Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A few years earlier, I’d awoken in a room in a country inn to discover that our thoughts are produced in a region of our innermost being marked by the quality of silence. Even amid a great city’s most strident clamor we think in silence about where we’re going or what we have to do, or whatever it is that corresponds to our desires. And the silence in which our feelings take shape is still deeper. We feel love in silence, before the thoughts come, and then the words, and then the acts, always moving farther towards the outside, towards the noise. Some thoughts can hide within silence and never become words, though they may carry out hidden acts. But there are also feelings that hide in silence behind deceptive thoughts. The silence where feelings and thoughts are formed is the place where the style of a human being’s life and life work is formed.

Felisberto Hernández, “The New House

Monday, March 23, 2009

According to List (who in his day traveled to Europe too), they had laid a trap for mi general for political reasons, which was the exact opposite of what the newspapers said, the press inclining toward a brothel skirmish or a crime of passion with Rosario Contreras in a leading role. According to List, who was personally familiar with the brothel, mi general liked to screw in the most out-of-the-way room, which wasn’t very big but had the advantage of being at the back of the house, far from the noise, near this courtyard where there was a fountain. And after screwing, mi general liked to go out into the courtyard to smoke a cigarette and think about postcoital sadness, that vexing sadness of the flesh, and about all the books he hadn’t read.

Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So this Marco Antonio, who is he? said the inspector. A poet, said Álamo, flatly. But what kind of poet? the inspector wanted to know. A surrealist poet, said Álamo. A surrealist and a PRI-ist, specified Labarca. A lyric poet, I said. The inspector nodded his head several times, as if to say I see, although it was clear to us that he didn’t understand shit. And this lyric poet didn’t want to show his support for the Sandinista revolution? Well, said Labarca, that’s a strong way to put it. He couldn’t make it, I guess, said Álamo. Although you know Marco Antonio, said Labarca, and he laughed for the first time. Álamo took out his pack of Delicados and offered it around. Labarca and I each took one, but the inspector waved them away and lit a Cuban cigarette. These are stronger, he said with a clear hint of irony. It was as if he were saying: we revolutionaries smoke strong tobacco, real men smoke strong tobacco, those of us with a stake in objective reality smoke real tobacco. Stronger than a Delicados? said Labarca. Black tobacoo, comrades, genuine tobacco. Álamo laughed under his breath and said: it’s hard to believe we’ve lost a poet, but what he really meant was: what do you know about tobacco, you stupid son of a bitch? You can kiss my ass with your Cuban tobacco, said Labarca almost without batting an eye. What did you say, comrade? said the inspector. That I don’t give a shit about Cuban tobacco. Where Delicados are lit, let the rest be put out. Álamo laughed again and the inspector seemed to hesitate between turning pale with rage and looking confused. I assume, comrade, that you mean what I think you mean, he said. That’s right, I do, you heard me. No one turns his nose up at a Delicados, said Labarca. Oh, Julio’s a bad boy, murmured Álamo, looking at me to hide his barely suppressed laughter from the inspector. And on what grounds do you say that? said the inspector, wreathed in a cloud of smoke. I could see that things were taking a new tone. Labarca raised a hand and waved it back and forth a few inches from the inspector’s nose, as if he were slapping him. Don’t blow smoke in my face, man, he said, do you mind? This time the inspector definitely turned pale, as if the strong scent of his own tobacco had made him sick. For fuck’s sake, show a little respect, comrade, you almost hit me in the nose. If you call that a nose, said Labarca to Álamo, unruffled. If you can’t tell the smell of a Delicados from a bundle of vulgar Cuban weed then your nose is failing you, comrade, which hardly matters in and of itself, but in the case of a smoker or policeman is worrisome, to say the least. A Delicados, you see, Julio, is blond tobacco, said Álamo, overcome by laughter. And the paper is sweet, too, said Labarca, which is something you only find in parts of China. And in Mexico, Julio, said Álamo. And in Mexico, of course, said Labarca.

Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives