viernes, 7 de julio de 2017

PANI CÂ MÉUSA: torta de suaperro, en Palermo (Sicilia)


Proceso simplificado:
Rebanar finamente el bazo 
y los pulmones de la ternera 
freír las rebanadas 
a fuego lento 
en manteca;
después, ármese
el pani câ méusa.






"Se non è di cane non è vero"

Detrás de un puesto destartalado, un señor bien chaparrito y sudoroso (un taquero sin gorro) rebanaba un trozo cocido de carne medio oscura y a primera vista de dudosa procedencia; yo que busco en todas partes la "comida del barrio" me dejé atraer por las vaharadas calientes que brotaban de cada rebanada. Al aproximarme al puesto, el meusari me canta en palermitano una oración que interpreto como "¿cuántos quiere, jovenazo?". Con la cara embarrada de sonrisas, pido uno preparado: con un movimiento de estilista, abre una telera larga con ajonjolí y le embarra un poco del sudor grasoso que duerme en la palma de su mano, luego, mirando el asombro de Tessa, le pregunta que si también ella quiere uno, "no, yo ya desayuné...", responde a pesar de que hace unos minutos me había declarado que ya era hora de almorzar un bocadito (yo no almuerzo ni desayuno porque llevar comida en el estómago durante el día me produce pesadez y me desconcentra bastante; una manía originada desde mis años en la prepa 3), después de la embarrada de sudor, revuelve con una palita de madera las rebanadas de suaperro que tiemblan en un charco de manteca en el centro de un cazo recalentado a fuego bajo, y al primer hervor, como un artista embarrando nubes en un paisaje desafinado, a jugosas paletadas rellena la telera con la carne de oscura y sabrosa procedencia, luego espolvorea un dedazo de sal y termina su obra dejando caer una lluvia de parmesano sobre la grasosa carnita; me entrega el envoltorio y con un gesto altanero señala hacia un cacharrito donde dormitan cuatro rebanadas de limones secos... Ataco mi pani câ méusa sin clemencia, convencido por la sabrosa oscuridad de la carne de que se trata de un cuadrúpedo antes masticado (quizás en un taco de esquina en la colonia Morelos o en una de las tortas al pastor de los carritos ambulantes de Tepito), entonces miro en derredor y me parece estar masticando ahí por la calle de Aztecas o Tenochtitlán: de la piedra colonial de las calles emana una humedad hedionda y familiar; los edificios, antaño fachadas señoriales, ahora son un cúmulo de viviendas dilapidadas donde seguramente el meusari y su familia transcurren la vida inmersos en un tiempo antiguo y untuoso, escuchando los ritmos del trabajo cotidiano. Cuando el meusari confirma que me ha gustado la torta, cantando y sonriendo como un ñero de Tepito declara que "es ternera de la fina...", entonces muerdo y mastico con más velocidad, mis dudas sobre la procedencia de la carne oscura al fin desvanecidas, evaporadas en el aire caliente que nos rodea; antes de irnos, el meusari nos da la mano y nos explica, todavía cantando en su dialecto palermitano que en mis oídos es muy semejante al sonsonete con el que parlan los de la cuarta de Panaderos, algo sobre la dignidad del pueblo (nunca me atrevo a sacar mi camarita para hacerle una fotografía, no sería honorable, y la foto que exhibo abajo la hice sin aspavientos un segundo antes de embucharme la torta). Más allá, alejados del barrio del meusari, en la zona donde los turistas rubios se apelotonan como moscas azoradas, veo una versión gentrificada del pani câ méusa: del interior de un bonito bollo redondo brotan, escanciadas con palita parca porque el apetito del turista rubio es por lo regular flaco y melindroso, tres o cuatro rebanadas de ternera (el color de la carne no es réplica exacta de la carne del "original"); la tortita gentrificada reposa en una porcelana límpida, pero ni toda su blancura bañada con desinfectantes podría igualar, nunca, la dignidad de las hojas del papel que envuelven las tortas del meusari del Borgo Vecchio.

martes, 27 de junio de 2017

Marginal Note to "Felicitá raggiunta..." by Montale

I
There are many ways to keep a record of the rotation of the planets. For us that live in the Earth, rotation has acquired the label of Time, with capital “T” because thanks to this abstraction we can make historical sense of our lives. Due to such historical anxiety, I prefer to think about the months, and not only the years, that Tessa and I have been walking next to each other: thirty-nine months together and one exact year since a female minister declared us married under the sun of a hidden slice of forest in Pennsylvania, a place that in our cartographic memory we call The Creek. A year ago, our lives were like the youth from Rimbaud’s poem: a feast of work and future possibilities, not only because we were attempting to write the final word of our doctoral dissertations, or because we had the tortuous mission to find a job in a professional field where friendships, nepotism, and individual protectorates bring better results than intelligence and academic credentials, but also because the future seemed still an uncovered possibility. We knew that we wanted to rotate together in the world, despite that the future did not have a precise harbour for us. By the time I met Tessa, I had already assumed that one’s harbour is something like a feeling of prodigious uncertainty combined with the eagerness to not let the world and its people tame the ocean waving inside ourselves: a harbour implies also the possibility to move away and become a foreigner of oneself, because the heart of an explorer or immigrant is made of horizons and unbearable distances. Before meeting Tessa, I also knew that my freedom depended on how vehemently I was eater to fight for it, for that has been the only inheritance I have received from my parents: the conviction of being free in a world of servants and tyranical individuals. Only thanks to that conviction, I had dared to ask Tessa (barely knowing her but already enthralled by her own way to seek her freedom in a society enslaved to the idea of modernity and secured retirement plans) to go with me to Gdanks, in Poland, to see the Baltic Sea, or thanks to that conviction we had also gone to the end of the world in Valparaíso, Chile, where Tessa had been about to expire under the poisonous influence of a giant clam that she’d eaten in Viña del Mar. My entire youth has been an exploration or an immigration in search of instants of  all sorts: once a person becomes enchanted by the infinite and multichromatic worlds that emerge from living in an instant, that person can no longer be the same again (the very idea of “sameness” seems like a foreign and undesirable kingdom to those possessed by the inner light of the supreme instant: the felicitá raggiunta).

II
Traveling 5000 miles away from High Point, North Carolina, can take you, for instance, to Buenos Aires, in Argentina, or to Honolulu, or to Moscow… In our case, traveling five-thousand miles from High Point took us to the Aegadian Islands, a few miles west from Marsala, in southwest Sicily. We are this far from our provisional home in North Carolina because Tessa and I are both explorers and because we are commemorating a year since a female minister declared us married according to the laws of Pennsylvania (the rotation of the stars could not care less about those laws). We are leaving early in the morning our apartment in Via Paolo Perez, in Mazara del Vallo, to catch the train to Marsala. In Marsala we rent a small boat to a guy about Tessa’s age named Francesco, who inside a blue tent near the port administers with his father the rental of the eight boats that they own. They are so friendly, and are amazed by the fact to get American visitors in Marsala (remember that not only 5000 miles separate North Carolina from southwest Sicily, but traveling from continental Italy to Sicily can be quite a slow process due to the outdated transportation means that connect Sicilians among themselves). Francesco tells us that on a Sunday most of the boats around Marsala had been already rented to local families that want to spend the day around the island of Favignana, but such is his eagerness to be a welcoming host that he offers to rent us his personal boat. Neither Tessa nor I have ever driven a boat in the open sea, but after a brief exchange of instructions and the good humor of Francesco (who says that he is also a disc jockey and the night before he barely slept because he was the captain of the music in some club of Marsala), he decides to let us go to the Aegedian Islands on our own.

The open sea deserves respect. Not only the strength of the ocean moves beyond the power of imagination, but out there, far away from the Earth, the feeling of uncertainty and abandonment drips in the back of the head as a constant but enchanting melody.

After about twenty minutes with Tessa behing the rudder, we distinguish three of the five Aegedian Islands: Favignana, Marettimo, and Levanzo. Invisible navy blue roads guide the dozens of boats of all sizes through the Tyrrhenian Sea. On the top of a rocky hill of Favignana, the Castle of S. Caterina gleams like a dull promontory of chiseled stone: the castle was built around the XIX century and it exhibits Saracen and Normand influences. We head towards the west side of Favignana, taking a lonely lighthouse as our destination point. After about an hour cabotagging around the island, we settle right in front of Cala Rossa, deemed as one of the most beautiful beaches of Italy. The scene of the turquois, aquamarine, and navy blue pristine waters battling against the polished walls of excavated rock is indeed a memorable one. A couple of boats around us have thrown their anchors to park in front of the solitude and solace of Cala Rossa, so I do the same, observing how the silver anchor meanders towards the bottom of the sea: from the proa of the boat, I can see spear-like seaweeds emerging from the rocks like those spoken words depicted on The Florentine Codex.

I am a good swimmer, for I have embraced the currents of so many oceans, under the sun and under the moon, even in the treacherous waves of Veracruz I managed to get lost in the horizon and get back to the shore breathless but alive. After a brief meditation, already absorbed by the colors of the water, I dive into the blue, a contact first cold and firm that eventually dissolves into a velvety fluorescence of pelagic intensities. I float around, and with the goggles on I swim downwards attempting to touch the bottom. On the boat, Tessa quietly chews a panino facing towards the rocky walls: I can see her back and the massive currents pushing me away from her… I take a long and profound breathe and then I spring, practicing my best front crawl, towards the boat, but after a couple of minutes, getting close to exhaustion, I realize that the boat is beyong my natatorium experience and physical strength: the current is too strong and the open sea suddenly seems an infinite bed of solitude. I devote myself to floating and getting oxygene to my lungs, thinking that if I rest a little bit I could swim towards the rocky walls of Cala Rossa. Before heading towards the wall, I shout, without denoting my incipient dispair, “Tessa!,” keeping my composture afloat, but suddenly feeling exhausted… Now I think that drowning in a place called Cala Rossa, in the Aegedian Islands, would’ve been the kind of death that my twenty-year old self would’ve accepted. Once in Michoacán, a man had shot with a machine gun towards me and other young guys walking by the side of a starry  road; I was eighteen years of age and that was the first time I saw death running towards my eyes. But suddenly adrift in the Tyrrhenian Sea, floating away from Tessa, contemplating the Cala Rossa and learning that the open sea does not understand about mercy and forgiveness, there surrounded by an all-embracing orchestra of tones of blue, I recognize that the “felicità raggiunta” that I had been seeking my entire life is, after all, that very moment when one realizes that love is not about enduring time with someone else: “living together” requires patience and a deep sense of duty, but love cannot be measured by time, I do not think so, love is that very instant when one decides to swim or float or die only towards one single point... For that reason when I submerge myself under the aquamarine currents, thinking about the possibility of letting go and quitting all my absurd and mundane battles (after all Cala Rossa is indeed a perfect tombstone), when I open my eyes underwater, glimpsing a beautiful and deformed oasis of mysterious shapes and chromatic intentions, I only think about Tessa and that it is only for her that I have made it to this point of my life, it is for her that without knowing it I have searched with the anxiety of a shipwreck survivor in as many continents, in as many countries and oceans and forests and cities and books and nights for the “felicità raggiunta” that in that very moment alone underwater belongs only to Tessa, the captain behind the rudder of my boat, the only harbour that I can think about when the currents are stronger than my arms and inside my head everything starts to acquire the blue tones of Cala Rossa.

III
I was eventually saved by another boat and the wise generosity of a family of fishermen. Later that day, I also swam among tiny jellyfish in the waters of the Arch of Ulysses (Cala Redonda), and before dusk Tessa and I went back home together to Mazara del Vallo, and next July we hope to celebrate our 40th month next to each other.


Medusas del Arco de Ulises



Favignana in less than two minutes



My translation from the Italian of "Felicità raggiunta," in Ossi di seppia (1925), by Eugenio Montale:
I have found happiness for you,
walking on the cutting edge of a knife.
You are a gleaming wave in front of our eyes,
adrift, like ice breaking in the heart;
for those who love you most cannot feel you.
If you dive into spirits invaded
with sadness to brighten them,
the morning turns sweet and troubled
like the nests hidden on the heighths.
But nothing will remedy the cry of the child
whose balloon flies away among the roofs.

viernes, 17 de junio de 2016

LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION (LASA): Congreso Internacional


En las postrimerías de mayo pasado, se celebró en la Ciudad de Nueva York el congreso internacional de LASA. Al unísono de cientos de mesas redondas y paneles académicos, una de ellas organizada por quien suscribe esta narración, miles de académicos de todas las calañas se congregaron en el Hilton Midtown y el Sheraton Times Square para discutir asuntos relacionados con Latinoamérica desde una diversidad de enfoques intelectuales, creativos y académicos que sería bochornoso enumerar aquí. Por ejemplo, asistí a una mesa de difusión sobre los retos de los estudios del siglo diecinueve: “Hay que hacer todavía más evidente que los fenómenos culturales del siglo veinte y veintiuno pertenecen a procesos que atraviesan el siglo diecinueve”, dijo uno de los ponentes. Yo, como soy decimonónico por vocación y pasión, aplaudí en silencio, pensando que tan pronto como fuera posible debía ceñirme a mi trabajo en torno a Romero, Alamán y los proto-decadentistas mexicanos de finales del XIX, como Sierra Méndez, Alegría, Ceballos o Rebolledo.

“Avezarme sólo al diecinueve, eso es que lo tengo que hacer”, escribí en mi Moleskine. Esa noche envié al editor la versión corregida de un artículo académico sobre Amado Nervo y los momentos narrativos de disidentificación (término original de Judith Butler, aunque yo empleo la versión de José Esteban Muñoz) que la revista Cincinnati Romance Review ya ha aceptado para su publicación este año.

Entre los muchos encuentros y rituales de salutación que moldearon mi presencia en el congreso de LASA, creo oportuno asentar que saludar a Christopher Conway y William Acree fue instructivo y ameno en varios sentidos. También tuve la oportunidad de conversar con varias personas, entre amigos, académicos y escritores: platicar con Carlos Labbé y Mónica Ríos en el bar del Hilton Midtown representó la misión cumplida de mi presencia en LASA. Sin embargo, la interacción más extraña, e incluso iluminadora, que sostuve fue una breve conversación con la Dra. Mabel Moraña, reconocida profesora de la Universidad de Washington en San Luis; todos los que tenemos cercanía con los Estudios Culturales en Latinoamérica hemos leído algo de la profesora Moraña. Fue un encuentro al azar: ambos buscábamos un lugar donde sentarnos a esperar en el lobby del Hilton, donde la habitación más económica es alquilada por más de tres mil pesos mexicanos la noche, es decir, todavía más que el salario mínimo mensual. 

“¿Cómo está, Dra. Moraña?”, yo sonriendo, muy atento a su respuesta.

“¿Puedes imaginar que aquí en el Hilton, con lo que cuesta, no hay lugar para sentarse?” 

Es muy cierto, en un lobby con dos bares, café independiente y me parece que uno o dos restaurantes (una cerveza Budweiser cuesta nueve dólares), las pocas butacas dobles de mármol que adornaban el vestíbulo no daban abasto a la cantidad de nalgas que buscaban un sitio para posarse. 

“El neoliberalismo”, respondí, sin dejar de sonreír como un pajarraco feliz. 

La Dra. Moraña volteó a verme directo a los ojos sin dejar de sonreír. “Así es”, exclamó, mirándome con la misma cordialidad que un adulto le prodiga al niño que, de pronto, reconoce que llevar las agujetas desamarradas puede ser un obstáculo para intentar correr. 

“¿Estás en Pittsburgh, no?”, me preguntó, buscando en derredor a una persona que no llegaba; yo también estaba en medio del proceso de encontrarme con el Murciano, quien en ese momento, me enteré más tarde, fumaba como chacuaco afuerita del hotel, mirando el tránsito cansino de Avenida de las Américas.  

“Sí, estoy en Pittsburgh, bonita ciudad”, respondí, la cabeza de pronto nublada de sorpresa, niebla, puesto que nunca en mi vida había establecido contacto con la Dra. Moraña, aunque sí sabía que había sido profesora del departamento de Estudios Hispánicos de la Universidad de Pittsburgh. 

