lunes, 31 de agosto de 2009

2666: La parte de los crímenes #4

"¿Quiere decir que cree que Kelly está muerta?, le grité. Más o menos, dijo sin perder un ápice de compostura. ¿Cómo que más o menos?, grité. !O se está muerto o no se está muerto, chingados! En México uno puede estar más o menos muerto, me contestó muy seriamente. Lo miré con ganas de abofetearlo. Qué tipo tan frío y reservado era ése. No, le dije casi silabeando, ni en México ni en ninguna otra parte del mundo alguien puede estar más o menos muerto. Deje de hablar como si fuera un guía turístico. O mi amiga está viva, y entonces quiero que la encuentre, o mi amiga está muerta, y entonces quiero a sus asesinos. Loya sonrió. ¿De qué se rié?, le pregunté. Me ha hecho gracia lo del guía turístico, dijo. Estoy harta de los mexicanos que hablan y se comportan como si todo esto fuera Pedro Páramo, dije". (Roberto Bolaño, 2666, 779-780)

"A lo largo de los años, el gobierno mexicano ha protegido a los asesinos y a quienes los patrocinan cuantas veces ha sido necesario. Huesos en el desierto lo demuestra". (Sergio González Rodríguez, Huesos en el desierto, II)

Habiendo dicho que ambos Bolaño y el periodista Sergio González Rodríguez intentaron llamar la atención a las dimensiones humanas de los crímenes contra las mujeres en Santa Teresa/Ciudad Juárez en 2666 y en Huesos en el desierto respectivamente, me gustaría regresar al asunto una vez más para ver otra explanación cómo y por qué el novelista se acercó a la materia en el modo que vemos en esta parte. En otras palabras, ¿por qué están los crímenes relatados de esta manera? Yo pienso que la respuesta probablemente tiene que ver con la indignación de Bolaño frente a los crímenes--que él quiso confrontar a sus lectores, de modo tan provocador que pudiera hacerlo, con los "testigos" de las mujeres y niñas muertas. Aunque esto punto anterior es difícil de comprobar, ya queda claro desde el principio de la parte que o Santa Teresa o la muerte es verdaderamente la "protagonista" de esta seccion. Desigual a las otras partes del libro, esta sección es la única donde un hecho, "los crímenes", toma el lugar de un ser humano nombrado en el título. En cuanto a lo temático, la cólera de Bolaño también explica el retrato de México que se ve en este capítulo. Al pormenorizar los cinco años de asesinatos, él sugiere que los problemas con la polícia (tanto los malos tratos de las prostitutas en la cárcel como el sistema de mordida para no investigar los crímenes) son endémicos. Además de esto, también señala la manera en cuál la indiferencia (el pasaje donde varios policías hacen bromas sobre el número de "conductos" de que se pueden violar una víctima) o el machismo (otro sobre el día de chistes sobre mujeres) como las razones por qué no se pueden solucionar los crímenes. Porque los asesinatos siguen sin parar y son gráficos en extremo grado, es facíl querer evitar algunas de las descripciones "incidentales". No obstante, los problemas de clase y el racismo también son prextextos para disminuir el valor de una vida en Santa Teresa: notáse que las prostitutas del DF creen que las víctimas de los asesinatos al norte son obreras de maquiladoras y que la sociedad de clase media quiere creer que la mayoría de las víctimas son putas; notáse que un forense que enseña gana el apodo del "doctor Mengele de Sonora" para opinar sin fín acerca de qué clase de mujer indígena se ha encontrada muerta en el desierto (626-627). Desgraciadamente, todo esto es sólo un preámbulo a la revelación (de alcance nacional e internacional debido a la posición de Santa Teresa como un centro de "tráfico humano" desde los dos lados de la frontera) que los carteles de narcotraficantes y los políticos sucios hacen una pareja rara en cuanto a la continuación de la violencia. Cuando la política honesta trata de averiguar qué ha pasado a su amiga, los lectores ya sabemos que no hay salida de esta pesadilla infernal a pesar de su poder político. De hecho, es casi absurdo: como dice un personaje, "Ser crimonólogo en este país es como ser criptógrafo en el polo norte" (723). Para mí, esta visión dantesca de un infierno sobre la tierra, pesimista e implacable, ayuda explicar el estilo de Bolaño en esta parte; también me hace más curiosa que nunca para ver como La parte de Archimboldi se encajará con las otras.
*
"'You mean to say that you think Kelly's dead?' I shouted. 'More or less,' he said without losing an ounce of cool. 'What do you mean more or less?' I screamed. 'She's either dead or she's not dead, fuck! 'In Mexico, one can be more or less dead,' he answered very seriously. I looked at him wanting to punch him. How cold and reserved that guy was. 'No,' I told him almost syllable by syllable, 'neither in Mexico nor anywhere else in the world can one be more or less dead. Stop talking as if you were a tour guide. Either my friend is alive, in which case I want you to find her, or she is dead, in which case I want the killers.' Loya smiled. 'What are you laughing at?' I asked him. 'You made me laugh with that part about the tour guide,' he said. 'I'm fed up with Mexicans who talk and carry themselves as if all this were Pedro Páramo,' I said." (Roberto Bolaño, 2666, 779-780 [my translation here and below])

