viernes, 28 de agosto de 2009

2666: La parte de los crímenes #3


"Lo real y lo maravilloso"

A pesar de la crudeza de su prosa y el realismo de sus temas, La parte de los crímenes también contiene muchos momentos maravillosos en cuanto a la escritura. De hecho, uno de mis pasajes favoritos dentro de la novela entera comienza en la página 535 con la introducción de un personaje llamado Florita Almada. "También por aquellos días apareció en la televisión de Sonora una vidente llamada Florita Almada", escribe Bolaño, "a la que sus seguidores, que no eran muchos, apodaban la Santa". Interesantemente, este principio humilde correrá alrededor de 13 páginas en un sólo párrafo antes de llegar a su fin dramático. Dentro de la escena, la presencia narrativa fluctua entre la tercera persona y la primera persona con una fluidez asombrosa. El resultado es que el lector recibe una vita condensada de la setentona Florita que tiene que ver con sus experiencias como yerbatera tanto con sus experiencias matrimoniales y que se lee como el habla cotidiana en vez de un discurso literario. Como Barry Seaman en La parte de Fate, Florita hace un discurso medio disparatado sobre una cantidad de temas: la lectura, el peligro de ser un ser humano, la comida saludable ("Más claro que el agua, decía Florita Almada. Por mucho que a uno le guste desayunar huevos rancheros o huevos a la mexicana, si sufre hipertensión arterial lo mejor es que deje de comer huevos" [535]). Recita un poema de memoria, y después enumera las conclusiones que se pueden sacar de la obra ("2: que mirar cara a cara al aburrimiento era una acción que requería valor y que Benito Juárez lo había hecho y que ella también lo había hecho y que ambos habían visto en el rostro del aburrimiento cosas horribles que prefería no decir" [542]). Pero hacia el final del fragmento, el tono cambia abruptamente cuando la vidente empieza hablar de su vision más reciente durante una apariencia televisada en el programa Una hora con Reinaldo. "Dijo que había visto mujeres muertas y niñas muertas. Un desierto. Un oasis...Una ciudad" (545). Después, Florita entra en trance, y se pregunta "¿Qué ciudad es ésa?" La respuesta no tarda mucho. "¡Es Santa Teresa! ¡Es Santa Teresa! Lo estoy viendo clarito. Allí matan a las mujeres. Matan a mis hijas. ¡Mis hijas!" Un momento más tarde, en una voz varonil: "Los putos policías no hacen nada, sólo miran, ¿pero qué miran?, ¿qué miran?" Luego, en voz de niña: "Algunas se van en un carro negro, pero las matan en cualquier lugar" (547). Al final la medium se desmaya sobre el piso, agotada. Me sentí igual.

¿Qué pasa por acá? En primer lugar, el episodio ofrece otro ejemplo más del alcance estilístico y el atrevimiento de Bolaño como narrador. Aunque esta parte del libro probablemente se hiciera más famoso entre los críticos debido al estilo "forense" de la escritura sobre los crímenes, la realidad es que el libro alterna descripciones en tercera persona con un sinnúmero de testimonios en primera persona de calidad muy vivaz. En segundo lugar, la aparencia televisiva de Florita tiene paralelos temáticos importantes con el discurso premonitorio de Seaman y con el epígrafe alterado de Baudelaire ("Un oasis de horror en medio de un desierto de aburrimiento"). Las visiones, por supuesto, también nos acuerda de las voces que oyó Amalfitano anteriormente. Además, el pasaje está lleno de una ironía increíblemente provocadora en que el programa de televisión con Florita también incluye un invitado que es ventrilocuista. Dejando por el momento el asunto de si Bolaño se burlaba de si mismo (el autor/ventrilocuista cuyos personajes/muñecos no pueden parar hablando) o si él sólo llamaba la atención a una situación absurda en un sentido cósmico (una anciana que habla en voz de ultratomba en trance compartiendo una silla con un artista que habla con la voz de un muñeco de madera), ¿no es irónico que, de todas las personas posibles, una vidente tiene que ser la santa que funciona como la voz de la razón en enfrentarse con los asesinatos en Santa Teresa? ¿Y no hay otros profetas para dar consejos frente a la ira apocalíptica desencadenada sobre la ciudad?
*
In spite of the rawness of its prose and the realism of its themes, The Part About the Crimes also contains many marvelous moments in regards to the writing. In fact, one of my favorite passages within the entire novel begins on page 535 of the Anagrama edition with the introduction of a character named Florita Almada. "A clairvoyant named Florita Almada also appeared at that time on Sonoran television," Bolaño writes, "to whom her followers, who were few in number, had nicknamed the Saint." Intriguingly, this humble beginning will run close to 13 pages in a single paragraph before arriving at its dramatic conclusion. Within the scene, the narratorial presence changes from the third person to the first person and back again with astonishing fluidity and ease. The result is that the reader receives a condensed C.V. of the 70-year old Florita that has as much to do with her experiences as an herbalist as with her life as a married woman and that's conveyed in a way that sounds very much like real speech rather than literary speech. Like the character Barry Seaman in The Part About Fate, Florita makes a speech that's all over the place on a variety of themes: reading, the dangers of being a human being, the food that's good for you ("It's as clear as can be," Florita was saying. "As much as one might enjoy having huevos rancheros or huevos a la mexicana for breakfast, if you have high blood pressure the best thing to do is to stop eating eggs" [535]). She recites a poem from memory, and then she enumerates all the conclusions that can be drawn from the work ("2: that looking at extreme boredom face to face was an action that required bravery and that Benito Juárez had done it and that she had also done it and that both of them had seen such horrible things in the face of boredom that she would prefer not to talk about it" [542]). But towards the end of the fragment, the tone changes abruptly when the seer begins to speak of her most recent vision during a televised appearance on An Hour with Reinaldo. "She said that she had seen dead women and dead little girls. A desert. An oasis... A city" (545). Afterward, she goes into a trance and asks herself, "What city is that?" The answer's not long in coming. "It's Santa Teresa! It's Santa Teresa! I'm seeing it clearly. They're killing women over there. They're killing my daughters. My daughters!" Next, in a man's voice: "The fucking police don't do anything, they only watch. But what are they watching? What are they watching?" Then, in a little girl's voice: "Some people are leaving in a black car, but they kill them anywhere." At the end, the medium slumps onto the floor, spent (546-547). I felt much the same way.

