viernes, 31 de julio de 2009

2666: La parte de Fate


Nota #3 sobre el read-along de 2666, con todas las malas traducciones mías.
(Note #3 on the 2666 read-along with all awkward translations mine.)

"El futuro es nuestro, por prepotencia de trabajo. Crearemos nuestra literatura, no conversando continuamente de literatura, sino escribiendo en orgullosa soledad libros que encierran la violencia de un 'cross' a la mandíbula". (Roberto Arlt, introducción a Los lanzallamas, 1931)

"Y entonces pactaron una pelea contra Arthur Ashley, en Los Ángeles, no sé si alguno vio esa pelea, yo sí, a Arthur Ashley lo llamaban Art el Sádico. El mote se lo ganó en esa pelea. Del pobre Hércules Carreño no quedó nada. Ya desde el primer round se vio que aquello iba a ser una carnecería. Art el Sádico boxeaba tomándose todo el tiempo del mundo, sin ninguna prisa, buscando el sitio exacto donde colocar sus ganchos, haciendo rounds monográficos, el tercero dedicado únicamente al rostro, el cuarto dedicado únicamente al hígado". (Roberto Bolaño, 2666, p. 366)
*
"The future is ours by dint of hard work. We'll create our own literature not by speaking of literature ad nauseam but by writing books in proud solitude that harness all the violence of a cross to the jaw." (Roberto Arlt, introduction to The Flamethrowers, 1931)

"And then they made a deal for a fight against Arthur Ashley, in Los Angeles. I don't know if anybody saw that fight, I did, but they used to call Arthur Ashley 'Art the Sadist.' He got the nickname in that fight. There was nothing left of poor old Hércules Carreño. Even in the first round, you could see it was going to be a slaughter. Art the Sadist boxed taking all the time in the world, in no hurry, searching for the exact spot where to land his hooks, making rounds that were like monographs, the third dedicated entirely to the face, the fourth dedicated entirely to the liver." (Roberto Bolaño, 2666, p. 366)

PANTERAS NEGRAS. Me encanta este libro. Guiñando el ojo al lector, Bolaño se distancia de los estilos narrativos de La parte de los críticos y La parte de Amalfitano para dedicar un round "monográfico" a una especie de hiperperiodismo acerca de un tal Oscar Fate: periodista norteamericano de Harlem que viaja a Santa Teresa para hacer un reportaje sobre una partido de boxeo entre el americano Count Pickett y el mexicano Merolino Fernández. Aunque no quiero entrar en los detalles en este momento, el hecho de que Fate (una palabra que significa el destino en inglés) es un personaje afroamericano hace alusión a la creciente dimensión multinacional de algunos de los temas secundarios de 2666: la injusticia social, la liberación, la esclavitud, etcétera. Y dado que Fate escribe para la revista neoyorquina Amanacer Negro, su periodismo nos introduce a un personaje que me fascinó por completo: Barry Seaman, uno de los dos miembros fundadores del partido Panteras Negras.

BLACK PANTHERS. I love this book. With a little wink at the reader, Bolaño distances himself from the narrative styles of The Part About the Critics and The Part About Amalfitano by dedicating a "monograph study" of a round of a sort of hyper-journalism to one Oscar Fate: a journalist from Harlem who travels to Santa Teresa to report on a boxing match between the American Count Pickett and the Mexican Merolino Fernández. Although I don't want to go into the details at this time, the fact that Fate (a name that doesn't have any symbolic meaning for Spanish speakers when not translated into its Spanish equivalent of destino) is an African-American character has at least something to do with the increasingly multinational nature of some of 2666's secondary themes: social injustice, liberation, slavery, etc. And since Fate writes for a New York review called Black Dawn, his journalistic career introduces us to a character who completely fascinated me: Barry Seaman, one of the two founding members of the Black Panther Party.


BALLENAS BLANCAS. El personaje de Seaman, por supuesto, está modelado sobre Bobby Seale, cofundador con Huey Newton de los Negras Panteras en 1966. Pero en La parte de Fate, el doble ficticio del Pantera histórico pronuncia un gran discurso que me parece una proeza por parte de Bolaño. Corriendo alrededor de 15 páginas, el discurso de Seaman funciona como un primer plano del cine con el personaje hablando sobre su vida en una toma larga. Tratando de cinco temas (PELIGRO, DINERO, COMIDA, ESTRELLAS, UTILIDAD), Seaman habla de todos de manera bastante inesperada. Aunque sospecho que esta escena tendrá sus detractores, me gustó el desarrollo de los temas por el personaje (un poco disparatado a veces) tanto como el hecho de que la oración pasó en tiempo "real" (la versión director's cut en vez de la versión abreviada usual). También me gustó la genialidad de Bolaño. En una escena extendida que le permite al lector ser un escuchador escondido --o sea, en un pasaje que hace el alarde de ser "realista" en extremo grado en cuanto a la escritura-- al mismo tiempo el autor reconoce los límites de su oficio. Escondido dentro del tema de PELIGRO, hay un hermoso retrato de los Panteras al mar en el flor de su juventud donde un amigo de Seaman no puede hablar porque está estupefacto con felicidad: "Entonces yo me acerco a Marius y le digo vámonos de aquí ahora mismo. Y en ese momento Marius se da la vuelta y me mira. Está sonriendo. Está más alla. Y me indica el mar con una mano, porque es incapaz de expresar con palabras lo que siente. Y entonces yo me asusto, aunque es mi hermano a quien tengo a mi lado, y pienso: el mar es el peligro" (316). También me gustó cómo la escena mezcló la aparencia de realidad con un paralelo literario. No soy el primer decirlo, por supuesto, pero la larga oración de Seaman tiene un antecedente en la novela Moby-Dick de Herman Melville (foto, arriba) donde un capítulo entero está dedicado a un sermón dado por un tal Father Mapple. Aunque Seaman (lo que significa la palabra marinero en inglés) no habla de los mismos asuntos del fraile de Melville, parece claro que su mensaje funciona como el mismo tipo de bendición para Fate que la de Father Mapple hace para los marineros del libro de Melville (no es sorprendente que Bolaño haya sido un aficcionado al clásico de la literatura norteamericana). ¿Que va a pasar a Fate en su viaje a Santa Teresa? ¿Y que significa cuando Seaman le dice a su audiencia en la iglesia, "El mar es el peligro"? ¿Que lo que nos atrae es peligroso?

WHITE WHALES. Seaman's character, of course, is patterned after Bobby Seale, a cofounder of the Black Panthers with Huey Newton in 1966. But in The Part About Fate, the fictitious double of the real life Panther makes this great speech that's nothing short of a tour de force on Bolaño's part. Running about 15 pages in my copy of the book, Seaman's speech is like a movie's close-up of the guy talking on and on about his life in one long take. Dealing with five themes (DANGER, MONEY, FOOD, STARS, USEFULNESS), Seaman goes off on all sorts of unexpected tangents. Although I suspect the scene will have its fair share of detractors, I loved the character's exposition of his themes (a little wacky at times) as much as the fact that the speech seemed to take place in real time (i.e. the director's cut of the scene rather than the usual compressed version). I also thought Bolaño did something really inspired here. In an extended scene that permits the reader to feel like a bit of an eavesdropper to an actual speech (that is, a passage where attention to detail seems to boast of the utmost in "realism"), the author actually acknowledges the shortcomings of his métier. Hidden within the discourse on DANGER, there's a beautiful word portrait of the Panthers at the beach in the prime of their youth where a friend of Seaman's can't talk at all because he's overcome with joy: "Then I go up to Marius, and I tell him let's get out of here right now. And at that moment, Marius turns around and looks at me. He's smiling. He's in another world. And he shows me the sea with his hand because he can't express how he feels with words. And then I got scared, even though he's my brother and I had him at my side, and I think: the sea is the danger." I also liked how this scene mixed apparent reality with a literary parallel. I'm not the first one to point this out, of course, but Seaman's long speech has a sort of spiritual ancestor in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (photo of Melville, above), where an entire chapter is dedicated to a speech given by a chaplain named Father Mapple. Although Seaman (the mariner link in the name is lost in the original Spanish) doesn't exactly talk about the same things as Father Mapple, it seems clear that his message performs the same sort of benediction-like function for Fate as Father Mapple's does for Melville's sailors (then again, maybe this shouldn't be surprising given Bolaño's appreciation for the American classic). What's going to happen to Fate on his journey to Santa Teresa? And what does it mean when Seaman tells his church audience that the danger is the sea? That that which attracts us is what's dangerous?