“Entonces habrás escuchado muchas cosas negativas sobre mí”, replicó la reconocida intelectual uruguaya. 

“No, nunca”, respondí con la verdad, porque cada vez que he tenido la oportunidad de conversar con los doctores Branche, Beverley, Duchesne, Balderston y Monasterios, he aprovechado el tiempo para hacerles preguntas de índole académica o intelectual, como “¿qué debo leer para aproximarme a la posibilidad de un malungaje en México?” o “¿es posible formularse como intelectual subalterno?”, siempre preguntas de este tipo.

“Estoy en el departamento de inglés, terminaré el MFA el próximo semestre, paso más tiempo con la Dra. Shalini Puri...”, agregué, con la intención de expresar que mi estancia en Pittsburgh discurre por meandros académicos e intelectuales.

“Eres un coleccionista de títulos universitarios...”, afirmó, siempre con un tono cordial.

Respondí sólo con una sonrisa, musitando algo que ni yo pude escuchar y ahora no recuerdo sobre el mercado laboral de los académicos, luego nos pusimos de pie, nos despedimos deseándonos buena suerte y una agradable estancia, y cada uno retomó su camino para consumar un encuentro pactado con antelación.


Posdata

Carlos Labbé, cuando nos despedíamos, soltó al aire un “deberíamos escribir una novela a seis manos”. Hay que hacerlo, Carlos. 



TEXTOS RECOMENDADOS



De John Beverley: Entrevista  




     



  

miércoles, 25 de mayo de 2016

Anyone Can Play Guitar

I was driving back home, after teaching my intro to fiction class, and when I saw the Giant Eagle’s lights I thought, like an arrow, “tonight I am going to make a ten-song anthology of Radiohead, my very favorites, starting with Airbag, or even better: with a song from the Pablo Honey album, but not Creep because everyone has been down there at least once in a lifetime,” but then I arrived home and, after enjoying time with my beloved Tessa, I sat and revised a short story, then I wrote a grant application involving archival research and fieldwork in my hometown, ‘cause sometimes I sort of forget the smell of the darkness of Mexico City, it feels kind of foggy, like a grisaille. By the way, “grisaille” is a word that I had to learn myself in order to describe what I used to see as a surrounding force when I was a fat child, somewhere between ten and thirteen years of age, back then I also spent my evenings listening to the gunshots and the shrieks from the street with an enciclopedia between my hands, my father had to sell books when I was born and that was the origin of all of those books, including Proteus, an animal enciclopedia with manatees, antelopes, different snakes, an enciclopedia of "universal literature," there I read Santha Rama Rau, Katherine Mansfield, Daphne Du Maurier, Asturias, stuff like that, authors perhaps not copiously read in the United States, it was like growing up in a militarized zone, but against pirated merchandise, music CDs, DVDs, tennis shoes, watches, in Tepito I bought the complete works of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, Relics by Pink Floyd, I even got this extremely rare compilation of the yelling voice of Janice Joplin. Then, after my grant application, I also started writing the first words of a flash-fiction collection in English, because now I am studying the syntax and lexicon of Nabokov. "Let Down," that’s a cool song even for tonight, or what do you think Carlos or Tahsin? It does not have to be a pessimistic lullaby, Let Down also has a promise, just like when we get to remember the names of people from our childhood, or the buzzing of the tontorrones dying on the fresh grass of a baseball field; when I was a child I played baseball in a little league called Anáhuac, like in Valle de Anáhuac, where my father played himself as a child, then he was hired by a professional team at the age of fifteen, apparently my father was some sort of baseball genius, but a bit crazy or extremely passionate about the sport, its rules, the honor implied in playing baseball, although the truth is that who gives a shit about baseball in Mexico? Growing up baseball was popular, but when I turned nineteen-yold the television companies invested millions in Mexican soccer, baseball was killed with a national financial failure called TRI. But going back to my father, after three years of playing AA professional ball, when he turned 18 he was immediately signed by a top professional team, Los Tigres de México, XXX level with prospects of being eyed by a scout from MLB, Mike Britto was often at the Mexico City stadium looking for Mexican pitchers to play for The Dodger’s, the next Fernando Valenzuela was throwing balls at El Parque del Seguro Social, by that time my father's arm had been throwing too many fireballs, and just like that my father got his arm injured, “smoking ball,” that’s how my Crazy Uncle used to call my dad, my father went from baseball prodigy to a man who gave his childhood and teenage years to the baseball profession, later on he worked for a national television channel commenting the baseball games, Imevisión, that’s the name of the television company, the boss of my father was a man named José Ramón Fernández, a very controversial thinker of Mexican sports, of Spanish descent, as tall as a ten-yold person, for that I had to be punished and baseball was imposed upon me, as a Christic cross charged beforehand on my back, but eventually I found my way out of the King of the Sports, in Mexico old men wearing suits used to call baseball the King of the Sports, some even compare it to chess, for that my father also played chess like a nut head, he used to play against himself with a book in his hand, “I am studying,” he used to say, half smiling, while my mother was yelling at him for spending the afternoons playing against himself, my father even became a professional chess player and got ranked in some specialized chess magazine. Someday we should play chess, it is boring, but I bet that with a Negra Modelo the game gets more interesting. (When I was young like the people who do not give a fuck about being young I used to spend hours a day writing and reading any book around, even stuff like writings by Karl Popper or Melvin DeFleur or Giovanni Sartori or Algebra by A. Baldor or the biographies of Rocky Marciano or Johnny Unitas. I was always reading Nietzsche, I used to read Nietzsche on the subway, pure performance; on Sundays, some nights I traveled the whole green line, from Universidad to Indios Verdes, roundtrip, while reading and writing in a tiny notebook with a Bic pen. In Acapulco I enchanted a few girls and even a guy (potential fan) with the poems written in that notebook. I disintegrated that notebook by submerging it in water. No Surprises is a better first song. Once I got along with a Canadian girl due to a poem in French by Henri Michaux that I copied on my notebook, when she asked me “did you write this?,” I replied “do you think it's good?" Ha. Mexico City is a great place, it takes years to understand its rhythms and smells. I have been in more than forty different nations, and my brother, my only brother, has never left Mexico neither once, he says that he was born and still lives in Mexico City, “why would I have to go to places like Paris or San Francisco? You already went and came back saying that Paris and his people suck and that San Francisco does not even have a real subway.









