...) Faulkner, McCullers—they project their personality at once.
—Truman Capote
It's like "Do you consciously dream"? (...) I think the writing itself grows you up, and you grow the
writing up, and finally you get an amalgam of everything you have pinched with a new kind of
personality which is your own, and then you are able to pay back these socking debts with a tiny bit
of interest—which is the only honorable thing for a writer to do—at leas a writer who is a thief like
me.
—Lawrence Durrell
That sort of myth of a perfect form, applicable to all, seems to me one of those things modern art has
sunk beyond resurrection.
—John Fowles
I might say that what amateurs call style is usually only the unavoidable awkwardness in first trying
to make something that has not heretofore been made. Almost no new classic resemble other
previous classics.
—Hemingway
I don't know about method. The 'what' is so much more important than the 'how'.
—Ezra Pound
Let's say that he (an apprentice) should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is
impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write
as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence
with.
—Hemingway
—de de THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
25. Eloquence.--It requires the pleasant and the real; but the pleasant must
itself be drawn from the true.
29. When we see a natural style, we are astonished and delighted; for we
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expected to see an author, and we find a man. Whereas those who have good
taste, and who, seeing a book, expect to find a man, are quite surprised to
find an author. Plus poetice quam humane locutus es.2 Those honour Nature
well who teach that she can speak on everything, even on theology.
50. The same meaning changes with the words which express it. Meanings
receive their dignity from words instead of giving it to them. Examples
should be sought....
—Pascal
El libro sagrado del que mejor se conocen las condiciones en que fue escrito es el Corán. Las
mediaciones entre la totalidad y el libro eran por lo menos dos: Mahoma escuchaba la palabra de Alá
y se la dictaba a su vez a sus escribanos. Una vez —cuentan los biógrafos del Profeta— al dictar al
escribano Abdulah, Mahoma dejó una frase a medias. El escribano, instintivamente, le sugirió la
conclusión. Distraído, el Profeta aceptó como palabra divina lo que había dicho Abdulah. Este hecho
escandalizó al escribano, que abandonó al Profeta y perdió la fe.
Se equivocaba. La organización de la frase, en definitiva, era una resposabilidad que a él atañía.
Era él quien tenía que arreglárselas con la coherencia interna de la lengua escrita, con la gramática y
la sintaxis, para acoger la fluidez de un pensamiento que se expande al margen de toda lengua antes
de hacerse palabra, y de una palabra particularmente fluida como la de un profeta. La colaboración de
un escribano resultaba necesaria para Alá, desde el momento en que había decidido expresarse en un
texto escrito. Mahoma lo sabía y dejaba al escribano el privilegio de concluir las frases; pero Abdulah
no tenía conciencia de los poderes de que estaba investido. Perdió la fe en Alá porque le faltaba la fe
en la ecritura, y en sí mismo como agente de la escritura.
Si a un infiel le estuviera permitido inventar variantes a las leyendas sobre el Profeta, propondría
ésta: Abdulah pierde la fe porque al escribir al dictado se le escapa un error y Mahoma, pese a
haberlo notado, decide no corregirlo, encontrando preferible la dicción errada. También en este caso
Abdulah se equivocaría al escandalizarse. Es en la página, y no antes, cuando la palabra, incluso la
del rapto profético, se convierte en definitiva, esto es, en escritura. Sólo a través de la limitación de
nuestro acto de escribir la inmensidad de lo no-escrito se vuelve legible, esto es a través de las
incertidumbres de la ortografía, las equivocaciones, los lapsus, los saltos incontrolados de la palabra
y de la pluma. Si no, que lo que está fuera de nosotros no pretenda comunicar mediante la palabra,
hablada o escrita: que mande por otras vías sus mensajes.
—Italo Calvino, Si una noche de invierno un viajero...
There may be indefinite ranges of symbolic references behind the simplest Japanese poem [...]
but the symbolic range has a kind of essential necessity. If one did not know the mythology he could,
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from participation in the poem,invent an equivalent one. This is an objective-subjective, fact-andsymbol relationship which is perhaps the defining characteristic of all great poetry.[...]
It is the lack of this quality of direct communication of fundamentals which makes so much
haiku seem decadent. The evocations are there, but they are superficial and sentimental. A great
haiku by one of the early masters is simple, direct, and lends itself to infinite development. In Basho's
"Autumn evening / a crow on a bare branch" or Boncho's "The long, long river / a single line on the
snowy plain," the symbolic range is unlimited, in contrast to Kikaku's "A blind child / guided by his
mother / admires the cherry blossoms," which might and in fact often does decorate calendars.
[...] Confucianism shows its influence in Japanese poetry in the universally held belief that style
is of the essence of meaning and being—it is a style of handling all experiences which Japanese
poetry at its best has given the Western poet [...]
—Kenneth Rexroth, Classics Revisited, Japanese Poetry
musil diarios 122.123
[Musil] sees in terms of facts—only by giving shape to these does the measure of "lyricism"
emerge in the work that is part of the things themselves... (Kerr)
5 september 1910.
In "Claudine," the narrative must not read as follows: "Somewhere a clock began to speak to
itself about the time, footsteps passed by," etc. That is lyricism. It must be put as follows: "A clock
struck. Claudine felt that somewhere there was beginning... Footsteps passed by...," etc. In the first
case, through the deliberate choice of metaphor itself, the author is saying: "How beautiful." He is
emphasizing that this is supposed to be beautiful, etc. Maxim: the author should always shift
resposibility to them. That is not only more sensible, it is, remarkably, also the way that the epic
mode emerges.
9 september 1910.
One must simply invent stories and narrate things that can be expressed in facts—today this,
tomorrow that—give oneself time to do so.Just like writing a novelette. Then work in the other. But
one must persuade oneself, after all, that every scene would fascinate even a dull-witted reader, and
not rely on the effect of the subtler things.
—Robert Musil, Diaries
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WORKING AND REWORKING
All writing lives off a two-stroke heartbeat of release followed by taking control. Don't be impacient.
Rewrite as much as necessary. Make two or three drafts.
Three drafts: first comes conception, you learn what the story is about. Second develops, focus,
subtilizes. Third is polishing.
Raymond Carver said his real work on a short story began after three or four drafts. He wrote the first
draft very fast, skipping over difficulties, simply to get to the end. Maupassant's advise for a first
draft was to get "black on white." You can write any kind of rubbish which will cover the main
outlines of the story, and then begin to see it...
On the other hand Flaubert wrote slowly but steady, revising every sentence as he wrote. And there it
is: Madame Bovary.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
144
When a story starts multiplying and spreading in all directions, one natural response might be to try
regaining control by cramming the twisting, turbulent mess into some orderly preordained "plot".
This is a mistake. It seeks to limit the story, not organize it. Remember: What organizes fiction is
conflict—and only characters experience conflicts. So when your story becomes desorganized, don't
focus on plot but on your characters. get back to the dominating human conflict in your situation and
find what is motivating the people who are making it happen. Above all, find the conflict and the
motivation of the main mystery figure in your dramatis personae: your protagonist.
The protagonist is not the character to which most pages are devoted but the one whose fate matters
most in the story. Chekhov warned against the proliferation of characters: "Don't have too many
characters. The center of gravity should be two: he and she." Every other role is found in relation to
that role.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
REVISION
Murder your darlings
—G.K.Chesterton
Everything unnecessary is wrong. The only thing necessary is what is unique, unshakable.
Bergman, Images, 99
—
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We must not limit affinity to a purely analogical relation, and it would be wrong to suppose that
writers permute only synonymous terms: a classical writer like Bossuet can substitute 'laugh' for
'weep': the antonymous relation constitutes part of the affinity.
(Roland Barthes; Flaubert and the sentence)
Break down all (your) writing and get rid of all facility and try to make instead of describe.
—Hemingway, A moveable feast
Ezra was the man who had tought me to distrust adjectives as I would later learn to distrust certain
people in certain situations...
—Hemingway, A moveable feast
The hardest thing in the world is simplicity. And the most fearful thing, too. You have to strip
yourself of all your disguises, some of which you didn't know you had. You want to write a sentence
as clean as a bone. That is the goal.
—James Baldwin, THE
WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
Tolstoy went through and rewrote War and peace eight times and was still making corrections in the
galleys. things like that should hearten every writer whose first drafts are dreadful, like mine are.
—Raymond Carver THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
Even those pages you remove somehow remain. There is a difference between a book of two hundred
pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original
eight hundred pages. The six hundred pages are there. Only you don't see them.
—Elie Wiesel
THE WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
Try making a scenario now. (note: after, and not before the first draft is written—see Flauberts
scenarios for Madame Bovary, printed in Steegmuller's "Flaubert and Madame Bovary).
Do not start rewriting by page one, polishing every line. That's a classic trap. Do not polish a mess.
Polishing can't give your story its shape. Polishing can't show you what action you need or reveal
your character's roles. Polishing can't even give you the sound of your dialogue or your voice. In a
second draft, you are going to be hauling huge hunks of prose to completely new places, cutting
whole chapters, banishing irrelevant characters, and adding new relevant ones. You are going to be
dealing with structure.
1.Revise for structure first.
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Solve the problem of sequence. Structure determines not only the shape of the story but its sections,
every paragraph, the turns and cadences of sentences. There is an implicit sequence in everything you
do (blocks of information, events, sentences). You must find that sequence.
2.Develop the underdeveloped.
Cutting out the bad parts is not enough. Act on every insight. Get them down. Fill paragraphs and
pages with them. Make things more coherent, more powerful, more vivid. Expand.
3.Revise for plot.
Plot comes after the story. Give full attention to its concreteness, find and get down the exact ways
the events in your story happen, and how those changes drive the story foward.
4.Revise for clarity.
Watch for unreadability. Clarity is a measure of the coherence of your work.
5.The ten percet solution.
Make it as good as you can. Then cut ten percent. (I would make it shorte if I had the time—Pascal).
Cut bravely. Cut phoniness. Literary pretension is the curse of the postmodern age. Formula: 2nd draft
= 1st draft - 10%.
6.Revise out loud.
The ear is a wonderful editor. You will hear what's right and wrong on your page before you see it.
7.Rewrite from memory.
If you are struggling too much with a passage it's best simply to return to your original inspiration
and write the whole thing again, from scratch, from memory.
8.Trust what you have.
Trust your own excitement and make it pay off. Never condemn your own prose. Redeem it. If you
do, the original excitement will come back.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
La honestidad de una obra es comprobable. Habría que hacer una lista que incluiría el trabajo que se
tomó el escritor en evitar clichés, su originalidad o no, etc.
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El buen escritor es original 'by default'—es único.
El mal escritor pertenece a una especie.
The result of a mathematical development should be continuously checked against one's own
intuition about what constitutes reasonable biological behaviour. When such a check reveals
disagreemente, then the following possibilities must be considered:
a) A mistake has been made in the formal mathematical development;
b) The starting assumptions are incorrect and/or constitute a too drastic oversimplification;
c) One's own intuition about the biological field is inadequately developed;
d) A penetrating new principle has been discovered.
—Harvey Gold, Mathematical Modeling of Biological Systems
FINISHING
What is this story about? What is it saying? What does it imply??
Something did stir, something did make itself felt in the first draft. Your job in the second draft is to
make that something even more clear Tight your grip on meaning.
In narrative, meanings are always subordinated to the story. They emerge from it. You are not trying
to turn your story into an argument illustrated by an anecdote.
You will never understand everything about your own story. Meaning is not a thing. Meaning exists
only as an exchange, a transaction.
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The dominant meaning of any strong piece of writing is to be both clear and too multiple and various
to be entirely captured in a ny single statement.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
The last thing one settles in writing a book is what one should put in first.
—Pascal, 19
Words differently arranged have different meaning, and meanings differently arranged have
diffenrent effects.
—Pascal, 23
Starting with Aristotle, mentor after mentor makes the same point: you cannot really know what you
are saying until you reach the end. You must come to a conclusion. If there is no ending, there is no
story.
Examine your characters. Every character must have a role and a personality. No more stick figures.
The action must come in the right place and be believable. The dialogue has to be right.
Polishing. Every clumsy, inexact phrase, every cliché, every dead words must be cut away and
disposed of now.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
Una buena fórmula para comprobar la calidad de una novela es, en el fondo, una combinación de
precisión poética y de intuición científica.
—Nabokov, Curso de Literatura Europea
Something is well-written if, after some time, it appears to one as the work of a stranger — one
would be incapable of writing it that way a second time.
—Robert Musil, Diaries, prologue 21
Not to think about publication but about his work. Not to be in a hurry to rush into print, and not to
forget the reader,and also—if he attempts fiction—to try and describe nothing that he can't honestly
imagine. Not to write about events merely because they seem to him surprising, but about those
which give his imagination creative scope. As for style, I should advise poverty of vocabulary rather
than too much richness. If there's one moral defect that's usually obvious in a work, it is vanity. (...) A
writer ought to be skillful, but in an unobtrusive way. When things are extremely well done they
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seem inevitable as well as easy. If you are aware of a sense of effort, it means failure on the writer's
part. Nor do I want to imply that a writer must be spontaneous, because that would mean that he hit
on the roght word straightaway, which is very unlikely. When a piece of work is finished it ought to
be spontaneous, even though it may really be full of secret artifices and modest (not conceited)
ingenuity.
(Borges: Conversations, pg. 70)
Scott took literature so solemnly. He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and
finishing what you start.
—Hemingway, Letter to A.Mizener
TITLES & NAMES
Take names from the telephone directory.
Make a list of possible titles.
The key to the “Ulysses’ is in the title, etc.
COMIENZOS
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If you begin, you must keep on beginning; that's the truth. No rest for the wicked.
—R.L.Stevenson, The body snatcher
En la pared de enfrente de mi mesa he colgado un póster que me han regalado. Está el perrito
Snoopy ante la máquina de escribir y en la nubecita se lee la frase: "Era una noche fría y
tormentosa..." Y la impersonalidad de ese incipit parece abrir el paso de un mundo a otro, del tiempo
y el espacio de aquí y ahora al tiempo y el espacio de la página escrita; siento la exaltación de un
comienzo al que podrán seguir desarrollos múltiples, inagotables; me convenzo de que no hay nada
mejor que un inicio convencional, que un principio del que se pueda esperar todo y nada; y me doy
también cuenta de que ese perro mitómano nunca logrará añadir a las seis primeras palabras otras seis
u otras doce sin romper el encanto. La facilidad de la entrada en otro mundo es una ilusión...
—Italo Calvino, Si una noche de invierno un viajero...
el contenido de la primera página. Siempre dije: una novela debe comenzar en la página 1. Es
igualmente sorprendente la cantidad de autores que se sienten en la obligación de explicar la novela
antes de entrar de lleno en ella. Y aunque en una novela como José y sus hermanos Thomas Mann
inflija al lector unas cien páginas de filosofía antes de poner en marcha la acción, no perdamos la
perspectiva y el sentido de la medida: Thomas Mann, como Lev Tolstói, era capaz de transformar
cien páginas de filosofía en novela mediante el arte consumado de su prosa. Otros autores no lo son.
— El oficio de editar , Mario Muchnik
En el primer momento el comienzo de todo cuento es ridículo. Parece imposible que ese nuevo, e
inútilmente sensible cuerpo, como mutilado y sin forma, pueda mantenerse vivo. Cada vez que
comienza, uno olvida que el cuento, si su existencia está justificada, lleva en sí ya su forma perfecta y
que sólo hay que esperar a que se vislumbre alguna vez en ese comienzo indeciso, su invisible pero
tal vez inevitable final.
— Kafka Diario, 19/12/1914
None of them knew the color of the sky.
—Crane, The Open Boat
All the sisters lay dreaming of horses.
—National Velvet
There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She
married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been
thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault
with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. yet what it was that she must
cover up she never knew.
—D.H.Lawrence, The Rocking-Horse Winner
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Other formal characteristics include terse and abrupt introductions which contrast with the slow and
detailed introductions of Turgenev's works. Indeed, Chekhov's advice to young writers was to "fold
the story over and tear up the beginning."
Ex.: Galkin, the geography teacher, does not like me and I shall fail his part of the examination
today—Examination for Advancement.
Ex.: A provincial hospital. Because the doctor has left to get married, the medical assistant, Kuryatin,
is receiving patients. He is corpulent, about forty years old, wears a worn silk jacket and frayed
knitted trousers. His face expresses a feeling of duty and agreeableness. Between the middle and
index finger of his left hand he holds a cigar from which issues an evil smell.—Surgery
Lenghty digressions are replaced by a few significant details of external characteristics
(impressionistic style): "In describing nature one must strenghten small details, grouping them in
such a way that, after reading a passage, it is easy to se the picture with closed eyes." (Letter to his
brother).
—pg.11 Winner - Chekhov and his Prose
*Como bien se dió cuenta Calvino (Si una noche...)no hay nada más interesante que un principio.
Muchos libros y películas (casi todos) tienen principios atractivos y finales estúpidos o aburridos. LA
solución generalmente no está a la altura del planteo. En los principios hay suspenso, tensión por lo
que va a pasar, lo inesperado, un leve terror, un salto al vacío, una incógnita como cada día de nuestra
vida. Por eso el secreto está en mantener esa estructura de principio a lo largo de toda la obra.
Concluir, pero no cerrar, no explicar.
FINALES
Los finales son formas de hallarle sentido a la experiencia.
El arte de narrar se funda en la lectura equivocada de los signos.
Como las artes adivinatorias, la narración descubre un mundo olvidado en unas huellas, que encierran
el secreto del porvenir.
EL arte de narrar es el arte de la percepción errada y de la distorsión. El relato avanza siguiendo un
plan férreo e incomrensible y recién al final surge en el horizonte la visión de una realidad
desconocida: el final hace ver un sentido secreto que estaba cifrado y como ausente de la sucesión
clara de los hechos.
Concluir un relato es descubrir el punto de cruce que permite entrar en la otra trama.
—Ricardo Piglia, Nuevas Tesis sobre el cuento
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Curtain lines tend to be produced under the pressure of the preceding two or three acts and usually
they seem so dead right, to me anyway, that it really is as if they were in the DNA, unique and
inevitable. Some of my favorite curtain lines are "The son of a bith stole my watch" (from The Front
Page) and "You that way; we this way" (from Love's Labour's Lost).
—Tom Stoppard
I think it is immoral (in the true sense of the word) to tell a story that has a conclusion. because you
cut out your audience the moment you present a solution on the screen. Because there are no
"solutions" in their lives. I think it is more moral—and more important—to show, let's say, the story
of one man. Then everyone, with his own sensibility and on the basis of his own inner development,
can try to find his own solution.
—Fellini, A Montage of
Theories
He renunciado a las sorpresas de un estilo barroco; también a las que quiere deparar un final
mprevisto. He preferido, en suma, la preparación de una expectativa a la de un asombro.
—Borges, Prólogo a El informe de Brodie.
Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true story-teller who would
keep that from you.
—Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
Traditional forms, typcal of Turgenev's prose, such as lenghty introductions or elaborate prologues,
digressions elucidating the hero's past, apostrophes to the reader, conventional denuements, and
epilogues have little importance even in Chekhov's earliest works. Increasingly, he replaced them by
terse introductions, impressionistic characterizations, internal rather than external action, and
unexpected conclusions.
What hes been called "zero ending" (Shkolvsky), is a Chekhovian innovation. In the first, more
traditional method, the line of thes story anticipates a predictable denouement; but instead the story
turns in an unexpected direction, leading to a surprise ending. In the second form however, the
conflict leads to expectations of a dramatic conclusion, while in fact the story ends in a seemingly
unmotivated relaxation of tensions, and without an actual climax. Both the surprise and the zero
endings have in common the tension between the expected and the actual resolution which creates the
aesthetic effect. The zero ending no longer relies so directly on outer action.
—pg.5
— Winner - Chekhov and his Prose
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¿Usted cree que toda historia debe tener un principio y un final? Antiguamente un relato sólo tenía
dos maneras de acabar: pasadas todas las pruebas, el héroe y la heroína se casaban o bien morían. El
sentido último al que remiten todos los relatos tiene dos caras: la continuidad de la vida, la
inevitabilidad de la muerte.
—Italo Calvino, Si una noche de invierno un viajero...
Del testamento de Alonso Quijano:
»Ítem, suplico a los dichos señores mis albaceas que si la buena suerte les trujere a conocer al autor
que dicen que compuso una historia que anda por ahí con el título de Segunda parte de las hazañas de
don Quijote de la Mancha, de mi parte le pidan, cuan encarecidamente ser pueda, perdone la ocasión
que sin yo pensarlo le di de haber escrito tantos y tan grandes disparates como en ella escribe, porque
parto desta vida con escrúpulo de haberle dado motivo para escribirlos.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.74
INFLUENCIA
Escribimos a la luz de un libro ajeno, como a la luz de una lámpara.
Sobre Ficciones:
Oh, I think it's made of half-forgotten memories. I wonder if there is a single original line in the
book. I suppose a source can be found for every line I've written, or perhaps that's what we call
inventing—mixing memories. I don't think we're capable of creation in the way that God created he
world.
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(Borges: Conversations, pg. 91)
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
--Albert Einstein
Puedo suscribir plenamente lo que uno de los críticos que más admiro, Michael Wood, afirma en su
reciente libro Children of Silence (1998) sobre esa especial temporalidad: nuestros contemporáneos
no son simplemente los escritores de nuestra época, muchos de los cuales ya nunca podremos leer;
contemporáneos son los textos que leímos e hicimos nuestros en un momento dado, los que han
dejado una marca en nosotros.
—Reportaje a Piglia
No hay historia de la lengua literaria en la Argentina, de sus niveles y de sus transformaciones, sin
una historia de la traducción. La práctica casi invisible, casi anónima de los traductores registra y
cristaliza las normas del estilo literario. Todo traductor acata esas normas implícitas y al traducir
reproduce los registros posibles del estilo literario dominantes en una época. La historia de la
traducción como estilo social (si esa historia fuera posible) se superpondría con la historia de las
concepciones y los valores que definen los usos literarios del lenguaje. A la vez el traductor se instala
en los bordes del lenguaje y parece siempre a punto de escribir en una tercera lengua, en una lengua
inventada, artificial. En ese sentido la traducción es uno de los medios fundamentales de
enriquecimiento y de transformación de la lengua literaria. No se trata únicamente del efecto de las
grandes traducciones (digamos, el Faulkner de Borges; el Kafka de Wilcock; el Nabokov de Pezzoni;
el Mailer de Canto; el Beckett de Bianco; el Sartre de Aurora Bernárdez, el Chandler de Walsh, para
nombrar algunas) y de su influencia en el horizonte de los estilos; es preciso tener en cuenta también
la marca de las "malas" traducciones: con su aire enrarecido y fraudulento son un archivo de efectos
estilísticos. El español sueña allí con todo lo que no es y actúa como una lengua extranjera.
—Piglia, Páginas de un diario
It is under the pressure of History and Tradition that the possible modes of writing for a given writer
are stablished (...) Writing still remains full of the recollection os previous usage, for language is
never innocent: words have a second-order memory which mysteriously persists in the midst of new
meanings. (...) History is always and above all a choice and the limits of this choice.
(Roland Barthes; What is writing?, Degree Zero)
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Otra cosa a aprender de Bergman—Dejar que las influencias de otros escritores, directores, hagan su
trabajo. No intentar hacer todo, todos los estilos, junto. (Nota a "Images"
The burden of influence has to be borne, if significant originality is to be achieved (...) Poems,
stories, novels, plays come into being as a response to prior poems, stories, novels and plays. (...)
Any strong literary work creatively misreads and therefore misinterprets a precursor text or texts.. An
authentic canonical writer may or may not internalize her or his work's anxiety, but that scarcely
matters: the strongly achieved work is the anxiety.(...) Literature is not merely language; it is also the
will to figuration, the motive for metaphor that Nietzche once defined as the desire to be different, the
desire to be elsewhere.
—Harold Bloom, Western Canon, Introduction
Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who read
too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
--Albert Einstein
The only possible error is imitation; it infringes the law of time, which is the Law.
Metzinger, Theories of Modern Art, 209
—
Jean
La función de la escritura es "reconectar" lo que fue escrito antes, preservarlo y traducirlo a lo que
uno es. La vida de uno son las cosas que le pasan. Lo mismo con lo que leemos. Los autores que nos
atraen (las cosas que nos impactan y recordamos y olvidamos de ellos) son una combinación única
que tenemos que retraducir en nuestra escritura. Después echarla de vuelta al mundo.
Todo libro es una antología.
Se cuenta que Tan-Hsia, monje vagabundo del siglo XIII, llegó a un templo abandonado una
noche muy fría. Soplaba el viento y caía la nieve. Tan-Hsia decidió que el mejor servicio que podía
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prestar el Buda era darle calor, y quemó un Buda de madera que había en el templo.
—Anne Bancroft, Zen.
Sólo las cosas sagradas merecen ser tocadas.
—O.Wilde, Retrato de Dorian Gray
El destino de los libros sagrados es alejarse, en mayor o menor grado, de lo que fue la intención
de sus autores. Lo que podríamos llamar su vida después de la muerte —es decir, los aspectos
descubiertos por las nuevas generaciones — con frecuencia se vuelve más importante que su sentido
original. Pero, a fin de cuentas ¿quién sabe cuál fue su sentido original?
–Gersho Scholem, Misticismo Judío, 1.4
La tradición es algo que está siendo creado continuamente desde la base y recreado por la libre
actividad de sus seguidores. Lo que está construido para durar para siempre, está siempre en
construcción. Si una tradición no se enriquece, sólo siginifica que sus seguidores han muerto
espiritualmente.
—Radhakrishnan; La concepción Hindú de la vida, 1
No sigas las huellas de los maestros. Busca lo que ellos buscaron. —Basho
"Si un incendio estuviera destruyendo tu casa ¿qué te apresurarías a poner a salvo?". Jean Cocteau
contestó: "El fuego".
—Italo Calvino, Las llamas en llamas
DIGRESIONS
On Digressions:
Digressions play three roles;
The first role consists of permiting the introduction of new material into the novel. So, for example,
the speeches of Don Quixote permit Cervantes to introduce into the novel a variety of philosophical
and critical material.
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Of far greater importance is the second role played by digressions, that is, of braking the action, of
holding it back. Sterne is the extreme example of this. Toying with the reader's impatience, the author
repeatedly reminds him of the deserted hero. Nonetheless, he does not return to him after the
digression, and reminding the reader serves only to renew the reader's expectation.
In a novel involving parallel intrigues, as in Les Miserables or in Dostoievsky, the interruption of one
action by another is utilized as material for digression.
Thirdly, digressions also serve the function of creating contrast. In gathering his book, Heine selected
his chapters with great care, changing their order when necessary, in order to create just such a
contrast.—193
— SHKLOVSKY, THEORY OF PROSE
La muerte está escondida en los relojes, como de cía Belli, y la infelicidad de la vida individual,
de ese fragmento, de esa cosa escindida y disgregada y desprovista de totalidad: la muerte, que es el
tiempo de la individuación, de la separación del abstracto tiempo que rueda hacia su fin. Tristam
Shandy no quiere nacer porque no quiere morir. Todos los medios, todas las armas son buenas para
salvarse de la muerte y del tiempo. Si la línea recta es la más breve entre dos puntos fatales e
inevitables, las disgresiones la alargarán; y si esas disgreciones se vuelven tan complejas, enredadas,
tortuosas, tan rápidas que hacen perder las propias huellas, tal vez la muerte no nos encuentre, el
tiempo se extravíe y podamos permanecer ocultos en los mudables escondrijos.
—Carlo Levi, Prólogo al Tristam Shandy
Cuando se estaba vistiendo le dije —nunca supe por qué— desde la cama:
—¿Nunca te da por pensar cosas, antes de dormirte o en cualquier sitio, cosas raras que te gustaría
que te pasaran...?
Tengo, vagamente, la sensación de que, al decir aquello, le pagaba en cierta manera. Pero no estoy
seguro. Ella dijo alguna estupidez, bostezando, otra vez frente al espejo. Por un rato estuve callado
mirando al techo, oyendo el rumor de la lluvia en el balcón. Llegaba el ruido de carros pesados y de
gallos. Empecé a hablar, sin moverme, boca arriba, cerrando los ojos.
—Hace un rato estaba pensando que era en Holanda, todo alrededor, no aquí. Yo le digo Nederland
por una cosa. Después te cuento. El balcón da a un río por donde pasan unos barcos como chalanas,
cargados de madera, y todos llevan una capota de lona impermeable donde cae la lluvia. El agua es
negra y las gabarras van bajando despacio sin hacer ruido, mientras los hombres empujan con los
bicheros en el muelle. Aquí en el cuarto yo esperaba una noticia o una visita y yo me había venido
desde allá para encontrarme con esa persona esta noche. Porque hace muchos años nos
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comprometimos para vernos esta noche en este hotel. Hay otras cosas, además. Una chalana está
cargada de fusiles y quiero pasarlos de contrabando. Si todo va bien, yo dejo una luz azul como esta
en los balcones y los de la chalana pasan abajo cantando en alemán, algo que dice "hoy mi corazón se
hunde y nunca más...” Todo va bien, pero yo no soy feliz. Me doy cuenta de golpe, ¿entendés?, que
estoy en un país que no conozco, donde siempre está lloviendo y no puedo hablar con nadie. De
repente me puedo morir aquí en la pieza dei hotel...
—¿Pero por qué no reventás?
Había dejado de arreglarse el peinado y me miraba apoyada en el tocador con aire extraño.
—¿Se puede saber qué tomaste?
—Bueno. Pero decime si vos pensás así. Cualquier cosa rara.
—Siempre pensé que eras un caso... ¿Y no pensás a veces que vienen mujeres desnudas, eh? ¡Con
razón no querías pagarme! ¿Así que vos...? ¡Qué punta de asquerosos!
Salió antes que yo y nunca volvimos a vernos. Era una pobre mujer y fue una imbecilidad hablarle de
esto. A veces pienso en ella y hay una aventura en que Ester viene a visitarme o nos encontramos por
casualidad, tomamos y hablamos como buenos amigos. Ella me cuenta entonces lo que sueña o
imagina y son siempre cosas de una extraordinaria pureza, sencillas como una historieta para niños.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, El Pozo, 44
Y, llegándose a él, puso la una mano en el arzón delantero y la otra en el otro, de modo que quedó
abrazado con el muslo izquierdo de su amo, sin osarse apartar dél un dedo: tal era el miedo que tenía
a los golpes, que todavía alternativamente sonaban. Díjole don Quijote que contase algún cuento para
entretenerle, como se lo había prometido, a lo que Sancho dijo que sí hiciera si le dejara el temor de
lo que oía.
-Pero, con todo eso, yo me esforzaré a decir una historia que, si la acierto a contar y no me van a la
mano, es la mejor de las historias; y estéme vuestra merced atento, que ya comienzo. «Érase que se
era, el bien que viniere para todos sea, y el mal, para quien lo fuere a buscar...» Y advierta vuestra
merced, señor mío, que el principio que los antiguos dieron a sus consejas no fue así comoquiera, que
fue una sentencia de Catón Zonzorino, romano, que dice: “Y el mal, para quien le fuere a buscar”,
que viene aquí como anillo al dedo, para que vuestra merced se esté quedo y no vaya a buscar el mal
a ninguna parte, sino que nos volvamos por otro camino, pues nadie nos fuerza a que sigamos éste,
donde tantos miedos nos sobresaltan.
-Sigue tu cuento, Sancho -dijo don Quijote-, y del camino que hemos de seguir déjame a mí el
cuidado.
-«Digo, pues -prosiguió Sancho-, que en un lugar de Estremadura había un pastor cabrerizo (quiero
decir que guardaba cabras), el cual pastor o cabrerizo, como digo, de mi cuento, se llamaba Lope
Ruiz; y este Lope Ruiz andaba enamorado de una pastora que se llamaba Torralba, la cual pastora
llamada Torralba era hija de un ganadero rico, y este ganadero rico...»
-Si desa manera cuentas tu cuento, Sancho -dijo don Quijote-, repitiendo dos veces lo que vas
diciendo, no acabarás en dos días; dilo seguidamente y cuéntalo como hombre de entendimiento, y si
no, no digas nada.
-De la misma manera que yo lo cuento -respondió Sancho-, se cuentan en mi tierra todas las consejas,
y yo no sé contarlo de otra, ni es bien que vuestra merced me pida que haga usos nuevos.
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-Di como quisieres -respondió don Quijote-; que, pues la suerte quiere que no pueda dejar de
escucharte, prosigue.
-«Así que, señor mío de mi ánima -prosiguió Sancho-, que, como ya tengo dicho, este pastor andaba
enamorado de Torralba, la pastora, que era una moza rolliza, zahareña y tiraba algo a hombruna,
porque tenía unos pocos de bigotes, que parece que ahora la veo.»
-Luego, ¿conocístela tú? -dijo don Quijote.
-No la conocí yo -respondió Sancho-, pero quien me contó este cuento me dijo que era tan cierto y
verdadero que podía bien, cuando lo contase a otro, afirmar y jurar que lo había visto todo. «Así que,
yendo días y viniendo días, el diablo, que no duerme y que todo lo añasca, hizo de manera que el
amor que el pastor tenía a la pastora se volviese en omecillo y mala volun-tad; y la causa fue, según
malas lenguas, una cierta cantidad de celillos que ella le dio, tales que pasaban de la raya y llegaban a
lo vedado; y fue tanto lo que el pastor la aborreció de allí adelante que, por no verla, se quiso ausentar de aquella tierra e irse donde sus ojos no la viesen jamás. La Tor-ralba, que se vio desdeñada
del Lope, luego le quiso bien, mas que nunca le había querido.»
-Ésa es natural condición de mujeres -dijo don Quijote-: desdeñar a quien las quiere y amar a quien
las aborrece. Pasa adelante, Sancho.
-«Sucedió -dijo Sancho- que el pastor puso por obra su determinación, y, antecogiendo sus cabras, se
encaminó por los campos de Estremadura, para pasarse a los reinos de Portugal. La Torralba, que lo
supo, se fue tras él, y seguíale a pie y descalza desde lejos, con un bordón en la mano y con unas
alforjas al cuello, donde llevaba, según es fama, un pedazo de espejo y otro de un peine, y no sé qué
botecillo de mudas para la cara; mas, llevase lo que llevase, que yo no me quiero meter ahora en
averiguallo, sólo diré que dicen que el pastor llegó con su ganado a pasar el río Guadiana, y en
aquella sazón iba crecido y casi fuera de madre, y por la parte que llegó no había barca ni barco, ni
quien le pasase a él ni a su ganado de la otra parte, de lo que se congojó mucho, porque veía que la
Torralba venía ya muy cerca y le había de dar mucha pesadumbre con sus ruegos y lágrimas; mas,
tanto anduvo mirando, que vio un pescador que tenía junto a sí un barco, tan pequeño que solamente
podían caber en él una persona y una cabra; y, con todo esto, le habló y concertó con él que le pasase
a él y a trecientas cabras que llevaba. Entró el pescador en el barco, y pasó una cabra; volvió, y pasó
otra; tornó a volver, y tornó a pasar otra.» Tenga vuestra merced cuenta en las cabras que el pescador
va pasando, porque si se pierde una de la memoria, se acabará el cuento y no será posible contar más
palabra dél.
«Sigo, pues, y digo que el desembarcadero de la otra parte estaba lleno de cieno y resbaloso, y
tardaba el pescador mucho tiempo en ir y volver. Con todo esto, volvió por otra cabra, y otra, y
otra...»
-Haz cuenta que las pasó todas -dijo don Quijote-: no andes yendo y viniendo desa manera, que no
acabarás de pasarlas en un año.
-¿Cuántas han pasado hasta agora? -dijo Sancho.
-¡Yo qué diablos sé! -respondió don Quijote-.
-He ahí lo que yo dije: que tuviese buena cuenta. Pues, por Dios, que se ha acabado el cuento, que no
hay pasar adelante.
-¿Cómo puede ser eso? -respondió don Quijote-. ¿Tan de esencia de la historia es saber las cabras
que han pasado, por estenso, que si se yerra una del número no puedes seguir adelante con la
historia?
-No señor, en ninguna manera -respondió Sancho-; porque, así como yo pregunté a vuestra merced
que me dijese cuántas cabras habían pasado y me respondió que no sabía, en aquel mesmo instante se
me fue a mí de la memoria cuanto me quedaba por decir, y a fe que era de mucha virtud y contento.
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-¿De modo -dijo don Quijote- que ya la historia es acabada?
-Tan acabada es como mi madre -dijo Sancho.
-Dígote de verdad -respondió don Quijote- que tú has contado una de las más nuevas consejas, cuento
o historia, que nadie pudo pensar en el mundo; y que tal modo de contarla ni dejarla, jamás se podrá
ver ni habrá visto en toda la vida, aunque no esperaba yo otra cosa de tu buen discurso; mas no me
maravillo, pues quizá estos golpes, que no cesan, te deben de tener turbado el entendimiento.
-Todo puede ser -respondió Sancho-, mas yo sé que en lo de mi cuento no hay más que decir: que allí
se acaba do comienza el yerro de la cuenta del pasaje de las cabras.
-Acabe norabuena donde quisiere -dijo don Quijote-, y veamos si se puede mover Rocinante.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, primera parte
SYMBOLS
What does being a writer mean to me? It means simply being true to my imagination. When I write
something, I think of it not as being factually true (mere fact is a web of circumstances and
accidents), but as being true to something deeper. When I write a story, I write it because somehow I
believe in it—not as one believes in mere history, but rather as one believes in a dream or in an idea.
(...) somehow I have felt that those circumstances should always be told with a certain amount
of untruth. there is no satisfaction in telling a story as it actually happened. We have to change things,
even if we think of ourselves not as artists but perhaps as mere journalists or historians. Though I
suppose all true historians have known that they can be quite as imaginative as novelists.
(...) When I was young, I believed in expression (...) I wanted to express everything. i thought,
for example, that if I needed a sunset I should find the exact word for a sunset—or rather, the most
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surprising metaphor. Now I have come to the conclusion (and this conclusion may sound sad) that I
no longer believe in expression: I believe only in allusion. After all, what are words? Words are
symbols for shared memories. If I use a word, then you should have some experience of what the
word stands for. If not, the word means nothing to you. I think we can only allude, we can only try to
make the reader imagine. The reader, if he is quick enough, can be satisfied with our merely hinting
at
something.
(...) When I am writing something, I try not to understand it. I do not think intelligence has much to
do with the work of a writer. I think that one of the sins of modern literature is that it is too selfconscious. (...) A French writer begins by defining himself before he quite knows what he is going to
write. He says: What should (for example) a Catholic born in such-and-such province, and being a bit
of a socialist, write? Or: How should we write after the Second World War? I suppose there are many
people all over the world who labor under those illusory problems.
(Borges, This craft of verse, VI)
I think plots are important; besides plots are also symbols; the plot is a way of conveying something.
(...)
Now, you don't need metaphors because the real metaphors, the essential affinity, is between things
that have already been discovered
(Borges: Conversations, pg. 156/7)
Literature is only a means, devoid of cause and purpose. (...) The being of literature is nothing but its
technique. (...) The work is never an answer to the world's mystery; literature is never dogmatic. By
'imitating' the world and its legends, the writer can show only the sign without the signified: the
world is a place endlessly open to signification but endlessly dissatisfied by it. (...)
It is because signs are uncertain that there is literature. Kafka's technique says that the world's
meaning is unutterable, that the artist's only task is to explore possible significations, each of which
taken by itself will be only a (necessary) lie but whose multiplicity will be the writer's truth itself.
That is Kafka's paradox: art depends on truth, but truth, being indivisible, cannot know itself: to tell
the truth is to lie. Thus the writer is the truth, and yet when he speaks, he lies: a work's authority is
never situated at the level of its esthetic, but only at the level of the moral experience which makes it
an assumed lie; or rather, as Kafka says correcting Kierkagaard: we arrive at the esthetic enjoyment
of being only through a moral experience without pride.
It is because the world is not finished that literature is possible.
(Barthes; Kafka's answer)
SYMBOLISM
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There are natural symbols like the sea and the sky (Ex. the symbolism of a dead tree or a flowering
one). There are social, moral and historical symbols like Home, the Cross, the Flag.
Symbols are useful in writing to avoid explaining something and showing it in a scene. Ex. instead of
saying 'John is an idiot and love his country with fanatism.' you can show his bedroom and the
gigantic flag that he uses as a bed-sheet.
—Gordon THE HOUSE OF FICTION
The Castle is not an allegorical, but a symbolic novel (...) The symbol 'is' what it represents; the
allegory represents what, in itself, it is not. The terms of reference os an allegory are abstractions; a
symbol refers to something specific and concrete. the statue of a blindfolded woman, holding a pair
of scales, is an allegory of Justice; bread and wine are, for the Christian communicant, symbols of the
Body and Blood of Christ.
What is, says Goethe, is only real in so far as it is symbolic. Earlier in his life he defined the "true
symbol" as "the representation of the general through the particular, not, however, as a dream or
shadow, but as the revelation of the unfathomable in a moment filled with life."
—Erich Heller, The world of Kafka, Kafka's Critics
One must study an object for a long time to learn what its symbolic meaning is. And once again, in a
composition the object becomes a new symbol taking part in the whole through restraining its own
power. In short, each work is a combination of symbols invented during the execution as they are
needed in the particular spot. Removed from the composition for which they are created, these
symbols have no more function.
The symbol then, for which I invent an image has no worth unless it speaks with other symbols,
which I must choose in the course of my invention, and which are entirely peculiar to that invention.
The symbol is determined during the moment I use it—and use it for the object in which it will take
part.
–Matisse, Theories of Modern Art.
Tales eran los seis hombres que habían jurado la desaparicion del mundo. Syme tuvo que esforzarse
varias veces para no perder en su presencia el sentido común. A veces, se decía que su inquietud era
subjetiva, que estaba entre hombres ordinarios: uno viejo, otro nerviosillo, el de más allá algo miope;
pero siempre volvía a apoderarse de él ese sentimiento de simbolismo sobrenatural. Todas las figuras
le parecían estar en el límite de las cosas, así como sus teorías anarqustas le parecían el último límite
del pensamiento. El sabía, en efecto, que todos aquellos hombres se encontraban, por decirlo así, en
el punto extremo de algún razonamiento anómalo. Y pensaba, como en cierta vieja fábula, que un
hombre que caminara siempre hacia occidente hasta el fin del mundo se encontraría con algún objeto
— un árbol, por ejemplo — que fuera algo más o algo menos que un simple árbol: un árbol habitado
por un espíritu; y, si caminara siempre hacia el oriente hasta el fin del mundo, se encontraría algo que
no fuera enteramente idéntico a sí mismo: por ejemplo, una torre, cuya sola arquitectura fuera un
pecado. Igualmente sus compañeros parecían destacarse, violentos e incomprensibles, sobre un
horizonte último: visiones marginales de la vida, donde se tocan los términos del mundo.
—G.K.Chesterton, El hombre que fue jueves.
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En mi opinión la precedencia de las primeras obras de Wells se debe auna razon más profunda. No
sólo es ingenioso lo que refieren, es también simbólico de procesos que de algún modo son
inherentes a todos los destinos humanos. El acosado hombre invisible que tiene que dormir con los
ojos abiertos poruqe sus párpados no excluyen la luz es nuestra soledad y nuestro terror; el
conventículo de monstruos que gangosean en la noche un credo servil es el Vaticano y es Lhasa. La
obra que perdura es siempre capaz de una infinita y plástica ambigüedad; es todo para todos, como el
Apóstol; es un espejo que declara los rasgos del lector y es también un mapa del mundo. Ello debe
ocurrir, además, de un modo evanescente y modesto, casi a despecho del autor; éste debe aparecer
ignorante de todo simbolismo.
La realidad procede por hechos, no por razonamientos; a Dios le toleramos que afirme (Exodo, 3, 14)
Soy El Que Soy, no que declare y analice, como Hegel o Anselmo, el argumentum ontologicum.
Dios no debe teologizar; el escritor no debe invalidar con razones humanas la momentanea fe que
exige de nosotros el arte.
(Borges; El primer Wells; Otras Inquisiciones)
That is to say, there is mo longer, and deliberatly so, an organic continuity between the
feeling and the symbol which "stands for" it; there is rather a correspondence, a correlation. "Modern
art can be born only where signs become symbols".
—Herbert Read, A concise history
of modern art, Kandinsky
VANGUARDIA
La vanguardia es una de las ideologías espontáneas de todo escritor. (La otra es el realismo.) Si ser de
vanguardia quiere decir ser "moderno", todos los escritores queremos ser de vanguardia. La
modernidad es el gran mito de la literatura contemporánea. A la vez en esta época, por lo menos en la
Argentina, la vanguardia se ha convertido en un género. Existe una manera cristalizada, tan llena de
convenciones y de reglas que podría escribirse una novela de vanguardia con la misma facilidad con
la que se puede escribir, por ejemplo, una novela policial. Por todo esto habría que decir, en fin, que
el problema no es tanto que una obra sea o no de vanguardia: lo fundamental para un escritor es que
el público y la crítica sean de vanguardia.
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Hay que decir que en la novela, después de Joyce, la forma "obra maestra" se ha convertido en un
género que tiene sus convenciones y sus fórmulas y sus líneas temáticas tan definidas y
estereotipadas como las que se encuentran, por ejemplo, en la novela policial. Dos modelos mayores
del género: Bajo el volcán de Malcolm Lowry, y Adán Buenosayres de Leopoldo Marechal (los dos
libros se publican el mismo año). La relación con Dante, el flujo esotérico, el viaje iniciático, la
parodia del héroe trágico, la desmesura estilística, la combinación de técnicas narrativas, la biografía
de un santo, la unidad de tiempo, la unidad de lugar. La estructura firme de un día en la vida del
héroe busca contener la deriva de los materiales. (El esquema temporal rígido y breve es el revés del
día interminable del novelista.)
—Piglia, Páginas de un diario
Literatura comprometida, la actualidad etc.:
Echarle una vista al pasado puede ayudar a definir la cuestión.
Sería ridículo no leer Leopardi porque escribe sobre lunas o flores del desierto en vez de los
problemas políticos de su tiempo. O criticarle a Homero el hecho de no haber escrito sobre los
problemas de su tiempo en vez de batallas que se libraron cuatrocientos años antes. No existimos sin
el pasado. Cualquier tema puede ser una novedad, cualquier hecho es presente.
La política es la política, la economía la economía, la literatura la literatura, etc. Todas están
entrelazadas (todas pertenecen a la esfera de lo humano, tienen ese punto en común); todas son
diferentes, específicas (lo suficientemente específicas como para merecer un nombre, una palabra
distinta que las designa).
MEANING
But if you say: "How am I to know what he means, when I see nothing but the signs he gives?"
Then I say: "How is he to know what he means, when he has nothing but the signs either?"
—Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations.
The Emperor, so it runs, has sent a message to you, the humble subject, the insignificant shadow
cowering in the remotest distance before the imperial sun; the Emperor from his deathbed has sent a
message to you alone. He has commanded the messenger to kneel down by the bed, and has
whispered the message to him; so much store did he lay on it that he ordered the messenger to
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whisper it back into his ear again. Then by a nod of the head he has confirmed that it is right. Yes,
before the assembled spectators of his death----all the obstructing walls have been broken down, and
on the spacious and lofty-mounting open staircases stand in a ring the great princes of the Empire-before all these he has delivered his message. The messenger immediately sets out on his journey; a
powerful, an indefagitable man; now pushing with his right arm, now with his left, he cleaves a way
for himself through the throng; if he encounters resistance he points to his breast, where the symbol
of the sun glitters; the way, too is made easier for him than it would be for any other man. But the
multitudes are so vast; their numbers have no end. If he could reach the open fields how fast he
would fly, and soon doubtless you would hear the welcome hammering of his fists on your door. But
instead how vainly does he wear out his strength; still he is only making his way through the
chambers of the innermost palace; never will he get to the end of them; and if he succeeded in that
nothing would be gained; he must fight his way next down the stair; and if he succeeded in that
nothing would be gained; the courts would still have to be crossed; and after the courts the second
outer palace; and once more stairs and courts; and once more another palace; and so on for thousands
of years; and if at last he should burst through the outermost gate--but never, never can that happen-the imperial capital would lie before him, the center of the world, crammed to bursting with its own
refuse. Nobody could fight his way through here, least of all one with a message from a dead man.-But you sit at your window when evening falls and dream it to yourself.
—Franz Kafka, An
imperial message
PARAGRAPHS
On fluidity:
What is atrociously difficult is the linking of ideas, so that they derive naturally from each other.
(1852)
Each paragraph is good in itself, and there are pages I am certain are perfect. But just because of this,
it doesn't work. It's a series of well-turned paragraphs which do not lead into each other. I'm going to
have to unscrew them, loosen the joints. (1853)
(Flaubert, citado en Barthes, Flaubert ad the sentence)
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Notas al final de Viaje al final de la noche:
Fijarse cómo Céline concluye la mayoría de sus párrafos. Narra lo que pasa,describe alguna
situación, etc., y el final, la última línea, agrega algo más, una opinión, aunque nunca directa, más
bien una frase que impone cierta perspectva a lo que acaba de narrar, le da un aluz distinta a cómo
sería si sólo dejara los hechos (como hace Hemingway, por ejemplo). Los párrafos de Céline
terminan una línea antes—lo otro es un "plus."
Prestar atención a las últimas líneas.
Ej:
We felt that we were counted, supervised, numbered in the great reserve of those who would be
going off to-morrow. And so, naturally, all these civilians and doctors who surrounded us seemed
lighter-hearted than us by comparison. The nurses, little bitches, did not share our destiny; their only
thought was to live long, and go on living and, of course, fall in love, and wander around, and make
love not once but again and again. Every one of these sweeties nursed a little plan in her insides, like
a convict,— a plan for later on, for making love, when we should have died in the mud somewhere,
God knows how. (84)
We lived in future in this same bastion with some old men lodged there by the Poor Relief. new
buildings full of miles and miles of glass had been quickly run up for them, and they were kept there
for the duration of the war, like insects. On the slopes round about a mass of attenuated little
allotments struggled for possession of a sea of mud, which lapped up to the doors of several rows of
precarious cabins. Sheltered by them, from time to time a lettuce and three radishes grew there; and
for some obscure reason of their own, the disgusted slugs would leave them to the owner of that
particular allotment. (82)
But perhaps she imagines this repulsion rather than feels it; that is my remaining consolation. Perhaps
all that I suggest to her is that I am horrible to look at. Perhaps I am an artist in that line. After all,
why should there not be as much possibly artistry in ugliness as in beauty? It's one line to take up,
that's all. (74)
There are certain corners liket hat in big towns which are so offensively hideous that one is almost
always alone in them.
Musyne ended up by only returning to what I may call our hearth and home once a week. She was
more and more frquently being engaged to accompany singers at the Argentine's houses. She could
have made her living playing at cinemas and it would have been much easier for me to go and fetch
her from there, but the Argentines were amusing and paid well, whereas the cinemas were depressing
and paid badly. Life is made up of such choices. (76)
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This revitualling was one more added nightmare, a nagging little demon, a parasite on the greater
fiend of war. Brute beasts to the fore, on each flank, to the rear: they were everywhere. And we who
were condemned to a deferred death, we could not be rid of our overwhelming desire to sleep, and
everything besides that had become a misery, including the effort of eating and the time it took. A
stream or a wall one would seem to recognize... and one traced one's way back to one's squad by
smell, as if one had become a dog again at night in those deserted villages in war time. The ododur of
excrement was the best guide of all. (31)
—Céline, Journey to the end of the
night
Editing: you always cut during movement.
—Bergman en el documental sobre Winter Light
ORALIDAD Y ESCRITURA
Discusión sobre el estilo de Macedonio. Se trata de un estilo oral, aunque parezca su antítesis. La
forma de la oratoria privada, que supone un círculo de interlocutores bien conocidos, con los que se
manejan todos los sobreentendidos. la presencia real del oyente define el tono y las elipsis. Prueba de
que la oralidad es antes que nada musical y tiende a la ilegibilidad.
— de Notas sobre Macedonio (Formas Breves)
No hay peor cosa que el frangollo, si no es la fácil perfección de la solemnidad. Éste será un
libro de eminente frangollo, es decir de la máxima descortesía en que puede incurrirse con un lector,
salvo otra descortesía mayor aún, tan usada: la del libro vacío y perfecto.
(...)
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Ésta será la novela que más veces habrá sido arrojada con violencia al suelo, y otras tantas
recogidas con avidez. ¿Qué otro autor podría gloriarse de ello?
Novela de lectura de irritación: la que como ninguna habrá iiritado al lector por sus promesas y
su metódica de inconclusiones e incompatibilidades; y novela empero que haréa fracasar el reflejo de
evasión a su lectura, pues producirá un interesamiento en el ánimo del lector que lo dejará aliado a su
destino — que de muchos amigos está necesitado.
En fin, tuve una rabia de tredías por la última organización y revisación del desorden de esta
novela; felizmente uso puño postizo y había guardado todos los usados desde que comencé a
pensarla; aprximadamente mil contenían todos los apuntes, además de mil veces una docena de
libretitas y blocs y hojas sueltas; lo eché todo en un rincón de mi aposento y me tiré al suelo tres días
desde que salía de la cam: rabiaba y lloraba, y chillaba como cien veces: Última vez que escribo para
publicar.
—Macedonio Fernández, Museo de la novela de la Eterna, pg.14
All modes of writing have in common the fact of being 'closed' and thus different from spoken
language. Writing is in no way an instrument for communication, it is not an open route through
which there passes only the intention to speak. (...) It is on the contrary meant to impose, thanks to
the shadow cast by its system of signs, the image of a speech which had a structure even before it
came into existence. (...) Writing is always rooted in something beyond language, it develops like a
seed, not like a line, it manifests an essence and holds the threat of a secret, it is an
anticommunication, it is intimidating.
(Roland Barthes; Political modes of writing, Degree Zero)
Me quitó el sombrero con sus propias manos y se alejó con él, para colgarlo en alguna parte,
sin duda de una percha, y pareció asombrarse mucho al ver su impulso detenido por el cordón. Tenía
un papagayo, muy bonito, de los más preciados colores. Le comprendía mejor. No quiero decir que le
comprendiera a él mejor que ella, quiero decir que le comprendía mejor que a ella. Decía de vez en
cuando, Puta del coño de la mierda cagada. Debía haberlo aprendido de su anterior propietario. Los
animales cambian muchas veces de dueño. No decía gran cosa más. Sí, decía también ¡Fuck! Así
pues, no había sido un francés quien le había enseñados a decir ¡Fuck! A lo mejor lo había aprendido
solo, no me extrañaría. Lousse intentaba enseñarle a decir ¡Pretty Polly! Me parece que era
demasiado tarde para eso. Escuchaba, con la cabeza ladeada, reflexionaba, y luego decía ,Puta del
coño de la mierda cagada. Hay que reconocer que ponía buena voluntad. A él también le enterraría
Lousse un día u otro. Probablemente en su jaula. A mí también me hubiera enterrado, si llego a
quedarme. Si tuviera su dirección le escribiría, para que me viniera a enterrar. me dormí. Me desperté
en una cama, desvestido. Había llegado durante mi sueño al impudor de limpiarme, a juzgar por el
hedor que había dejado de despedir. Me dirigí a la puerta. Cerrada con llave. A la ventana. Barrotes.
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Aún no había anochecido del todo. ¿Qué queda por probar, después de la puerta y la ventana?
—Samuel Beckett, Molly, 46
Cuando tenia catorce annos me inició en los deleites y afanes de la literatura bandoleresca un
viejo zapatero andaluz que tenía su comercio de remendon junto a una ferretería de fachada verde y
blanca, en el zaguán de una casa antigua en la calle Rivadavia entre Sud América y Bolivia.
Decoraban el frente del cuchitril las policromas carátulas de los cuadernillos que narraban las
aventuras de Montbars el Pirata y de Wenongo el Mohicano. Nosotros los muchachos al salir de la
escuela nos deleitábamos observando los cromos que colgaban en la puerta, descoloridos por el sol.
A veces entrábamos a comprarle medio paquete de cigarrillos Barrilete, y el hombre renegaba de
tener que dejar el banquillo para mercar con nosotros.
Era cargado de espaldas, carisumido y barbudo, y por añadidura algo cojo, una cojera extranna,
el pie redondo como el casco de una mula con el talón vuelto hacia afuera.
Cada vez que le veía recordaba este proverbio, que mi madre acostumbraba a decir: "Guárdate
de los señalados de Dios".
Solía echar algunos parrafitos conmigo, y en tanto escogía un descalabrado botín entre el
revoltijo de hormas y rollos de cuero, me iniciaba con amarguras de fracasado en el conocimiento de
los bandidos más famosos en las tierras de España, o me hacía la apología de un parroquiano
rumboso a quien lustraba el calzado y que le favorecía con veinte centavos de propina.
Como era codicioso sonreía al evocar al cliente, y la sórdida sonrisa que no acertaba a hincharle
los carrillos arrugábale el labio sobre sus negruzcos dientes.
Cobróme simpatía a pesar de ser un cascarrabias y por algunos cinco centavos de interés me
alquilaba sus libracos adquiridos en largas suscripciones.
Así, entregándome la historia de la vida de Diego Corrientes, decía:
—Ezte chaval, hijo... ¡qué chaval!... era ma lindo que una rroza y lo mataron lo miguelete...
Temblaba de inflexiones broncas la voz del menestral:
—Ma lindo que una rroza... zi er tené mala zombra...
Recapacitaba luego:
—Figúrate tú... daba ar pobre lo que quitaba ar rico... tenía mujé en toos los cortijo... si era ma
lindo que una rroza...
En la mansarda, apestando con olores de engrudo y de cuero, su voz despertaba un ensueño con
montes reverdecidos. En las quebradas había zambras gitanas... todo un país montañero y rijoso
aparecía ante mis ojos llamado por la evocación.
—Zi era ma lindo que una rroza —y el cojo desfogaba su tristeza reblandeciendo la suela a
martillazos encima de una plancha de hierro que apoyaba en las rodillas.
Después, encogiéndose de hombros como si desechara una idea inoportuna, escupía por el
colmillo a un rincón, afilando con movimientos rápidos la lezna en la piedra.
Más tarde agregaba:
—Verá tú qué parte ma linda cuando lléguez a doña Inezita y ar ventorro der tío Pezuña —y
observando que me llevaba el libro me gritaba a modo de advertencia:
170
—Cuidarlo, niño, que dinéroz cuesta —y tornando a sus menesteres inclinaba la cabeza cubierta
hasta las orejas de una gorra color ratón, hurgaba con los dedos mugrientos de cola en una caja, y
llenándose la boca de clavillos continuaba haciendo con el martillo toc... toc... toc... toc...
—Roberto Arlt, El juguete rabioso, 1
However, the last day of the last month he takes her to a room she'd never set eyes on before. There
was nothing in it but a spinning wheel and a stool And says he: "Now, my dear, here you'll be shut in
tomorrow with some victuals (vituallas) and some flax (lino), and if you haven't spun five skeins
(madejas) by the night, your head'll go off."
And away he went about his business.
Well, she was that frightened, she'd always been such a gatless [careless] girl, that she didn't so much
as know how to spin, and what was she to do tomorrow with no one to come nigh her to help her?
She sat down on a stool in the kitchen, and law! how she did cry!
However, all of a sudden she heard a sort of a knocking low down on the door. She upped and oped
it, and what should she see but a small little black thing with a long tail.
That looked up at her right curious, and that said: "What are you a-crying for?"
"What's that to you?:" says she.
"Never you mind," that said, "but tell me what you're a-crying for."
"That won't do me no good if I do," says she.
"You don't know that," that said, and twirled that's tail round.
"well," says she, "that won't do no harm, if that don't do no good," and she upped and told about the
pies, and the skeins, and everything.
"This is what I'll do," says the little black thing, "I'll come to your window every morning and take
the flax and bring it spun at night."
"What's your pay?" says she.
That looked out the corner of that's eyes, and that said: "I'll give you three guesses every night to
guess my name, and if you haven't guessed it before the month's up, you shall be mine.
Well, she thought she'd be sure to guess that's name before the month was up. "All right," says she, "I
agree."
"All right," that says, and law! how that twirled that's tail.
(...)
Well every day the flax and the food were brought, and every day that there little black impet used to
come mornings and evenings. And all the day the girl sate trying to think of names to say to it what it
came at night. But she never hit on the right one. And as it got towards the end of the month, the
impet began to look so maliceful, and that twirled that's tail faster and faster each time she gave a
guess.
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At last it came to the last day but one. The impet came at night along with the five skeins, and that
said:
"What, ain't you got my name yet?"
"Is that Nicodemus?" says she.
"Noo, 'tain't," that says.
"Is that Sammle?" says she.
"Noo, 'tain't," that says.
"A-well, is that Methusalem?" says she.
"Noo, 'tain't that neither," that says.
Then that looks at her with that's eyes like a coal o' fire, and that says: "Woman, there's only
tomorrow night, and then you'll be mine?" And away it flew.
Well, she felt that horrid. However, she heard the king coming along the passage.
In he came, and when he sees the five skeins, he says, says he: "Well, my dear," says he. "I don't see
but what you'll have your skeins ready tomorrow night as well, and as I reckon I shan't have to kill
you, I'll have supper in here tonight." So they brought supper, and another stool for him, and down
the two sate.
Well, he hadn't eaten but a mouthful or so, when he stops and begins to laugh.
"What is it?" says she.
"A-why," says he, I was out a-hunting today, and I got away to a place in the wood I'd never seen
before. And there was an old chalk pit. And I heard a kind of a sort of a humming. So I got off my
hobby, and I went right quiet to the pit, and I looked down. Well, what should there be but the
funniest little black thing you ever set eyes on. And what was that doing but that had a little spinning
wheel, and that was spinning wonderful fast, and twirling that's tail. And as that span that sang:
Nimmy nimmy not
My name's Tom Tit Tot.
Well, when the girl heard this, she felt as if she could have jumped out her skin for joy, but she didn't
say a word.
Next day that there little thing looked so maliceful when he came for the flax. And when night came,
she heard that knocking against the window panes. She oped the window, and that come right in on
the ledge. That was grinning from ear to ear, and Oo! that's tail was twirling round so fast.
"What's my name?" that says, as that gave her the skeins.
"Is that Solomon?" she says, pretending to be afeard.
"Noo, 'tain't," that says, and that come further into the room.
"Well, is that Zebedee?" says she again.
"Noo, 'tain't," says the impet. And then that laughed and twirled that's tail till you couldn't hardly see
it.
"Take time, woman," that says; "next guess, and you're mine." And that stretched out that's black
hands at her.
Well, she backed a step or two, and she looked at it, and then she laughed out, and says she, pointing
her finger at it:
Nimmy nimmy not
Your name's Tom Tit Tot.
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Well, when that heard her, that gave an awful shriek and away that flew into the dark, and she never
saw it any more.
—Anonimous, Scotland
Todo esto que don Quijote decía escuchaba un escudero de los que el coche acompañaban, que era
vizcaíno; el cual, viendo que no quería dejar pasar el coche adelante, sino que decía que luego había
de dar la vuelta al Toboso, se fue para don Quijote y, asiéndole de la lanza, le dijo, en mala lengua
castellana y peor vizcaína, desta manera:
-Anda, caballero que mal andes; por el Dios que crióme, que, si no dejas coche, así te matas como
estás ahí vizcaíno.
Entendióle muy bien don Quijote, y con mucho sosiego le respondió:
-Si fueras caballero, como no lo eres, ya yo hubiera castigado tu sandez y atrevimiento, cautiva
criatura.
A lo cual replicó el vizcaíno:
-¿Yo no caballero? Juro a Dios tan mientes como cristiano. Si lanza arrojas y espada sacas, ¡el agua
cuán presto verás que al gato llevas! Vizcaíno por tierra, hidalgo por mar, hidalgo por el diablo; y
mientes que mira si otra dices cosa.
-¡Ahora lo veredes, dijo Agrajes! -respondió don Quijote.
— Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, segunda parte, c.8
—Perseguido me han encantadores, encantadores me persiguen y encantadores me persiguirán
hasta dar conmigo y con mis altas caballerías en el profundo abismo del olvido; y en aquella parte me
dañan y hieren donde ven que más lo siento, porque quitarle a un caballero andante su dama es
quitarle los ojos con que mira, y el sol con que se alumbra, y el sustento con que se mantiene. Otras
muchas veces lo he dicho, y ahora lo vuelvo a decir: que el caballero andante sin dama es como el
árbol sin hojas, el edificio sin cimiento y la sombra sin cuerpo de quien se cause.
—No hay más que decir -dijo la duquesa-; pero si, con todo eso, hemos de dar crédito a la
historia que del señor don Quijote de pocos días a esta parte ha salido a la luz del mundo, con general
aplauso de las gentes, della se colige, si mal no me acuerdo, que nunca vuesa merced ha visto a la
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señora Dulcinea, y que esta tal señora no es en el mundo, sino que es dama fantástica, que vuesa
merced la engendró y parió en su entendimiento, y la pintó con todas aquellas gracias y perfeciones
que quiso.
—En eso hay mucho que decir -respondió don Quijote-. Dios sabe si hay Dulcinea o no en el
mundo, o si es fantástica o no es fantástica; y éstas no son de las cosas cuya averiguación se ha de
llevar hasta el cabo. Ni yo engendré ni parí a mi señora, puesto que la contemplo como conviene que
sea una dama que contenga en sí las partes que puedan hacerla famosa en todas las del mundo, como
son: hermosa, sin tacha, grave sin soberbia, amorosa con honestidad, agradecida por cortés, cortés
por bien criada, y, finalmente, alta por linaje, a causa que sobre la buena sangre resplandece y
campea la hermosura con más grados de perfeción que en las hermosas humildemente nacidas. Y así,
viendo estos encantadores que con mi persona no pueden usar de sus malas mañas, vénganse en las
cosas que más quiero, y quieren quitarme la vida maltratando la de Dulcinea, por quien yo vivo; y
así, creo que, cuando mi escudero le llevó mi embajada, se la convirtieron en villana y ocupada en tan
bajo ejercicio como es el de ahechar trigo; pero ya tengo yo dicho que aquel trigo ni era rubión ni
trigo, sino granos de perlas orientales; y para prueba desta verdad quiero decir a vuestras magnitudes
cómo, viniendo poco ha por el Toboso, jamás pude hallar los palacios de Dulcinea; y que otro día,
habiéndola visto Sancho, mi escudero, en su mesma figura, que es la más bella del orbe, a mí me
pareció una labradora tosca y fea, y no nada bien razonada, siendo la discreción del mundo; y, pues
yo no estoy encantado, ni lo puedo estar, según buen discurso, ella es la encantada, la ofendida y la
mudada, trocada y trastrocada, y en ella se han vengado de mí mis enemigos, y por ella viviré yo en
perpetuas lágrimas, hasta verla en su prístino estado.
— Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, segunda parte
En Malvinas:
Va la oveja. Olfatea nerviosa. Siente que hay un cristiano cerca. Se hace la idea: "Éste me
garcha, me pela la lana o me degüella para comer". Tiene miedo. Se hace la distraída. Camina
despacito para el lado donde va el viento... Muerde uno o dos pastitos para disimular, para que no la
noten yéndose. Pone el hocico contra el viento. Olisquea. A cien metros, antes de oscurecer, el
humano la nota que está oliendo. Come ella dos o tres yuyos más y sigue toda disimulo hasta que de
repente calcula que ya tiene distancia y se larga a correr.
Allí en las islas, las ovejas corren más que los perros y dan saltos. Saltan un alambrado así como
así, ¡plac! Suben en el aire y saltan. Y el humano, de lejos, mira la oveja y piensa: "¡Qué animal más
boludo: lo único que sabe es rajar!" Y la sigue mirando un rato, por mirar algo, a falta de otro
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entretenimiento mientras espera que se haga oscuro para volver al refugio y de repente el fogonazo:
¡Pac! Sucedió que abajo de la oveja había una mina y al rozarla ella se hizo como si el sol saliera, una
luz fuertísima. En ese momento se la ve completa todavía en el aire, a la oveja. En el aire encoge las
patas, levanta la cabeza y mira atrás retorciendo el cuello que se vuelve como de jirafa altanera y está
volando alto en el aire ella y recién después revienta, justo cuando el humano escucha el ruido de la
mina, esa explosión que la oveja bien debe haber oído primero. Recién entonces se empieza a
deshacer la oveja. Recién entonces se empieza a deshacer la oveja: sigue la cabeza para un lado, una
pata se va para el otro, un costillar con la lana chamuscada para el otro, y el lomo—la piel del lomo
es lo que menos le quemó el fogonazo—queda liviana sin oveja, sigue flotando por el aire como un
tapado sin dueño y tarda bastante más en volver a tocar el suelo que los otros pedazos de la oveja
carneada en seco por una mina.
—Rodolfo Fogwill, Los Pichiciegos, c.5
IT WASN'T about anything, something about making punch, and then we started fighting and I
slipped and he had me down kneeling on my chest and choking me with both hands like he was
trying to kill me and all the time I was trying to get the knife out of my pocket to cut him loose.
Everybody was too drunk to pull him off me. He was choking me and hammering my head on the
floor and I got the knife out and opened it up; and I cut the muscle right across his arm and he let go
of me. He couldn't have held on if he wanted to. Then he rolled and hung onto that arm and started to
cry and I said:
" What the hell you want to choke me for ? "
I'd have killed him. I couldn't swallow for a week. He hurt my throat bad.
Well, I went out of there and there were plenty of them with him and some came out after me
and I made a turn and was down by the docks and I met a fellow and he said somebody killed a man
up the street. I said "Who killed him?" and he said "I don't know who killed him but he's dead all
right," and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke
and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and
went out and found my boat where I had her inside of Mango Key and she was all right only she was
full of water. So I bailed her out and pumped her out and there was a moon but plenty of clouds and
still plenty rough and I took it down along; and when it was daylight I was off Eastern Harbor.
Brother, that was some storm. I was the first boat out and you never saw water like that was. It
was just as white as a lye barrel and coming from Eastern Harbor to Sou'west Key you couldn't
recognize the shore. There was a big channel blown right out through and all the water white as chalk
and everything on it; branches and whole trees and dead birds, and all floating. Inside the keys were
all the pelicans in the world and all kinds of birds flying. They must have gone inside there when
they knew it was coming.
— Ernest Hemingway, After the storm
—¿Cuándo fue la última vez que me viste?
175
Él la vio por última vez hace diez años, ocho años. Después nunca más. Fue en Cocotá, Estado
de Río. En la plaza, del lado de la iglesia ¿verdad? ella le fue al encuentro, tenían cita ¿o cómo fue la
cosa? de ahí salieron juntos, hasta el Club Municipal, a bailar toda la noche. ¿Y qué más pasó con
ella? estuvieron en el baile hasta las dos y media de la madrugada, después se fueron a un hotel a
hacer sus cosas ¿está claro? aquella noche.
—¿Y nadie se dio cuenta, que una chica de quince años entraba a un hotel?
En el club había mucha gente, el pueblo no era muy grande, seis mil personas, seis mil
habitantes. Pero se podía ir a un hotel, sin problemas, no ahí, en otro pueblo cerca ¿está claro?
llegaron y tomaron una cervecita y demás. Fueron en automóvil, en esa época él tenía un Maverick,
otros tiempos, después él entró en picada, y nunca más tuvo automóvil. El año que viene se va a
comprar uno financiado, si Dios quiere.
—Manuel Puig, Sangre de amor correspondido
And then Tom he talked along and talked along, and says, le's all three slide out of here one of
these nights and get an outfit, and go for howling adventures amongst the Injuns, over in the
Territory, for a couple of weeks or two; and I says, all right, that suits me, but I ain't got no money for
to buy the outfit, and I reckon I couldn't get none from home, because it's likely pap's been back
before now, and got it all away from Judge Thatcher and drunk it up.
"No, he hain't," Tom says; "it's all there yet--six thousand dollars and more; and your pap hain't
ever been back since. Hadn't when I come away, anyhow."
Jim says, kind of solemn:
"He ain't a-comin' back no mo', Huck."
I says:
"Why, Jim?"
"Nemmine why, Huck--but he ain't comin' back no mo."
But I kept at him; so at last he says:
"Doan' you 'member de house dat was float'n down de river, en dey wuz a man in dah, kivered up, en
I went in en unkivered him and didn' let you come in? Well, den, you kin git yo' money when you
wants it, kase dat wuz him."
Tom's most well now, and got his bullet around his neck on a watch-guard for a watch, and is
always seeing what time it is, and so there ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of
it, because if I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it, and ain't agoing to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt
Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.
—
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
176
Estoy sentado junto a la alcantarilla aguardando a que salgan las ranas. Anoche, mientras
estábamos cenando, comenzaron a armar el gran alboroto y no pararon de cantar hasta que amaneció.
Mi madrina también dice eso: que la gritería de las ranas le espantó el sueño. Y ahora ella bien
quisiera dormir. Por eso me mandó a que me sentara aquí, junto a la alcantarilla, y me pusiera con
una tabla en la mano para que cuanta rana saliera a pegar de brincos afuera, la apalcuachara a
tablazos... Las ranas son verdes de todo a todo, menos en la panza. Los sapos son negros. También
los ojos de mi madrina son negros. Las ranas son buenas para hacer de comer con ellas. Los sapos no
se comen; pero yo me los he comido también, aunque no se coman, y saben igual que las ranas.
