martes, 30 de junio de 2009

2666: La parte de Amalfitano

apuntes fragmentarios

Hay un antropólogo cultural escocés, Victor Turner, que se hizo famoso en su especialidad con un libro que se llama The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. A pesar del hecho de que este estudio es más "importante" que interesante (ojo: es sumamente pesado), lo menciono ahora porque pensaba en el trabajo mientras que estaba leyendo la segunda parte de 2666. En su capítulo sobre "Liminality and Communitas", Turner escribe acerca del concepto de "liminality" o lo que él describe como un estado de paso en medio de otro estado fijo (lo de estar al umbral de otra experiencia, por ejemplo, el espacio entre la vida y la muerte). Etcétera, etcétera, etcétera. La parte de Amalfitano, por su parte, sí parece tener muchos paralelos con los estados de transición profunda de Turner. Bolaño versa con los nexos entre la locura y el juicio sano, por supuesto, pero también llama la atención a las fronteras entre la razón y el azar (el Testamento geométrico de Rafael Dieste colgado al cordel de tendedero), la memoria y el olvido, y el presente y el pasado (la voz de ultratumba que visita a Amalfitano). Con la imagen espectacular de la ex mujer del profesor durmiendo en el cementerio en el País Vasco, esta parte del libro casi se puede leer como una carta de amor dirigida al estado liminal por excelencia: el espacio borroso entre la vida y la muerte.

Aunque el capítulo acaba con otra imagen provocadora (el pobre Amalfitano trata de despertarse de un mal sueño mientras que su vida se está conviertiendo en una pesadilla viva), es difícil saber adónde el hilo narrativo se va. Incluso el estilo de contar la historia ha cambiado desde La parte de los críticos; digamos que en vez de un narrador juguetón con sus "títeres", la amenaza perpetua de violencia y la inestabilidad de los personajes nos hacen sentir que el destino tiene el mando de narrar pase lo que pase. Me encanta este desarrollo. Es más caótico, claro, pero la vida es así, ¿que no? También me gusta cómo la narración ha empezado revelarse como un espejo del órbito retrógrado de las planetas, haciendo unos pasos hacia adelante y otros hacia atrás en cuanto a los personajes involucrados. Eso dicho sea de paso, terminaré esta entrada sobre Amalfitano con un homenaje al mezcal Los Suicidas, la marca ficticia disfrutada por el maestro y el hijo del décano en La parte de Amalfitano y por otras almas perdidas en esta cita desde Los detectives salvajes de Bolaño (Anagrama: Barcelona, 1998, p. 180): "Ay, qué lástima que ya no hagan mezcal Los Suicidas, qué lástima que pase el tiempo, ¿verdad?, qué lástima que nos muramos y que nos hagamos viejos y que las cosas buenas se vayan alejando de nosotros al galope".
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There's a Scottish cultural anthropologist, Victor Turner, who became famous in his field of studies for a book called The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. In spite of the fact that this work's more "important" than interesting (beware: it's extremely boring, in fact), I mention it now because I did think about it while reading part two of 2666. In his chapter on "Liminality and Communitas," Turner writes about the concept of liminality, or what he describes as a state of transition in between other states of being (for example, between life and death). Blah, blah, blah. The Part About Amalfitano, however, does seem to have many parallels with Turner's so-called states of profound transition. Bolaño deals with the nexus between madness and sanity, of course, but he also calls attention to the tenuous frontiers between reason and chance (Rafael Dieste's Geometrical Testament hung up on the clothesline), memory and forgetfulness, and the past and the present (the voice from beyond the grave that begins to haunt Amalfitano at night). With the spectacular image of the professor's ex-wife sleeping in the cemetery in the Basque country in Spain, this part of the book can also be read as a love letter directed to that liminal state par excellence: the blurred boundaries in the neverland between life and death.

Although the chapter ends with another provocative image (the beleagured Amalfitano trying to wake up from a bad dream when his life has already become a living nightmare), it's difficult to know where things will lead next. Even the storytelling style has changed since The Part About the Critics; instead of a playful narrator with his marionettes on a string, the reader is now confronted with a situation in which the constant threat of violence and the instability of the characters appears to have fate in charge of whatever comes next. I love this turn of events. It's more chaotic, sure, but life's like that anyway, isn't it? I also like how the narrative's begun to reveal itself as something akin to a planet's retrograde orbit, making some movement forward and other movement backward in regards to the characters involved. On that note, I'll end with a quick homage to Los Suicidas mezcal, the fictional brand enjoyed by the scholar and the dean's son in The Part About Amalfitano and by other lost souls in this quote from Bolaño's The Savage Detectives (Anagrama: Barcelona, 1998, p. 180 [my translation]): "Man, what a shame that they don't make Los Suicidas mezcal anymore. What a shame that time moves on, you know? What a shame that we're dying and growing old and that the good things in life are moving away from us at a gallop."

Estoy leyendo 2666 con otros blogueros como una especie de tertulia en línea: véase 2666: La parte de los críticos si quieren obtener más informacion sobre el grupo. Martín Cristal, del blog argentino El pez volador, también tiene una serie de entradas dedicada al libro.//I'm reading 2666 with other bloggers as a sort of an online reading group thing: see 2666: La parte de los críticos if you want more information on the group. Martín Cristal, of the Argentinean blog El pez volador, also has a series of posts dedicated to the book.

15 comentarios:

  1. nada que agregar, buen punto lo del espacio entre la vida y la muerte.
    espero que sigas disfrutando la lectura, richard
    saludos

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  2. Man, I want to take a philosophy class with you. I think it would be hilarious. Boring yet fascinating, indeed.