viernes, 7 de agosto de 2015

THE COLOMBIAN GIRL FROM "LA NARVARTE” by Catalina Ruiz-Navarro (my translation)

Last weekend there was a brutal multi-murder in Mexico City. It happened in a district known as “La Narvarte,” a quiet, middle-class neighborhood. There were five victims: a man (who was found dressed) and four women, all naked, tortured and rapped. 

All of them got a mercy killing shot in the head. The five people from La Narvarte were, people say, 1) the photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, who came to Mexico City self-exiled because he was threatened to be killed in the state of Veracruz, where he resided since 2009. The governor of Veracruz (Javier Duarte) has created a very hostile and dangerous environment against journalism: so far, since he came into power (in 2010), it has been “officially” recorded that 37 journalist have been murdered and 37 have gone into exile. 2) Nadia Vera, an anthropologist, a cultural promoter and humans rights activist from Chiapas but graduated from the Universidad Veracruzana. Nadia was also threatened, to such point that she said in an interview that if something happened to her, she wanted to blame the despicable governor of Veracruz in advance. 3) Yesenia Quiroz, a young make-up artist, whose family (originally from Michoacán) lives in Mexicali; she had recently arrived to Mexico City straight from Mexicali. 4) “Alejandra,” a forty-year-old and “divorced” woman, who apparently worked as a housemaid, and whose last name has not been released to the press yet. And 5) “Simone” or “Nicole” (the Attorney General's Office has not been very clear about her, arguing that no one knew her last name in the building where her body was found), a 29 year-old Colombian girl, a “model and personal assistant,” at first assumed as the owner of the Mustang in which apparently the killers escaped (although the registration doesn’t have her name, also according to the Attorney General's Office). The Mexican press is suspiciously pointing at the statement released by the Attorney General’s Office: “despite not having a job, she was the owner of the Mustang, contributed to the expenses and owned a few jewelry and gold,” which, in other words, means that she was a whore (“like all the Colombian girls”).

