Sunday, April 11, 2010

SPAN 365 y la experiencia psicodélica

El curso acaba... Vale, no me quejo de esto como quiero relajarme en las vacaciones que vienen muy pronto. El curso no fue muy crítica, es decir, la lectura de los textos bastante limitados era de primera persona: nosotros leyendo los textos, punto. Me gusta este tipo de aprendizaje porque exige que los estudiantes vengan a sus propias conclusiones, no por la lectura de otra persona. Por el otro lado del argumento, creo que leímos demasiado de las primeros dos textos. Me pesó mucho acabar con esos, y el resultado habría sido el mismo: leer cuatro de los cuentos, o veinte, lo mismo a mi parecer. Los textos elegidos fueron perfectamente adecuados, y agradezco por el sentido de antecedente que acompañó los primeros dos textos; el tercero tuvo mucho más sentido por eso.

Y en cuanto a los textos, pensaba en lo que debería escribir aquí mientras conducía hacia mi hogar y se me ocurrió que este estilo o modo y las drogas psicodélicas van muy conectados. Pensaba en la sensación que los textos mágicorealistas dan al lector, la sensación de descubrir nuevas etapas de la realidad, de destapar las varias telas traslúcidas hasta que, después de cada traslado, la claridad empiece aproximarse más y más. En un colocón [trip] de setas, por ejemplo, una persona viene a una claridad superintensa, donde cada cosita está infundida con mucho más sentido que fue previamente pensado.

En lugar de ser simplemente una flor, se piensa en cada paso de desarrollo que sucedió en la crianza de ésta, de donde viene, y de la fineza de su estética. No me mientan que esta descripción no tiene nada que ver con el realismo mágico como lo conocemos. Además de esto, la experiencia psicodélica tiene como punto céntrico tirarse en sí mismo: descubrir a sí mismo. Es la definición de la novedad como cada experiencia tiene algo nuevo dentro. Relato este rasgo con la metaficción de realismo mágico; que, con cada paso, el lector (o el ‘tripper’) está consciente de que él o ella está en el proceso de ser aquí y ahora. La auto-consciencia. Y un punto adicional es la conectividad de todo el mundo, todas las cosas del mundo. 100 Anos me hizo dar cuenta de que cada acción tiene una secuencia de consecuencias, la cual me parece nunca acabada, y el final demuestra que acaso…estamos en control de nuestras vidas y que la única cosa que se debe hacer es reflejar en sí mismo (como también demuestra la ficción dentro de la ficción) para alcanzar este momento de ESTADO LIMITE.

Obviamente sabemos que cada yonqui tiene como objetivo alcanzar este estado límite, que al final, le trae a la plenitud de sí mismo hasta que la persona podría dejar del yo y nadar en el mar de todos seres – el alma del mundo (una idea triunfada por uno de mis autores favoritos, Paulo Coelho). No sé si yo creo en esta idea, pero quizá…
Adios y suerte a todos!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Amor a la distancia": a punch in the face

A new mode of writing. One in which a story becomes internalized, vastly personal. The story, yes, can be communicated to readers; maybe they can even empathize with it. But the feeling of collective memory, of applicability to all: that's gone. This writing is much smaller in scope.

Amor a la Distancia is a funny little story because it's a letter, but all at once, a diary entry and an essay too. Boliviano Edmundo Paz Soldan writes to his girlfriend (or his character does, but it appears nonfictional). For much of it, it feels like he's writing to himself, trying out ideas that he's formulating as he has the experiences that make him arrive at such conclusions. It's very step by step in feel, though the ending obviously wraps it all up into a little package and kind-of laughs in your face. SMACK! That’s how we arrive at conclusions – by trial and error, by taking steps – and SMACK! again, the nature of “telling” (a thing which pervades all cultures and systems) is duplicitous. There is the appearance of the idea, the reality of the idea (which only the teller knows) and the conclusion at which the receiver of the idea arrives. This system makes for some very serious doubts pertaining to verifiability versus fictionality. When can we, as human beings, ever know what is true? Especially in intimate relationships, when so much is at stake and so many details are passed back and forth between two people, there is no sure-fire way to insure oneself against scams... We’re always vulnerable, we’re always in a state of unknowing, as the ending to Distancia surely proclaims...