JAZZ DE SONORA. Volviendo a lo que mencioné acerca del hiperperiodismo de La parte de Fate, debo aclarar que no quiero simplificar demasiado. Mientras que esta parte del mamotreto que es 2666 parece más "periodística" que o la primera parte (juguetona) o la segunda parte (¡geométrica!), ya queda el vaivén entre la realidad y la irrealidad (o la realidad y otra realidad: ¿alguien ha notado esa escena espectacular donde Fate sueña con el tipo Scottsboro Boy y un reportero habla sobre "la larga lista de mujeres asesinadas en Santa Teresa" (328) al mismo tiempo en la televisión?). No voy a hablar del nexo entre la literatura y el cine en esta sección, por ejemplo, aunque me parece un tema fascinante. Ni voy a hablar de los reflejos exactos (las dos Oscar, las dos Rosa) que están multiplicando en frecuencia: aunque mi favorito de las "coincidencias" cuentísticas es el momento cuando, antes de la pelea, Fate ve algunos carteles apegados al Pabellón Arena del Norte "que anunciaban conciertos de música, bailes populares, incluso el cartel de un circo que se hacía llamar Circo Internacional" (384)...el mismo circo donde los críticos y Amalfitano buscaban a Archimboldi anteriormente). En lugar de eso, me gustaría brindar por la inventiva de un autor que escribió con su propio ritmo y estilo, la escritura de que se lee cómo un "cross" a la mandíbula.

PD: Tengo muchas ganas de continuar con La parte de los crímenes en agosto. Por eso, les recomendo el excelente trabajo de Sergio Gónzalez Rodríguez, Huesos en el desierto, a los que están interesados en una obra de no-ficción sobre el asunto de los asesinatos en Ciudad Juárez.

SONORAN JAZZ. Returning to what I mentioned earlier about The Part About Fate's hyper-journalism, I probably should clarify that I don't mean to oversimplify things here. While this section of the doorstopper that is 2666 seems more "journalistic" than either the first part (which was more playful) or the second part (which was more geometrical!), the oscillation between reality and unreality still remains (or reality and another reality: did anybody else notice that spectacular scene where Fate dreams about the guy known as Scottsboro Boy at the same time as a reporter delivers a piece on "the long list of women murdered in Santa Teresa" [328] on the television in the background?). I'm not going to speak about the links between literature and film here, for example, although it certainly would make for a fascinating theme. Nor am I going to speak of the increasing amount of mirror images (the two Oscars, the two Rosas) to be found: although my favorite storytelling "coincidence" is the one where, before the fight, Fate notices some posters pasted on the Pabellón Arena del Norte "that were announcing music concerts, dances, even the poster of a circus that was calling itself the International Circus" (384)...the same circus where the critics and Amalfitano were looking for Archimboldi in part one. Instead, I'd like to toast the inventiveness of a writer who wrote with his own rhythm and style--the result of which was writing that reads like a cross to the jaw.

P.S. I'm very eager to continue on with The Part About the Crimes in August. Because of that, I'd like to recommend Sergio González Rodríguez' excellent study, Bones in the Desert [Huesos en el desierto], to any of you Spanish-readers out there interested in a nonfiction work on the Ciudad Juárez killings.

13 comentarios:

  1. I LOVED that Seaman speech, as well. The part about reading and usefulness (which I'm getting the impression is one of the more quoted passages of the book, but deservedly!) totally made me tear up.

    Also great review! You point out some connections that didn't occur to me at the time; the International Circus in particular. I have a feeling that MANY such connections will be made when I re-read.

    I'm so bloody anxious to discuss Part 4! It's the one that kind of threw me for a loop. Not in a bad way necessarily, but...well, I'll leave it for a month from now. :-)

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  2. Can I hug you for this post? :) Seriously, thanks for the insight on the Black Panthers, Sonoran jazz, and especially Bobby Seale. I get speechless about the numerous layers of this book. Every angle has a different history attached.