This case is paradigmatic and disturbing for many reasons. Because Mexico City is no longer the safe refuge where threatened journalist once used to find peace. Also because, at first, the crime was reported as the murder of Rubén Espinosa and four other victims, whose names have been released slowly during the last days. Why at the beginning only Espinosa was mentioned? For two reasons: because authorities (and the press) tend to make FEMINICIDES invisible by not mentioning the names of the victims. And because the journalist, Rubén Espinosa, had solidarity and social networks in Mexico City that became aware of his absence. But why these women did not have this sort of networks? The answer is quite sad: because besides being women, they belonged to the most vulnerable social groups. The multiple homicide of La Narvarte perfectly exemplifies (and also makes us aware of) the great vulnerability suffered by women, journalists, activists, immigrants, domestic workers and sexual workers. This is a very clear message to those social groups: There’s no place where they can feel safe. I should also mention that all the stereotypes divulged by the press and media about these groups make easier that these crimes are eventually forgotten with impunity. Neither being a prostitute, nor consuming drugs, nor doing activism, nor criticizing the Government, nor “not spending our time picking up coffee beans” are justifications for rapping, torturing and murdering. 

Based on the public information, all “the evidence” points at the fact that the Colombian girl will be the scapegoat of this atrocious crime. Soon, people will say that it was “due to drugs”. However, if the authorities point at Rubén Espinosa and Nadia Vera as the main victims, this will become a clear attack against freedom of expression, and will eventually have a very high political cost, mostly because people won’t be able to say that the Colombian girl was murdered for “being a prostitute and a drug dealer.” In fact, the words “Colombian girl” are being often used as an euphemism for prostitute. Do you remember when Colombia felt terribly offended “as a country” when a Chilean comedian called Colombian women “whores”? Well, this crime is not a comedy sketch: a “Colombian girl” has been brutally murdered, stigmatized for being Colombian and discarded only for being an immigrant. No one will feel terribly offended for this crime? This is the time to feel indignation, to reject impunity, to demand our rights and, of course, to shout for the respect of the Colombian prostitutes.



Related articles:
-“Sex Tourism Drives Underage Prostitution Boom in Cartagena, Colombia” by Meredith Hoffman

-“Prostitution in Colombia” 







miércoles, 13 de mayo de 2015

WHAT IS BEHIND A BRAIN THAT DOES NOT READ? by Juan Tallón

I’ve been wondering for years about the brain of someone who doesn’t read. What encourages such a brain to think through time and carry on 24 hours a day, for a whole existence? How are the walls inside this brain? How does it feed itself? Once I heard Fernando Savater saying that the brain of a person that doesn’t read, or barely reads, must probably look like an “empty attic,” in which slowly and silently a thick and dying dust takes over like a complete darkness.
            There is a letter from Kafka to Max Brod in which The Metamorphosis’ author punches the subject harder and better, he says <<If the book that we are reading doesn’t shake our heads with a shove, why do we bother to read it? We need books that affect our lives as a catastrophe would do, books hurting deep and hard, like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, books that make us feel exiled in a forest far from everyone, like suicide. A book should be the axe to face the frozen sea throbbing inside ourselves.>> Kafka, like Savater many years later, thinks about a brain that doesn’t read as a cold place, inhospitable, illuminated by a dull light.
            But, what if it isn’t that way? Often times we are tempted to think that the real damaged and absented brain is precisely the one that reads. After all, I don’t know people whose brains remain very tranquil, in peace, after reading a good book. There’s something so-called “curiosity” in these brains causing continuous tribulations; these kind of people are unable to sleep well without a book at hand. People that live establishing quotidian contact with literature accumulate anxieties, vital holes, broken nights, unknown questions… Sooner or later these people are unsure about everything, holding on to doubts and constantly facing a personal ostracism that forces them to move on to another book, and this  takes place day by day. This movement becomes perpetual, and the reader remains for life defeated in front of himself, because books are, in a sense, very powerful enemies.
            In April of 2000, during his last trip to Chile, Roberto Bolaño confessed to a journalist from The Latest News that <<writers are good for nothing. Literature is useless. Literature is only useful to literature itself.>> And Bolaño concluded by saying that <<for me that is enough.>> In his theory, a person decides to become a writer <<in an instant of total insanity,>> and one good day what that person wrote ends in front of someone reading also in a gesture of total insanity. Literature, said the author of 2666 in a different interview, grows over collisions and disasters. And only in that place Literature is happy, surrounded by its own sickness, which happens to provide to some kind of people a lot of company. Nothing is more uncomfortable for people that read than the “apparent” comfort that the person that never reads conveys.
           The place of readers is one lacking comfort, the gale, the feeling of inner disorder. The popular Spanish writer Iñaki Uriarte tells in his diaries that he has a friend that reads, of the kind that read to feel sick and pessimistic, and that always arrive late to the appointments. Uriarte recalls that once he waited for his friend one hour and a half, and when he finally showed up, he justify his tardiness arguing that <<Kafka always arrived late to his appointments.>> Uriarte reproached him that he had just invented that citation, that it wasn’t true, but then his friend replied that <<Faulkner was also a great liar.>> Perhaps reading is useful to establish this kind of dialogues. Dialogues that are ephemeral but dazzling.     