Hay angustia y amargura en este texto, en que el narrador intenta explicar (a sí mismo, me parece) por qué las cosas son así, por qué algunos detalles se suelen excluir, y entonces el cuento acaba así. Por qué, siempre y sin fin. Y duele al lector porque necesitamos también saber por qué. And this questioning makes us conclude that there are expectations of us as people, as partners, because that’s the way our culture is set up. We don’t cheat. We love each other without flinching. But Soldán realizes that other side of the coin. We love eachother, but we make up a love-reality, an image of the “us”, that perhaps overestimates our ability to not jeopardize that love-reality. So therefore, we do cheat, we do lie, because we’re all individuals who can and will. He says “tampoco te puedo contar muchas cosas porque sin secretos ninguna relacion subsitiría” (75): he puts citrus on the wound that is the paradox of coupling and it hurts…

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Relatability and contrast and comparison. All works thus far.

Starting with McOndo. As the editors of the book indicate, Westerners for the most part are consumers of mass-created products and ideas of lo latinoamericano. And those products and ideas seemed to stop advancing by the end of the 1960s, or thereabouts. Magic realism is a dominant force, to the point of being stereotypical, clichE, avant-garde no longer; there's nothing subtle about it anymore, the essence has been commodity and that makes it somewhat fake. The McOndo guys are contemporary contemporary contemporary. They're post-postmodern, as the magic realists themselves were post-modern.

I was taken in by their attack on their predecessors and also on the people who endorse the predecessors (aka Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is cited like an A-list fluff star) and make live on these pretty visions, images, of an unreal, floating, and frankly, fictionalized reality that is Latin America. While we strive to believe that magical realism poignantly points out aspects of life that we tend to miss, one could also read it as following the non-perceivable and mythical into the dark hole of unreason, of bad vision, of denial of a real-life-reality that pales in comparison. Zamora and Faris cite writer-critic Julian Barnes in the introduction to Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community to exacerbate the common approach to and emphasis on lo latinoamericano in MR>>>
:"A quota system has to be introduced on fiction set in South America. The intention is to curb the spread of package-tour baroque and heavy irony. Ah, the propinquity of cheap life and expensive principles, of religion and banditry, of surprising honor and random cruelty. Ah, the daiquiri bird which incubates its eggs on the wing; ah, the fredonna tree whose roots grow at the tips of its branches, and whose fibers assist the hunchback to impregnate by telepathy the haughty wife of the hacienda owner; ah, the opera hours now overgrown by jungle. Permit me to rap on the table and murmur "Pass!" Novels set in the Arctic and the Antarctic will receive a development grant."

A big quote, I know, but it speaks wonders (one of which is that MR applies not only to Latin America but to the world). Critics realize the faults of magic realism: its magic can't undo its faults, its shortcomings.. The crazy cliches (like what Barnes describes) and the vague communal ownership over all this stuff has got to go, according to McOndo. I get it, totally. One would get tired of hearing about all this stuff when, after all is said and done, you still eat, shit, sleep and die (pardon the phrase). Latinos are normal people, just like any other place, and MR is a style that can or cannot be applied to Latino writing, according to taste. It's not automatic! There are alternatives!

But then back to roots. Leyendas de Guatemala and Reino de este Mundo are predecessor steps toward magic realism; some consider them part of the package itself. Personally, Leyendas bored me. I'm a postmodern child and I'm used to referential everything, so the floatiness and frankly magical everything that isn't quite relateable but simply exists? It leaves me not knowing which way to step, it's so separate. However now, I can see how just this very quality can make it such a good source for fiction, a novel like Cien Anyos, for example. It has such a high-saturation aestheticism, it would look good in splices on the page. On that note, when I think of Leyendas, I think of fantasy film, like Avatar or Fern Gully; it tells a story, but the vividness of the images takes over plot, characters, action...

Reino de este Mundo sits much closer to Cien Anyos, in that Leyendas is most explicitly a point of inspiration, whereas Reino can much more easily stand on its own (like 100 Anyos does). Connected with my point above, these latter two works are more relatable. Though there are fantastic elements involved in both, they have characters with whom we can empathize, the plots have shape, and there's more of a critical message. Both Carpentier and Marquez are commenting intravenously through the various choices they make in the respective two works, whereas the Leyendas are what they are: legends. They're not so much a return to something, but are that which we might return to (minor points of narration aside: these aren't the parts that weigh heavily).

And how might the McOndo guys feel about Reino... I don't think they'd spit quite so hard. To me, Reino is an historical account fused with life, and I love how real dances with magical here. I venture to say that the fact it is a telling of the past may moderately redeem it in contemporary critical eyes; Carpentier says that it happened, like that, then. Conversely, Marquez attests that it was, it is, and it will be: a fact that McOndo-ists fervently reject ("it" being, made simple, magical realism). But don't get me wrong. I love the MR layers of reality; there should always be some-ones, some-wheres, who emulate that heightened spiritual realm of thought...