Felipa es la que dice que es malo comer sapos. Felipa tiene los ojos verdes como los ojos de los
gatos. Ella e s la que me da de comer en la cocina cada vez que me toca comer. Ella no quiere que yo
perjudique a las ranas. Pero a todo esto, es mi madrina la que me manda a hacer las cosas... Yo quiero
mas a Felipa que a mi madrina. Pero es mi madrina la que saca el dinero de su bolsa para que Felipa
compre todo lo de la comedera. Felipa sólo se está en la cocina arreglando la comida de los tres. No
hace otra cosa desde que yo la conozco. Lo de lavar los trastes a mí me toca. Lo de acarrear leña para
prender el fogón también a mí me toca. Luego es mi madrina la que nos reparte la comida. Después
de comer ella, hace con sus manos dos montoncitos, uno para Felipa y otro para mí. Pero a veces
Felipa no tiene ganas d e comer y entonces son para mí los dos montoncitos. Por eso quiero yo a
Felipa, porque yo siempre tengo hambre y no me lleno nunca, ni aun comiéndome la comida de ella.
—Juan Rulfo, Macario
The Journey of the Magi
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
177
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
-- T. S. Eliot
EL LENGUAJE DEL RIO DE LA PLATA
Noviembre 18, 2004
Encontré esta nota al pie del ensayo de Montale sobre Dante, probablemente de unos 7, 8 meses
atrás. Montale habla de la lengua de Dante como de una "nueva lengua."
En cierta manera, nosotros estamos en un punto histórico similar al de Dante y su "nueva lengua".
El lenguaje del Río de la Plata ya está lo suficientemente desligado del español peninsular y
mezclado con nuevos acentos (el italiano, también la incorporación de palabras indígenas, etc.)
como para formar un nuevo microcosmos. Sarmiento, Borges, Arlt, Onetti, Gelman, captan ese tono
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(el de Arlt, en realidad, está mezclado con la lengua de las traducciones españolas de los clásicos
del siglo XIX):
Lástima, bandoneón, / mi corazón, / tu ronca maldición maleva... / Tu lágrima de ron me lleva / hasta
el hondo bajo fondo / donde el barro se subleva.
Ya sé. No me digás. Tenés razón. / La vida es una herida absurda, / y es todo, todo, tan fugaz / que es
una curda nada más, / mi confesión.
Contame tu condena, / decime tu fracaso. / ¿No ves la pena / que me ha herido? / Y hablame
simplemente / de aquél amor ausente / tras un retazo del olvido...
¡Ya sé que te hace daño! / ¡Ya sé que te lastimo! / llorando mi sermón de vino... / Pero es el viejo
amor, / que tiembla el bandoneón / y busca en el licor que aturda, / la curda que al final / termine la
función / corriéndole un telón al corazón.
Un poco de recuerdo y sinsabor / gotea tu rezongo lerdo; / marea tu licor y arrea / la tropilla de la
zurda / la volcar la última curda.
Cerrame el ventanal, / que arrastra el sol / su lento caracol de sueño. / No ves que vengo de un país /
que está de olvido siempre gris / tras el alcohol.
— LA ULTIMA CURDA (C.Castillo/A.Troilo)
Balcarce debió enfrentar los ataques constantes de un enemigo impensado: Encarnación Ezcurra,
la mujer de Rosas. Doña Encarnación luchaba encarnizadamente contra una "logia" que, en su visión,
quería desprestigiar a Rosas y a los buenos federales. En sucesivas cartas a Rosas —que se
encontraba en la frontera— Doña Encarnación le declaraba su desconfianza respecto del recién
nombrado ministro de Gobierno Gregorio Tagle, y acusaba a la esposa del gobernador: "Doña
Trinidad Balcarce está como una descomulgada y como es loca se anda metiendo en casa que nunca
ha visitado; sólo a desacreditarme; lo mejor que dice es que siempre he vivido en la prostituci´n como
todas mis hermanas." Al mismo tiempo, señala Sabsay, le hacía saber a Rosas que el paisanaje estaba
cada día mejor dispuesto para derrocar al gobierno, y pedía instrucciones sobre el particular. "Las
masas están cada día más bien dispuestas —le dice Encarnación— y lo estaría mejor si tu círculo no
fuera tan cagado pues no hay quienes tienen más miedo que vergüenza, pero yo les hago frente a
todos y lo mismo me peleo con los cismáticos que con los apostólicos débiles, pues los que me
gustan son los de hacha y tiza".
—Jorge Lanata, Argentinos, 240
Otra vez en un boliche
estaba haciendo la tarde;
179
cayó un gaucho que hacia alarde
de guapo y peliador;
a la llegada metió
el pingo hasta la ramada,
y yó sin decirle nada
me quedé en el mostrador.
Era un terne de aquel pago
que naides lo reprendía,
que sus enriedos tenía
con el señor comendante;
y como era protegido,
andaba muy entonao,
y a cualquier desgraciao
lo llevaba por delante.
!Ah pobre! si el mismo creiba
que la vida le sobraba;
ninguno diría que andaba
aguaitandolo la muerte.
pero ansí pasa en el mundo,
es ansí la triste vida:
pa todos esta escondida
la güena o la mala suerte.
Se tiró al suelo; al dentrar
e dio un empellon a un vasco,
y me alargó un medio frasco
diciendo: -Beba cuñao.-Por su hermana-, contesté.
-Que por la mia no hay cuidao.-!Ah, gaucho!, me respondió;
-De que pago será crioyo?
lo andará buscando el hoyo?
deberá tener gutilde;en cuero?
pero ande bala este toro
no bala ningún ternero.
Y ya salimos trenzaos
porque el hombre no era lerdo,
mas como el tino no pierdo,
y soy medio ligerón,
le dejé mostrando el sebo
de un revez con el facón.
180
Y como con la justicia
no andaba bien por allí,
cuanto pataliar lo ví,
y el pulpero pegó el grito,
ya pa el palenque salí
como haciendome chiquito.
—José Hernández, Martín Fierro 1, c. 8
Hay una forma de usar el castellano que podríamos llamar "neutra," en la cual los regionalismos no
están acentuados (más allá de algunas expresiones ineludibles, ej. pileta de natación y no "piscina.").
En Borges y en Bioy se da bastante. Ej.:
Hoy, en esta isla, ha ocurrido un milagro: el verano se adelantó. Puse la cama cerca de la pileta de
natación y estuve bañándome, hasta muy tarde. Era imposible dormir. Dos o tres minutos afuera
bastaban para convertir en sudor el agua que debía protegerme de la espantosa calma. A la
madrugada me despertó un fonógrafo. No pude volver al museo, a buscar las cosas. Hui por las
barrancas. Estoy en los bajos del sur, entre plantas acuáticas, indignado por los mosquitos, con el mar
o sucios arroyos hasta la cintura, viendo que anticipé absurdamente muhuida. Creo que esa gente no
vino a buscarme; tal vez no me hayan visto. Pero sigo mi destino; estoy desprovisto de todo,
confinado al lugar más escaso, menos habitable de la isla; a pantanos que el mar suprime una vez por
semana.
—Adolfo Bioy Casares, La Invención de Morel
Imparcialmente me tienen sin cuidado el Diccionario de la Real Academia, 'dont chaque
édition fait regretter la précédente', según el melancólico dictamen de Paul Groussac, y los gravosos
diccionarios de argentinismos. Todos, los de éste y los del otro lado del mar, propenden a acentuar
las diferencias y a desintegrar el idioma.
—Borges, Prólogo a El iniferno de Brodie.
Escuchar la música, la cadencia, del idioma.
181
Recabarren, tendido, entreabrió los ojos y vió el oblicuo cielorraso de junco. De la otra pieza le
llegaba un rasgueo de guitarra, una suerte de pobrísimo laberinto que se enredaba y desataba
infinitamente... Recobró poco a poco la realidad, las cosas cotidianas que ya no cambiaría nunca por
otras. Miró sin lástima su gran cuerpo inútil, el poncho de lana ordinaria que le envolvia las piernas.
Afuera, más allá de los barrotes de la ventana, se dilataban la llanura y la tarde; había dormido, pero
aún quedaba mucha luz en el cielo.
(...)
Hay una hora de la tarde en que la llanura está por decir algo; nunca lo dice o tal vez lo dice
infinitamente y no lo entendemos, o lo entendemos pero es intraducible como una música...
—Borges, El Fin.
Arlt hablaba el lunfardo con acento extranjero, ha dicho alguien tratando de denigrarlo. Creo que
esa es una excelente definición del efecto de su estilo. Hay algo a la vez exótico y muy argentino en
el lenguaje de Arlt, una relación de distancia y extrañeza con la lengua materna, que es siempre la
marca de un gran escritor.
—Piglia, Crítica y Ficción, p.30
Al mostrador, junto a la puerta, atendía la esposa de don Gaetano, una mujer gorda y blanca, de
cabello castaño y ojos admirables por su expresión de crueldad verde.
—¿No está don Gaetano?
La mujer me señaló un grandullón que en mangas de camisa miraba desde la puerta el ir y venir
de las gentes. Anudaba una corbata negra al cuello desnudo, y el pelo ensortijado sobre la frente
tumultuosa dejaba ver entre sus anillos la punta de las orejas. Era un bello tipo, con su reciedumbre y
piel morena, mas, bajo las pestañas hirsutas, los ojos grandes y de aguas convulsas causaban
desconfianza.
El hombre cogió la carta donde me recomendaban, la leyó; después, entregándola a su esposa,
quedóse examinándome.
Gran arruga le hendía la frente, y por su actitud acechante y placentera adivinaba al hombre de
natural desconfiado y trapacero a la par que meloso, de azucarada bondad fingida y de falsa
indulgencia en sus gruesas carcajadas.
—¿Así que vos antes trabajaste en una librería?
—Sí, patrón.
—¿Y trabajaba mucho el otro?
—Bastante.
—Pero no tiene tanto libro como acá, ¿eh?
—Oh, claro, ni la décima parte.
Después a su esposa:
—¿Y Mosiú no vendrá más a trabajar?
La mujer con tono áspero, dijo:
—Así son todos estos piojosos. Cuando se matan el hambre y aprenden a trabajar se van.
Luego apoyó el mentón en la palma de la mano, mostrando entre la manga de la blusa verde un
trozo de brazo desnudo. Sus ojos crueles se inmovilizaron en la calle transitadísima. Incesantemente
repiqueteaba la campanilla del biógrafo, y un rayo de sol, adentrado entre dos altos muros, iluminaba
la fachada oscura del edificio de Dardo Rocha.
—Roberto
Arlt, El juguete rabioso
182
Hace una quincena o un mes que mi mujer de ahora eligió vivir en otro país. No hubo reproches
ni quejas. Ella es dueña de su estómago y de su vagina. Cómo no comprenderla si ambos
compartimos, casi exclusivamente, el hambre.
Nos consolábamos a veces con comidas a las que buenos amigos nos invitaban, chismes,
discusiones sobre Sartre, el estructuralismo y esa broma que las derechas quieren universal, saben
pagar bien a sus creyentes y la bautizan posmodernismo. Participábamos, reñíamos y adornábamos
con nuestras risas las frases ingeniosas. Aquellas cenas a las que no podíamos aportar ni un solo peso
ofrecían a un posible observador, tal vez a uno de los comensales que pagaban su parte de la cuenta,
un aspecto admirable. Porque merecía admiración las astucia con que ella y yo, sin dejar de reír
despreocupados, robábamos pancitos que caían en la cartera de ella o en alguno de mis bolsillos. Así
nos asegurábamos un desayuno seco para cuando despertáramos mañana en la cama de la pensión.
Se fueron acumulando los días casi miserables para triunfar convenciéndola de que yo había
nacido para fracasado irremisible.
La muchacha pasaba todo su tiempo en la cama para ahorrar fuerzas, retener calorías. tal vez
estuviéramos en invierno. Creo, no lo aseguro. Y así: ella acostada y yo caminando, ida vuelta, por la
avenida buscando tropezar con algún amigo al que no me humillara pedirle dinero.
Pocas veces lo conseguía, no por negativas sino por desencuentros. Mis incursiones en la ciudad
sólo excluían a los niños. Nunca hice distinciones por sexo. Pocas mujeres encontré.
—Onetti, Cuando ya no importe
Si los argentinos los llaman "rusos" y los ingleses —así lo pronunciaban el paracaidista y el de la
radio— les dicen "rachan", los rusos, que algunos creían que estaban por llegar, se han de llamar de
cualquier manera, pero seguramente a ellos mismos no se dirán ni "rusos" ni "rachan". Los británicos,
que eran los ingleses, llamaban a los argentinos "archis" y a los malvineros "jepls" y a ellos mismos
se llamaban "uiners". Los porteños se llamaban porteños a ellos mismos y a los demás les decían
"forros"; por eso les quedó "forro" a ellos, porque andaban siempre diciendo "forro" a un lado y a
otro. Un pichi, el tano Brecelli, se tomó el trabajo de anotar todo eso. Bueno: anotar no, porque abajo
el único que anotaba era Pipo, que llevaba las cuentas.
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Brecelli había hecho una lista mental de las palabras y de las maneras de hablar y se las sabía de
memoria: la recitaba y siempre le iba agregando cosas; y cuando aparecía un nuevo, mientras los
otros le enseñaban cómo tenía que portarse, él les cantaba la lista: "al turco 'Turco' porque no es
turco, es árabe; a Acevedo que es rosarino, porque es judío, se le dice 'ruso' o 'rachan' en inglés; a los
judíos 'hijos de puta' porque escupieron a Cristo y 'gracias' porque le mandan cohetes a Galtieri; a
Galtieri de acá, 'Galtieri' porque es muy boludo y se creía que íbamos a ganar; y a los forros 'forros'
porque son forros y lo único que saben hacer es forrear..."
—¡Callate forro...! —decía el santiagueño.
—Y qué querés, si no fuera forro, no estaría aquí entre tantos negros roñosos como vos —decía
Brecelli, que era porteño.
Y haciendo cuentas, se veía raro que siendo que en el país la mayoría de la gente es porteña, allí
la mayoría era de provincias. Entre los pichis, casi todos eran de provincia, y lo mismo entre los
soldados, todos provincianos. El tucumano jodía a los forros diciendo que los del comando habían
elegido mayoría de "cabezas negras" porque el porteño no sabía pelear...
Pero pelear, pelear, en realidad, nadie sabía. El Ejército toma soldados buenos, les enseña más o
menos a tirar, a correr, a limpiar el equipo, y con suerte les enseña a clavar bien la bayoneta, y viene
la guerra y te enterás de que se pelea de noche, con radios, radar, miras infrarrojas y en el oscuro y
que lo único que vos sabés hacer bien, que es correr, no se puede llevar a la práctica porque atrás
tuyo, los de tu propio regimiento habían estado colocando minas a medida que avanzabas. Y las
minas son lo peor que hay.
—Rodolfo Fogwill, Los Pichiciegos, c.5
Rodolfo Walsh por Rodólf Fowólsh
Rodolfo Walsh
Me llaman Rodolfo Walsh. Cuando chico, ese nombre no terminaba de convencerme:
pensaba que no me serviría, por ejemplo, para ser presidente de la República. Mucho después
descubrí que podía pronunciarse como dos yambos aliterados (1), y eso me gustó.
Nací en Choele-Choel, que quiere decir "corazón de palo". Me ha sido reprochado por varias
mujeres.
Mi vocación se despertó tempranamente: a los ocho años decidí ser aviador. Por una de esas
confusiones, el que la cumplió fue mi hermano. Supongo que a partir de ahí me quedé sin vocación y
tuve muchos oficios. El más espectacular: limpiador de ventanas; el más humillante: lavacopas; el
más burgués: comerciante de antigüedades; el más secreto: criptógrafo en Cuba.
Mi padre era mayordomo de estancia, un transculturado al que los peones mestizos de Río Negro
llamaban Huelche. Tuvo tercer grado, pero sabía bolear avestruces y dejar el molde en la cancha de
bochas. Su coraje físico sigue pareciéndome casi mitológico. Hablaba con los caballos. Uno lo mató,
en 1947, y otro nos dejó como única herencia. Este se llamaba "Mar Negro", y marcaba dieciséis
segundos en los trescientos: mucho caballo para ese campo. Pero esta ya era zona de la desgracia,
provincia de Buenos Aires.
Tengo una hermana monja y dos hijas laicas.
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Mi madre vivió en medio de cosas que no amaba: el campo, la pobreza. En su implacable
resistencia resultó más valerosa, y durable, que mi padre. El mayor disgusto que le causo es no haber
terminado mi profesorado en letras.
Mis primeros esfuerzos literarios fueron satíricos, cuartetas alusivas a maestros y celadores de
sexto grado. Cuando a los diecisiete años dejé el Nacional y entré en una oficina, la inspiración
seguía viva, pero había perfeccionado el método: ahora armaba sigilosos acrósticos.
La idea más perturbadora de mi adolescencia fue ese chiste idiota de Rilke: Si usted piensa que
puede vivir sin escribir, no debe escribir. Mi noviazgo con una muchacha que escribía
incomparablemente mejor que yo me redujo a silencio durante cinco años. Mi primer libro fueron
tres novelas cortas en el género policial, del que hoy abomino. Lo hice en un mes, sin pensar en la
literatura, aunque sí en la diversión y el dinero. Me callé durante cuatro años más, porque no me
consideraba a la altura de nadie. Operación masacre cambió mi vida. Haciéndola, comprendí que,
además de mis perplejidades íntimas, existía un amenazante mundo exterior. Me fui a Cuba, asistí al
nacimiento de un orden nuevo, contradictorio, a veces épico, a veces fastidioso. Volví, completé un
nuevo silencio de seis años. En 1964 decidí que de todos mis oficios terrestres, el violento oficio de
escritor era el que más me convenía. Pero no veo en eso una determinación mística. En realidad, he
sido traído y llevado por los tiempos; podría haber sido cualquier cosa, aun ahora hay momentos en
que me siento disponible para cualquier aventura, para empezar de nuevo, como tantas veces.
En la hipótesis de seguir escribiendo, lo que más necesito es una cuota generosa de tiempo. Soy
lento, he tardado quince años en pasar del mero nacionalismo a la izquierda; lustros en aprender a
armar un cuento, a sentir la respiración de un texto; sé que me falta mucho para poder decir
instantáneamente lo que quiero, en su forma óptima; pienso que la literatura es, entre otras cosas, un
avance laborioso a través de la propia estupidez.
(1) Unidad métrica compuesta por
una sílaba breve (sin acento) y una larga (acentuada).
Así, habría que leer Rodólf Fowólsh.
de "Ese hombre", de Rodolfo Walsh. © 1996 Seix Barral
A NOTE ON POETRY
Poetry makes up for what languages lack.
—Mallarmé, Crisis on poetry
We might go on to other examples. Let us take the word "thunder" and look back at the god Thunor,
the Saxon counterpart of the Norse Thor. The word 'punor' stood for thunder and for the god; but had
we asked the men who came to England with Hengist whether the word stood for the rumbling in the
sky or for the angry god, I do not think they would have been subtle enough to understand the
difference. I suppose that the word carried both meanings without committing itself very closely to
either one of them. I suppose that when they uttered or heard the word "thunder", they at the same
185
time felt the low rumbling in the sky and saw the lightning and thought of the god. The words were
packed with magic; they did not have a hard and fast meaning.
Therefore, when we speak of poetry we may say that poetry is not doing what Stevenson
thought—poetry is not trying to take a set of logical coins and work them into magic. Rather, it is
bringing language back to its original source.
(...) languguage is not, as we are led to suppose by the dictionary, the invention of academicians
or philologists. Rather, it has been evolved through time, through a long time, by peasants, by
fishermen, by hunters, by riders. It did not come from the Libraries; it came from the fields, from the
sea, from rivers, from night, from the dawn.
Thus we have in language the fact (and this seems obvious to me) that words began, in a sense,
as magic.
(Borges, This craf of verse; IV)
I tried to make the language of poetry coincide with that of passionate, normal speech. I wanted to
write in whatever language comes most naturally when we soliloquise, as I do all day long, upon the
events of our own lifes or of any life where we can see ourselves for the moment. (...) Talk to me of
originality and I will turn o you with rage. I am a crowd, I am a lonely man, I am nothing.
(W.B.Yeats; A general introduction..., en Modern Poetics)
The following extract
from an ancient treatise on the art of poetry called `Ming-Chung'
sets forth most clearly certain ideals to be pursued:
"To make a good poem, the subject must be interesting,
and treated in an attractive manner; genius must shine throughout the whole,
and be supported by a graceful, brilliant, and sublime style. The poet
ought to traverse, with a rapid flight, the lofty regions of philosophy,
without deviating from the narrow way of truth. . . .
Good taste will only pardon such digressions as bring him towards his end,
and show it from a more striking point of view.
186
"Disappointment must attend him, if he speaks without speaking to the purpose,
or without describing things with that fire, with that force,
and with that energy which present them to the mind as a painting does
to the eyes. Bold thought, untiring imagination, softness and harmony,
make a true poem.
"One must begin with grandeur, paint everything expressed,
soften the shades of those which are of least importance,
collect all into one point of view, and carry the reader thither
with a rapid flight."
Yet when due respect has been paid to this critic of old time,
the fact still remains that concentration and suggestion
are the two essentials of Chinese poetry. There is neither Iliad nor Odyssey
to be found in the libraries of the Chinese; indeed, a favourite feature
of their verse is the "stop short", a poem containing only four lines,
concerning which another critic has explained that only the words stop,
while the sense goes on.
Ezra Pound; A retrospect:
1. Direct treatment of the “thing” whether subjective or objective.
2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a
metronome.
An “Image” is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of
time.
Language
Use no superfluous word, no adjective that does not reveal something.
Don’t use such an expression as “dim lands of peace”. It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction
with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not realizing that the natural object is always the
adequate symbol.
Go in fear of abstractions. Do not retell in mediocre verse what has already been done in good
prose. Don’t think any intelligent person is going to be deceived when you try to shirk all the
difficulties of the unspeakably art of good prose by chopping your composition into line lengths.
Don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or that you can please
the expert before you have spent at least as much effort on the art of verse as the average piano
teacher spends on the art of music.
187
Don’t allow “influence” to mean merely that you mop up the particular decorative vocabulary of
some one or two poets whom you happen to admire. A turkish war correspondent was recently
caught red-handed babbling in his despatches of “dove-grey” hills, or else it was “pearl-pale”, I can
not remember.
Use either no ornament or good ornament.
Rhythm and Rhyme
Let the candidate fill his mind with the finest cadences he can discover, preferably in a foreign
language, so that the meaning of the words may be less likely to divert his attention from the
movement. This is for rhythm, his vocabulary must of course be found in his native tongue.
Let the neophyte know assonance and alliteration, rhyme immediate and delayed, simple and
polyphonic, as a musician would expect to know harmony and counterpoint and all the minutiae of
his craft.
Don’t be “viewy”—leave that to the writers of pretty little philosophic essays. Don’t be
descriptive; remember that the painter can describe a landscape much better than you can, and that he
has to know a deal more about it.
When Shakespeare talks of the “Dawn in russet mantle clad” he presents something which the
painter does not present. There is in this line of his nothing that one can call descrition; he presents.
Consider the way of the scientists rather than the way of an advertising agent for a new soap. (...)
He begins by learning what has been discovered already. He goes from that point onward.
Don’t chop your stuff into separate iambs. Don’t make each line stop dead at the end, and then
begin every next line with a heave. Let the beginning of the next line catch the rise of the rhythm
wave, un less you want a definite longish pause.
In short, behave as a musician, a good musician, when dealing with that phase of your art which
has exact parallels in music.
(...) There is, in the best verse, a sort of residue of sound which remains in the ear of the hearer
and acts more or less as an organ base.
Compare the definiteness of Dante’s presentation, as compared with Milton’s rhetoric. read as
much of Wordsworth as does not seem too unutterably dull. (Read Sappho, Catullus, Villon, Heine,
Chaucer.)
Don’t mess up the perception of one sense by trying to define it in terms of another. This is
usually only the result of being too lazy tofind the exact word. There are posiible exceptions.
CREDO
Rhythm: I believe in an absolute rhythm, a rhythm, that is, in poetry which corresponds exactly
to the emotion or shade of emotion to be expressed. A man’s rhythm must be interpretative, it will be,
therefore, in the end, his own, uncounterfeiting, uncounterfeitable.
Symbols: Ibelieve that the proper and perfect symbol is the natural object, that if a man use
symbols he must so use them that their symbolic function does not obtrude; so that a sense, and the
poetic quality of the passage, is not lost to those who do not understand the symbol as such, to whom,
for instance, a hawk is a hawk.
188
Technique: I believe in technique as the test of a man’s sincerity; in law when it is ascertaible; in
the tramplig down of every convention that impedes or obscures the determination of the law, or the
precise rendering of the impulse.
Form: I think there is a fluid as well a a solid content., that some poems may have form as a tree
has form, some as water poured into a vase.
No man ever writes very much poetry that matters. In bulk, that is, no one produces much that is
final, and when a man is not doing this highest thing (...) he had much better be making the sorts of
experiment which may be of use to him in his later work, or to his succesors.
‘The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne’. It is a foolish thing for a man to begin his work on a
too narrow foundation.
As for adaptations; one finds that all the old masters of painting recommend to their pupils that
they begin by copying masterwork, and proceed to their own composition.
The mastery of any art is the work of a lifetime.
No good poetry is ever written in a manner twenty years old, for to write in such manner shows
conclusively that the writer thinks from books, convention and cliché, and not from life, yet a man
feeling the divorce of life and his art may naturally try to resurrect a forgotten mode if he finds in that
mode some leaven, or if he think he sees in it some element lacking in contemporary art which might
unite that art again to its sustenance, life.
In the art of Daniel and Cavalcanti, I have seen that precision which I miss in the Victorians,
that explicit rendering, be it of external nature, or of emotion. Their testimony is of the eyewitness,
their symptoms are first hand.
Chinese Ideograms:
He is to define red. How can he do it in a piture that isn’t painted in red paint?
He puts together the abbreviated pictures of ROSE, CHERRY, IRON RUST, FLAMINGO.
The Chinese word or ideogram for red is based on something everyone knows. A language
written in this way simply has to stay poetic.
(Ezra Pound; Essays)
Aristotle will tell you that "The apt use of metaphor, being as it is, the swift perception of
relations, is the true hall-mark of genius. (...) By "apt use", I should say it were well to understand, a
swiftness, almost violence, and certainly a vividness. This does not mean elaboration and
complication.
(Pound, Essays)
189
No one is so foolish as to suppose that a musician using 'four-four' time is compelled to use
always four quarter notes in each bar (...). He may use 1/2, one 1/4 and one 1/8 rest, or any such
combination as he may happen to choose or find fitting.
To apply this musical truism to verse is to employ 'vers libre'.
(...) The movement of poetry is limited only by the nature of syllables and of articulate sound,
and by the laws of music, or melodic rhythm.
(Pound, The tradition, Essays)
De "Eliot on Pound' (compu):
As for the first point, here are Mr. Pound's words in answer to
the question, "do you agree that the great poet is never
emotional?"
Yes, absolutely; if by emotion is meant that he is at the
mercy of every passing mood.... The only kind of emotion
worthy of a poet is the inspirational emotion which
energises and strengthens, and which is very remote from the
everyday emotion of sloppiness and sentiment....
(Eliot on Pound)
from ABC of Reading:
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.
Language was obviously created, and is, obviously, used for communication.
Literature is news that STAYS news.
(chap. 3)
Dichten = condensare.
Poetry is the most concentrated form of verbal expression.
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The good writer cooses his words for their meaning, but that meaning is not a set, cut-off thing
like the move of knight or pawn on a chess-board. It comes up with roots, with associations, with
how and where the word is familiarly used, or where it has been used brilliantly or memorably.
You can hardly say "incarnadine" without one or more of your auditors thinking of a particular
line of verse.
(...)
Bicycle now has a cut-off meaning.
But tandem, or "bicycle built for two", will probably throw the image of a past decade upon the
reader's mental screen.
You charge words with meaning mainly in three ways, called phanopoeia (throw a visual image
on to the reader's imagination), melopoeia (inducing emotional correlations by the sound or rhythm
of the speech, or use a group of words to do this), logopoeia (inducing both of the effects by
stimulating the associations —intellectual or emotional— that have remained in the receiver's
consciousness in relation to the actual words or word groups employed / you use the word in some
special relation to "usage", that is, to the kind of context in which the reader expects, or is
accustomed, to find it).
(chap. 4)
One definition of beauty is: aptness to purpose.
Incrediblae as it now seems, the bad critics of Keat's time found his writing "obscure", which
meant that they couldn't understand WHY Keats wrote.
The usual game of quibbling over half truth, starts just here. The best work probably does pour
forth, but it does so AFTER the use of the medium has become "second nature", the writer need no
more think about EVERY DETAIL, than Tilden needs to think about the position of every muscle in
every stroke of hid tennis. The force, the draw, etc., follow the main intention, without damage to the
unity of the act.
(chap. 8)
MUSIC
It is not a man's fingers that stop him playing an instrument but his mind, his inability to grasp
mentally the sixty or twelve or six hundred bits of a whole, and to perceive their relations. The true
imagination, whether visual or acoustic, holds a piece of music as a watchmaker would mentally
grasp a watch. (...)
The value of music as elucidation of verse comes from the attention it throws on to the detail.
Every popular song has at least one line or sentence that is perfectly clear. This line FITS THE
MUSIC. It has usually formed the music.
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NARRATION
Narrative sense, narrative power can survive any truncation. If a man have the tale to tell and
can keep his mind on that and refuses to worry about his own limitationns, the reader will, in the long
or short run, find him.
More writers fail from lack of character than from lack of intelligence.
Technical solidity is not attained without at least some persistence.
The next cause is the desire men have to tell what they don't know, or to pass off an
emptyness for a fullness. they are discontented with what they have to say and want to make a pint of
comprehension fill up a gallon of verbiage.
An author having a very small amount of true contents can make it tha basis of formal and
durable mastery, provided he neither inflates nor falsifies: vide the Aucassin, the Canzoni of Arnaut,
the Daphnis and Chloe.
de Treatise on Metre:
Rhythm is a form cut into TIME, as a design is determined in SPACE.
If he hasn't a sense of time and of the different qualities of sound, this design will be clumsy
and uninteresting just as a bad draughtsman's drawing will be without distinction.
The bad draughtsman is bad because he does not perceive space and spatial relations, and cannot
therefore deal with them.
The writer of bad verse is a bore because he does not perceive time and time relations, and
cannot therefore delimit them in an interesting manner, by means of longer and shorter, heavier and
lighter syllabes, and the varying qualities of sound inseparable from the words of his speech.
Most arts attain their effects by using a fixed element and a variable.
From the empiric angle: verse usually has some element roughly fixed and some other that
varies, but which element is to be fixed and which vary, and to what degree, is the affair of the
author.
(...)
You don't ask an art instructor to give you a recipe for making a Leonardo da Vinci drawing.
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Hence the extreme boredom caused by the usual professorial documentation or the aspiring
thesis on prosody.
The answer is:
LISTEN to the sound it makes.
(...)
Homer did not start by thinking which of the sixty-four permitted formulae was to be used in his
next verse.
Do not hunt for sentiments to fit into your vocabulary.
(Ezra Pound; ABC of Reading)
The object in writing poetry is to make all poems sound as different as possible from each other, and
the resources for that of vowels, consononants, punctuation, syntax, words, sentences, meter are not
enough. We need the help of context—meaning—subject matter. That is the greatest help towards
variety.
The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for
love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in
delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of
lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life—not necessarily in a great clarification, such as sects
and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion.
(Robert Frost; Modern Poetics)
The ordinary man falls in love, or reads Spinoza, and these two experiences have nothing to do with
each other, or with the noise of the typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these
experiences are always forming new wholes.(...) He accomplishes his pourpose by finding or creating
a stable, intrinsically efficacious “objective correlative”: that is, a set of objects, a situation, a chain
of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts,
which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediatly evoked.
(Intro toT.S.Eliot en Modern Poetics)
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The lines must be capable of being counted, that is to say, measured.
(Aproximate example)
(1) The smell of the heat is boxwood
(2) when rousing us
(3) a movement of the air
(4) stir our thoughts
(5) that had no life in them
(6) to a life, a life in which
(or)
(1) Mother of God! Our lady!
(2) the heart
(3) is an unruly master:
(4) Forgive our sins
(5) as we
(6) forgive
(7) those who have sinned against
Count a single beat to each numeral. (...) Over the whole poem it gives a pattern to the meter that can
be felt as a new measure. It gives resources to the ear which result in a language which we hear
spoken about us every day.
(William Carlos Williams; Modern Poetics)
Yet Miss Lowell wrote a poem on "Thompson's Lunch Room, Grand Central Station"; it is admirable
if its intention is to show the whole reach of her courage. Its detail goes like this:
Jagged greenwhite bowls of pressed glass
Rearing snow-peaks of chipped sugar
Above the lighthouse-shaped castors
Of gray pepper and gray-white salt.
For most of us as for the public idealist, with his "values", this is inconsequential. Unhappily it
seems that the things as things do not necessarily interest us, and that in fact we are not quite
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constructed with the capacity for a disinterested interest. But it must be noted even here that the
things are on their good behavior, looking rather well, and arranged by lines into something
approaching a military formation. More technically, there is cross-imagery in the snow peaks of
sugar and in the lighthouse-shaped castors, and cross-imagery involves association, and will
presently involve dissociation and thinking. The metre is a powerful intellectual determinant
marshalling the words and, inevitably, the things. The Dinglichkeit of this Imagist specimen, or the
realism, was therefore not pure. But it was nearer pure than the world was used to in poetry, and the
exhibit was astonishing.
(John Crowe Ransom; Modern Poetics)
Today I'm quite sure that free verse is far more difficult than the regular and classic forms. The
proof—if proof be needed—is that literature begins with verse. I suppose the explanation would be
that once a pattern is evolved—a pattern of rhymes, of assonances, of alliterations, of long and short
syllables, and so on—you only have to repeat the pattern. While, if you attempt prose (and prose, of
course, comes long after verse), then you need, as Stevenson pointed out, a more subtle pattern.
Because the ear is led to expect something, and then it does not get what it expects. Something else is
given to it; and that something else should be, in a sense, a failure and also a satisfaction.
(Borges, This craft of verse, VI)
The essential fault of Surrealism is that it invents without discovering. To make a clam play an
accordion is to invent not to discover. the observation of the unconcious, so far as it can be observed,
should reveal things of which we have previously been uncouncious, not the familiar things of which
we have been concious plus imagination.
Reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor.
(Wallace Stevens; Modern Poetics)
The motivation of the poem must be derived from the implicit emotional dynamics of the materials
used, and the terms of expression employed are often selected less for their logical (literal)
significance than for their associational meanings. Via this and their metaphorical inter-relationships,
the entire construction of the poem is raised on the organic principle of a "logic of metaphor," which
antedates our so-called pure logic, and which is the genetic basis of all speech, hence consciousness
and thought-extension.
(...)
In this condition there may be discoverable under new forms certain spiritual illluminations, shining
with a morality essentialized from the experiencce directly, and not from previous precepts or
preconceptions. It is as though a poem gave the reader as he left it a single, new word, never before
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spoken and impossible to actually enunciate, but self-evident as an active principle in the reader's
conciousness hencefoward.
(Hart Crane; Aims and Theories; Moder Poetics)
It all comes to the recognition that emotional dynamics are not to be confused with any absolute
order of rationalized definitions; ergo, in poetry tha rationale of metaphor belongs to another order of
experience than science, and is not to be limited by a scientific and arbitrary code of relationships
either in verbal inflections or concepts.
It is of course understood that a street-lamp simply can't beat with a sound like a drum; but it
often happens that images, themselves totally dissociated, when joined in the circuit of a particular
emotion located with specific relation to both of them, conduce to great vividness and accurracy of
statement in defining that emotion.
Se refiere a la línea de Eliot: Every street lamp that I pass beats like a fantastic drum.
(Hart Crane; Letter; Modern Poetics)
The ideal modern form seems to be the novel and certain short stories. Maybe Tolstoi would be the
perfect example—his work is imagistic, it deals with all experience, and there seems to be no conflict
of form and content. So one thing is to get into poetry that kind of human richness in rather simple
desriptive language. The there's another side of poetry: compression, something highly rhythmical
and perhaps wrenched into a small space. I've always been fascinated by both these things. But
getting it all on one page in a few stanzas, getting it all done in as little space as possible, revising and
revising so that each word and rhythm though not perfect is pondered and wrestled with—you can't
do that in prose very well, you'd never get your book written.
(Robert Lowell; Paris Interview; Modern Poetics)
INTERVIEWER: Hart Crane rewrote early scraps a great deal and used most of the rewrites.
But doesn't doing this imply a theory of poetry that would talk much more about craft than about
experience?
LOWELL: I don't know, it's such miracle if you get lines that are halfway right; it's not just a
technical problem. The lines must mean a goo deal to you. All your poems are in a sense one poem,
and there's always the struggle of getting something that balances and comes out right, in which all
parts are good, and that has experience that you value. And so if you have a few lines that shine in a
poem or are beginning to shine, and they fail and get covered over and drowned, maybe their real
form is in another poem. Maybe you've mistaken the real inspiration in the original poem and they
belong in something else entirely. I don't think that violates experience.
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INTERVIEWER: But in Crane's "Ode to an Urn", a poem a bout a personal friend, there are
lines which originally applied to something very different, and therefore, in one version or the other,
at least can't be personal
LOWELL: I think we always bring some unexplained obscurities by shifting lines. Something
that was clear in the original just seems odd and unexplained in the final poem. that can be quite bad,
of course; but ypu always want—and I think Chekhov talks about this—the detal that you can't
explain. It's just there. It seems right to you but you don't have to have it; you could have something
else entirely. Now if everything's like that you'd just have chaos, but a few unexplained difficult
things—they seem to be the life-blood of variety—they may work.
(Robert Lowell; Paris Interview; Modern Poetics)
Pater escribio que todas las artes propenden a la condicion de la musica, acaso porque en ella el
fondo es la forma, ya que no podemos referir una melodia como podemos referir las lineas generales
de un cuento. La poesia, admitido ese dictamen, seria un arte hibrido: la sujecion de un sistema
abstracto de simbolos, el lenguaje, a fines musicales. Los diccionarios tienen la culpa de ese concepto
erroneo. Suele olvidarse que son repertorios artificiosos, muy posteriores a las lenguas que ordenan.
La raiz del lenguaje es irracional y de caracter magico. El danes que articulaba el nombre de Thor o
el sajon que articulaba el nombre de Thunor no sabia si esas palabras significaban el dios del trueno
o el estrepito que sucede al relampago. La poesia quiere volver a esa antigua magia. Sin prefijadas
leyes, obra de un modo vacilante y osado, como si caminara en la oscuridad.
(Borges; Prologo a El Otro el Mismo)
On the Metaphysical Poets:
(...) But elsewher we find, instead of the mere explication of the content of a comparison, a
development by rapid association of thought which requires considerable agility on the part of the
reader.
(...) some of Donne's most successful and characteristic effects are secured by brief words and sudden
contrasts:
A bracelet of bright hair abot the bone,
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where the most powerful effect is produced by the sudden contras of associations of 'bright hair' and
of 'bone'.
(...) In Chapman especially there is a direct sensuous apprehension of thought, ar a recreation of
thought into feeling, which is exactly what we find in Donne.
(...) Tennyson and Browning are poets, and they think; but they do not feel their thought as
immediatly as the odour of a rose. A thought to Donne was an experience; it modified his sensibility.
When a poet's mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate
experience; the ordinary man's experience is chaotic, irregular, ragmentary. The latter falls in love, or
reads Spinoza, and this two experiences have nothing to do with each other, or with the noise of the
typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these experiences are always forming new
wholes.
(...) The poets in question have, like other poets, various faults. But they were, at best, engaged in the
task of trying to find the verbal equivalent for states of mind and feeling.
(...) Those who object to the 'artificiality' of Milton or Dryden sometimes tell us to 'look into our
hearts and write'. But that is not looking deep enough; Racine or Donne looked into a good deal more
than the heart. One must look into the cerebral cortx, the nervous system, and the digestive tracts.
(Eliot; The Metaphysical Poets)
Visualización
(Dante's imagination) is visual in the sense that he lived in an age in which men still saw
visions. It was a mental habit, the trick of which we have forgotten, but as good as any of our own.
Dante's attempt is to make us see what he saw. He therefore emplys very simple language,
and very few metaphors, for allegory and metaphor do not get well together. And there is a
peculiarity about his comparisons which is worth noticing in passing.
(...)
and sharpened their vision (knitted their brows) at us,
like an old tailor peering at the eye of his needle.
The purpose of this type of simile is solely to make us see more definitely the scene which Dante
has put before us in the preceding lines.
she looks like sleep,
As she would catch another Antony
In her strong toil of grace.
The image of Shakespeare's is much more complicated than Dante's, and more complicated than
it looks. It has the grammatical form of a simile (the 'as if' form), but of course 'catch in her toil' is a
metaphor. But whereas the simile of Dante is merely to make you see more clearly how the people
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looked, and is explanatory, the figure of Shakespeare is expansive rather than intensive; its purpose is
to 'add' to what you see (either on the stage or in your imagination) a reminder of that fascination of
Cleopatra which shaped her history and that of the world, and of that fascination being so strong tha
prevails even in death.
(Eliot; Dante)
Proceeding through the 'Inferno' on a first reading, we get a succession of phantasmagoric but clear
images, of images which are coherent, in that reinforces the last; of glimpses of individuals made
memorable by a perfect phrase, like that of the proud Farinata degli Unberti:
ed ei s' ergea col petto e colla fronte,
come si avesse lo inferno in gran dispitto.
He rose upright with breast and countenance,
as though he entertained great scorn of Hell.
and of particular longer episodes, which remain separately in the memory.
(...) And the two (episodes) may well be put together: for the first is Dante's testimony of a loved
master od arts, the second his reconstruction of a legendary figure of ancient epic; yet both have the
quality of 'surprise' which Poe declared to be essential to poetry. This 'surprise', at its highest, could
by nothing be better illustrated than by the final lines with which Dante dis misses the damned master
whom he loves and respects:
Then he turened back, and seemed like one of those who run for the green cloth at Verona
through the open field; and of them he seemed like him who wins, and not like him who loses.
One does not need to know anything about the race for the roll of green cloth, to be hit by this
lines; and in making Brunetto, so fallen, 'run like the winner', a quality is given to the punishment
which belongs only to the greatest poetry.
(Eliot; Dante)
The whole study and practice of Dante seems to me to teach that the poet should be the servant of his
language, rather than the master of it. This sense of responsability is one of the marks of the 'classical
poet' (...). Dante seems to me to have a place in Italian literature which, in this respect, only
Shakespeare has in ours; that is, they give body to the soul of the language, conforming themselves,
the one more and the other less conciously, to what they divined to be its possibilities.
(...)
The Divine Comedy expresses everything in the way of emotion, between depravity's despair and the
beatific vision, that man is capable of experiencing. It is therefore a constant reminder to the poet, of
the obligation to explore, to find words for the inarticulate, to capture those feelings which people
can hardly even feel, because they have no words for them; and at the same time, a reminder that he
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explorer beyond the frontiers of ordinary consciousness will only be able to return and report to his
fellow-citizens, if he has all the time a firm grasp upon the realities with which they are already
acquainted.
(Eliot; What Dante means to me)
A NOTE ON THE NOVEL
A FUTURE FOR THE NOVEL (1956)
The only conception of the novel to have currency today is, in fact, that of Balzac.
Or that of Mme. de La Fayette. Already sacrosanct in her day, psycological analysis constituted the
basis of all prose: it governed the conception of the book, the description of its characters, the
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development of its plot. A "good novel", ever since, has remained the study of a passion—or of a
conflict of passions, or of an absence of passion—in a given milieu.
But the world is neither significant nor absurd. It is, quite simply. That, in any case, is the most
remarcable thing about it. And suddenly the obviousness of this strikes us with irresistible force. All
at once the whole splendid construction collapses; opening our eyes unexpectedly, we have
experienced, once too often, the shock of this stubborn reality we were pretending to have mastered.
Around us, defying the noisy pack of our animistic or protective adjectives, things are there. Their
surfaces are distinct and smooth, intact, neither suspiciously brilliant nor transparent. All our
literature has not yet succede in eroding their smallest corner, in flattening their slightes curve.
p.19
Instead of this universe of 'signification' (psycological, social, functional), we must try, then, to
construct a world both more solid and more immediate. Let it be first of all by their presence that
objects and gestures establish themselves, and let this presence continue to prevail over whatever
explanatory theory that may try to enclose them in a system of references, whether emotional,
sociological, Freudian or metaphysical.
In this future universe of the novel, gestures and objects will be there before being something.
p.21
It is not surprising, giventhese conditions, that the literary phenomenon par excellence should have
resided in the total and unique adjective, which attempted to unite all the inner qualities, the entire
hidden soul of things.
p. 24
—de FOR A NEW NOVEL - ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET
La verdad es que las grandes novelas son grandes cuentos de hadas... La literatura nació el día en que
un chico llegó gritando el lobo, el lobo, sin que ningún lobo lo persiguiera.
—Nabokov, Curso de Literatura Europea
La diferencia entre un relato corto y una novela reside en lo siguiente: un relato corto puede tratar de
un crimen; una novela trata del criminal, y los hechos derivan de una estructura psicológica que, si el
escritor conoce su oficio, habrá descrito previamente.
—Phillip K. Dick
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Creating in the novel a sense of continuing life is the thing. We don't have that problem in the shortstory, where you nerely suggest continuing life. (...) To me anovel is something that's built around the
character of time, the nature of time, and the effects that time has on events and characters.
Chekhov had a long career as a journalist, as a writer for comic magazines, writing squibs, writing
vaudevilles, and he had learned the art very, very early, of maintaining interest, of creating a bony
structure. It's concealed in the later work. [Today, writers] think they can do without that bony
structure, but they are all wrong.
—Frank O'Connor
En libros no muy breves, el argumento no puede ser más que un pretexto, o un punto de partida. Es
importante para la ejecución de la obra, no para los goces de la lectura. Ello puede bservarse en todos
los géneros; las mejores novelas policiales no son las de mejor argumento.
—Borges, El primer Wells
EL ARTE COMO ARTIFICIO
Envolví el conejito en mi pañuelo, lo puse en el bolsillo del sobretodo dejando el sobretodo
suelto para no oprimirlo. Apenas se movía. Su menuda conciencia debía estarle revelando hechos
importantes: que la vida es un movimiento hacia arriba con un click al final, y que es también un
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cielo bajo, blanco, envolviente y oliendo a lavanda, en el fondo de un pozo tibio.
—Julio Cortázar, Carta a una señorita en Paris.
Art as Device
In order to return sensation to our limbs, in order to make us feel objects, to make a stone stony, man
has been given the tool of art. The purpose of art, then, is to lead us to a knowledge of a thing through
the organ of sigh instead of recognition. By 'enstranging" objects and complicating form, the device
of art makes perception long and "laborious."
The device by which Tolstoi enstranges his material may be boiled down to the following: he does
not call a thing by its name, that is, he describes it as if it were perceived for the first time, while an
incident is described as if it were happening for the first time. In addition, he foregoes the
conventional names of the various parts of a thing, replacing them instead with the names of
corresponding parts in other things.
The purpose of the image is not to draw our understanding closer to that which this image stands for,
but rather to allow us to perceive the object in a special way, in short, to lead us to a "vision" of this
object rather than mere "recognition."
According to Aristotle, poetic language ought to have the character of something foreign, something
outlandish about it. (...) It is "artificially" created by an artist in such a way that the perceiver,
pausing in his reading, dwells on the text. This is when the literary work attains its greatest and most
long-lasting impact. The object is perceived not spatially but, as it were, in its temporal continuity.
That is, because of this device, the object is brought into view.
Plot Construction and Style
Why is the lyrical poetry of a foreign country never revealed to us in its fullness even when we have
learned its language? (...) What's missing? The answer is: differential perceptions. The slightest
aberrations from the norm in the choice of expressions, in the combination of words, in the subtle
shifts of syntax—all of this can be mastered only by someone who lives among the natural elements
of his language, by someone who, thanks to his conscious awareness of the norm, is immediatly
struck, or rather, irritated by any deviation from it.
This idea has been expressed essentially by Nietzche in his aphorism on "good prose": only in the
presence of poetry can one write good prose. Prose, writes Nietzche, is engaged in a continual war of
courtesy with poetry, and all of its charms consist in this, that it constantly seeks to flee from it and
contradict it.If poetry by nature holds itself at some remove from everyday prose, then we may say
similarly that good prose holds itself at some remove from poetry.
pg. 21
— SHKLOVSKY, THEORY OF PROSE
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No hay respuesta exacta para esas preguntas. Hay suposiciones y teorías y hábiles conjeturas,
pero no hay respuestas.
En esos grupos familiares más de un narrador ha tenido que explicar que sólo se trata de un
cuento, que no existen cosas tales como una ciudad o un hombre, que en los cuentos, que no
pretenden más que entretener, no hay que buscar una verdad.
—Clifford D. Simak, Ciudad
En el fragmento que sigue, el relato es doblemente punzante porque no dice, simplemente, que los
soldados fueron muertos en combate o que nunca volvieron; nos pone delante de sus rostros:
CHORUS
And more; in each house throughout the land of Greece
that sent its dearests to make war beyond the sea,
the brave heart is called to school itself
in slow endurance against
griefs that strike deep into the bossom:
those that are sent away they
knew, but now they receive back
not the faces they longed to see,
only a heap of ashes.
—Aeschylus, Agammenon, tr. George Thompson, pg.14
Acá también el efecto lo da la última línea:
CHORUS
It is muttered in a whisper,
and it spreads with growling envy of the sons of Atreus.
They lie still, the possesors
each of a strip of Trojan
soil, but the land that hides their fair
limbs is a foe and foreign.
—Aeschylus, Agammenon, tr. George Thompson, pg.15
Beneath the brows lie the eyes, the most precious part of the body and the one that
distinguishes life from death by the use it makes of daylight.
—Pliny, Natural History, Book XI, LI
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En este cuento de Onetti, todo es dilación, nunca se llega a comprender del todo lo que está pasando,
porque la información es fragmentaria; por eso cada detalle resulta tan importante como el resto,
porque no sabemos cuál de todos es la clave, que quizá no exista:
Los días de sol que se repitieron en la playa antes de que llegara el Colorado se transformaron en el
recuerdo en uno solo, de longitud normal, pero en el que cabían todos los sucesos: un día de otoño,
casi caluroso, en el que hubieran podido entrar, además, su propia infancia y multitud de deseos que
no se cumplieron nunca. No necesitaba agregar un solo minuto para verse conversar con los
pescadores en la extremidad izquierda de la playa, desmembrar cangrejos para las carnadas; verse
recorriendo la orilla en dirección al pueblo, al almacén donde compraba la comida y se emborrachaba
apenas, dando un monosílabo por cada frase afirmativa del patrón. Estaba, en el mismo día casi
ardiente, bañándose en la completa soledad de la playa, inventando, entre tantas otras cosas, un
madero carcomido balanceado por las olas y un terceto de gaviotas chillando encima. Estaba
trepando y resbalando en las dunas, persiguiendo insectos entre las barbas de los arbustos,
presintiendo el lugar donde sería enterrado el anillo.
Y, además, mientras esto sucedía, Díaz Grey bostezaba en el corredor del chalet, estirado en la silla
de playa, una botella a un lado, una revista vieja sobre las piernas; herrumbrada, inútil y vertical
contra el tronco de la enredadera, la escopeta descubierta en el galpón.
Díaz Grey estaba con la botella, su desencanto, la revista y la escopeta cuando el Colorado salió de
entre los árboles y fue trepando hacia la casa, el saco colgado de un hombro, la gran espalda doblada.
Díaz Grey esperó a que la sombra del otro le tocara las piernas; alzó entonces la cabeza y miró el
pelo revuelto, las mejillas flacas y pecosas; se llenó con una mezcla de piedad y repulsión que habría
de conservarse inalterada en el recuerdo, más fuerte que toda voluntad de la memoria o la
imaginación.
—Me manda el doctor Quinteros. Soy el Colorado —anunció con una sonrisa; con un brazo apoyado
en la rodilla estuvo esperando las modificaciones asombrosas que su nombre impondría al paisaje, a
la mañana que empezaba a declinar, al mismo Díaz Grey y su pasado. Era mucho más corpulento que
el médico, aun así, encogido, construyendo su prematura joroba. Apenas hablaron; el Colorado
mostró el filo de los dientes diminutos, como de un niño, tartamudeó y fue desviando los ojos hacia
el río.
Díaz Grey pudo continuar inmóvil, tan solitario como si el otro no hubiera llegado, como si no
alargara el brazo y abriera la mano para dejar caer el saco, como si no se fuera acuclillando hasta
quedar sentado en la galería, las piernas colgantes, excesivamente doblado el torso en dirección a la
playa. El médico recordó la historia clínica del Colorado, la ampulosa descripción de su manía
incendiaria escrita por Quinteros, en la que este semiidiota pelirrojo, manejador de fósforos y latas de
petróleo en las provincias del norte, aparecía tratando de identificarse con el sol y oponiéndose a su
inmolación en las tinieblas maternales. Tal vez ahora, mirando los reflejos en el agua y en la arena,
evocara, poetizadas e imperiosas, las fogatas que había confesado a Quinteros.
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—¿No se come? —preguntó el Colorado al atardecer. Entonces Díaz Grey recordó que el otro estaba
ahí, doblado, la cabeza redonda tendida hacia la arena que comenzaba a levantar los remolinos de
viento. Lo hizo entrar en la casa y comieron, trató de emborracharlo para averiguar algo que no le
interesaba: si había venido a esconderse o a vigilarlo. Pero el Colorado apenas conversó mientras
comía; bebió todos los vasos que le ofrecieron y fue a tenderse, descalzo, a un costado de la casa.
Entonces se iniciaron los días de lluvia, un período de nieblas que se enredaban y colgaban,
velozmente marchitas, de los árboles, borrando a veces y haciendo revivir otras, los colores de las
hojas aplastadas en la arena.
"El no está", pensaba Díaz Grey mirando el cuerpo encogido y silencioso del Colorado, viéndolo
andar descalzo, empujar la humedad con los hombros, estremecerse como un perro mojado.
Con un brazo a medias tendido, con una sonrisa que reveló la larga espera de un milagro imposible,
el Colorado se apoderó de la escopeta. Empezó a doblarse por las noches encima de ella, junto a la
lámpara, para manejar y engrasar, caviloso y torpe, tornillos y resortes; por las mañanas se introducía
en la neblina con el arma al hombro o colgando contra una pierna.
El médico estuvo buscando restos de cajones, papeles, trapos, alzó algunas ramas casi secas, y una
noche encendió la chimenea. Las llamas iluminaron las manos que se doblaban sobre la escopeta
abierta; el Colorado levantó por fin la cabeza y miró el fuego, fijamente, sin nada más que la
expresión distraída de quien se ayuda a soñar con la oscilación de la luz, la suave sorpresa de las
chispas. Después se levantó para corregir la posición de los troncos, manejándolos sin cuidado;
volvió a sentarse en la pequeña silla de cocina que había elegido y recuperó la escopeta. Mucho antes
de que el fuego se apagara, salió para inspeccionar la noche, donde la niebla se estaba transformando
en llovizna y sonaba ya sobre el techo.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, La casa en la arena
Around the lamp, the circling of the insects is still the same. By examining it closely, however,
the eye at last manages to make out some bodies that are larger than others. Yet this is not enough to
determine their nature. Against the black background they form only bright points which become
increasingly brilliant as they approach the light, turning black as soon as they pass in front of the
lamp with the light behind them, then recovering all their brilliance whose intensity now decreases
toward the tip of the orbit.
In the suddenness of its return toward the glass, the bright point violently plunges against it,
producing a dry click. Fallen on the table, it has become a tiny reddish beetle with closed wing cases
which slowly circles on the darker wood.
—Alain Robbe-Grillet
a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. I think i too have known
autumn too long
(and what have you to say,
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wind wind wind—did you love somebody
and have you the petal of somewhere in your heart
pinched from dumb summer?
O crazy daddy
of death dance cruelly for us and start
the last leaf whirling in the final brain
of air!)Let us as we have seen see
doom's integration..........a wind has blown the rain
away and the leaves and the sky and the
trees stand:
the trees stand.
The trees,
suddenly wait against the moon's face.
—E.E.Cummings
DYSART: With one particular horse, called Nugget, he embraces. The animal digs its sweaty brow
into his cheek, and they stand in the dark for an hour—like a necking couple. And of all nonsensical
things—I keep thinking about the horse! Not the boy: the horse, and what it may trying to do. I keep
seeing that huge head kissing him with its chained mouth. Nudging through the metal some desire
absolutely irrelevant to filling its belly or propagating its own kind. What desire could that be? Not to
stay a horse any longer? Not to remain reined up for ever in those particular genetic strings? Is it
possible, at certain moments we cannot imagine, a horse can add its sufferings together—the nonstop jerks and jabs that are its daily life—and turn them into grief? What use id grief to a horse? [...]
You see, I'm lost. What use, I should be asking, are questions like these to an overworked psychiatrist
in a provincial hospital? They're worse than useless: they are, in fact, subversive. [...] The thing is,
I'm desperate. You see, I'm wearing that horse's head myself. That's the feeling. All reined up in old
language and old assumptions, straining to jump clean-hoofed on to a whole new track of being I
only suspect is there. I can't see it, because my educated, average head is being held at the wrong
angle. I can't jump because the bit forbids it, and my own basic force—my horsepower, if you like—
is too little. The only thing I know for sure is this: a horse's head is finally unknowable to me. Yet I
handle children's heads—which I must presume to be more complicated, at least in the area of my
chief concern...
—Peter Shaffer, Equus 1.1
DESCRIPCION
CASSIUS. (...) Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?
BRUTUS. No, Cassius, for the eye sees not itself
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But by reflection, by some other things.
—William Shakespeare, Julius Cesar, 1.2
8.Toma a tus personajes de la mano y llévalos firmemente hasta el final, sin ver otra cosa que el
camino que les trazaste. No te distraigas viendo tú lo que ellos no pueden o no les importa ver.
10.No pienses en tus amigos al escribir, ni en la impresión que hará tu historia. Cuenta como si tu
relato no tuviera interés más que para el pequeño ambiente de tus personajes, de los que pudiste
haber sido uno. No de otro modo se obtiene la vida en el cuento.
—Horacio Quiroga, Decálogo
Ejemplo:
Ocurrió un día, poco antes de la noche de San Juan, que Thorbjorn fue a caballo a Bjarg.
Llevaba yelmo, espada y un alanza de hoja muy ancha. Aquél día llovió. De los peones de Atli,
algunos trabajaban en la siega del heno; otros se habían ido a pescar al norte, a Hornstrandir. Atli
estaba en su casa con poca gente. Thorbjorn llegó hacia el mediodía. Solo, cabalgó hasta la puerta.
Estaba cerrada y nadie había fuera. Thornbjorn llamó y se ocultó detrás de la casa, para que no lo
vieran desde la puerta. La servidumbre oyó que llamaban y una mujer salió a abrir. Thorbjorn la vio,
sin dejarse ver. La mujer volvió al aposento. Atli preguntó quién estaba fuera. Ella repuso que no
había visto a nadie. Mientras así hablaban, Thorbjorn volvió a golpear con fuerza.
Entonces Atli dijo: "Alguien me busca y trae un mensaje, que ha de ser muy urgente." Abrió
laperta y miró; no había nadie. Ahora llovía con violencia y por eso Atli no salió; con una mano en el
marco de la puerta, miró en torno. En ese instante saltó Thorbjorn y le hundió con las dos manos la
lanza en mitad del cuerpo...
Atli dijo, al recibir el golpe: "Ahora se usan estas hojas tan anchas." Luego cayó de boca sobre el
umbral. Las mujeres salieron y lo halaron muerto. Thorbjorn, desde el caballo, gritó que él era el
matador y se volvió a su casa.
—Saga de Grettir, c. 45
Otro:
[El viejo Vizcacha]
Cuando mozo jué casao,
Aunque yo lo desconfío,
Y decía un amigo mío
Que, de arrebatao y malo,
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Mató a su mujer de un palo
Porque le dió un mate frío.
(c.14)
Cuando ya no pudo hablar
Le até en la mano un cencerro,
Y al ver cercano su entierro,
Arañando las paredes,
espiró allí entre los perros
Y este servidor de ustedes.
(c.17)
Se largaron, como he dicho,
A disponer el entierro;
Cuando me acuerdo me aterro:
Me puse a llorar a gritos
Al verme allí tan solito
Con el finao y los perros.
Me saqué el escapulario,
Se lo colgué al pecador,
Y como hay en el señor
Misericordia infinita,
Rogué por la alma bendita
Del que antes jué mi tutor.
No se calmaba mi duelo
De verme tan solitario;
Ahí le champurrié un rosario
Como si juera mi padre,
besando el escapulario
Que me había puesto mi madre.
"Madre mía", gritaba yo,
"Donde estarás padeciendo?
El llanto que estoy virtiendo
Lo redamarías por mí,
Si vieras a tu hijo aquí
Todo lo que esta sufriendo."
Y mientras ansí clamaba
Sin poderme consolar,
Los perros, para aumentar
Mas mi miedo y mi tormento,
En aquel mesmo momento
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Se pusieron a llorar.
Libre Dios a los presentes
De que sufran otro tanto;
Con el muerto y esos llantos
Les juro que faltó poco
Para que me vuelva loco
En medio de tanto espanto.
Decían entonces las viejas,
Como que eran sabedoras,
Que los perros cuando lloran
Es porque ven al demonio;
Yo creia en el testimonio
Como cré siempre el que inora.
Ahi dejé que los ratones
Comieran el guasquerío
Y como anda a su albedrío
Todo el que güerfano queda,
Alzando lo que era mío
Abandoné aquella cueva.
...................
Supe después que esa tarde
Vino un pión y lo enterró;
Ninguno lo acompañó
Ni lo velaron siquiera;
Y al otro día amaneció
Con una mano dejuera.
Y me ha contao además
El gaucho que hizo el entierro
-Al recordarlo me aterro,
Me da pavor este asuntoQue la mano del dijunto
Se la había comido un perro.
(c. 18)
—José Hernández, Martín Fierro 2
-¿Qué modificaciones observa entre la narrativa del siglo VIX y la contemporánea?
-La clave de la construcción de la narración en el siglo XIX era la descripción y ya no lo es. Esa
descripción era muy fuerte pero no era narrativa. Yo creo que el único elemento contrario a la
narración es la descripción. Cuando uno arma un relato, puede meter cualquier cosa dentro de él. No
importa si está contando la historia de una mujer o de un teorema. El problema de si un texto es
narrativo o no, no tiene que ver con el tema. Tiene que ver con el modo en que el narrador maneja la
descripción, que es el punto donde un relato se detiene. Cuando se trata de quebrar la narración es
muy común buscar la descripción, detenerse, cortar la acción, que tiene en general una función lírica.
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En el siglo XIX eso funcionaba como la construcción de la verdad. Eso es lo que cambió. Lo demás
no se modificó demasiado.
—Entrevista a Ricardo Piglia
A man thinking about death is not a story. A man building a coffin is.
(Description; Monica Wood)
Flaubert, A Simple Heart
Flaubert "discovered" that in fiction no object exists until it has acted upon or been acted upon by
some other object.
"On days when it was too hot they did not leave their room. From the dazzling brilliance outside light
fell in streaks between the laths of the blinds. There were no sounds in the village; and on the
pavement below not a soul. This silence round them deepened the quietness of things. In the
distance, where men were caulking, there was a tap of hammers as they plugged the hulls, and a
sluggish breeze wafted up the smell of tar."
He uses all of the senses. On detail rests upon and sustain another. 'The sound of the caulkers'
hammers comes more clearly to our ears because of the smell of tar in the air.'
—Gordon, THE HOUSE OF FICTION
También en este fragmento de Madame Bovary:
—Lo he leído todo —se decía.
Y se dedicaba a atizar el fuego o miraba caer la lluvia.
¡Cuánta era su tristeza los domingos cuando tocaban a vísperas! Hundida en atento sopor,
escuchaba una a una las cascadas. Por los tejados se deslizaba con lentitud algún que otro gato, que
arqueaba su lomo bajo el desvaído sol. El viento, en la carretera, arrastraba nubes de polvo. En la
lejanía ladraba a veces un perro, y la campana, con acompasado son, proseguía en su monótono
repique, que se perdía en el campo.
—Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, pg. 57
Otro ejemplo de lo anterior (un objeto actuando sobre otro—en este caso, la presencia del gato
refuerza la idea de la calle desierta):
No mucho más tarde, cuando los tranvías comenzaron a escasear y el cielo parecía de terciopelo
negro sobre los árboles y los faroles, la calle se fue vaciando, casi imperceptiblemente, hasta que
llegó un momento en el que no podía verse a nadie y un gato, el primero de la noche, cruzó, sin
apuro, la calle desierta.
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—Albert Camus, El Extranjero
However, the traveler is distracted from his recurrent visions of a buried past, resurfacing in bits
and pieces, by a series of sounds which are anything but characteristically urban: a cock-crow which
recurs three times, clear and melodious despite its remoteness, no longer in time but now in space.
The acoustic quality of the crowing, undisturbed by any parasitical noise, permits measuring this
unusual silence amid which it rings out, echoing far and wide.
—Alain Robbe-Grillet, Repetition, pg. 41
(Hablando acerca del jardín de rocas de Ryoanji, en Kyoto)
Hay, definitivamente, una forma misteriosa en la distribución de las rocas. Sólo mediante la forma
podemos llegar a una comprensión del vacío.
—Jack Kerouac, Los vagabundos del Dharma
Fiction appeals to temperament.
...the moral, the emotional atmosphere of the place and time. Suach an appeal to be effective must be
an impression conveyed through the senses; and, in fact, it cannot be made in any other way, because
temperament, whether individual or collective, is not amenable to persuasion. All art, therefore,
appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also
make its appeal through the sense, if its high desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive
emotions.
—My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to
make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is everything.
—Joseph Conrad, Preface to The nigger of the Narcissus
Joyce, The Dead
If the art of naturalism consists mainly in making active those elements which had hitherto in fiction
remained inert, that is: description and expository summary, the further push given the method by
Joyce consists in manipulating what at first sight seems to be mere physical detail into dramatic
symbolism. As Gabriel Conroy, the 'hero' of 'The Dead', enters the house of his aunts, he scrapes
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snow from his galoshes onto the door mat; by the time the story ends the snow has filled all the
visible earth, and stands as the symbol of the revelation of Gabriel's inner life.
Lily, the maid, is "planted" in the opening paragraph because, when Gabriel arrives, he must enter the
scene dramatically, and not merely be "reported" as entering. So there comes the little incident with
Lily, which indicates his inadequate response to people, even his lack of respect for them. He refers
patronizingly to Lily's personal life ("I suppose we'll be going to your wedding one of these fine days
with your young man, eh?"); when she cries out in protest he makes it worse by offering her money.
From that moment we 'know' Gabriel Conroy, but we have not been told what he is: we have had him
rendered.
We are shown everything all along the story. We are not told that the 'milieu' is the provincial,
middle-class, cultivated society of Dublin at the turn of the century, etc. Take Miss Ivors, who
accuses Gabriel of being a 'West Briton' because of his writings on a certain newspaper. She also asks
him why does he go to France to vacationate instead of 'knowing ' his own country. The way Gabriel
answers to all of this let us see his emotional sterility, his complacency, his sentimental evasion of
'reality' (at the same time that the stupidity of this woman, who stands for the rich and complex life of
the Irish people out of which Gabriel's wife has come. We are then given a subtle dramatic
presentation of a spiritual limitation which focusses symbolically, at the end of the story, upon his
relation to his wife. Miss Ivors is a flat character, an instrument placed there to make appear certain
quality in Gabriel's character. To this sort of mechanical character, James applied the term 'ficelle.'
At the end we are first 'told' about Michael; but we begin to 'see' him in this passage: "I implored him
to go home at once and told him he would get his death in the rain. But he said he did not want to
live. I can see his eyes as well, as well! He was standing at the end of the wall where there was a
tree."
Without the wall and the tree to give him space he would not exist; these details cut him loose from
Gretta's story and present him in the round.
—Gordon, THE HOUSE OF FICTION
Stephen Crane
An example of a "failure" by a master:
' "The red-coats! see the red-coats!" the horsemen of the escort shouted joyously. (...) (Then) he
noticed that many of those unhappy red-coats were still alive (...) Our hero, who was of a humane
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nature, strove to guide his mount so that he should not trample any of the mangled forms.'
Stendhal
—
The scene is not vivid. events seem to be reported by someone who is standing at a little distance
from the scene. A person who mistakes a wounded man's blood for a red uniform is either not
observing closely or is not very close to him. He piles more detail. The horsemen shout 'joyously."
Fabrice is of a 'humane nature." The red-coats are "supplicating aid." But each of these strokes makes
the battle seem farther off. The omniscient method will not serve here. It does not bring us close
enough to the scene.
Crane solved the problem by putting his narrator in the heart of the scene. We register what goes on
through his senses. The events seem to be enacted before our eyes.
"...the chest of the doomed soldier began to heave with a strained motion. It increased in violence
until it was as if an animal was within and was kicking and tumbling furiously to be freed."
—
Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
—Gordon, THE HOUSE OF FICTION
TONAL UNITY
D.H.Lawrence, The Rocking-Horse Winner
The whispering voices also play an important part in the tonal effect, as does Bassett's speech to the
dying boy which has the urgent, almost non-sensicals quality of any speech made by the living to the
dying. the name of the winner, too, is important.
"It's Malabar!" he screamed, in a powerful, strange voice. "It's Malabar!"
Let the student substitute a name like "little Andy" or "Sea Biscuit" for the winner and see what a
difference such a substitution will make in the whole story. The combinations of short a's and broad
a's has a tragic sound and the word "Malabar" itself strikes our ear strangely. Joyce achieved the
same effect with his title "Araby."
—Gordon, THE HOUSE OF FICTION
Descripcionismo Minucioso
The most trivial actions of Watt, most of which are very similar to those we perform ourselves every
day, are exhaustively catalogued in an elaborate pretence of obsessive realism, and we can see how
such "realism" in fiction, pushed to so logical a conclusion, soon gives the effect of living in a kind of
casual and unpunishing hell.
—O'Hara, Introduction, Beckett Criticism
Las cosas son simplemente ordenaciones vacías de algo que tiene una apariencia sólida en el espacio.
No son ni grandes ni pequennas, no están ni cerca ni lejos, no son ni ciertas ni falsas. Son fantasmas
puros y simples.
—Jack Kerouac, Vagabundos del Dharma
To restore silence is the role of objects.
—Beckett, Molloy.
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Ponge
La "mesura" de Ponge, su discreción —que es lo mismo que su concreción— puede definirse por el
hecho de que para llegar a hablar del mar, tiene que proponerse como tema las orillas, las playas, las
costas. Lo ilimitado no entra en su página, es decir entra cuando encuentra sus propios márgenes y
sólo entonces empieza a existir verdaderamente.
—Italo Calvino, Por qué leer los clásicos.
El mar hasta la cercanía de sus límites es una cosa sencilla que se repite ola por ola. Pero para
llegar a las cosas más sencillas en la naturaleza es necesario emplear muchas formas, muchos
modales; para las cosas más profundas sutilizarlas de alguna manera. Por eso, y también por rencor
contra su inmensidad que lo abruma, el hombre se precipita a las orillas o a la intersección de las
cosas grandes para definirlas. Pues la razón en el seno de lo uniforme rebota peligrosamente y se
enrarece: un espíritu necesitado de nociones debe ante todo hacer provisión de apariencias.
—Francis Ponge, Orillas del Mar
Excerpt from Siclair Lewis's Main Street:
On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewa Indians camped two generations ago, a girl stood in
relief against the cornflower blue of the sky. She saw no indians now, she saw flour mills and the
blinking windows of skycrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of portages and
the Yankee fur traders whose shadows were all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the
plays of Brieux, and the reason why heels run over, and the fact that the chesmistry instructor had
stared at the new coiffure that concealed her ears.
A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheatlands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so
graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower
road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned
back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous,
plastic, young, drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant
youth.
It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.
Commentary: The author tries to give the scene depth by using a historical perspective. The girl
is posed on the banks of a lake where Chippewa Indians once camped, but the setting remains a
flimsy backdrop. We do not see the Indians engaged in a ny of their activities and unless we happen
to have some specific knowledge of the tribe the name remains an empty word for us. The author
tells us what the girl does not see and does not think of and these details negate his specifications of
what she does see and think of: flour mills, walnut fudge, the plays of Brieux, and so on. In an effort
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to rescue his dissolving scene he introduces another viewpoit, that of the watcher on the road; but
since the girl does not know of the watcher's existence, he does not function dramatically. In the end
we are not convinced that a girl stood on a hilltop, " credulous, plastic, young, drinking the air as she
longed to drink life." The specifications which would have convinced us of her existence are not
solid enough and the author's comment: "The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth," strikes us
as a feeble attempt to tell the reader what the passage ought to contain and doesn't.
Edgar Allan Poe showed how a writer could avoid such fumbling:
A skilful literary artist has fashioned a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thought to accommodate
his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique effect to be wrought out, he
then invents such incidents—he then combines suche events as may best aid him in establishing this
preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the out bringing of this effect, then he has
failed in the first step. In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the
tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the pre-established design.
Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms begins:
In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the
plains to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the
sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house
and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees
were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw troops marching along the road and the dust
rising and leaves stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare
and white except for the leaves.
This lyrical work, except as regards its lenght, meets Poe's demands. The tone of the whole book is
set on the first paragraph. The tone, in this case, is a mood, a dramatization of the wistful rebellion of
youth, confronted with the hard facts of life, with love and death. (...)
Another master, Chekhov, might have admired the rendering of the passage. The action of the sun
'shows' the pebbles and the boulders that lie in the bed of the river to be 'dry' and 'white'. The river is
clear and moves swiftly; the further specification that it was blue where the water was deepest (in the
channels) makes us 'see' it flow. We are convinced that the troops passed the house by the fact that
enough dust was raised to powder the leaves of the trees and even the trunks. The passage could
stand as an amplification of some advice that Chekhov once wrote to his good-for-nothing brother,
Alexander:
Descriptions of nature should be very brief and have incidental character. Commonplaces like "The
setting sun, bathing in the waves of the darkening sea, flooded with the purple and gold... The
swallows, flying over the surface of the water, chirped merrily"—such commonplaces should be
finished with. In descriptions of Nature one has to snatch at small details, grouping them in such a
manner that after reading them one can obtain the picture on closing one's eyes.
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For instance you will get a moonlight night if you write that on the dam of the mill a fragment of
broken bottle flashed like a small bright star, and there rolled by, like a ball, the black shadow of a
dog or a wolf—and so on.
One is reminded of another piece of advice that Chekhov gave: "If a gun hangs on the wall in the first
paragraph of your story it must be discharged at the end"—which is only another way of saying the
same thing Poe said. The phrase, "The leaves fell early way of saying the same thing that Poe said.
The phrase, "The leaves fell aerly thet year," is an admirable preparation for the climax of the action,
that is to say: "My love died young." The whole dénouement is, in fact, both prepared for and
symbolized in this passage: "We saw troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves
stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except
for the leaves." A human heart, ravaged by grief, will ultimately become as bare and quiet as the
white road that the soldiers have passed over.
—Caroline Gordon, Notes on Hemingway and Kafka, Kafka's Critics
When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence: Time and space and
gravitation have no separate existence from matter.
--Albert Einstein
Remember to get the weather in your god damned book—weather is very important.
Hemingway, Letter to Dos Passos
—
"The world is full of deamons," said Heraclitus of Ephesus, walking in the shade of the porticoes at
the mystery-fraught hour of high noon, while within the dry embrace of the Asiatic gulf the salty
water swelled under the warm south wind.
One must find the demon in every thing.
The ancient people of Crete painted an enormous eye in the middle of the narrow bands that circled
their vases, on their household utensils, and on the walls of their houses.
Even the fetus of a man, a fish, a chicken, a snake in its first stage is exactly an eye.
One must find the eye in every thing.
—Giorgio de Chirico, Theories of Modern Art, 446
Chekhov delighted in employing ternary rhythmic repetitions based on reiterations of a word, or
phrase, or composed of syntactical parallels. Sometimes three epitets or nouns are used in succession:
"This was a nold man of 65, prematurely decrepit, rawboned and round-shouldered..."
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"The old man appeared to Fr. Fedor no longer guilty and sinful, but insulted, injured and unhappy."
"Shame, timidity and a pitiful forced smile played on his face."
—pg. 39 Winner - Chekhov and his Prose
Trees show the bodily form of the wind,
waves give vital energy to the moon.
—Zenrin Kushan, Alan Watts, Zen, 119
El valor de la poesía es corregir las palabras ordinarias. Nunca debemos tratar las cosas
descuidadamente.
—Basho
Long ago the Japanese novelist Shiga Naoya presented an essay written by his grandchild as one of
the most remarkable prose pieces of his time. (...) It was entitled "My Dog," and ran something as
follows: "My dog resembles a bear; he also resembles a badger; he also reembles a fox..." It
proceeded to enumerate the dog's special characteristics, comparin each one to yet another animal,
developing into a full list of the animal kingdom. However, the essay closed with, "But since he's a
dog, he most resembles a dog."
—Akira Kurosawa, Autobiography
Por los caminos, en las noches de invierno, sin refugio, sin ropa, sin pan, una voz atenazaba mi
corazón helado: “Debilidad o fortaleza: estando aquí, demuestras fortaleza. No sabes adónde vas ni
por qué vas, entra en todas partes, responde a todo. Nadie puede matar a un cadáver.” Por la mañana
tenía la mirada tan perdida y el semblante tan muerto, que aquellos con los que me encontré quizá no
me vieron.
En las ciudades el barro me pareció de repente rojo y negro, como un espejo cuando la lámpara
circula en la habitación vecina, ¡como un tesoro en el bosque! Vaya suerte, exclamaba, y veía un mar
de llamas y de humo en el cielo; y, a izquierda, a derecha, todas las riquezas flameando como un
millón de truenos.
(Rimbaud; Mala Sangre)
Sur les routes, par des nuits d’hiver, sans gîte, sans habits, sans pain, une voix étreignait mon coeur gelé:
“Faiblesse ou force: te voila, c’est la force. Tu ne sais ni ou tu vas ni pourquoi tu vas, entre partout, réponds a
tout. On ne te tuera pas plus que si tu étais cadavre.” Au matin j’avais le regard si perdu et la contenance si
morte, que ceux que j’ai recontrés ne m’ont peut-etre pas vu.
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Dans les villes la boue m’apparaissait soudainement rouge et noire, comme une glace quand la lampe
circule dans la chambre voisine, comme un trésor dans la foret! Bonne chance, criais-je, et je voyais une mer
de flammes et de fumé au ciel; et, a gauche, a droite, toutes les richeses flambant comme un milliard de
tonnerres.
Nota a "Mala Sangre': No hace falta comentar mucho este asunto. El pibe es único para
crear imágenes violentas. No describe una realidad fisica; tira imágenes en la mente y esa profusión
crea el movimiento. “Omitiendo ciertos eslabones en la cadena de asociaciones, se consiguen una
rapidez y una intensidad que se pierden cuando los efectos se desarrollan lentamente” (ver pg. 230
ss. de Arnold Hauser tomo 3 para similitudes con el impresionismo). El lenguaje descubre por su
cuenta las relaciones entre las cosas. Obviamente, el escritor debería seguir con cierta atención el
asunto. Supongo que a la larga toda poesía digna de sobrevivir tiene un lazo con el mundo. La
poesía realmente “pura” es la de los malos poetas, que no nos dice nada.
Words are mobilized by the shock of their difference.
—Mallarmé, Crisis on poetry
En el comedor no había más muebles que una mesa de pino. En un rincón colgaban de un
alambre nuestras ropas, y otro ángulo estaba ocupado por un baúl con conteras de lata y que producía
una sensación de vida nómade que terminaría con un viaje definitivo. Más tarde, cuántas veces he
pensado en la 'sensación de viaje' que aquél baúl barato, estibado en un rincón, lanzaba a mi tristeza
de hombre que se sabe al margen de la cárcel.
—Roberto Arlt, Los Siete Locos, 33
Nota en Viaje al fin de la noche, Céline.
Siempre detenerse a pensar en detalles "ambientales" (clima, setting, qué se ve, qué se oye, qué
se siente, etc.) y en cada una de las acciones de los personajes, y ver si no hay algo más que decir,
alguna punta a desarrollar. En la mayor parte de los casos es probable que no. Pero que no sea por
omisión. Muchas veces hay detalles que no parecen ser parte de la historia, pero la "hacen." Por
ejemplo, el clima en éste párrafo(acercándose a África):
But when we were past the coast of Portugal, things began to go wrong. One morning we woke up to
find ourselves overcome by a breathless sort of stove atmosphere, disquieting and frightful. The
drinking water, the sea, the air, the sheets, our own sweat, everything was warm, sticky. From then
onwards it was impossible, by day or by night, to feel anything cool in one's hand, under one's
bottom, down one's throat, but the ice in the whiskey served at the ship's bar. An ugly despair settled
on the passengers on board the Admiral Bragueton; they were condemned never to leave the bar,
dripping, clinging to the ventilators, grasping little bits of ice, threatening each other after bridge and
incoherently apologizing.
—Céline, Journey to the end of the night, 109.
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Tiempo después, habiendo relevado al hombre anterior (Robinson) de su puesto en medio de la
selva:
My chicken, my one and only chicken, dreaded this noontide too. He came indoors with me,
alone in the world, Robinson's legacy. Three weeks he lived with me, sharing my walks, following
me about like a dog, clucking incessantly, noticing a snake under every bush. One day, when
profoundly bored, I ate him. His flesh, bleached by the sun, tasted of nothing at all; it might have
been calico. Perhaps it was he that made me so ill. In any case, the fact remains that the day after this
meal I could not get up from my bed. About midday, utterly helpless, I dragged myself across to the
medicine chest: there was nothing there but some iodine and a map of the Nord-Sud Railway. As to
customers, none came to the store, merely a few black loiterers everlastingly gesticulating and
chewing kola, malarial and lubricious. Now they gathered around me in force; it seemed to me they
were commenting on my ugly mug. I was ill, extremely ill—so much so that I felt I had no use for
my legs at all; they hung over the edge of the bed, utterly useless and a little comic.
—Céline, Journey to the end of the night, 172
Generalmente la lluvia pone una nota melancólica—en este caso además es sorpresiva, sobre
todo porque el personaje está hablando de hechos mucho más importantes que el clima, pero la
imagen que nos queda es la de los huesos, y la lluvia y el viento, lo cual transforma el pasaje de algo
abstracto a algo tangible, a un hecho:
Yo soy Manfredo, nieto de la emperatriz Constanza: por lo cual te ruego que cuando vuelvas
a la Tierra, vayas a visitar a mi graciosa hija, madre del honor en Sicilia y de Aragón, y le digas la
verdad, si es que se ha dicho lo contrario. Después de tener atravesado el cuerpo por dos heridas
mortales, me volví llorando hacia Aquél, que voluntariamente perdona. Mis pecados fueron horibles;
pero la bondad infinita tiene tan largos lo brazos, que recibe a todo el que se vuelve hacia ella. Si el
Pastor de Cosenza, que fue enviado por Clemente para darme caza, hubiese leído bien en aquella
página de Dios, mis huesos estarían aún en la cabeza del puente, cerca de Benevento, bajo la
salvaguardia de las pesadas piedras. Ahora los moja la lluvia; el viento los impele fuera del reino,
casi a la orilla del Verde, donde los hizo transportar con cirios apagados. Pero por su maldición no se
pierde el amor de Dios de tal modo, que no vuelva nunca, mientras reverdezca la flor de la esperanza.
Poi sorridendo disse: <<Io son Manfredi,
nepote di Costanza imperadrice;
ond'io ti priego che, quando tu riedi,
vadi a mia bella figlia, genitrice
de l'onor di Cicilia e d'Aragona,
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e dichi 'l vero a lei, s'altro si dice.
Poscia ch'io ebbi rotta la persona
di due punte mortali, io mi rendei,
piangendo, a quei che volontier perdona.
Orribil furon li peccati miei;
ma la bonta` infinita ha si` gran braccia,
che prende cio` che si rivolge a lei.
Se 'l pastor di Cosenza, che a la caccia
di me fu messo per Clemente allora,
avesse in Dio ben letta questa faccia,
l'ossa del corpo mio sarieno ancora
in co del ponte presso a Benevento,
sotto la guardia de la grave mora.
Or le bagna la pioggia e move il vento
di fuor dal regno, quasi lungo 'l Verde,
dov'e' le trasmuto` a lume spento.
Per lor maladizion si` non si perde,
che non possa tornar, l'etterno amore,
mentre che la speranza ha fior del verde.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,Purgatorio 3
Para otro excelente ejemplo de descripción, ver el fragmento de Faulkner incluido en la sección sobre
"Tiempo."
I am alone here now, under cover. Outside it is raining, outside you walk through the rain with
your head down, shielding your eyes with one hand while you stare ahead nevertheless, a few yards
ahead, at a few yards of wet asphalt; outside is cold, the wind blows between the bare black branches;
the wind blows through the leaves, rocking whole boughs, rocking them, rocking, their shadows
swaying across the white roughcast walls. Outside the sun is shining, there is no tree, no bush to cast
a shadow, and you walk under the sun shielding your eyes with one hand while you stare ahead, only
a few yards in front of you, at a few yards of dusty asphalt where the wind makes patterns of parallel
lines, forks, and spirals.
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The sun does not get in here, nor the wind, nor the rain, nor the dust. The fine dust which dulls
the gloss of the horizontal surfaces, the varnished wood of the table, the waxed floor, the marble shelf
over the fireplace, the marble top of the chest, the cracked marble on top of the chest, the only dust
comes from the room itself: from the cracks in the floor maybe, or else from the bed, or from the
curtains or from the ashes in the fireplace.
On the polished wood of the table, the dust has marked the places occupied for a while - for a
few hours, several days, minutes, weeks - by small objects subsequently removed whose outlines are
still distinct for some time, a circle, a square, a rectangle, other less simple shapes, some partly
overlapping, already blurred or half obliterated as though by a rag.
When the outline is distinct enough to permit the shape to be identified with certainty, it is easy
to find the original object again, not far away. For example, the circular shape has obviously been left
by a glass ashtray which is lying beside it. Similarly, a little farther away, the square occupying the
table's left rear corner corresponds to the basse of the brass lamp that now stands in the right corner: a
square pedestal about one inch high capped by a disk of the same height supporting a fluted column
at its center.
...
Otside it is snowing. Across the dark asphalt of the sidewalk the wind is driving the fine dry
crystals which after each gust form white parallel lines, forks, spirals that are immediatly broken up
seized by the eddies driven along the ground, then immobilized again, recomposing new spirals,
scrolls, forked undulations, shifting arabesques immediatly broken up. You walk with yoour head a
little farther down, pressing the hand shielding your eyes closer, leaving only a few inches of ground
visible in front of your feet, a few grayish inches where your feet appear one after the other and
vanish behind you, one after the other, alternately.
But the staccato sound of hobnail boots on the asphalt, coming steadily closer down the straight
street, sounding louder and louder in the calm of the frostbound night, the sound of boots cannot
come in here, any more than other sounds from outside. The street is too long, the curtains too thick,
the house too high. No noise, even muffled, ever penetrates the walls of the room, no vibration, no
breath of air, and in the silence tiny particles descend slowly, scarcely visible in the lamplight,
descend gently, vertically, always at the same speed, and the fine gray dust lies in a uniform layer on
the floor, on the bedspread, on the furniture.
—Alain Robbe-Grillet, In the labyrinth
Note on Robbe-Grillet:
The traditional Novel has always been considered a temporal art, based on the consecutiveness of
time. As a consequence, narratives used to be linear transcriptions of events, that would sum up at the
end constituting what we know as a story.
The way in which this question is addressed makes the work particularly interesting for architects, for
it elects embodied perception as the primary vehicle of communication between subject and object,
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transforming the narrative in an exploration in which the act of reading becomes very similar to an
experience of architecture. The process implies a deconstruction of rationalistic assumptions such as
the homogeneity of space and time and the limits between the real and the imaginary, substituting the
commonly accepted definition of the world for an experience of it.
He often says he does not transcribe, but constructs.
The world does not present itself to us as a complete and whole reality, but as fragments of realities
that depend on our re-creation in order to mean something. Thus what he gives us are fragments of a
story, or scattered events that could be joined to form one.
Robbe-Grillet knows that perceptive experience can only happen when space and time are reconciled
with the body’s presence.
The time Robbe-Grillet refers to is not the chronological time of science, neither the cosmological
time of the universe, but a human time, the time of experience as lived, the time generated by the
body’s interaction with the world, which is always a present time.
In the same way, spatiality in Robbe-Grillet’s novels is a spatiality of situation. The element that
defines it is also the body, for only in relation to the last can the former be understood. This is
important for it conceives space as inhabited space, space as it is experienced.
This explains Robbe-Grillet’s excessive care in describing material reality. He is not trying to be
objective, but is showing that spatiality depends on situation and that the only way to experience it is
in the present. His objects are never positioned in homogeneous space and time, instead they are
always described in relation to one another, and as the narrator sees them. Meaning appears not from
an isolated object, but in its relationship to the surrounding reality. A good example is the constant
shifts of scenes, specially between interior and exterior space. Although the narrator never has to
cross a door, or even a window to accomplish the shift, the last only becomes possible through a
relationship to the object, scene of gesture described immediately before.
This knitting of things and scenes to one another, is what permits the narrator to make sense of the
reality surrounding him, to transform his apparently lonely existence into a meaningful one. In
isolation objects do not mean anything, but when they are put together, anything can happen…
"In dreams and in memory, as in looking, our imagination is the organizing force in our life, in our
world. Each man, at his own turn, has to re-invent things around him. This things are the true things,
plain, hard and shinny of the real world. They do not refer to any other world. They are not the sign
of anything other than themselves. And the only contact man can maintain with them is through
imagining them."
— Marcio Oliveira , Note on Robbe-Grillet
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As the mists rise in the dawn
From Uji River, one by one,
The stakes of the nets appear,
Stretching far into the shallows.
—Fujiwara No Sadayori, 11th century.
Bukowski. The ambient. The little realistic details. A day at the races.
the harness racing season has been under way, as they say, for a week or 2 now, and I have been
out 5 or 6 times, perhaps breaking even for the course, which is a hell of a waste of time — anything
is a waste of time unless you are fucking well or creating well or getting well or looming toward a
kind of phantom love-happiness. we will all end up in the crud-pot of defeat — call it death or error. I
am not a word-man. I do suppose, tho, as one keeps making adjustments to the tide, we can call it
experience even if we are not so sure that it is wisdom. then too, it is possible for a man to live a
whole life of constant error in a kind of numb and terrorized state. you've seen the faces. I've seen my
own.
so during all the heat wave they are still out there, the bettors, having gotten a little money
somewhere, the hard way, and trying to beat the 15 percent take. I sometimes think of the crowd as
hypnotized, a crowd that has nowhere else to go. and after the races they get into their old cars, drive
to their lonely rooms and look at the walls. wondering why they did it — heels run down, bad teeth,
ulcers, bad jobs, men without women, women without men. nothing but shit.
(...)
the whole track is full of crazy people. some of them come there when the gates open. they
stretch out on the seats or on a bench and sleep all through the races. they never see a race. then they
get up and go home. others walk around just vaguely aware that a race of some kind is going on. they
buy coffee or just stand around looking as if life has been stunned and burned out of them. or
sometimes you see one standing in a dark corner, jamming a whole hot dog down the throat, gagging,
choking, delighted with the mess of themselves, and at the end of each day you see one or 2 with
their heads down between their legs, sometimes they are crying, where do losers go? who wants a
loser?
essentially, in one way or another, everybody thinks that he has the key to beating the thing,
even if it is only such an unjustified assumption that their luck must change, some play stars, some
play numbers, some play strictly time, others play drivers, or closers or speed or names or god knows
what. almost all of them lose, continually. almost all their income goes directly into the mutuel
machines. most of tese people have unbearably fixed egos—they are tenaciously stupid.
—Charles Bukowski, Another Horse Story
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Con el primer tiro que dispararon, hicieron pedazos el depósito de barro en la popa del barco,
que siempre está lleno de agua fresca, caben en él cinco o seis cubos de agua. Con el otro tiro que
dispararon, hicieron pedazos el palo de la mesana que es el último mástil que se halla en la popa del
barco. Con el tercer tiro dieron en medio del barco y abrieron un gran agujero en el barco y mataron
un hombre; con el cuarto no acertaron.
—Derrotero y viaje a España y Las Indias, ULRICO SCHMIDL Capítulo 2
'There's your Company's station,' said the Swede, pointing to three wooden barrack-like structures on
the rocky slope. 'I will send your things up. Four boxes did you say? So. Farewell.'
"I came upon a boiler wallowing in the grass, then found a path leading up the hill. It turned aside
for the boulders, and also for an undersized railway-truck lying there on its back with its wheels in
the air. One was off. The thing looked as dead as the carcass of some animal. I came upon more
pieces of decaying machinery, a stack of rusty rails. To the left a clump of trees made a shady spot,
where dark things seemed to stir feebly. I blinked, the path was steep. A horn tooted to the right, and
I saw the black people run. A heavy and dull detonation shook the ground, a puff of smoke came out
of the cliff, and that was all. No change appeared on the face of the rock. They were building a
railway. The cliff was not in the way or anything; but this objectless blasting was all the work going
on.
"A slight clinking behind me made me turn my head. Six black men advanced in a file, toiling up
the path. They walked erect and slow, balancing small baskets full of earth on their heads, and the
clink kept time with their footsteps. Black rags were wound round their loins, and the short ends
behind waggled to and fro like tails. I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a
rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights
swung between them, rhythmically clinking. Another report from the cliff made me think suddenly of
that ship of war I had seen firing into a continent. It was the same kind of ominous voice; but these
men could by no stretch of imagination be called enemies. They were called criminals, and the
outraged law, like the bursting shells, had come to them, an insoluble mystery from the sea. All their
meagre breasts panted together, the violently dilated nostrils quivered, the eyes stared stonily uphill.
They passed me within six inches, without a glance, with that complete, deathlike indifference of
unhappy savages. Behind this raw matter one of the reclaimed, the product of the new forces at work,
strolled despondently, carrying a rifle by its middle. He had a uniform jacket with one button off, and
seeing a white man on the path, hoisted his weapon to his shoulder with alacrity. This was simple
prudence, white men being so much alike at a distance that he could not tell who I might be. He was
speedily reassured, and with a large, white, rascally grin, and a glance at his charge, seemed to take
me into partnership in his exalted trust. After all, I also was a part of the great cause of these high and
just proceedings.
"Instead of going up, I turned and descended to the left. My idea was to let that chain-gang get out
of sight before I climbed the hill. You know I am not particularly tender; I've had to strike and to fend
off. I've had to resist and to attack sometimes -- that's only one way of resisting -- without counting
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the exact cost, according to the demands of such sort of life as I had blundered into. I've seen the
devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were
strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove men -- men, I tell you. But as I stood on this
hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby,
pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly. How insidious he could be, too, I was
only to find out several months later and a thousand miles farther. For a moment I stood appalled, as
though by a warning. Finally I descended the hill, obliquely, towards the trees I had seen.
"I avoided a vast artificial hole somebody had been digging on the slope, the purpose of which I
found it impossible to divine. It wasn't a quarry or a sandpit, anyhow. It was just a hole. It might have
been connected with the philanthropic desire of giving the criminals something to do. I don't know.
Then I nearly fell into a very narrow ravine, almost no more than a scar in the hillside. I discovered
that a lot of imported drainage-pipes for the settlement had been tumbled in there. There wasn't one
that was not broken. It was a wanton smash-up. At last I got under the trees. My purpose was to stroll
into the shade for a moment; but no sooner within than it seemed to me I had stepped into the gloomy
circle of some Inferno. The rapids were near, and an uninterrupted, uniform, headlong, rushing noise
filled the mournful stillness of the grove, where not a breath stirred, not a leaf moved, with a
mysterious sound -- as though the tearing pace of the launched earth had suddenly become audible.
"Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth,
half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and
despair. Another mine on the cliff went off, followed by a slight shudder of the soil under my feet.
The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn
to die.
"They were dying slowly -- it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they
were nothing earthly now -- nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in
the greenish gloom. Brought from all the recesses of the coast in all the legality of time contracts, lost
in uncongenial surroundings, fed on unfamiliar food, they sickened, became inefficient, and were
then allowed to crawl away and rest. These moribund shapes were free as air -- and nearly as thin. I
began to distinguish the gleam of the eyes under the trees. Then, glancing down, I saw a face near my
hand. The black bones reclined at full length with one shoulder against the tree, and slowly the
eyelids rose and the sunken eyes looked up at me, enormous and vacant, a kind of blind, white flicker
in the depths of the orbs, which died out slowly. The man seemed young -- almost a boy -- but you
know with them it's hard to tell. I found nothing else to do but to offer him one of my good Swede's
ship's biscuits I had in my pocket. The fingers closed slowly on it and held -- there was no other
movement and no other glance. He had tied a bit of white worsted round his neck -- Why? Where did
he get it? Was it a badge -- an ornament -- a charm -- a propitiatory act? Was there any idea at all
connected with it? It looked startling round his black neck, this bit of white thread from beyond the
seas.
—Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness
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The long, long river
A single line
On the snowy plain.
—Joso
130
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun,
Coral is far more red, than her lips red,
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun:
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head:
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight,
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet by heaven I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.
—William Shakespeare, Sonnets
Toward the end of November: I have gone to bed early. I feel that I have caught a slight chill,
perhaps I've even got a slight temperature. The electric light is on; I look at the ceiling or the curtain
over the door to the balcony. You began to undress when I had already finished doing so; I am
waiting. I can only hear you. Incomprehensibly walking back and forth; in this part of the room, in
that. You come and lay something on your bed; what can it be? You open the cupboard, put
something in or take something out; I hear it shutting again. You put hard objects onto the table,
others onto the marble slab of the chest. You are constantly in motion. Then I recognize the familiar
sounds of hair being let down and brushed. Then cascades of water falling into the washbasin. Before
this, clothes being slipped off; now the same again; it is incomprehensible to me how many clothes
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you take off. The shoes. Then your stockings go back and forth without stopping, just as the shoes
did before. You pour water in glasses, three, four times in succession, I cannot puzzle out what this is
for. In my imagination I have long since come to an end of everything imaginable while you are
clearly still finding something else to do in reality. I hear you putting on your night-gown. But that is
not the end of things by a long way. Again there are a hundred small actions. I know that you are
hurrying, so evidently all of this is necessary. I understand: we watch the dumb behaviour of the
animals, astonished how, with creatures that are supposed to have no soul, actions follow, one after
the other, from morning till night. This is just the same. You have no consciousness of the countless
movements that your hands perform, of all the things that seem necessary to you and that are quite
inconsequential. But they jut out prominently into your life. I, as I wait, happen to feel this.
—Robert Musil, Diaries, pg. 167
...ese aire de doblemente quietas que tienen las cosas movibles cuando no se mueven.
—Corátazar, Las babas del diablo
On the other bank of the stagnant canal, a fisherman is holding an invisible line in his right hand,
half-extended to detect hypothetical nibbles, and sitting on a wooden kitchen chair brought outside
for the occasion from a nearby house and positioned at the very edge of the quay, just above the first
step of a stone stairway cut into the embankment and leading down to the water. The murky look of
this water, encumbered with all kinds of minor rubbish floating on its surface (corks, orange peels,
iridiscent patches of oil) or just below it (sheets of writing paper, red-stained linen, etc.), raises some
doubt as to whether any fish could survive in it.
—Alain Robbe-Grillet, Repetition, 55
De ordinario odioso,
está el cuervo en la nieve
esta mañana.
—Basho, siglo XVII
No sé si hace más o menos de un año. Fue en los días en que terminaba el juicio, creo que estaban
por dictar sentencia. Todavía estaba empleado en el diario y me iba por las noches al "Internacional”,
en Juan Carlos Gómez, cerca del puerto. Es un bodegón oscuro, desagradable, con marineros y
mujeres. Mujeres para marineros, gordas de piel marrón, grasientas, que tienen que sentarse con las
piernas separadas y se ríen de los hombres que no entienden el idioma, sacudiéndose, una mano de
uñas negras desparramada en el pañuelo de colorinches que les rodea el pezcuezo. Porque cuello
tienen los niños y las doncellas.
Se ríen de los hombres rubios, siempre borrachos que tararean canciones incomprensibles, hipando,
agarrados a las manos de las mujeronas sucias. Contra la pared del fondo se extienden las mesas de
los malevos, atentos y melancólicos, el pucho en la boca, comentando la noche y otras noches viejas
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que a veces aparecen, en el aserrín fangoso, casi siempre, en cuanto el tiempo es de lluvia y los
muros se ahuecan y encierran como el viento de una bodega.
Ester costaba dos pesos, uno para ella y otro para el hotel. Ya éramos amigos. Me saludaba desde la
mesa moviendo dos dedos en la sien, daba unas vueltas acariciando cabezas de borracho y
saludándose gravemente con las mujeres y venía a sentarse conmigo. Nunca habíamos salido juntos.
Era tan estúpida como las otras, avara, mezquina, acaso un poco menos sucia. Pero más joven y los
brazos, gruesos y blancos, se dilataban lechosos en la luz del cafetín, sanos y graciosos, como si al
hundirse en la vida hubiera alzado las manos en fin gesto desesperado de auxilio, manoteando como
los ahogados y los brazos hubieran quedado atrás, lejos en el tiempo, brazos de muchacha
despegados del cuerpo largo nervioso, que ya no existía.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, El Pozo, 33
Una presentación breve. Su fuerza reside en el contraste del final, lo cual a veces es más que
suficiente:
There are three conjoined Fates, robed in white, whom Erebus begot on Night: by name Clotho,
Lachesis, and Atropos. Of these, Atropos is the smallest in stature, but the most terrible.
—Robert Graves, Greek Myths
Entró Carlos, y , dirigiéndose a la cama, apartó lentamente las cortinas.
Emma tenía la cabeza inclinada sobre el hombre derecho. La comisura de la boca, que se
mantenía abierta, parecía un oscuro hoyo en la pared inferior de la cara, y los pulgares se hundían en
la palma de la mano; una especie de polvillo blanco se extendía por sus pestañas, y sus ojos
comenzaban a esfumarse en una palidez viscosa, como si los cubriera una tela sutil tejida por una
araña. La sábana se hundía desde el pecho a las rodillas, sobresaliendo al llegar a los pies. Y le
parecía a Carlos que masa infinitas, que un enorme peso gravitaba sobre ella.
—Gustave
Flaubert, Madame Bovary, 279
SECTION IV.
_Of the Appearance, Dress, and Manner of Living of the Tartars_.
The appearance of the Mongols or Tartars is quite different from all other nations, being much wider
between the eyes and cheeks, and their cheeks are very prominent, with small flat noses, and small
eyes, having the upper lids opened up to the eyebrows, and their crowns are shaven like priests on
each side, leaving some long hair in the middle, the remainder being allowed to grow long like
women, which they twist into two tails or locks, and bind behind their ears. The garments of the men
and women are alike, using neither cloaks, hats, nor caps, but they wear strange tunics made of
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bucram, purple, or baldequin. Their gowns are made of skins, dressed in the hair, and open behind.
They never wash their clothes, neither do they allow others to wash, especially in time of thunder, till
that be over. Their houses are round, and artificially made like tents, of rods and twigs interwoven,
having a round hole in the middle of the roof for the admission of light and the passage of smoke, the
whole being covered with felt, of which likewise the doors are made. Some of these are easily taken
to pieces or put together, and are carried on sumpter-cattle; while others are not capable of being
taken to pieces, and are carried on carts. Wherever they go, whether to war, or only travelling to fresh
pastures, these are carried with them. They have vast numbers of camels, oxen, sheep, and goats, and
such prodigious multitudes of horses and mares, as are not to be found in all the rest of the world; but
they have no swine. Their emperor, dukes, and other nobles, are extremely rich in gold and silver,
silks, and gems. They eat of every thing that is eatable, and we have even seen them eat vermin. They
drink milk in great quantity, and particularly prefer that of mares. But as in winter, none but the rich
can have mares milk, they make a drink of millet boiled in water; every one drinking one or two cups
in the morning, and sometimes having no other food all day; but in the evening, every one has a small
quantity of flesh, and they drink the broth in which it was boiled. In summer, when they have
abundance of mares milk, they eat little flesh, unless it is given them, or when they catch venison or
birds.
SECTION V.
_Of their Good and Bad Customs_
Some of their customs are commendable, and others execrable. They are more obedient to their lords
than any other people, giving them vast reverence, and never deceiving them in word or action. They
seldom quarrel; and brawls, wounds, or manslaughter hardly ever occur. Thieves and robbers are
nowhere found, so that their houses and carts, in which all their treasure is kept, are never locked or
barred. If any animal go astray, the finder either leaves it, or drives it to those who are appointed to
seek for strays, and the owner gets it back without difficulty. They are very courteous, and though
victuals are scarce among them, they communicate freely to each other. They are very patient under
privations, and though they may have fasted for a day or two, will sing and make merry as if they
were well satisfied. In journeying, they bear cold, or heat with great fortitude. They never fall out,
and though often drunk, never quarrel in their cups. No one despises another, but every one assists
his neighbour to the utmost. Their women are chaste, yet their conversation is frequently immodest.
Towards other people they are exceedingly proud and overbearing, looking upon all other men with
contempt, however noble. For we saw, in the emperor's court, the great duke of Russia, the son of the
king of Georgia, and many sultans and other great men, who received no honour or respect; so that
even the Tartars appointed to attend them, however low their condition, always went before them,
and took the upper places, and even often obliged them to sit behind their backs. They are irritable
and disdainful to other men, and beyond belief deceitful; speaking always fair at first, but afterwards
stinging like scorpions. They are crafty and fraudulent, and cheat all men if they can. Whatever
mischief they intend they carefully conceal, that no one may provide or find a remedy for their
wickedness. They are filthy in their meat and drink, and in all their actions. Drunkenness is
honourable among them; so that, when one has drank to excess and throws up, he begins again to
drink. They are most importunate beggars, and covetous possessors, and most niggardly givers; and
they consider the slaughter of other people as nothing.
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_The Travels of John de Plano Carpini and other Friars, sent about the year 1246, as ambassadors
from Pope Innocent IV, to the great Khan of the Moguls or Tartars_.[1]
Al pie del monte
y en línea al sol caliente,
varios sepulcros.
—Santoka, siglo XX
A certain kind of magpie is less celebrated, because it does not come from a distance, but it talks
more articulately. These birds get fond of uttering particular words, and not only learn them but love
them, and secretly ponder them with careful reflexion, not concealing their engrossment. It is an
established fact that if the difficulty of a word beats them this causes their death, and that their
memory fails them unless they hear the same word repeatedly, and when they are at a loss for a word
they cheer up wonderfully if in the meantime they hear it spoken. Their shape is unusual, though not
beautiful. (...)
At the time when I was recording these cases, the young princess had a startling and also
nightingales that were actually trained to talk Greek and Latin, and moreover practised diligently and
spoke new phrases every day, in still longer sentences. Birds are thought to talk in private and were
no other utterance can interrupt, with the trainer sitting by them to keep on repeating the words he
wants retained, and coaxing them with morsels of food.
—Pliny, Natural
History, Book X, LIX
Cuando se anda por esta comarca, cabe comprender las perfectas gemas de los haikus que los
poetas orientales han escrito. No se embriagaban nunca en los montes. No se excitaban. Simplemente
consignaban con una lozanía infantil lo que veían, sin artificios literarios ni fantasías de expresión.
Hicimos haikus mienras subíamos, serpenteando a veces por las laderas cubiertas de monte bajo.
—Rocas en el borde del precipicio —dije. ¿Por qué no se caen?
—Tal vez eso sea un haiku y tal vez no —dijo Japhy—. Tal vez sea demasiado complicado. Un
haiku auténtico tiene que ser tan sencillo como una rebanada de pan y, sin embargo, revelarte la
realidad. Tal vez no haya un haiku mejor que el que dice: "El gorrión va a saltos por la galería, con
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las patas mojadas". Es de Shiki. Ves claramente las huellas de las patas mojadas. Y en esas pocas
palabras, ves también la lluvia que ha estado cayendo durante todo el día y casi hueles las mojadas
agujas de los pinos.
—Jack Kerouac, Vagabundos del Dharma, c.8
On my right hand there were lines of fishing stakes resembling a mysterious system of halfsubmerged bamboo fences, incomprehensible in its division of the domain of tropical fishes, and
crazy of aspect as if abandoned forever by some nomad tribe of fishermen now gone to the other end
of the ocean; for there was no sign of human habitation as far as the eye could reach.
—Joseph Conrad, The secret sharer, 1
La oficina estaba instalada en un edificio ruinoso de la ciudad vieja. La fachada estaba casi
cubierta de chapas de cualquier material que ofrecían cualquier profesión, brujerías o callicidas. La
oficina era una tristeza polvorienta, mesa de pino, dos sillas desparejas, teléfono y fichero metálico
verde.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, Cuando ya no importe
Aunque obviamente basada en simbolismos, un tipo de descripción como la que sigue es
"expansiva", ligando varias ideas distintas y no tan obvias (de "clown" a "sexualidad destructiva"),
pasando de lo físico (hermoso) a lo psíquico (cruel) y de ahí a lo indefinible (balanceándose en el
borde...).
The white clowns have a multiple, ambiguous symbolism: they are beautiful, cruel, dangerous,
balancing on the border between death and destrutive sexuality.
—Ingmar Bergman, Images, The hour of the wolf, 38
The people around us, the places we visit, the events we witness — it is the spatial and temporal
relations these have with each other that have a meaning for us today, and the tension that is formed
between them.
—Michelangelo Antonioni, The event and the image
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From a little after two o'clock until almost sundown of the long still hot weary dead September
afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that--a
dim hot airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three summers because when
she was a girl someone had believed that light and moving air carried heat and that dark was always
cooler, and which (as the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became latticed with
yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin thought of as being flecks of the dead old dried paint
itself blown inward from the scaling blinds as wind might have blown them. There was a wistaria
vine blooming for the second time that summer on a wooden trellis before one window, into which
sparrows came now and then in random gusts, making a vivid dusty sound in the eternal black which
she had worn for forty-three years now, whether for sister, father, or nothusband none knew, sitting
so bolt upright in the straight hard chair that was so tall for her that her legs hung straight and rigid as
if she had iron shinbones and ankless, clear of the floor with that air of impotent and static rage like
children's feet, and talking in that grim haggard amazed voice until at last listening would renege and
hearing-sense self-confound and the long-dead object of her impotent yet indomitable frustration
would appear, as though by outraged recapitulation evoked, quiet inattentive and harmless, out of the
biding and dreamy and victorious dust.
—William Faulkner- Absalom, Absalom!
Felizmente, encontraron en la biblioteca la obra de Botard titulada El arquitecto de los jardines.
El autor los divide en infinidad de géneros. Hay, en primer lugar, el género melancólico y
romántico, que se caracteriza por los dioses paganos, ruinas, tumbas y un "ex-voto a la virgen,
indicando el lugar donde un hombre cayó bajo el cuchillo de un asesino". El género terrible se
compone son rocas suspendidas, árboles destrozados, cabañas incendiadas; el exótico, plantando
cirios del Perú "para que renazcan los recuerdos del colono o del viajero". El género grave debe
brindar, como Ermenonville, un templo a la filosofía. Los obeliscos y los arcos de triunfo
caracterizan al género majestuoso; musgo y grutas, al misterioso; un lago, al soñador. Existe también
el género fantástico, cuyo más bello espécimen veíase hasta hace poco en un jardín wurtemburgués,
en el que se encontraban, sucesivamente, un jabalí, un ermitaño, varios sepulcros y una barca que se
apartaba sola de la orilla, para conducir al viajero a un gabinete donde, apenas se apoyaba en el sofá,
era inundado por el agua de ocultos surtidores.
—Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard y Pecuchet
I remember that I noticed several things in a cold mechanical way as if I was sitting there with
with no worry save to note everything I saw. His face was terrifying but his eyes in the middle of it
had a quality of chill and horror which made his others features look to me almost friendly. The skin
was like faded parchment with an arrangement of puckers and wrinklers which created between them
an expression of fathomless inscrutability. But the eyes were horrible. Looking at them I got the
feeling that they were not genuine eyes at all but mechanical dummies animated by electricity or the
like, with a tiny pinhole in the centre of the 'pupil' through which the real eye gazed out secretively
and with great coldness. Such a conception, possibly with no foundation at all in fact, disturbed me
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agonisingly and gave rise in my mind to interminable speculations as to the colour and quality of the
real eye and as to whether, indeed, it was real at all or merely another dummy with its pinhole on the
same plane as the first one so that the real eye, possibly behind thousands of these absurd disguises,
gazed out through a barrel of serried peep-holes. Occasionally the heavy cheese-like lids would drop
down slowly with great languor and then rise again. Wrapped loosely around the body was an old
wine-coloures dressing-gown.
In my distress I thought to myself that perhaps it was his twin brother but at once I heard
someone say:
Scarcely. If you look carefully at the left-hand side of his neck you will notice that there is
sticking-plaster or a bandage there. His throat and chin are also bandaged.
Forlornly, I looked and saw that this was true. He was the man I had murdered beyond all
question. He was sitting on a chair four yards away watching me. He sat stiffly without a move as if
afraid to hurt the gaping wounds which covered his body. Across my own shoulders a stiffness had
spread from my exertions with the spade.
But who had uttered these words? They had not frightened me. They were clearly audible to me
yet I knew they did not ring out across the air like the chilling cough of the old man in the chair. They
came from deep inside me, from my soul. Never before had I believed or suspected that I had a soul
but just then I knew I had. I knew also that my soul was friendly, was my senior in years and was
solely concerned for my own welfare. For convenience I called him Joe. I felt a little reassured to
know that I was not altogether alone. Joe was helping me.
—Flann O'Brien, The third policeman
En El Cantar de Mio Cid, como en la poesía épica en general, hay cientos de pasajes y
descripciones vívidas
Enclinó las manos
la barba vellida˚,
a las sus fijas˚
en braços las prendía,
llególas al coraçón,
ca mucho las quería.
Llora de los ojos,
tan fuerte mientre sospira:
"Ya doña Ximena,
la mi mugier tan complida,
(˚bella)
(˚hijas)
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commo a la mi alma
yo tanto vos quería.
Ya lo vedes
que partir nos emos en vida,
yo iré e vos
fincaredes remanida.˚
Plega˚ a Dios
e a Santa María
que aún con mis manos
case estas mis fijas,
o que dé ventura y algunos días vida,˚
e vos, mugier ondrada, de mí seades servida."
(˚habrás de quedar aquí)
(˚plazca)
(˚de vida)
...
La oracçión fecha,
la missa acabada la han,
salieron de la eglesia,
ya quieren cavalgar.
El Çid a doña Ximena
ívala abraçar;
doña Ximena al Çid
la manol' va besar,
llorando de los ojos,
que no sabe qué se far.˚
(˚qué hacer)
E él a las niñas
tornólas a catar:˚
(˚a mirar)
"A Dios vos acomiendo, fijas,˚ e a la mugier e al Padre Spiritual;
(˚hijas)
agora nos partimos,
Dios sabe el ajuntar".
Llorando de los ojos, que non viestes atal,
assís' parten unos d'otros
commo la uña de la carne.
—Cantar del Mío Cid, 16 y 18
La idea de un ambiente, dada en seis oraciones.
In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in
Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the
streets looking in the windows. There was much game hanging outside the shops, and the snow
powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and
empty, and small birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold fall and the
wind came down from the mountains.
—Ernest Hemingway, In another country
Otra idea de ambiente
Soy zapatero; mi negocio da a la plaza del palacio imperial. Al amanecer, apenas abro mis ventanas,
ya veo soldados armados, apostados en todas las bocacalles que dan a la plaza. Pero no son nuestros
soldados; son, evidentemente, nómades del Norte. De algún modo que no llego a comprender, han
llegado hasta la capital, que, sin embargo, está bastante lejos de las fronteras. De todas maneras, allí
están; su número parece aumentar cada día.
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Como es su costumbre, acampan al aire libre y abominan de las casas. Se entretienen en afilar las
espadas, en aguzar las flechas, en realizar ejercicios ecuestres. Han convertido esta plaza tranquila y
siempre pulcra en una verdadera pocilga. Muchas veces intentamos salir de nuestros negocios y hacer
una recorrida para limpiar por lo menos la basura más gruesa; pero esas salidas se tornan cada vez
más escasas, porque es un trabajo inútil y corremos, además, el riesgo de hacernos aplastar por sus
caballos salvajes o de que nos hieran con sus látigos.
Es imposible hablar con los nómades. No conocen nuestro idioma y casi no tienen idioma propio.
Entre ellos se entienden como se entienden los grajos. Todo el tiempo se escucha ese graznar de
grajos. Nuestras costumbres y nuestras instituciones les resultan tan incomprensibles como carentes
de interés. Por lo mismo, ni siquiera intentan comprender nuestro lenguaje de señas. Uno puede
dislocarse la mandíbula y las muñecas de tanto hacer ademanes; no entienden nada y nunca
entenderán. Con frecuencia hacen muecas; en esas ocasiones ponen los ojos en blanco y les sale
espuma por la boca, pero con eso nada quieren decir ni tampoco causan terror alguno; lo hacen por
costumbre. Si necesitan algo, lo roban. No puede afirmarse que utilicen la violencia. Simplemente se
apoderan de las cosas; uno se hace a un lado y se las cede.
También de mi tienda se han llevado excelentes mercancías. Pero no puedo quejarme cuando veo,
por ejemplo, lo que ocurre con el carnicero. Apenas llega su mercadería, los nómades se la llevan y la
comen de inmediato. También sus caballos devoran carne; a menudo se ve a un jinete junto a su
caballo comiendo del mismo trozo de carne, cada cual de una punta. El carnicero es tímido y no se
atreve a suspender los pedidos de carne. Pero nosotros comprendemos su situación y hacemos
colectas para mantenerlo. Si los nómades se encontraran sin carne, nadie sabe lo que se les ocurriría
hacer; por otra parte, quien sabe lo que se les ocurriría hacer comiendo carne todos los días.
Hace poco, el carnicero pensó que podría ahorrarse, al menos, el trabajo de carnear, y una mañana
trajo un buey vivo. Pero no se atreverá a hacerlo nuevamente. Yo me pasé toda una hora echado en el
suelo, en el fondo de mi tienda, tapado con toda mi ropa, mantas y almohadas, para no oír los
mugidos de ese buey, mientras los nómades se abalanzaban desde todos lados sobre él y le
arrancaban con los dientes trozos de carne viva. No me atreví a salir hasta mucho después de que el
ruido cesara; como ebrios en torno de un tonel de vino, estaban tendidos por el agotamiento,
alrededor de los restos del buey.
—Franz Kafka, Un viejo manuscrito
Y otra descripción breve de toda una época:
27 de marzo
También recuerdo que en aquellos tiempos la gente de Monte huía de su ciudad, cruzaba el río para
llegar a la gran capital transformada entonces en cabecera del tercer mundo, erizada con los cartones
y latas herrumbradas que construían lo que llamaban casas en cientos de Villas Miseria que iban
aumentando cada día más cercanas y rodeaban el gran orgullo fálico del obelisco. Tal vez el hambre
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tuviera allí otro sabor que la impuesta por Monte. Pero en Monte era menor el número de los que
ambicionaban y lograban cruzar el río para vender, destino inmediato, hojas de afeitar y chicles,
kleenex y jaboncitos y bolígrafos secos y peines y carteritas de fósforos en alguna esquina de la calle
principal. El éxito de una jornada supondría mascar un chorizo con pan, si no eran desalojados por
aborígenes igualmente desesperados.
No puedo olvidar a los de Monte que soñaban con otro modo de vivir, los del todo o nada, los que no
temían apostar suicidio contra vivir de verdad en aquellos países europeos de donde llegaron abuelos,
desde España e Italia, se fusionaron y así quedo creada la raza autóctona.
Y ahora, quinientos años después de ser descubiertos por error de un marino genovés y la intuición
de una reina que nunca arriesgó sus joyas ni se mudo de camisa, los nietos se desesperaban por
devolver la visita de los abuelos.
Los dejé formando colas kilométricas desde el alba, frente a embajadas o consulados aguardando con
escasa esperanza el milagro de una visa. Pude leer en el aeropuerto dos graffiti contradictorias: «Que
el último en irse apague la luz». Y el otro rogaba: «No te vayas, hermano».
—
Juan Carlos Onetti, Cuando ya o importe
It's six days from La Plata to Pernambuco on a fast transatlantic steamer
You often see the coast but not a single bird
Like in the middle of the immense state of Sao Paulo where you drive all day down dusty roads
Without scaring up a single bird
That's how hot it is
—Blaise Cendrars, Heat
Alo! BONJOUR. Welcome as the flowers in May. Under its leaf he watched through
peacocktwittering lashes the southing sun. I am caught in this burning scene. Pan's hour, the faunal
noon. Among gumheavy serpentplants, milkoozing fruits, where on the tawny waters leaves lie wide.
Pain is far.
AND NO MORE TURN ASIDE AND BROOD.
237
His gaze brooded on his broadtoed boots, a buck's castoffs, NEBENEINANDER. He counted the
creases of rucked leather wherein another's foot had nested warm. The foot that beat the ground in
tripudium, foot I dislove. But you were delighted when Esther Osvalt's shoe went on you: girl I knew
in Paris. TIENS, QUEL PETIT PIED! Staunch friend, a brother soul: Wilde's love that dare not speak
its name. His arm: Cranly's arm. He now will leave me. And the blame? As I am. As I am. All or not
at all.
In long lassoes from the Cock lake the water flowed full, covering greengoldenly lagoons of sand,
rising, flowing. My ashplant will float away. I shall wait. No, they will pass on, passing, chafing
against the low rocks, swirling, passing. Better get this job over quick. Listen: a fourworded
wavespeech: seesoo, hrss, rsseeiss, ooos. Vehement breath of waters amid seasnakes, rearing horses,
rocks. In cups of rocks it slops: flop, slop, slap: bounded in barrels. And, spent, its speech ceases. It
flows purling, widely flowing, floating foampool, flower unfurling.
Under the upswelling tide he saw the writhing weeds lift languidly and sway reluctant arms, hising
up their petticoats, in whispering water swaying and upturning coy silver fronds. Day by day: night
by night: lifted, flooded and let fall. Lord, they are weary; and, whispered to, they sigh. Saint
Ambrose heard it, sigh of leaves and waves, waiting, awaiting the fullness of their times, DIEBUS
AC NOCTIBUS INIURIAS PATIENS INGEMISCIT. To no end gathered; vainly then released,
forthflowing, wending back: loom of the moon. Weary too in sight of lovers, lascivious men, a naked
woman shining in her courts, she draws a toil of waters.
Five fathoms out there. Full fathom five thy father lies. At one, he said. Found drowned. High water
at Dublin bar. Driving before it a loose drift of rubble, fanshoals of fishes, silly shells. A corpse rising
saltwhite from the undertow, bobbing a pace a pace a porpoise landward. There he is. Hook it quick.
Pull. Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor. We have him. Easy now.
Bag of corpsegas sopping in foul brine. A quiver of minnows, fat of a spongy titbit, flash through the
slits of his buttoned trouserfly. God becomes man becomes fish becomes barnacle goose becomes
featherbed mountain. Dead breaths I living breathe, tread dead dust, devour a urinous offal from all
dead. Hauled stark over the gunwale he breathes upward the stench of his green grave, his leprous
nosehole snoring to the sun.
A seachange this, brown eyes saltblue. Seadeath, mildest of all deaths known to man. Old Father
Ocean. PRIX DE PARIS: beware of imitations. Just you give it a fair trial. We enjoyed ourselves
immensely.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.53
"La Divina Comedia" es la exposición del máximo espectro en el que la poesía es capaz de
presentar descripciones y ambientes; va desde el mundo físico, pesado y oscuro del Infierno hasta el
etéreo, liviano y luminoso del Paraíso:
Y yo, que miraba atentamente, vi algunas almas encenegadas en aquel pantano, completamente
desnudas y de irritado semblante. Se golpeaban no sólo con las manos, sino con la cabeza, con el
pecho, con los pies, arrancándose la carne a pedazos con los dientes. Díjome el buen Maestro:
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—Hijo, contempla las almas de los que han sido dominados por la ira: quiero además que
sepas que bajo esta agua hay una raza condenada que suspira, y la hace hervir en la superficie, como
te lo indican tus miradas en cuantos sitios se fijan. Metidos en el lodo, dicen: "Estuvimos siempre
tristes bajo aquel aire dulce que alegra el Sol, llevando en nuestro inetrior una tétrica humareda:
ahora nos entristecemos también en medio de este negro cieno." Estas palabras salen del fondo de su
garganta, como si formaran gárgaras, no pudiendo pronunciar una sola íntegra.
Así fuimos describiendo un gran arco alrededor del fétido pantano, entre la playa seca y el
agua, vueltos los ojos hacia los que se atragantaban con el fango, hasta que fin llegamos al pie de una
torre.
E io, che di mirare stava inteso,
vidi genti fangose in quel pantano,
ignude tutte, con sembiante offeso.
Queste si percotean non pur con mano,
ma con la testa e col petto e coi piedi,
troncandosi co' denti a brano a brano.
Lo buon maestro disse: <<Figlio, or vedi
l'anime di color cui vinse l'ira;
e anche vo' che tu per certo credi
che sotto l'acqua e` gente che sospira,
e fanno pullular quest'acqua al summo,
come l'occhio ti dice, u' che s'aggira.
Fitti nel limo, dicon: "Tristi fummo
ne l'aere dolce che dal sol s'allegra,
portando dentro accidioso fummo:
or ci attristiam ne la belletta negra".
Quest'inno si gorgoglian ne la strozza,
che' dir nol posson con parola integra>>.
Cosi` girammo de la lorda pozza
grand'arco tra la ripa secca e 'l mezzo,
con li occhi volti a chi del fango ingozza.
Venimmo al pie` d'una torre al da sezzo.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,Infierno 7
Desde aquel instante, lo que vi excede a todo humano lenguaje, que es impotente para
expresar tal visión, y la memoria se rinde a tanta grandeza. Como el que ve soñando, y después del
sueño conserva impresa la sensaci´øn que ha recibido, sin que le quede otra cosa en la mente, así
estoy yo ahora; pues casi ha cesado del todo mi visión, y aun destila en mi pecho la dulzura que nació
de ella. Del mismo modo ante el Sol pierde su forma la nieve, y así también se dispersaban al viento
en las ligeras hojas las sentencias de la Sibila.
...
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En su profundidad vi que se contiene ligado con vínculos de amor en un volumen todo cuanto
hay esparcido por el universo: substancias, accidentes y sus cualidades, unido todo de tal manera, que
cuanto digo no es más que una pálida luz. Creo que vi la forma universal de este nudo, poruqe,
recordando estas cosas, me siento poseído de mayor alegría. Un solo punto me causa mayor olvido
que el que han causado veinticinco siglos transcurridos desde la empresa que hizo a Neptuno
admirarse de la sombra de Argos.
Da quinci innanzi il mio veder fu maggio
che 'l parlar mostra, ch'a tal vista cede,
e cede la memoria a tanto oltraggio.
Qual e` colui che sognando vede,
che dopo 'l sogno la passione impressa
rimane, e l'altro a la mente non riede,
cotal son io, che' quasi tutta cessa
mia visione, e ancor mi distilla
nel core il dolce che nacque da essa.
Cosi` la neve al sol si disigilla;
cosi` al vento ne le foglie levi
si perdea la sentenza di Sibilla.
.....................................................................
Nel suo profondo vidi che s'interna
legato con amore in un volume,
cio` che per l'universo si squaderna:
sustanze e accidenti e lor costume,
quasi conflati insieme, per tal modo
che cio` ch'i' dico e` un semplice lume.
La forma universal di questo nodo
credo ch'i' vidi, perche' piu` di largo,
dicendo questo, mi sento ch'i' godo.
Un punto solo m'e` maggior letargo
che venticinque secoli a la 'mpresa,
che fe' Nettuno ammirar l'ombra d'Argo.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,Paraíso 33
When you quit the kingdom of Ferlec you enter upon that of Basma. This also is an
independent kingdom, and the people have a language of their own; but they are just like beasts
without laws or religion. They call themselves subjects of the Great Kaan, but they pay him no
tribute; indeed they are so far away that his men could not go thither. Still all these Islanders declare
themselves to be his subjects, and sometimes they send him curiosities as presents. There are wild
elephants in the country, and numerous unicorns, which are very nearly as big. They have hair like
that of a buffalo, feet like those of an elephant, and a horn in the middle of the forehead, which is
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black and very thick. They do no mischief, however, with the horn, but with the tongue alone; for this
is covered all over with long and strong prickles [and when savage with any one they crush him
under their knees and then rasp him with their tongue]. The head resembles that of a wild boar, and
they carry it ever bent towards the ground. They delight much to abide in mire and mud. 'Tis a
passing ugly beast to look upon, and is not in the least like that which our stories tell of as being
caught in the lap of a virgin; in fact, 'tis altogether different from what we fancied. There are also
monkeys here in great numbers and of sundry kinds; and goshawks as black as crows.
These are very large birds and capital for fowling. may tell you more over that when people
bring home pygmies which they allege to come from India, 'tis all a lie and a cheat. For those little
men, as they call them, are manufactured on this Island, and I will tell you how. You see there is on
the Island a kind of monkey which is very small, and has a face just like a man's. They take these,
and pluck out all the hair except the hair of the beard and on the breast, and then they dry them and
stuff them and daub them with saffron and other things until they look like men. But you see it is all a
cheat; for nowhere in India nor anywhere else in the world were there ever men seen so small as
these pretended pygmies.
—Marco Polo, Travels
Los hombres tienen en el labio un pequeño agujerito, en ese meten un cristal que es de un largo
como de dos jemes y grueso como un canuto de pluma y el color es amarillo y se le llama en indio un
paraboe. Las mujeres y los hombres andan completamente desnudos, como Dios el Todopoderoso los
ha creado. El padre vende su hija, y el marido su mujer cuando ella no le place, y el hermano su
hermana; una mujer cuesta una camisa o un cuchillo, o una pequeña hacha u otro rescate más. Los
Carios han comido carne humana cuando nosotros vinimos a ellos; cómo la comen lo sabréis en lo
que sigue. Cuando estos susodichos Carios hacen la guerra contra sus enemigos, entonces a quien de
estos enemigos agarran o logran, sea hombre o mujer, sea joven o vieja, sean niños los ceban como
aquí en esta tierra se ceba un cerdo, pero si la mujer es algo linda, la conserva un año o tres. Cuando
ya están cansados de ella, la matan y la comen; hacen una fiesta o gran función al igual como se hace
en Alemania pero si es un hombre anciano o mujer vieja se le hace trabajar a éste en las rozas y a ésta
en preparar la comida para su amo.
—Derrotero y viaje a España y Las Indias, ULRICO SCHMIDL Capítulo 20
I
Yo no quiero decir cómo es ella. Si digo que es rubia se imaginarán una mujer rubia, pero no será
ella. Ocurrirá como con el nombre: si digo que se llama Elsa se imaginarán cómo es el nombre Elsa;
pero el nombre Elsa de ella es otro nombre Elsa. Ni siquiera podrían imaginarse cómo es una peinilla
que ella se olvidó en mi casa; aunque yo dijera que tiene 26 dientes, el color, más aun, aunque
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hubieran visto otra igual, no podrían imaginarse cómo es precisamente, la peinilla que ella se olvidó
en mi casa.
II
Yo quiero decir lo que me pasa a mí. ¿Y saben para qué?, pues, para para ver si diciendo lo que me
pasa, deja de pasarme. Pero entiéndase bien; me pasa una cosa mala, horrible: ya lo verán. Sé que por
más bien que yo llegara a decirla, ocurrirá como con la peinilla y lo demás; no se imaginarán
exactamente, cómo es lo malo que me pasa; pero el interés que yo tengo es ver si deja de pasarme
tanto lo malo que se imaginarán, lo malo que en realidad me pasa.
..........................
IV
..........................
De lo que ya no existe, se habla con indiferencia o con frialdad; pero yo hablo con dolor, porque
hablo antes de que deje de existir y sabiendo que dejará de existir: recuérdese cómo lo afirmé.
..........................
Bueno, en total quiero dejar constancia de que tengo la convicción, de que afirmo categóricamente, y
que creo absolutamente, que Elsa se diferencia de las demás muchachas, en que ninguna de las otras
me ama, y que ella dejará muy pronto de amarme.
—Felisberto Hernández, Elsa
AMBIENT
Moths watched us through
the window. Seated at the table,
we were skewered by their lambent gazes,
harder than their shattering wings.
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You'll always be outside,
past the pane. And we'll be here within,
more and more in. Moths watched us
through the window, in August.
—Adam Zagajewski, (Polish), Moths.
Harvest
A six-cylinder car and two Fords in the middle of
the fields
In every direction as far as the horizon the slighly
slanting swaths crisscross in a wavering
diamond-shaped checkerboard pattern
Not a tree
From the North comes down the rumble and rattle of the
automotive thrasher and forage wagon
And from the south come twelve empty trains to
pick up the wheat
—Blaise Cendrars
On the first page of my dreambook
It's always evening
In an occupied country.
Hour before the curfew.
A small provincial city.
The houses all dark.
The store-fronts gutted.
I am on a street corner
Where I shoudn't be.
Alone and coatless
I have gone out to look
For a black dog who answers to my whistle.
I have a kind of halloween mask
Which I am afraid to put on.
—Charles Simic, Empire of dreams
Cantar de Mío Cid
1.
De los sos ojos
tan fuertemientre llorando
tornava la cabeça y estávalos catando.*
Vio puertas abiertas e uços* sin cañados,*
alcándaras* vazías
sin pieles y sin mantos
*mirando
*puertas *candados
*perchas
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e sin falcones
e sin adtores mudados.*
Sospiró Mío Çid, ca mucho avié grandes cuidados.
Fabló Mío Çid
bien y tan mesurado:
«¡Grado a tí, Señor Padre, que estás en alto!
¡Esto me an buelto*
míos enemigos malos!»
*plumaje cambiado
*hecho
2
Allí pienssan de aguijar,* allí sueltan las riendas.
*apurar al caballo
A la exida* de Bivar ovieron* la corneja diestra
*salida *oyeron
e entrando a Burgos
oviéronla siniestra.*
*señal de mal agüero
Meçió Mío Çid los ombros y engrameó la tiesta:
«¡Albriçia, Álbar Ffánnez, ca echados somos de tierra!»
Nota: El Cid ha sido desterrado. El poema arranca en el momento en el que el Cid y los suyos
abandonan su pueblo. A pesar de ser breve, la primera estrofa reclama una lectura lenta. Las
repeticiones (entre hemistiquios y la preposición "sin") tienen la función de retardar el "tempo" y
ayudar a crear la atmósfera alredor de la casa vacía. Notar la "mesura", la resignación del
personaje ante su desdicha. El relato es condensado, pero alcanza para presentar al personaje y su
mundo.
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
5 Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
10 And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
— T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, I. The Burial of the Dead
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De este modo arengó Héctor, y los teucros le aclamaron. Desuncieron de los carros los
sudorosos corceles y los ataron con correas; sacaron de la ciudad bueyes y pingües ovejas, y de las
casas pan y vino, que alegra el corazón, y amontonaron abundante leña. Después ofrecieron
hecatombes perfectas a los inmortales, y los vientos llevaban de la llanura al cielo el suave olor de la
grasa quemada; pero los bienaventurados dioses no quisieron aceptar la ofrenda, porque se les había
hecho odiosa la sagrada Ilión y Príamo y su pueblo armado con lanzas de fresno.
Así, tan alentados, permanecieron toda la noche en el campo, donde ardían numerosos fuegos.
Como en noche de calma aparecen las radiantes estrellas en torno de la fulgente luna, y se descubren
los promontorios, cimas y valles, porque en el cielo se ha abierto la vasta región etérea, se ven todos
los astros, y al pastor se le alegra el corazón: en tan gran número eran las hogueras que, encendidas
por los teucros, quemaban ante Ilión entre las naves y la corriente del Janto. Mil fuegos ardían en la
llanura, y en cada uno se agrupaban cincuenta hombres a la luz de la ardiente llama. Y los caballos,
comiendo cerca de los carros avena y blanca cebada, esperaban la llegada de la Aurora, la del
hermoso trono.
—Homero, Ilíada, Canto VIII
Junio (Campolongo, 5 de julio de 1917)
Cuando
se me morirá
esta noche
y como otro
podré mirarla
y me adormeceré
al murmullo
de las olas
que terminan
de enrollarse
a la cinta de acacias
de mi casa
Cuándo me despertaré
en tu cuerpo
que se modula
como la voz del ruiseñor
Se extenúa
como el color
reluciente
del grano maduro
En la transparencia
del agua
el oro traslúcido
245
de tu piel
se escarchará de moro
Librada
de las losas
sonoras
del aire serás
como una
pantera
A los cortes
móviles
de la sombra
te deshojarás
Rugiendo
muda en
aquél polvo
me sofocarás
Luego
entreabrirás los párpados
Veremos nuestro amor
como tarde
Luego veré
sosegado
en el horizonte de betún
de tus iris morírseme
las pupilas
Ahora
el sereno ha cerrado
como
a esta hora
en mi país de África
los jazmines
He perdido el sueño
Oscilo
al costado de una calle
como una luciérnaga
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¿Se me morirá
esta noche?
Ungaretti, Giugno (Campolongo il 5 luglio 1917). Quando / mi morirá / questa notte / e come un altro
/ potró guardarla / e mi addormenteró / al fruscio / delle onde / che finiscono / di avvoltolarsi // alla
cinta di gaggie / della mia casa // Quando mi risveglieró / nel tuo corpo / che si modula / come la
voce dell’usignolo // Si estenua / come il colore / rilucente / del grano maturo // Nella trasparenza /
dell’acqua / l’oro velino / della tua pelle / si brenerá di moro // Librata / dalle lastre / squillanti /
dell’aria sarai / come una / pantera //Ai tagli / mobili / dell’ombra / ti sfoglierai // Ruggendo / muta in
/ quella polvere / mi soffocherai // Poi / socchiuderai le palpebre //Vedremo el nostro amore reclinarsi
/ come sera //Poi vedró / rasserenato / nell’orizzonte di bitume / delle tua iride morirmi / le pupille /
Ora / il sereno è chiuso / come / a quest’ora / nel mio paesed’Africa / i gelsomini / Ho perso il sonno /
Oscillo / al canto d’una strada / come una lucciola / Mi morirà / questa notte ?
A trastear, Hélpide dulce, escampas,
cómo quedamos de tan quedarnos.
Hoy vienes apenas me he levantado.
El establo está divinamente meado
y excrementido por la vaca inocente
y el inocente asno y el gallo inocente.
Penetra en la maría ecuménica.
Oh sangabriel, haz que conciba el alma,
el sin luz amor, el sin cielo,
lo más piedra, lo más nada,
hasta la ilusión monarca.
Quemaremos todas las naves!
Quemaremos la última esencia!
Mas si se ha de sufrir de mito a mito,
y a hablarme llegas masticando hielo,
mastiquemos brasas,
ya no hay dónde bajar,
ya no hay dónde subir.
Se ha puesto el gallo incierto, hombre.
—César Vallejo, Trilce 19
Nunca había sentido que fuera más lenta y violenta la vida como caminar entre un
amontonadero de gente; igual que si fuéramos un hervidero de gusanos apelotonados bajo el sol,
retorciéndonos entre la cerrazón del polvo que nos encerraba a todos en la misma vereda y nos
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llevaba como acorralados. Los ojos seguían la polvarera; daban en el polvo como si tropezaran contra
algo que no se podía traspasar. Y el cielo siempre gris, como una mancha gris y pesada que nos
aplastaba a todos desde arriba. Sólo a veces, cuando cruzábamos algún río, el polvo era más alto y
más claro. Zambullíamos la cabeza acalenturada y renegrida en el agua verde, y por un momento de
todos nosotros salía un humo azul, parecido al vapor que sale de la boca con el frío. Pero poquito
después desaparecíamos otra vez entreverados en el polvo, cobijándonos unos a otros del sol de aquel
calor del sol repartido entre todos.
Algún día llegará la noche. En eso pensábamos. Llegará la noche y nos pondremos a
descansar. Ahora se trata de cruzar el día, de atravesarlo como sea para correr del calor y del sol.
Después nos detendremos. Después. Lo que tenemos que hacer por lo pronto es esfuerzo tras
esfuerzo para ir de prisa detrás de tantos como nosotros y delante de otros muchos. De eso se trata.
Ya descansaremos bien a bien cuando estemos muertos.
En eso pensábamos Natalia y yo y quizá también Tanilo, cuando íbamos por el camino real
de Talpa, entre la procesión; queriendo llegar los primeros hasta la Virgen, antes que se le acabaran
los milagros.
............................
Afuera se oía el ruido de las danzas; los tambores y la chirimía; el repique de las campanas. Y
entonces fue cuando me dio a mí tristeza. Ver tantas cosas vivas; ver a la Virgen allí, mero enfrente
de nosotros dándonos su sonrisa, y ver por el otro lado a Tanilo, como si fuera un estorbo. Me dio
tristeza.
Pero nosotros lo llevamos allí para que se muriera, eso es lo que no se me olvida.
Ahora estamos los dos en Zenzontla. Hemos vuelto sin él. Y la madre de Natalia no me ha
preguntado nada; ni que hice con mi hermano Tanilo, ni nada. Natalia se ha puesto a llorar sobre sus
hombros y le ha contado de esa manera todo lo que pasó.
Y yo comienzo a sentir como si no hubiéramos llegado a ninguna parte, que estamos aquí de
paso, para descansar, y que luego seguiremos caminando. No sé para dónde; pero tendremos que
seguir, porque aquí estamos muy cerca del remordimiento y del recuerdo de Tanilo.
Quizá hasta empecemos a tenernos miedo uno al otro. Esa cosa de no decirnos nada desde
que salimos de Talpa tal vez quiera decir eso. Tal vez los dos tenemos muy cerca el cuerpo de Tanilo,
tendido en el petate enrollado; lleno por dentro y por fuera de un hervidero de moscas azules que
zumbaban como si fuera un gran ronquido que saliera de la boca de él; de aquella boca que no pudo
cerrarse a pesar de los esfuerzos de Natalia y míos, y que parecía querer respirar todavía sin encontrar
resuello. De aquel Tanilo a quien ya nada le dolía, pero que estaba como adolorido, con las manos y
los pies engarruñados y los ojos muy abiertos como mirando su propia muerte. Y por aquí y por allá
todas sus llagas goteando un agua amarilla, llena de aquel olor que se derramaba por todos lados y se
sentía en la boca, como si se estuviera saboreando una miel espesa y amarga que se derretía en la
sangre de uno a cada bocanada de aire.
Es de eso de lo que quizá nos acordemos aquí más seguido: de aquel Tanilo que nosotros
enterramos en el camposanto de Talpa; al que Natalia y yo echamos tierra y piedras encima para que
no lo fueran a desenterrar los animales del cerro.
—Juan Rulfo
I will think of you, love,
On evenings when the gray mist
Rises above the rushes,
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And chill sounds the voice
Of the wild ducks crying.
—Poem of a frontier Guard
Autumn evening—
A crow on a bare branch.
—Basho
Aroma del ciruelo,
de pronto el sol sale:
senda del monte.
—Basho, siglo XVII
Cazan jabatos.
Corren por los miscantos
voces nocturnas.
—Issa, siglos XVIII y XIX
*Miscanto: Carrizos terminados en un plunero o airón.
THE "POETIC SITUATION"
Nota: Creo que el hecho de que la poesía china o japonesa nos guste más a medida que crecemos se
debe a que cuando somos más jóvenes buscamos textos que nos asombren, llenos de ideas y
249
malabarismos. Con los años vamos formando nuestro "set" de ideas, nuestra "visión del mundo" y
vemos que este tipo de poesía, simple y directa, nos pide a veces más que otros textos, porque las
ideas las suplimos nosotros. En cierto sentido no "presenciamos" el texto, somos parte de él.
Otro rasgo particular es la yuxtaposición de una imagen (la descripci´øn de un paisaje, por
ejemplo) seguida de una reflexión, a menudo una preguta, que nunca hace explícita la relación. Por
ejemplo en:
The River Izumi
Floods the plain of Mika.
Did I ever meet her?
Why do I long for her?
—Fujiwara No Go-Kanesuke, 10th century.
En la poesía china y japonesa las estaciones siempre están presentes (explícitas o en la
descripción del paisaje o el ambiente). Sin embargo, eso no la hace monótona—pone de manifiesto
una relación entre lo que es constante y lo que cambia, entre lo cíclico y lo que avanza (la vida del
hombre). Las cosas que son constantes (el día y la noche, las estaciones, el mar, etc.) se relacionan
con las que no lo son—o al menos su delimitación es más vaga—(el hombre, el estado de ánimo, la
memoria, etc.). El verano es algo muy distinto para alguien joven que para alguien viejo, para
alguien triste o contento. (11/01/05)
Por esta senda
no hay nadie que camine:
atardecer de otoño.
—Basho, siglo XVII
Día vernal.
Doquiera que haya agua,
queda el crepúsculo.
—Issa, siglos XVIII y XIX
Encontré este haiku: Todos los años / sufro distinto al ver / irse la primavera. (Guekkio, siglo
XVIII).
