Gombrowicz’s Diary third entry on Piñera: Supper in Crillon with Rodriguez Feo. Virgilio and Humberto were also there. Rodriguez Feo is the editor of the pretty good literary monthly El Ciclón (sic) in Havana. He came to visit. All are Cuban. A strange species! They are intelligent and well-informed, but they are not made of clay but water. Moving, gleaming, vanishing fluidity. There were reasons in Gombrowicz’s personality to be rejected; however, those very same reason are what make his literary personality so attractive. That sense of superiority had to be upset Virgilio and shed some light on Piñera’s complaint jotted down by Gombrowicz in his first entry on Piñera. But, still, there are some reflections that can be drawn out of this entry. To a person that had been in Argentina for quite a few years to find Cubans strange, intelligent, and well-informed is a compliment at very least. Another reflection that is worthy to be made. In his characterization of the Cubans he used two elements with clear biblical implications: clay and water. Different readings: Cubans are not a direct divine creation, but created from a byproduct, water; or, Cubans like fish, moving, gleaming, and vanishing. Wasn’t this element, water, provided by Piñera? A Virgilian present? La maldita circunstancia del agua por todas partes?
jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2014
viernes, 21 de noviembre de 2014
The Gombrowicz’s Diary arrived in today. A voluminous book of 783 numbered pages with a preface by his wife. Critics and reviews affirm that it is Gombrowicz's most elaborated and completed of his works. I looked at the book and thought I have no patience to go reading page by page, so I have decided to read it here and there, in a random way.
I went through the Gombrowicz’s Diary index and looked up Piñera’s entries since I knew that the Cuban writer was the translator of Gombrowicz's novel, Ferdydurke, first published in 1938 in his natal Poland, during his years in Argentina. I found five entries.
The first entry regarding Piñera was written a Wednesday and Gombrowicz seems to write verbatim an argument Piñera made complaining on the scorn and arrogance of the European writers when it comes to consider even the possibility of an American literature. Gombrowicz wrote commenting on Piñera' complaint, “even the best minds here fall victims to attacks of American naïveté.” He responded with the same naiveté he accused Piñera, he wrote he said to Piñera, "everything you write leads me to believe that you don't know the word ‘we’, only 'I". What in the world was Gombrowicz thinking? What was he talking about? A man by himself in permanent confrontation with the society and the others, a man of sorrows, claiming to have a sense of community, a supportive behavior? Or was Gombrowicz reproaching Piñera a lack of sensibility?
The second entry on Piñera in Gombrowicz's Diary: "The man who took the matter to heart as his own, however, and whom I made the chairman of the 'committee' (made up of few literati), the man who worked on the final version, was Virgilio Piñera, a very talented Cuba". A few lines forward, Gombrowicz wrote “…both were Europeans [the other was Humberto Rodriguez Tomeu]...” I think Virgilio had some reason to fight Gombrowicz's arrogance. However, it is almost impossible to have an art work without a high self-esteem and a large dose of individualism. I would never have heard about Humberto Rodriguez Tomeu until I read these Piñera’s entries. I looked up in this source of sorcery that is Internet and came up a number of websites link to Humberto Rodriguez Tomeu, writer and translator, friend of Virgilio Piñera. He shared with Piñera the Argentinian years. I found this picture that shows the complete translating committee of Ferdydurke. Piñera the third from the left and Rodriguez Tomeu next to Obieta who is next to Gombrowicz who wears a hat. Obieta was the son of Macedonio Fernandez.