What's going on here? In the first place, the episode offers yet another example of Bolaño's stylistic reach and daring as a storyteller. Although the "forensic" style of the writing about the crimes is probably what's made this part most famous among the critics, the reality is that the book alternates third-person descriptions with a multitude of extremely vivid first-person testimonials. In the second place, Florita's television appearance has important thematic parallels with Seaman's premonitory speech and with the altered Baudelaire epigraph at the beginning of the novel ("An oasis of horror in the middle of a desert of boredom"). The visions, of course, also remind us of the voices that Amalfitano heard earlier on. In addition, the passage is full of an incredibly provocative irony in that the TV program with Florita also includes a guest who is a ventriloquist. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether Bolaño was making fun of himself (the author/ventriloquist whose characters/puppets can't stop talking to save their lives) or merely drawing attention to a cosmically absurd situation (an old woman who, in a trance, speaks with a voice from beyond the grave having to share the stage with a performer who speaks through a ventriloquist's wooden dummy), isn't it ironic that a clairvoyant of all people is the saintly one charged with being the voice of reason in confronting the killings in Santa Teresa? And are there no other prophets to help confront the apocalyptic wrath that's been unleashed on the city?

7 comentarios:

  1. This is, by FAR, the least immediately pleasant/inspiring section for me to read. Yet (it almost goes without saying) I can't imagine the whole novel without it. Your points about Bolaño's feats of narrative daring are very perceptive; the Florita sections were definitely among those I most enjoyed.

    I also thought your point about Gónzalez Ródriguez and Bolaño both wanting to emphasize the "human side" of the killings was an interesting one. I agree, and yet I simultaneously found the forensic approach to be participating in a kind of dehumanizing tradition...I got kind of obsessed with the approach, and how it related to the victims, as you'll see when I publish my little essay in a couple of days. In ways I thought it was humanizing, and in other ways dehumanizing. The whole time I was reading it I vacillated between the two, which is kind of a testament to Bolaño's subtlety and ability to make meta comments on the narrative techniques he himself uses. What a fascinating novel!

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  2. I didn't finish reading this summary/review/discussion because I want to wait until I finish reading the whole section, but I did see you are in love with Florita as well. I am in the middle of her story and I'm so impressed and amazed. I have underlined almost every sentence and I absolutely love it. I'm going to say about this section - most of it probably gushing.

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  3. Hola, Richard!

    Qué gusto que te siga apasionando el libro. Tanta gente termina cansada con semejante cantidad de páginas! Yo me acuerdo que cuando emergí de la parte de los crímenes, fue como salir de nadar por días en un lago de pegamento negro, o una cloaca, algo, en fin, bastante desagradable y oloroso.
    Te mando un abrazo.
    Saludos

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  4. *Emily: I found this section unpleasant (thematically) and inspiring (the plot, the writing, the vividness of the nightmare images) in equal measure, the combination of which made it the best, most interesting segment of 2666 for me so far. Thanks for your very detailed reactions to my mini-posts on this part; I naturally look forward to your own entry/response quite eagerly!

    *Lu: Hey, thanks for swinging by and leaving your pro-Florita comment! As with Emily above, I'm psyched to see what you'll have to say about this part in general and the Florita character in particular (it's hard to do justice to any of these things in a single blog, of course, but I feel like I just barely scartched the surface re:the clairvoyant since I only focused on that splashy entrance Bolaño wrote for her).

    *Ever: Hola, che, ¿cómo andás? Aunque entiendo su punto acerca del ambiente en esta parte = una cloaca, la realidad es que quedé estupefacto por la escritura por completo. De hecho, tengo miedo de que vaya a extrañar al libro cuando termino leerlo. ¡Saludos!

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  5. I waited until I finished reading and writing my post before reading the rest of your posts (and the others), so am a little late here. But like you I absolutely loved the part about Florita.. I wanted to quote the whole thing!

    Also, what still sticks in my mind is the history of Lalo Cura, the Maria Expositos. That was, I think, my favourite part of the whole section.

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  6. Florita was a sort of redemption and pacifier for me in getting through this section. What I initially hoped as I read (and re-read) the part where her character is introduced was that she would provide both a feminine voice that demanded attention, that would shed light on the crimes and the nature of the society that condones them by their silence. But alas... Nothing could be that easy here, but the language that forms her sections was gorgeous. All of your posts here are insightful but this one is my favorite as Florita is my favorite resident of part four.

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  7. *Claire: Both the Florita sections and the Lalo Cura genealogy were fascinating, weren't they? I love how Bolaño was able to blend hard-hitting prose with those wild, almost Cervantean tangents of his. Thanks for the multiple visits on these posts, too!

    *Frances: I'm kind of amazed that Florita was such a big hit with almost all of the group, and I liked that she served as a sort of "healer" for you in terms of helping to get you through this section. Emily has also commented on the lack of a feminine voice in this section on one of these posts (presenting a rather persuasive argument), but I'm still not sure whether that was Bolaño's intention (a la your post about women not having a voice because of their lack of importance in the culture) or a kind of failure on his part. Anyway, thanks for the visit and the interesting perspective!

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