[In Tu Fu] the metaphor, the symbols are not conclusions drawn from the images; they are the images
themselves in concrete relatioship. [...] What comes through [in translation] is the simple glory of the
facts—the naked, transfigured poetic situation.
The concept of the poetic situation is itself a major factor in almost all Chinese poems of any
period. Chinese poets are not rethorical; they do not talk about the material or philosophize abstractly
250
about life—they present a scene and an action. "The north wind tears the banana leaves." It is South
China in the autumn. "A lonely goose flies south across the setting sun." Autumn again, and evening.
"Smoke rises from the rose jade animal to the painted rafters." A palace. "She toys idly with the
strings of an inlaid lute." A concubine. "Suddenly one snaps beneath her jeweled fingers." She is
tense and tired of waiting for her master. This is not the subject matter, but it is certainly the method,
of almost all the poets of the modern, international idiom, whether Pierre Reverdy or Francis
Jammes, Edwin Muir or William Carlos Williams, Quasimodo or the early, and to my taste best,
poems of Rilke. [...] It can be understood and appreciated only by the application of what Albert
Schweitzer called "reverence for liefe." What is, is what is holy.
[...] an empirical concentration on the religious experience itself as unqualified, a secular mysticism
which sees experience as its own trascendence.
—Kenneth Rexroth, Classics Revisited
Banquet At The Tso Family Manor
The windy forest is checkered
By the light of the setting,
Waning moon. I tune the lute,
Its strings are moist with dew.
The brook flows in the darkness
Below the flower path. The thatched
Roof is crowned with constellations.
As we write tha candles burn short.
Our wits grow sharp as swords while
The wine goes round. When the poem
Contest is ended, someone
Sings a song of the South. And
I think of my little boat,
And long to be on my way.
—Tu Fu, 8th century.
Written On The Wall At Chang's Hermitage
It is spring in the mountains.
I come alone seeking you.
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The sound of chopping wood echos
Between the silent peaks.
The streams are still icy.
There is snow on the trail.
At sunset I reach your grove
In the stony mountain pass.
You can see the aura of gold
And silver ore all around you.
You have learned to be gentle
As the mountain deer you have tamed.
The way back forgotten, hidden
Away, I become like you,
An empty boat, floating, adrift.
—Tu Fu, 8th century.
Jade Flower Palace
The stream swirls. The wind moans in
The pines. Grey rats scurry over
Broken tiles. What prince, long ago,
Built this palace, standing in
Ruins beside the cliffs? There are
Green ghost fires in the black rooms.
The shattered pavements are all
Washed away. Ten thousand organ
Pipes whistle and roar. The storm
Scatters the red autumn leaves.
His dancing girls are yellow dust.
Their painted cheeks have crumbled
Away. His gold chariots
And courtiers are gone. Only
A stone horse is left of his
Glory. I sit on the grass and
Start a poem, but the pathos of
It overcomes me. The future
Slips imperceptibly away.
Who can say what the years will bring?
—Tu Fu, 8th century.
To Wei Pa, A Retired Scholar
The lives of many men are
Shorter than the years since we have
Seen each other. Aldebaran
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And Antares move as we have.
And now, what night is this? We sit
Here together in the candle
Light. How much longer will our prime
Last? Our temples are already
Grey. I visit my old friends.
Half of them have become ghosts.
Fear and sorrow choke me and burn
My bowels. I never dreamed I would
Come this way, after twenty years,
A wayfarer to your parlor.
When we parted years ago,
You were unmarried. Now you have
A row of boys and girls, who smile
And ask me about my travels.
How have I reached this time and place?
Before I can come to the end
Of an endless tale, the children
Have brought out the wine. We go
Out in the night and cut young
Onions in the rainy darkness.
We eat them with hot, steaming,
Yellow millet. You say, "It is
Sad, meeting each other again."
We drink ten toasts rapidly from
The rhinoceros horn cups.
Ten cups, and still we are not drunk.
We still love each other as
We did when we were schoolboys.
Tomorrow morning mountain peaks
Will come between us, and with them
The endless, oblivious
Business of the world.
—Tu Fu, 8th century.
Loneliness
A hawk hovers in air.
Two white gulls float on the stream.
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Soaring with the wind, it is easy
To drop and seize
Birds who foolishly drift with the current.
Where the dew sparkles in the grass,
The spider's web waits for its pray.
The processes of nature resemble the business of men.
I stand alone with ten thousand sorrows.
—Tu Fu, 8th century.
Overlooking The Desert
Clear Autumn. I gaze out into
Endless spaces. The horizon
Wavers in bands of haze. Far off
The river flows into the sky.
The lone city is blurred with smoke.
The wind blows the last leaves away.
The hills grow dim as the sun sets.
A single crane flies late to roost.
The twilit trees are full od crows.
—Tu Fu, 8th century.
A Restless Night In Camp
In the penetrating damp
I sleep under the bamboos,
Under the penetrating
Moonlight in the wilderness.
The thick dew turns to fine mist.
One by one the stars go out.
Only the fireflies are left.
Birds cry over the water.
War breeds its consequences.
It is useless to worry,
Wakeful while the long night goes.
—Tu Fu, 8th century.
Rain On The River
In the fog we drift hither
And yon over the dark waves.
At last our little boat finds
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Shelter under a willow bank.
At midnight I am awake,
Heavy with wine. The smoky
Lamp is still burning. The rain
Is still sighing in the bamboo
Thatch of the cabin of the boat.
—Lu Yu, 12th century
EMPTINESS
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"The curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
—Arthur Conan Doyle
One of the most striking features of the Sung landscape, as of sumi-e as a whole, is the relative
emptiness of the picture—an emptiness which appears, however, to be part of the painting and not
just unpainted background. By filling in just one corner, the artist makes the whole area of the picture
alive. (...) The secret lies in knowing how to balance form with emptiness and, above all, in knowing
when one has said enough. For Zen spoils neither the aesthetic shock nor the 'satori' shok by filling
in, by explanation, second thoughts, and intellectual commentary. Furthermore, the figure so
integrally related to its empty space gives the feeling of the "marvelous Void" from which the event
suddenly appears.
So the most expressive Zen poetry is that which "says nothing," which, in other words, is not
philosophy or commentary about life. A monk asked Feng-hsueh, "When speech and silence are both
inadmissible, how can one pass without error?" The master replied:
I always remember Kiangsu in March—
The cry of the partridge, the mass of fragrant flowers!
Here again, as in painting, is the expression of a live moment in its pure "suchness." (It "points" and
says no more).
In poetry the empty space is the surrounding silence which a two-line poem requires—a silence of
the mind in which one does not think about the poem but actually feels the sensation which it
3evokes—all the more strongly for having said so little. The non-Japanese listener must remember
that a good haiku is a pebble thrown into the pool of the listener's mind, evoking associations out of
the richness of his own memory. It invites the listener to participate instead of leaving him dumb with
admiration while the poet shows off.
To write a haiku, said Basho, get a three-foot child. For Basho's poems have the same inspired
objetivity as a child's expression of wonder, and return us to that same feeling of the world as when it
first met our astonished eyes.
Sabi, wabi, aware, yugen. These extremely untranslatable Japanese words denote the four basic
moods of furyu, that is, of the general atmosphere of Zen "taste" in its perception of the aimless
moments of life.
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Where the mood of the moment is solitary and quiet it is called "sabi." Its quiet, thrilling loneliness is
obvious in
On a withered branch
A crow is perched,
In the autumn evening.
But it is less obvious and deeper in
With the evening breeze,
The water laps against
The heron's leng.
or
In the dark forest
A berry drops:
The sound of water.
"Sabi" is, however, loneliness in the sense of Buddhist detachment, of seeing all things as happening
"by themselves" in miraculous spontaneity.
When the artist is feeling depressed or sad, and in this peculiar emptiness of feeling catches a glimpse
of something rather ordinary and unpretentious in its incredible "suchness," the mood is called
"wabi."
A brushwood gate,
And for a lock—
This snail.
The woodpecker
Keeps on in the same place:
Day is closing.
Winter desolation;
In the rain-water tub,
Sparrows are walking.
When the moment evoques a more intense, nostalgic sadness, connected with autumn and the
vanishing away of the world, it is called "aware." (...)
"Aware" is not quite grief, and not quite nostalgia in the usual sense of longing for the return of a
beloved past. "Aware" is the echo of what has passed and of what was loved, giving them resonance
(...); it is the moment of crisis between seeing the transcience of the world with sorrow and regret,
and seeing it as the very form of Void.
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This dewdrop world—
It may be a dewdrop,
And yet—and yet—
(Issa upon the death of his child)
The stream hides itself
In the grasses
Of departing autumn.
Leaves falling,
Lie on one another;
The rain beats on the rain.
When the vision is the sudden perception of something mysterious and strange, hinting at an
unknown never to be disclosed, the mood is called "yugen."
The sea darkens;
The voices of the wild ducks
Are faintly white.
The skylark:
Its voice alone fell,
Leaving nothing behind.
In the dense mist,
What is being shouted
Between hill and boat?
Herrigel spent almost five years trying to find the right way of releasing the bowstring, for it had to
be done "unintentionally." (...) His problem was to resolve the paradox of practicing relentlessly
without ever "trying", and to let go the taut string intentionally without intention. His master at one
and the same time urged him to keep on working and working, but also to stop making an effort. For
the art cannot be learned unless the arrow "shoots itself," unless the string is released without "mind"
and without blocking, or "choice." After all those years of practice there came a day when it just
happened—how, or why, Herriguel neve understood.
The same is true in learning to use the brush for writing or painting. The brush must draw by itself.
This cannot happen if one does not practice constantly. But neither it can happen if one makes an
effort. (...) Decision and action must be simultaneous. This was the point of Dogen's image of
firewood and ashes, for to say the firewood does not "become" ashes is to say that it has no intention
to be ash before it is actually ash—and then it is no longer firewood. (...) The sudden visions of
nature which form the substance of haiku arise in the same way, for they are never there when one
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looks for them. (...) To travel is to be alive, but to get somewhere is to be dead, for as our own
proverb says, "To travel well is better than to arrive."
The real joy of thess arts, then, lies in what turns up unintentionally in the course of practice.
—Alan Watts, Zen, 179 y ss.
Haiku es simplemente lo que está sucediendo en este lugar, en este momento.
—Basho
Poor moth, I can't help you,
I can only turn out the light.
—Ryszard Krynicki, (Polish), I can't help you.
en la mañana abierta
lentamente por tus ojos pasan
los animales que te quemaron
adentro del sueño/
nunca dicen nada/
me dejan cenizas/y
solo
con el sol/
— Juan Gelman, poema viii, Dibaxu
Otro tipo de sentimiento del vacío, más moderno:
Encendió un cigarrillo tratando de moverse apenas lo indispensable. Escuchó voces impulsadas
sin entusiasmo, alguna risa sin respuesta; el viento, crujidos de madera, un ladrido, pequeños puntos
sonoros que servían para la mesura de la distancia y el silencio.
"Están tan locos como yo", pensó. Había hecho retroceder la cabeza y la mantenía inmóvil en el
aire frío, los ojos salientes, la pequeña boca desdeñosa y torcida para sostener el cigarrillo. Era como
estarse espiando, como verse lejos y desde muchos años antes, gordo, obsesionado, metido en horas
de la mañana en una oficina arruinada e inverosímil, jugando a leer historias críticas de naufragios
evitados, de millones a ganar. Se vio como si treinta años antes se imaginara, por broma y en voz
alta, frente a mujeres y amigos, desde un mundo que sabían (él y los mozos de cara empolvada, él y
las mujeres de risa dispuesta) invariable, detenido para siempre en una culminación de promesas, de
riqueza, de perfecciones; como si estuviera inventando un imposible Larsen, como si pudiera
señalarlo con el dedo y censurar la aberración.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, El astillero, p.63
Esta noche desciendo del caballo,
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ante la puerta de la casa, donde
me despedí con el cantar del gallo.
Está cerrada y nadie responde.
El poyo en que mamá alumbró
al hermano mayor, para que ensille
lomos que había yo montado en pelo,
por rúas y por cercas, niño aldeano;
el poyo en que dejé que se amarille al sol
mi adolorida infancia... ¿Y este duelo
que enmarca la portada?
Dios en la paz foránea,
estornuda, cual llamando también, el bruto;
husmea, golpeando el empedrado. Luego duda,
relincha,
orejea a viva oreja.
Ha de velar papá rezando, y quizás
pensará se me hizo tarde.
Las hermanas, canturreando sus ilusiones
sencillas, bullosas,
en la labor para la fiesta que se acerca,
y ya no falta casi nada.
Espero, espero, el corazón
un huevo en su momento, que se obstruye.
Numerosa familia que dejamos
no ha mucho, hoy nadie en vela, y ni una cera
puso en el ara para que volviéramos.
Llamo de nuevo, y nada.
Callamos y nos ponemos a sollozar, y el animal
relincha, relincha más todavía.
Todos están durmiendo para siempre,
y tan de lo más bien, que por fin
mi caballo acaba fatigado por cabecear
a su vez, y entre sueños, a cada venia, dice
que está bien, que todo está muy bien.
—César Vallejo, Trilce 61
REPETITION
Algunos recursos estilísticos de Beckett
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There is, for instance, the dilution of a topic in details that are born from it and that keep the narrative
going. There is the repetition of a term as an echo, as if the writer had left it until he could recast the
sentence., the paragraph, the book. The two phenomena may be combined: "So I put on my clothes,
having first made sure they had not been tampered with, that is to say I put on my trousers, my greatcoat, my hat and my boots. My boots. They came up to where..."
This propping of words is revealed by the use of that sentence crutch that forms the sentence's
beginning by restating the previous sentence's object, repeated then by a pronoun ('...and my boots.
My boots. they..."). In barely two pages there are three examples: "The house where Lousse lived.
Must I describe it?... My life, my life, now I speak of it as something over...But these cullions, I must
be attached to them after all..." Here this inversion is not merely a means of setting in relief, or even
the result of an attempt at varying the constrution: rather it is a matter of recasting the conventional
phrasing; and the resulting insistence is one of those means that serve to push the discourse forward,
relying on a forceful oral phrasing and making us stick to its rhythm. Beckett here compares to
another great "oral" writer, Céline, in whose style the propulsive role played by that positioning of
the sentence's object is extremely important. Reading him, too, one listens, reflects, and imitates.
—Ludovic Janvier, Style in Beckett's Trilogy
Molloy
(...) the sentence can be pulverazied to the advantage of the verb or the noun, notably at the beginning
of a paragraph. (...)
EMphasis on the verb: "Live and invent. I have tried. I must have tried. Invent," and the impulse
given by the infinitive puts the discourse again into gear. "We are getting on," Malone says
elsewhere, and it is half a statement, half encouragement to go on.
Special emphasis on the noun. One even doubts that the verb can be without contradiction the sole
propulsive element, or even the principal one. After a hole, a blank, even in the middle of the
narrative when it has broken down or simply reached a dead end through inadvertence and fatigue, it
is the noun's direct echo, reminder, or statement of what came before, that facilitates the narrative's
resumption—not the verb's command, demanding action too abruptly from writing suspended
precisely in default of activity. In this respect the first thirty pages of Malone Dies are revelatory;
there are so many restarts accomplished through these maieutic formulas: "Present state. This room
seems to be mine... What tedium... the summer holidays. In the morning he took private lessons...
The market. The inadequacy of the exchanges... The peasants. His visits to. ... The Lamberts. The
Lamberts found it difficult to live... The farm. The farm was in a hollow... Dead world, aireless,
waterless. that's it, reminisce"
Once the impetus has been given the speech winds on. (More examples, again—after a blank, space
and a silence) A verb: "I feel. I feel it's coming." Nouns: "Quick, quick my possessions." "A thousand
little things to report." "Inauspicious beginnings indeed." "Moll. I'm going to kill her." "A last effort."
"The wagonette." "The boat. Room, as in the wagonette..." "The island. A last effort. The islet."
—Ludovic Janvier, Style in Beckett's Trilogy
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The object is not of such interest by itself; it is the environment which creates it. It is with this
approach that I have worked all my life before the same objects. They imparted to me the power of
reality, drawing my thoughts into everything these objects have undergone for and with me. A glass
of water with a flower is a different thing from one with a lemon. The object is an actor: a good actor
can play a different role in ten plays, as an object can do in ten different pictures. It is not perceived
alone by itself, but evokes a group of elements. But you remind me of that little table which I painted
isolated in a garden? Well, it represented the whole fresh-air ambience in which I had lived.
The object must act powrfully on the imagination, and the artist's feeling, expressing itself through
the object, must render it worthy of interest. It only says what one makes it say. —Matisse, Theories
of Modern Art, 142
Para encontrarle aunque sea el fantasma de un sentido a una narración, en esta tiene que haber al
menos una mínima repetición, una vuelta atras sobre algo anterior en el texto mismo. Ejemplo, en
Robbe-Grillet The Voyeur, la narración puede ser un continuum descriptivo de situaciones siempre
diferentes, lo unico que ata a la historia, a sus partes entre sí, es la aparición de un grupo de objetos,
siempre los mismo, en distintos lugares, o semi-recordados, pero siempre los mismos, que vuelven
permanentemente sobre el fantasma (la posibilidad) de que haya habido un crimen.
Hacen el crimen, no lo señalan.
El avance y el retroceso forman juntos un movimiento único, la diástole-sístole que constituye la vida
del universo.
—Gershom Scholem, Misticismo Judío, c.1
Otro buen ejemplo es El Corazón de las Tinieblas. Conrad repite permanentemente a lo largo
de la novela una constelación de palabras (silencioso, misterio, oculto, tiniebla, quieto, , etc.) cuya
reaparición nos hace entrar en ese mundo detenido, hostil, primitivo. Es el hecho de que esos pocos
adjetivos son compartidos por todas los objetos y personas que aparecen y que los sustantivos (la
oscuridad, el silencio) son también omnipresentes ("También éste ha sido uno de los lugares oscuros
de la tierra", dice Marlow, ya en Londres).
En Proust, en Genet, en Céline, las personas desaparecen para volver a surgir más adelante (a
veces sólo como un fantasma: ej. Robinson en Viaje al Final de la Noche), como en un jardín de
niebla.
La imagen contraria (wight vs. lightness) la da este poema:
In The Middle Of The Road
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In the middle of the road there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone.
Never should I forget this event
in the life of my fatigued retinas.
Never should I forget that in the middle of the road
here was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road there was a stone.
—Carlos Drummond de Andrade, tr. Elizabeth Bishop
FRANCESCA
You came in out of the night
And there were flowers in your hands,
Now you will come out of a consion of peouptle, *
Out of a turmoil of speech abofuouy
I who have seen you amid the primal things
Was angry when they spoke your name
In ordinary places.
I would that the cool waves might flow over my mind,
And that the world should dry as a dead leaf,
Or as a dandelion seed-pod and be swept away,
So that I might find you again,
Alone.
*a confusion of people
—Ezra Pound
As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Woods
As toilsome I wander'd Virginia's woods,
To the music of rustling leaves kick'd by my feet, (for 'twas autumn,)
I mark'd at the foot of a tree the grave of a soldier;
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Mortally wounded he and buried on the retreat, (easily all could
understand,)
The halt of a mid-day hour, when up! no time to lose--yet this sign left,
On a tablet scrawl'd and nail'd on the tree by the grave,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
Long, long I muse, then on my way go wandering,
Many a changeful season to follow, and many a scene of life,
Yet at times through changeful season and scene, abrupt, alone, or
in the crowded street,
Comes before me the unknown soldier's grave, comes the inscription
rude in Virginia's woods,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Todos han muerto. Murió doña Antonia, la ronca, que hacía pan barato
en el burgo.
Murió el cura Santiago, a quien placía le saludasen los jóvenes y las
mozas, respondiéndoles a todos, indistintamente: ¡"Buenos días, José!
¡Buenos días, María!"
Murió aquella joven rubia, Carlota, dejando un hijito de meses, que luego
también murió, a los ocho días de la madre.
Murió mi tía Albina, que solía cantar tiempos y modos de heredad, en
tanto cosía en los corredores, para Isidora, la criada de oficio, la
honrosísima mujer.
Murió un viejo tuerto, su nombre no recuerdo, pero dormía al sol de la
mañana, sentado ante la puerta del hojalatero de la esquina.
Murió Rayo, el perro de mi altura, herido de un balazo de no se sabe
quién.
Murió Lucas, mi cuñado en la paz de las cinturas, de quien me acuerdo
cuando llueve y no hay nadie en mi experiencia.
Murió en mi revólver mi madre, en mi puño mi hermana y mi hermano en
mi víscera sangrienta, los tres ligados por un género triste de tristeza,
en el mes de agosto de años sucesivos.
Murió el músico Méndez, alto y muy borracho, que solfeaba en su
clarinete tocatas melancólicas, a cuyo articulado se dormían las gallinas
de mi barrio, mucho antes de que el sol se fuese.
Murió mi eternidad y estoy velándola.
—César Vallejo, La violencia de las horas
There's no care except hunger
No favors but from an enemy
Nothing edible but a bale of hay
No lookout but there's a man asleep
No clemency without a crime
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No safety but among the frightened
No good faith but a disbeliever's
Nor any cool heads but lovers.
There's no conceiving but in the baths
No good reputation but an exile's
No laughter but after the blow is struck
No praise like canceled debts
No true love but in flattery
No meeting except of the miserable
No true rapport but in lies
Nor any cool heads but lovers.
There's no rest like a life of worry
No respect like "Damn your eyes"
No big spending but with false coins
No good health but catching dropsy
No high resolve except cowardice
No good advice but from madmen
No sweet disposition but a ranting wife's
Nor any cool heads but lovers.
Verity, are you ready to hear it?
In sickness alone is there joy
Life's true stories are tragedies
Louts are the only knights errant
Only in screeches are there melodies
Nor any cool heads but lovers.
—François Villon, Ballade
DE RERUM NATURA (Lenguaje y mundo)
"Wait a minute," Randall said insistently. "Are you trying to describe the creation of the world—the
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universe?"
"What else?"
"But—damn it, this is preposterous! I asked for an explanation of the things that have just happened
to us."
"I told you that you would not like the explanation."
—Robert Heinlein, The unpleasant profession of Johnatan Hoag, citado en George Oppen, This
in which.
—Me desagradan esos maestros zen que arrojan a los muchachos al barro porque no pueden
contestar sus tontas preguntas verbales.
—Hacen eso porque quieren que comprendan que el barro vale más que las palabras.
—Jack Kerouac, Vagabundos del Dharma, c.2
Before Caesar's dead body:
CASSIUS. Stoop then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
BRUTUS. How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
That now on Pompey's basis lies along
No worthier than the dust!
—William Shakespeare, Julius Cesar, 3.1
Quizás lenguaje y mundo no son dos cosas distintas y opuestas sino una continuidad, en donde el
mundo (las cosas) está donde no está la palabra, y la palabra donde la cosa está ausente. Galileo habla
del "libro del universo," Browne, de la naturaleza como del "arte de Dios."
—8 sep. 2003,
nota en lápiz pg. 63 del libro de sueños de JLB
Los clásicos (incluso los que presentan una escritura narrativa más abierta, como Beckett o Joyce) se
preocupan por narrar hechos, rasgos, sensaciones, cosas — cosas específicas, no hay divague de
emociones (como en la escritura de los adolescentes). Ver “El otro duelo”, de Borges. Es una
sucesión perfecta de pequeñas anécdotas y detalles alrededor del tema principal, muy simple y
directo.
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En “La postulación de la realidad”, Borges escribe: “El clásico no desconfía del lenguaje, cree en
la suficiente virtud de cada uno de sus signos. (Ejemplo de Gibbon, Decline and fall, xxxv)
Basta el inciso “Despues de la partida de los godos” para percibir el caracter mediato de esta
escritura, generalizadora y abstracta hasta lo invisible. El autor nos propone un jusgo de simbolos,
organizados rigurosamente sin duda, pero cuya animacion eventual queda a cargo nuestro. No es
realmente expresivo;: se limita a registrar una realidadd, no a representarla. Ls ricos hechos cuya
postuma alusion nos convida, importaron cargadas experiencias, percepciones, reacciones; estas
pueden inferirse de su relato, pero no estan en el. Dicho con mejor precision: no escribe los primeros
contactos con la realidad, sino su elaboracion final en conceptos. Es el metodo clasico, el observado
siempre por Voltaire, por Swift, por Cervantes.(…)
(...) La impresicion es tolerable o verosimil en la literatura, porque a ella propendemos siempre en
la realidad. La simplificacion conceptual de estados complejos es muchas veces una operacion
instantanea.
Rasgos: 1. Notificación general de los hechos que importan. 2.Imaginar una realidad más compleja
que la declarada al lector y referir sus derivaciones y efectos. 3. La invención circunstancial de
rasgos, detalles, etc.
(Borges; Postulacion de la realidad)
A propósito de rasgos circunstanciales, me acordé del capítulo de Lolita en el que la mujer de
Humbert Humbert se va con un taximetrero:
What really attracted me to Valeria was the imitation she gave of a little girl. But reality soon
asserted itself. Instead of a pale little gutter girl, Humbert Humbert had on his hands a large, puffy,
short-legged, big-breasted and practically brainless baba. In 1939 mon oncle d'Amérique died
bequeathing me an annual income of a few thousand dollars on condition that I came to live in the
States. (...) We were coming out of some office building one morning, with her papers almost in
order, when Valeria, as she waddled by my side, began to shake her poodle vigorously without
saying a word. i let her go on for a while and then asked if she thought she had something inside. She
said "There is another man in my life."
I do not remember his ridiculous name but after all those years I still see him quite clearly— a
stocky White Russian ex-colonel with a bushy moustache and a crew cut.
I put an end to this gibberish by suggesting Valeria pack up her few belongings immediatly, upon
which the platitudinous colonel gallantly offered to carry them into the car. Reverting to his
professional state, he drove the Humberts to their residence and all the way Valeria talked, and
Humbert the Terrible deliberated with Humbert the Small whether Humbert Humbert should kill her
or her lover, or both, or neither. I remember once handling an automatic belonging to a fellow
student, in the days when I toyed with the idea of enjoying his little sister, a most diafanous nymphet
with a black hair bow, and the shoot myself. I now wondered if Valechka (as the colonel called her)
was really worth shooting, or strangling, or drowning. She had very vulnerable legs, and I decided I
would limit myself to hurting her very horribly as soon as we were alone.
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But we never were.Valechka - by now shedding torrents of tears tinged with the mess of her rainbow
make-up - filled anyhow a trunk, and two suitcases, and a bursting carton with her things. Visions of
putting on my mountain boots and taking a running kick at her rump were of course impossible to put
into execution with the cursed colonel hovering around all the time. I sat with arms folded, one hip
on the window sill, dying of hate and boredom. At last both were out of the quivering apartment. (...)
Clumsily playing my part, I stomped to the bathroom to check if they had taken my English toilet
water; they had not; but I noticed with a spasm of fierce disgust that the former Counselor of the
Tsar, after throughly easing his bladder, had not flushed the toilet. That solemn pool of alien urine
with a soggy, tawny cigarette butt disintegrating in it struck me as a crowning insult, and I wildly
looked around for a weapon.
—V.Nabokov, Lolita, ch. 8
O este otro pasaje:
Manuel Cardoso y Carmen Silveira tenían sus campitos linderos. Como el de otras pasiones, el
origen de un odio siempre es oscuro, pero se habla de una porfía por animales sin marcar o de una
carrera a costilla, en la que Silveira, que era más fuerte, había echado a pechazos de la cancha al
parejero de Cardoso. Meses después ocurriría, en el comercio del lugar, una larga trucada mano a
mano, de quince y quince; Silveira felicitaba a su contrario casi por cada baza, pero lo dejó al fin sin
un cobre. Cuando guardó la plata en el tirador, agradeció a Cardoso la lección que le había dado. Fue
entonces, creo, que estuvieron a punto de irse a las manos. La partida había sido muy reñida; los
concurrentes, que eran muchos, los desapartaron. En esas asperezas y en aquel tiempo, el hombre se
encontraba con el hombre y el acero con el acero.
—Borges, El otro duelo.
Borges: la forma de lo breve. Sustantivo y adjetivo se fusionan para dar una dimension mucho más
amplia, a la vez de comprimida (rasgo de la poesía), a lo que se dice; para dejar algo implícito pero
preciso; para decir en dos palabras lo que se dice entres oraciones.
En Italo Calvino, aún cuando se detiene en las reflexiones descriptivas de sus personajes, se trata
siempre de una sucesión de ideas ( a veces contrarias) expresadas prácticamente en una o dos
oraciones cada una, de una forma práctica y directa. (Ej. Palomar)
Una forma de encarar la descripción de una escena sería (antes o después de haber escrito,
digamos, un párrafo) encontrar uno o dos adjetivos que la definan y otorgarle esos adjetivos a
alguno de los sustantivos que ya empleaste (o vas a emplear) en la descripción.
Evitar una adjetivación “reiterativa” (“e mar azul”); buscar una “aditiva”, donde sustantivo y
adjetivo no parezcan pertenecer a una misma realidad física, sino que se combinen cosas y
sensaciones. Por ejemplo, en esta pesadilla de Borges:
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“Clareaba: una detenida luz general definía el pie de la cama de fierro, la silla estricta, la puerta y la
ventana cerradas, la mesa en blanco. Pensé con miedo ¿dónde estoy? y comprendí que no lo sabía.
Pensé ¿quién soy? y no me pude reconocer. El miedo creció en mí. Pensé: esta vigilia desconsolada
ya es el infierno, esta vigilia sin destino será mi eternidad.
Entonces desperté de veras: temblando.”
(Borges,la duración del infierno)
El proceso detrás de esto pareciera ser: ¿qué sensación da el lugar? es como una cárcel, estricta, es
un lugar donde no pasa el tiempo, detenido. ¿Cómo se siente el personaje? Desconsolado, sin
destino. Pero sería muy torpe decir algo así como: “Estoy desconosolado. estoy en una cárcel. no me
acuerdo quién soy.” Hay una idea (la del infierno) atrás de la escena, no es sólo la descripción de un
estado.
La realidad procede por hechos, no por razonamientos; a Dios le toleramos que afirme (Exodo, 3, 14)
Soy El Que Soy, no que declare y analice, como Hegel o Anselmo, el argumentum ontologicum.
Dios no debe teologizar; el escritor no debe invalidar con razones humanas la momentanea fe que
exige de nosotros el arte.
(Borges; El primer Wells; Otras Inquisiciones)
En los fragmentos psicologicos de Novalis y en aquel tomo de la autobiografia de Machen que se
llama The London Adventure, hay una hipotesis afin: la de que el mundo externo –las formas, las
temperaturas, la luna- es un lenguaje que hemos olvidado los hombres, o que deletreamos
apenas…Tambien lo declara De Quincey. “Hasta los sonidos irracionales del globo deben ser otras
tantas algebras y lenguajes que de algun modo tienen sus llaves correspondientes, su severa
gramatica y su sintaxis, y asi las minimas cosas del universo pueden ser espejos secretos de las
mayores”.
(…) El supersticioso cree penetrar esa escritura organica: trece comensales articulan el simbolo de la
muerte; un opalo amarillo, el de la desgracia…
Es dudoso que el mundo tenga sentido; es mas dudoso aun que tenga doble y triple sentido, observara
el incredulo. Yo entiendo que asi es; pero entiendo que el mundo jeroglifico postulado por (Leon)
Bloy es el que mas conviene a la dignidad del Dios intelectual de los teologos.
(Borges, El espejo de los enigmas; Otras Inquisiciones)
El arte, siempre, opta por lo individual, lo concreto; el arte no es platonico.
De rodillas a su lao / Yo lo encomendé a Jesus. / Faltó a mis ojos la luz, / Tuve un terrible desmayo. /
Caí como herido del rayo / Cuando lo ví muerto a Cruz.
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Cuando lo vio muerto a Cruz. Fierro, por un pudor de la pena, da por sentado el fallecimiento del
compañero, finge haberlo mostrado.
Esa postulacion de una realidad me parece significativa de todo el libro. Su tema –lo repito- no es la
imposible presentacion de todos los hechos que atravesaron la conciencia de un hombre, ni tampoco
la desfigurada, minima parte que de ellos puede rescatar el recuerdo, sino la narracion del paisano, el
hombre que se muestra al contar. El proyecto comporta asi una doble invencion: la de los episodios y
la de los sentimientos del heroe, retrospectivos estos ultimos o inmediatos. Ese vaiven impide la
declaracion de algunos detalles: no sabemos, por ejemplo, si la tentacion de azotar a la mujer del
negro asesinado es una brutalidad de borracho o –eso prefeririamos- una desesperacion del
aturdimiento, y esa perplejidad de los motivos lo hace mas real. En esta discusion de episodios me
interesa menos la imposicion de una determinada tesis que este convencimiento central: la indole
novelistica del Martin Fierro, hasta en los pormenores.
(Borges, La poesia gauchesca; Discusion)
El problema central de la novela es la causalidad. Si faltan pormenores circunstanciales, todo
parece irreal; si abundan (como en las novelas de Bove, o en el Huckleberry Finn de Mark Twain)
recelamos de esa documentada verdad y de sus detalles fehacientes. La solucon es esta: inventar
pormenores tan verosimiles que parezcan inevitables, o tan dramaticos que el lector los prefiera a la
discusion.
(Borges, 45 dias y treinta marineros, de Norah Lange; Textos Recobrados 1931-1955)
Reality is not always probable, or likely. But if you are writing a story, you have to make it as
plausible as you can, because otherwise the reader's imagination will reject it.
I think one should work into a story the idea of not being sure of all things, because that's the way
reality is. If you state a given fact and then say that you know nothing whatever of some secod
element, that makes the first fact a real one, because it gives the whole a wider existence.
Generally speaking, what I think is most important in a short story is the plot or situation, while in a
novel what's important are the characters. You may think of Don Quixote as being written with
incidents, but what is really important are the two characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
I don't think you have to be loyal to your century or your opinions, because you are being loyal all the
time. You have a certain voice, a certain kind of face, a certain way of writing, and you can't run
away from them even if you want to. So why bother to be modern or contemporary, since you can't
be anything else? (...) Homer, for example, wrote several centuries after the Trojan war. The idea that
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a writer should be contemporaneous is itself modern, but I should say it belongs more to journalism
than to literature. No real writer ever tried to be contemporary.
(De Borges on Writing)
La primera es la excesiva motivación de los actos de su héroe. Entiendo que el objeto perseguido es
la verosimilitud, pero los directores cinematográficos —y los novelistas— suelen olvidar que las
muchas justificaciones (y los muchos pormenores circunstanciales) son contraproducentes. La
realidad no es vaga, pero sí nuestra percepción general de la realidad; de ahí el peligro de justificar
demasiado los actos o de inventar muchos detalles.
—Borges, El delator, Borges en Sur
Algunos autores (Dante, Hernández) logran, describiendo apenas unos pocos rasgos, darnos una
sensación vital y total del mundo en el que se desarrollan los acontecimientos. Evitan las
descripciones extensivas, por ejemplo en:
Daban entonces las armas
pa defender los cantones,
que eran lanzas y latones
con ataduras de tiento...
las de juego no las cuento
porque no había municiones.
Y un sargento chamuscao
me contó que las tenían
pero que ellos la vendían
para cazar avestruzes;
y asi andaban noche y día
déle bala a los ñanduses.
Y cuando se iban los indios
con lo que habían manotiao,
salíamos muy apuraos
a perseguirlos de atrás;
si no se llevaban más
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es porque no habían hallao.
—José Hernández, Martín Fierro 1,c.3
Y yo, que estaba horrorizado, dije:
—Maestro, ¿qué es lo que oigo, y qué gente es ésa, que parece doblegada por el dolor?
Me respondió:
—Esta miserble suerte está reservada a las tristes almas de aquellos que vivieron sin merecer
alabanzas ni vituperio: están confundidas entre el perverso coro de los ángeles que no fueron rebeldes
ni fieles a Dios, sino que sólo vivieron para sí. El Cielo los echó se su seno por no ser menos
hermoso; pero el profundo Infierno no quiere recibirlos por la gloria que con ello podrían reportar los
demás culpables.
Y yo repuse:
—Maestro, ¿qué cruel dolor les hace lamentarse tanto?
A lo que me contestó:
—Te lo diré brevemente. Estos no esperan morir; y su ceguera es tanta, que se muestran
envidiosos de culquier otra suerte. El mundo no conserva ningún recuerdo suyo; la misericordia y la
justicia los desdeñan: no hablemos más de ellos, míralos y pasa adelante.
Y yo, fijándome más, vi una bandera que iba ondeando tan deprisa, que parecía desdeñosa del
menor reposo: tras ella venía tanta muchedumbre, que no hubiera creído que la muerte destruyera
tantos.
E io ch'avea d'error la testa cinta,
dissi: <<Maestro, che e` quel ch'i' odo?
e che gent'e` che par nel duol si` vinta?>>.
Ed elli a me: <<Questo misero modo
tegnon l'anime triste di coloro
che visser sanza 'nfamia e sanza lodo.
Mischiate sono a quel cattivo coro
de li angeli che non furon ribelli
ne' fur fedeli a Dio, ma per se' fuoro.
Caccianli i ciel per non esser men belli,
ne' lo profondo inferno li riceve,
ch'alcuna gloria i rei avrebber d'elli>>.
E io: <<Maestro, che e` tanto greve
a lor, che lamentar li fa si` forte?>>.
Rispuose: <<Dicerolti molto breve.
Questi non hanno speranza di morte
e la lor cieca vita e` tanto bassa,
che 'nvidiosi son d'ogne altra sorte.
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Fama di loro il mondo esser non lassa;
misericordia e giustizia li sdegna:
non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda e passa>>.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,Infierno 3
E io, che riguardai, vidi una 'nsegna
che girando correva tanto ratta,
che d'ogne posa mi parea indegna;
e dietro le venia si` lunga tratta
di gente, ch'i' non averei creduto
che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta.
La vida, también, deja todo en el mismo plano, precipita los acontecimientos y los prolonga
indefinidamente. El arte, en cambio, consiste en usar precauciones y preparaciones, en disponer
transiciones sabias y disimuladas, en poner tan sólo en evidencia mediante la habilidad de la
composición el grado de relieve que convenga, según su importancia, en provocar la profunda
sensación de la verdad especial que se pretende demostrar.
Escribir con verdad consiste, pues, en dar la completa ilusión de lo verdadero, siguiendo la lógica
ordinaria de los hechos, y no en transcribirlos servilmente en el desorden de su sucesión.
El talento, en frase de Bufón, es tan sólo una larga paciencia. Trabaje».(Flaubert)
«Si se posee originalidad -decía-, es preciso destacarla; si no se posee, es preciso adquirirla.» «El
talento es una larga paciencia»; se trata de observar todo cuanto se pretende expresar, con tiempo
suficiente y suficiente atención para descubrir en ello un aspecto que nadie haya observado ni dicho.
En todas las cosas existe algo inexplorado, porque estamos acostumbrados a servirnos de nuestros
ojos sólo con el recuerdo de lo que pensaron otros antes que nosotros sobre lo que contemplamos. La
menor cosa tiene algo desconocido. Encontrémoslo. Para descubrir un fuego que arde y un árbol en
una llanura, permanezcamos frente a ese fuego y a ese árbol hasta que no se parezcan, para nosotros,
a ningún otro árbol y a ningún otro fuego.
Esta es la manera de llegar a ser original.
Además, tras haber planteado esa verdad de que en el mundo entero no existen dos granos de arena,
de moscas, dos manos o dos narices iguales totalmente, me obligaba a expresar, con unas cuantas
frases, un ser o un objeto de forma tal a particularizarlo claramente, a distinguirlo de todos los otros
seres o de otros objetos de la misma raza y de la misma especie.
«Cuando pases -me decía- ante un tendero sentado a la puerta de su tienda, ante un portero que fuma
su pipa, ante una parada de coches de alquiler, muéstrame a ese tendero y a ese portero, su actitud,
toda su apariencia física indicada por medio de la maña de la imagen, toda su naturaleza moral, de
manera que no los confunda con ningún otro tendero o ningún otro portero, y hazme ver, mediante
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una sola palabra, en qué se diferencia un caballo de coche de los otros cincuenta que lo siguen o lo
preceden.»
Sea lo que queramos decir, existe una sola palabra para expresarlo, un verbo para animarlo y un
adjetivo para calificarlo. Por lo tanto, es preciso buscar, hasta descubrirlos, esa palabra, ese verbo y
ese adjetivo, y no contentarse nunca con algo aproximado, no recurrir jamás a supercherías, aunque
sean afortunadas, a equilibrios lingüísticos para evitar la dificultad.
No es en absoluto necesario recurrir al vocabulario extravagante, complicado, numeroso e
ininteligible que se nos impone hoy día, bajo el nombre de escritura artística, para fijar todos los
matices del pensamiento; sino que deben distinguirse con extrema lucidez todas las modificaciones
del valor de una palabra según el lugar que ocupa. Utilicemos menos nombres, verbos y adjetivos de
un sentido casi incomprensible y más frases diferentes, diversamente construidas, ingeniosamente
cortadas, repletas de sonoridades y ritmos sabios. Esforcémonos en ser unos excelentes estilistas en
lugar de coleccionistas de palabras raras.
—Maupassant
Before Caesar's dead body:
ANTONY. O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure?
...
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies.
Pardon me, Julius! Here wast thou bay'd, brave hart,
Here didst thou fall, and here thy hunters stand,
Sign'd in thy spoil, and crimson'd in thy Lethe.
O world, thou wast the forest to this hart,
And this, indeed, O world, the heart of thee.
How like a deer strucken by many princes
Dost thou here lie!
—William Shakespeare, Julius Cesar, 3.1
—What do yo mean by "too literary"? What do you cut out, certain kinds of words?
—Adjectives, adverbs, and every word which is there just to make an effect. Every sentence which is
there just for the sentence. You know, you have a beautiful sentence—cut it. Every time I find such a
thing in one of my novels it is to be cut.
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that is why most of the time I use concrete words. I try to avoid abstract words, or poetical words,
you know, like "crepuscule", for example. It is very nice, but it gives nothing.
—Georges Simenon, THE PARIS REVIEW 1st Series
Quien más influyó sobre Kafka, desde un punto de vista literario, fue Flaubert. Flaubert, que odiaba
la prosa preciosista, habría aplaudido la actitud de Kafka para con su herramienta. A Kafka le gustaba
extraer sus términos del lenguaje del derecho y de la ciencia, dándole una especie de precisión
irónica, sin intrusiones de los sentimientos personales del autor; éste fue exactamente el método
utilizado por Flaubert para conseguir un efecto poético.
—Nabokov, Kafka
El efecto kafkiano se logra por no explicar las causas de lo que ocurre. Cualquiera puede despertarse
siendo "otro" y sin saber por qué.
Kafka has his eye always on the object, the attention on the minutest detail causing endless intricacy
and subtlety (for any object is infinite), but his style is always plain and natural. He deliberately
rejected figures of speech as a distraction from the plain business of setting things down.
If you want a moonlight night, Chekhov advised, write that on the dam of the mill a fragment of
broken bottle flashed like a small bright star. kafka never gives the "moonlight," always the incident
or detail that brings home its presence. his deletions are always significant in that they eschew even
the slightest metaphor. (...) There is here no possibility of allegorical sterilization of Kafka's
"symbols." (...) Whether it is a castle or a law court or an instrument of torture, to substitute the name
of God, or heaven, or the suffering of the artist or the saint is to do violence to the fully embodied
sense.
"Ordinary events are a miracle in themselves."
—Ronald Gray,
Introduction, Kafka's Critics
Homecoming (fragment)
I have returned. I have passed under the arch and am looking round. it's my father's old yard. the
puddle in the middle. Old, useless tools, jumbled together, block the way to the attic stairs. The cat
lurks on the banister. A torn piece of cloth, once wound round a stick in a game, flutters in the
breeze. I have arrived. etc. (leer el texto entero, en Cuentos 2)
Prestar atención a cómo la sola descripción del lugar crea la atmósfera del relato, sin que sea
necesario poner en palabras los sentimientos del narrador.
(My father's house it is, but each object stands cold beside the next, as though preoccupied with its
own affairs, which I have partly forgotten, partly never known.) El texto pasa intermitentemente de la
descripción a sus pensamientos, pero estos, aunque especulativos, siempre se mantienen en el plano
de la acción (What would happen if someone were to open the door now and sk me a question?).
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No dice "I feel strange", dice "the longer one hesitates before the door, the more stranged one
becomes."
An unsuccessful arrival—the theme is directly and literally embodied here. He is a stranger, this man
who has returned home (...) but he is uncertain whether he feels at home. this is simply asseted. The
lonely strangeness is simply a fact. It is not commented on, let alone lamented. And the growing fear,
which is also a fact, is not even expressely named.
(...) There is no ornament whatsoever in his prose, and yet we should not fail to hear the soft, almost
involuntary accentuations which do after all reveal an emotionalparticipation.
—Friedrich Beissner, Kafka the artist, Kafka's Criticism
Casar una nuez no es realmente un arte, y en consecuencia nadie se atrevería a congregar a un
auditorio para entretenerle cascando nueces. Pero si lo hace y logra su propósito, entonces ya no se
trata simplemente de cascar nueces, pero entonces descubrimos que nos hemos despreocupado
totalmente de dicho arte porque lo dominábamos demasiado, y este nuevo cascador de nueces nos
muestra por primera vez la escencia real del arte, al punto que podría convenirle, para un mayor
efecto, ser un poco menos hábil en cascar nueces que la mayoría de nosotros.
—Franz Kafka, Josefina o el pueblo de los ratones
...y se ríe. Es una risa como la que se podría producir si no se tuvieran pulmones. Suena como el
crijido de hojas secas, y con ella suele concluir la conversación. A veces ni siquiera contesta y
permanece tan callado como la madera de la que parece hecho.
—Franz Kafka, Preocupaciones de un padre de familia
Classicism and Romanticism
Racine, Moliére, Congreve and Swift asks us to be interested in what they have made; but
Chateaubriand, Musset, Byron and Wordsworth ask us to be interested in themselves. And they ask
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us to be interested in themselves by virtue of the intrinsic value of the individual: they vindicate the
rights of the individual against the claims of society as a whole—against government, morals,
conventions, academy or church. The romantic is nearly always a rebel.
—Edmund
Wilson, Axel's Castle, Symbolism
Unidad entre párrafos.
Como dice Eliot, si no hacen avanzar la historia, no tiene sentido escribir un montón de buenas
frases, lindas, "poéticas." A veces (como en Flaubert on en Kafka) hay que construir una situación
dramática con lenguaje prosaico—es decir, limitarse a contar qué pasa, para que en cierto momento,
con una frase, todo cobre sentido—que sea una iluminación y no quede resonando sola en el vacío.
pg. 206 (The Magic Lantern)— Bergman está convalesciente en un sanatorio. Tenía un contrato para
hacer una película (Los Caníbales) pero se dio cuenta de que no iba a poder llevarlo a cabo y en
cambio sugirió hacer una película "chica" con "dos mujeres" (lo que después sería "Persona"). Así
que sin saber muy bien en qué iba a terminar todo, se puso a escribir en el sanatorio. Es importante
este "background" porque el estado de ánimo es de incertidumbre, y refuerza la frase que ocupa el
párrafo siguiente:
So at the end of April, I sat at my desk in my sick room registering the arrival of spring aroung the
parsonage and the mortuary.
El contraste entre el comienzo de la primavera y la morgue es lo que da fuerza a la imagen, pero
también el hecho de "registrar" y de que la primavera no está sino que "llega."
Prestar especial atención alos cambios de "mood", cuándo se producen, cuando algo pasa de ser una
cosa a ser completamente otra.
Ejemplo (sólo que no está "presentado"; faltan las palabras reales):
Dinner at home of Ulla Isaksson. Ingmar and Kabi come over for coffe. Differences over artistic
interpretation — then he tells wild and outrageous stories about animals he has filmed: tha sankes in
Thirst, the squirrel in The Seventh Seal, the cat in The Devil's Eye. Suddenly the conversation takes
aturn and is now about suffering.
—Bergman, Images, ciatdo del diario de V.Sjoman, 248
Los objetos son indefinibles en sí mismos; es necesaria una relación (o una antirelación si se
quiere, como en Beckett); su presencia siempre nos habla de nosotros (o, en el caso de una novela por
ejemplo, del personaje). Así, un bosque puede ser triste o excitante o denso o infranqueable o
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misterioso, no según su realidad objetiva (un bosque es siempre un bosque) sino en tanto se cree una
relación entre la persona (y su situación) y su presencia y función en la historia (el bosque es el
refugio del ladrón, la fatigosa tarea para el matador de dragones).
“At noon, beneath a pure sky, all nature was offering me a puzzle, and offering it to me blandly.”
Es un “puzzle” para Genet (The thief’s journal), porque en este momento está cruzando la
frontera de Polonia, a pie, sin un peso, sin otra cosa que lo que lleva puesto, y con miedo.
Borges es un buen ejemplo de la forma en que la literatura presenta al objeto y la persona como
una unidad (con un sustantivo y un adjetivo logra crear un mundo contenido en sí mismo, un símbolo
del destino del héroe). La realidad, según Berkeley, a quien Borges tanto cita, es el contacto de una
cosa con otra, pero ninguna de las dos preexiste ni sobrevive a ese encuentro (el sabor de la manzana
no está en la fruta ni en la lengua, sino en su contacto).
Por ejemplo si decimos “la pampa infinita”, vemos el campo hundiéndose en el horizonte.
Sentimos que puede seguir así indefinidamente (¿por qué habría de cambiar?). Sabemos que no es
cierto.
Esto no quiere decir que haya que ponerle un adjetivo a cada palabra. En cierta forma se parece
al tema de los fonemas vacíos de Lingüística. Si el indicador del plural es la terminación “-s”,
entonces el plural de ciertas palabras singulares que terminan con “s” sería “s” + “-s”, sólo que esta
última permanece invisible. Así cada palabra tiene un adjetivo, siempre presente pero a veces no
escrito, variable en cada caso, y ya dado por el “mood” y el ritmo del relato, los cuales harán ver si es
necesario el hecho de manifestarlo o no. Hay ciertos momentos de un relato, o ciertas formas de
relato, que requieren menos presencia de adjetivos que otra. En un párrafo puede haber un solo
adjetivo y ser definitorio. No me puedo explicar mejor hoy (habría que buscar ejemplos).
part of each day we would spend in the park looking at the ducks. you've got to believe me, that
when your health is down from continual drinking and lack of decent food, and you're tired of
fucking while trying to forget, you can't beat the ducks. I mean, you've got to get out of your place,
because you can get the deep blue blues and it soon might be you out the window. it is easier to do
than you might imagine. so Linda and I would sit on a bench and watch the ducks. the ducks didn't
worry worth a damn — no rent, no clothes, plenty of food — just float around shitting and quacking.
nobbling, nibbling, eating all the time. once in a while one of those from the hotel would catch a duck
at night, kill the thing, take it to their room, clean it and cook it. we though about it but never did it.
besides they were very hard to catch; you just get so close and sluuush!!! a spray of water and the
motherfucker would be gone! most of the time we ate small pancakes made of flour and water, or
now and then we would steal some corn from somebody's garden — one guy specialized in a corn
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garden — I don't believe he got to eat a one of them, then there was always a bit of of stealing from
an outdoor market — I mean there was a vegetable stand in front of a grocery store — this meant an
occasional tomato or two or a small cucumber, but we were petty thieves, small time, and we needed
mostly luck. the cigarettes were easiest — a walk at night — somebody always left a car window
down and a pack or half-pack of smokes on the dash-board. of course, the wine and the rent were the
real problems and we fucked and worried about it.
and like all the days of final desperation, ours arrived. no more wine, no more luck, no more
anything. no more credit with the landlady or the liquor store. I decided to set the alarm clock for
5:30 a.m. and walk down to the Farm Labor Mrket, but even the clock didn't work right. it had
broken and I had opened it to repair it. it was a broken spring and the only way I could get the spring
to work again was to break a portion of it off, hook it up again, lock up the works and wind it up.
now if you want to know what a short spring does to an alarm clock or I guess any kind of clock, I'll
tell you. the shorter the spring is, the faster the minute and hour hands go around. it was some crazy
clock, I'll tell you, and when we were worn out with fucking to stop from worrying we used to watch
that clock and try to tell what time it really was. you could see that minute hand moving — we used
to laugh at it.
—Charles Bukowski, 3 Women
Little henrik must have been at most ten years old. he had to ask the study hall teacher for
permission to leave the room for the satisfaction of an urgent need. he is wandering now through the
deserted recreation courtyards, passing through the arcaded plyagrounds and interminable empty
corridors, opening any number of doors, to no purpose. No one is there to tell him where to go, and
he recognizes none of the appropiate places disseminated throughout the huge school building (is this
the Lycée Buffon?). Finally he happens to find himself in his own classroom and immediatly sees
that his usual assigned seat, which he had left just a few moments earlier (very long moments?), is
now occupied by another boy of the same age—anew student, probably, for he fails to recognize him.
But observing him more closely, young Henri realizes, without being particularly surprised by the
fact, that the other boy looks very much like himself. The facesof his schoolfellows turn one by one
toward the door in order to consider with obvious disapproval the intruder who has remained in the
threshold, no longer knowing where to go: there is no empty seat in the whole study hall... Only the
usurper remains bent over his desk, dilligently committed to composing his French theme in his very
tiny script, fine and regular and without a single erasure.
—Alain Robbe-Grillet, Repetition, p.47
Nota: la situación no es muy original, pero los detalles de la última oración creo que son los
que le dan fuerza al párrafo anterior.
"Next day I left that station at last, with a caravan of sixty men, for a two-hundred-mile tramp.
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"No use telling you much about that. Paths, paths, everywhere; a stamped-in network of paths
spreading over the empty land, through the long grass, through burnt grass, through thickets, down
and up chilly ravines, up and down stony hills ablaze with heat; and a solitude, a solitude, nobody,
not a hut. The population had cleared out a long time ago. Well, if a lot of mysterious niggers armed
with all kinds of fearful weapons suddenly took to travelling on the road between Deal and
Gravesend, catching the yokels right and left to carry heavy loads for them, I fancy every farm and
cottage thereabouts would get empty very soon. Only here the dwellings were gone, too. Still I
passed through several abandoned villages. There's something pathetically childish in the ruins of
grass walls. Day after day, with the stamp and shuffle of sixty pair of bare feet behind me, each pair
under a 60-lb. load. Camp, cook, sleep, strike camp, march. Now and then a carrier dead in harness,
at rest in the long grass near the path, with an empty water-gourd and his long staff lying by his side.
A great silence around and above. Perhaps on some quiet night the tremor of far-off drums, sinking,
swelling, a tremor vast, faint; a sound weird, appealing, suggestive, and wild -- and perhaps with as
profound a meaning as the sound of bells in a Christian country. Once a white man in an unbuttoned
uniform, camping on the path with an armed escort of lank Zanzibaris, very hospitable and festive -not to say drunk. Was looking after the upkeep of the road, he declared. Can't say I saw any road or
any upkeep, unless the body of a middle-aged negro, with a bullet-hole in the forehead, upon which I
absolutely stumbled three miles farther on, may be considered as a permanent improvement. I had a
white companion, too, not a bad chap, but rather too fleshy and with the exasperating habit of
fainting on the hot hillsides, miles away from the least bit of shade and water. Annoying, you know,
to hold your own coat like a parasol over a man's head while he is coming to. I couldn't help asking
him once what he meant by coming there at all. 'To make money, of course. What do you think?' he
said, scornfully. Then he got fever, and had to be carried in a hammock slung under a pole. As he
weighed sixteen stone I had no end of rows with the carriers. They jibbed, ran away, sneaked off with
their loads in the night -- quite a mutiny. So, one evening, I made a speech in English with gestures,
not one of which was lost to the sixty pairs of eyes before me, and the next morning I started the
hammock off in front all right. An hour afterwards I came upon the whole concern wrecked in a bush
-- man, hammock, groans, blankets, horrors. The heavy pole had skinned his poor nose. He was very
anxious for me to kill somebody, but there wasn't the shadow of a carrier near. I remembered the old
doctor -- 'It would be interesting for science to watch the mental changes of individuals, on the spot.'
I felt I was becoming scientifically interesting.
—Joseph Conrad, heart of Darkness
On seeing a dead man while crossing the pass of Ashigara
He lies unloosened of his white clothes,
Perhaps of his wife's weaving
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From hemp within her garden fence,
And girdled threefold round
Instead of once.
Perhaps after painful service done
He turned his footsteps home,
To see his parents and his wife;
And now, on this steep and sacred pass
In the eastern land of Azuma,
Chilled in his spare, thin clothes,
His black hair fallen loose—
Telling none his province,
Telling none his home,
Here on a journey he lies dead.
—From the Tanabe Sakimaro Collection (c.7th century)
-Ya están atados -replicó Sancho-. ¿Qué hemos de hacer ahora?
-¿Qué? -respondió don Quijote-. Santiguarnos y levar ferro; quiero decir, embarcarnos y cortar la
amarra con que este barco está atado.
Y, dando un salto en él, siguiéndole Sancho, cortó el cordel, y el barco se fue apartando poco a poco
de la ribera; y cuando Sancho se vio obra de dos varas dentro del río, comenzó a temblar, temiendo
su perdición; pero ninguna cosa le dio más pena que el oír roznar al rucio y el ver que Rocinante
pugnaba por desatarse, y díjole a su señor:
-El rucio rebuzna, condolido de nuestra ausencia, y Rocinante procura ponerse en libertad para
arrojarse tras nosotros. ¡Oh carísimos amigos, quedaos en paz, y la locura que nos aparta de vosotros,
convertida en desengaño, nos vuelva a vuestra presencia!
Y, en esto, comenzó a llorar tan amargamente que don Quijote, mohíno y
colérico, le dijo:
-¿De qué temes, cobarde criatura? ¿De qué lloras, corazón de mantequillas? ¿Quién te persigue, o
quién te acosa, ánimo de ratón casero, o qué te falta, menesteroso en la mitad de las entrañas de la
abundancia? ¿Por dicha vas caminando a pie y descalzo por las montañas rifeas, sino sentado en una
tabla, como un archiduque, por el sesgo curso deste agradable río, de donde en breve espacio
saldremos al mar dilatado? Pero ya habemos de haber salido, y caminado, por lo menos, setecientas o
ochocientas leguas; y si yo tuviera aquí un astrolabio con que tomar la altura del polo, yo te dijera las
que hemos caminado; aunque, o yo sé poco, o ya hemos pasado, o pasaremos presto, por la línea
equinocial, que divide y corta los dos contrapuestos polos en igual distancia.
-Y cuando lleguemos a esa leña que vuestra merced dice -preguntó Sancho-, ¿cuánto habremos
caminado?
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-Mucho -replicó don Quijote-, porque de trecientos y sesenta grados que contiene el globo, del agua y
de la tierra, según el cómputo de Ptolomeo, que fue el mayor cosmógrafo que se sabe, la mitad
habremos caminado, llegando a la línea que he dicho.
-Por Dios -dijo Sancho-, que vuesa merced me trae por testigo de lo que dice a una gentil persona,
puto y gafo, con la añadidura de meón, o meo, o no sé cómo.
Rióse don Quijote de la interpretación que Sancho había dado al nombre y al cómputo y cuenta del
cosmógrafo Ptolomeo, y díjole:
-Sabrás, Sancho, que los españoles y los que se embarcan en Cádiz para ir a las Indias Orientales, una
de las señales que tienen para entender que han pasado la línea equinocial que te he dicho es que a
todos los que van en el navío se les mueren los piojos, sin que les quede ninguno, ni en todo el bajel
le hallarán, si le pesan a oro; y así, puedes, Sancho, pasear una mano por un muslo, y si topares cosa
viva, saldremos desta duda; y si no, pasado habemos.
-Yo no creo nada deso -respondió Sancho-, pero, con todo, haré lo que vuesa merced me manda,
aunque no sé para qué hay necesidad de hacer esas experiencias, pues yo veo con mis mismos ojos
que no nos habemos apartado de la ribera cinco varas, ni hemos decantado de donde están las
alemañas dos varas, porque allí están Rocinante y el rucio en el propio lugar do los dejamos; y
tomada la mira, como yo la tomo ahora, voto a tal que no nos movemos ni andamos al paso de una
hormiga.
-Haz, Sancho, la averiguación que te he dicho, y no te cures de otra, que tú no sabes qué cosa sean
coluros, líneas, paralelos, zodíacos, clíticas, polos, solsticios, equinocios, planetas, signos, puntos,
medidas, de que se compone la esfera celeste y terrestre; que si todas estas cosas supieras, o parte
dellas, vieras claramente qué de paralelos hemos cortado, qué de signos visto y qué de imágines
hemos dejado atrás y vamos dejando ahora. Y tórnote a decir que te tientes y pesques, que yo para mí
tengo que estás más limpio que un pliego de papel liso y blanco.
Tentóse Sancho, y, llegando con la mano bonitamente y con tiento hacia la orva izquierda, alzó la
cabeza y miró a su amo, y dijo:
-O la experiencia es falsa, o no hemos llegado adonde vuesa merced dice, ni con muchas leguas.
-Pues ¿qué? -preguntó don Quijote-, ¿has topado algo?
-¡Y aun algos! -respondió Sancho.
Y, sacudiéndose los dedos, se lavó toda la mano en el río, por el cual sosegadamente
se deslizaba el barco por mitad de la corriente, sin que le moviese alguna inteligencia secreta, ni
algún encantador escondido, sino el mismo curso del agua, blando entonces y suave.
En esto, descubrieron unas grandes aceñas que en la mitad del río estaban; y apenas las hubo visto
don Quijote, cuando con voz alta dijo a Sancho:
-¿Ves? Allí, ¡oh amigo!, se descubre la ciudad, castillo o fortaleza donde debe de estar algún
caballero oprimido, o alguna reina, infanta o princesa malparada, para cuyo socorro soy aquí traído.
-¿Qué diablos de ciudad, fortaleza o castillo dice vuesa merced, señor? -dijo Sancho-. ¿No echa de
ver que aquéllas son aceñas que están en el río, donde se muele el trigo?
-Calla, Sancho -dijo don Quijote-; que, aunque parecen aceñas, no lo son; y ya te he dicho que todas
las cosas trastruecan y mudan de su ser natural los encantos. No quiero decir que las mudan de en
uno en otro ser realmente, sino que lo parece, como lo mostró la experiencia en la transformación de
Dulcinea, único refugio de mis esperanzas.
En esto, el barco, entrado en la mitad de la corriente del río, comenzó a caminar no tan lentamente
como hasta allí. Los molineros de las aceñas, que vieron venir aquel barco por el río, y que se iba a
embocar por el raudal de las ruedas, salieron con presteza muchos dellos con varas largas a detenerle,
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y, como salían enharinados, y cubiertos los rostros y los vestidos del polvo de la harina,
representaban una mala vista. Daban voces grandes, diciendo:
-¡Demonios de hombres! ¿Dónde vais? ¿Venís desesperados? ¿Qué queréis, ahogaros y haceros
pedazos en estas ruedas?
-¿No te dije yo, Sancho -dijo a esta sazón don Quijote-, que habíamos llegado donde he de mostrar a
dó llega el valor de mi brazo? Mira qué de malandrines y follones me salen al encuentro, mira
cuántos vestiglos se me oponen, mira cuántas feas cataduras nos hacen cocos... Pues ¡ahora lo veréis,
bellacos!
Y, puesto en pie en el barco, con grandes voces comenzó a amenazar a los molineros, diciéndoles:
-Canalla malvada y peor aconsejada, dejad en su libertad y libre albedrío a la persona que en esa
vuestra fortaleza o prisión tenéis oprimida, alta o baja, de cualquiera suerte o calidad que sea, que yo
soy don Quijote de la Mancha, llamado el Caballero de los Leones por otro nombre, a quien está
reservada por orden de los altos cielos el dar fin felice a esta aventura.
Y, diciendo esto, echó mano a su espada y comenzó a esgrimirla en el aire contra los molineros; los
cuales, oyendo y no entendiendo aquellas sandeces, se pusieron con sus varas a detener el barco, que
ya iba entrando en el raudal y canal de las ruedas.
Púsose Sancho de rodillas, pidiendo devotamente al cielo le librase de tan manifiesto peligro, como
lo hizo, por la industria y presteza de los molineros, que, oponiéndose con sus palos al barco, le
detuvieron, pero no de manera que dejasen de trastornar el barco y dar con don Quijote y con Sancho
al través en el agua; pero vínole bien a don Quijote, que sabía nadar como un ganso, aunque el peso
de las armas le llevó al fondo dos veces; y si no fuera por los molineros, que se arrojaron al agua y
los sacaron como en peso a entrambos, allí había sido Troya para los dos.
Puestos, pues, en tierra, más mojados que muertos de sed, Sancho, puesto de rodillas, las manos
juntas y los ojos clavados al cielo, pidió a Dios con una larga y devota plegaria le librase de allí
adelante de los atrevidos deseos y acometimientos de su señor.
Llegaron en esto los pescadores dueños del barco, a quien habían hecho pedazos las ruedas de las
aceñas; y, viéndole roto, acometieron a desnudar a Sancho, y a pedir a don Quijote se lo pagase; el
cual, con gran sosiego, como si no hubiera pasado nada por él, dijo a los molineros y pescadores que
él pagaría el barco de bonísima gana, con condición que le diesen libre y sin cautela a la persona o
personas que en aquel su castillo estaban oprimidas.
-¿Qué personas o qué castillo dice -respondió uno de los molineros-, hombre sin juicio? ¿Quiéreste
llevar por ventura las que vienen a moler trigo a estas aceñas?
-¡Basta! -dijo entre sí don Quijote-. Aquí será predicar en desierto querer reducir a esta canalla a que
por ruegos haga virtud alguna. Y en esta aventura se deben de haber encontrado dos valientes
encantadores, y el uno estorba lo que el otro intenta: el uno me deparó el barco, y el otro dio conmigo
al través. Dios lo remedie, que todo este mundo es máquinas y trazas, contrarias unas de otras. Yo no
puedo más.
Y, alzando la voz, prosiguió diciendo, y mirando a las aceñas:
-Amigos, cualesquiera que seáis, que en esa prisión quedáis encerrados, perdonadme; que, por mi
desgracia y por la vuestra, yo no os puedo sacar de vuestra cuita. Para otro caballero debe de estar
guardada y reservada esta aventura.
En diciendo esto, se concertó con los pescadores, y pagó por el barco cincuenta reales, que los dio
Sancho de muy mala gana, diciendo:
-A dos barcadas como éstas, daremos con todo el caudal al fondo.
Los pescadores y molineros estaban admirados, mirando aquellas dos figuras tan fuera del uso, al
parecer, de los otros hombres, y no acababan de entender a dó se encaminaban las razones y
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preguntas que don Quijote les decía; y, teniéndolos por locos, les dejaron y se recogieron a sus
aceñas, y los pescadores a sus ranchos. Volvieron a sus bestias, y a ser bestias, don Quijote y Sancho,
y este fin tuvo la aventura del encantado barco.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.29
Your hair has turned white
While your heart stayed
Knotted against me.
I shall never
Loosen it now.
My girl is waiting for me
And does not know
That my body will stay here
On the rocks of Mount Kamo.
—Hitomaro, 8th century.
—Hitomaro, 8th century.
He understood irrigation and the art of war--the qualities of weapons and the craft of boat-building.
He could conceal his heart; had more endurance; he could swim longer, and steer a canoe better than
any of his people; he could shoot straighter, and negotiate more tortuously than any man of his race I
knew. He was an adventurer of the sea, an outcast, a ruler--and my very good friend. I wish him a
quick death in a stand-up fight, a death in sunshine; for he had known remorse and power, and no
man can demand more from life. Day after day he appeared before us, incomparably faithful to the
illusions of the stage, and at sunset the night descended upon him quickly, like a falling curtain. The
seamed hills became black shadows towering high upon a clear sky; above them the glittering
confusion of stars resembled a mad turmoil stilled by a gesture; sounds ceased, men slept, forms
vanished--and the reality of the universe alone remained--a marvellous thing of darkness and
glimmers.
—Joseph Conrad, Karain: A memory
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I give the name violence to a boldness lying idle and enamoured of danger. It can be seen in a
look, a walk, a smile, and it is in you that it creates an eddying. It unnerves you. This violence is a
calm that disturbs you. On e sometimes says: "A guy with class!" Pilorge's delicate features were of
an extreme violence. Their delicacy in particular was vilent. Violence of the design of Stilitano's only
hand, simply lying on the table, still, rendesing the repose disturbing and dangerous. I have worked
with thieves and pimps whose authority bent me to their will, but few proved to be really bold,
whereas the one who was most so—Guy—was without violence. Stilitano, Pilorge and Michaelis
were cowards. Java too. Even when at rest, motionless and smiling, there escaped from them through
their eyes, the nostrils, the mouth, the palm of the hand, the bulging basket, through that brutal
hillock of the calf under the wool or denim, a radiant and somber anger, visible as a haze.
But, almost always, there is nothing to indicate it, save the absence of the usual signs. René's
face is charming at first. The downward curve of his nose gives him a roguish look, though the
somewhat leaden paleness of his anxious face makes you uneasy. His eyes are hard, his movements
calm and sure. In the cans he calmly beats up the queers; he frisks them, robs them, sometimes, as a
finishing touch, he kicks them in the kisser with his heel. I don't like him, but his calmness masters
me. He operates, in the dead of night, around the urinals, the lawns, the shrubbery, under the trees on
the Champs-Elysées, near the stations, at the Porte Maillot, in the Bois de Boulogne (always at night)
with a seriousness from which romanticism is excluded. When he comes in, at two or three in the
morning, I feel him stocked with adventures. Every part of his body, which is nocturnal, has been
involved: his hands, his arms, his legs, the back of his neck. But he, unaware of these marvels, tells
me about them in forthright language. From his pockets he takes rings, wedding bands, watches, the
evening's loot. He puts them in a big glass which will soon be full.
...
This kind of definition—by so many opposing examples—of violence shows you that I shall not
make use of words the better to depict an event or its hero, but so that they may tell you something
about myself. In order to understand me, the reader's complicity will be necessary. Nevertheless, I
shall warn him whenever my lyricism makes me lose my footing.
—
Jean Genet, The Thief's Journal, p.15
Guardian of the gate
Of Suma, how many nights
Have you awakened
At the crying of the shore birds
Of the Isle of Awaji?
—Minamoto No Kanemasa, 12th century.
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Lo que tengo que llamar mi casa es una habitación con cuatro paredes sin ventanas y con una puerta
que da al pasto, a los arbustos y al río. Hay, afuera, una letrina en forma de prisma. El islero o isleño
vive al fondo en una casilla de madera.
Mis riquezas son pocas. Tengo mesa y silla para escribir y comer cuando el tiempo impide hacerlo al
aire libre. Hay un mamarracho con aspiraciones de biblioteca: los clásicos tres ladrillos en cada punta
sosteniendo un tablón y otros ladrillos como sujeta libros. Una veintena supongo y de índole
coincidente y curiosa. Volveré a esto. Y finalmente hay una gran biblioteca de verdad, de esas
antipáticas con cristales que permiten divisar volúmenes prohibidos al mundo por un gran candado.
Imposible olvidar que tengo una hamaca por cama, que todas las noches son muy frías, que tengo
mosquitero, muchas mantas y algo que llamé edredón: un cobertor relleno de papeles picados. La
cama hamaca tiene algo del imaginado perro que me gustaría para juegos y caricias. Cuando me
muevo en la noche, la cama se balancea con su conocido vaivén pausado. Acá termina la
enumeración de mis tesoros.
.................
Tal vez esté confundiendo los tiempos. Elijo éste para Díaz Grey. La imposición del teléfono parió
indignación y tristeza. Aquella blancura arrinconada me estuvo recordando que no había en el mundo
ninguna persona a la que yo deseara llamar.
Y cuando el aparato sonaba lo sentía como un zumbido entrecortado que perforaba el aire, sólo para
retirarse después de las palabras escasas.
Era siempre Díaz Grey y hablaba como temiendo que un tercero escuchara.
Una vez por semana al menos, pero nunca en día fijo. Pienso que el hipotético pinchatelefonos
quedaba defraudado porque nuestras conversaciones eran siempre variantes de este modelo:
—Hola, Garr. Quería invitarlo a robar un malta si no tiene algo mejor que hacer (aquí reía simpático)
—Caramba, doctor. Pensaba masturbarme. Ya sabe usted que Onán…
—Que se joda don Juan. A las nueve. Lo del malta va en serio.
Me unía a las toses del jeep y a las nueve subía la escalinata de la que él llamaba la locura de Petrus.
Tal vez sin saberlo, recordando a mi amigo Almayer porque había descubierto o encontrado el
quiosco librería del viejo Lanza.
...
Me da por sospechar que el islero intuye la existencia de dinero en mi cuarto o en mi cuerpo. La
verdad es que, antes de la diáspora, envolví los billetes grandes en un pedazo de sábana y el paquete
sigue apoyado, noche y día, contra los pelos del pubis, contra el sudor ya maloliente porque algunas
noches el calor me obliga a desnudarme, siempre protegido el tesoro por el llamado edredón relleno
de papeles que crujen quejosamente cada vez que me muevo.