    I was also struck by "the sea is the danger," how you said what attracts us is dangerous. Was fascinated by Seaman's speech on the five things. In fact, I was fascinated with everything about this section. Excellent post, it cleared up so many things for me!

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  3. I seem to be alone in my ambivalent reaction to "The Part About Fate." After reading what everyone else has written about it, I think I may need to re-read it. But thanks for your commentary on the Seaman speech. It makes more a little more sense now.

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  4. Decidido, voy a comprar ese libro, es demasiado grande como para leerlo de la pantalla, aunque te cuento que leí varios. mi compañera leyó 900 hojas del harry potter 3 de la pantalla que todavía no era lcd.
    Tengo la impresión que es para leerlo por etapas,ya me aluciné con los detectives ahora espero por este.
    grandes tus conexines de lectura Richard.
    saludos

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  5. You just wowed me with this post. Thanks for all the great historical and cultural context, and your focus on the Seaman speech. I also thought it was a stroke of writing genius in form and the level of intimacy it achieves with the reader. Read it twice.

    The other thing we share is an interest in the film references here. The whole Rodriguez first film thing? Hilarious! I wonder if by the end of this read we could put our heads together to examine the many pop culture (esp. counter culture) references scattered about?

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  6. *Emily: The reading and usefulness part of the speech was a knockout, but I loved so many parts of the damn thing that I forgot to even mention the recipes! Very interested in seeing your thoughts on Part 4.

    *Claire: Thanks, hugs are always appreciated! I wasn't sure what I was going to write about this time up until the last minute, but "the sea is the danger" was such an enigmatic quote that I couldn't get it out of my head. Thanks once again for co-hosting the read-along, it's been great fun.

    *E.L. Fay: My guess is that a lot of the people who read the Seaman speech will be bothered by its size or amount of detail, so I don't think you'll be alone in the way you reacted to it initially. I loved it so much, though, that I naturally hope you'll give it another try at some point!

    *Mariano: Estoy recontento saber de tu decisión y estoy seguro que vos lo comprarás este librazo sin remordimientos. En cuanto a lo de leerlo por etapas, para mí, ha sido un plan perfectamente adecuado. Gracias por tu comentario sobre la entrada. ¡Un abrazo!

    *Frances: Wow, thanks! I'm glad you also loved the Seaman speech and the pop culture references. And the stuff about movies was awesome, you're right. In terms of trying to pin down some of the specific examples, sounds like a good idea to me. Anyway, thanks for the visit and welcome to the blog!

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  7. Hola, RIchard!
    Es muy placentero leer tu guía de lectura de esta parte. Ya me olvidé de mucho de la novela, pero ahora me vuelven ganas de releerla definitivamente.
    saludos

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  8. Hola Ever: Che, muchas gracias por tu comentario. Es una novela maravillosa, pero probablemente podría decir lo mismo sobre muchas novelas cortas de Bolaño también. ¡Saludos!

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  9. Richard - You nailed it. I loved the Seaman speech, could not figure out a way to talk about it. The part about USEFULNESS, the part about the STARS. Again the double and triple references and multiple layers in this book just blow me away.

    And then there's the Lynch factor, I keep wondering when the dwarf is going to show up.

    Thanks for your great review.

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  10. Gavin, thanks for your very kind words. By the way, loved your Lynch comment--I half expected somebody like that to show up, too!

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  11. You're cultural knowledge is blowing my mind! Such an informative, amazing post. Plus, I need to work on my Spanish before classes start in the fall. I really wish I had this one in Spanish, to read and compare.

    I thought the Seaman speech was great. It was funny and had some really moving points in it too.

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  12. Lu, thanks so much--glad you enjoyed the post! I'll be over to your blog soon to check out your review of this part, but good luck with your Spanish program in the meantime. ¡Saludos!

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  13. Gracias. Ambiguamente se hace patente aquí la dimensión "política" de un Bolaño que en sus últimos días se enfrenta directamente con el trauma que fue sus años en Chile durante la dictadura. Libro esencial, ESCENCIAL en la comprensión del enigma, como lo es y sigue siendo Archimboldi, que es Roberto Bolaño.

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