A reading takes you to another, a picture or a painting to another, a name to another, a place to another, a memory to another, and thus to the point in which things seem to be bound, flashing one over the other, shedding light and darkness alternatively.
a la/s noviembre 21, 2014
jueves, 20 de noviembre de 2014
Me apasiona reescribir sobre la escritura de otros –un sano ejercicio de plagiarismo. Sobre todo lo hago cuando la escritura es biográfica y tiene cierto paralelismo con mi vida. Experimento un cierto deja vu literario. Aquí un ejemplo reciente de sano plagiarismo:
Escribe Lyotard en Peregrinaciones: “Quería o hacerme monje (especialmente dominico) o ser pintor o ser historiador… [Pronto] me vi obligado a mantener una familia. Resulta evidente que ya era demasiado tarde para hacer los votos monacales. En cuanto a mi carrera artística, era un deseo sin esperanza debido a una desafortunada falta de talento, mientras que una evidente debilidad de memoria desalentaba definitivamente mi inclinación hacia la historia. Así, me convertí en catedrático de filosofía en un liceo de Constantine, la capital del departamento francés de Argelia Oriental. (Con el fin de evitarle problemas, debería mencionar que yo no nací en Argelia) Fuia Constantine en 1950. ¿Marcó esto el fin de algo o el comienzo de otra cosa?
Reescritura: Quise ser sacerdote jesuita. Creo que de haberlo sido hubiera obrado mucho bien en mí y en otros. Pero no lo fui, es evidente. No regret. Tengo esposa e hijos irremplazables. No conocerlos hubiera sido una desgracia. No ser sacerdote jesuita es tolerable. Me casé temprano, inmaduro y sin estar muy convencido. Todas esas circunstancias operaron en contra de la estabilidad familiar. Tuve que mantener una familia y no tenía idea de cómo hacerlo. Ya que no fui sacerdote jesuita, quise ser artista, escritor, científico social y lo que he terminado siendo es un profesor de Geografía e Historia en un instituto de enseñanza pre-universitaria, o segunda enseñanza, o en un liceo como se podía leer en las traducciones españolas de autores franceses antes. En cuanto a mis pretensiones artístico-literarias, científico sociales, nada, o casi nada (y no voy a repetir el sonsonete de la canción de Silvio Rodríguez), porque algo se ha hecho, mínimo, insuficiente, pero algo. No tanto la falta de talento como la falta de seriedad y disciplina han minado cualquier posibilidad de tener una vida creativa rica no solo en cantidad de obra producida, sino también en la calidad de lo que se ha producido. En 1992 me mudé a los Estados Unidos con la intención de residir en New York y completar unos estudios de maestría y he terminado en Miami donde me he empleado en todo tipo de empleo (decentes todo, just in case, te asalte la duda cuando me leas) hasta que me emplearon como algo menos que académico, menos que profesor, un maestro de escuela secundaria, como escribí anteriormente. Se terminó el ensayo y comenzó la obra.
a la/s noviembre 20, 2014
martes, 18 de noviembre de 2014
People’s own fantasies: Yesterday, I was visiting some friends. My son was playing with their son, or at least, they were next to each other -which doesn't mean they were playing together. Anyway, when I came in to their house, they were having dinner. The husband had had a bleeding intestine crisis and he was terrified with the possibility of cancer. The conversation was running smoothly, full of the nonsense and small talk. I was telling him things such as, “see, that was nothing serious”, “you’ll see that it’s going to pass with no serious consequences”, and so forth. My friend's wife is a fierce vegetarian and a defender of the healthy eating habits; a beautiful feminist. On the dinner table, there was soup and pasta, very simple, very plain. I don’t really care about their domestic life in any way. I just go there to take my son to play with their son while we have some trivial conversation on sports and things like that, and that night because of the health issue of my friend. Of course most of the conversation was about the convenience of keeping healthy eating habits. At some point I said that I don’t like salad that much. Then she looked at me straight in the eye and stated solemnly that a meal without a salad is unacceptable. However, of the many time I have been there at dinner time or my son have had some food with them, I have never seen salad on their dinner table, not even the classical tomatoes or avocados. It doesn't mean they don’t like salad, or that they never have it. What really takes me by surprise was the attitude, the sound of the voice, the gaze that she gave while making her statement on the convenience of salad. This made me think on the incredible capacity that we have to create certain mythologies that we believe to be true out of our own desires.
a la/s noviembre 18, 2014
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