Quisiera recordar o saber que significa la palabra, adjetivo, sinuoso. Porque el islero es sinuoso. Si
me abandonara podría escribir que es hombre parco en palabras o de poco hablar. Pero no me
abandonó y confieso el absurdo de calificar de sinuoso su apenas interrumpido silencio. A veces
sustituye palabras con gestos. Cuando me anuncia que la carne asada está a punto, sus movimientos,
su cara de piedra, invariable, también es sinuosa. Y, además de sinuoso, lo llamo mi hombre Viernes.
286
Sé que aprovecha mis sueños de borracho para visitar mi habitación y buscar el escondite del dinero.
No trata de ocultar sus visitas. Un mediodía me desperté mirando las huellas de sus pies mojados por
la llovizna o el rocío. Me hizo gracia. Muchas veces habrá usado mi sueño embrutecido para buscar
en mi cuarto. Desengañado, ahora sabe que el tesoro está en mi cuerpo.
Anoto un pequeño incidente que me ocurrió ayer porque sin quererlo le atribuí un significado. Tal
vez sucedió para clausurar algo o acaso para iniciar.
...
El dinero estaba seguro, lo sentía apoyado en mí reacordándome con burla antiguas presiones de
nalgas de mujer; pero no era imposible que el islero hubiera robado mis documentos. Sin los papeles
yo dejaba de ser Carr y si no era Carr no era nadie.
Me arranqué de la siesta que ya era torpeza y busqué la carpeta de apuntes escondida en la chimenea
limpia y fría. Allí estaba y, al abrirla, comprobé con alivio que tres documentos confirmaban la
existencia de Carr con mi cara inconfundible en las fotos. Pero, acaso por la alegría de no haber sido
exiliado a la noche oscura de la nada, aflojé los dedos y los apuntes se desparramaron por el suelo.
Cuando los recogí y traté de organizarlos sobre la mesa intuí que no les falta razón a los que
dictaminan la inexistencia del tiempo.
Barajé con melancolía tantos días, meses y tal vez años confundidos, sin esa gradación cronológica
que ayuda sin que lo sepamos a creer, débilmente, que hay cierta armonía en esta reiterada,
incansable «persuasión de los días».
Claro que también para mí es perceptible mi contradicción. Al fin y al cabo esto no tiene más
importancia que yo mismo.
Vi que casi la totalidad de los asuntos refiere a Santamaría y sus aconteceres. Y como,
misteriosamente y sin ganas de confesarlo, lo único que verdaderamente me importa es esa ciudad,
villa o pueblucho.
Así que para que seguir con estos apuntes hechos incongruentes al entreverarse. Tal vez regrese
algún día de estos a esa ciudad condenada desde su nacimiento a ser provincia o, peor, a ser
provinciana, que mucho me interesa sin llegar a quererla demasiado. Tal vez no demore el turco que
hasta aquí me trajo en un viaje eterno y cumpla su promesa de redención. Entretanto tendré la
sucesión de los almuerzos del mediodía frente al islero sinuoso que corta pedazos de carne junto a su
boca con el filoso cuchillo de monte. Y no sé si piensa que hay dinero verde en algún lugar de mi
cuerpo.
Además, tengo aseguradas las borracheras que inicio suavemente al atardecer, a la hora en que los
mosquitos pican enfurecidos. Dijo un amigo que sólo hay dos dioses, llamados ignorancia y olvido.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, Cuando ya no importe
No one spoke,
The host, the guest,
The white Chrysantemums.
—Ryota
287
He had come nearer the edge of the sea and wet sand slapped his boots. The new air greeted him,
harping in wild nerves, wind of wild air of seeds of brightness. Here, I am not walking out to the Kish
lightship, am I? He stood suddenly, his feet beginning to sink slowly in the quaking soil. Turn back.
Turning, he scanned the shore south, his feet sinking again slowly in new sockets. The cold domed
room of the tower waits. Through the barbacans the shafts of light are moving ever, slowly ever as
my feet are sinking, creeping duskward over the dial floor. Blue dusk, nightfall, deep blue night. In
the darkness of the dome they wait, their pushedback chairs, my obelisk valise, around a board of
abandoned platters. Who to clear it? He has the key. I will not sleep there when this night comes. A
shut door of a silent tower, entombing their--blind bodies, the panthersahib and his pointer. Call: no
answer. He lifted his feet up from the suck and turned back by the mole of boulders. Take all, keep
all. My soul walks with me, form of forms. So in the moon's midwatches I pace the path above the
rocks, in sable silvered, hearing Elsinore's tempting flood.
The flood is following me. I can watch it flow past from here. Get back then by the Poolbeg road to
the strand there. He climbed over the sedge and eely oarweeds and sat on a stool of rock, resting his
ashplant in a grike.
A bloated carcass of a dog lay lolled on bladderwrack. Before him the gunwale of a boat, sunk in
sand. UN COCHE ENSABLE Louis Veuillot called Gautier's prose. These heavy sands are language
tide and wind have silted here. And these, the stoneheaps of dead builders, a warren of weasel rats.
Hide gold there. Try it. You have some. Sands and stones. Heavy of the past. Sir Lout's toys. Mind
you don't get one bang on the ear. I'm the bloody well gigant rolls all them bloody well boulders,
bones for my steppingstones. Feefawfum. I zmellz de bloodz odz an Iridzman.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.49
Sparrow in the cobbed street,
Little sparrow round and sweet,
Chaucer's bird—
or if a leaf
Sparkle among leaves, among the season's
Leaves—
The sparrow's feet,
Feet of the sparrow's child touch
Naked rock.
—George Oppen, Stranger's child
288
X. THE EPITAPH IN FORM OF A BALLAD
WHICH VILLON MADE FOR HIMSELF AND HIS COMRADES, EXPECTING TO BE
HANGED ALONG WITH THEM
Men, brother men, that after us yet live,
Let not your hearts too hard against us be;
For if some pity of us poor men yet give,
The sooner God shall take of you pity.
Here are we five or six strung up, you see,
And here the flesh that all too well we fed
Bit by bit eaten and rotten, rent and shred,
And we the bones grow dust and ash withal;
Let no man laugh at us discomforted,
But pray to God that he forgive us all.
If we call on you, brothers, to forgive,
Ye should not hold our prayer in scorn, though we
Were slain by law; yet know that all alive
Have not wit always to walk righteously;
Make therefore intercession heartily
With him that of a virgin's womb was bred,
That his grace be not as a dry well-head
For us, nor let hell's thunder on us fall;
We are dead, let no man harry or vex us dead,
But pray to God that he forgive us all.
The rain has washed and laundered us all five,
And the sun dried and blackened; yea, perdie,
Ravens and pies with beaks that rend and rive
Have dug our eyes out, and plucked off for fee
Our beards and eyebrows; never are we free,
Not once, to rest; but here and there still sped,
Drive at its wild will by the wind's change led,
More pecked of birds than fruits on garden-wall.
Men, for God's love, let no gibe here be said,
But pray to God that he forgive us all.
Prince Jesus, that of all art lord and head,
Keep us, that hell be not our bitter bed;
We have nought to do in such a master's hall.
Be not ye therefore of our fellowhead,
But pay to God that he forgive us all.
—Villon, tr. Charles Swinburne
289
Nos hallábamos ya tan lejos de la selva, que no me habría ido posible descubrirla, por más
que volviese atrás la vista, cuando encontramos una legión de almas, que venía a lo largo del ribazo:
cada cual de ellas me miraba, como de noche suelen mirarse unos a otros los humanos a la escaza luz
de la luna nueva, y aguzaban hacia nosotros las pestañas, como hace un sastre viejo para enfilar la
aguja.
Gia` eravam da la selva rimossi
tanto, ch'i' non avrei visto dov'era,
perch'io in dietro rivolto mi fossi,
quando incontrammo d'anime una schiera
che venian lungo l'argine, e ciascuna
ci riguardava come suol da sera
guardare uno altro sotto nuova luna;
e si` ver' noi aguzzavan le ciglia
come 'l vecchio sartor fa ne la cruna.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,Infierno 15
Una de las descripciones de combate más vívidas de la literatura se encuentra en el intensísimo
Libro XII de La Eneida:
El piadoso Eneas, por su parte, tendÍa su diestra inerme
con la cabeza descubierta y llamaba a gritos a los suyos:
"¿A dónde corréis? ¿De dónde nace esta repentina discordia?
Reprimid, ay, vuestra ira! Acordado está ya el pacto
y fijadas todas sus leyes. MÍo sólo es el derecho a combatir.
Dejadme y alejad el miedo. Yo afianzaré el pacto
con mi mano; estas víctimas me deben ya a Turno.ª
315
Esto decía, cuando de pronto llega silbando y le hiere
una flecha, disparada no se sabe por quién,
traída no se sabe por qué empuje.
320
Quién brindó a los rútulos, si un dios o el azar, gloria tan grande,
nadie lo sabe; en secreto quedó la fama de la hazaña
y nadie se jactó de la herida de Eneas.
Turno, viendo que Eneas se retiraba de la formación
y a sus jefes turbados, arde en súbita esperanza;
reclama sus caballos y a la vez las armas, y sube orgulloso
de un salto a su carro y sacude con las manos las riendas.
325
290
En su rápida carrera entrega a la muerte a fuertes guerreros.
Arrolla a muchos, medio muertos: o devora las filas
con su carro o arroja a los que huyen sus lanzas robadas.
Como el sanguinario Marte cuando junto a las aguas
del gélido Hebro, agitado, golpea su escudo y, provocando guerras,
a los ardientes caballos lanza al galope; y ellos a campo abierto
vuelan más que los Notos y el Céfiro, retumban los confines
de Tracia bajo el golpe de sus cascos y alrededor se agitan
los fantasmas del negro Terror, de la Ira y la Insidia, séquito del dios:
así aguija Turno, impetuoso, en medio del combate
sus caballos humeantes de sudor, saltando sobre sus enemigos
muertos sin piedad; el rápido casco salpica rocíos
de sangre y estampa su casco en la tierra ensangrentada.
Y entregó ya a la muerte a Esténelo y a Támiro y a Folo,
a estos dos cuerpo a cuerpo, al otro de lejos; de lejos también a
a Glauco y a Lades, a los que Ímbraso mismo
habÍa criado en Licia y habÍa adornado con armas iguales
y enseñado s pelear y a correr a caballo meas veloces que el viento.
En parte distinta se mete en el centro del combate Eumedes,
raza preclara en la guerra del antiguo Dolón,
que llevaba al abuelo en el nombre y al padre en el arrojo y las manos;
el cual un día al llegar a espiar al campamento de los dánaos,
osó reclamar para sí en recompensa el carro del Pelida;
Pero con otro pago lo premió el Tidida por tal hazaña
y ya no aspira Dolón a los caballos de Aquiles.
330
335
340
345
350
Cuando Turno lo divisó a lo lejos del dilatado campo,
persiguiéndolo en vano con la lanza ligera un largo trecho,
detiene su pareja de caballos y salta del carro y se lanza
355
sobre él, caÍdo ya sin aliento, y pisándole el cuello con el pie
le arranca la espada de la diestra y le clava su brillo
hasta el fondo en la garganta exclamando:
"Éstos son, troyano, éstos son los campos, ésta es la Hesperia que has venido a conquistar y que
ahora mides con tu cuerpo postrado en tierra; ése es el premio reservado a los que osan provocarme
con la espada; ¡Así levantan murallas!"
Y on la punta de su lanza hace que le acompañe Asbistes,
y también Clóreo y Síbaris y Dares y Tersíloco;
y, resbalando del lomo de su caballo montaraz, Timetes.
Y como el aliento del Bóreas edonio cuando silba
en lo profundo del Egeo y persigue a las olas hasta la playa,
y allí, por donde caen los vientos, se escapan las nubes al cielo:
365
291
así ante Turno, por donde se abre camino, ceden los escuadrones,
y corren revueltas las filas; su propio Ímpetu lo lleva
y al correr del carro agita la brisa su penacho volador.
No aguantó Fegeo sus amenazas ni el rugir de su ánimo
y se lanzó contra el carro y torció con la diestra los hocicos
espumantes de los velocísimos caballos, asiéndolos por los frenos.
Y mientras lo arrastran y cuelga del yugo, indefenso, lo alcanza
la poderosa lanza de Turno que se clava y le desgarra la loriga
de doble malla y llega a probar el cuerpo con una herida.
Él, sin embargo, va vuelto hacia el enemigo, cubierto
con su escudo y trata de defenderse sacando la espada
cuando una rueda y el eje lanzado a la carrera lo empujan
y lo lanzan de cabeza al suelo; y Turno, alcanzándole
entre el final del casco y el borde superior de la coraza,
le corta la cabeza con la espada, dejando su tronco en la arena.
370
375
380
........................
Cuando [la Furia] divisa los ejércitos de Ilión y las tropas de Turno,
tomando de pronto la figura de la pequeña ave
que a veces en las tumbas o en los tejados desiertos
importuna las sombras con su lúgubre canto.
Con tal figura se presenta la peste ante los ojos
de Turno y revuela gimiendo y golpea el escudo con sus alas.
Una extraña torpeza afloja sus miembros del guerrero,
erízansele los cabellos y la voz se le pega a la garganta
865
...............
En tanto Eneas acosa a Turno y hace brillar su lanza,
grande como un árbol, y así habla con pecho terrible:
"¿Qué es lo que ahora te detiene?¿Por qué te retrasas, Turno?
No es ésta la ocasión; debemos pelear, de cerca, con terribles armas.
Conviértete en lo que prefieras; reúne cuanto puedas
de tu valor y tu artificio; pide alas, si quieres, para remontarte entre
los astros altísimos u ocúltate encerrado en los abismos de la tierra."
890
Meneando la cabeza, así le responde Turno:
"No me aterran, feroz enemigo, tus arrogantes palabras;
292
me aterran los dioses; me aterra el enemigo Júpiter."
895
Y sin más decir pone sus ojos en una piedra enorme,
una antigua y enorme piedra que estaba tirada en el llano,
puesta como marca en el campo para evitar querellas por los sembrados.
Doce hombres escogidos musculosos, elegidos entre los que
nuestra tierra produce, apenas podrían aguantarla sobre sus espaldas.
900
Él la alzó con mano temblorosa y la blandÍa contra su enemigo,
irguiéndose más aún el héroe y lanzado a la carrera.
Mas ni se reconoció al correr ni al avanzar
o al tomar la enorme piedra en sus manos y vibrarla;
vacilan sus rodillas, un escalofrÍo le cuaja la gélida sangre.
905
La roca lanzada al vacÍo por el guerrero
no recorrió toda su distancia ni cumplió el golpe.
Y como en sueños, cuando de noche un lánguido letargo
pesa en nuestros ojos; y en vano nos parece que queremos emprender
ansiosas carreras y en medio del intento sucumbimos
extenuados; y no puede la lengua, ni no nos bastan las acostumbradas
fuerzas del cuerpo y no nos salen voces ni palabras;
así a Turno, por donde su valor le lleva a buscar una salida,
la diosa cruel le niega el camino. Dan vueltas entonces en su pecho
variados sentimientos; contempla a los rútulos y a la ciudad
y vacila de miedo y se estremece al amago de la lanza de Eneas.
No ve cómo escapar o con qué fuerza embestir al enemigo,
ni ve su carro, ni a su hermana, que antes le servía de auriga.
910
915
Eneas, aprovechándose de su indecisión, con certera mirada
arroja contra él su fatal lanza desde lejos. Jamás murallas de piedra
batidas por el arriete crujieron en tal manera. Jamás estalló el rayo
con tan horrísono estampido. Vuela como un negro turbión
la mortífera lanza, llevando un cruel final, desgarrando los bordes
de la coraza y el úlltimo cerco del séptuple escudo;
rechinando le entra por mitad del muslo. Cae golpeado
cuan grande es Turno al suelo, doblando las rodillas.
Se alzan los rótulos en un gemido y resuena todo
el monte alrededor y los bosques profundos devuelven el eco.
Él, desde el suelo suplicante, tendiendo a Eneas sus ojos y las manos
suplicantes, le dice: "Lo he merecido en verdad, y no me arrepiento;
aprovecha tu suerte. Si el pensamiento de un padre
desgraciado puede conmoverte, te ruego (también tú tuviste
un padre así, Anquises), ten piedad de la vejez de Dauno
y devuélveme a los mÍos, aunque sea mi cuerpo
925
930
935
293
despojado de la luz. Has ganado y los ausonios me han visto
vencido tender las palmas; tuya es Lavinia por esposa,
no vayas con tu odio más allá." Se detuvo fiero en sus armas
Eneas volviendo los ojos y frenó el golpe de su diestra;
estas palabras habÍan empezado a inclinar sus dudas
cada vez más, cuando se ofrece a su vista en el pecho del caído
el infausto talabarte, y relucieron las correas con los conocidos bullones
del muchacho, de Palante, a quien Turno diera muerte, vencido
por su herida, y cuyos enemigos trofeos llevaba en sus hombros.
Así, cuando a Eneas se le fijó en los ojos el recuerdo
del cruel dolor y su botÍn, encendido de furia y con ira
terrible: "A ti te gustarÍa escapar ahora revestido
con los despojos de los mÍos! Palante te inmola con este golpe,
y Palante se cobra venganza con tu sangre criminal."
940
945
Así diciendo le hunde furioso la espada en pleno pecho.
Un frío de muerte desata los miembros de Turno, e indignado
su espíritu huye, lanzando un gemido, a la región de las sombras.
—Virgilio, Eneida Libro 12
Tal fue su plegaria. Oyóla Febo Apolo, e irritado en su corazón, descendió de las cumbres del
Olimpo con el arco y el cerrado carcaj en los hombros; las saetas resonaron sobre la espalda del
enojado dios, cuando comenzo a moverse. Iba parecido a la noche. Sentóse lejos de las naves, tiró
una flecha, y el arco de plata dio un terrible chasquido. Al principio el dios disparaba contra los
mulos y los ágiles perros; mas luego dirigió sus mortíferas saetas a los hombres, y continuamente
ardían muchas piras de cadáveres.
—Homero, Ilíada, canto 1
La luna grande de octubre pegaba de lleno sobre el corral y mandaba hasta la pared de mi
casa la sombra larga de Remigio. Lo vi que se movía en dirección de un tejocote y que agarraba el
guango que yo siempre tenía recargado allí. Luego vi que regresaba con el guango en la mano.
Pero al quitarse él de enfrente, la luz de la luna hizo brillar la aguja de arria, que yo había
clavado en el costal. Y no sé por qué, pero de pronto comencé a tener una fe muy grande en aquella
aguja. Por eso, al pasar Remigio Torrico por mi lado, desensarté la aguja y sin esperar otra cosa se la
hundí a él cerquita del ombligo. Se la hundí hasta donde le cupo. Y allí la dejé.
294
Luego luego se engarruñó como cuando da el cólico y comenzó a acalambrarse hasta
doblarse poco a poco sobre las corvas y quedar sentado en el suelo, todo entelerido y con el susto
asomándosele por el ojo.
Por un momento pareció como que se iba a enderezar para darme un machetazo con el
guango; pero seguro se arrepintió o no supo ya qué hacer, soltó el guango y volvió a engarruñarse.
Nada más eso hizo.
Entonces vi que se le iba entristeciendo la mirada como si comenzara a sentirse enfermo.
Hacía mucho que no me tocaba ver una mirada así de triste y me entró la lástima. Por eso aproveché
para sacarle la aguja de arria del ombligo y metérsela más arribita, allí donde pensé que tendría el
corazón. Y sí, allí lo tenía, porque nomás dio dos o tres respingos como un pollo descabezado y luego
se quedó quieto.
— Juan Rulfo, La cuesta de las comadres
Y he aquí otro recuerdo, que también resulta simbólico: en Marzo de 1942 el dueño de mi hotel
comenzó a insistir demasiado enérgicamente por los seis meses atrasados que le debía, así que debí
mudarme. Una noche dejé el hotel y mi vecino, Don Alfredo, generosamente me alcanzó las bolsas
por la ventana. Me las llevé a un café, me senté en una mesa y no supe qué hacer. Mi crédito se había
acabado. De pronto oigo: '¿Tú aquí?' Era un polaco, un periodista llamado Taworski que había vivido
en la Argentina muchos años.
Le conté lo que me había pasado. 'Sabes,' replicó, 'Ahora tengo unos socios y alquilamos un chalet
cerca de Buenos Aires, en Morón, para poner una pequeña fábrica textil. Puedes vivir allí.' El chalet
no estaba mal –cinco habitaciones con vista al jardín, aunque casi completamente desamueblado.
Taworski dormía en una cama y yo sobre una parva de diarios. Desde que llegué me avisó
misteriosamente: 'Si entra alguien, ya sea por la ventana o de noche, por el amor de Dios no te
muevas. No delates signo de vida alguno.'
Pasé unas cuantas noches tranquilas sobre mi parva de diarios. Después, una noche, a eso de las tres
de la mañana, unos ruidos me despertaron y vi dos tipos grandotes que estaban desenroscando las
bombitas de luz y removiendo los fusibles. No me moví. Desaparecieron. Resultó que eran los socios
de Taworski, que no podían deshacerse de él y que trataban de hacerle todo tipo de jugarretas.
Taworski, que tenía por su cuenta sentencia de prisión en suspenso por alguna pequeña travesura, no
se atrevía a protestar, y los tipos lo sabían. Así que estas brutales y ebrias visitas nocturnas (por lo
general estaban borrachos), junto a nuestra imposibilidad de defendernos, tomó la calidad de un
símbolo, tan patético como significativo.
— IV de W.Gombrowicz - "A kind of testament"
295
Después que nosotros vinimos de nuevo a nuestro real, se repartió toda la gente; la que era para la
guerra se empleó en la guerra; y la que era para el trabajo se empleó en el trabajo. Allí se levantó un
asiento y una casa fuerte para nuestro capitán general don Pedro Mendoza y un muro de tierra en
derredor de la ciudad de una altura hasta donde uno puede alcanzar con un florete. Este muro era de
tres pies de ancho y lo que se levantaba hoy se venía mañana de nuevo al suelo; a más la gente no
tenía qué comer y se moría de hambre y padecía gran escasez, al extremo de que los caballos no
daban servicio. Fue tal la pena y el desastre del hambre que no bastaron ratones, ni ratas ni víboras ni
otras sabandijas; también los zapatos y cueros, todo tuvo que ser comido.
Sucedió que tres españoles habían hurtado un caballo y se lo comieron a escondidas; y esto se supo;
así se los prendió y se los dio tormento para que confesaran tal hecho. Entonces fue pronunciada la
sentencia que a los tres susodichos españoles se los condenara y ajusticiara y se los colgara en una
horca. Así se cumplió esto y se los colgó en una horca. Ni bien se los había ajusticiado y cada cual se
fue a su casa y se hizo noche, aconteció en la misma noche por parte de otros españoles que ellos han
cortado los muslos y los pedazos de carne del cuerpo y los han llevado a su alojamiento y comido.
También ha ocurrido entonces que un español se ha comido su propio hermano que estaba muerto.
Esto ha sucedido en el año de 1535 en nuestro día de Corpus Cristi en la sobredicha ciudad de
Buenos Aires.
—Derrotero y viaje a España y Las Indias, ULRICO SCHMIDL Capítulo 9
296
MUNDO INTERNO / MUNDO EXTERNO
Sabemos ya que Nirvana significa "extinción". Para nosotros la extinción de una llama equivale
a su aniquilamiento; para los hindúes, la llama existe antes de que la enciendan y perdura después de
apagada. Encender un fuego es hacerlo visible; apagarlo, es hacerlo desaparecer, no destruirlo.
—Borges; Qué es el Budismo
Imagination is simply that which is natural. It is nature, vision, life.
—Oskar Kokoschka
Pero hay otra cuestión, dice Renzi. ¿Cuál es el problema mayor del arte de Macedonio? La relación
del pensamiento con la literatura. El pensar, diría Macedonio, es algo que se puede narrar como se
narra un viaje o una historia de amor, pero no del mismo modo. Le parece posible que en una novela
puedan expresarse pensamientos tan difíciles y de forma tan abstracta como en una obra filosófica,
pero a condición de que parezcan falsos. Esa ilusión de falsedad, dice Renzi, es la literatura misma.
—Piglia, Páginas de un diario
Emma Zunz usa su cuerpo como materia de la ficción: lo somete a las transformaciones, los
disfraces, los desplazamientos que rigen la producción de un texto. Hace de prostituta, hace de virgen
violada, hace de delatora y de ese modo sostiene la verdad de la ficción en un uso ficticio de los
cuerpos. Hace de virgen violada para que Loewenthal se convierta en un violador; hace de prostituta
para que el marinero sueco se convierta en "un instrumento de la justicia".
—Piglia, Páginas de un diario
La idea de la novela argentina como una tradición establecida debe ser puesta en cuestión. Dicho
esto, hay que considerar que Arlt ha sido, junto a Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, uno de los escritores
más geniales que produjo en este país. Se percibe la capacidad casi perfecta de uso personal del
lenguaje y la posibilidad de contar lo imposible en ellos. Están siempre hablando de la realidad, pero
están siempre hablando de una realidad imaginaria. Eso los hace siempre actuales. Están contando
constantemente una realidad ausente. Una realidad que existe y que no existe, que está y que no está.
Una realidad que es y no termina de ser.
— Entrevista a Ricardo Piglia
297
—In "Nova Express" you indicate that silence is a desirable state.
—The most desirable state. In one sense a special use of words and pictures can conduce silence. The
scrapbooks and time travel are excercises to expand consciousness, to teach me to think in
association blocks rather than words. I've recently spent a little time studying hieroglyph systems,
both the Egyptian and the Mayan. A whole block of associatons—boonf!—like that! Words—at least
the way we use them—can stand in the way of what I call nobody experience. It's time we thought
about leaving the body behind.
Cutups make explicit a psycosensory process that is going on all the time anyway. Somebody is
reading a newspaper, and his eye follows the column in the proper Aristotelian manner, one idea and
sentence at the time. But subliminally he is reading the columns on either side and is aware of the
person sitting next to him. That's a cutup. I was sitting in a lunchroom in New York having my
doughnuts and coffee. I was thinking that one does feel a little boxed in New York, like living in a
series of boxes. I looked out the window and there was a big Yale truck. That's a cutup—a
juxtaposition of what's happening outside and what you're thinking of.
For exercise, when I make a trip, such as from Tangier to Gibraltar, I will record this in three
columns in a notebook I always take with me. One column will contain simply an account of the trip,
what happened: I arrived at the air terminal, what was said by the clercks, what I overheard on the
plane, what hotel I checked into. The next column presents my memories: that is, what I was thinking
at the time, the memories that were activated by my encounters. And the third column, which I call
my reading column, gives quotations from any book that I take with me.
—William Burroughs, THE PARIS REVIEW 3rd series
Burroughs and I were sitting in a bar one night and we heard a newscaster saying..."and so the
Egyptians attacked blah blah... and meanwhile a fire raced across the fields and the hippos were
boiled in their tanks! Goodnight, everyone!" That's Bill, he noticed that. Because he notices them
kind of things.
—Jack
Kerouac,
THE
WRITER"S CHAPBOOK
"Oía el silbido de los trenes que, más o menos lejano, subrayando la distancia como el canto de un
pájaro en un bosque, me revelaba la extensión de los campos desiertos por los que el viajero apretaría
el paso hacia la estación más cercana; y el sendero recorrido se le quedaría grabado en la memoria
para siempre a causa de la excitación general provocada por el paraje extraño, los actos
desacostumbrados, la conversación reciente, los adioses intercambiados bajo una farola desconocida,
que aún resonarían en sus oídos en medio del silencio de la noche y la próxima dulzura del retorno."
El silbido del tren subrayando la distancia como el canto de un pájaro en el viento, símil adicional,
comparación interior, es un recurso típicamente proustiano destinado a añadir todo el color y la
fuerza posibles a un cuadro. Luego viene el desarrollo lógico de la idea del tren, la descripción de un
viajero y de sus sensaciones. Este despliegue de una imagen es característico. Se diferencia de las
comparaciones laberínticas de Gógol por su lógica y su poesía. La comparación en Gógol es siempre
grotesca, una parodia de Homero; y sus metáforas son pesadillas, mientras que las de proust son
sueños.
—Nabokov, Proust.
298
One cannot verbalize with impunity; to name a thing is to change it. (...) To designate feelings, to
verbalize thoughts, is to change them. (...) Words create things instead of being a pale reflection of
them. Or as Constant says in Cécile, apropos of a special case: "As often happens in life, the
precautions he took to keep this sentiment from developing were precisely what caused it to
develop." (...) Thus words are more important—and more difficult—than the actions they designate.
Words do not signify the presence of things but their absence. Thus formulated, this law is pertinent
for the totality of the referents, and not merely for one of its parts. Verbalization changes the nature
of psychic activities and indicates its absence; it does not change the nature of material objects but
establishes their absence rather than their presence.
Here is another example from Cécile: "The care she took to assure me that, once married, she had
never repented of this union, convinced me she had repented of it forthwith." Or, again, this sentence
in Adolphe: "O spell of love—he who experiences you cannot describe you!" The description of love
designates his absence, just as the affirmation of the absence of regret designates its presence (the
absence of absence).
How explain that one ceases to desire the object aspired to so ardently a quarter of an hour before,
how can the same object provoke, one after the other, two such different attitudes? It is because this
object is the same only materially and not symbolically; yet only this latter dimension matters to us
here. We must once again abandon any static image of consciousness. the object is not the same
whether it is absent or present; it does not exist independent of our relation to it. Or as Constant
himself formulates it: "The object which escapes us is necessarily quite different from the the one
which pursues us."
—Tzvetan Todorov, Poetics of Prose, Speech according to Constant
In Joyce, the diverse elements of experience are perceived in different relations (...) Joyce has found
a new language that enables it to assimilate more materials, to readjust itself completely and
succesfully to the new self-consciousness of the modern world. His prose works have a definitive
beauty of surface and of form, which makes him comparable to the great poets rather than to most of
the great novelists.
Like Proust's or Whitehead's or Einstein's world, Joyce's world is always changing as it is perceived
by different observers and by them at different times. It is an organism made up of "events," which
may be taken as infinitely inclusive or infinitely small and each of which involves all the others; and
each of these events is unique.
—Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle, James Joyce
299
The following example appears in Chekhov's Notebooks. Someone walks along a certain alley for
fifteen or maybe thirty years. Each day he reads the sign that hangs above a certain shop: LARGE
SELECTION OF BEARS, and each day asks himself : "So who needs a large selection of Bears?"
Well, one fine day, for reasons unknown, the sign is taken down and laid against the wall. It is then
that he reads for the first time: LARGE SELECTION OF PEARS.
A poet removes all signs from their places. An artist always incites insurrections among things. (...)
Like Baudelaire, he may say that a carcass lifts its legs like a woman with lascivious intent. In this
way he brings about a semantic shift.
Another way is represented by a progressive, stepped structure. the object divides into two or three
segments that reflect or confront each other.
Oh my apple, who are you courting?
Oh mama, do you want to marry?
sings a vagabond from Rostov, perpetuating, in all probability, the tradition represented by:
An apple rolled down from the bridge.
Katichka asked to be excused from the table.
We see here two throughly incongruous concepts. Yet, each displaces the other from its respective
cluster of conventional associations.
I have already spoken of Tolstoi's enstrangement elsewhere. One of the variety of ways in which this
device is used involves focusing on a certain detail in the "picture" and emphasizing it in such a way
that its conventional proportions are altered. For example, in his depiction of a battle scene, Tolstoi
develops the detail of the moist, masticating mouth. Singlin out such a detail creates a peculiar
displacement.
The most common device in Tolstoi, however, may be characterized as the author's refusal to
recognize things by their names (he insists on describing things as if they were seen for the first time
[enstrangement]). For example, he calls theatrical scenery in War and Peace pieces of painted
cardboard, or he calls the communion bread a bun and assures us that Christians eat their God.—62
— SHKLOVSKY, THEORY OF PROSE
Kafka has just left the underground train in a Berlin station and is rushing up to the surface to meet
felice Bauer. but the understanding she had for him had somehow propted her to wait for him down
below, on the platform, and he found his desperation to have been unnecessary after all.
“Sometimes, I have thought that she understood me without knowing it. For instance, that time when
i was longing for her unbearably, when she was waiting for me in the underground station;—I, in my
desire to get to her as quickly as possible, thinking she was upstairs, was about to run past her, and
she took me quietly by the hand.”
300
The genuine understanding is not something that enters consciousness. It is above or below the
conscious frames of mind that, in Kafka’s view, falsify the emotions which really link men together.
On The Tram
I stand on the end platform of thetram and am completely unsure of my footing in his world, in this
town, in my family. Not even casualy could I indicate any claims that I maight rightly advance in any
direction. I have not even any defense to offer for standing on this platform, holding on to this strap,
letting myself be carried along by this tram, nor for the people who give way to the tram or walk
quietly along or stand gazing into shop windows. Nobody asks me to put up a defense, indeed, but
that is irrelevant.
The tram approaches a stopping-place and a girl takes up her position near the step, ready to alight.
She is dressed in black, the pleats of her skirt hang almost still, her blouse is tight and has a collar of
white fine-meshed lace, her left hand is braced flat against the side of the tram, the umbrella in her
right hand rests on the second top step. Her face is brown, her nose, slightly pinched at the side, has a
broad round tip. She has a lot of brown hair and stray little tendrils on the right temple. her small ear
is close-set, but since I am near her I can see the whole ridge of the whorl of her right ear and the
shadow at the root of it.
At that point I asked myself: How is it that she is not amazed at herself, that she keeps her lips closed
and makes no such remark?
It need the introductory part abot Kafka’s uncertainty to make sense of this, just as it need some
awareness of what he was like in real life to see the significance of Felice Bauer’s putting her hand
on his. Without the introduction, the description of the girl on the platform would not matter. With it,
every detail is important for its own sake—the round, broad nose, the stray hairs, the umbrella on that
particular step are all clean-cut, vivid, and related in such a way that you can’t forget that hand placed
flat against the upright: it matters, is an essential part of the sketch. And then the last sentence of all
suggests amazement at this ordinariness, and at the same time suggests how in the end the living
woman matters more than the art which enhances her for the moment. kafka the writer unobtrusively
withdraws and leaves you with a sense of being left with all that really does count—not his art, but
the woman herself as she was forty years ago in Prague. (...) The miraculous presence of the girl on
the step is never explicitly stated, but rather felt through the simplicity of the detailed presentation
(...). Perhaps the real virtue of Kafka’s stories is just this absence of “knowingness,” and all critical
appreciation of them is amore or less awkward attempt at making explicit what he was content to
leave in a pure and strictly unstranlatable form. the immediacy of his work itself matters, not the
interpretations.
—Ronald Gray, Kafka the Writer, Kafka’s Criticism
301
Chekhov "The Lady with the Pet Dog"
(...) After his return to Moscow (...) Gurov's memories of Anna are contrasted with the world which
was Gurov's and which cannot be reconciled to his new feelings. When Gurov attempts to talk about
Anna with a fellow card player, the latter's discordant gastronomical retort causes Gurov to leave his
former life in search of Anna.
One evening, as he was leaving the ohysicians' club with his partner, an official, he could not
contain himself and said, "If you only knew with what a charming woman I became acquainted in
Yalta!"
The official seated in his sleigh and started, but suddenly he turned and called, "Dmitri
Dmitrich!"
"What?"
"You were right, the sturgeon was a bit strong!"
In "The Lady with the Pet Dog" the problems are internal, but they are indicated by means of external
decription, by metonimic devices: a gesture, a fleeting phrase or remark. After Gurov has seduced
Anna, she is crestfallen and blames herself for what she considers an immoral act. Gurov answers her
without compassion , but Anna is soon comforted. In the ensuing scene, Gurov and Anna sit by the
seashore until the morning breaks. Both silently submit to the mysterious stillness of the approaching
dawn. The first words are Anna's:
"The dew is on the grass," said Anna Sergeevna, breaking the silence.
"Yes, it's time to go home." [Answered Gurov].
On the surface this is a simple remark with a simple meaning. The dew is a sign of the break of a day
and of a poetic mood, and that is all. But this simple remark, coming as it does afer the scene in
which Anna had accused herself od sinning, also expresses her new acquiescence to her love affair
which had recently caused her much inner turmoil.
Stylistic and structural devices also reveal Chekhov's antipathy to conventional forms. Thus
frecuently mounting tension is broken with an unexpectedly prosaic remark, or by a surprising
abscence of the elevated picture which the reader expects. In the third chapter, for instance, Gurov
sits in the provincial theatre, hoping that Anna will make her appearance. He has come to her town,
unable to bear the separation from Anna. Now he sits and waits, "greedily seeking her with his eyes."
And Anna does appear. But her entrance is not dramatic. It is presented with anticlimatic simplicity:
"And Anna Sergeevna also entered." Gurov does not see her in the clichés of a lover's vision. On the
contrary, he sees her as a little woman, in no way remarkable, with a vulgar lorgnette. Gurov's
thoughts of his love for her are accompanied by the unpolished sounds of the theater, "of the inferior
orchestra, of the wretched provincial violins."
302
Seventh Seal
That which had formerly been so enigmatic and frightening, nemely, what might exist beyond this
world, does not exist. Everything is of this world. Everything exists and happens inside us, and we
flow into and out of one another. It's perfectly fine like that. —Bergman, Images, 241
Un rasgo de Onetti (El Astillero). Cómo usa lo externo/interno. Descripción del bar, lo que se va a
tomar (y no hay), entonces pedir otra cosa. Lugar feo (o lindo pero húmedo, incómodo, algo). Afuera
empieza allover, descripción del sonido de la lluvia, soportar oírla—ruido de alguien pisando un
charco afuera, y en la última línea, la frase que lo cierra todo: "Después sería el fin, la renuncia a la
fe en corazonadas, la aceptación definitiva de la incredulidad y la vejez."
Dos series (una externa y otra interna) separadas, no conectadas salvo por nuestra propia
asociación interna. Mantenerla así (que no haya vaivén) hasta el final del párrafo.
También Kafka hace algo así pero más breve, en el transcurso de una sola oración. Pone un adjetivo
totalmente alejado de lo que se espera (o un sustantivo a veces), de lo que sería una descripción
normal, y de esa forma le da otra dimension a lo escrito.
There is nothing real except the coincidence of a sensation and an individual mental tendency.
Jean Metzinger, Theories of Modern Art, 214
—
Acá la relación se hace más obvia:
Se detuvo en el fondo del galpón, cerca de una pila de balsas para naufragio —"ocho personas
en cada una, tela como un colador, madera impudrible, bandas de goma, mil pesos y me quedo
corto"—, para recoger un plano azul con maquinarias y letras blancas, embarrado, endurecido, con
largas hojas de pasto ya inseparables.
—Flor de abandono —dijo en voz alta, amargo y despectivo—. Si no sirve, se archiva. No se tira
en los galpones. Esto tiene que cambiar. El viejo que lo tolera debe estar loco.
Ni siquiera hablaba para un eco. El viento descendía en suaves remolinos y entraba ancho, sin
prisas, por un costado del galpón. Todas las palabras, incluyendo las sucias, las amenazantes y las
orgullosas, eran olvidadas apenas terminaban de sonar. No había nada más, desde siempre y para la
eternidad, que el ángulo altísimo del techo, las costras de orín, toneladas de hierro, la ceguera de los
yuyos creciendo y enredándose. Tolerado, pasajero, ajeno, también estaba él en el centro inmóvil,
como un insecto oscuro que agitara patas y antenas en el aire de leyenda, de peripecias marítimas, de
labores desvanecidas, de invierno.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, El astillero, p. 40
303
"You worry yourself unnecessarily. Put the thought of hitting right out of your mind!"
"You are under an illusion," said the Master after a while, "if you imagine that even a rough
understanding of these dark connections would help you. These are processes that are beyond the
reach of understanding. Do not forget that even in Nature there are correspondences which cannot be
understood, and yet are so real that we have grown accustomed to them, just as if they could not be
any different. I will give you an example that I have often puzzled over. The spider dances her web
without knowing that there are flies that will get caught in it. The fly, dancing nonchalantly on a
sunbeam, gets caught in the net without knowing what lies in store. But through both of them 'It'
dances, and inside and outside are united in this dance. So, too, the archer hits the target without
having aimed—more I cannot say."
—Eugene Herriguel, Zen in the art of archery, 57
Tomorrow I was
Going to the Spring meadows
To pick the young greens.
It snowed all day yesterday
And snowed all day today.
—Akahito, 8th century.
Toward morning, having entered the room earlier than he, I waited for him. In the silence, I
heard the mysterious rustling of the sheet of yellow newspaper that replaced the missing
windowpane.
"That's subtle," I said to myself.
I was discovering a lot of new words. In the silence of the room and of my heart, in the waiting
for Stilitano, this slight noise disturbed me, for before I came to understand its meaning there elapsed
a brief period of anxiety. Who—or what—is calling such fleeting attention to itself in a poor man's
room?
"It's a newspaper printed in Spanish," I said to myself again. "It's only natural that I don't
understand the sound it's making."
Then I really felt I was in exile, and my nervousness was going to make me permeable to what—
for want of other words—I shall call poetry.
—Jean Genet, The thief's journal, 53
304
We pounded along, stopped, landed soldiers; went on, landed custom-house clerks to levy toll in
what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness, with a tin shed and a flag-pole lost in it; landed more
soldiers -- to take care of the custom-house clerks, presumably. Some, I heard, got drowned in the
surf; but whether they did or not, nobody seemed particularly to care. They were just flung out there,
and on we went. Every day the coast looked the same, as though we had not moved; but we passed
various places -- trading places -- with names like Gran' Bassam, Little Popo; names that seemed to
belong to some sordid farce acted in front of a sinister back-cloth. The idleness of a passenger, my
isolation amongst all these men with whom I had no point of contact, the oily and languid sea, the
uniform sombreness of the coast, seemed to keep me away from the truth of things, within the toil of
a mournful and senseless delusion. The voice of the surf heard now and then was a positive pleasure,
like the speech of a brother. It was something natural, that had its reason, that had a meaning. Now
and then a boat from the shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black
fellows. You could see from afar the white of their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their
bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces like grotesque masks -- these chaps; but they had
bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf
along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at. For a
time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts; but the feeling would not last
long. Something would turn up to scare it away. Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war
anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the
French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles
of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily
and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she
was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame
would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble
screech -- and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the
proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on
board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives -- he called them enemies! -- hidden out of
sight somewhere.
"We gave her her letters (I heard the men in that lonely ship were dying of fever at the rate of three
a day) and went on. We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of
death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere as of an overheated catacomb; all along the
formless coast bordered by dangerous surf, as if Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders; in and
out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened
into slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an
impotent despair. Nowhere did we stop long enough to get a particularized impression, but the
general sense of vague and oppressive wonder grew upon me. It was like a weary pilgrimage
amongst hints for nightmares.
—Joseph Conrad, heart of Darkness
305
[Pause.]
Past midnight. Never knew such silence. The earth might be uninhabited.
[Pause.]
Here I end—
[KRAPP switches off, rewinds tape back, switches on again.]
—upper lake, with the punt, bathed off the bank, then pushed out into the stream and drfited. She lay
stretched out on the floorboards with her hands under her head and her eyes closed. Sun blazing
down, bit of a breeze, water nice and lively. I noticed a scratch on her thigh and asked her how she
came by it. Picking gooseberries, she said. I said again I thought it was hopeless and no good going
on and she agreed, without opening her eyes. [Pause.] I asked her to look at me and after a few
moments—]Pause.]—after a few moments she did, but the eyes just slits, because of the glare. I bent
over her to get them in the shadow and they opened. [Pause. Low.] Let me in. [Pause.] We drifted in
among the flags and stuck. the way they went down, sighing, before the stem! [Pause.] I lay down
across her with my face in her breasts and my hand on her. We lay there without moving. But under
us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side.
[Pause.]
Past midnight. Never knew—
—Samuel Beckett, Krapp's Last Tape
The River Izumi
Floods the plain of Mika.
Did I ever meet her?
Why do I long for her?
—Fujiwara No Go-Kanesuke, 10th century.
Note: The first two lines of the poem are an excellent example of the use of seemingly irrelevant
preface, joshi, linked to the rest of the poem emotionally and as a suppressed metaphor. (Kenneth
Rexroth)
my luck was down again and I was too nervous at this time from excessive wine-drinking; wildeyed, weak; too depressed to find my usual stop-gap, rest-up job as shipping clerck or stocky boy, so
I went down to the meat packing plant and walked into the office.
haven't I seen you before? the man asked.
no, I lied.
I'd been there 2 or 3 years before, gone through all the paper work, the medical and so forth, and
they had led me down steps, 4 floors down and it had gotten colder and colder and the floors had
been covered with a sheen of blood, green floors, green walls. I had been explained my job — which
was to push a button and through this hole in the wall there was a noise like the crushing of fullbacks
or elephants falling in lay, and here it came — something dead, a lot of it, bloody, and he showed me,
you take it and throw it on the truck and the button and another one comes along, then he walked
away. when he did I took off my smock, my tin hat, my boots (issued 3 sizes too small) and walked
up the stairway and out of there. now I was back, struck down again.
(...)
306
Thurman?
yeah?
I'm workin' for ya.
yeah?
yeah.
he looked at me.
where's yor boots?
boots?
got none, I said.
he reached under the bench and handed me a pair. an old hardened stiff pair. I put them on. same
old story: 3 sizes too small. my toes were crushed and bending under.
(...)
I was already sweating under the tin helmet.
put 'im to work!!
jesus christ o jesus christ. what ever happened to the sweet and easy nights? why doesn't this
happen to Walter Winchell who believes in the American Way? wasn't I one of the most brilliant
students in Anthropology? what happened?
(...)
...and I'm too weak to talk and say, hey, what the hell's the matter with you guys? the hams are
coming and I am spinning, nailed, like a man on a cross under a tin helmet, and they keep running up
barrows full of hams hams hams and at last they are all empty, and I stand there swaying and
breathing the yellow electric light. it was night in hell. well, I always liked night work.
come on!
they took me into another room. up in the air through a large entrance high in the far wall one
half a steer, or it might have been a whole one, yes, they were whole steers, thinking of it, all four
legs, and one of them came out of the hole on a hook, having just been murdered, and the steer
stopped right over me, it hung right over me there on that hook.
they,ve just killed it, I thought, they've killed the damn thing. how can they tell a man from a
steer? how do they know that I am not a steer?
ALL RIGHT—SWING IT!
swing it?
that's right—DANCE WITH IT!
what?
o for christ's sake! GEORGE come here!
George got under the dead steer, he grabbed it. ONE. he ran forward. TWO. he ran backwards.
THREE. he ran far forward. the steer was almost parallel to the ground. somebody hit a button and he
had it. he had it for the meatmarkets of the world. he had it for the gossiping cranky well-rested
stupid housewives of the world at 2 o'clock in the afternoon in their housemocks, dragging redstained cigarettes and feeling almost nothing.
they put me under the next steer.
ONE.
TWO.
THREE.
I had it. its dead bones against my living bones, its dead flesh against my living flesh, and the
bone and the weight cut in, I thought of operas by Wagner, I thought of cold beer, I thought of sexy
cunt sitting across from me on a couch with her legs crossed high and I have a drink in my hand and
307
am slowly and surely talking my way toward and into the blank mind of her body, and Charley
hollered HANG HER IN THE TRUCK!
I walked toward the truck. out of the shame of defeat taught me in American schoolyards as a
boy I knew that I must not drop the steer to he ground because this would show that I was a coward
and not a man and that I didn't therefore deserve much, just sneers and laughs and beatings, you had
to be a winner in America, there wasn't any way out, and you had to learn to fight for nothing, don't
question, and besides if I dropped the steer I might have to pick it up, besides it will get dirty. I don't
want it to get dirty, or rather — they don't want it to get dirty.
I walked into the truck.
HANG IT!
the hook which hung from the roof was dull as a man's thumb without a fingernail. you let the
bottom of a steer slide back and went for the top, you poked the top part against the hook again and
again but the hook would not go through. mother ass!!! it was all gristle and fat, tough, tough.
COME ON! COME ON!
I gave it my last reserve and the hook came through, it was a beautiful sight, a miracle, that hook
coming through, that steer hanging there by itself completely off my shoulder, hanging for the
housedresses and butchershop gossip.
MOVE ON!
a 285 pound Negro, insolent, sharp, cool, murderous, walked in, hung his meat with a snap,
looked down at me.
we stays in line here!
o.k. ace.
I walked on in front of him. another steer was waiting for me. each time I loaded one I was sure
that was the last one I could handle but kept saying
one more
just one more
then I
quit.
fuck
it.
they were waiting for me to quit, I could see the eyes, the smiles when they thought I wasn't
looking. I didn't want to give them victory. I went for another steer. the player one last lunge of the
big-time washed-up player I went for the meat.
—Charles Bukowski, Kid Stardust on the porterhouse
308
El curso de entrenamiento duró tres semanas y terminó un sábado especialmente lluvioso. A las
siete de la tarde todo nuestro grupo debía tomar el tren a Londres, donde, según se rumoreaba,
íbamos a ser destinados a las divisiones de infantería y de paracaidistas organizadas para el día de la
invasión. A las tres de la tarde ya había guardado todas mis pertenencias en mi macuto, incluyendo
una funda para máscara anti-gas repleta de libros que yo había traído conmigo desde el otro lado del
océano. (La máscara anti-gas había sido arrojada unas semanas antes por un ojo de buey del
Mauretania, pues yo sabía perfectamente que si el enemigo, alguna vez, llegaba a emplear gases
asfixiantes, jamás podría ponerme a tiempo el maldito aparato.) Recuerdo haberme quedado de pie
durante mucho tiempo junto a la ventana en un extremo de nuestro barracón, mirando caer la lluvia
inclinada y pertinaz, con un ligero escozor apenas o nada perceptible en el dedo del gatillo. Podía oír
a mis espaldas el poco acogedor rasgar de muchas estilográficas sobre muchas hojas de papel de
avión. De pronto, sin tener un plan definido, me aparté de la ventana y me puse el impermeable, la
bufanda de cachemira, las botas de agua, los guantes de lana y el gorro (el cual, según me dijeron, yo
llevaba con una inclinación particular, ligeramente hundido sobre las orejas). Acto seguido, después
de sincronizar mi reloj con el de la letrina, me dirigí hacia el pueblo bajando por la larga cuesta
adoquinada, mojada por la lluvia. No presté atención a los relámpagos que estallaban a mi alrededor.
Los rayos o están destinados a uno, o no lo están.
—J.D.Salinger, Para Esmé, con amor y sordidez
If only the world
Would always remain this way,
Some fishermen
Drawing a little rawboat
Up the river bank.
—The Shogun Minamoto No Sanetomo, 13th century.
DYSART: All my wife has ever taken from the Mediterranean—from that whole vast
intuitive culture—are four bottles of Chianti to make into lamps, and two china condiment donkeys
labelled Sally and Peppy.
Pause.
I wish there was one person in my life I could show. One instinctive, absolutely unbrisk
person I could take to Greece, and stand in front of certain shrines and sacred dtreams and say 'Look!
Life is only comprehensible through a thousand local Gods. And not just the old dead ones with
names like Zeus—no, but living Geniuses of Place and Person! And not just Greece, but modern
England! Spirits of certain trees, certain curves of brick wall, certain chip shops, if you like, and slate
roofs—just as of certain frowns in people and slouches...' I'd say to them—'Worship as many as you
can see—and more will appear¡'... If I had a son, I bet you he'd come out exactly like his mother.
Utterly worshipless. Would you like a drink?
—Peter Shaffer, Equus 1.18
309
He cerrado tantas maletas en mi vida, me he pasado tantas horas haciendo equipajes que no
llevaban a ninguna parte que el jueves fue un día lleno de sombras y correas, porque cuando yo veo
las correas de las valijas es como si viera sombras, elementos de un látigo que me azota
indirectamente, de la manera más sutil y más horrible.
—Julio Cortázar, Carta a una señorita en Paris
Estaba ya pensando en decir muchas gracias y adiós cuando me trajo consuelo un aborigen vestido
con guardapolvo que tal vez hubiera sido blanco el día anterior. Me señaló un montón de bolsas que
podían servirme de asiento con respaldo, me señaló un agujero redondo en el suelo y me entrego un
cuchillito. Aquel hombre se hizo mi capataz con muy pocas palabras.
Así fui sabiendo que el agujero redondo se llamaba tolva, que era necesario alimentarlo con el trigo o
lo que contuvieran las bolsas, que si llegaba a vaciarse ese aparato que separaba el polvo del grano,
se estropearía. Y fui sabiendo que aquella tarea parecía haber sido inventada expresamente para mí.
Recuerdo tantas semanas de felicidad nocturna, el trabajo sin la inevitable presión de un patrón o
jefecito. Leyendo alguna historia de asesinado y detective, leyendo un diario o revista, vigilando de
rabo de ojo a un costado la boca angurrienta de la tolva. Y tan solo y en calma en la noche eterna
siempre alumbrado por luces eléctricas porque el enorme edificio no tenía ventanas y era indiferente
e ignorado el hecho de que afuera, en la ciudad, lloviera o iluminara un sol blanco y rabioso. Allí,
tampoco ni calor ni frío. Muchas ratas gordas y veloces que no se sabía de que disparaban o adonde
pensaban ir. Sólo proyectos porque un perrito pequeño, color mugre, las perseguía y alcanzaba para
clavarles los dientes y desnucarlas. Nunca lo vi fracasar. Y siempre, después de la victoria, volvía a
correr desesperado para beber agua en una gran pileta o enjuagarse el asco.
Apunté: noches Felices, pero sería más exacto llamarlas noches de paz. Porque si me ocurría divagar
sobre algún problema nunca se trataba de problemas impuestos por el mundo de afuera. Eran mis
problemas, absolutamente míos. Eran de esa raza de problemas que millones de personas se habían
planteado sin resolver. Los imagino, con preferencia, al lado de un fuego así como yo estaba al lado
de la tolva. Todo era noche calma, noche serena, hasta que un mediodía vi el anuncio en el periódico
que había abandonado sobre los platos usados del almuerzo un compañero de pensión. Cada vez miro
los diarios y me basta espiar los titulares para fortalecer mi vieja convicción de que la estupidez
humana es inmortal.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, Cuando ya no importe
The Parting One
Every wordly joy has died in my breast, and hatred of evil is likewise entirely dead there,
even the awareness of my own and other's distress—and only Death is still alive within me!
The curtain falls, the play is over, and my dear German public is now going home yawning,
the good folks aren't stupid; they'll now be contentedly eating their supper, drinking their glass of wine,
singing and laughing—he was right, the noble hero who once said in Homer's book: The least living
philistine in Stuttgart on the Neckar is much more fortunate than I, the Peliad, the dead hero, the Prince of
Shadows in the Underworld.
—
Heinrich Heine
310
The sun had set. And when, after drilling a deep hole with his stick, he moved from that spot the
night had massed its army of shadows under the trees. They filled the eastern ends of the avenues as
if only waiting the signal for a general advance upon the open spaces of the world; they were
gathering low between the deep stone-faced banks of the canal. The Malay prau, half-concealed
under the arch of the bridge, had not altered
its position a quarter of an inch. For a long time Captain Whalley stared down over the parapet, till at
last the floating immobility of that beshrouded thing seemed
to grow upon him into something inexplicable and alarming. The twilight abandoned the zenith; its
reflected gleams left the world below, and the water of the canal seemed to turn into pitch. Captain
Whalley crossed it.
—Joseph Conrad, The end of the tether, c.4
In all the world
There is no way whatever.
The stag cries even
In the most remote mountain.
—The Priest Fujiwara No Toshinari, 13th century.
Ahora lloro todo el tiempo.
Lloré toda la calle cuando abandoné el tambaleante Ayuntamiento de Seattle.
Lloré escuchando a Bach.
Lloré mirando las alegres flores de mi patio, lloré ante la tristeza de los árboles maduros.
La felicidad existe, lo puedo sentir.
Lloré por mi alma, lloré por el alma del mundo.
El mundo tiene un alma bellísima.
Dios apareciendo para ser visto y llorando. Corazón desbordante de Paterson.
—Allen Ginsberg, Lágrimas
311
Apagué la luz y estuve un rato inmóvil. Tengo la sensación de que hace ya muchas horas que
terminaron los ruidos de la noche; tantas, que debía estar ya el sol alto. El cansancio me trae
pensamientos sin esperanza. Hubo un mensaje que lanzara mi juventud a la vida; estaba hecho con
palabras de desafío y confianza. Se lo debe haber tragado el agua como a las botellas de los
náufragos. Hace un par de años que creí haber encontrado la felicidad. Pensaba haber llegado a un
escepticismo casi absoluto y estaba seguro de que me bastaría comer todos los días, no andar
desnudo, fumar y leer algún libro de vez en cuando para ser feliz. Esto y lo que pudiera soñar
despierto, abriendo los ojos a la noche retinta. Hasta me asombraba haber demorado tanto tiempo
para descubrirlo. Pero ahora siento que ni¡ vida no es más que el paso de fracciones de tiempo, una y
otra, como el ruido de un reloj, el agua que corre, moneda que se cuenta. Estoy tirado y el tiempo
pasa. Estoy frente a la cara peluda de Lázaro, sobre el patio de ladrillos, las gordas mujeres que lavan
la pileta, los malevos que fuman con el pucho en los labios. Yo estoy tirado y el tiempo se arrastra,
indiferente, a mi derecha y a mi izquierda.
Esta es la noche, quien no pudo sentirla así no la conoce. Todo en la vida es mierda y ahora estamos
ciegos en la noche, atentos y sin comprender. Hay en el fondo, lejos, un coro de perros, algún gallo
canta de vez en cuando, al norte, al sur, en cualquier parte ignorada. Las pitadas de los vigilantes se
repiten sinuosas y mueren. En la ventana de enfrente, atravesando el patio, alguno ronca y se queja
entre sueños. El cielo está pálido y tranquilo, vigilando los grandes montones de sombra en el patio.
Un ruido breve, como un chasquido, me hace mirar hacia arriba. Estoy seguro de poder descubrir una
arruga justamente en el sitio donde ha gritado una golondrina. Respiro el primer aire que anuncia la
madrugada hasta llenarme los pulmones; hay una humedad fría tocándome la frente en la ventana.
Pero toda la noche está, inapresable, tensa, alargando su alma fina y misteriosa en el chorro de la
canilla mal cerrada, en la pileta de portland del patio. Esta es la noche. Yo soy un hombre solitario
que fuma en un sitio cualquiera de la ciudad; la noche me rodea, se cumple como un rito,
gradualmente, y yo nada tengo que ver con ella. Hay momentos, apenas, en que los golpes de mi
sangre en las sienes se acompasan con el latido de la noche. He fumado mi cigarrillo hasta el fin, sin
moverme.
Las extraordinarias confesiones de Eladio Linacero. Sonrío en paz, abro la boca, hago chocar los
dientes y muerdo suavemente la noche. Todo es inútil y hay que tener por lo menos el valor de no
usar pretextos. Me hubiera gustado clavar la noche en el papel como a una gran mariposa nocturna.
Pero, en cambio, fue ella la que me alzó entre sus aguas como el cuerpo lívido de un muerto y me
arrastra, inexorable, entre fríos y vagas espumas, noche abajo.
Esta es la noche. Voy a tirarme en la cama, enfriado, muerto de cansancio, buscando dormirme antes
de que llegue la mañana, sin fuerzas ya para esperar el cuerpo húmedo de la muchacha en la vieja
cabaña de troncos.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, El Pozo, c.18
312
I am alone —
and glad to be alone;
I do not like people who walk about
so late; who walk slowly after midnight
through the leaves fallen on the sidewalks.
I do not like
my own face
in the little mirrors of the slot-machines
before the closed stores.
—Charles Reznikoff
Una vez que viajaban, el artista en la redecilla como soñando, y el empresario recostado en el rincón
de la ventana, leyendo un libro, el hombre del trapecio le apostrofó suavemente. Y le dijo,
mordiéndose los labios, que en lo sucesivo necesitaba para su vivir, no un trapecio, como hasta
entonces, sino dos, dos trapecios, uno frente a otro.
El empresario accedió en seguida. Pero el trapecista, como si quisiera mostrar que la aceptación del
empresario no tenía más importancia que su oposición, añadió que nunca más, en ninguna ocasión,
trabajaría únicamente sobre un trapecio. Parecía horrorizarse ante la idea de que pudiera acontecerle
alguna vez. El empresario, deteniéndose y observando a su artista, declaró nuevamente su absoluta
conformidad. Dos trapecios son mejor que uno solo. Además, los nuevos trapecios serían más
variados y vistosos.
Pero el artista se echó a llorar de pronto. El empresario, profundamente conmovido, se levantó de un
salto y le preguntó qué le ocurría, y como no recibiera ninguna respuesta, se subió al asiento, lo
acarició y abrazó y estrechó su rostro contra el suyo, hasta sentir las lágrimas en su piel. Después de
muchas preguntas y palabras cariñosas, el trapecista exclamó, sollozando:
-Sólo con una barra en las manos, ¡cómo podría yo vivir!
Entonces, ya fue muy fácil al empresario consolarlo. Le prometió que en la primera estación, en la
primera parada y fonda, telegrafiaría para que instalasen el segundo trapecio, y se reprochó a sí
mismo duramente la crueldad de haber dejado al artista trabajar tanto tiempo en un solo trapecio. En
fin, le dio las gracias por haberle hecho observar al cabo aquella omisión imperdonable. De esta
suerte, pudo el empresario tranquilizar al artista y volverse a su rincón.
En cambio, él no estaba tranquilo; con grave preocupación espiaba, a hurtadillas, por encima del
libro, al trapecista. Si semejantes pensamientos habían empezado a atormentarlo, ¿podrían ya cesar
por completo? ¿No seguirían aumentando día por día? ¿No amenazarían su existencia? Y el
empresario, alarmado, creyó ver en aquel sueño, aparentemente tranquilo, en que habían terminado
los lloros, comenzar a dibujarse la primera arruga en la lisa frente infantil del artista del trapecio.
—Franz Kafka, Un artista del trapecio
313
¿Me picarán
ojos aún vivos?
Vuelan las moscas.
—Issa, siglos XVIII y XIX
Emma, deseperada, va pedirle ayuda a Rodolfo, su ex amante, pero éste se la niega:
Ema se fue. Se estremecían las paredes, el techo la aplastaba, y volvió a pasar por la larga
avenida, tropezando con los montones de hojas secas que dispersaba el viento. Llegó por fin ante la
reja, y tanta prisa se dio en abrirla, que se rompió las uñas. Luego, como a unos cien pasos, jadeante,
próxima a desvanecerse, se detuvo. Y entonces, volviéndose, percibió nuevamente el impasible
castillo, con el parque, los jardines, los tres patios y todas las ventanas de la fachada.
Permaneció transida de estupor y sin más conciencia de sí misma que el latido de sus arterias,
latido que se escapaba y se extendía por el campo —eso creía ella— como una música
ensordecedora. El suelo se hundía bajo sus pies, blando como la líquida onda, y los surcos se le
antojaron un sucederse de oscuras e inmensas olas. Cuantas reminiscencias e ideas había en su
cerebro se escapaban al par de un solo salto, como las mil piezas de una rueda de fuegos artificiales.
Vio a su padre, el despacho de Lhereux, el cuarto de ella, un paisaje diferente. Era presa de la locura,
tuvo miedo, y consiguió recobrarse, de una manera confusa, es cierto, porque no recordaba la causa
originadora de su horrible estado, esto es, la cuestión monetaria. Sólo su amor la hacía padecer, y
sentía que el alma se le escapaba por su recuerdo, como los heridos al agonizar sienten que se les
escapa la existencia por la sangrante herida.
Anochecía, las cornejas volaban.
De pronto, le pareció que estallaban en el aire, como balas fulminantes, unos ígneos globulillos
que giraban y giraban hasta fundirse en la nieve, entre el ramaje de la arboleda. Y entre ellos,
multiplicándose, aproximándose, penetrándola, aparecía la figura de Rodolfo. Desapareció todo, y a
lo lejos, resplandeciendo entre la niebla, divisó al fin las luces de las casas.
—Gustave
Flaubert, Madame Bovary, p. 264
314
Miré los muros de la patria mía,
si un tiempo fuertes, ya desmoronados,
de la carrera de la edad cansados,
por quien caduca ya su valentía.
Salime al campo, vi que el sol bebía
los arroyos del hielo desatados;
y del monte quejosos los ganados,
que con sombras hurtó su luz al día.
Entré en mi casa: vi que amancillada
de anciana habitación era despojos;
mi báculo más corvo, y menos fuerte.
Vencida de la edad sentí mi espada,
y no hallé cosa en que poner los ojos
que no fuese recuerdo de la muerte.
—Quevedo, Enseña cómo todas las cosas avisan de la muerte
Rayos vernales.
No sé dónde, muy lejos
canta una alondra.
—Sekitei, siglo XX
"The pilgrims could be seen in knots gesticulating, discussing. Several had still their staves in
their hands. I verily believe they took these sticks to bed with them. Beyond the fence the forest stood
up spectrally in the moonlight, and through that dim stir, through the faint sounds of that lamentable
courtyard, the silence of the land went home to one's very heart -- its mystery, its greatness, the
amazing reality of its concealed life. The hurt nigger moaned feebly somewhere near by, and then
fetched a deep sigh that made me mend my pace away from there. I felt a hand introducing itself
under my arm. 'My dear sir,' said the fellow, 'I don't want to be misunderstood, and especially by you,
who will see Mr. Kurtz long before I can have that pleasure. I wouldn't like him to get a false idea of
my disposition. . . .'
"I let him run on, this papier-mache Mephistopheles, and it seemed to me that if I tried I could poke
my fore-finger through him, and would find nothing inside but a little loose dirt, maybe. He, don't
you see, had been planning to be assistant-manager by and by under the present man, and I could see
315
that the coming of that Kurtz had upset them both not a little. He talked precipitately, and I did not
try to stop him. I had my shoulders against the wreck of my steamer, hauled up on the slope like a
carcass of some big river animal. The smell of mud, of primeval mud, by Jove! was in my nostrils,
the high stillness of primeval forest was before my eyes; there were shiny patches on the black creek.
The moon had spread over everything a thin layer of silver -- over the rank grass, over the mud, upon
the wall of matted vegetation standing higher than the wall of a temple, over the great river I could
see through a sombre gap glittering, glittering, as it flowed broadly by without a murmur. All this
was great, expectant, mute, while the man jabbered about himself. I wondered whether the stillness
on the face of the immensity looking at us two were meant as an appeal or as a menace. What were
we who had strayed in here? Could we handle that dumb thing, or would it handle us? I felt how big,
how confoundedly big, was that thing that couldn't talk, and perhaps was deaf as well. What was in
there? I could see a little ivory coming out from there, and I had heard Mr. Kurtz was in there. I had
heard enough about it, too -- God knows! Yet somehow it didn't bring any image with it -- no more
than if I had been told an angel or a fiend was in there. I believed it in the same way one of you might
believe there are inhabitants in the planet Mars. I knew once a Scotch sailmaker who was certain,
dead sure, there were people in Mars. If you asked him for some idea how they looked and behaved,
he would get shy and mutter something about 'walking on all-fours.' If you as much as smiled, he
would -- though a man of sixty -- offer to fight you. I would not have gone so far as to fight for
Kurtz, but I went for him near enough to a lie. You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not
because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death,
a flavour of mortality in lies -- which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world -- what I want to
forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do. Temperament, I
suppose. Well, I went near enough to it by letting the young fool there believe anything he liked to
imagine as to my influence in Europe. I became in an instant as much of a pretence as the rest of the
bewitched pilgrims. This simply because I had a notion it somehow would be of help to that Kurtz
whom at the time I did not see -- you understand. He was just a word for me. I did not see the man in
the name any more than you do. Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It
seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream -- making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream
can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a
tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very
essence of dreams. . ."
He was silent for a while.
". . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's
existence -- that which makes its truth, its meaning -- its subtle and penetrating essence. It is
impossible. We live, as we dream -- alone. . . ."
—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
316
He almorzado solo ahora, y no he tenido
madre, ni súplica, ni sírvete, ni agua,
ni padre que, en el facundo ofertorio
de los choclos, pregunte para su tardanza
de imagen, por los broches mayores del sonido.
Cómo iba yo a almorzar. Cómo me iba a servir
de tales platos distantes esas cosas,
cuando habráse quebrado el propio hogar,
cuando no asoma ni madre a los labios.
Cómo iba yo a almorzar nonada.
A la mesa de un buen amigo he almorzado
con su padre recién llegado del mundo,
con sus canas tías que hablan
en tordillo retinte de porcelana,
bisbiseando por todos sus viudos alvéolos;
y con cubiertos francos de alegres tiroriros,
porque estánse en su casa. Así, ¡qué gracia!
Y me han dolido los cuchillos
de esta mesa en todo el paladar.
El yantar de estas mesas así, en que se prueba
amor ajeno en vez del propio amor,
torna tierra el brocado que no brinda la
MADRE,
hace golpe la dura deglución; el dulce,
hiel; aceite funéreo, el café.
Cuando ya se ha quebrado el propio hogar,
y el sírvete materno no sale de la
tumba,
la cocina a oscuras, la miseria de amor.
—César Vallejo Trilce 28
317
-¿Qué gigantes? -dijo Sancho Panza.
-Aquellos que allí ves -respondió su amo- de los brazos largos, que los suelen tener algunos de casi
dos leguas.
-Mire vuestra merced -respondió Sancho- que aquellos que allí se parecen no son gigantes, sino
molinos de viento, y lo que en ellos parecen brazos son las aspas, que, volteadas del viento, hacen
andar la piedra del molino.
-Bien parece -respondió don Quijote- que no estás cursado en esto de las aventuras: ellos son
gigantes; y si tienes miedo, quítate de ahí, y ponte en oración en el espacio que yo voy a entrar con
ellos en fiera y desigual batalla.
Y, diciendo esto, dio de espuelas a su caballo Rocinante, sin atender a las voces que su escudero
Sancho le daba, advirtiéndole que, sin duda alguna, eran molinos de viento, y no gigantes, aquellos
que iba a acometer. Pero él iba tan puesto en que eran gigantes, que ni oía las voces de su escudero.
Sancho ni echaba de ver, aunque estaba ya bien cerca, lo que eran; antes, iba diciendo en voces altas:
-Non fuyades, cobardes y viles criaturas, que un solo caballero es el que os acomete.
Levantóse en esto un poco de viento y las grandes aspas comenzaron a moverse, lo cual visto por don
Quijote, dijo:
-Pues, aunque mováis más brazos que los del gigante Briareo, me lo habéis de pagar.
Y, en diciendo esto, y encomendándose de todo corazón a su señora Dulcinea, pidiéndole que en
tal trance le socorriese, bien cubierto de su rodela, con la lanza en el ristre, arremetió a todo el galope
de Rocinante y embistió con el primero molino que estaba delante; y, dándole una lanzada en el aspa,
la volvió el viento con tanta furia que hizo la lanza pedazos, lleván-dose tras sí al caballo y al
caballero, que fue rodando muy maltrecho por el campo. Acudió Sancho Panza a socorrerle, a todo el
correr de su asno, y
cuando llegó halló que no se podía menear: tal fue el golpe que dio con él Rocinante.
-¡Válame Dios! -dijo Sancho-. ¿No le dije yo a vuestra merced que mirase bien lo que hacía, que no
eran sino molinos de viento, y no lo podía ignorar sino quien llevase otros tales en la cabeza?
-Calla, amigo Sancho -respondió don Quijote-, que las cosas de la guerra, más que otras, están sujetas
a continua mudanza; cuanto más, que yo pienso, y es así verdad, que aquel sabio Frestón que me robó
el aposento y los libros ha vuelto estos gigantes en molinos por quitarme la gloria de su vencimiento:
tal es la enemistad que me tiene; mas, al cabo al cabo, han de poder poco sus malas artes contra la
bondad de mi espada.
-Dios lo haga como puede -respondió Sancho Panza.
Y, ayudándole a levantar, tornó a subir sobre Rocinante, que medio despaldado estaba. Y, hablando
en la pasada aventura, siguieron el camino del Puerto Lápice, porque allí decía don Quijote que no
era posible dejar de hallarse muchas y diversas aventuras, por ser lugar muy pasajero; sino que iba
muy pesaroso por haberle faltado la lanza; y, diciéndoselo a su escu-dero, le dijo:
-Yo me acuerdo haber leído que un caballero español, llamado Diego Pérez de Vargas, habiéndosele
en una batalla roto la espada, desgajó de una encina un pesado ramo o tronco, y con él hizo tales
cosas aquel día, y machacó tantos moros, que le quedó por sobrenombre Machuca, y así él como sus
decendientes se llamaron, desde aquel día en adelante, Vargas y Machuca. Hete dicho esto, porque de
la primera encina o roble que se me depare pienso desgajar otro tronco tal y tan bueno como aquél,
que me imagino y pienso hacer con él tales hazañas, que tú te tengas por bien afortunado de haber
merecido venir a vellas y a ser testigo de cosas que ap-enas podrán ser creídas.