    Excellent points about the liminal qualities of Amalfitano. Now that I think about the section from this point of view, there's also a distinct fuzziness about the borders of nationality, what with the Chilean who lives in Mexico but buys his books in Barcelona. I wonder how long it'll be before I re-read this...

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  3. Hola Richard: de Bolaño leí poco pero para mi lo mejor que se llama Los detectives salvajes, capaz que 2666 es doblemente grossa pero hasta que no consiga a alguien que me la preste no la leo.
    como dice ever, seguí disfrutando de la lectura.
    saludos

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  4. *Ever: Hola y gracias por la visita como siempre. La lectura sigue ser divertida y provocadora al mismo tiempo. ¡Un abrazo!

    *Emily: Hi and thanks for dropping by. Flattery will get you everywhere, so I'm still thinking about working "The Monk" into the reading rotation after your recent throwing down of the gauntlet on your blog (off-topic: how did you italicize "Amalfitano" here?). The national borders thing is definitely interesting, both with the critics and others who wind up in Santa Teresa and the comments of the younger Guerra who complains that all Mexicans only think of fleeing to the U.S. or joining a maquiladora. Am interested to see how (or if) this theme develops later on. Cheers!

    *Mariano: Hola y gracias por tu comentario. Leí "Los detectives salvajes" hace un par de años, y puedo decirte con confianza que es una de mis novelas favoritas de todos los tiempos. Pagué demasiado para comprar "2666", pero ha sido un placer leerlo hasta ahora. Espero que recibas una copia un día de estos. ¡Un abrazo!

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  5. Richard - I agree with Emily, a philosophy class would be great fun, or how about a literature class?

    Your review is wonderful, digging deeper into the novel, bringing up all those polarities and finding that transitional space. I am way out of practice with this kind of depth but this read-along is certainly helping me to really think about what I am reading. Thank you.

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  6. I used a wee bit of html: open carrot (<), em, close carrot (>), Amalfitano, open carrot, /em, close carrot. Et voilà: Amalfitano! :-)

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  7. *Hi Gavin: Thanks for the very kind words! I'd be in over my head in any philosophy course, but a literature class with you and Emily would be much to my liking. And I agree that the read-along has been both fun and instructional. See you soon!

    *Hi Emily: Thanks a lot!

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  8. What an interesting interpretation! This theory of "liminality" reminds me of the concept of the "vanishing mediator." I guess art can be said to be the mediator between sanity and insanity? Now there's an intriguing thought.

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  9. Wow, Richard, brilliant articulation of insights, as always. You touched on so many things I glossed over: "the blurred boundaries in the neverland between life and death," fate being "in charge of whatever comes next," the forward and backward movement, etc. I'm so happy to be reading along with all of you. Like I said to Steph, if I were reading this on my own, I would've been so lost. You have given me so many answers when the only thing I succeeded in doing was to generate more questions.

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  10. Great run down! I love some of the things you brought up that I didn't think about, like that last dream sequence. I also like the reference you brought up from The Savage Detectives. I started The Savage Detectives, but never finished it. It wasn't the right time for me to read it, but I plan to in the future!

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  11. *E.L. Fay: Hi! I'm a little weak on theory, so this "vanishing mediator" term you mention was a little new to me. Thanks for sharing. However, I am very interested in finding out where all this madness is leading us in the Bolaño universe. Cheers!

    *Hi Claire: Thanks so much for the comments--you're too kind! I'm actually a little behind on checking out the most recent read-along entries because my wife and I were out of town for the weekend, but I think everybody's been sharing something interesting in their posts since there's so much going on in the novel. Generating questions seems like a normal response to this work, by the way! Take care.

    *Lu: Hi and thank you very much for the kind words! The Savage Detectives is my favorite novel from the last few years, so I'm glad you plan on giving it another shot when the time's right. The mezcal reference seemed to have an obvious significance for Bolaño for him to have mentioned it in two novels, so I'm glad you appreciated the quote. Happy reading!

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  12. Oh, I love this idea of liminality! To me, it felt like both Lola and Amalfitano were waiting, waiting, for something. Could definitely be interpreted as a space inbetween, and that image of sex in the cemetary is the ultimate metaphor for it.

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  13. Hi Isabella,

    Thanks for the visit! Although I'd initially thought of Lola more as a frustrated "searcher" than as a "waiter" per se, I think that's an interesting perspective you have there. Amalfitano is clearly waiting for something, but I'm not sure his character--or me--is going to be happy to find out what that is exactly. Should be interesting!

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  14. Tengo bellos recuerdos de las lecturas de Bolaño

    2666 lo leí en una semana y quede maravillado. Muy buenas mañanas y tardes de lecturas.

    Mis preferidos de Bolaño son:

    Estrella Distante
    2666
    Un novelita Lumpen
    Nocturno de Chile
    Llamadas Telefonicas

    En el fondo me gusta la idea del Bolaño lector. Mi idea de Bolaño más que una persona que escribe , es la de una persona que lee. Un Lector siempre carente de bibliografía contemporánea y que tiene que satisfacer de una forma u otra sus ansiedad lectora.

    Yo ya conocía tu blog.
    Saludos

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  15. Hola Leox: ¡Qué impresionante lo de haber leído 2666 en una sola semana! Para mí, habrá sido meses hasta el final. Compré Nocturno de Chile hace un mes, y todavía la tengo como lectura pendiente en la cola. Y aunque noto la ausencia de Los detectives salvajes en tu lista, estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo en cuanto a tu concepto de Bolaño lector: interesante. De todos modos, gracias por la visita. ¡Un saludo cordial!

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