Here you can find the original text in Spanish: 
 http://descartemoselrevolver.com/2015/05/09/que-hay-en-una-cabeza-que-no-lee/
translated from the original in Spanish by Francisco Laguna-Correa





miércoles, 22 de abril de 2015

ORPHANAGE by Inés Arredondo (Mexico)

I believed that everything was this dream: on a hard bed, covered with a gleaming white sheet, I was a small girl with arms amputated at the elbows and legs cut above the knees, dressed in a tiny bathrobe that left the four stumps uncovered.
      I was in a room that looked a lot like a poor doctor’s office, with antiquated glass cabinets. I knew that we were by the side of a road in the United States where all the world, sooner or later, had to pass by. And I say "we were” because next to the bed, showing me his profile, there was a young doctor, joyful, perfectly shaved, and clean. He was waiting.
     The relatives of my mother entered the doctor’s office: tall, beautiful, and the room was suddenly crowded with sunlight and noise. The doctor explained to them:
     -Yes, it’s her. Her parents had an accident near this road and both died, but I was able to save her. That’s why I posted the sign, so that you might stop and see her.
     A very white woman (that immediately reminded me of my mother) touched my cheeks.
     -She is so pretty!
     -Look at her eyes!
     -And she has curly, blonde hair!
   My heart throbbed with joy. They were talking about our facial similarities, and in all the excitement and praise, no one mentioned anything about my mutilations. They were now debating my future: I was indeed one of them.
   But for some mysterious reason, laughing and rambling, they joyfully left the doctor’s office and did not look back at all.

The relatives of my father came later. I closed my eyes. The doctor repeated the same speech that he gave to my mother’s relatives.
     -Why did you save that?
     -This is frankly inhuman.
     -No, a freak always possesses something surprising and, in certain ways, also something funny.
    Someone strong, short in height, held me by the armpits and shook me like a rattle.
      -You’ll see that we can do something else with her.
      And put me on a sort of rail suspended between two brackets.
      -One, two, one, two.
     He was positioning, one at a time, my leg trunks on the rail as if I were a tightrope walker, holding me by the neck of the bathrobe like a grotesque doll. I shut my eyes until my head hurt. 
      Everyone laughed.
      -Of course we can do something else with her!
      -This is fun!
     And vulgarly laughing they left the room while my eyes were still shut.

When I opened my eyes, I woke up.
     A dreadful silence crowded the dark and cold room. There was neither a doctor nor a room, nor a road. I was here. Why did I dream about the United States? I am in the interior hall of a building. No one walked by nor would ever walk by this place. Perhaps no one had ever walked by before. 
     The four stumps and I, lying on a bed dirty with my excrement.
    My horrible face, totally different from that of my dream: facial features have no definite forms. I know it. I cannot have a face because no one never recognized me nor will they ever.

This story was first published in the short story collection Subterranean River (1979) by |nés Arredondo (México 1928-1989).






-Translated from the Spanish by Francisco Laguna-Correa