-A la mano de Dios -dijo Sancho-; yo lo creo todo así como vuestra merced lo dice; pero enderécese
un poco, que parece que va de medio lado, y debe de ser del molimiento de la caída.
318
-Así es la verdad -respondió don Quijote-; y si no me quejo del dolor, es porque no es dado a los
caballeros andantes quejarse de herida alguna, aun-que se le salgan las tripas por ella.
-Si eso es así, no tengo yo qué replicar -respondió Sancho-, pero sabe Dios si yo me holgara que
vuestra merced se quejara cuando alguna cosa le do-liera. De mí sé decir que me he de quejar del más
pequeño dolor que tenga, si ya no se entiende también con los escuderos de los caballeros andantes
eso del no quejarse.
No se dejó de reír don Quijote de la simplicidad de su escudero; y así, le declaró que podía muy bien
quejarse, como y cuando quisiese, sin gana o con ella; que hasta entonces no había leído cosa en
contrario en la orden de caballería.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote 1, c.8
Pero era sobre todo en horas de las comidas cuando sufría más, en esa pequeña sala de laplanta
baja con la estufa que humeaba, la puerta que gemía, las paredes que trasudaban, los suelos húmedos;
toda la amargura de la existencia le parecía servida en su plato y con el humo de la sopa subían del
fondo de su alma como otras bocanadas de aplastamiento. Carlos era lento para comer; ella
mordisqueaba algunas nueces, o bien, apoyada en el codo, se entretenía haciendo rayas en el hule con
la punta de su cuchillo.
—Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, p.58
Stilitano smiled. I was lost. We sat down at a table. He had already begun to talk about the
Legion when staring hard at me, he suddenly broke off.
"I've got a feeling I've seen you somewhere before."
As for me, I had retained the memory.
I had to grab hold of invisible tackle. I could have cooed. Words, or the tone of my voice, would
have not merely expressed my ardor, i would not have merely sung, my throat would have uttered the
call of indeed the most amorous of wild game. Perhaps my neck would have bristled with white
feathers. A catastrophe is alwys possible. Metamorphosis lies in wait for us. Panic protected me.
I have lived in the fear of metamorphoses. It is in order to make the reader fully conscious, as he
sees love swooping down on me—it is not mere rhetoric which requires the comparison—like a
falcon—of the most exquisite of frights that I employ the idea of a turtle dove. I do not know what I
felt at the moment, but today all I need do is summon up the vision of Stilitano for my distress to
appear at once in the relationship of a cruel bird to its victim. (Were it not that I felt my neck swell
out with a gentle cooing. I would have spoken rather of a robin redbreast.)
A curious creature would appear if each of my emotions became the animal it evokes: anger
rumbles within my cobra neck; the same cobra swells up my prick; my steeds and merry-go-rounds
are born of my insolence... Of the turtle dove I retained only a hoarseness, which Stilitano noticed. I
coughed.
319
...
He stood barefoot in the dust. His legs were contained in a pair of worn and shabby faded blue
denim trousers. The sleeves of hus green shirt were rolled up, one of them above an amputated hand;
the wrist, where the resewn skin still revealed a pale, pink scar, was slightly shrunken.
Beneath a tragic sky, I was to cross the loveliest landscapes in the world when Stilitano took my
hand at night. What was the nature of that fluid which passed with a shock from him to me? I walked
along dangerous shores, emerged into dismal plains, heard the sea. Hardly had I touched him, when
the stairway changed: he was master of the world. With the memory of those brief moments, I could
describe to you walks, breathless flights, pursuits, in countries of the world where I shall never go.
—Jean Genet, The Thief's Journal
Los otros cuartos
apagaron la luz:
frío nocturno.
—Shiki, siglo XIX
--Mr Deasy told me to write them out all again, he said, and show them to you, sir.
Stephen touched the edges of the book. Futility.
--Do you understand how to do them now? he asked.
--Numbers eleven to fifteen, Sargent answered. Mr Deasy said I was to copy them off the board, sir.
--Can you do them. yourself? Stephen asked.
--No, sir.
Ugly and futile: lean neck and thick hair and a stain of ink, a snail's bed. Yet someone had loved him,
borne him in her arms and in her heart. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him
underfoot, a squashed boneless snail. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from her own.
Was that then real? The only true thing in life? His mother's prostrate body the fiery Columbanus in
holy zeal bestrode. She was no more: the trembling skeleton of a twig burnt in the fire, an odour of
rosewood and wetted ashes. She had saved him from being trampled underfoot and had gone,
scarcely having been. A poor soul gone to heaven: and on a heath beneath winking stars a fox, red
reek of rapine in his fur, with merciless bright eyes scraped in the earth, listened, scraped up the
earth, listened, scraped and scraped.
320
Sitting at his side Stephen solved out the problem. He proves by algebra that Shakespeare's ghost is
Hamlet's grandfather. Sargent peered askance through his slanted glasses. Hockeysticks rattled in the
lumberroom: the hollow knock of a ball and calls from the field.
Across the page the symbols moved in grave morrice, in the mummery of their letters, wearing quaint
caps of squares and cubes. Give hands, traverse, bow to partner: so: imps of fancy of the Moors.
Gone too from the world, Averroes and Moses Maimonides, dark men in mien and movement,
flashing in their mocking mirrors the obscure soul of the world, a darkness shining in brightness
which brightness could not comprehend.
--Do you understand now? Can you work the second for yourself?
--Yes, sir.
In long shaky strokes Sargent copied the data. Waiting always for a word of help his hand moved
faithfully the unsteady symbols, a faint hue of shame flickering behind his dull skin. AMOR
MATRIS: subjective and objective genitive. With her weak blood and wheysour milk she had fed
him and hid from sight of others his swaddling bands.
Like him was I, these sloping shoulders, this gracelessness. My childhood bends beside me. Too far
for me to lay a hand there once or lightly. Mine is far and his secret as our eyes. Secrets, silent, stony
sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their
tyranny: tyrants, willing to be dethroned.
The sum was done.
--It is very simple, Stephen said as he stood up.
--Yes, sir. Thanks, Sargent answered.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.31
321
Me moriré en París con aguacero,
un día del cual tengo ya el recuerdo.
Me moriré en París -y no me corrotal vez un jueves, como es hoy, de otoño.
Jueves será, porque hoy, jueves, que proso
estos versos, los húmeros me he puesto
a la mala y, jamás como hoy,me he vuelto,
con todo mi camino, a verme solo.
César Vallejo ha muerto, le pegaban
todos sin que él les haga nada;
le daban duro con un palo y duro
también con una soga; son testigos
los días jueves y los huesos húmeros,
la soledad, la lluvia, los caminos...
—César Vallejo, Piedra negra sobre una piedra blanca
En el jardín,
piedras por todo un día,
y así por siempre.
—Kioshi, siglo XX
Surely nothing is better than to take a train at night when all the inhabitants are asleep and to
drain from their unspoken tongue. When every one sleeps the mind is crowded with events; the mind
travels in a swarm, like summwe flies that are sucked along by the train.
Suddenly I am at the seashore and no recollection of the train stopping. No remembrance of it
departing even. Just swept up on the shore of the ocean like a comet.
Everything is sordid, shoddy, thin as pasteboard. A Coney Island of the mind. The amusement
shacks are running full blast, the shelves full of chinaware and dolls stuffed with straw and alarm
clocks and spittoomn. Every shop has three balls over it and every game is a ball game. The Jews
walk around in mackintoshes, the Japs are smiling, the air is full of chopped onions and sizzling
hamburguers. Jabber, jabber, and over it all in a muffled roar comes the steady hiss and boom of the
breakers, a long uninterrupted adenoidal wheeze that spreads a clammy catarrh over the dirty
shebang. Behind the pasteboard streetfront the breakers are ploughing up the night with luminous
argent teeth; the clams are lying on their backs squirting ozone from their anal orifices. In the oceanic
night Steeplechase looks like a wintry beard. Everything is sliding and crumbling, everything glitters,
totters, teeters, titters.
—Henry Miller, Into the night life..., Black Spring
322
Noche de invierno.
Con la sombra mía
escribo cosas mías.
—Seisensui, siglo XX
The report was this: that Bartleby had been a subordinate clerk in the Dead Letter Office at
Washington, from which he had been suddenly removed by a change in the administration. When I
think over this rumor, I cannot adequately express the emotions which seize me. Dead letters! does it
not sound like dead men? Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness,
can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters,
and assorting them for the flames? For by the cart-load they are annually burned. Sometimes from
out the folded paper the pale clerk takes a ring:--the finger it was meant for, perhaps, moulders in the
grave; a bank-note sent in swiftest charity:--he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers any
more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for
those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities. On errands of life, these letters speed to death.
—Herman Melville, Bartleby the scrivener
CAMINO A DAKAR
El aire es frio
El mar es de acero
El cielo es frio
Mi cuerpo es de acero
Adiós Europa que estoy dejando por primera vez desde 1914
Nada me interesa más a bordo tuyo que los emigrantes del “entrepuente”
judíos rusos vascos españoles portugueses y saltimbanquis alemanes que
extrañan París
Quiero olvidar todo no hablar nunca más tus lenguas y acostarme entre los negros
y las negras los indios y las indias los animales las plantas
Y tomar un baño y vivir en el agua
Y tomar un baño y vivir en el sol en compañía de un grueso bananero
Y amar el grueso “bourgeon” de esta planta
Segmentarme a mí mismo
y hacerme duro como un callo
Caer a pique
Llegar al fondo
—Blaise Cendrars
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The wind blows the line out from his fishing pole.
In a straw hat and grass cape the fisherman
Is invisible in the long reeds.
In the fine spring rain it is impossible to see very far
And the mist rising from the water has hidden the hills.
—Ou Yang Hsiu, Fisherman
Note: Drizzle and mist form an obstacle to seeing clearly, and this reminds us that a seeing
person—an observer—exists.
—Czeslaw Milosz, A book of luminous things
Así se apercibía el Lacio. Todo lo ve el héroe troyano y fluctúa en un mar de cuidados,
llevando ya aquí, ya allí su pensamiento, sin acertar a fijarlo en parte alguna. No de otra suerte la
trémula luz del sol o la imagen de la radiante luna, cuando reverbera en las aguas de un jarrón de
bronce, revolotea, iluminando todos los contornos, chispea en los aires y va a herir los artesones de la
encumbrada techumbre
Era la noche y un profundo sueño embargaba a los fatigados vivientes de la tierra y el mar
cuando el gran caudillo Eneas, turbado su pecho por un triste pensamiento de guerra, se tendió en la
ribera bajo la bóveda del éter helado, y concedió a sus miembros tardío descanso.
—Virgilio, Eneida, Libro 8
Meriggiare pallido e assorto
presso un rovente muro d' orto,
ascoltare tra i pruni e gli sterpi
schiocchi di merli, frusci di serpi.
Sestear pálido y absorto
junto al muro ardiente de un huerto;
escuchar entre espinos y zarzas
chasquidos de mirlos, susurros de víboras.
Nelle crepe del suolo o su la veccia
spiar le file di rosse formiche
ch' ora si rompono ed ora s' intrecciano
a sommo di minuscole biche.
En las grietas del suelo o entre los pastos
espiar las filas de rojas hormigas
que se rompen o se entrecruzan
en la cima de minúsculas parvas.
Osservare tra frondi il palpitare
lontano di scaglie di mare
mentre si levano tremuli scricchi
di cicale dai calvi picchi.
Observar entre ramajes el palpitar
lejano de escamas de mar
mientras se elevan trémulos chillidos
de cigarras desde calvos montes.
E andando nel sole che abbaglia
sentire con triste meraviglia
com' é tutta la vita e il suo travaglio
in questo seguitare una muraglia
che ha in cima cocci aguzzi di bottiglia.
Y caminando bajo el sol que deslumbra
sentir con triste maravilla
como es la vida entera y su penuria
en este andar continuo una muralla
que tiene encima pedacitos afilados de botella.
(Eugenio Montale, Ossi di seppia)
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Después de tantas horas de caminar sin encontrar ni una sombra de árbol, ni una semilla de
árbol, ni una raíz de nada, se oye el ladrar de los perros.
Uno ha creído a veces, en medio de este camino sin orillas, que nada habría después; que no se podría
encontrar nada al otro lado, al final de esta llanura rajada de grietas y de arroyos secos. Pero sí, hay
algo. Hay un pueblo. Se oye que ladran los perros y se siente en el aire el olor del humo, y se saborea
ese olor de la gente como si fuera una esperanza.
Pero el pueblo está todavía muy allá. Es el viento el que lo acerca.
Hemos venido caminando desde el amanecer. Ahorita son algo así como las cuatro de la tarde.
Alguien se asoma al cielo, estira los ojos hacia donde está colgado el sol y dice:
-Son como las cuatro de la tarde.
Ese alguien es Melitón. Junto con él, vamos Faustino, Esteban y yo. Somos cuatro. Yo los
cuento: dos adelante, otros dos atrás. Miro más atrás y no veo a nadie. Entonces me digo: "Somos
cuatro." Hace rato, como a eso de las once, éramos veintitantos, pero puñito a puñito se han ido
desperdigando hasta quedar nada más que este nudo que somos nosotros.
Faustino dice:
-Puede que llueva.
Todos levantamos la cara y miramos una nube negra y pesada que pasa por encima de nuestras
cabezas. Y pensamos: "Puede que sí."
No decimos lo que pensamos. Hace ya tiempo que se nos acabaron las ganas de hablar. Se nos
acabaron con el calor. Uno platicaría muy a gusto en otra parte, pero aquí cuesta trabajo. Uno platica
aquí y las palabras se calientan en la boca con el calor de afuera, y se le resecan a uno en la lengua
hasta que acaban con el resuello. Aquí así son las cosas. Por eso a nadie le da por platicar.
Cae una gota de agua, grande, gorda, haciendo un agujero en la tierra y dejando una plasta como
la de un salivazo. Cae sola. Nosotros esperamos a que sigan cayendo más y las buscamos con los
ojos. Pero no hay ninguna más. No llueve. Ahora si se mira el cielo se ve a la nube aguacera
corriéndose muy lejos, a toda prisa. El viento que viene del pueblo se le arrima empujándola contra
las sombras azules de los cerros. Y a la gota caída por equivocación se la come la tierra y la
desaparece en su sed.
¿Quién diablos haría este llano tan grande? ¿Para qué sirve, eh?
Hemos vuelto a caminar. Nos habíamos detenido para ver llover. No llovió. Ahora volvemos a
caminar. Y a mí se me ocurre que hemos caminado más de lo que llevamos andado. Se me ocurre
eso. De haber llovido quizá se me ocurrieran otras cosas. Con todo, yo sé que desde que yo era
muchacho, no vi llover nunca sobre el llano, lo que se llama llover.
—Juan Rulfo, "NOS HAN DADO LA TIERRA"
Soldados
(Bosco di Courton, julio de 1918)
Se está como
de otoño
sobre los árboles
las hojas
Ungaretti ,Soldati (Bosco di Courton luglio 1918) Si stà come /d´autunno /sugli alberi /le foglie
325
LIGHTNESS
(De—Italo Calvino, Seis propuestas para el próximo milenio)
The weight, the inertia, the opacity of the world are qualities that stick to writing from the start,
unless one finds some way of evading them.
Perseus succeeds in mastering that horrendous face (Medusa's) by keeping it hidden, just as in the
first place he vanquished it by viewing it in a mirror. Perseu's strenght always lies in which he is
fated to live; he carries the reality with him and accepts it as his particular burden.
On the relationship between Perseus and Medusa, we can learn something more from Ovid's
Metamorphoses. Perseus wins another battle: he hacks a sea-monster to pieces with his sword and
sets Andromeda free. Now he prepares to do what any of us would do after such an awful chore—he
wnts to wash his hands. But another problem arises: where to put Medusa's head. And here Ovid has
some lines (IV.740-752) that seem to me extraordinary in showing how much delicacy of spirit a man
must have to be a Perseus, killer of monsters: "So that the rough sand should not harm the snakehaired head, he makes the ground soft with a bed of leaves, and on top of that he strews little
branches of plants born under water, and on this he places Medusa's head, face down." I think that the
lightness, of which Perseus is the hero, could not be better represented than by this gesture of
refreshing courtesy toward a being so monstrous and terrifying yet at the same time somehow fragile
and perishable.
Eugenio Montale, in his 'Piccolo Testamento', also finds the subtlest of elements—they could stand
as symbols of his poetry: "traccia madreperlacea di lumaca / o smeriglio di vetro calpestato" (motherof-pearl trace of a snail / or mica of crushe glass)—put up against a fearful, hellish monster, a Lucifer
with pitch-black wings who descends upon the cities of the West. (...) It is those minute, luminous
tracings that are placed in the foreground and set in contrast to dark catastrophe— "Conservane la
cipria nello spechietto / quando spenta ogni lampada / la sardana si fara infernale" (Keep its ash in
your compact / when every lamp is out / and the sardana becomes infernal).
The De Rerum Natura of Lucretius is the first great work of poetry in which knowledge of the world
tends to dissolve the solidity of the world, leading to a perception of all that is infinitely minute, light,
and mobile. (...) [Lucretius] is the poet of physical concreteness, viewed in its permanent and
immutable substance, but the first thing he tells us is that emptiness is just as concrete as solid bodies.
(...) The poetry of the invisible, of infinite unexpected possibilities—even the poetry of
nothingness—issues from a poet who had no doubts whatever about the physical reality of the world.
"The most diminutive bodies that rouse our sensitive response are much too gross, too large, to
indicate the closeness of the intervals wherein the motes of spirit are held. We seldom feel a single
speck of dust, a grain of chalk on thumb or finger-tip, the mist at night, a spider's gossamer thread
across our wlk, bird's feathers, flying thistledown, all things so light they make hard work of a
descent. We do not sense each footfall of the gnat, each loop of the measuring-worm across a
forearm."
—Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Book III, 383 ss.
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"A little thing can often show us what a great one's like, and that's not all the story, either. Look!—
Those motes in the sunlight, by their restlessness, tell you there's motion, hidden and unseen, in what
seems solid matter. As they bounce, change course, come back, here, there, and every which way,
you may be sure this restlessness is given by their essential core, atomic essence, from just these firstbeginnings."
—Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Book II, 119 ss.
For Ovid, too, everything can be transformed into something else, and knowledge of the world means
dissolving the solidity of the world. And also for him there is an essential parity between everything
that exists, as opposes to any sort of hierarchy of powers or values.
Cavalcanti
The most felicitous example of cvalcanti's leveling of things we find in a sonnet that begins with a
list of images of beauty, all destined to be surpassed by the beauty of the beloved woman:
Bilta di donna e di saccente core
e cavalieri armati che sien genti;
cantar d'augelli e ragionar d'amore;
adorni legni 'n mar forte correnti;
aria serena quand'apar l'albore
e bianca neve scender senza venti;
rivera d'acqua e prato d'ogni fiore;
oro, argento, azzuro 'n ornamenti
Beauty of woman and of wise hearts, and gentle knights in armor; the song of birds and the discourse
of love; bright ships moving swiftly on the sea; clear air when the dawn appears, and white snow
falling without wind; stream of water and meadow with every flower; gold, silver, azure in
ornaments.
The line "e bianca neve scender senza venti" is taken up with a few modifications by Dante in Inferno
XIV.30: "Come di neve in alpe sanza vento" (As snow falls in the mountains without wind). The two
lines are almost identical, but they express two completely different concepts. In both the snow on
windless days suggests a light, silent movement. But here the resemblance ends. In Dante the line is
dominated by the specification of the place ("in alpe"), which gives us a mountainous landscape,
whereas in Cavalcanti the adjective "bianca," which may seem pleonastic, together with the verb
"fall" —also completely predictable— dissolve the landscape into an atmosphere of suspended
abstraction. (...) In Cavalcanti everything moves so swiftly that we are unaware of its consistency and
stability: the weight of things is precisely established. Even when he is speaking of light things,
Dante seems to want to render the exact weight of this lightness: "come di neve in alpe sanza vento."
In another very similar line the weight of a body sinking into water and disappearing is, as it were,
held back and slowed down: "Come per acua cupa cosa grave" (Like some heavy thing in deep water;
Paradiso III.123).
327
I have relied on Cavalcanti for examples of lightness in at least three different senses. First there is a
lightening of language whereby meaning is conveyed through a verbal texture that seems weightless,
until the meaning itself takes on the same rarified consistency.
Ex.:
A sepal, petal and a thorn
Unpon a common summer's morn—
A flask of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breese—a caper in the trees—
And I'm a Rose!
—Emily Dickinson
Second, there is the narration of a train of thought or psycological process in which subtle and
imperceptible elements are at work, or any kind of description that involves ahigh degree of
abstraction.
Third there is a visual image of lightness that acquires emblematic value. Some literary inventions
are impressed on our memories by their verbal implications rather than by their actual words. The
scene in which Don Quixote drives his lance through the sail of a windmill and is hoisted up into the
air takes only a few lines in Cervantes' novel. One might even say that the author put only a minimal
fraction of his resources into the passage. In spite of this, it remains one of the most famous passages
in all of literature.
Melancholy and Humor
The weightless gravity I have spoken of with regard to Cavalcanti reappears in the age of Cervantes
and Shakespeare. As melancholy is sadness that has taken on lightness, so humor is comedy that has
lost its bodily weight (a dimension of human carnality that nonetheless constitutes the greatness of
Boccaccio and Rabelais). It casts dobt on the self, on the world, and on the whole network of
relationships that are at stake. (...) Jaques, in As you Like It (IV.i.15-18), defines melancholy in these
terms: "but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many
objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, which, by often rumination, wraps me in
a most humorous sadness." It is therefore not a dense, opaque melancholy, but a veil of minute
particles of humours and sensations, a fine dust of atoms, like everything else that goes to make up
the ultimate substance of the multiplicity of things.
(...) the use of words as I understand it; that is, words as a perpetual pursuit of things, as a perpetual
adjustement to their infinite variety.
—Italo Calvino, Seis propuestas para el próximo milenio
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"Why write about a man getting into a submarine andgoing to the North Pole to reconcile himself to
the world, while his beloved at that moment throws herself with a hysterical shriek from the belfry?
All this is untrue and does not happen in real life. One must write about simple things: how Peter
Semionovich married maria Ivanovna. That is all.
— Chekhov
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Robert Frost)
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark , and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The lines are so perfect that we hardly think of a trick. (...) The second time —"And miles tog o
before I sleep"—we are made to feel that the miles are not only in space but in time, and that "sleep"
means "die" or "rest". Had the poet said it in so many words, he would have been far less effective.
Because, as I understand it, anything suggested is far more effective than anything laid down.
Perhaps the human mind has a tendency to deny a statement. Remember what Emerson said:
arguments convince nobody. They convince nobody because they are presented as arguments. Then
we look at them, we weigh them, we turn them over, and we decide against them.
But when something is merely said or—better still—hinted at, there is a kind of hospitality in
our imagination. We are ready to accept it.
(Borges, This craft of verse, II)
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I think that philosophy helps you to live. For example, if you think of life as a dream, there may be
something gruesome or uncanny about it, and you may sometimes feel that you are living in a
nightmare, but if you think of reality as something hard and fast, that's still worse, no? I think that
philosophy may give the world a kind of haziness, but that haziness is all to the good. If you're a
materialist, if you believe in hard and fast things, then you're tied down by reality, or by what you
call reality. So that, in a sense, philosophy dissolves reality, but as reality is not always too pleasant,
you will be helped by that dissolution. Well, those are very obvious thoughts, of course, though they
are none the less true for being obvious.
—Borges, Conversations... (Burgin), 156
A work of art must carry in itself its complete significance and impose it upon the beholder even
before he can identify the subject matter.
—Matisse, Theories of Modern Art, 135
The Bay of Tsunu
In the sea of Iwami
Has no fine beaches
And is not considered beautiful.
Perhaps it is not,
But we used to walk
By the sea of the whale fishers
Over the rocky shingle of Watazu
Where the wind blows
The green jewelled seaweed
Like wings quivering in the morning,
And the waves rock the kelp beds
Like wings quivering in the evening.
Just as the sea tangle sways and floats
At one with the waves,
So my girl clung to me
As she lay by my side.
Now I had to leave her,
To fade like the hoarfrost.
I looked back ten thousand times
At every turn of the road.
Our village fell away,
Farther and farther away.
The mountains rose between us,
Steeper and steeper.
I know she thinks of me, far off,
And wilts with longing, like summer grass.
Maybe if the mountains would bow down
I could see her again,
Standing in our doorway.
—Hitomaro, 7th century.
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XENIA I
1
Dear little Mosca,
so they called you, I don't know why,
this evening almost in the dark,
while I was reading Deutero-Isaiah
you reappeared beside me,
but without your glasses,
so that you could not see me,
nor could I recognize you in the haze
without that glitter.
XENIA II
5
He descendido, dándote el brazo, por lo menos un millón de escaleras
y ahora que no estás hay un vacío en cada escalón.
También así fue breve nuestro largo viaje.
El mío dura todavía, ni siquiera me suceden
las coincidencias, las reservaciones,
las trampas, las afrentas de quien cree
que la realidad sea aquella que se ve.
He descendido millones de escaleras dándote el brazo
no ya porque con cuatro ojos tal vez se ve más.
Contigo las he descendido porque sabía que de nosotros dos
las solas verdaderas pupilas, aunque tan ofuscadas,
eran las tuyas.
II,5 Ho sceso, dandoti il braccio, almeno un milione di scale / e ora che non ci sei è il / vuoto a ogni
gradino. / Anche così è stato breve il nontro lungo viaggio. / Il mio dura tuttora, né più mi occorrono
/ le coincidenze, le prenotazioni, / le trappole, gli scorni di chi crede / che la realtà sia quella che si
vede. // Ho sceso milioni di scale dandoti il braccio / non già perché con quattr’occhi forse si vede di
più. / Con te le ho scese perché sapevo che di noi due / le sole vere pupille, sebbene tanto offuscate, /
erano le tue.
—Eugenio Montale
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What I heard was but the melody of children at play, nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that
within this vapor of blended voices, majestic and minute, remote and magically near, frank and
divinely enugmatic—one could hear now and then, as if released, an almost articulate spurt of vivid
laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a toy wagon, but it was all really too far for the eye to
distinguish any movement in the lightly etched streets. I stood listening to that musical vibration from
my loftly slope, to those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background, and
then I knew that the hoplessly poignant thing was not Lolita's absence from my side, but the abscence
of her voice from that concord. —Nabokov, Lolita, 308
Levou-s’ louçana, levou-s’a velida:
vay lavar cabelos, na fontana fria.
Leda dos amores, dos amores leda.
Levou-s’a velida, levou-s’a louçana:
vay lavar cabelos, na fria fontana.
Leda dos amores, dos amores leda.
Vai lavar cabelos, na fontana fria:
passou seu amigo, que lhi ben queria.
Leda dos amores, dos amores leda.
Vay lavar cabelos, na fria fontana:
passa seu amigo, que a muyt’amava.
Leda dos amores, dos amores leda.
Passa seu amigo, que lhi ben queria:
o cervo do monte a áugua volvia.
Leda dos amores, dos amores leda.
Passa seu amigo, que a muyt’ amava:
o cervo do monte volvia a áugua.
Leda dos amores, dos amores leda.
—Pero Meogo, siglo XI
Traducción parcial:
1) Se levantó la lozana, se levantó la hermosa/ va a lavar sus cabellos a la fuente fría,
/ feliz de sus amores, de sus amores feliz.....
3) Va a lavar sus cabellos a la fuente fría/ pasa su amigo que bien la quería/...
5) Pasa su amigo que bien la quería/ el ciervo del monte revolvía el agua/...)
Las imágenes son introducidas poco a poco, con la lentitud del alba, del mundo que despierta. Las
acciones de los personajes—la doncella, el amante y el ciervo— pasan desapercibidas. El lavado del
pelo en la fuente, el ciervo, etc., tienen connotaciones sexuales en la simbología medieval; pero todo
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queda sin ser dicho, las acciones no tienen consecuencia, salvo por la arquitectura leve que deja
traslucir el sentido.
PROSPERO. You do look, my son, in a mov'd sort,
As if you were dismay'd; be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
—William Shakespeare, The Tempest
At Oreanda they sat on a seat not far from the church, looked down at the sea, and were silent.
Yalta was hardly visible through the morning mist; white clouds stood motionless on the mountaintops. The leaves did not stir on the trees, grasshoppers chirruped, and the monotonous hollow sound
of the sea rising up from below, spoke of the peace, of the eternal sleep awaiting us. So it must have
sounded when there was no Yalta, no Oreanda here; so it sounds now, and it will sound as
indifferently and monotonously when we are all no more. And in this constancy, in this complete
indifference to the life and death of each of us, there lies hid, perhaps, a pledge of our eternal
salvation, of the unceasing movement of life upon earth, of unceasing progress towards perfection.
Sitting beside a young woman who in the dawn seemed so lovely, soothed and spellbound in these
magical surroundings -- the sea, mountains, clouds, the open sky -- Gurov thought how in reality
everything is beautiful in this world when one reflects: everything except what we think or do
ourselves when we forget our human dignity and the higher aims of our existence.
A man walked up to them -- probably a keeper -- looked at them and walked away. And this
detail seemed mysterious and beautiful, too. They saw a steamer come from Theodosia, with its
lights out in the glow of dawn.
"There is dew on the grass," said Anna Sergeyevna, after a silence.
"Yes. It's time to go home."
—Chekhov, The lady with the dog
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Referring to snow
Having met you as in a dream,
I feel I would dissolve, body and soul,
Like the snow that falls,
Darkening the heavens.
—Anonymous, Japan
-El rey es mi gallo: a Camacho me atengo.
-En fin -dijo don Quijote-, bien se parece, Sancho, que eres villano y de aquéllos que dicen: “¡Viva
quien vence!”
-No sé de los que soy -respondió Sancho-, pero bien sé que nunca de ollas de Basilio sacaré yo tan
elegante espuma como es esta que he sacado de las de Camacho.
Y enseñóle el caldero lleno de gansos y de gallinas, y, asiendo de una, comenzó a comer con mucho
donaire y gana, y dijo:
-¡A la barba de las habilidades de Basilio!, que tanto vales cuanto tienes, y tanto tienes cuanto vales.
Dos linajes solos hay en el mundo, como decía una agüela mía, que son el tener y el no tener, aunque
ella al del tener se atenía; y el día de hoy, mi señor don Quijote, antes se toma el pulso al haber que al
saber: un asno cubierto de oro parece mejor que un caballo enalbardado. Así que vuelvo a decir que a
Camacho me atengo, de cuyas ollas son abundantes espumas gansos y gallinas, liebres y conejos; y
de las de Basilio serán, si viene a mano, y aunque no venga sino al pie, aguachirle.
-¿Has acabado tu arenga, Sancho? -dijo don Quijote.
-Habréla acabado -respondió Sancho-, porque veo que vuestra merced recibe pesadumbre con ella;
que si esto no se pusiera de por medio, obra había cortada para tres días.
-Plega a Dios, Sancho -replicó don Quijote-, que yo te vea mudo antes que me muera.
-Al paso que llevamos -respondió Sancho-, antes que vuestra merced se muera estaré yo mascando
barro, y entonces podrá ser que esté tan mudo que no hable palabra hasta la fin del mundo, o, por lo
menos, hasta el día del Juicio.
-Aunque eso así suceda, ¡oh Sancho! -respondió don Quijote-, nunca llegará tu silencio a do ha
llegado lo que has hablado, hablas y tienes de hablar en tu vida; y más, que está muy puesto en razón
natural que primero llegue el día de mi muerte que el de la tuya; y así, jamás pienso verte mudo, ni
aun cuando estés bebiendo o durmiendo, que es lo que puedo encarecer.
-A buena fe, señor -respondió Sancho-, que no hay que fiar en la descarnada, digo, en la muerte, la
cual también come cordero como carnero; y a nuestro cura he oído decir que con igual pie pisaba las
altas torres de los reyes como las humildes chozas de los pobres. Tiene esta señora más de poder que
de melindre: no es nada asquerosa, de todo come y a todo hace, y de toda suerte de gentes, edades y
preeminencias hinche sus alforjas. No es
segador que duerme las siestas, que a todas horas siega, y corta así la seca como la verde yerba; y no
parece que masca, sino que engulle y traga cuanto se le pone delante, porque tiene hambre canina,
que nunca se harta; y, aunque no tiene barriga, da a entender que está hidrópica y sedienta de beber
solas las vidas de cuantos viven, como quien se bebe un jarro de agua fría.
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-No más, Sancho -dijo a este punto don Quijote-. Tente en buenas, y no te dejes caer; que en verdad
que lo que has dicho de la muerte por tus rústicos términos es lo que pudiera decir un buen
predicador. Dígote, Sancho que si como tienes buen natural y discreción, pudieras tomar un púlpito
en la mano y irte por ese mundo predicando lindezas...
-Bien predica quien bien vive -respondió Sancho-, y yo no sé otras tologías.
-Ni las has menester -dijo don Quijote-; pero yo no acabo de entender ni alcanzar cómo, siendo el
principio de la sabiduría el temor de Dios, tú, que temes más a un lagarto que a Él, sabes tanto.
-Juzgue vuesa merced, señor, de sus caballerías -respondió Sancho-, y no se meta en juzgar de los
temores o valentías ajenas, que tan gentil temeroso soy yo de Dios como cada hijo de vecino; y
déjeme vuestra merced despabilar esta espuma, que lo demás todas son palabras ociosas, de que nos
han de pedir cuenta en la otra vida.
Y, diciendo esto, comenzó de nuevo a dar asalto a su caldero, con tan buenos alientos que despertó
los de don Quijote, y sin duda le ayudara, si no lo impidiera lo que es fuerza se diga adelante.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.20
Algunos dicen que la palabra «odradek» precede del esloveno, y sobre esta base tratan de establecer
su etimología. Otros, en cambio, creen que es de origen alemán, con alguna influencia del esloveno.
Pero la incertidumbre de ambos supuestos despierta la sospecha de que ninguno de los dos sea
correcto, sobre todo porque no ayudan a determinar el sentido de esa palabra.
Como es lógico, nadie se preocuparía por semejante investigación si no fuera porque existe realmente
un ser llamado Odradek. A primera vista tiene el aspecto de un carrete de hilo en forma de estrella
plana. Parece cubierto de hilo, pero más bien se trata de pedazos de hilo, de los tipos y colores más
diversos, anudados o apelmazados entre sí. Pero no es únicamente un carrete de hilo, pues de su
centro emerge un pequeño palito, al que está fijado otro, en ángulo recto. Con ayuda de este último,
por un lado, y con una especie de prolongación que tiene uno de los radios, por el otro, el conjunto
puede sostenerse como sobre dos patas.
Uno siente la tentación de creer que esta criatura tuvo, tiempo atrás, una figura más razonable y que
ahora está rota. Pero éste no parece ser el caso; al menos, no encuentro ningún indicio de ello; en
ninguna parte se ven huellas de añadidos o de puntas de rotura que pudieran darnos una pista en ese
sentido; aunque el conjunto es absurdo, parece completo en sí. Y no es posible dar más detalles,
porque Odradek es muy movedizo y no se deja atrapar.
Habita alternativamente bajo la techumbre, en escalera, en los pasillos y en el zaguán. A veces no se
deja ver durante varios meses, como si se hubiese ido a otras casas, pero siempre vuelve a la nuestra.
A veces, cuando uno sale por la puerta y lo descubre arrimado a la baranda, al pie de la escalera,
entran ganas de hablar con él. No se le hacen preguntas difíciles, desde luego, porque, como es tan
pequeño, uno lo trata como si fuera un niño.
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-¿Cómo te llamas? -le pregunto.
-Odradek -me contesta.
-¿Y dónde vives?
-Domicilio indeterminado -dice y se ríe. Es una risa como la que se podría producir si no se tuvieran
pulmones. Suena como el crujido de hojas secas, y con ella suele concluir la conversación. A veces ni
siquiera contesta y permanece tan callado como la madera de la que parece hecho.
En vano me pregunto qué será de él. ¿Acaso puede morir? Todo lo que muere debe haber tenido
alguna razón be ser, alguna clase de actividad que lo ha desgastado. Y éste no es el caso de Odradek.
¿Acaso rodará algún día por la escalera, arrastrando unos hilos ante los pies de mis hijos y de los
hijos de mis hijos? No parece que haga mal a nadie; pero casi me resulta dolorosa la idea de que me
pueda sobrevivir.
—Franz Kafka, Las preocupaciones de un padre de familia
Now to meet only in dreams,
Bitterly seeking,
Starting from sleep,
Groping in the dark
With hands that touch nothing.
—Yakamochi, 8th century
MACBETH. Say from whence
You owe this strange intelligence, or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.
(Witches vanish.)
BANQUO. The earth hath bubbles as the water has,
And these are of them. Whither are they vanish'd?
MACBETH. Into the air, and what seem'd corporal melted
As breath into the wind. Would they had stay'd!
—William Shakespeare, Macbeth 1.3
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Invocation of the Creator
He is patient, he is not angry.
He sits in silence to pass judgement.
He sees you even when he is not looking.
He stays in a far place—but his eyes are on the toen.
He stands by his children and lests them succeed.
He causes them to laugh—and they laugh.
Ohoho—the father of laughter.
His eye is full of joy.
He rests in the sky like a swarm of bees.
Obatala—who turns blood into children.
—Yoruba Tribe.
The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
—Li Po, 8th century
The rain's pounding away
at the rusty eaves.
Twirling, sliding bubbling foam—
well, that's rain.
You too, and I should walk now
as free as that
on cloud, on air, the weadow
and the vapor roads.
Move around up there and here below
like this liquid thing,
flowing into human life on rooftops
and on shoes.
—Sandor Weores, (Hungarian), Rain
337
I
Recuerde el alma dormida,
avive el seso y despierte
contemplando
cómo se pasa la vida,
cómo se viene la muerte
tan callando,
cuán presto se va el placer,
cómo, después de acordado,
da dolor;
cómo, a nuestro parecer,
cualquiera tiempo pasado
fue mejor.
II
Pues si vemos lo presente
cómo en un punto se es ido
y acabado,
si juzgamos sabiamente,
daremos lo no venido
por pasado.
No se engañe nadie, no,
pensando que ha de durar
lo que espera
mas que duró lo que vio,
pues que todo ha de pasar
por tal manera.
III
Nuestras vidas son los ríos
que van a dar en la mar,
que es el morir,
allí van los señoríos
derechos a se acabar
y consumir;
allí los ríos caudales,
allí los otros medianos
y más chicos,
y llegados, son iguales
los que viven por sus manos
y los ricos.
—Jorge Manrique, Coplas para la muerte de su padre
338
Marchaban en grupos iguales y cantando a su rey:
como los cisnes de nieve entre nubes transparentes
cuando vuelven de comer y de sus largos cuellos
salen cantos melodiosos con los que resuena el río
y repiten, lejanos, los ecos en la laguna de Asia.
Nadie, al ver tal muchedumbre, la hubiera tomado
por un ejército cubierto de hierrro, sino por una aérea
nube de roncas aves que, desde la alta mar,
se precipitan a las playas.
—Virgilio, Eneida Libro 7
En el rincón aquel, donde dormimos juntos
tantas noches, ahora me he sentado
a caminar. La cuja de los novios difuntos
fue sacada, o tal vez que habrá pasado.
Has venido temprano a otros asuntos
y ya no estás. Es el rincón
donde a tu lado, leí una noche,
entre tus tiernos puntos
un cuento de Daudet. Es el rincón
amado. No lo equivoques.
Me he puesto a recordar los días
de verano idos, tu entrar y salir,
poca y harta y pálida por los cuartos.
En esta noche pluviosa,
ya lejos de ambos dos, salto de pronto...
Son dos puertas abriéndose cerrándose,
dos puertas que al viento van y vienen
sombra
a sombra.
— César Vallejo, Trilce 15
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QUICKNESS
Speed, for example, of horses, whether seen or experienced, that is, when they are carrying you... is
most pleasurable in itself; that is, for the vivacity, the energy, the strenght, the sheer life of such a
feeling. Indeed it almost gives you an idea of infinite—elevates the soul, fortifies it.
Speed and concisness of style please us because they present the mind with a rush of ideas that are
simultaneous, or that follow each other so quickly they seem simultaneous, and set the mind afloat on
such an abundance of thoughts or images or spiritual feelings that either cannot embrace them all,
each one fully, or it has no time to be idle and empty of feelings. The power of poetic style, which is
largely the same thing as rapidity, is pleasing for these effects alone and consists in nothing else. The
excitement of simultaneous ideas may arise either from each isolated word, whether literal or
metaphorical, from their arrangement, from the turn of a phrase, or even from the suppression of
other words and phrases.
—Leopardi, Zibaldone
What the Odyssey was for Joyce in Ulysses, the Divine Comedy is for Beckett in almost everything
he writes. (...) The Purgatorial situation has long interested Beckett:
"In what sense, then, is Mr. Joyce's work purgatorial? In the absolute absence of the Absolute. Hell is
the static lifelessness of unrelieved viciousness. Paradise the static lifelessness of unrelieved
immaculation. Purgatory a flood of movement and vitality released by the conjunction of these two
elements." (Beckett; Dante...Bruno. Vico. Joyce.)
—O'Hara,
Introduction, Beckett Criticism
The Münter Collection includes several such drawings in pen and ink or in pencil. Their crisscrossing lines, some spidery and sharp, some softly blurred, shoot across the paper singly or in
tangles, like the traces of sudden energy discharges, suggestive only of motion or tension, not of
body.
—Herbert Read, on Kandinsky, A concise history of modern painting
It is a long trip. We are the only riders. So that is how we have come to know each other so well that
the sound of his voice and his image flickering over the tape recorder are as familiar to me as the
movement of my intestines the sound of my breathing the beating of my heart. Not that we love or
even like each other. In fact murder is never out of my eyes when I look at him. And murder is never
out of his eyes when he looks at me. Murder under a carbide lamp in Puya rain outside it's a mighty
340
wet place drinking aguardiente with tea and canella to cut that kerosene taste he called me a drunken
son of a bitch and there it was across the table raw and bloody as a fresh used knife.. sitting torpid
and quiescent in a canvas chair after reading last month's Sunday comics "the jokes" he called them
and read every word it sometimes took him a full hour by a tidal river in Mexico slow murder in his
eyes maybe fifteen years later I see the move he made then he was good amateur chess player it took
up most of his time actually but he had plenty of that. I offered to play him once he looked at me and
smiled and said: "You wouldn't stand a chance with me."
His smile was the most unattractive thing about him or a t least it was one of the unattractive
things about him it split his face open and something quite alien like a predatory mollusk looked out
different well I took his queen in the first two minutes of play by making completely random moves.
He won the game without his queen. I had made my point and lost interest. Panama under the ceiling
fans, on the cold winds of Chimborazo, across the rubble of Lima, steaming up from the mud streets
of Esmeraldas that flat synthetic vulgar CIA voice of his.. basically he was completely hard and selfseeking and thought entirely in terms of position and advantage an effective but severely limited
intelligence. Thinking on any other level simply did not interest him. He was by the way very cruel
but not addicted to the practice of cruelty. He was cruel if the opportunity presented itself. Then he
smiled his eyes narrowed and his sharp little ferret teeth showed between his thin lips which were a
blue purple color in a smooth yellow face. But then who am I to be critical few things in my own past
I'd just as soon forget..
(...)
My attempts to murder him were usually direct.. knife.. gun .. in some one elses hand of course I had
no intention of getting into social difficulties.. car accident.. drowning.. once a shark surfaced in my
mind as he plunged from a boat into the tidal river.. I will go his aid and clutch his torn dying body in
my arms like a vise he will be too weak from loss of blood to fight me off and my face will be his last
picture. He always planned that his face should be my last picture...
—William
Burroughs, The ticket that exploded.
The novella is a horse, a means of transport with its own pace, a trot or a gallop according to the
distance and the ground it has to travel over.
A swift piece of reasoning is not necessarily better than a long-pondered one. Far from it. But it
communicates something special that is derived simply from its very swifness. (Ex. Folktales).
Among Chuang-tzu's many skills, he was an expert draftsman. The king asked him to draw a crab.
Chuang-tzu replied that he neede five years, a country house, and twelve servants. Five years later the
drawing was still not begun. "I need another five years," said Chuang-tzu. The king granted them. At
the end of these ten years, Cuang-tzu took up his brush and, in an instant, with a sigle stroke, he drew
a crab, the most perfect crab ever seen.
—Italo Calvino, Seis propuestas para el próximo milenio
341
Gilgamesh comprendió que el anciano no tenía fórmula alguna que darle. Era inmortal, pero sólo
por favor único de los dioses. Lo que Gilgamesh buscaba no lo hallaría de este lado de la tumba.
Antes de despedirse, el viejo le dijo al héroe dónde podía hallar una estrella de mar con espinas
de rosa. ¡La planta otorgaba a quien la saboreara una nueva juventud! Gilgamesh la obtuvo del fondo
del océano, pero cuando descansaba de su esfuerzo, una serpiente se la robó, la comió, se desprendió
de su vieja piel y recobró la juventud.
Gilgamesh advirtió que su destino no difería del destino del resto de la humanidad, y regresó a
Erech.
—Cantar de Gilgamesh, Babilonia, segundo milenio A.C.
Let us develop this idea, let us take a little trip into the land of deeper insight, following a
topographic plan. The dead center being the point, our first dynamic line, or the line. After a short
time, we shall stop to catch our breath (the broken line, or the line articulated by several stops. I look
back to see how far we have come (counter-movement). Ponder the distance thus far traveled (sheaf
of lines). A river may obstruct our progress: we use a boat (wavy line). Further on there might be a
bridge (series of curves). On the other bank we encounter someone who, like us wishes to deepen his
insight. At first we joyfully travel together (convergence), but gradually differences arise (two lines,
dynamism, emotional quality of the line).
We cross an unemplowed field (a plane traversed by lines), then thick woods. One of us loses his
way, explores, and on one occasion even goes through the motions of a hound following a scent. Nor
am I entirely sure of myself: there is another river, and fog rises above it (spatial element). But then
the view is clear again. Basket-weavers return home with their cart (the wheel). Among them is a
child with bright curls (corkscrew movement). Later it becomes sultry and dark (spatial element).
There is a flash of lighting on the horizon (zigzag line), though we can still see stars overhead
(scattered dots). Soon we reach our first quarters. Before falling asleep, we recall a number of things,
for even so little a trip has left many impressions—lines of the most various kinds, spots, dabs,
smooth planes, dotted planes, lined planes, wavy lines, obstructed and articulated movement,
counter-movement, plaintings, weavings, bricklike elements, scalelike elements, simple and
polyphonic motifs, lines that fade and lines that gain strenght (dynamism), the joyful harmony of the
first stretch, followed by inhibitions, nervousness! Repressed anxieties, alternating with moments of
optimism caused by a breath of air. Before the storm, sudden assault by horseflies! The fury, the
killing. The happy ending serves as a guilding thread even in the dark woods. The flashes of lightning
made us think of a fever chart, of a sick child long ago.
—Paul Klee, Creative Credo
342
En la época anterior a la Creación, Ráhab, Príncipe del Mar, se rebeló conra Dios. Cuando
ordenó: "Abre tu boca, Príncipe del Mar, y traga todas las aguas del mundo", él exclamó: "¡Señor del
Universo, déjame en paz!". Inmediatamente Dios lo mató a patadas y hundió su cadaver bajo las
aguas, pues ningún animal terrestre podía soportar su hedor.
—Robert Graves, Mitos Hebreos, 6
No es, de su parte, impostura ni cinismo, sino pura credulidad. San Eloy (...) obispo y ministro,
cuando en la iglesia de Santa Colomba se comete un robo, en París, se precipita al altar y apostrofa a
la Santa: "¡Oye bien lo que voy a decir, Santa Colomba! Si o haces que devuelvan todo lo robado,
haré cerrar las puertas de la iglesia y se acabó tu culto!"
La eficacia de los santos está, no cabe duda, en los pedazos de sus huesos, y a falta de ellos, en
los objetos que les pertenecieron; y a falta también de esto... (...) El distingudo obispo Gregorio
celebra en estos términos el polvo acumulado en la tumba de su Santo: "¡Oh, celeste purga que
supera las recetas de todos los médicos, que limpia los intestinos como la esencia de escamoza y que
lava la conciencia de todas sus manchas!"
De Siria llegó una técnica más moderna: los felices poseedores de un santo cadáver adaptan
a la caja un depósito en la parte alta, y un grifo en la más baja: se vierte óleo, se sustrae perfumado
con las virtudes del muerto, y se vende magníficamente.
—Jean Duché, Historia de la Humanidad
Luego fui a reunirme con Rita Bettencourt y la llevé al apartamento. Nos metimos en el
dormitorio tras una larga conversación en la oscuridad de la sala de estar. Era una chica agradable,
sencilla y sincera, y con un miedo tremendo al sexo. Le dije que era algo hermoso. Quería
demostrárselo. Me dejó que lo inetentara, pero yo estaba demasiado impaciente y no le demostré
nada. Ella sollozaba en la oscuridad.
—¿Qué le pides a la vida?— le pregunté, y solía preguntárselo a todas las chicas.
—No sé —respondió—. Sólo atender las mesas e ir tirando.
Bostezó. Le puse mi mano en la boca y le dije que no bostezara. Intenté hablarle de lo excitado
que me sentía de estar vivo y de la cantidad de cosas que podríamos hacer juntos; le decía esto y
pensaba marcharme a Denver dentro de un par de días. Se apartó molesta. Quedamos tumbados de
espaldas mirando al techo y preguntándonos qué se habría propuesto Dios al hacer un mundo tan
triste.
—Jack Kerouac, En el camino, c. 10
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Dios hizo que Adán diese nombres a todos lo animales, aves y otros seres vivientes. Cuando
desfilaron ante él en parejas, Adán —que era ya como un hombre de veinte años— se sintió celoso de
sus amores, y aunque trató de acoplarse con cada hembra por turno, no encontró satisfacción en el
acto. Por consiguiente exclamó: "¡Todas las criaturas menos yo tienen la compañera adecuada!", y
rogó a Dios que remediara esa injusticia. Entonces Dios cró a Lilit, la primera mujer.
Adán y Lilit nunca hallaron armonía juntos, pues cuando el deseaba yacer con ella, Lilit se sentía
ofendida por la postura reclinada que él exigía. "¿Porqué he de acostarme debajo de ti? -preguntaba-.
Yo también fui hecha con polvo y por tanto, soy tu igual." Como Adán trató de obligarla a obedecer,
Lilit pronunció el nombre mágico de Dios, se elevó por el aire y lo abandonó
Sin desanimarse por no haber dado a Adán una compañera satisfactoria, Dios probó de nuevo y
le dejó que observara mientras El creaba una anatomía femenina utilizando huesos, tejidos ,
músculos, sangre y añadiendo mechones de cabello en algunos lugares. La vista de eso causó a Adán
tal desagrado que inclusive cuando esa mujer, la primera Eva, se mostró en toda su belleza sintió una
repugnancia invencible. Dios supo que había fracasado una vez más y expulsó a la primera Eva.
Nadie sabe con seguridad a dónde fue
—Robert Graves, Mitos Hebreos
Dora Williams
WHEN Reuben Pantier ran away and threw me
I went to Springfield. There I met a lush,
Whose father just deceased left him a fortune.
He married me when drunk.
My life was wretched.
A year passed and one day they found him dead.
That made me rich. I moved on to Chicago.
After a time met Tyler Rountree, villain.
I moved on to New York. A gray-haired magnate
Went mad about me--so another fortune.
He died one night right in my arms, you know.
(I saw his purple face for years thereafter.)
There was almost a scandal.
I moved on, This time to Paris. I was now a woman,
Insidious, subtle, versed in the world and rich.
My sweet apartment near the Champs Elysées
Became a center for all sorts of people,
Musicians, poets, dandies, artists, nobles,
Where we spoke French and German, Italian, English.
I wed Count Navigato, native of Cenoa.
We went to Rome. He poisoned me, I think..
Now in the Campo Santo overlooking
The sea where young Columbus dreamed new worlds,
See what they chiseled: "Contessa Navigato
Implora eterna quiete."
—E.L.Masters, Spoon River Anthology
344
Apeáronse don Quijote y Sancho, y, dejando al jumento y a Rocinante a sus anchuras pacer de la
mucha yerba que allí había, dieron saco a las alforjas, y, sin ceremonia alguna, en buena paz y
compañía, amo y mozo comieron lo que en ellas hallaron.
No se había curado Sancho de echar sueltas a Rocinante, seguro de que le conocía por tan manso y
tan poco rijoso que todas las yeguas de la dehesa de Córdoba no le hicieran tomar mal siniestro.
Ordenó, pues, la suerte, y el diablo, que no todas veces duerme, que andaban por aquel valle
paciendo una manada de hacas galicianas de unos arrieros gallegos, de los cuales es costumbre
sestear con su recua en lugares y sitios de yerba y agua; y aquel donde acertó a hallarse don Quijote
era muy a propósito de los gallegos. Sucedió, pues, que a Rocinante le vino en deseo de refocilarse
con las señoras facas; y saliendo, así como las olió, de su natural paso y costumbre, sin pedir licencia
a su dueño, tomó un trotico algo picadillo y se fue a comunicar su necesidad con ellas. Mas ellas,
que, a lo que pareció, debían de tener más gana de pacer que de ál, recibiéronle con las herraduras y
con los dientes, de tal manera que, a poco espacio, se le rompieron las cinchas y quedó, sin silla, en
pelota. Pero lo que él debió más de sentir fue que, viendo los arrieros la fuerza que a sus yeguas se les
hacía, acudieron con estacas, y tantos palos le dieron que le derribaron malparado en el suelo. Ya en
esto don Quijote y Sancho, que la paliza de Rocinante habían visto, llegaban ijadeando; y dijo don
Quijote a Sancho:
-A lo que yo veo, amigo Sancho, éstos no son caballeros, sino gente soez y de baja ralea. Dígolo
porque bien me puedes ayudar a tomar la debida venganza del agravio que delante de nuestros ojos se
le ha hecho a Rocinante.
-¿Qué diablos de venganza hemos de tomar -respondió Sancho-, si éstos son más de veinte y nosotros
no más de dos, y aun, quizá, nosotros sino uno y medio?
-Yo valgo por ciento -replicó don Quijote. Y, sin hacer más discursos, echó mano a su espada y
arremetió a los gallegos, y lo mesmo hizo Sancho Panza, incitado y movido del ejemplo de su amo.
Y, a las primeras, dio don Quijote una cuchillada a uno, que le abrió un sayo de cuero de que venía
vestido, con gran parte de la espalda. Los gallegos, que se vieron maltratar de aquellos dos hombres
solos, siendo ellos tantos, acudieron a sus estacas, y, cogiendo a los dos en medio, comenzaron a
menudear sobre ellos con grande ahínco y vehemencia. Verdad es que al segundo toque dieron con
Sancho en el suelo, y lo mesmo le avino a don Quijote, sin que le valiese su destreza y buen ánimo; y
quiso su ventura que viniese a caer a los pies de Rocinante, que aún no se había levantado; donde se
echa de ver la furia con que machacan estacas puestas en manos rústicas y enojadas. Viendo, pues,
los gallegos el mal recado que habían hecho, con la mayor presteza que pu-dieron, cargaron su recua
y siguieron su camino, dejando a los dos aventureros de mala traza y de peor talante.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 1, Capítulo XV.
Un incidente fue la causa del retraso. La galguita de la sennora Bovary se escapó a campo
traviesa. Durante un cuarto de hora la llamaron inútilmente. El mismo Hivert volvió atrás como una
media legua, creyendo descubrirla a cada momento; pero fue preciso proseguir el camino sin ella.
Emma lloró y se puso fuera de sí, acusando a Carlos de aquella desgracia. El señor Lheureux,
mercader de paños y compañero de viaje, trató de consolarla con multitud de ejemplos de perros
perdidos que al cabo de muchos años reconocieron a su amo. Se citaba a uno —decía— que había
vuelto desde Constantinopla a París. Otro había hecho cincuenta leguas en línea recta y cruzado a
nado cuatro ríos. Su mismo padre tuvo un perro de aguas, el cual, una noche, después de doce años
de ausencia, le saltó a la espalda de improviso, yendo por la calle y cuando se dirigía a comer fuera
de casa.
—Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, p. 69
345
The war has just ended. They are bringing th survivors from the camps:
Once they got Robert L. out, the other two had to get him to walk to the Citroën II. As soon as
they'd stretched him out on the back seat, he fainted. They thought it was all over, but no. The
journey was very difficult, very slow. They had to stop every half hour because of the dysentery. As
soon as they'd left Dachau behind, Robert L. spoke. He said he knew he would'n reach Pariz alive. So
he began to talk, so it shoul be told before he died. He didn't acuse any person, any race, any people.
He accuse man. Emerging from the horror, dying, delirious, Robert L. was still able not to accuse
anyone except the governments that come and go in the history of nations. He wanted D. and
Beauchamp to tell me after his death what he had said. They reached the French frontier that night,
near Wissemburg. D. phoned me: "We've reached France. We've just crossed the frontier. We'll be
back tomorrow by the end of the morning. Expect the worst. You won't recognize him." They had
dinner in an officers' mess. Robert L. was still talking and telling his story. When he entered the mess
all the officers stood up and saluted him. He didn't see. He never had seen that sort of thing. He spoke
of the German martyrdom, of the martyrdom common to all men. He told what it was like. That
evening he said he'd like to eat a trout before he died. In deserted Wissemburg they found a trout for
Robert L. He ate a few mouthfuls. Then he started talking again. He spoke of charity. He'd heard
some rethorical phrases of Father Riquet's, and he started to say these very obscure words: "When
anyone talks to me of Christian charirty, I shall say Dachau." But he didn't finish. That night they
slept somewhere near Bar-sur-Aube. Robert L. slept for a few hours. They reached Paris at the end of
the morning. Just before they came to Saint-Benoît, D. stopped to phone me again: "I'm ringing to
warn you that it's more terrible than anything we've imagined... He's happy."
—Marguerite
Duras, The War, p.53
The whole thing turned out badly for me morally, as so many things have, because the money
that I had earmarked for getting the Major out of the bank I took out to Enghien and bet on jumping
horses that raced under the influence of stimulants. At two meetings the stimulated horses that I was
backing outraced the unstimulated or unsufficiently stimulated beasts except for one race in which
our fancy had been overstimulated to such a point that before the start he threw his jockey and
breaking away completed a full circuit of the steeplechase course jumping beautifully by himself the
way one can sometimes jump in dreams. Caught up and remounted he started the race and figured
honorably, as the French racing phrase has it, but was out of the money.
—Ernest Hemingway, A moveable feast, p.112
If we were all suddenly somebody else.
Far away a donkey brayed. Rain. No such ass. Never see a dead one, they say. Shame of death. They
hide. Also poor papa went away.
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Gentle sweet air blew round the bared heads in a whisper. Whisper. The boy by the gravehead held
his wreath with both hands staring quietly in the black open space. Mr Bloom moved behind the
portly kindly caretaker. Wellcut frockcoat. Weighing them up perhaps to see which will go next.
Well, it is a long rest. Feel no more. It's the moment you feel. Must be damned unpleasant. Can't
believe it at first. Mistake must be: someone else. Try the house opposite. Wait, I wanted to. I haven't
yet. Then darkened deathchamber. Light they want. Whispering around you. Would you like to see a
priest? Then rambling and wandering. Delirium all you hid all your life. The death struggle. His sleep
is not natural. Press his lower eyelid. Watching is his nose pointed is his jaw sinking are the soles of
his feet yellow. Pull the pillow away and finish it off on the floor since he's doomed. Devil in that
picture of sinner's death showing him a woman. Dying to embrace her in his shirt. Last act of
LUCIA. SHALL I NEVERMORE BEHOLD THEE? Bam! He expires. Gone at last. People talk
about you a bit: forget you. Don't forget to pray for him. Remember him in your prayers. Even
Parnell. Ivy day dying out. Then they follow: dropping into a hole, one after the other.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.115
Había un buitre que me picoteaba los pies. Ya había desgarrado los zapatos y las medias y ahora me
picoteaba los pies. Siempre tiraba un picotazo, volaba en círculos inquietos alrededor y luego
proseguía la obra.
Pasó un señor, nos miró un rato y me preguntó por qué toleraba yo al buitre.
-Estoy indefenso -le dije- vino y empezó a picotearme, yo lo quise espantar y hasta pensé torcerle el
pescuezo, pero estos animales son muy fuertes y quería saltarme a la cara. Preferí sacrificar los pies:
ahora están casi hechos pedazos.
-No se deje atormentar -dijo el señor-, un tiro y el buitre se acabó.
-¿Le parece? -pregunté- ¿quiere encargarse del asunto?
-Encantado -dijo el señor- ; no tengo más que ir a casa a buscar el fusil, ¿Puede usted esperar media
hora más?
- No sé -le respondí, y por un instante me quedé rígido de dolor; después añadí -: por favor, pruebe de
todos modos.
-Bueno- dijo el señor- , voy a apurarme.
El buitre había escuchado tranquilamente nuestro diálogo y había dejado errar la mirada entre el
señor y yo. Ahora vi que había comprendido todo: voló un poco, retrocedió para lograr el ímpetu
necesario y como un atleta que arroja la jabalina encajó el pico en mi boca, profundamente. Al caer
de espaldas sentí como una liberación; que en mi sangre, que colmaba todas las profundidades y que
inundaba todas las riberas, el buitre irreparablemente se ahogaba.
—
Franz Kafka, Buitres
347
During a summer of bucolic activity and family excursions, he traveled with his father ina
law to Nantucket, wher he heard the story of one Agatha hatch Robertson, the daughter of a
lighthouse-keeper, who had saved a sailor, married him, became pregnant by him, and waited
seventeen years for his return, only to discover that he had married a second time.
—John Updike, Prologue to Complete Shorter Fiction of Herman Melville
Largo tiempo tuvo oculto el crimen, e, inventando mil pretextos el perverso, tuvo engañada
con una vana esperanza a la amante desolada. Hasta que se le apareció en sueños a la esposa la propia
sombra del marido insepulto, cubierto de una extraña palidez el rostro, y le mostró el altar
ensangrentado y su pecho atravesado por la espada, y reveló todo acerca del secreto crimen del
palacio.
—Virgilio, Eneida, libro 1
People say that the end of Flosi's life came when he had grown old and went abroad to find
wood for building a house and spent the winter in Norway. The next summer he was late in his
preparations. men talked about tha bad condition of the ship. Flosi said that it was good enough for
an old man doomed to die, and he boarded the ship and put out to sea, and nothing was ever heard of
the ship again.
—Njal's Saga
Los susodichos Querandís nos han traído diariamente al real durante catorce días su escasez en
pescado y carne y sólo fallaron un día en que no nos trajeron que comer. Entonces nuestro general
don Pedro Mendoza envió en seguida un alcalde de nombre Juan Pavón y con él dos peones; pues
estos susodichos indios estaban a cuatro leguas de nuestro real. Cuando él llegó donde aquéllos
estaban, se condujo de un modo tal con los indios que ellos, el alcalde y los dos peones, fueron bien
apaleados y después dejaron volver los cristianos a nuestro real. Cuando el dicho alcalde tornó al
real, metió tanto alboroto que el capitán general don Pedro Mendoza envió a su hermano carnal don
Jorge [Diego] Mendoza con trescientos lansquenetes y treinta caballos bien pertrechados; yo en esto
he estado presente. Entonces dispuso y mandó nuestro capitán general don Pedro Mendoza a su
hermano don Diego Mendoza, que él junto con nosotros diere muerte y cautivara o apresara a los
nombrados Querandís y ocupara su lugar. Cuando llegamos allí sumaban los indios unos cuatro mil
hombres pues habían convocado a sus amigos.
—Derrotero y viaje a España y Las Indias, ULRICO SCHMIDL
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EXACTITUDE
Giacomo Leopardi maintained that the more vague and imprecise language is, the more poetic it
becomes.
"The words 'notte', 'notturno', etc., descrptions of the night, etc., are highly poetic because, as night
makes objects blurred, the mind receives only a vague, indistinct, incomplete image, both of the night
itself and what it contains. Thus also with 'oscurita', 'profondo'."
(...) Leafing again through the Zibaldone in search of other examples of this passion of his, I come
across one entry longer than usual, a list of situations propitious to the "indefinite" state of mind:
"the light of the sun or the moon, seen in a place from which they are invisible and one cannot
discern the source of the light; a place only partly illuminated by such light; the reflection of such
light, and the various material effects derived from it; the penetration of such light into places where
it becomes uncertain and obstructed, and is not easily made out, as through a cane brake, in a wood,
through half-closed shutters, etc., etc.; the same light in a place, object, etc., where it does not enter
and strike directly, reflected and difffused by some other place or object, etc., where it does strike; in
a passageway seen from inside or outside, and similarly in a loggia, etc., places where the light
mingles, etc., etc., with the shadows, as under a portico, in a high, overhanging loggia, among rocks
and gullies in a valley, on hills seen from the shady side so that their crests are gilded; the reflection
produced, for example, by a colored pane of glass on those objects on which the rays passing through
that glass are reflected; all those objects, in a word, that by no means of various materials and
minimal circumstances come to our sight, hearing, etc., in a way that is uncertain, indistinct,
imperfect, incomplete, or out of the ordinary."
So this is what Leopardi asks of us, that we may savor the beauty of the vague and indefinite! What
he requires is a highly exact and meticulous attention to the composition of each image, to the minute
definition of details, to the choice of objects, to the lightning and the atmosphere, all in order to attain
the desired degree of vagueness. (...) The poet of vegueness can only be the poet of exactitude.
"By contrasts, the sight of the sun or moon in a vast, airy landscape, and in a clear sky, etc., is
pleasing, for the reason mentioned above, is the sight of the sky dotted with little clouds, in which the
light of the sun or the moon produces varied effects, indistinct, out of the ordinary, etc. Most pleasing
and full of feeling is the light seen in cities, where it is slashed by shadows, where darkness contrsts
in many places with light, where in many parts the light little by little grows less, as on rooftops,
where a few secluded places hide the luminous body from our sight, etc., etc. Contributing to this
pleasure is the variety, the uncertainty, the not-seeing-everything, and therefore being able to walk
abroad using the imagination in regard to what one does not see. I say similar things of similar effects
produced by trees, rows of vines, hills, pergolas, outlying houses, haystacks, wrinkles in the soil, etc.,
of the landscape. On the contrary, a vast level plain, where the eye loses itself, etc., is also highly
pleasurable, for the idea of infinite extension that results from such such a sight. The same is true of a
cludless sky. In this regard I observe that the pleasure of variety and uncertainty is greater that that of
apparent infinity and immense uniformity. And therefore a sky dooed with small cluds is perhaps
more pleasurable than a total clear sky; and to look at the sky is perhaps less pleasurable than to look
at the earth and the landscape, etc., because it is less varied (and also less like us, less of our own,
belonging less to things that are ours, etc.). In fact, if you lie down on your back so that you see
nothing but the sky, separated from the earth, you will have a far less pleasing feeling than if you
349
look at a landscape, or look at the sky in proportion and relation to the earth, integrating them from
the same point of view.
Highly pleasing also, for the above-mentiones reasons, is the sight of an innumerable multitude, as of
stars, people, etc., a multiple motion, uncertain, confused, irregular, disordered, a vague rising and
falling, etc., which the mind cannot conceive definitely or distindtly, etc., like that of a crowd, or a
swarm of ants, or a rough sea, etc. Similarly a multitude of sounds, irregularly mingled together, not
to be distinguished one from another."
The word connects the visible trace with the invisible thing, the absent thing, the thing that is desired
or feared, like a frail emergency bridge flung over an abyss.
The proper use of language (...) is one that enables us to approach things (...) with respect for what
things (present or absent) communicate without words.
—Italo Calvino, Seis propuestas para el próximo milenio
Depth is hidden. Where? On the surface.
—Hoffmannsthal
A Weak Mind in the Mountains
There was the butcher's hand.
He squeezed it and the blood
Spurted from between the fingers
And fell to the floor.
And then the body fell.
So afterwards, at night,
The wind of Iceland and
The wind of Ceylo,
Meeting, gripped my mind,
Gripped it and grappled my thoughts.
The black wind of the sea
And the green wind
Whirled upon me.
The blood of the mind fell
To the floor. I slept.
Yet there was a man within me.
Could have risen to the clouds,
Could have touched these winds,
Bent and broken them down,
Could have stood up sharply in the sky.
—Wallace Stevens, from Parts of a World
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Aguardo a Dios con avidez. Soy de raza inferior de toda eternidad.
Estoy aquí en la playa armoricana. Que las ciudades se iluminen al atardecer. Mi jornada está
hecha; me voy de Europa. El aire marino quemará mis pulmones; los climas remotos atezarán mi
piel. Nadar, desmenuzar la hierba, cazar, sobre todo fumar; beber licores fuertes como el metal
hirviente, —— como hacían aquellos queridos ancestros alrededor del fuego.
Regresaré, con los miembros de hierro, la piel oscurecida, los ojos furiosos: por mi máscara,
me juzgarán de una raza fuerte. Tendré oro: seré ocioso y brutal. Las mujeres miman a esos feroces
enfermos que vuelven de los países cálidos. Estaré mezclado en asuntos políticos. Salvado.
Mientras tanto estoy maldito, me horroriza la patria. Lo mejor, es dormirse borracho, sobre la
arena.
(Rimbaud; Mala Sangre)
Nota: las frases breves, directas. En el original en francés es más evidente:
J’attends Dieu avec gourmandise. Je suis de race inférieure de toute éternité.
Me voici sur la plage armoricaine. Que les villes s’allument dans le soir. Ma journée est
faite; je quite l’Europe. L’air marin brulera mes poumons; les climats perdus me tanneront. Nager,
broyer l’herbe, chaser, fumer surtout; boire des liquers fortes comme du métal bouillant, —— comme
faisaient ces chers ancetres autour des feux.
Je reveindrai, avec des membres de fer, la peu sombre, l’oeil furieux: sur mon masque, on me
jugera d’une race forte. J’aurai de l’or: je serai oisif et brutal. Les femmes soignent ces féroces
infirmes retour des pays chauds. Je serai melé aux affaires polítiques. Sauvé.
Maintennant je suis mauditt, j’ai horreur de la patrie. Le millieur, c’est un sommeil bien ivre,
sur la greve.
(Rimbaud; Mauvais Sang)
351
Del Diario Epistolar de César para Lucio Mamilio Turrino, en la isla de Capri.
(En la noche del 27 al 28 de octubre)
1013. Estoy velando a la cabecera de un amigo agoniznte: el poeta Catulo. De tiempo en tiempo se
queda dormido y, como de costumbre, tomo la pluma, quizá para evitar la reflexión.
Acaba de abrir los ojos. Dijo el nombre de seis de las Pléyades, y me preguntó el séptimo.
Ahora duerme.
Ha pasado otra hora. Conversamos. No soy novato en esto de velar a la cabecera de los
moribundos. A quienes sufren es preciso hablarles de sí mismos; a los de mente lúcida, alabarles el
mundo que abandonan. No hay dignidad alguna en abandonar un mundo despreciable, y quienes
mueren suelen temer que la vida acaso no haya valido los esfuerzos que les ha costado.
Personalmente, jamás me faltan motivoa para alabarla.
En el transcurso de esta última hora he pagado una vieja deuda. Durante mis campañas, muchas
veces me visitó un ensueño persistente: caminaba de acá para allá frente a mi tienda, en medio de la
noche, improvisando un discurso. Imaginaba haber congregado un auditorio selecto de hombres y
mujeres, casi todos los jóvenes, a quienes anhelaba revelar todo cuanto había aprendido en la poesía
inmortal de Sófocles—en mi adolescencia, en mi madurez, como soldado, como estadista, como
padre, como hijo, como enamorado; a través de alegrías y vicisitudes—. Quería, antes de morir,
descargar mi corazón (¡tan pronto colmado!) de toda esa gratitud y alabanza.
¡Oh, sí! Sófocles fue un hombre; y su obra, cabalmente humana. He aquí la respuesta a un viejo
interrogante. Los dioses ni le prestaron apoyo ni se negaron a ayudarlo; no es así como proceden.
Pero si ellos no hubiesen estado ocultos él no habría luchado tantopor encontrarlos.
Así he viajado: sin poder ver a un pie de distancia, entre los Alpes más elevados, pero jamás con
paso tan seguro. A Sófocles le bastaba con vivir como si los Alpes hubiesen estado allí.
Y ahora, también Catulo ha muerto.
—Thornton Wilder, Los idus de marzo.
...Despite the distance separating his natal soil from the coast of Pomerania — the cliffs of the
Baltic Sea with their huge fallen boulders, their rocky promontories, their creeks lined with pale sand,
their pools bordered with slippery seaweed where he had pursued, during that one summer month
forty years cefore, his childhood pastimes, made all the more solitary because the language separated
him from the boys and girls tirelessly building castles doomed to tidal engulfment — everything
henceforth mingles in the traveler's mind with the beaches, the granite rocks, and the dangerous
waters of Nord-Finistère that permeate his entire childhood...
As daylight fades, striding across the narrow, still-dry part of the sandy crescent which the
receding tide gradually abandons, he follows the succesive wreaths of the line of seaweed marking
the limit reached by the last high tide. On a bed of still-moist ribbons of kelp, torn loose by the ocean,
lay all sorts of debris, the hypothetical origins of which give free rein to the imagination: alreadydead starfish, rejectedby the fishermen; fragments of crustacean carapaces or skeletons of deep-sea
fish; a bilobed tail, fleshy and so large that it must have come from a dolphin or a mermaid; a
celluloid doll whose arms had been torn off but who was still smiling; a corked glass flask containing
the remains of some sticky liquid, red despite the oncoming darkness; a high-heeled dance slipper
still attached to its sole, its vamp covered with metallic blue sequins glistening with an improbable
luster...
—Alain Robbe-Grillet, Repetition, pg. 51
352
When she was still alive
We would go out, arm in arm,
And look at the elm trees
Growing on the embarkment
In front of our house.
Their branches were interlaced.
Their crowns were dense with spring leaves.
They were like our love.
Love and trust were not enough to turn back
The wheels of life and death.
She faded like a mirage over the desert.
One morning like a bird she was gone
In the white scarves of death.
Now when the child
Whom she left in her memory
Cries and beg for her,
All I can do is pick him up
And hug him clumsily.
I have nothing to give him.
In our bedroom our pillows
Still lie side by side,
As we lay once.
I sit there by myself
And let the days grow dark.
I lie awake at night, sighing till daylight.
No matter how much I mourn
I shall never see her again.
They tell me her spirit
May haunt Mount Hagai
Under the eagles' wings.
I struggle over the ridges
And climb to the summit.
I know all the time
That I shall never see her,
Not even so much as a faint quiver in the air.
All my longing, all my love
Will never make any difference.
—Hitomaro.
353
21:009:002 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the
righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean,
and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that
sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that
sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
21:009:003 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun,
that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the
sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart
while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
21:009:004 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for
a living dog is better than a dead lion.
21:009:005 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not
any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory
of them is forgotten.
21:009:006 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now
perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any
thing that is done under the sun.
21:009:007 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a
merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
21:009:008 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no
ointment.
21:009:009 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of
the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the
sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in
this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
21:009:010 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for
there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in
the grave, whither thou goest.
21:009:011 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the
swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the
wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour
to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
—Holy Bible, Ecclesiastes
354
Un día, el hombre —Trejago era su nombre— entró en el callejón de Amir Nath mientras
deambulaba sin rumbo fijo y después que pasó los búfalos tropezó con un gran montón de forraje.
Entonces vio que el callejón terminaba en una pared, y oyó una risita detrás de la ventana enrejada.
Era una linda risita y Trejago, sabiendo que para todo propósito práctico las viejas Mil y Una Noches
son buena guía, se adelantó hacia la ventana y susurró aquel verso de El canto de amor de Har Dyal
que comienza:
"¿Puede un hombre mantenerse de pie frente al desnudo sol; o un amannte en presencia de su
amada?
¿Tengo acaso la culpa, oh corazón de mi corazón, si mis piernas vacilan al ser enceguecido por
el vislumbre de tu belleza?"
Se oyó el débil tintinear de las pulseras de una mujer desde atrás de la reja y una vocecita
continuó la canción en el quinto verso:
"¡Ay!¡Ay! ¿Puede la luna hablar de su amor al loto cuando está cerrada la puerta del cielo y se
amontonan las nubes de las lluvias?
Se han apoderado de mi amada y la han llevado con los caballos de carga hacia el norte.
Tiene cadenas de hierro en sus pies que estaban posados sobre mi corazón.
Llama a los arqueros que se apronten..."
La voz cesó repentinamente y trejago salió del callejón de Amir Nath preguntándose quién había
podido completar La Canción de amor de Har Dyal tan exactamente.
A la mañana siguiente, mientras viajaba a su oficina, una anciana arrojó un paquete en su
carruaje. En el paquete había la mitad de un brazalete de vidrio quebrado, una flor de dhak de un rojo
sangre, una pizca de bhusa o forraje, y once cardamomos.
Ese paquete era una carta, no una torpe carta comprometedora, sino una inocente, ininteligible
epístola amorosa.
Trejago sabía demasiado de estas cosas como ya dije. Ningún inglés debería saber traducir
cartas-objetos. Pero Trejago extendió todas las bagatelas y empezó a descifrarlas. Un brazalete de
vidrio, quebrado, significa en toda la India una viuda hindú; porque cuando su esposo muere, a la
mujer se le rompen las pulseras en sus muñecas. Trejago comprendió el significado del pequeño
trocito de vidrio.
La flor de dhak significa ya sea "desear", "venir", "escribir" o "peligro" según las otras cosas que
la acompañan.
Un cardamomo significa "celos"; pero cuando en una carta-objeto un artículo se duplica, pierde
su significado simbólico y representa sólo un número que indica tiempo o, si también se envía
incienso, cuajada, o azafrán, lugar.
El mensaje decía entonces — "Una viuda — flor de dhak y bhusa, a las once". La pizca de
bhusa iluminó a Trejago. Comprendió —esta clase de carta deja mucho a cargo del conocimiento
instintivo— que el bhusa se refería al gran montón de forraje con el que había tropezado en el
callejón de Amir Nath, y que el mensaje debía provenir de la persona que estaba detrás de la reja, que
era una viuda. Entonces el mensaje decía así: "Una viuda, en el callejón en el que está el montón de
bhusa, desea que vengas a las once."
— Rudyard Kipling, Más allá
del límite.
355
The frost lies white
On the suspended
Magpies' Bridge.
The night is far gone.
—Yakamochi, 8th century.
It is important that a lover should know how to make his departure. To begin with, he ought not be
too ready to get up, but should require a little coaxing: "Come, it is past daybreak. You don't want to
be found here..." and so on. One likes him, too, to behave in such a way that one is sure he is
unhappy at going and would stay longer if he possibly could. He should not pull on his trousers the
moment he is up, but should first of all come close to one's ear and in a whisper finish off whatever
was left half-said in the coure of the night. But though he may in reality at these moments be doing
nothing at all, it will not be amiss that he should appear to be buckling his belt. Then he should raise
the shutters, and both lovers should go out together at the double doors while he tells her how much
dreads the day that is before him and longs for the approach of night. Then, after he has slipped
away, she can stand gazing after him, with charming recollections of those last moments. Indeed, the
success of a lover depends greatly on his method of departure. If he springs to his feet with a jerk and
at once begins fussing around, tightening in the waistband of his breeches, or adjusting the sleeves of
his court robe, hunting jacket, or what not, collecting a thousand odds and ends, and thrusting them
into the folds of his dress, or pulling in his overbelt—one begins to hate him.
—Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book.
The great wall of vegetation, an exuberant and entangled mass of trunks, branches, leaves, boughs,
festoons, motionless in the moonlight, was like a rioting invasion of soundless life, a rolling wave of
plants, piled up, crested, ready to topple over the creek, to sweep every little man of us out of his
little existence. And it moved not. A deadened burst of mighty splashes and snorts reached us from
afar, as though an icthyosaurus had been taking a bath of glitter in the great river. 'After all,' said the
boiler-maker in a reasonable tone, 'why shouldn't we get the rivets?' Why not, indeed! I did not know
of any reason why we shouldn't. 'They'll come in three weeks,' I said confidently.
"But they didn't. Instead of rivets there came an invasion, an infliction, a visitation. It came in
sections during the next three weeks, each section headed by a donkey carrying a white man in new
clothes and tan shoes, bowing from that elevation right and left to the impressed pilgrims. A
quarrelsome band of footsore sulky niggers trod on the heels of the donkey; a lot of tents, campstools, tin boxes, white cases, brown bales would be shot down in the court-yard, and the air of
mystery would deepen a little over the muddle of the station. Five such instalments came, with their
absurd air of disorderly flight with the loot of innumerable outfit shops and provision stores, that, one
would think, they were lugging, after a raid, into the wilderness for equitable division. It was an
356
inextricable mess of things decent in themselves but that human folly made look like the spoils of
thieving.
"This devoted band called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, and I believe they were sworn
to secrecy. Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood,
greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of fore-sight or of serious
intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the
work of the world. To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral
purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. Who paid the expenses of the
noble enterprise I don't know; but the uncle of our manager was leader of that lot.
"In exterior he resembled a butcher in a poor neighbourhood, and his eyes had a look of sleepy
cunning. He carried his fat paunch with ostentation on his short legs, and during the time his gang
infested the station spoke to no one but his nephew. You could see these two roaming about all day
long with their heads close together in an everlasting confab.
"I had given up worrying myself about the rivets. One's capacity for that kind of folly is more
limited than you would suppose. I said Hang! -- and let things slide.
—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Dunning was Ralph Cheever Dunning, a poet who smoked opium and forgot to eat. When he
was smoking too much he could only drink milk and he wrote in terza riruce which endeared him to
Ezra who also found qualities in his poetry. He lived in the same sourtyard where Ezra had his studio
and Ezra had called me in to help him when Dunning was dying a few weeks before Ezra was to
leave Paris.
"Dunning is dying," Ezra's message said. "Please come at once."
Dunning looked like a skeleton as he lay on the mattress and he would certainly have eventually
died of malnutrition but I finally convinced Ezra that few people ever died while speaking in well
rounded phrases and that I had never known any man to die while speaking in terza rima and that I
doubted even if Dante could do it. Ezra said he was not talking in terza rima and I said that perhaps it
only sounded like terza rima because I had been asleep when he had sent for me. Finally after a night
with Dunning waiting for death to come, the matter was put in the hands of a physician and Dunning
was taken to a private clinic to be disintoxicated. Ezra guaranteed his bills and enlisted the aid of I do
not know which lovers of poetry on Dunning's behalf. Only the delivery of the opium in any true
emergency was left to me. It was a sacred charge coming from Ezra and I only hoped I could live up
to it and determine the state of a true emergency. It came when Ezra's concierge arrived one Sunday
morning at the sawmill yard and shouted up to the open window where I was studying the racing
form, "Monsieur Dunning est monté sur le toit et refuse catégoriquement de descendre."
357
Dunning having climbed to the rrop of the studio and refusing categorically to come down
seemed a valid emergency and I found the opium jar and walked uo the street with the concierge who
was a small and intense woman very excited by the situation.
"Monsieur has what is needed?" she asked me.
"Absolutely," I said. "There will be no difficulty."
"Monsieur Pound thinks of everything," she said. "He is kindness personified."
"He is indeed," I said. "And I miss him every day."
"Let us hope that Monsieur Dunning will be reasonable."
"I have what it takes," I assured her.
When we reached the courtyard where the studios were the concierge said, "He's come down."
"He must have known I was coming," I said.
I climbed the outside stairway thet led to Dunning's place and knocked. He opened the door. He
was gaunt and seemed unusually tall.
"Ezra asked me to give bring you this," I said and handed him the jar. "He said you would know
what it was."
He took the jar and looked at it. Then he threw it at me. It struck me on the chest or the shoulder
and rolled down the stairs.
"You son of a bitch," he said. "You bastard."
"Ezra said you might need it," I said. He countered thah by throwing a milk bottle.
"You are sure you don't need it?" I asked.
He threw another milk bottle. I retreated and he hit me with yet another milk bottle in the back.
Then he shut the door.
I picked up the jar which was only slightly cracked and put it in my pocket.
"He did not seem to want the gift of Monsieur Pound," I said to the concierge.
"Perhaps he will be tranquil now," she said.
"Perhaps he has some of his own," I said.
"Poor Monsieur Dunning," she said.
The lovers of poetry that Ezra had organized rallied to Dunning's aid again eventually. My own
intervention and that of the concierge had been unsccesful. The jar of alleged opium which had been
cracked I stored wrapped in waxed paper and carefully tied in one of an old pair of riding boots.
When Evan Shipman and I were removing my personal effects from that apartment some years later
the boots were still there but the jar was gone. I do not know why Dunning threw the milk bottles at
me unless he remembered my lack of credulity the night of his first dying, or whether it was only an
innate dislike of my personality. But I remember the happiness that the phrase "Monsieur Dunning
est monté sur le toit et refuse catégoriquement de descendre" gave to Evan Shipman. He believed
there was something symbolic about it. I would not know. Perhaps Dunning took me for an agent of
evil or of the police. I only know that Ezra tried to be kind to Dunning as he was kind to so many
people and I always hoped Dunning was as fine a poet as Ezra believed him to be. For a poet he
threw a very accurate milk bottle. But Ezra, who was a very great poet, played a good game of tennis
too. Evan Shipman, who was a very fine poet and who truly did not care if his poems were ever
published, felt that it should remain a mystery.
"We need more true mystery in our lives, Hem,' he once said to me. "The completely
unambitious writer and the really good unpublished poem are things we lack most at this time. There
is, of course, the problem of sustenance."
—Ernest Hemingway, A moveable feast
358
Avrei voluto sentirmi scabro ed essenziale
siccome i cittoli che tu volvi,
mangiati dalla salsedine;
scheggia fuori del tempo, testimone
di una volontà fredda che non passa.
Altro fui: uomo intento che riguarda
in sè, in altrui, il bollore
della vita fugace — uomo che tarda
all'atto, che nessuno, poi, distrugge.
Volli cercare il male
che tarla il mondo, la piccola stortura
d'una leva che arresta
l'ordegno universale; e tutti vidi
gli eventi del minuto
come pronti a disgiungersi in un crollo.
Seguíto il solco d'un sentiero m'ebbi
l'opposto in cuore, col suo invito; e forse
m'occorreva il coltello che recide,
la mente che decide e si determina.
Altri libri occorrevano
a me, non la tua pagina rombante.
Ma nulla so rimpiangere: tu scogli
ancora i groppi interni col tuo canto.
Il tuo delirio sale agli astri ormai.
I would have wanted to be rough and essential
as the pebbles you turn over
gnawed by the sea salt;
a splinter outside time, witness
to a cold perpetual will.
No, I was a man intent on
watching the transcient bubbling of life
in himself, in others — a man who delays
action, that no one then destroys.
I wanted to search out the evil
that bores through the world, the lever's
slight flaw locking the gears
of the universe: and I saw all
the events of the minute as though
poised to crash in a downpour of pieces.
In the wake of one road I took
the opposite offer to heart; and maybe
I needed the knife that cuts clean,
the clenched mind that chooses.
The text I needed was not your roaring page.
But I regret nothing: again you
undo the inward tangle with you talk.
And now your delirium climbs starward.
—Eugenio Montale
Night came, and Kayerts sat unmoving on his chair. He sat quiet as if he had taken a dose of opium.
The violence of the emotions he had passed through produced a feeling of exhausted serenity. He had
plumbed in one short afternoon the depths of horror and despair, and now found repose in the
conviction that life had no more secrets for him: neither had death! He sat by the corpse thinking;
thinking very actively, thinking very new thoughts. He seemed to have broken loose from himself
altogether. His old thoughts, convictions, likes and dislikes, things he respected and things he
abhorred, appeared in their true light at last! Appeared contemptible and childish, false and
ridiculous. He revelled in his new wisdom while he sat by the man he had killed. He argued with
himself about all things under heaven with that kind of wrong-headed lucidity which may be
observed in some lunatics. Incidentally he reflected that the fellow dead there had been a noxious
beast anyway; that men died every day in thousands; perhaps in hundreds of thousands--who could
359
tell?--and that in the number, that one death could not possibly make any difference; couldn't have
any importance, at least to a thinking creature. He, Kayerts, was a thinking creature. He had been all
his life, till that moment, a believer in a lot of nonsense like the rest of mankind--who are fools; but
now he thought! He knew! He was at peace; he was familiar with the highest wisdom! Then he tried
to imagine himself dead, and Carlier sitting in his chair watching him; and his attempt met with such
unexpected success, that in a very few moments he became not at all sure who was dead and who
was alive. This extraordinary achievement of his fancy startled him, however, and by a clever and
timely effort of mind he saved himself just in time from becoming Carlier. His heart thumped, and he
felt hot all over at the thought of that danger. Carlier! What a beastly thing! To compose his now
disturbed nerves--and no wonder!--he tried to whistle a little. Then, suddenly, he fell asleep, or
thought he had slept; but at any rate
there was a fog, and somebody had whistled in the fog.
He stood up. The day had come, and a heavy mist had descended upon the land: the mist penetrating,
enveloping, and silent; the morning mist of tropical lands; the mist that clings and kills; the mist
white and deadly, immaculate and poisonous. He stood up, saw the body, and threw his arms above
his head with a cry like that of a man who, waking from a trance, finds himself immured forever in a
tomb. "Help! . . . . My God!"
A shriek inhuman, vibrating and sudden, pierced like a sharp dart the white shroud of that land of
sorrow. Three short, impatient screeches followed, and then, for a time, the fog-wreaths rolled on,
undisturbed, through a formidable silence. Then many more shrieks, rapid and piercing, like the yells
of some exasperated and ruthless creature, rent the air. Progress was calling to Kayerts from the river.
Progress and civilization and all the virtues. Society was calling to its accomplished child to come, to
be taken care of, to be instructed, to be judged, to be condemned; it called him to return to that
rubbish heap from which he had wandered away, so that justice could be done.
—Joseph Conrad, An outpost of progress
Tired with all these for restful death I cry,
As to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimmed in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honour shamefully misplaced,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill,
And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill.
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that to die, I leave my love alone.
—William Shakespeare, Sonnet 66
360
--A merchant, Stephen said, is one who buys cheap and sells dear, jew or gentile, is he not?
--They sinned against the light, Mr Deasy said gravely. And you can see the darkness in their eyes.
And that is why they are wanderers on the earth to this day.
On the steps of the Paris stock exchange the goldskinned men quoting prices on their gemmed
fingers. Gabble of geese. They swarmed loud, uncouth about the temple, their heads thickplotting
under maladroit silk hats. Not theirs: these clothes, this speech, these gestures. Their full slow eyes
belied the words, the gestures eager and unoffending, but knew the rancours massed about them and
knew their zeal was vain. Vain patience to heap and hoard. Time surely would scatter all. A hoard
heaped by the roadside: plundered and passing on. Their eyes knew their years of wandering and,
patient, knew the dishonours of their flesh.
--Who has not? Stephen said.
--What do you mean? Mr Deasy asked.
He came forward a pace and stood by the table. His underjaw fell sideways open uncertainly. Is this
old wisdom? He waits to hear from me.
--History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
From the playfield the boys raised a shout. A whirring whistle: goal. What if that nightmare gave you
a back kick?
--The ways of the Creator are not our ways, Mr Deasy said. All human history moves towards one
great goal, the manifestation of God.
Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying:
--That is God.
Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!
--What? Mr Deasy asked.
--A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.39
361
The Red Wheelbarrow
So much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens
—William Carlos Williams
Estábamos ya lejos de aquél, cuando vi a otros dos helados en una misma fosa, colocados de
tal modo, que la cabeza del uno parecía ser el sombrero del otro. Y como el hambriento en el pan, así
el de encima clavó sus dientes al de debajo en el sitio donde el cerebro se une con la nuca. No mordió
con más furor Tideo las sienes de Menalipo, que aquél roía el cráneo de su enemigo y las demás
inherentes al mismo. (32)
...
Aquel pecador apartó su boca de tan horrible alimento, limpiándosela en los pelos de la
cabeza cuya parte posterior acababa de roer; luego empezó a hablar de esta manera:
...
Has de saber que yo fui el conde Ugolino, y éste el arzobispo Riggieri: ahora tediré por qué le
trato así. No es necesario manifestarte que por efecto de sus malos pensamientos, y fiándome de él,
fui preso y muerto después. Pero te contaré lo que no puedes haber sabido; esto es, lo cruel que fue
mi muerte, y comprenderás cuánto me ha ofendido. Un pequeño agujero abierto en la torre, que por
mi mal se llama hoy del Hambre, y en la que todavía serán encerrados otros, me había permitido ver
por su hendedura ya muchas lunas, cuando tuve el mal sueño que descorrió para mí el velo del
porvenir. Ruggieri se me aparecía como señor y caudillo, cazando el lobo y los lobeznos en el monte
que impide a los pisanos ver la ciudad de Luca. Se había hecho preceder de los Gualandi, de los
Sismondi y los Lanfranchi, que iban a la cabeza con perros hambrientos, diligentes y amaestrados. El
padre y sus hijuelos me parecieron rendidos después de ua corta carrera, y creí ver que aquéllos les
desgarraban los costdos con sus agudas presas. Cuando desperté antes de la aurora, oí llorar entre
sueños a mis hijos, que estaban conmigo, y pedían pan. Bien cruel eres, si no te contristas pensando
en lo que aquello anunciaba a mi corazón; y si ahora no lloras, no sé lo que puede excitar tus
lágrimas. Etábamos ya despiertos, y se acercaba la hora en que solían traernos nuestro alimento; pero
todos dudábamos, porque cada cual había tenido un sueño semejante. Oí que clavaban la puerta de la
horrible torre, por lo cual miré al rostro de mis hijos sin decir palabra; yo no podía llorar, porque el
dolor me tenía como petrificado: lloraban ellos, y mi Anselmito dijo: "¿Qué tienes, padre, que así nos
miras?" Sin embargo, no lloré ni respondí una palabra en todo aquel día, ni en la noche siguiente,
hasta que el otro Sol alumbró el mundo. Cuando entró en la dolorosa prisión uno de sus débiles
rayos, y consideré en aquellos cuatro rostros el aspecto que debía tener el mío, empecé a morderme
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las manos desesperado; y ellos, creyendo que yo lo hacía obligado por el hambre, se levantaron con
presteza y dijeron: "Padre, nuestro dolor será mucho menor, si nos comes a nosotros: tú nos has
vestido con estas miserables carnes; despójanos, pues, de ellas." Entonces me calmé para no
entristecerlos más; y aquél día y el siguiente permanecimos mudos. ¡Ay, dura tierra! ¿Por qué no te
abriste? Cuando llegamos al cuarto día, Gaddo e tendió a mis pies, diciendo: "Padre mío, ¿por qué no
me auxilias?" Allí murió; y lo mismo que me estás viendo, vi yo caer los tres, uno a uno, entre el
quinto y el sexto día. Ciego ya, fui a tientas buscando a cada cual, llamándolos durante tres días
después de estar muertos; hasta que, al fin, pudo en mí más la inedia que el dolor.
Cuando hubo pronunciado estas palabras, torciendo los ojos, volvió a tomar el miserable
cráneo con los dientes, que royeron el hueso como los de un perro.
Noi eravam partiti gia` da ello,
ch'io vidi due ghiacciati in una buca,
si` che l'un capo a l'altro era cappello;
e come 'l pan per fame si manduca,
cosi` 'l sovran li denti a l'altro pose
la` 've 'l cervel s'aggiugne con la nuca:
non altrimenti Tideo si rose
le tempie a Menalippo per disdegno,
che quei faceva il teschio e l'altre cose.
...............................................................
La bocca sollevo` dal fiero pasto
quel peccator, forbendola a'capelli
del capo ch'elli avea di retro guasto.
................................................................
Tu dei saper ch'i' fui conte Ugolino,
e questi e` l'arcivescovo Ruggieri:
or ti diro` perche' i son tal vicino.
Che per l'effetto de' suo' mai pensieri,
fidandomi di lui, io fossi preso
e poscia morto, dir non e` mestieri;
pero` quel che non puoi avere inteso,
cioe` come la morte mia fu cruda,
udirai, e saprai s'e' m'ha offeso.
Breve pertugio dentro da la Muda
la qual per me ha 'l titol de la fame,
e che conviene ancor ch'altrui si chiuda,
m'avea mostrato per lo suo forame
piu` lune gia`, quand'io feci 'l mal sonno
che del futuro mi squarcio` 'l velame.
Questi pareva a me maestro e donno,
cacciando il lupo e ' lupicini al monte
per che i Pisan veder Lucca non ponno.
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Con cagne magre, studiose e conte
Gualandi con Sismondi e con Lanfranchi
s'avea messi dinanzi da la fronte.
In picciol corso mi parieno stanchi
lo padre e ' figli, e con l'agute scane
mi parea lor veder fender li fianchi.
Quando fui desto innanzi la dimane,
pianger senti' fra 'l sonno i miei figliuoli
ch'eran con meco, e dimandar del pane.
Ben se' crudel, se tu gia` non ti duoli
pensando cio` che 'l mio cor s'annunziava;
e se non piangi, di che pianger suoli?
Gia` eran desti, e l'ora s'appressava
che 'l cibo ne solea essere addotto,
e per suo sogno ciascun dubitava;
e io senti' chiavar l'uscio di sotto
a l'orribile torre; ond'io guardai
nel viso a' mie' figliuoi sanza far motto.
Io non piangea, si` dentro impetrai:
piangevan elli; e Anselmuccio mio
disse: "Tu guardi si`, padre! che hai?".
Percio` non lacrimai ne' rispuos'io
tutto quel giorno ne' la notte appresso,
infin che l'altro sol nel mondo uscio.
Come un poco di raggio si fu messo
nel doloroso carcere, e io scorsi
per quattro visi il mio aspetto stesso,
ambo le man per lo dolor mi morsi;
ed ei, pensando ch'io 'l fessi per voglia
di manicar, di subito levorsi
e disser: "Padre, assai ci fia men doglia
se tu mangi di noi: tu ne vestisti
queste misere carni, e tu le spoglia".
Queta'mi allor per non farli piu` tristi;
lo di` e l'altro stemmo tutti muti;
ahi dura terra, perche' non t'apristi?
Poscia che fummo al quarto di` venuti,
Gaddo mi si gitto` disteso a' piedi,
dicendo: "Padre mio, che' non mi aiuti?".
Quivi mori`; e come tu mi vedi,
vid'io cascar li tre ad uno ad uno
tra 'l quinto di` e 'l sesto; ond'io mi diedi,
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gia` cieco, a brancolar sovra ciascuno,
e due di` li chiamai, poi che fur morti.
Poscia, piu` che 'l dolor, pote' 'l digiuno>>.
Quand'ebbe detto cio`, con li occhi torti
riprese 'l teschio misero co'denti,
che furo a l'osso, come d'un can, forti.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia, Infierno 33
Una vez allÍ llegarás a la ciudad de Cumas
y a los lagos divinos y al Averno resonante de bosques,
verás a la exaltada profetisa que anuncia los hados futuros bajo
una roca hueca y escribe en hojas de árboles sus vaticinios;
los cuales dispone en cierta manera
dejándolos así encerrados en su caverna
donde permanecen quietos en su lugar y no se apartan de su sitio.
Ahora, si al girar los goznes de la puerta entra la más suave
ráfaga de viento, se dispersan y revoloteando por todo el ámbito
aquellas hojas escritas y ya de recogerlas
no se cuida, ni de ponerlas en su lugar o juntar las respuestas:
Los que has ta allí fueron se alejan sin respuesta, maldiciendo la cueva
de la Sibila. No debe de preocuparte entonces el tiempo invertido,
aunque te increpen tus compañeros y tu ruta requiera con fuerza
que hizes las velas a alta mar y llenes los pliegues de viento favorable,
hasta que veas a la Sibila e implores sus oráculos con preces
y ella te responda y benévola libere sus labios y su voz.
445
450
455
(Libro 3)
.........................
AsÍ dijo a Eneas (no se retrasan los hombres en cumplir las sagradas
órdenes) y convoca la sacerdotisa a los teucros al alto templo.
El flanco inmenso de la roca eubea se abre en forma de una inmensa
caverna, a la que llevan cien amplias bocas y cien puertas,
por donde salen con estruendo otras tantas voces, respuestas de la Sibila.
40
365
HabÍan ya llegado al umbral cuando dice la virgen: "Es el momento
de buscar los hados. El dios, he aquÍ al dios!" Al decir esto
delante de la puerta, inmutósele el rostro y perdió el color
y se le erizaron los cabellos. Jadeando, el pecho hinchado
de sacro furor, parece que va creciendo y que su voz
no suena como mortal, porque la inspira el numen
del dios, ya más cerca. ´"¿Dudas en tus votos y plegarias,
troyano Eneas? ¿Dudas? Pues ten por cierto que antes no han de abrirse
las grandes bocas de este portentosa casa."
Y dicho esto se calló. Un helado temblor recorrió los duros
huesos de los teucros, y saca el rey sus preces de lo hondo del pecho.
45
50
55
......................
Pero, sin someterse aún, revuélvese terrible por la caverna
como bacante la terrible Sibila, intentando sacudirse del pecho
al dios imponente, pero cuando más ella se esfuerza, tanto más
fatiga él su espumante boca hasta domar su fiero corazón.
Y entonces se abren, por sí solas, las cien enormes bocas del templo
llevando por el aire las respuestas de la vidente:
"...Veo Guerras, horribles guerras..."
80
...............................
Con tales palabras del interior del templo la Sibila de Cumas
anuncia horrendos misterios y resuena en el antro,
envolviendo en términos oscuros, cosas verdaderas. De esta suerte
Apolo rige las riendas de su locura y aguija su aliento.
(Libro VI)
—Virgilio, Eneida
There is no beauty in New England like the boats.
Each itself, even the paint white
Dipping to each time
At anchor, mast
And rigging tightly oart of it
Fresh from the dry tools
And the dry New England hands.
—George Oppen, Product (frag.)
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De los cerros altos del sur, el de Luvina es el más alto y el más pedregoso. Está plagado de
esa piedra gris con la que hacen la cal, pero en Luvina no hacen cal con ella ni le sacan ningún
provecho. Allí la llaman piedra cruda, y la loma que sube hacia Luvina la nombran Cuesta de la
Piedra Cruda. El aire y el sol se han encargado de desmenuzarla, de modo de que la tierra de por allí
es blanca y brillante como si estuviera rociada siempre por el rocío del amanecer; aunque esto es un
puro decir,porque en Luvina los días son tan fríos como las noches y el rocío se cuaja en el cielo
antes que llegue a caer sobre la tierra.
"...Y la tierra es empinada. Se desgaja por todos lados en barrancas hondas, de un fondo que
se pierde tan lejano. Dicen los de Luvina que de aquellas barrancas suben los sueños; pero yo lo
único que vi subir fue el viento, en tremolina, como si allá abajo lo hubieran encañonado en tubos de
carrizo. Un viento que no deja crecer ni a las dulcamaras: esas plantitas tristes que apenas si pueden
vivir un poco untadas en la tierra, agarradas con todas sus manos al despeñadero de los montes. Sólo
a veces, allí donde hay un poco de sombra, escondido entre las piedras, florece el chicalote con sus
amapolas blancas. Pero el chicalote pronto se marchita. Entonces uno lo oye rasguñando el aire con
sus ramas espinosas, haciendo un ruido como el de un cuchillo sobre una piedra de afilar.
"Ya mirará usted ese viento que sopla sobre Luvina. Es pardo. Dicen que porque arrastra
arena de volcán; pero lo cierto es que es un aire negro. Ya lo verá usted. Se planta en Luvina
prendiéndose de las cosas como si las mordiera. Y sobran días en que se lleva el techo de las casas
como si se llevara un sombrero de petate, dejando los paredones lisos, descobijados. Luego rasca
como si tuviera uñas: uno lo oye mañana y tarde, hora tras hora, sin descanso, raspando las paredes,
arrancando tecatas de tierra, escarbando con su pala picuda por debajo de las puertas, hasta sentirlo
bullir dentro de uno como si se pusiera a remover los goznes de nuestros mismos huesos. Ya lo verá
usted."
El hombre aquel que hablaba se quedó callado un rato, mirando hacia afuera.
Hasta ellos llegaba el sonido del río pasando sus crecidas aguas por las ramas de los
camichines, el rumor del aire moviendo suavemente las hojas de los almendros, y los gritos de los
niños jugando en el pequeño espacio iluminado por la luz que salía de la tienda.
Los comejenes entraban y rebotaban contra la lámpara de petróleo, cayendo al suelo con las
alas chamuscadas.
Y afuera seguía avanzando la noche.
—Juan Rulfo, Lluvina
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MULTIPLICITY
Noche y día no son diferentes; a la misma cosa se llama a veces noche y a veces día. Son una
sola cosa. Sin embargo no debemos aferrarnos a la unidad como si ella también fuera una sola cosa.
El significado único se expresa en todas las variaciones —cada hoja de hierba y cada grano de arena.
—Anne Bancroft, Zen
Gadda
In each episode in one of Gadda's novels, the least thing is seen as the centre of a network of
relationships that the writer cannot restrain himself from following, multiplying the details so that his
desciptions and digressions become infinite.. Whatever the starting point, the matter in hand spreads
out and out, encompassing ever vaster horizons, and if it were permitted to go on further and further
in every direction, it would encompass the entire universe.
(In) the episode of finding the stolen jewels in chapter nine of "That Awful Mess...", we are told
about every single precious stone, its geological history, its chemical composition, with historical and
artistic references and all the possible uses to which it might be put, together with the associations of
images that these evoke.
(For) Gadda this knowledge of things—seen as the convergence of infinite relationships, past and
future, real or possible—demands that everything should be precisely named, described, and located
in space and time. He does this by exploiting the semantic potential of words, of all the varieties of
verbal and syntactical forms with their connotations and tones, together with the often comic effects
created by their juxtaposition.
Gadda Knew that "to know is to insert something into what is real, and hence to distort reality."
Musil
For Musil, knowledge is the awareness of the incompatibility of two opposite polarities. One of these
he calls exactitude—or at other times mathematics, pure spirit, or even the military mentality—while
the other he calls soul, or irrationality, humanity, chaos. Everything he knows or thinks he deposits in
an encyclopedic book that he tries to keep in the form of a novel, but its structure continually
changes; it comes to pieces in his hands. The result is that not only does he never manages to finish
he novel, but he never succeeds in deciding on its general outlines or how to contain the enormous
mass of material whithin set limits. If we compare these two engineer-writers, Gadda, for whom
understanding meant allowing himself to become entangled in a network of relationships, and Musil,
who gives the impression of always understanding everything in the multiplicity of codes and levels
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without ever allowing himself to become involved, we have to record this one fact common to both:
their inability to find an ending.
Proust
Not even Marcel Proust managed to put an end to his encyclopedic, novel, though not for lack of
design, since the idea for the book came to him all at once, the beginning and end and the general
outline. The reason was that the work grew denser and denser from the inside through its own
organic vitality. the network that links all things is also Proust's theme, but in him this net is
composed of points in space-time occupied in succession by everyone, which brings about an infinite
multiplication of the dimensions of space and time. The world expands until it can no longer be
grasped, and knowledge, for Proust, is attained by suffering this intangibility. In this sense a typical
expeirnce of knowledge is the jealousy felt by the narrator for Albertine:
'And I realised the impossibility which love comes up against. We imagine that it has as its object a
being that can be laid down in front of us, enclosed within a body. Alas, it is the extension of that
being to all the points in space and time that it has occupied and will occupy. If we do not possess its
contact with this or that place, this or that hour, we do not possess that being. But we cannot touch all
these points. If only they were indicated to us, we might perhaps contrive to reach out to them. But
we grope for them without finding them. Hence mistrust, jealousy, persecutions. We waste precious
time on absurd clues and pass by the truth without suspecting it."
This passage is on the same page in The Captive that deals with the irascible deities who control the
telephone. A few pages later we are present at on of the first displays of airplanes, as in the volume
before (Cities of the Plain) we saw cars replacing carriages, changing the ratio of space to time to
such an extent that "art is also changed by it." I say all this to show that, in his awareness of
technology that we see emerging little by little in the Remembrance.. is not just part of the "color of
the times," but part of the work's vey form, of its inner logic, of the author's anxiety to plumb the
multiplicity of the writable within the briefness of life that consumes it.
I have come to the end of this apologia for the novel as a vast net. Someone might object that the
more the work tends toward the multiplication of possibilities, the further it departs from that unicum
which is the self of the writer, his inner sincerity and the discovery of his own truth. But I would
answer: Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books
we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory ob objects, a
series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.
But perhaps the answer that stands closest to my heart is something else: Think what it would be to
have a work conceived from outside the self, a work that would let us escape the limited perpective
of the individual ego, not only to enter into selves like our own but to give speech to that which has
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no language, to the bird perching on the edge of the gutter, to the tree in spring and the tree in fall, to
stone, to cement, to plastic...
Was this not perhaps what Ovid was aiming at, when he wrote about the continuity of forms? And
what Lucretius was aiming at when he identified himself with that nature common to each and every
thing?
Another very wrong idea that is also going the rounds at the moment is the equivalence that has been
established between inspiration, exploration of the subconscious, and liberation, between chance,
automatism, and freedom. Now this sort of inspiration, which consists in blindly obeying every
impulse, is in fact slavery. The classical author who wrote his tragedy observing a certain number of
known rules is freer than the poet who writes down whatever comes into his head and is slave to
other rules of which he knows nothing.
—
Raymond Queneau
—Italo Calvino, Seis propuestas para el próximo milenio
Here's a skull now. This skull hath lien
you i' th' earth three-and-twenty years.
Ham. Whose was it?
Clown. A whoreson, mad fellow's it was. Whose do you think it was?
Ham. Nay, I know not.
Clown. A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! 'A pour'd a flagon of
Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick's
skull, the King's jester.
Ham. This?
Clown. E'en that.
Ham. Let me see. [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him,
Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He
hath borne me on his back a thousand tunes. And now how abhorred
in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those
lips that I have kiss'd I know not how oft. Where be your gibes
now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment that
were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your
own grinning? Quite chap- fall'n? Now get you to my lady's
chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this
favour she must come. Make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio,
tell me one thing.
Hor. What's that, my lord?
Ham. Dost thou think Alexander look'd o' this fashion i' th' earth?
Hor. E'en so.
Ham. And smelt so? Pah!
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[Puts down the skull.]
Hor. E'en so, my lord.
Ham. To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not
imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander till he find it
stopping a bunghole?
Hor. 'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
Ham. No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty
enough, and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died,
Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is
earth; of earth we make loam; and why of that loam (whereto he
was converted) might they not stop a beer barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall t' expel the winter's flaw!
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet 5.1
THE HUNGRY FAMISHED GULL
FLAPS O'ER THE WATERS DULL.
That is how poets write, the similar sounds. But then Shakespeare has no rhymes: blank verse. The
flow of the language it is. The thoughts. Solemn.
HAMLET, I AM THY FATHER'S SPIRIT
DOOMED FOR A CERTAIN TIME TO WALK THE EARTH.
...
It's always flowing in a stream, never the same, which in the stream of life we trace. Because life is a
stream.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.163
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Pero toda obra de arte, divina o diabólica, tiene un elemento indispensable, que es la simplicidad
esencial, aun cuando el procedimiento pueda ser complicado. Así, en Hamlet, por ejemplo, los
elementos grotescos: el sepulturero, las flores de la doncella loca, la fantástica elegancia de Osric, la
lividez del espectro, el cráneo verdoso, todo ello es como un remolino de extravagancias en torno a la
sencilla figura de un hombre vestido de negro.
—G.K.Chesterton,
Las pisadas misteriosas
next another image yet another so soon again the third perhaps they'll soon cease it's me all of me and
my mother's face I see it from below it's like nothing I ever saw
we are on a veranda smotheres in verbena the scented sun dapples the red tiles yes I assure you
the huge head hatted with birds and flowers is bowed down over my curls the eyes burn with severe
love I offer her mine pale upcast to the sky whence cometh our help and which I know perhaps even
then with time shall pass away
in a world bolt upright on a cushion on my knees whelmed in a nightshirt I pray according to her
instructions
that's not all she closes her eyes and drones a snatch of the so-called Apostles' Creed I steal a look at
her lips
she stops her eyes burn down on me again I cast up mine in haste and repeat awry
the air thrills with the hum of insects
that's all it goes out like a lamp blown out
the space of a moment the passing moment that's all my past little rat at my heels the rest false
—Samuel Beckett, How It Is, part 1
Dark dome received, reverbed.
--And what a character is Iago! undaunted John Eglinton exclaimed. When all is said Dumas FILS
(or is it Dumas PERE?) is right. After God Shakespeare has created most.
--Man delights him not nor woman neither, Stephen said. He returns after a life of absence to that
spot of earth where he was born, where he has always been, man and boy, a silent witness and there,
his journey of life ended, he plants his mulberrytree in the earth. Then dies. The motion is ended.
Gravediggers bury Hamlet PERE and Hamlet FILS. A king and a prince at last in death, with
incidental music. And, what though murdered and betrayed, bewept by all frail tender hearts for,
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Dane or Dubliner, sorrow for the dead is the only husband from whom they refuse to be divorced. If
you like the epilogue look long on it: prosperous Prospero, the good man rewarded, Lizzie, grandpa's
lump of love, and nuncle Richie, the bad man taken off by poetic justice to the place where the bad
niggers go. Strong curtain. He found in the world without as actual what was in his world within as
possible. Maeterlinck says: IF SOCRATES LEAVE HIS HOUSE TODAY HE WILL FIND THE
SAGE SEATED ON HIS DOORSTEP. IF JUDAS GO FORTH TONIGHT IT IS TO JUDAS HIS
STEPS WILL TEND. Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting
robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting
ourselves. The playwright who wrote the folio of this world and wrote it badly (He gave us light first
and the sun two days later), the lord of things as they are whom the most Roman of catholics call
DIO BOIA, hangman god, is doubtless all in all in all of us, ostler and butcher, and would be bawd
and cuckold too but that in the economy of heaven, foretold by Hamlet, there are no more marriages,
glorified man, an androgynous angel, being a wife unto himself.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.226
—¿Quién eres?
—Soy el hombre que debía casarse con la muchacha que tú no habrías elegido, que debía tomar el
otro camino en la encrucijada, beber del otro pozo. Al no elegir, has impedido mi elección.
—¿A dónde vas?
—A una posada distinta de la que encontrarás.
—¿Dónde volveré a verte?
—Ahorcado en un patíbulo distinto de aquél en el que te ahorcarán.
—Italo Calvino, La taberna de los destinos cruzados.
The most prolific of all animals whatever is the mouse — one hesitates to state its fertility, even
though on the authority of ristotle and the troops of Alexander the Great. It is stated that with it
impregnation takes place by licking and not by coupling. There is a record of 120 being born from a
single mother, and in Persia of mice already pregnant being found in the parent's womb; and it is
believed that they are made pregnants by tasting salt. Acoordingly it ceases to be surprising how
large an army of field-mice ravages tha crops; and in the case of field-mice it is also hitherto
unknown exactly how this vast multitude is suddenly destroyed: for they are never found dead, and
nobody exists who ever dug up a mouse in a field in winter. Vast numbers thus appear in the Troad,
and they have by now banished the inhabitants from that country. They appear during the droughts. It
is also related that when a mouse is going to die a worm grows in its head. The mice in Egypt have
hard hair like hedgehogs, and also they walk on two feet, as also do the Alpine mouse. — When
animals of a different kind pair, the union is only fertile when the two species have the same period
of gestation. — There is a popular belief that of the oviparous quadrupeds the lizard bears through
the mouth, but this is denied by Aristotle. Lizards do not hatch their eggs; but forget where they laid
them, as this animal has no memory; and consequently the young ones break the shell without
assistance.
—Pliny, Natural History, Book X, LXXXIV
373
If the winds of heaven
Would only blow shut the doors
Of the corridors
Of the clouds, I could
Keep these beautiful girls
For a little while.
—The Abbot Henjo, 9th century.
Broadway Central Hotel, New York, Saturday, 31 May 1913, 6-7 p.m.
We got into dock at 8:30 this morning, and then there was a lot of loitering about the luggage:
and finally I got here. And it's a beastly hotel: and I'm in a beastly room over a cobbled street where
there's the Hell of a noise; and I've been tramping this damned city all day, and riding in its cars
(when they weren't too full); and it's hot; and I'm very tired and cross; and my pyjamas haven't come;
and my letters of introduction, which I left behind "en masse," haven't come; and nothing's come; and
I don't know a soul in New York; and I'm very tired; and I don't like the food; and I don't like the
people's faces; and I don't like the newspapers; and I haven't a friend in the world; and nobody loves
me; and I'm going to be extraordinarily miserable these six months; and I want to die.
There!
Oh, it's Saturday evening, and if I were in England I might be lying on the sofa in Kensington, or
on the floor in Gray's Inn, and my head in your lap, and your face bent down over mine, and your
hands about my head, and my eyes shut, and I only feeling your hands going to and fro in my hair
and your kind lips wandering over my face. And I'm here in a dirty room and lonely and tired and ill,
and this won't get to you for ten days.
I'm crying. I want you. I don't want to be alone.
Rupert
— Letter from Rupert Brooke (poet) to CathleenNesbitt
Had Pyrrhus not fallen by a beldam's hand in Argos or Julius Caesar not been knifed to death. They
are not to be thought away. Time has branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the
infinite possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing that they never were?
Or was that only possible which came to pass? Weave, weaver of the wind.
--Tell us a story, sir.
--O, do, sir. A ghost story.
--Where do you begin in this? Stephen asked, opening another book.
--WEEP NO MORE, Comyn said.
374
--Go on then, Talbot.
--And the story, sir?
--After, Stephen said. Go on, Talbot.
A swarthy boy opened a book and propped it nimbly under the breastwork of his satchel. He recited
jerks of verse with odd glances at the text:
--WEEP NO MORE, WOFUL SHEPHERDS, WEEP NO MORE
FOR LYCIDAS, YOUR SORROW, IS NOT DEAD,
SUNK THOUGH HE BE BENEATH THE WATERY FLOOR ...
It must be a movement then, an actuality of the possible as possible. Aristotle's phrase formed itself
within the gabbled verses and floated out into the studious silence of the library of Saint Genevieve
where he had read, sheltered from the sin of Paris, night by night. By his elbow a delicate Siamese
conned a handbook of strategy. Fed and feeding brains about me: under glowlamps, impaled, with
faintly beating feelers: and in my mind's darkness a sloth of the underworld, reluctant, shy of
brightness, shifting her dragon scaly folds. Thought is the thought of thought. Tranquil brightness.
The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility sudden, vast, candescent:
form of forms.
Talbot repeated:
--THROUGH THE DEAR MIGHT OF HIM THAT WALKED THE WAVES,
THROUGH THE DEAR MIGHT ...
--Turn over, Stephen said quietly. I don't see anything.
--What, sir? Talbot asked simply, bending forward.
His hand turned the page over. He leaned back and went on again, having just remembered. Of him
that walked the waves. Here also over these craven hearts his shadow lies and on the scoffer's heart
and lips and on mine. It lies upon their eager faces who offered him a coin of the tribute. To Caesar
what is Caesar's, to God what is God's. A long look from dark eyes, a riddling sentence to be woven
and woven on the church's
looms. Ay.
RIDDLE ME, RIDDLE ME, RANDY RO.
MY FATHER GAVE ME SEEDS TO SOW.
Talbot slid his closed book into his satchel.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, p.28
375
Manhattan. De Times Square a la Calle 50 abarca todo lo que Santo Tomás de Aquino olvidó
incluir en su magnus opus, es decir, entre otras cosas, hamburguesas, botones de cuello, perros de
lanas, máquinas tragaperras, bombines grises, cintas de máquina de escribir, pirulíes, retretes
gratuitos, paños higiénicos, pastillas de menta, bolas de billar, cebollas picadas, servilletas arrugadas,
bocas de alcantarilla, goma de mascar, sidecares y caramelos ácidos, celofán, neumáticos radiales,
magnetos, linimento para caballos, pastillas para la tos, pastillas de menta y esa opacidad felina de
eunuco histéricamente dotado que se dirige al despacho de refrescos con un fusil de cañones
recortados entre las piernas. La atmósfera de antes de comer, la mezcla de pachulí, pecblenda
caliente, electricidad helada, sudor azucarado y orina pulverizada te provoca una fiebre de
expectación delirante. Cristo no volverá a bajar nunca más a la tierra ni habrá legislador alguno, ni
cesarán los asesinatos ni los robos ni las revoluciones y, sin embargo... y, sin embargo, esperas algo,
algo aterradoramente maravilloso y absurdo, quizás una langosta fría con mayonesa servida gratis, tal
vez una invención, como la luz eléctrica, como la televisión, pero más devastadora, más
desgarradora, una invención inconcebible que produzca una calma y un vacío demoledores, no la
calma y el vacío de la muerte, sino de una vida como la que soñaron los monjes, como la que sueñan
todavía en el Himalaya, en Tibet, en Lahore, en las Islas Aleutianas, en Polinesia, en la Isla de
Pascua, el sueño de hombres anteriores al diluvio, antes de que se escribiera la palabra, el sueño de
hombres de las cavernas y antropófagos, de los que tienen doble sexo y colas cortas, de aquellos de
quienes se dice que están locos y no tienen modo de defenderse porque los que no están locos los
sobrepasan en número. Energía fría atrapada por brutos astutos y después liberada como cohetes
explosivos, ruedas intrincadamente engranadas para causar la ilusión de fuerza y velocidad, unas para
producir luz, otras energía, otras movimiento, palabras telegrafiadas por maníacos y montadas como
dientes postizos, perfectos y repulsivos como leprosos, movimiento congraciador, suave, escurridizo,
absurdo, vertical, horizontal, circular, entre paredes y a través de paredes, por placer, por cambalache,
por delito, por el sexo; todo luz, movimiento, poder concebido impersonalmente, generado y
distribuido a lo largo de una raja coñiforme asfixiada y destinada a deslumbrar y espantar al salvaje,
al patán, al extranjero, pero nadie deslumbrado ni espantado, éste hambriento, aquél lascivo, todos
uno y el mismo y no diferentes del salvaje, el patán, el extranjero, salvo en insignificancias, en
batiburrillo, las burbujas del pensamiento, el serrín de la mente.
—Henry Miller, Trópico de Capricornio
376
Lear. No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i' th' cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them tooWho loses and who wins; who's in, who's outAnd take upon 's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies; and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by th' moon.
Edm. Take them away.
Lear. Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia,
The gods themselves throw incense. Have I caught thee?
He that parts us shall bring a brand from heaven
And fire us hence like foxes. Wipe thine eyes.
The goodyears shall devour 'em, flesh and fell,
Ere they shall make us weep! We'll see 'em starv'd first.
Come.
Exeunt [Lear and Cordelia, guarded].
—William Shakespeare, King Lear 5.3
In the very earliest time,
when both people and animals lived on earth,
a person could become an animal if he wanted to
and an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language.
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could
happen—
all you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
That's the way it was.
—Eskimo (Anonymous), Magic Words.
377
Neither the sea nor land may claim my body.
In this death they share me in equal parts.
The fish devoured all my flesh in the sea,
but my bones were washed up on this cold beach.
—Antipatros of Tessalonike, 1st century
Mientras estaba contemplando aquellos espíritus, se lanzó una serpiente con seis patas sobre
uno de ellos, agarrándosee enteramente. Con las patas de enmedio le oprimió el vientre; con las de
adelante le sujetó los brazos, y después le mordió en ambas mejillas. Extendiendo en seguida las
patas de detrás sobre sus muslos, le pasó la cola por entre los dos, y se la mantuvo apretada contra los
riñones. Nunca se agarró tan fuertemente la hiedra al árbol, como la horrible fiera adaptó sus
miembros a los del culpable: después una y otro se confundieron, como si fuesen de blanda cera, y
mezclaron tan bien sus colores, que ninguno de ambos parecía ya lo que antes había sido. Así con el
ardor del fuego se extiende sobre el papel un color oscuro, que no es negro, y sin embargo deja de ser
blanco. Los otros dos condenados le miraban, exclamando cada cual: "¡Ay, Agnel, cómo cambias!
No eres ya ni uno ni dos."
Com'io tenea levate in lor le ciglia,
e un serpente con sei pie` si lancia
dinanzi a l'uno, e tutto a lui s'appiglia.
Co' pie` di mezzo li avvinse la pancia,
e con li anterior le braccia prese;
poi li addento` e l'una e l'altra guancia;
li diretani a le cosce distese,
e miseli la coda tra 'mbedue,
e dietro per le ren su` la ritese.
Ellera abbarbicata mai non fue
ad alber si`, come l'orribil fiera
per l'altrui membra avviticchio` le sue.
Poi s'appiccar, come di calda cera
fossero stati, e mischiar lor colore,
ne' l'un ne' l'altro gia` parea quel ch'era:
come procede innanzi da l'ardore,
per lo papiro suso, un color bruno
che non e` nero ancora e 'l bianco more.
Li altri due 'l riguardavano, e ciascuno
gridava: <<Ome`, Agnel, come ti muti!
Vedi che gia` non se' ne' due ne' uno>>.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,Infierno 25
378
Reemprendieron entretanto su camino, por donde avanza el sendero, y subieron a la colina que
mucho asoma por encima de la ciudad y desde lo alto contemplaron la fortaleza que tienen enfrente.
Admira Eneas aquellas moles, que fueran cabañas en otro tiempo, admira las puertas, el ir y
venir de la gente por las veredas. Se afanan con fiebre los tirios: unos trazan la muralla y levantan la
fortaleza y hacen rodar las piedras en sus manos; otros eligen un lugar para su techo y lo rodean de
un surco; leyes están dictando los jueces y el senado sagrado. Unos aquí excavan el puerto; otros
preparan profundos cimientos para el teatro y sacan enormes columnas de las rocas que habrán de
decorar la escena futura.
Igual que las abejas al entrar el verano por los campos florido se afanan bajo el sol, sacando
fuera las crías ya adultas de la especie, o espesando la líquida miel o hinchando las celdillas con el
dulce néctar, o toman la carga de las que van llegando o en formación cerrada de la colmena arrojan
al perezoso rebaño de los zánganos; hierve el trabajo y de la miel se escapa un olor a tomillo.
«Afortunados los que ven sus murallas alzarse», exclama Eneas de la ciudad contemplando los
tejados. Encerrado en la niebla (asombra decirlo) se mete en el centro y se mezcla a la gente sin ser
visto.
Un bosque se alzaba en el corazón de la ciudad, de sombra amenísima, donde, arrojados por el
torbellino y las aguas, sacaron del suelo los púnicos la primera señal que Juno soberana les había
mostrado: la cabeza de un fogoso caballo; augurio de que habría de ser por los siglos un pueblo
famoso en la guerra y próspero en la paz.
Aquí levantaba la sidonia Dido un templo
enorme a Juno, opulento de ofrendas y del numen de la diosa, y para él se alzaban sobre la escalinata
dinteles de bronce y vigas con bronce trabadas, y chirriaban en sus goznes las puertas de bronce.
El inesperado espectáculo que se ofreció a Eneas en aquél bosque calmó por primera vez su
temor; allí por primera vez se atrevió a esperar salvación y a concebir mejores esperanzas en medio
de la adversidad. Porque mientras, bajo la inmensa bóveda del templo, va examinando atentamente
cada una de sus maravillas, esperando a la reina, mientras contempla la fortuna de la ciudad, y la
maestría de los artesanos, y el trabajo
de las obras, ve por orden las luchas de
Troya y las guerras que había divulgado la fama por todo el orbe, y a los Atridas y a Príamo y con
ambos al cruel Aquiles.
Se detuvo, y entre lágrimas dijo: «¿Qué lugar, Acates, qué región de la tierra no está llena de
nuestras fatigas? Mira a Príamo. Aquí también se premia la virtud, lágrimas hay para las penas y
tocan el corazón las cosas de los hombres. Deja ese miedo, que esta fama alguna ayuda habrá de
reportarte.» Dice así y alimenta su ánimo con la pintura vana,
sollozando sin tregua, y
humedeciendo su rostro con vasto llanto. Pues veía cómo por aquí escapaban los griegos peleando de
Pérgamo alrededor, acosados por la juventud troyana; por aquí los frigios, al perseguirles con su
carro Aquiles empenachado. Y no lejos de allí, blancas como la nieve, las tiendas de Reso reconoce
llorando: entregadas al sueño primero, el hijo de Tideo las pasaba a cuchillo con cruel carnicería y se
lleva al campamento los fogosos caballos antes de que probasen los pastos de Troya y bebieran del
Janto.
379
En otra parte Troilo escapando tras perder sus armas, pobre muchacho en desigual combate con
Aquiles, los caballos lo arrastran y cuelga caído del carro vacío, sujetando las riendas sin embargo;
nuca y cabellos le arrastran por el suelo, y escribe en el polvo con la lanza vuelta.
Mientras tanto, las mujeres de Ilión subían al templo de la injusta Palas, sueltos los cabellos, a
ofrecerle, suplicantes, el velo sagrado, tristes, golpeándose el pecho con las palmas; mas la diosa les
daba la espalda y en el suelo clavaba los ojos. Tres veces había arrastrado Aquiles el cuerpo de
Héctor en torno a los muros de Troya y lo vendía, sin vida, por oro. En este punto, Eneas deja escapar
un gemido de lo hondo del pecho,
al divisar los despojos, el carro y el cuerpo de
su pobre amigo, y a Príamo tendiendo sus manos inermes. También él se vio, mezclado con los
príncipes de los aqueos, y el ejército de la Aurora y las armas del negro Memnón. Guía la marcha de
las amazonas de escudos de luna Pentesilea, ardiendo enloquecida entre millares, con áureo ceñidor
bajo el pecho descubierto, guerrera, virgen que se atreve a medirse con varones.
—Virgilio, Eneida, Libro 1
Algo faltaba para completar los hados. Suspira desde lo más hondo de su corazón; las lágrimas
que aparecen, resbalan por sus mejillas, y dice así: "Los hados se me ponen delante, se me prohíbe
que hable más y se me priva del uso de la palabra. No tenía gran valor mi ciencia, ya que me ha
acarreado la cólera de la divinidad: hubiese preferido haber ignorado el porvenir. Ya parece que se
me quita la figura humana, ya me gusta la hierba como alimento, ya me lleva a través de las extensas
llanuras un instinto fogoso; mi cuerpo toma la forma de una yegua, como el cuerpo de mi padre.
¿Pero por qué completamente? Yo tengo un padre biforme".
La última parte de su lamento se entendió poco y sus palabras fueron confusas. Aquello no
era ni el sonido del lenguaje ni el grito de una yegua, sino del que la imita. Instantes después, lanza
unos relinchos y extiende sus brazos hacia la hierba. Los dedos se unen y un suave casco le liga sus
uñnas en una suave superficie de cuerno; el cuello y la boca se dilatan.; la parte mayor de su largo
manto se transforma en cola y los flotantes cabellos que reposaban alrededor del cuello se cambian
en crines que caen hacia su lado derecho. Al mismo tiempo, su voz y su rostro se transformaban y el
prodigio, su metamorfosis, también le dio otro nombre.
— Ovidio, Metamorfosis Libro 2.8
380
L'anguilla, la sirena
dei mari freddi che lascia il Baltico
per giungere ai nostri mari,
ai nostri estuari, ai fiumi
che risale in profondo, sotto la piena avversa,
di ramo in ramo e poi
di capello in capello, assottigliati,
sempre piú addentro, sempre piú nel cuore
del macigno, filtrando
tra gorielli di melma finché un giorno
una luce scoccata dai castagni
ne accende il guizzo in pozze d' acquamorta,
nei fossi che declinano
dai balzi d' Appennino alla Romagna;
l'anguilla, torcia, frusta,
freccia d'Amore in terra
che solo i nostri botri o i disseccati
ruscelli pirenaici riconducono
a paradisi di fecondazione;
l'anima verde che cerca
vita là dove solo
morde l' arsura e la desolazione,
la scintilla che dice
tutto comincia quando tutto pare
incarbonirsi, bronco seppellito;
l'iride breve, gemella
di quella che incastonano i tuoi cigli
e fai brillare intatta in mezzo ai figli
dell' uomo, immersi nel tuo fango, puoi tu
non crederla sorella?
(Eugenio Montale, La bufera;
Parte quinta - Silvae)
La anguila, la sirena
de mares fríos que abandona el Báltico
para llegar a nuestros mares,
a nuestros estuarios, a los ríos
que remonta en profundidad, bajo adversas
corrientes,
de brazo en brazo, y luego
de arroyos en acequias más estrechas,
cada vez más adentro, más en el corazón
de la piedra, filtrándose
por fangosos canales hasta que un día
una luz lanzada desde los castaños
su brillo enciende en charcos de agua muerta,
en los fosos que bajan
desde los riscos de los Apeninos a la Romaña;
la anguila, antorcha, fusta,
flecha de Amor en tierra
que sólo nuestros cauces o resecos
arroyos pirenaicos devuelven
a paraísos de fecundación;
alma verde que busca
vida donde tan sólo reinan sequías y desolación,
centella que nos dice
todo comienza cuando todo parece
carbonizarse, sepultada rama,
iris breve, gemelo
de ese que engarzas entre tus pestañas
y haces brillar intacto entre los hijos
del hombre, inmersos en tu barro, ¿puedes
no pensar que es tu hermana?
—Eugenio Montale Trad. Horacio Armani
381
Tengo un miedo terrible de ser un animal
de blanca nieve, que sostuvo padre
y madre, con su sola circulación venosa,
y que, este día espléndido, solar y arzobispal,
día que representa así a la noche,
linealmente
elude este animal estar contento, respirar
y transformarse y tener plata.
Sería pena grande
que fuera yo tan hombre hasta ese punto.
Un disparate, una premisa ubérrima
a cuyo yugo ocasional sucumbe
el gonce espiritual de mi cintura.
Un disparate... En tanto,
es así, más acá de la cabeza de Dios,
en la tabla de Locke, de Bacon, en el lívido pescuezo
de la bestia, en el hocico del alma.
Y, en lógica aromática,
tengo ese miedo práctico, este día
espléndido, lunar, de ser aquél, éste talvez,
a cuyo olfato huele a muerto el suelo,
el disparate vivo y el disparate muerto.
¡Oh revolcarse, estar, toser, fajarse,
fajarse la doctrina, la sien, de un hombro al otro,
alejarse, llorar, darlo por ocho
o por siete o por seis, por cinco o darlo
por la vida que tiene tres potencias.
—César Vallejo
382
The bee has flown, the heron remains.1
Night is over,
day is going too.
The young girl quakes and shivers,
not knowing what her lover
will do.
Water won't stay2
in unbaked clay.
The swan flutters, the body withers.
Beating at crows, the arm grieves.3
Says Kabir, the story sputters
and goes out here.4
—Kabir, sabda 106
1
The bee and heron, nigh and day, are images of youth and age, black hair turning to white.
Pani, besides meaning water, signifies luster and beauty.
3
The crow's cawing is auspicious: it means someone is coming. WOmen separated from loved ones chase crows to make
them "talk."
4
The evocative verb sirana means to conclude or extinguish. Its components are sir and ana. "to come [from the feet] to
the head." It is used to describe the extintion of embers from a holy fire which are consigned to a river, and the immersion
of idols after worship.
2
383
STRANGENESS
No hay sorpresas en la vida, usted sabe. Todo lo que nos sorprende es justamente aquello que
confirma el sentido de la vida.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, El astillero, p.113
I often put myself into this state of impossible absurdity in order to try to generate thought in
myself.
—Antonin Artaud, The nerve meter
La belleza es una forma de alarma o de inquietud.
—Borges, Diálogos, n.22
The tapestry known as "Lady with the Unicorn" excited me for reasons which I shall not attempt to
go into here. But when I crossed the border from Czechoslovakia into Poland, it was a summer
afternoon. The border ran through a field of ripe rye, the blondness of which was as blond as the hair
of young Poles; it had the somewhat buttery softness of Poland, about which I knew that in the course
of history it was more sinned against than sinning. I was with another fellow who, like me, had been
expelled by the Czech police, but I very sonn lost sight of hism; perhaps he had strayed off behind a
bush or wanted to get rid of me. He disappeared. The rye field was bounded on the Polish side by a
wood at whose edge was nothing but motionless birches; on the Czech side, by another wood, but of
fir trees. I remained a long time squatting at the edge, intently wondering what lay hidden in the field.
What if I crossed it? Were customs officers hidden in the rye? Invisible hares must have been running
through it. I was uneasy. At noon, beneath a pure sky, all nature was offering me a puzzle, and
offering it to me blandly.
"If something happens," I said to myself, "it will be the appearance of a unicorn. Such a moment
and such a place can only produce a unicorn."
(...)
When I got to the birches, I was in Poland. An enchantment of another order was about to be
offered to me. The "Lady with the Unicorn" is to me the lofty expression of the crossing the line at
noontide. I had just experienced, as a result of fear, an uneasiness in the presence of the mystery of
diurnal nature, at a time when the French countryside where I wandered about, chiefly at night, was
peopled all over with the ghost of Vacher, the killer of shepherds. As I walked through it, I would
listen within me to the accordion tunes he must have played there, and I would mentally invite the
children to come and offer themselves to the cutthroat's hands. However, I have just referred to this in
order to try to tell you at what period of my life nature disturbed me, giving rise within me to the
spontaneous creation of a fabulous fauna or of situations and accidents whose fearful and enchanted
prisoner I was.
—Jean Genet, The Thief's Journal, 49.
El texto toma "forma" estética cuando nos encontramos ante "algo" que no tiene una utilidad aparente
e inmediata como la tiene un texto periodistico, uno juridico, etc. (En este caso, la figura del
unicornio, por ejemplo).
384
A veces un mismo texto puede tener una "utilidad" y a la vez ser estético, no son excluyentes, pero
depende de la sensibilidad (el "filtro') con que se lee. Un ejemplo sería un texto religioso (el
evangelio de Juan, por ejemplo, que es evidentemente el más poético, pero a la vez parte del canon de
la Iglesia —e incluso, para algunos, un documento histórico).
Por otro lado esta aparente inutilidad puede, con el tiempo (en un período largo o breve,pero nunca
inmediatamente) cobrar un sentido inesperado (sernos "útil" de alguna manera, hacerse "funcional"
pero de una forma personal, privada, íntima, difícilmente objetiva o traducible — ej. un verso de un
poema nos puede ayudar a entender algo que presenciamos, o a ver en otra luz un hecho o una idea).
Los cuentos número 2 y 3 de los Italian Folktales de Italo Calvino sirven de ilustración. En el primero
un capitán está tratando de encontrar y rescatar a la hija del rey, accede al pedido de un hombre que
le ruega que lo lleve con él, que no está sin trabajo, etc. Pero este marinero desocupado resulta ser
insoportable, se la pasa gritando, contando chistes y es absolutamente inútil; así que el capitán lo tira
por la borda. El hombre nada hasta llegar a una isla llena de carvenas, donde encuentra a la princesa,
con la cual después se casará. La moraleja es la del hombre que sigue su "naturaleza" en oposión a
aquél que persigue un propósito definido.
En el segundo relato, un viejo le aconseja al héroe que, para rescatar a otra princesa, le pida al rey un
barco con tres bodegas. En una pone miel, en otra pescado podrido y en otra queso. El héroe confía
en su consejero sin entenderlo. Durante el viaje hacen escala en tres islas, una habitada por hormigas,
otra por gaviotas y otra por ratones. A cambio del contenido de la bodega, los tres gruposo de
animales acceden a ayudarlos y de esa manera rescatan a la princesa.
Lo que quería señalar es que la forma enigmática en la que esos cuentos se nos presentan (todo lo que
pasa nos deja azorados porque no parece tener conexión con la finalidad de la historia, con la
búsqueda) refuerzan el interés. En el cuento folklórico generalmente al final todo cobra sentido, pero
en la literatura moderna (como en el ejemplo de Genet más arriba) los sentidos se diseminan, los
temas quedan abiertos (el unicornio) y sin cerrar.
El texto estético nos "golpea" primero, independientemente del sentido; los otros textos tienden a
incitar a una acción. La "respuesta" al texto estético queda en nosotros, la respuesta a otros textos
tiende a volver hacia el mundo en la forma de una acción (incluso ideológica, que no es palpable
inmediatamente — obviamente la literatura también es ideología - habría que seguir el tema...)
Siguiendo esto, la marca de todo gran escritor (más allá de toda interpretación) es lo que Shlovsky y
los Formalistas llaman "extrañamiento" y Bloom "strangeness" y que se hace presente en un manejo
del lenguaje que, por medio de algún rasgo, se diferencia del manejo cotidiano de la lengua (no sólo
las palabras en su orden, su correspondencia y su sonido, sino también en la conexión de ideas o
imágenes en principio extrañas entre sí, o inesperadas). Es decir no es sólo una renovación del mundo
en cuanto a objetivo y material, sino también en las relaciones entre ideas, sensaciones, etc.
Dante, su manejo (su equilibrio) de lo extraño y lo concreto, ofrece innumerables ejemplos. Dice
Eliot: What is surprising about the poetry of Dante is that it is, in one sense, extremely easy to read. It
is a test ( a positive test, I do not assert that it is always valid negatively). that genuine poetry can
communicate before it is understood. (...) The style of Dante has a peculiar lucidity—a poetic as
distinguished from an intellectual lucidity. The thought may be obscure, but the word is lucid, or
rather translucent. (Una cualidad que, según Eliot, comparte con Chaucer y Villon , entre otros.)
385
Eliot habla de: the quality of 'surprise' which Poe declared to be essential to poetry. This 'surprise', at
its highest, could by nothing be better illustrated than by the final lines with which Dante dis misses
the damned master whom he loves and respects:
Then he turned back, and seemed like one of those who run for the green cloth at Verona
through the open field; and of them he seemed like him who wins, and not like him who loses.
—Eliot, Dante.
Ora con brevedad decirte quiero / qué cuerpos dan al alma movimiento / y de dónde le vienen sus
ideas. / Digo que vagan muchos simulacros / en toda dirección con muchas formas, / tan sutiles, que
se unen fácilmente / si llegan a encontrarse por los aires / como el hilo de araña y panes de oro; /
porque aun exceden en delicadeza / a las efigies por las cuales vemos / los objetos, supuesto que se
meten / por todos los conductos de los cuerpos, / y dan interiormente movimiento / del alma a la
sustancia delicada, / y le ponen en juego sus funciones. / Los centauros, Escilas y Cerberos / y
fantasmas de muertos así vemos, / cuyos huesos abraza en sí la tierra: / pues la atmósfera hierve en
simulacros; / de suyo unos se forman por el aire, / otros emanan de los varios cuerpos, / de dos
especies juntas constan otros. / La imagen de un centauro no se forma / seguramente de un centauro
vivo: / no ha criado jamás Naturaleza / semejante animal: es un compuesto / de simulacros de caballo
y hombre / que el 'acaso' juntó; y cual dicho habemos, / su tejido sutil y delicado / la reunión al
momento facilita: / como esta imagen se combinan otras, / que por su extraordinaria ligereza / el alma
afectan al primer impulso, / porque el ánimo mismo es delicado, / y de mobilidad extraordinaria. (...)
Tal vez abulta el alma simulacros / y nos lleva al error y nos engaña: / también transforma el
sexo de la imagen / y en vez de una mujer, sólo tocamos / un hombre transmutado en un instante, / y
otro cualquier objeto que en pos viene, / de semblante y edad muy diferentes: / esto proviene del
olvido y sueño.
(Nota: Lucrecio compara los simulacros que se desprenden de los cuerpos con el humo que sale de la
leña, los vapores que despiden los fuegos, las túnicas que en estío dejan las cigarras, etc., y también
con la luz que, coloreándose, pasa a través de las cortinas, con el olor, y con los simulacros que
vemos en los espejos. Otros se forman en la región del aire. Estos simulacros se mueven con
grandísima velocidad y corren espacios increíbles en un momento.)
—en Borges, Libro de sueños
Empieza por acercarte a tu primera planta y observa atentament cómo corre el agua de lluvia a
partir de ese punto. La lluvia ha debido transportar las semillas lejos. Sigue los surcos abiertos por el
agua, así conocerás la dirección de su curso. Ahora es cuando tienes que buscar la planta que en esa
dirección está más alejada de la tuya. Todas las que crecen entre esas dos son tuyas. Más tarde,
cuando éstas esparzan a su vez sus semillas, podrás, siguiendo el curso de las aguas, a partir de cada
una de esas plantas, ampliar tu territorio.
—Carlos Castaneda, La hierba
del diablo
386
Durante las noches de luna, los marineros se reúnen sobre cubierta. Algunos tocan el acordeón,
otros acarician una mujer de goma. Tú fumas la pipa en compañía de un amigo. El mar te ha
endurecido las pupilas. Has visto demasiados atardeceres ¿Con qué puerto, con qué ciudad no te has
acostado alguna noche?¿Las velas serán capaces de brindarte un horizonte nuevo? Un día en que la
calma ya es una maldición, bajas a tuc cucheta, desanudas un pañuelo de seda, te ahorcas con una
trenza de mujer.
—Oliverio Girondo, Espantapájaros, 3
David (1948)
Apoyado en el pozo, pobre joven, / vuelves hacia mí tu cabeza gentil, / con una risa grave en los
ojos.
Tú eres, David, como un toro en un día de abril, / que de la mano de un muchacho que ríe, / va
dulce a la muerte.
Pognèt tal pos, puor zòvín, / ti voltis viers di me il to ciaf zintíl / cu' un ridi pens tai vuj.
Ti sos, David, coma un toru ta un dí di Avril / che ta limans di un frut ch'al rit / al va dols a la
muàrt.
David (1974)
Después de que estuviste inclinado / aquél día sobre el pozo —paciente como un toro / que va a
morir en el sol de nadie— // ha terminado el mundo. Nos encontramos / en un nuevo mundo, y tú
eres / estiércol para los sueños.
Dopu che tu ti sos stat pognèt / chel dí tal pos —pasiènt coma un toru / ch'al va a murí tal soreli
di nissún— // al è finít il mond. Si sin trovàs / ta un nòvf mond, e tu / i ti sos ledàn par i siuns.
—Pier Paolo Pasolini
387
La cara de Rexroth reflejando humana
dicha cansada
Pelo blanco cejas aladas
mostacho de gas,
salen flores a chorros de
su triste cabeza,
escuchando la canción de calle de Edith Piaf
mientras ella recorre el universo
toda la vida desaparecida
y las ciudades desaparecidas
sólo queda el Dios del Amor
sonriendo.
—Allen Ginsberg, Garrapato
Polo:— Tal vez este jardín existe sólo a la sombra de nuestros párpados bajos, y nunca hemos
cesado, tú de levantar el polvo en los campos de batalla, yo de contratar costales de pimienta en
lejanos mercados, pero cada vez que entrecerramos los ojos en medio del estruendo y la
muchedumbre, nos está permitido retirarnos aquí vestidos con quimonos de seda, considerando lo
que estamos viendo y viviendo, sacando las conclusiones, contemplando desde lejos.
Kublai:— Quizá este diálogo nuestro se desenvuelve entre dos harapientos apodados Kublai Kan
y Marco Polo, que revuelven en un basural, amontonan chatarra oxidada, pedazos de trapo, papeles
viejos, y ebrios con unos pocos tragos de mal vino ven resplandecer a su alrededor todos los tesoros
del Oriente.
Polo:— Quizá del mundo ha quedado un terreno baldío cubierto de albañales y el jardín colgante
del palacio del Gran Kan. Son nuestros párpados los que los separan, pero no se sabe cuál está
adentro y cuál afuera.
(...)...Tal vez este jardín sólo asoma sus terrazas sobre el lago de nuestra mente...
Kublai:—...y por lejos que nos lleven nuestras atormentadas empresas de condotieros y de
mercaderes, ambos custodiamos dentro de nosotros esta sombra silenciosa, esta conversación
pausada, esta noche siempre igual
Polo:— A menos que sea cierta la hipótesis opuesta: que quienes se afanan en los campamentos
y en los puertos existan sólo porque los pensamos nosotros dos, encerrados entre estos setos de
bambú, inmóviles desde siempre.
Kublai:— Que no existan la fatiga, los alaridos, las heridas, el hedor, sino sólo esta planta de
azalea.
Polo:— Que los cargadores, los picapedreros, los barrenderos, las cocineras que limpian las
entrañas de los pollos, las lavanderas inclinadas sobre la piedra, las madres de familia que revuelven
el arroz amamantando a los recién nacidos, existan sólo porque nosotros los pensamos.
388
Kublai:—A decir verdad, yo no los pienso nunca.
Polo:—Entonces no existen.
Kublai:—No creo que esa hipótesis nos convenga. Sin ellos nunca podríamos estar meciéndonos
en nuestras hamacas.
Polo:—Hay que excluir la hipótesis, entonces. Por lo tanto será cierta la otra: que existan ellos y
no nosotros.
Kublai:—Hemos demostrado que si existiéramos, no estaríamos aquí.
Polo:—Pero en realidad estamos.
—Italo Calvino, Ciudades Invisibles
Hacía casi dos mil años, Ashvhagosha había escrito: "Como los pájaros que se congregan en los
árboles al atardecer y luego, a la llegada de la noche, desaparecen, así son las separaciones en el
mundo".
—Jack kerouac, Vagabundos del Dharma, c.30
He walked once between the sea and the high cliffs, then he had been a young girl, caught in the
woods by a drunken old man, knowing at the end the taste of his own whiteness, the horror of his
own smoothness, and he felt drunken and old.
—T.S.Eliot, Gerontion.
Si quieres la verdad, deja de correr tras las cosas. Deja de pensar en lo que está bien y lo que está
mal, y limítate a ver, en este momento, cómo era tu rostro original antes de que nacieran tu padre y tu
madre.
—Hui-Neng
Al gran maestro Joshu le preguntaron qué le daría a un pobre que acudiera a él, y Joshu
respondió: "¿Qué le falta?". En otra ocasión le preguntaron: "Si un hombre acudiera a tí con nada
¿qué le dirías?". —"Tíralo"—fue su respuesta.
(Anne Bancroft, Zen)
389
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to
dust again.
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the
spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a
man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion:
—Bible, Ecclesiastes, 3.20
He shall be like a tree planted by he rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose
leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
—Bible, Psalm 1
For in death there is no remembrance of you; in the grave, who will give you thanks?
I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my coach with my tears.
My eye wastes away beacuse of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies.
(...) Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled; let them turn back and be ashamed,
suddenly.
—Bible, Psalm 6
13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou
unto them in parables?
13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you
to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it
is not given.
13:12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have
more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be
taken away even that he hath.
13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see
not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
—Bible, Matthew, 13
390
SEYTON. The Queen, my lord, is dead.
MACBETH. She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
—William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 5.5
Era flaca y gorda, como las fotografías de los niños indígenas desnutridos. Le acaricié la cabeza
hasta sentirla dormida, la oí hablar de Josecito, que tenía quince años y la quería ya más que a la
madre, una vecina. Me empeñé en cerrarme al mundo que ella representaba, soñolienta y tartamuda,
sin propósito ni orgullo.
Un mundo, una flaca pero tenaz corriente migratoria, una repetida historia de plantadores de
papas y de domadores envejecidos que bajan de cualquier lado a la capital. Primero hacia la changa y
la prostitución, después veremos. la melliza estaba en la primera etapa.
—
Juan Carlos Onetti, Las Mellizas
CHORUS (talking about Cassandra)
She needs, it seems, a clear interpreter.
Like some wild creature is she, newly trapped.
—Aeschylus, Agammenon, tr.George Thompson, p.31
"El mar tiene un sabor amargo, porque llena las calles de mercaderes y engendra incertidumbres
y falsedades en las almas humanas" —escribió curiosamente Platón; el compadre y el gaucho —el
plebeyo de las ciudades y el de los campos— han ascendido a símbolos de la época que antecedió en
esta república a esos dones marinos. (...)
Hamslick observó que la música es un lenguaje que podemos hablar y compreder, pero no traducir;
quizá la observación es aplicable a todos los lenguajes y símbolos — incluso a los verbales.
—Borges, Arrabal, Textos Recobrados 2
391
"... Y la hora en que la fortuna me sonría de nuevo sabré darte los honores que mereces. Un
cabrito con buenos cuernos, padre del rebaño, irá a tu altar, dios santísimo, y la cría de una cerda
gruñona, una víctima que todavía rezumará leche. En las páteras hará espuma el vino nuevo y por tres
veces en torno del templo la juventud ebria te aclamará..."
Mientras rezaba esto y vigilaba cuidadosamente el difunto, entró en el templo una vieja con el
cabello medio arrancado y vestida horriblemente de negro. Me puso las manos encima y me sacó
fuera del vestíbulo...
La vieja Proseleno dijo a Encolpio: "¿Qué brujas te han comido los nervios, o qué basura o
cadáver pisaste por la noche en alguna esquina? Ni siquiera has podido rehabilitarte con Gitón, sino
que débil, muelle, deshecho como un caballo en un apendiente, malgastaste tu esfuerzo y el sudor. Y
no contento con pecar contra tí mismo, levantaste la ira de los dioses contra mí..."
Sin resistirme ya a nada, me condujo a la habitación de la sacerdotisa y me tiró sobre la cama.
Tomó una caña de detrás de la puerta y se puso a darme cañazos, sin que yo intentase defenderme. Y
si la caña no se hubiese quebrado al primer golpe y se hubiera calmado el ímpetu de mi verdugo,
quizá me hubiera partido los brazos y la cabeza. No pude contener mis gemidos ante sus viles
propósitos. Torrentes de lágrimas brotaron de mis ojos y escondiendo el rostro entre las manos, me
hundí en la almohada. La vieja, con un llanto semejante al mío, se sentó en la otra punta del lecho y
con voz entrecortada, se acusó de haber vivido durante demasiado tiempo. Por fin, la sacerdotisa se
presentó...:
"¿Qué habéis venido a hacer en mi habitación? Parece como si estuvierais ante una pira funeraria
que se está apagando. Y además, en un día de fiesta, en el que hasta los dolientes ríen..."
"¡Oh, Enotea! —dijo la vieja—. Este joven que ves aquí ha nacido con mala estrella. Pues no
puede vender sus favores ni a muchachos ni a muchachas. Nunca habrás visto a nadie tan
desgraciado. Tiene una correa en remojo, no un sexo. Por no decirte más, ¿qué pensarías de uno que
se levantase del lecho de Circe sin haber gozado?"
Al oír esto, Enotea se sentó entre los dos y moviendo la cabeza durante un rato, dijo: "Yo soy la
única que sabe curar esta enfermedad y para que veáis que estoy en lo cierto, te pido que tu jovencito
duerma una noche conmigo..., y si no se la pongo más tiesa que un cuerno...
— Petronio, Satiricón, c. 133 y 134
La maldad nace de la supresión hipócrita del gozo
Una cucaracha recorre el jardín húmedo
de mi chambre y circula por entre las botellas vacías:
la miro a los ojos y veo tus dos ojos
azules, madre mía.
Y canta, cantas por las noches parecida a la locura,
velas
con tu maldición para que no me caiga dormido, para que no me olvide
y esté despierto para siempre ante tus dos ojos,
madre mía.
—Leopoldo María Panero
392
FERDINAND. Where should this music be? I' th' air or th'
earth?
It sounds no more; and sure it waits upon
Some god o' th' island. Sitting on a bank,
Weeping again the King my father's wreck,
This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air; thence I have follow'd it,
Or it hath drawn me rather. But 'tis gone.
No, it begins again.
ARIEL'S SONG
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
[Burden: Ding-dong.]
Hark! now I hear them-Ding-dong bell.
FERDINAND. The ditty does remember my drown'd father.
This is no mortal business, nor no sound
That the earth owes. I hear it now above me.
PROSPERO. The fringed curtains of thine eye advance,
And say what thou seest yond.
MIRANDA. What is't? a spirit?
Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir,
It carries a brave form. But 'tis a spirit.
PROSPERO. No, wench; it eats and sleeps and hath such senses
As we have, such. This gallant which thou seest
Was in the wreck; and but he's something stain'd
With grief, that's beauty's canker, thou mightst call him
A goodly person. He hath lost his fellows,
And strays about to find 'em.
MIRANDA. I might call him
A thing divine; for nothing natural
I ever saw so noble.
—William Shakespeare, The Tempest 1.2
393
The dwelling was dismantled; but we could see a white man had lived there not very long ago. There
remained a rude table -- a plank on two posts; a heap of rubbish reposed in a dark corner, and by the
door I picked up a book. It had lost its covers, and the pages had been thumbed into a state of
extremely dirty softness; but the back had been lovingly stitched afresh with white cotton thread,
which looked clean yet. It was an extraordinary find. Its title was, AN INQUIRY INTO SOME
POINTS OF SEAMANSHIP, by a man Towser, Towson -- some such name --Master in his
Majesty's Navy. The matter looked dreary reading enough, with illustrative diagrams and repulsive
tables of figures, and the copy was sixty years old. I handled this amazing antiquity with the greatest
possible tenderness, lest it should dissolve in my hands. Within, Towson or Towser was inquiring
earnestly into the breaking strain of ships' chains and tackle, and other such matters. Not a very
enthralling book; but at the first glance you could see there a singleness of intention, an honest
concern for the right way of going to work, which made these humble pages, thought out so many
years ago, luminous with another than a professional light. The simple old sailor, with his talk of
chains and purchases, made me forget the jungle and the pilgrims in a delicious sensation of having
come upon something unmistakably real. Such a book being there was wonderful enough; but still
more astounding were the notes pencilled in the margin, and plainly referring to the text. I couldn't
believe my eyes! They were in cipher! Yes, it looked like cipher. Fancy a man lugging with him a
book of that description into this nowhere and studying it -- and making notes -- in cipher at that! It
was an extravagant mystery.
—Joseph Conrad, heart of Darkness
Llegando el autor desta grande historia a contar lo que en este capítulo cuenta, dice que quisiera
pasarle en silencio, temeroso de que no había de ser creído, porque las locuras de don Quijote
llegaron aquí al término y raya de las mayores que pueden imaginarse, y aun pasaron dos tiros de
ballesta más allá de las mayores. Finalmente, aunque con este miedo y recelo, las escribió de la
misma manera que él las hizo, sin añadir ni quitar a la historia un átomo de la verdad, sin dársele
nada por las objeciones que podían ponerle de mentiroso. Y tuvo razón, porque la verdad adelgaza y
no quiebra, y siempre anda sobre la mentira como el aceite sobre el agua.
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote, parte 2, c.10
394
—Nosotros —dijo— somos como los que tienen la vista cansada, que vemos las cosas
distantes, gracias a una luz con que nos ilumina el Guía soberano. Cuando las cosas están próximas o
existen, nuestra inteligencia es vana, y si otro no nos lo cuenta, nada sabemos de los sucesos
humanos; por lo cual puedes comprender que toda nuestra inteligencia morirá el día en que se cierre
la puerta del porvenir.
<<Noi veggiam, come quei c'ha mala luce,
le cose>>, disse, <<che ne son lontano;
cotanto ancor ne splende il sommo duce.
Quando s'appressano o son, tutto e` vano
nostro intelletto; e s'altri non ci apporta,
nulla sapem di vostro stato umano.
Pero` comprender puoi che tutta morta
fia nostra conoscenza da quel punto
che del futuro fia chiusa la porta>>.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,Infierno 10
Cohabito con un oscuro animal.
Lo que hago de día, de noche me lo come.
Lo que hago de noche, de día me lo come.
Lo único que no me come es la memoria. Se encarniza en palpar hasta
el más chico de mis errores y mis miedos.
No lo dejo dormir.
Soy su oscuro animal.
— Juan Gelman, El animal, en Salarios del impío
They came into the courtyard and looked about them withsteady, scornful glances. Their leader, a
powerful and determined-looking negro with bloodshot eyes, stood in front of the verandah and made
a long speech. He gesticulated much, and ceased very suddenly.
There was something in his intonation, in the sounds of the long sentences he used, that startled the
two whites. It was like a reminiscence of something not exactly familiar, and yet resembling the
speech of civilized men. It sounded like one of those impossible languages which sometimes we hear
in our dreams.
—Joseph Conrad, An outpost of progress
395
Erotic play discloses a nameless world which is revealed by the nocturnal language of lovers.
Such language is not written down. It is whispered into the ear at night in a hoarse voice. At dawn it
is forgotten. Repudiating the virtues of your world, criminals hopelessly agree to organize a forbidde
universe. They agree to live in it. The air there is nauseating: they can breathe it. But —criminals are
remote from you— as in love, they turn away and turn me away from the world and its laws. Theirs
smells of sweat, sperm, and blood. In short, to my body and my thirsty soul it offers devotion. It was
because their world contains these erotic conditions that I was bent on evil. My adventure, never
governed by rebellion or a feeling of injustice, will be merely one long mating, burdened and
complicated by a heavy, strange, erotic ceremonial (figurative ceremonies leading to jail and
anticipating it).
—Jean Genet, The Thief's Journal, p.10
I have a daughter (have while she is mine),
Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
Hath given me this. Now gather, and surmise.
[Reads] the letter.
'To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified
Ophelia,'That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; 'beautified' is a vile
phrase.
But you shall hear. Thus:
[Reads.]
'In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.'
Queen. Came this from Hamlet to her?
Pol. Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful. [Reads.]
'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to
reckon my groans; but that I love thee best, O most best, believe
it. Adieu.
'Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him,
HAMLET.'
This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me;
And more above, hath his solicitings,
As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet ,2.2
396
--He will have it that HAMLET is a ghoststory, John Eglinton said for Mr Best's behoof. Like the fat
boy in Pickwick he wants to make our flesh creep.
LIST! LIST! O LIST!
My flesh hears him: creeping, hears.
IF THOU DIDST EVER ...
--What is a ghost? Stephen said with tingling energy. One who has faded into impalpability through
death, through absence, through change of manners. Elizabethan London lay as far from Stratford as
corrupt Paris lies from virgin Dublin. Who is the ghost from LIMBO PATRUM, returning to the
world that has forgotten him? Who is King Hamlet?
John Eglinton shifted his spare body, leaning back to judge.
Lifted.
--It is this hour of a day in mid June, Stephen said, begging with a swift glance their hearing. The flag
is up on the playhouse by the bankside. The bear Sackerson growls in the pit near it, Paris garden.
Canvasclimbers who sailed with Drake chew their sausages among the groundlings.
Local colour. Work in all you know. Make them accomplices.
--Shakespeare has left the huguenot's house in Silver street and walks by the swanmews along the
riverbank. But he does not stay to feed the pen chivying her game of cygnets towards the rushes. The
swan of Avon has other thoughts.
Composition of place. Ignatius Loyola, make haste to help me!
--The play begins. A player comes on under the shadow, made up in the castoff mail of a court buck,
a wellset man with a bass voice. It is the ghost, the king, a king and no king, and the player is
Shakespeare who has studied HAMLET all the years of his life which were not vanity in order to
play the part of the spectre. He speaks the words to Burbage, the young player who stands before him
beyond the rack of cerecloth, calling him by a name:
HAMLET, I AM THY FATHER'S SPIRIT,
bidding him list. To a son he speaks, the son of his soul, the prince, young Hamlet and to the son of
his body, Hamnet Shakespeare, who has died in Stratford that his namesake may live for ever.
Is it possible that that player Shakespeare, a ghost by absence, and in the vesture of buried Denmark,
a ghost by death, speaking his own words to his own son's name (had Hamnet Shakespeare lived he
would have been prince Hamlet's twin), is it possible, I want to know, or probable that he did not
draw or foresee the logical conclusion of those premises: you are the dispossessed son: I am the
murdered father: your mother is the guilty queen, Ann Shakespeare, born Hathaway?
397
--But this prying into the family life of a great man, Russell began impatiently.
Art thou there, truepenny?
--Interesting only to the parish clerk. I mean, we have the plays. I mean when we read the poetry of
KING LEAR what is it to us how the poet lived? As for living our servants can do that for us, Villiers
de l'Isle has said. Peeping and prying into greenroom gossip of the day, the poet's drinking, the poet's
debts. We have KING LEAR: and it is immortal.
Mr Best's face, appealed to, agreed.
FLOW OVER THEM WITH YOUR WAVES AND WITH YOUR WATERS, MANANAAN,
MANANAAN MACLIR ...
How now, sirrah, that pound he lent you when you were hungry?
Marry, I wanted it.
Take thou this noble.
Go to! You spent most of it in Georgina Johnson's bed, clergyman's daughter. Agenbite of inwit.
Do you intend to pay it back?
O, yes.
When? Now?
Well ... No.
When, then?
I paid my way. I paid my way.
Steady on. He's from beyant Boyne water. The northeast corner. You owe it.
Wait. Five months. Molecules all change. I am other I now. Other I got pound.
Buzz. Buzz.
But I, entelechy, form of forms, am I by memory because under everchanging forms.
I that sinned and prayed and fasted.
A child Conmee saved from pandies.
398
I, I and I. I.
A.E.I.O.U.
--Do you mean to fly in the face of the tradition of three centuries? John Eglinton's carping voice
asked. Her ghost at least has been laid for ever. She died, for literature at least, before she was born.
--She died, Stephen retorted, sixtyseven years after she was born. She saw him into and out of the
world. She took his first embraces. She bore his children and she laid pennies on his eyes to keep his
eyelids closed when he lay on his deathbed.
Mother's deathbed. Candle. The sheeted mirror. Who brought me into this world lies there,
bronzelidded, under few cheap flowers. LILIATA RUTILANTIUM.
I wept alone.
John Eglinton looked in the tangled glowworm of his lamp.
--The world believes that Shakespeare made a mistake, he said, and got out of it as quickly and as
best he could.
--Bosh! Stephen said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are
the portals of discovery.
Portals of discovery opened to let in the quaker librarian, softcreakfooted, bald, eared and assiduous.
--A shrew, John Eglinton said shrewdly, is not a useful portal of discovery, one should imagine.
What useful discovery did Socrates learn from Xanthippe?
--Dialectic, Stephen answered: and from his mother how to bring thoughts into the world. What he
learnt from his other wife Myrto (ABSIT NOMEN!), Socratididion's Epipsychidion, no man, not a
woman, will ever know. But neither the midwife's lore nor the caudlelectures saved him from the
archons of Sinn Fein and their naggin of hemlock.
--But Ann Hathaway? Mr Best's quiet voice said forgetfully. Yes, we seem to be forgetting her as
Shakespeare himself forgot her.
His look went from brooder's beard to carper's skull, to remind, to chide them not unkindly, then to
the baldpink lollard costard, guiltless though maligned.
--He had a good groatsworth of wit, Stephen said, and no truant memory. He carried a memory in his
wallet as he trudged to Romeville whistling THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND ME. If the earthquake did
not time it we should know where to place poor Wat, sitting in his form, the cry of hounds, the
studded bridle and her blue windows. That memory, VENUS AND ADONIS, lay in the bedchamber
of every light-of-love in London. Is Katharine the shrew illfavoured? Hortensio calls her young and
399
beautiful. Do you think the writer of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, a passionate pilgrim, had his
eyes in the back of his head that he chose the ugliest doxy in all Warwickshire to lie withal? Good: he
left her and gained the world of men. But his boywomen are the women of a boy. Their life, thought,
speech are lent them by males. He chose badly? He was chosen, it seems to me. If others have their
will Ann hath a way. By cock, she was to blame. She put the comether on him, sweet and twentysix.
The greyeyed goddess who bends over the boy Adonis, stooping to conquer, as prologue to the
swelling act, is a boldfaced Stratford wench who tumbles in a cornfield a lover younger than herself.
...
--As we, or mother Dana, weave and unweave our bodies, Stephen said, from day to day, their
molecules shuttled to and fro, so does the artist weave and unweave his image. And as the mole on
my right breast is where it was when I was born, though all my body has been woven of new stuff
time after time, so through the ghost of the unquiet father the image of the unliving son looks forth.
In the intense instant of imagination, when the mind, Shelley says, is a fading coal, that which I was
is that which I am and that which in possibility I may come to be. So in the future, the sister of the
past, I may see myself as I sit here now but by reflection from that which then I shall be.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, 201
400
Brother, the creator gave us a cow.
She's horribly heavy, brother.
She takes in water through all nine holes
but it doesn't quench her thirst.
They locked up seventy-two apartments
with adamant doors,
buried a stake and tied her to it
with unbreakable cords, but she broke loose.
Four trees, six branches, eighteen leaves:
she grabbed them all and bolted—
an incorregible cow.
Seven and seven, nine and fourteen, brother—
she ate all and grew fat,
but still wasn't full.
The cow lives in a town, brother,
and has white horns.
She's neither colored nor colorless,
she eats what's edible
and inedible.
Brahma and Vishnu searched, brother,
Shiva and Sanaka too,
countless adepts joined the hunt,
but no one could find the cow.
Kabir says, did you get the poem?
Did you figure out the cow?
If so you'll get ahead,
you'll settle things somehow.
— Kabir, sabda 28
401
Tengo un animal muy curioso, mitad gatito, mitad cordero. Es una herencia de mi padre. Desde
que está conmigo se ha desarrollado del todo; antes era más cordero que gato. Ahora es mitad y
mitad. Del gato tiene la cabeza y las uñas, del cordero el tamaño y la forma; de ambos los ojos, que
son huraños y chispeantes, la piel suave y ajustada al cuerpo, los movimientos, a veces saltarines o
furtivos. Echado al sol, en el hueco de la ventana, se hace un ovillo y ronronea; en el campo corre
como loco y nadie lo alcanza. Huye de los gatos y quiere atacar a los corderos. En las noches de luna
su paseo favorito es la canaleta del tejado. No sabe maullar y le repugnan las ratas. Horas y horas
pasa al acecho ante el gallinero; sin embargo, hasta la fecha, jamás ha aprovechado la oportunidad
para cometer un hecho de sangre.
Lo alimento con leche dulce; es lo que mejor le cae. La sorbe a grandes tragos entre sus dientes
de fiera. Naturalmente, es un gran espectáculo para los niños. Los días de visita son los domingos por
la mañana. Me siento con el animal en las rodillas y me rodean todos los chicos del vecindario.
Se plantean entonces las preguntas más inverosímiles, que nadie puede contestar. Por qué existe
un animal semejante, por qué soy yo el poseedor y no otro, que si antes de él ha habido otro animal
así y qué sucederá después de su muerte, si no se siente solo, por qué no tiene cría, como se llama,
etcétera.
No me tomo el trabajo de contestar: me limito a mostrar, sin mayores explicaciones, lo que
poseo. A veces las niños traen gatos; una vez llegaron a traer dos corderos. Contra sus esperanzas, no
se produjeron escenas de reconocimiento; se miraban mutuamente con ojos de animales, y resultaba
evidente que cada uno aceptaba la existencia del otro como una realidad dispuesta por Dios.
En mis rodillas el animal ignora el temor y el impulso de perseguir. Acurrucado contra mí es
como se siente mejor. Se apega a la familia que lo ha criado. Esa fidelidad no es extraordinaria: es el
recto instinto de un animal, que aunque tiene en la tierra innumerables lazos políticos, pero ninguno
consanguíneo, y para quien el apoyo que ha encontrado en nosotros es sagrado.
A veces no puedo menos que reírme cuando olfatea a mi alrededor, se me enreda entre las
piernas y no quiere apartarse de mí. Como si no le bastara ser gato y cordero quiere, además, ser
perro. Una vez -eso le acontece a cualquiera- yo no veía modo de salir de dificultades económicas, ya
estaba por acabar con todo. Con esa idea me hamacaba en el sillón de mi cuarto, con el animal en las
rodillas; al bajar los ojos por casualidad, noté que los enormes pelos de su barba goteaban lágrimas...
¿Eran mías?¿Eran suyas?¿Es que este gato con alma de cordero presume también de humano? No he
heredado mucho de mi padre, pero vale la pena cuidar este legado.
Tiene la inquietud de los dos, la del gato y la del cordero, aunque son muy distintas. Por eso le
queda chico el pellejo.
A veces sube de un salto al sillón, se ubica a mi lado, apoya con fuerza las patas delanteras
contra mi hombro y mantiene su hocico pegado a mi oreja. Es como si me dijese algo; y,
efectivamente, después se inclina hacia adelante y me mira a la cara, para observar qué impresión me
ha producido lo que acaba de comunicarme. Yo, para complacerlo, hago como si hubiese entendido
algo y asiento con la cabeza. Entonces salta al suelo y bailotea en torno de mí.
Para este animal tal vez la cuchilla del carnicero fuese una solución, que, sin embargo, debo
negarle por tratarse de una herencia. Por eso tendrá que esperar a echar por sí solo el último suspiro,
aunque a veces me mire con ojos humanamente inteligentes, que parecieran incitarme a actuar con
inteligencia.
—Franz Kafka, Una cruza
402
Entre el dolor y el placer
median tres criaturas,
de las cuales la una mira a un muro,
la segunda usa de ánimo triste
y la tercera avanza de puntillas;
pero, entre tú y yo,
sólo existen segundas criaturas.
Apoyándose en mi frente,
el día conviene en que, de veras,
hay mucho de exacto en el espacio;
pero, si la dicha, que, al fin,
tiene un tamaño, principia,
¡ay! por mi boca,
¿Quién me preguntará por mi palabra?
Al sentido instantáneo de la eternidad
corresponde este encuentro
investido de hilo negro,
pero a tu despedida temporal,
tan sólo corresponde lo inmutable,
tu criatura, el alma, mi palabra.
—César Vallejo
Casi en el mediodía, el hombre me rociaba de arena, empujando con el pie desnudo. Me volvía,
medio dormida, desperezándome a la sombra de la cara inclinada y sonriente. El hombre cambiaba o
alteraba un poco, con frecuencia, sus mallas de baño. Pero la aguda cara permanecía igual e
incomprensible, sonriéndome. La cara recordaba con intensidad a un animal desconocido. Y, al
mismo tiempo, siguiendo sin esfuerzo las líneas del rostro había allí una expresión de inteligencia
humana y maliciosa.
Sólo a fines de abril, lejos, en un otoño destemplado, pude comprender cuán semejante era la cara a
la de un fauno pequeño y jovial.
Extendida en la hondonada llena de hierbas, no podía divisar los extremos del hotel y las rocas. La
playa se reducía a un triángulo cuyas puntas se clavaban con firmeza en el horizonte.
Una mañana el mar era azul, grave, alzando repentinas olas contra la arena. Las tres muchachas iban
paseando por la orilla, despacio. Sólo me llegaban las risas, sin concierto, menudas risas líquidas, con
la misma música que hacían las aguas al amanecer, en la lejana punta rocosa.
Nada más que a una hora, en el alba, podía escucharse la música. Desde cualquier punto en que me
colocara, la sentía acercarse oblicuamente, nerviosa, con el mismo andar soslayado de los caballos de
raza que paseaban por la arena en el alba.
403
Los colores de las mallas de las tres muchachas aparecían, en el sol enfurecido, fríos y extraños. Azul
oscuro las de los dos extremos, pantalones azules y camisilla blanca vestía la más alta, que iba a
largos pasos entre las amigas, desprendiéndose un trecho, alcanzada en seguida.
Hubiera querido vestir a las muchachas con naranjas y amarillos, rojos violentos. Pero luego descubrí
que los graves azules de las mallas y la blancura de la camisilla se correspondían con el mar, en una
réplica amistosa que sólo muchachas en la mañana podían dar. Las vi, al regreso, pasear por la orilla
de diminuta y mansa ola, con el sonido de las risas, manchas de agua y de luz en los pies descalzos,
que empujaban e iban formando con los colores de sus trajes.
Desde la carpa del club alemán, próxima e invisible, llegó una voz masculina. Arrulló, alegre y
misteriosa, una risa de mujer. Y en seguida entre carcajadas:
—¡No miréis donde el sol no miró!...
Podía imaginarme sola hasta las diez. Por el camino retorcido entre tamarices se acercaban pasos y
una voz sajona. Desembocaban a mi derecha y tomaban posesión de su pedazo de playa, clavando
una enorme sombrilla de colores. El hombre era rubio o canoso, atlético, con una risa que quería
decir: "Lindo, a la mañana, en la playa, el aire y el sol, ¿eh?”. Su risa terminaba siempre en pregunta,
levemente. La mujer no contestaba. Desnudaba al niño y le azuzaba después para que la persiguiera,
gateando. Llevaba pantalones cortos, blancos sobre la malla, y anteojos oscuros. Avanzaba en línea
recta hacia el mar, las manos en la espalda. Era visible su fe en el alma del agua. Avanzaba, siempre
recta, hasta la orilla para saludar el mar y tributarle alguna cosa.
Una vez el hombre llamó a la mujer de pantalones blancos: "Tuca”. Era cercano el mediodía y las
gaviotas, al sonar el nombre, iniciaron el vuelo de reconocimiento, chillando sobre el pedazo desierto
de playa.
Cuando llegaba el momento de tostarme la espalda, buscaba despedirme de la playa con una rápida
mirada. Una nueva y poderosa sabiduría mandaba ahora en mi cuerpo y era forzosa la obediencia.
Quedaba con la cara escondida entre los codos, pasando en seguida al mundo de los filosos pastos
amarillos y las hormigas. Pero nunca pude comprender la actividad de los insectos, sus carreras
indecisas, eternamente buscando. Les sonreía, soplando unos pocos granos de arena para cubrirlos y
verlos resucitar, a la tercera tentativa, de entre los muertos.
Atrás y arriba mío el mar resoplaba, más fuerte entonces, balanceando y hundiendo las
insignificantes voces humanas que buscaban reconstruir para mí la playa perdida. Y, cuando no era
posible soportar el sol en los hombros y en los riñones, una sombra venía de cualquier parte.
—¿Dormía?
Yo levantaba entonces la mejilla arenosa para
saludar. Todas las tardes, al anochecer había olvidado la cara del vecino de playa. Ahora, en la
mañana, volvía a conocerla. La risa, alargándole los ojos, prometía revelar la clave del rostro, el
signo que permitiría recordarlo siempre.
—¿Cómo se siente hoy?
Yo me sentía siempre bien, aunque un poco menos cuando él se acercaba. Lo veía como a un
mensajero de mil cosas que me molestaba recordar. Llegaba siempre el momento en que, estirado,
apoyado el cuerpo en los codos, el hombre sonreía a su propio pie en movimiento y murmuraba:
—¿Sabe lo que me dice en la carta de hoy?
—¿Eduardo? ¡Una carta por día! A veces pienso que usted las inventa.
—Si quiere verlas... De lejos, claro. No todo es hablar de usted.
...
404
Me levanté un poco después, envolviéndome en la bata. Recuerdo haber mirado el cielo oscurecido y,
en seguida, la playa. Mi mirada fue sostenida y devuelta por el mar, la orilla húmeda y lisa, la mujer
de los pantalones blancos, el niño, los pastos humildes y alargados. Todo aquello, tan antiguo y
tercamente puro, todo aquello que me había alimentado con su sustancia, día tras día.
Mientras esperaba la comunicación en la cabina del teléfono, ya en el hotel, oía el ruido de los
truenos y los primeros golpes de agua en las vidrieras. La voz de Eduardo empezó a repetir, lejana:
"Hola, hola... ¿Quién? Hola...”. Detrás de la voz, más allá del rostro que la voz formaba, imaginé
percibir el zumbido de la ciudad, el pasado, la pasión, el absurdo de la vida del hombre.
Desde el coche, yendo a la estación, derrumbada entre maletas, busqué el pedazo de playa donde
había vivido. La arena, los colores amigos, la dicha, todo estaba hundido bajo un agua sucia y
espumante. Recuerdo haber tenido la sensación de que mi rostro envejecía rápidamente, mientras,
sordo y cauteloso, el dolor de la enfermedad volvía a morderme el cuerpo.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, Convalecencia
Crees la verdad; porque, en esta vida, los espíritus que disfrutan, así de mayor como de menor
gloria, miran en el espejo en que aparece el pensamiento antes de nacer.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia, Paraíso 15
¿Cuál es tu rostro original, anterior al nacimiento de tu padre y tu madre?
—Koan Budista
La mente, que aquí es luz, en la Tierra es humo; considera, pues, cómo podrá comprender allá
abajo lo que aquí no comprende, por más que el cielo la enaltezca.
—Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia,paraíso 21
405
Dido se esfuerza tratando de alzar sus pesados ojos y de nuevo cae desmayada;
por la profunda herida que tiene debajo del pecho, sale silbando su aliento
Tres veces apoyada en el codo intenta levantarse,
tres veces desfallece en el lecho; busca con la mirada perdida
la luz en lo alto del cielo y gime profundamente al encontrarla.
Entonces Juno todopoderosa, apiadada de su larga agonía
y de una muerte difÍcil a Iris envia desde el Olimpo
para que desprenda de los miembros al alma prisionera;
que, no reclamada por su sino ni por la muerte, se marchaba
la desgraciada antes de hora y presa de su repentina locura.
Aún no había cortado Prosérpina el rubio cabello
de su cabeza, ni la habÍa encomendado al Orco Estigio.
Iris, así, desplegando en los cielos sus alas cubiertas de rocÍo
vuela por los cielos arrastrando contra el sol mil colores
diversos y se detiene sobre su cabeza. "Esta ofrenda a Dite
recojo como se me ordena y te desligo de este cuerpo.ª
Esto dice y corta un cabello con la diestra: al tiempo todo
calor desaparece, y en los vientos se pierde su vida.
690
695
700
705
—Virgilio, Eneida, Libro 4
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
20 Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
25 There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or you shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
— T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, I. The Burial of the Dead
406
Oh las cuatro paredes de la celda.
Ah las cuatro paredes albicantes
que sin remedio dan al mismo número.
Criadero de nervios, mala brecha,
por sus cuatro rincones cómo arranca
las diarias aherrojadas extremidades.
Amorosa llavera de innumerables llaves,
si estuvieras aquí, si vieras hasta
qué hora son cuatro estas paredes.
Contra ellas seríamos contigo, los dos,
más dos que nunca. Y ni lloraras,
di, libertadora!
Ah las paredes de la celda.
De ellas me duele entretanto, más
las dos largas que tienen esta noche
algo de madres que ya muertas
llevan por bromurados declives,
a un niño de la mano cada una.
Y sólo yo me voy quedando,
con la diestra, que hace por ambas manos,
en alto, en busca de terciario brazo
que ha de pupilar, entre mi dónde y mi cuándo,
esta mayoría inválida de hombre.
—César Vallejo, Trilce 18
Your basket, with your pretty basket,
Your trowel, with your little trowel,
Maiden, picking herbs on this hillside,
I would ask you: Where is your home?
Will you not tell me you rname?
Over the spacious Land of Yamamoto
It is I who reign so wide and far,
It is I who rule so wide and far.
I myself, as your lord, will tell you
Of my home, and my name.
—Attributed to Emperor Yuryaku (418-479)
407
Approaching death
(Written when the Prince faced execution for attempted rebellion)
The golden crow lights on the western huts;
Evening drums beat out the shortness of life.
There are no inns on the road to the grave—
Whose is the house I go to tonight?
—Prince Otsu (622-687)
In the Bay of Sumi
The waves crowd on the beach.
Even in the night
By the corridors of dreams,
I come to you secretly.
—Fujiwara No Toshiyuki, 9th century.
Como la almeja
en dos valvas, me parto
de ti con el otoño.
o también
De la almeja
se separan las valvas;
hacia Futami voy
con el otoño.
—Basho, siglo XVII
Nota: Dos Valvas es también el nombre del lugar hacia donde basho viaja al seprarse de su amigo.
408
SUSPENSO
La cosa más corriente es deliciosa si uno la esconde.
—Oscar Wilde
Todd Haynes on Safe
TH: Most overtly, I was thinking of the TV-disease film, but the film language of horror films was
also inspirational. I love that moment in Hitchcock when you know something is about to happen and
suspense is created by prolonging the ordinary mundane events that precede this event.
Mystery Story
A story may be told in such a way that the reader sees the un folding of events, how one event
follows another. In such a case, such narration commonly adheres to a temporal sequence without
any significant omissions. We may take as an example of this ype of narration Tolstoi's War and
Peace.
A story may also be told in such a way that what is happening is incomprehensible to the reader. The
"mysteries" taking place in the story are only later resolved. (Ex. Dickens's novels).
Mysteries have the pruspose of heithening the reader's interest in the action, thereby making possible
an ambiguous interpretation of the action.
Transposition in time may serve as a basis for "mystery". Crime and Punishment makes broad use of
the device represented by Raskolnikov's preparations (the ax's noose, the change of hat and so on are
described before we learn their purpose). The motives for the crime in this novel are revealed after
the crime, which serves as its effect.
The late works of Leo Tolstoi are frequently constructed without special resort to this device . That
is, this device is presented in such a way that the center of gravity shifts from the temporal
transposition to the denouement.
In 'Hadji-Murad' a cossack shows Butler the hacked-off head of Hadji-Murad, whereupon the
drunken officers look it straight in the eye and kiss it. Later we are present at the scene of the last
battle of Hadji-Murad. Apart from this, the destiny of Hadji-Murad, his entire history, is given in the
image of the broken, crushed burdock, which nevertheless yearns stubbornly to live.
Apparently, Tolstoi found it necessary to eliminate the plot interest of his novels. In its stead, he laid
great stress on analysis, on the details, as he used to say. What Tolstoi needed here was a new
understanding of what a literary work is, a change in the ususal categories of thought. And so he
renounced plot, assigning to it a merely perfunsctory role.—pg. 102 y ss.
Mr. Watson
What does Doyle nes Dr. Watson for?
First, as the narrator, Watson tells us about Sherlock Holmes and conveys to us his expectation of the
latter's decision, while he himself is not privy to the detective's mental process.
In this way Watson serves to retard the action while at the same time directing the flow of events into
separate channels (like the arrangement of a novel in separate chapters).
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Secondly, Watson is necessary as the "eternal fool". Watson misconstructs the meaning of the
evidence presented to him by Holmes. allowing the latter to correct him.
Watson also serves as a motivation for a false resolution, and as a dramatic "relief" by means of his
dialogues with Holmes.—104
In a mystery novel, the elements of coincidence are given in incongruous forms. Here the author's
purpose is not so much to supply a "recognition" as to give it verosimilitude after the fact: Chekhov
says that if a story tells us that there is a gun on the wall, then subsequently that gun ought to be shot.
This motif, presented forcefully, changes over into what is called inevitability (Ibsen). This principle
in its usual form corresponds in reality to the general priciple of art. In a mystery novel, however, the
gun that hanges on the wall does not fire. Another gun is shot instead.
In "Crime and Punishment", Svridrigailov listens in on Raskolnikov's conffession but does not
inform on him. Svidrigalov represents a thre
at of a different nature.—pg. 110
Dickens and the Mystery Novel
Everyone who has ever worked on riddles has probably had occasion to notice that a riddle usually
allows not one but severeal solutions.
A riddle is not merely a parallelism, one part of which has been omitted. Rather, it plays with the
possibility of establishing a number of parallel structures.
This is specially noticeable in erotic riddles.
In erotic riddles, play is evident in the displacement of an indecent image by a decent one. In this
process, the first image is not eliminated but simply repressed.—117
In a story built on parallel structure, we are dealing with a comparison of two objects. (...) In the
mystery story, on the other hand, we're dealing not with a comparison of objects but with the
displacement of one object by another.—120
Characteristic of the mystery novel is its kinship with the device of inversion, that is, rearrangement.
This type of mystery novel is usually represented by a story in reverse (i.e. in which the exposition of
the present state of affairs is followed by an account of what has preceded it. (...) Naturally, the
riddles are interspersed throughout the novel rather than being developed throughout.—123 y 126
— SHKLOVSKY, THEORY OF PROSE
En el caso de las novelas de misterio, los ejemplos deberían ser demasiados extensos como para
citarlos acá. Vayan entonces estas formas breves de "misterios."
Una de esas noches tuve un sueño que acabó en pesadilla. Soñé con mi tío Juan. Yo no había
alcanzado a conocerlo, pero me lo figuraba aindiado, fornido, de bigote ralo y melena. Íbamos hacia
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el sur, entre grandes canteras y maleza, pero esas canteras y esa maleza eran también la calle Thames.
En el sueño el sol estaba alto. Tío Juan iba trajeado de negro. Se paró cerca de una especie de
andamio, en un desfiladero. Tenía la mano bajo el saco, a la altura del corazón, no como quien está
por sacar un arma, sino como escondiéndola. Con una voz muy triste me dijo: He cambiado mucho.
Fue sacando la mano y lo que vi fue una garra de buitre. Me desperté gritando en la oscuridad.
—Borges, Juan Muraña.
Once his meal was over, the traveler went upstairs to room number 3 and took a quick bath, after
removing from his heavy dispatch cas what he needed for the night. But in his haste, he removed at
the same time a small object wrapped in flesh-colored paper, which was perhaps not in its usual place
and which fell on the floor, producing a loud, sharp sound, indicative of considerable weight. Wall
picked it up, wondering what the thing might be, and unwrapped the package in order to identify its
contents: it was a small, jointed, porcelain figure of a naked girl, about ten centimeters long, in every
respect identical to those he had played with as a child. Of course, he carried nothing of the kind with
him these days on his journeys. Yet this evening nothing could surprise him. On the inner, white
surface of the wrapping paper was printed the name and address of a nearby doll shop: "Die Sirenen
der Ostsee, Feldmesserstrasse 2, Berlin-Kreuzburg."
—Alain Robbe-Grillet, Repetition, p.46
When, in time, the ancient gods of Ireland were driven underground, they became known as the
Sidhe—'the people of the hills'—and in folk memory as fairies. However, they have continued to
influence tha affairs of mankind in the nation ever since, and there are still a number of hills and
mounds about the country-side which are reputed to be the dwelling places of the Sidhe. This is the
story of a boy who belonged to the kind of the gods.
THE High-Queen of the Island of Woods had died in child-birth, and her child was put to
nurse, with a woman who lived in a hut of mud and wicker, within the border of the wood. One night
the woman sat rocking the cradle, and pondering over the beauty of the child, and praying that the
gods might grant him wisdom equal to his beauty. There came a knock at the door, and she got up,
not a little wondering, for the nearest neighbours were in the dun of the High-King a mile away; and
the night was now late. 'Who is knocking?' she cried, and a thin voice answered, ` Open! for I am a
crone of the grey hawk, and I come from the darkness of the great wood.' In terror she drew back the
bolt, and a grey-clad woman, of a great age, and of a height more than human, came in and stood by
the head of the cradle.
411
The nurse shrank back against the wall, unable to take her eyes from the woman, for she saw
by the gleaming of the firelight that the feathers of the grey hawk were upon her head instead of hair.
But the child slept, and the fire danced, for the one was too ignorant and the other too full of gaiety to
know what a dreadful being stood there. 'Open! ' cried another voice, ~ for I am a crone of the grey
hawk, and I watch over his ncst in the darkness of the great wood.' The nurse opened the door again,
though her fingers could scarce hold the bolts for trembling, and another grey woman, not less old
than the other, and with like feathers instead of hair, came in and stood by the first. In a little, came a
third grey woman, and after her a fourth, and then another and another and another, until the hut was
full of their immense forms.
They stood a long time in perfect silence and stillness, for they were of those whom the dropping
of the sand has never troubled, but at last one muttered in a low thin voice: ' Sisters, I knew him far
away by the redness of his heart under his silver skin'; and then another spoke: 'Sisters, I knew him
because his heart fluttered like a bird under a net of silver cords'; and then another took up the word: '
Sisters, I knew him because his heart sang like a bird that had forgotten the silver cords.'
And after that they sang together, those who were nearest rocking
the cradle with long wrinkled fingers; and their voices were now tender and caressing, now like the
wind blowing in the great wood, and this was their song:
Out of sight is out of mind:
Long have man and woman-kind
Heavy of will and light of mood,
Taken away our wheaten food,
Taken away our Altar stone;
Hail and rain and thunder alone,
And red hearts we turn to grey,
Are true till Time gutter away.
When the song had died out, the crone who had first spoken, said, ~ Nothing now remains but
that a drop of our blood be mixed into his blood.' And she Scratched her arm with the sharp point of a
spindle, which she had made the nurse bring to her, and let a drop of blood, grey as the mist, fall
upon the lips of the child; and passed out into the darkness. Then the others passed out in silence one
by one; and all the while the child had not opened his pink eyelids or the firc ceascd to dance, for the
one was too ignorant, and the other too full of gaiety to know how great the beings were that had bent
over a cradle.
When the crones were gone, the nurse came to her courage again, and hurried to the dun of
the High-King, and cried out in the midst of the assembly hall that the Shee, whether for good or evil
she knew not, had bent over the child that night; and the king and his poets and men of law, and his
hunts men, and his cook, and his chief warriors went with her to the hut and gathered about the
cradle, and were as noisy as magpies, and the child sat up and looked at them.
—W.B.Yeats, The Wisdom Of The King
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Kayerts and Carlier did not disappear, but remained above on this earth, that, somehow, they fancied
had become bigger and very empty. It was not the absolute and dumb solitude of the post that
impressed them so much as an inarticulate feeling that something from within them was gone,
something that worked for their safety, and had kept the wilderness from interfering with their hearts.
The images of home; the memory of people like them, of men that thought and felt as they used to
think and feel, receded into distances made indistinct by the glare of unclouded sunshine. And out of
the great silence of the surrounding wilderness, its very hopelessness and savagery seemed to
approach them nearer, to draw them gently, to look upon them, to envelop them with a solicitude
irresistible, familiar, and disgusting.
Days lengthened into weeks, then into months. Gobila's people drummed and yelled to every new
moon, as of yore, but kept away from the station. Makola and Carlier tried once in a canoe to open
communications, but were received with a shower of arrows, and had to fly back to the station for
dear life. That attempt set the country up and down the river into an uproar that could be very
distinctly heard for days. The steamer was late. At first they spoke of delay jauntily, then anxiously,
then gloomily. The matter was becoming serious. Stores were running short. Carlier cast his lines off
the bank, but the river was low, and the fish kept out in the stream. They dared not stroll far away
from the station to shoot. Moreover, there was no game in the impenetrable forest. Once Carlier shot
a hippo in the river. They had no boat to secure it, and it sank. When it floated up it drifted away, and
Gobila's people secured the carcase. It was the occasion for a national holiday, but Carlier had a fit of
rage over it and talked about the necessity of exterminating all the niggers before the country could
be made habitable. Kayerts mooned about silently; spent hours looking at the portrait of his Melie. It
represented a little girl with long bleached tresses and a rather sour face. His legs were much swollen,
and he could hardly walk. Carlier, undermined by fever, could not swagger any more, but kept
tottering about, still with a devil-may-care air, as became a man who remembered his crack regiment.
He had become hoarse, sarcastic, and inclined to say unpleasant things. He called it "being frank with
you." They had long ago reckoned their percentages on trade, including in them that last deal of "this
infamous Makola." They had also concluded not to say anything about it. Kayerts hesitated at first-was afraid of the Director.
"He has seen worse things done on the quiet," maintained Carlier, with a hoarse laugh. "Trust him!
He won't thank you if you blab. He is no better than you or me. Who will talk if we hold our tongues?
There is nobody here."
That was the root of the trouble! There was nobody there; and being left there alone with their
weakness, they became daily more like a pair of accomplices than like a couple of devoted friends.
They had heard nothing from home for eight months. Every evening they said, "To-morrow we shall
see the steamer." But one of the Company's steamers had been wrecked, and the Director was busy
with the other, relieving very distant and important stations on the main river. He thought that the
useless station, and the useless men, could wait.
Meantime Kayerts and Carlier lived on rice boiled without salt, and cursed the Company, all Africa,
and the day they were born. One must have lived on such diet to discover what ghastly trouble the
necessity of swallowing one's food may become. There was literally nothing else in the station but
rice and coffee; they drank the coffee without sugar. The last fifteen lumps Kayerts had solemnly
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locked away in his box, together with a half-bottle of Cognac, "in case of sickness," he explained.
Carlier approved. "When one is sick," he said, "any little extra like that is cheering."
They waited. Rank grass began to sprout over the courtyard. The bell never rang now. Days passed,
silent, exasperating, and slow. When the two men spoke, they snarled; and their silences were bitter,
as if tinged by the bitterness of their thoughts.
—Joseph Conrad, An outpost of progress
Ya estoy allí; los caballos se detienen; la nieve ha dejado de caer; claro de luna en torno; los
padres de mi paciente salen ansiosos de la casa, seguidos de la hermana; casi me arrancan del coche;
no entiendo nada de su confuso parloteo; en el cuarto del enfermo el aire es casi irrespirable, la estufa
humea, abandonada; quiero abrir la ventana, pero antes voy a ver al enfermo. Delgado, sin fiebre, ni
caliente ni frío, con ojos inexpresivos, sin camisa, el joven se yergue bajo el edredón de plumas, se
abraza a mi cuello y me susurra al oído:
-Doctor, déjeme morir.
Miro en torno; nadie lo ha oído; los padres callan, inclinados hacia adelante, esperando mi sentencia;
la hermana me ha acercado una silla para que coloque mi maletín de mano. Lo abro, y busco entre
mis instrumentos; el joven sigue alargándome las manos, para recordarme su súplica; tomo un par de
pinzas, las examino a la luz de la bujía y las deposito nuevamente.
...
. La madre permanece junto al lecho y me invita a acercarme; la obedezco, y mientras un caballo
relincha estridentemente hacia el techo, apoyo la cabeza sobre el pecho del joven, que se estremece
bajo mi barba mojada. Se confirma lo que ya sabía: el joven está sano, quizá un poco anémico, quizá
saturado de café, que su solícita madre le sirve, pero está sano; lo mejor sería sacarlo de un tirón de la
cama.
...
Pero he aquí que mientras cierro el maletín de mano y hago una señal para que me traigan mi abrigo,
la familia se agrupa, el padre olfatea la copa de ron que tiene en la mano, la madre, evidentemente
decepcionada conmigo -¿qué espera, pues, la gente?- se muerde, llorosa, los labios, y la hermana
agita un pañuelo lleno de sangre; me siento dispuesto a creer, bajo ciertas condiciones, que el joven
quizá está enfermo. Me acerco a él, que me sonríe como si le trajera un cordial... ¡Ah! Ahora los dos
caballos relinchan a la vez; ese estrépito ha sido seguramente dispuesto para facilitar mi auscultación;
y esta vez descubro que el joven está enfermo. El costado derecho, cerca de la cadera, tiene una
herida grande como un platillo, rosada, con muchos matices, oscura en el fondo, más clara en los
bordes, suave al tacto, con coágulos irregulares de sangre, abierta como una mina al aire libre. Así es
como se ve a cierta distancia. De cerca, aparece peor. ¿Quién puede contemplar una cosa así sin que
se le escape un silbido? Los gusanos, largos y gordos como mi dedo meñique, rosados y manchados
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de sangre, se mueven en el fondo de la herida, la puntean con su cabecitas blancas y sus numerosas
patitas. Pobre muchacho, nada se puede hacer por ti. He descubierto tu gran herida; esa flor abierta en
tu costado te mata. La familia está contenta, me ve trabajar; la hermana se lo dice a la madre, ésta al
padre, el padre a algunas visitas que entran por la puerta abierta, de puntillas, a través del claro de
luna.
-¿Me salvarás? -murmura entre sollozos el joven, deslumbrado por la vista de su herida.
...
Me colocan junto a la pared, al lado de la herida. Luego salen todos del aposento; cierran la puerta, el
canto cesa; las nubes cubren la luna; las mantas me calientan, las sombras de las cabezas de los
caballos oscilan en el vano de las ventanas.
-¿Sabes -me dice una voz al oído- que no tengo mucha confianza en ti? No importa cómo hayas
llegado hasta aquí; no te han llevado tus pies. En vez de ayudarme, me escatimas mi lecho de muerte.
No sabes cómo me gustaría arrancarte los ojos.
-En verdad -dije yo-, es una vergüenza. Pero soy médico. ¿Qué quieres que haga? Te aseguro que mi
papel nada tiene de fácil.
-¿He de darme por satisfecho con esa excusa? Supongo que sí. Siempre debo conformarme. Vine al
mundo con una hermosa herida. Es lo único que poseo.
-Joven amigo -digo-, tu error estriba en tu falta de empuje. Yo, que conozco todos los cuartos de los
enfermos del distrito, te aseguro: tu herida no es muy terrible. Fue hecha con dos golpes de hacha, en
ángulo agudo. Son muchos los que ofrecen sus flancos, y ni siquiera oyen el ruido del hacha en el
bosque. Pero menos aún sienten que el hacha se les acerca.
-¿Es de veras así, o te aprovechas de mi fiebre para engañarme?
-Es cierto, palabra de honor de un médico juramentado. Puedes llevártela al otro mundo.
—Franz Kafka, Un médico rural
—Vamos —dijo Capurro y todos regresaron sin hablar hasta el automóvil. Cuando iban a subir, el
hombre alto lo detuvo.
—No —dijo—. Ahí enfrente.
Enfrente había una casa y un galpón de ladrillos manchados de humedad. El galpón tenía techo de
zinc y letras negras pintadas arriba de la puerta. Esperaron mientras el policía entraba en la casa de al
lado y volvía con una llave. Capurro se dio vuelta para mirar el mediodía cercano sobre la playa, el
policía separó el candado abierto y entraron todos en la sombra y el frío. Las vigas estaban untadas de
alquitrán y colgaban pedazos de arpillera del techo. Mientras caminaban Capurro sentía crecer el
galpón, más grande a cada paso, alejándose la mesa larga formada con caballetes que estaban en el
centro. Miró la forma estirada pensando "quién enseña a los muertos la actitud de la muerte". Había
un charco estrecho de agua en el suelo y goteaba drsde una esquina de la mesa. Un hombre descalzo,
con la camisa abierta sobre el pecho colorado se acercó carraspeando y puso una mano en una punta
de la mesa de tablones, dejando que su corto índice se cubriera en seguida, brillante, del agua que no
acababa de chorrear. El hombre alto estiró un brazo y destapó la cara sobre las tablas dando un tirón a
la lona. Capurro miró el aire, el brazo rayado del hombre que había quedado estirado contra la luz de
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la puerta sosteniendo el borde con anillas de la lona. Volvió a mirar al rubio sin sombrero e hizo una
mueca triste.
—Mire aquí —dijo el hombre alto.
Fue viendo que la cara de la muchacha estaba torcida hacia atrás y que parecía que la cabeza,
morada, con manchas de un morado rojizo sobre un delicado morado azulóse tendría que rodar
desprendida de un momento a otro, si alguno hablaba fuerte, si alguno golpeaba el suelo con los
zapatos, simplemente si el tiempo pasaba.
Pero la cabeza con un pelo endurecido, la nariz achatada, la boca oscura, alargadas las puntas hacia
abajo, lacias, goteando, permanecía inmóvil, invariable su volumen en el aire sombrío que olía a
sentina, más dura a cada paso de su mirada por los pómulos y la frente y el mentón que no se resolvía
a colgar. Le hablaban uno tras otro, el hombre alto y el rubio, como si realizaran un juego, golpeando
alternativamente la misma pregunta. Luego el hombre alto soltó la lona, dio un salto y sacudió a
Capurro empuñándole las solapas; pero no creía en lo que estaba haciendo —bastaba mirarle los ojos
redondos— y en cuanto Capurro hizo una sonrisa de fatiga el otro le mostró rápidamente los dientes,
con odio, y abrió la mano.
—Bueno. Ya basta —dijo Capurro y todos se callaron, mientras seguía goteando la esquina de la
mesa. Miró al joven rubio que esperaba con el cigarrillo entre los dedos frente al pecho, dirigió la
cara hacia la muerta y se detuvo observando las arpilleras que colgaban desde el techo. Sólo tenía
para contarles una historia larga, entrecortada, llena de momentos brillantes y místenosos que nada
tenía que ver con aquello que interesaba a los hombres de pie en el galpón, mirándole la boca, que
acaso tampoco tuviera relación con nada concreto que él pudiera imaginar. Hizo a cada uno un corto
gesto de amistad y giró para salir, creyendo que iban a detenerlo en cada paso, pero oyó en seguida
que los hombres lo seguían sin tocarlo, sin hacerle ya ninguna pregunta, sin prisa, como si acabara de
contarles la larguísima historia y todos marcharan sin propósito, un poco inclinados por el cansancio
de escuchar, escuchando ahora el susurro intermitente que la historia sin medida iba haciendo dentro
de la cabeza de cada uno.
—Juan Carlos Onetti, La larga historia
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MEMORY
Memory alone has the power to tell us what things felt like (looked like, smelled like, etc.) Memory
remembers, it doesn't comprehend. The organization of narrative must do that.
On how to focus memory: don't try to remember everything. First, get one thing right. When you are
in a field and a whole bunch of quail go up, if you are a beginner you put your gun to your shoulder
and just go bang! You see all the birds and you shoot at them all and you don't get one. If you want to
get a bird, pick one bird and shoot it... (Ex. la madeleine en Proust)
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop
I suppose there is no difference between fact and fiction. (...) Well, solipsism or the past, what is the
past but all memory? What is the past but memories that have become myth?
(Borges at Eighty, pg. 117)
The two discourses, the narrator's and Marcel Proust's, are homologous but not analogous. The
narrator is going to write, and this future maintains him in an order of existence, not of speech; he is
at grips with a psychology, not with a technique. Marcel Proust, on the contrary, writes; he struggles
with the categories of language, not with those of behaviour. Belonging to the referential world,
reminiscence cannot be directly a unit of discourse, and what proust needs is a strictly poetic element;
but also this liguistic feature, like reminiscence, must have the power to constitute the essence of
novelistic objects. Now there is a class of verbal units which possesses to the highest degree this
constitutive power, and this class is that of proper names. The proper name possesses the three
properties which the narrator concedes to reminiscence: the power of essentialization (since one
"unfolds" a proper name exactly as one does a memory); the proper name is in a sense the liguistic
form of reminiscence. Therefore, the (poetic0 event which "launched" Remembrance... is the
discovery of Names; doubtless, since 'Contre Saint-Beuve', Proust already possessed certain names
(Combray, Guermantes); but it was only between 1907 and 1909, it appears, that he constituted in its
entirety the onomastic system of Remembrance: once this system was found, the work was written
immediately.
As a sign, the proper name offers itself to an exploration, a decipherment: it is at once a "milieu" (in
the biological sense of the term) into which one must plunge, steeping in all the reveries it bears
("Not thinking of the names as an inaccesible ideal, but as a real ambiance into which I would
plunge" (Swann's Way)), and a precious object, compressed, embalmed, which must be opened like a
flower ('...Delicately to remove the wrappings of habit and to see again in its first freshness this name
Guermantes..." (Contre Saint-Beuve)).
Certain of these semic images are traditional, cultural: Parma does not designate an Emilian city
situated on the Po, founded by the Etruscans, and comprising 138.000 inhabitants; the true signified
of these two syllables is composed of two semes: Stendhalian sweetness and the reflection of violets
(Swann's Way). Others are individual, memorial: Balbec has as its semes two words spoken long ago
417
to the narrator, one by Legrandin (Balbec is a stormy place at the end of the earth), the other by
Swann (its church is half Norman gothic, half Romanesque), so that the Name always has two
simultaneous meanings: "Gothic architecture and a storm at sea" (S.W.). Thus, each Name has its
semic specter, variable in time, according to the chronology of its reader, who adds or substracts
elements exactly as language does in its diachrony.
To advance graddually into the Name's significations (as the narrator keeps doing) is to be initiated
into the world, to learn to decipher its essences: the signs of the wworld (of love, of worldliness)
consist of the same stages as its names; between the thing and its appearenc develops the dream, just
as between the referent and its signifier is interposed the signified: the Name is nothing, if we
shouldbe so unfortunate as to articulate it directly on its referent (what, in reality, is the Duchess de
Guermantes?), i.e., if we miss in it its nature as sign. The signified is thus the site of the imaginary:
here, no doubt, is Proust's new thought, the reason why he has historically displaced the old problem
of realism, which until his advent was always posed in terms of referents: the writer works not on the
relation of the thing and its form (what was called in classical times, his "painting" and, more
recently, his "expression"), but on the relation of signifier and signified, i.e., on a sign.
This consideration should incline the critic still further to read literature in the mythic perspective
which establishes its language and to decipher the literary word (which is never the word in common
usage), not as the dictionary explicates it, but as the writer constructs it.
(Roland Barthes, Proust and Names)
Voices
If Flaubert taught Maupassant to look for the definitive adjectivesthat would distinguish a given cab
driver from every other ca driver at the Rouen station, soJoyce set himself the task of finding the
precise dialect which will distinguish the thoughts of a given Dubliner from those of every other
Dubliner. Thus the mind of Stephen dedalus is represented by a weaving of bright poetic images and
fragmentary abstractions, of things remembered from books, on a rhythm sober, melancholy and
proud; that of Bloom by a rapid staccato notation, prosaic but vivid and alert, jetting out in all
directions in little ideas growing out of ideas; the thoughts of father Conmee, the rector of the Jesuit
college, by a precise prose, perfectly colorless and orderly; those of gerty-nausicaa by a combination
of school-girl colloquialisms with the jargon of cheap romance; and the ruminations of Mrs. Bloom
by a long, unbroken rhythm of brogue, like the swell of some profound sea.
Joyce takes us thus directly into the consciousnes ofhis characters, and in order to do so, he has
availed himself of methods of which Flaubert never dreamed—of the methods of symbolism.
—Edmund Wilson, Axel's Castle, James Joyce
418
All situations are inspired by an object, a fragment, a present obsession, never by an idea. Ideas come
from everywhere, but they organize themselves around an objective surprise, a material dérive, a
detail. Analysis, like magic, plays on infinitesimal energies.
—Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories 2
An effect of electrocution, of recoil—like that of a gun. A snapshop of something which is
disappearing. For everything one writes about is disappearing—that's the only compelling reason to
write about it.
—Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories 2
On fluidity:
What is atrociously difficult is the linking of ideas, so that they derive naturally from each other.
(1852)
Ingmar Bergman—The Magic Lantern
Pgs. 202 a 204 — Bergman cuenta que cuando tenía 10 años, el sereno del hospital del pueblo (que
siempre está hablando de los murtos), por joder o por accidente, lo dejó encerrado en la morgue.
Bergman describe brevemente el lugar. Entre los cadáveres está el de una chica muy joven. Está
desnuda. El chico la mira, la toca en el hombro, espía su sexo. En ese momento ve las pupilas de la
chica por entre los párpados entreabiertos. Todo se vuelve confuso, el tiempo "dejó de existir y la luz
del sol se hizo más intensa." En ese momento Bergman pasa a al recuerdo de una historia que el
sereno le había contado, una broma que le habían hecho a una enfermera en el hospital. Sus colegas
habían dejado una mano amputada entre las sábanas de su cama. Al otro día, como la chica no
aparecía, la fueron a ver y la encontraron desnuda, con el pulgar de la mano insertado "en su
agujero." Bergman vuelve a su escena en la morgue y la termina en tres oraciones. "Ahora me estaba
volviendo loco de la misma manera. Me colgué de la puerta, que se abrió sola. La chica me había
dejado escapar."
Lo que me interesa es el corte de una escena a otra, dejando la primera en suspenso. Funciona como
funciona la memoria, por asociación (de la situación en la morgue a la historia del sereno y la vuelta),
de una manera natural. Es mucho mejor así que si hubiese contado la historia de la chica y hubiese
escapado directamente. La segunda historia le agrega horror a la primera porque: a) la deja en
suspenso y b) sugiere la locura y el horror (la historia probablemente es falsa, como una leyenda
urbana.
— Ingmar Bergman—The Magic Lantern
419
Como quien saca de su cartera un dinero que es producto de distintos esfuerzos, Erdosain sacaba
de las alcobas de la casa negra una mujer fragmentaria y completa, una mujer compuesta por cien
mujeres despedazadas por los cien deseos siempre iguales, renovados ante la presencia de
desemejantes mujeres.
—Roberto Arlt, Los Siete Locos, 75
Yes, to the end, always muttering, to lull me and keep me company, and all ears always, all ears for
the old stories, as whem my father took me on his knee and read me the one about Joe Breem, or
Breen, the son of a lighthouse keeper, evening after evening, all the longwinter through. A tale, it was
a tale for children, it all happened on a rock, in the storm, the mother was dead and the gulls came
beating against the light, Joe jumped into the sea, That's all I remember, a knife between his teeth, did
what was to be done and came back, that's all I remember this evening, it ended happily, it began
unhappily and it ended happily, every evening, a comedy, for children. Yes, I was my father and I
was my son, I asked myself questions and answered as best I could, I had it told to me evening after
evening, the same old story I knew by heart and couldn't believe, or we walked together, hand in
hand, silent, sunk in our worlds, each in his worlds, the hands forgotten in each other. That's how I've
held out till now. And this evening again it seems to be working, I'm in my arms, I'm holding myself
in my arms, without much tenderness, but faithfully, faithfully. Sleep now, as under that ancient
lamp, all twined together, tired out with so much talking, so much listening, so much toil and play.
—Samuel Beckett, Texts for nothing, 1.
La más viva imagen de ese recuerdo es aquella en que se ve a sí mismo llorando junto a una
puerta pintada de verde, reventando con sus dedos las ampollas de la pintura mal hecha, y
observando, sin dejar de llorar, que debajo de la capa verde había una roja.
—Eduardo Wilde; Aguas Abajo
420
En Memoria
Locvizza a 30 de septiembre de 1910
Se llamaba Mohammed Sceab
Descendiente
de nómadas
suicida
porque ya no tenía
Patria
Amó Francia
y cambió de nombre
Fue Marcel
mas no era francés
y ya no sabía vivir
en la tienda de los suyos
donde se escucha la cantinela
del Corán
tomando un café
Y no sabía
liberar
el canto
de su abandono
Lo acompañé
junto a la patrona del alberge
donde vivíamos
en París
en el número 5 de la rue
marchito callejón en descenso
Reposa
en el cementerio de Ivry
suburbio que parece
421
siempre
en una jornada
de una
descompuesta feria
Y acaso yo solo
se aun
que vivió
—Ungaretti
Mind and body blurred with pleasure some part of his being was still talking to the
switchblade concealed under his mattress, feeling for it with numb erogenous fingers — One night he
slipped into a forgotten nightmare of his childhood — A large black poodle was standing by his bed
— The dog dissolved in smoke and out of the smoke arose a dummy being five feet tall — The
dummy had a thin delicate face of green wax and long yellow fingernails —
"Poo Poo," he screamed in terror trying desperately to reach his knife — but his motor centers
were paralyzed — This had happened before — "i told you i would come back" — Poo Poo put a
long yellow corpse fingernail on his forehead vaulted over his body and lay down beside him — He
could move now and began clawing at the dummy — Poo Poo snickered and traced three long
scratches on Bradly's neck –
"You're dead, Poo Poo! dead! dead! dead!" Bradly screamed trying to pull the dummy head off
—
"Perhaps i am — And you are too unless you get out of here — i've come to warn you Out of
present time past the crab guards on dirty pictures? — There's a Chinese boy in the next cubicle and
Iam is just down the hall — He's very technical you know — And use this — i'm going now" —
He faded out leaving a faint impression on the green mattress cover — The room was full of
milky light — (Departed have left mixture of dawn and dream) — There was a little bamboo flute on
the bed beside Bradly — He put it to his lips and heard Poo Poo speak from an old rag in one corner
— "Not now — Later" —
—William Burroughs, The ticket that exploded
Pero como en la tierra y en vuestras escuelas se lee que la naturaleza angélica es tal que
entiende, recuerda y quiere, te diré más todavía para que veas en toda su pureza la verdad que abajo
se confunde, equivocándo semejante doctrina. Estas substancias, después de haberse recreado en el
rostro de Dios, no separaron su mirada de éste para quien nada hay oculto; así es que su vista no está
interceptada por ningún nuevo objeto, y en consecuencia, no necesitan la memoria para recordar un
concepto separado de su pensamiento.
La primera luz que ilumina toda la naturaleza angélica, penetra en ella de tantos moodos cuantos
son los esplendores a que se une. Así pues, como el afecto es proporcionado a la intensidad de la
visión beatífica, la dulzura del amor es en los ángeles diversamente fervorosa y tibia. Contempla en
adelante la altura y la extensión del Poder Eterno; pues ha formado para sí tales espejos en los que se
reparte, quedando siempre uno e indivisible como antes de haberlos creado.
(Dante Alighieri, Divina Comedia, Paraíso)
422
EXILE'S LETTER TO So-Kiu of Rakuyo, ancient friend, Chancellor Gen.
Now I remember that you built me a special tavern
By the south side of the bridge at Ten-shin.
With yellow gold and white jewels, we paid for songs and laughter
And we were drunk for month on month, forgetting the kings and
princes.
Intelligent men came drifting in from the sea and from the west
border,
And with them, and with you especially
There was nothing at cross purpose,
And they made nothing of sea-crossing or of mountain-crossing,
If only they could be of that fellowship,
And we all spoke out our hearts and minds, and without regret.
And then I was sent off to South Wai, smothered in laurel groves,
And you to the north of Raku-hoku,
Till we had nothing but thoughts and memories in common.
And then, when separation had come to its worst,
We met, and travelled into Sen-jo,
Through all the thirty-six folds of the turning and twisting waters,
Into a valley of the thousand bright flowers,
That was the first valley;
And into ten thousand valleys full of voices and pine-winds.
And with silver harness and reins of gold,
Out came the East of Kan foreman and his company.
And there came also the "True man" of Shi-yo to meet me,
Playing on a jewelled mouth-organ.
In the storied houses of San-ka they gave us more Sennin music,
Many instruments, like the sound of young phoenix broods.
The foreman of Kan-chu, drunk, danced because his long sleeves
wouldn't keep still
With that music playing,
And I, wrapped in brocade, went to sleep with my head on his lap,
And my spirit so high it was all over the heavens,
And before the end of the day we were scattered like stars, or rain.
I had to be off to So, far away over the waters,
You back to your river-bridge. And your father, who was brave as a leopard,
With governor in Hei Shu, and put down the barbarian rabble.
And one May he had you send for me,
despite the long distance.
And what with broken wheels and so on, I won't say it wasn't hard
going,
Over roads twisted like sheep's guts.
423
And I was still going, late in the year,
in the cutting wind from the North,
And thinking how little you cared for the cost,
and you caring enough to pay it.
And what a reception:
Red jade cups, food well set on a blue jewelled table,
And I was drunk, and had no thought of returning.
And you would walk out with me to the western corner of the castle,
To the dynastic temple, with water about it clear as blue jade,
With boats floating, and the sound of mouth-organs and drums,
With ripples like dragon-scales, going grass green on the water,
Pleasure lasting, with courtezans, going and coming without
hindrance,
With the willow flakes falling like