"Throughout the years, the Mexican government has protected the killers and those who sponsor them. Huesos en el desierto proves it." (Sergio González Rodríguez, Huesos en el desierto, II)

Having said that both Bolaño and the journalist Sergio González Rodríguez wanted to emphasize the human dimensions of the crimes against women in Santa Teresa/Ciudad Juárez in 2666 and Huesos en el desierto (Bones in the Desert) respectively, I'd like to return to the matter one more time to see another reason why the novelist might have approached this subject matter in the way that he did in this part. In other words, why were the crimes depicted the way they were? I think that the answer probably has to do with Bolaño's indignation over the crimes--that he wanted to confront his readers with the "testimony" of all the dead women and girls in an as in-your-face way as humanly possible. Although the preceding point is difficult to prove, it's clear from the outset that either Santa Teresa or death is really the main "protagonist" of this section. Unlike other parts of the book, this one is the only one where a deed, "the crimes," takes the place of a named human being in the title. Thematically, Bolaño's anger also explains the picture he paints of Mexico in this chapter. In dwelling on the five years of killings in such a minutely detailed way, Bolaño clearly suggests that problems with the police (both those who abuse prostitutes in jail and those who accept bribes not to investigate crimes) are endemic. Beyond that, he also singles out how indifference (the passage where various officials joke about how many orifices can be penetrated in a single woman) and machismo (an altogether different fragment on the day about jokes about women) are other reasons why the crimes may not be taken as seriously as they deserve. Since the killings are overwhelmingly graphic and numerous, it's easy enough to want to tune out some of the more "incidental" descriptions. However, both classism and racism also rear their ugly heads as additional motives for the lack of response to the crimes: the former as we find out that prostitutes aren't troubled by maquiladora workers deaths and working people aren't troubled by the deaths of hookers; the latter when we read that a professor of forensics has been dubbed "the Doctor Mengele of Sonora" for endlessly speculating on what kind of indigenous woman was killed in the desert (626-627). All this is preamble, of course, to the eventual revelation (national and international in scope given Santa Teresa's status as a crossing point for human traffic from both sides of the border) that the narco cartels are in bed with dirty politicians when it comes to perpetuating the violence. When the honest politician in the excerpt above tries to find out what's happened to her missing friend, we readers already know that there's no escaping this nightmare for her despite her relative power. In fact, it's almost absurd: as one character says, "Being a criminologist in this country is like being a cryptographer at the North Pole" (626-627). This Dantesque vision of a hell on earth, bleak and unforgiving, helps explain Bolaño's style in this part for me; it also makes me more curious than ever how The Part About Archimboldi will fit in with all the rest.

5 comentarios:

  1. I agree with everything you said here. The testimony of each woman as being told in-your-face as humanely possible. The protagonist being the crimes, not any one or few characters (as evidenced in the title). The indifference towards the crimes. Santa Teresa (Mexico) as crossing point for human traffic on both sides. Hell on earth.

    I can't wait to see what Archimboldi has to do with everything.

    Thank you so much for all your extremely insightful views! I don't know what I'd do without you reading along, honestly!

    ResponderEliminar
  2. Richard, vas a mil con la lectura de 2666, no he podido seguirte con los post. De a poco iré leyendo y comentando.
    te cuento que estoy leyendo de la pantalla algunas páginas de capitulo que haces referecnia.

    saludos

    ResponderEliminar
  3. I think you're right - Bolaño chose this approach because of his outrage. For me, what got communicated was outrage against men - men who were either crass, or complacent, or corrupt - and a feeling that the proliferation of bodies is evidence of that crassness, complacency and corruption. But I didn't get much of a sense of loss on behalf of the murdered women. Seeing body after body didn't communicate a sense (to me) that they were humans with interior lives, just that they were passive recipients of undeservd cruelty. I would have felt equally grossed out and outraged if someone had been torturing and killing hundreds of dogs. And not that torturing and killing dogs in an acceptable thing to do, but...I don't know.

    There aren't many female characters in the book with whom we spend a lot of time unmediated by the consciousness of a male character (e.g., we spend time with Lola but only through the nostalgic memories of Amalfitano, we spend time with Liz Norton but only through the lustful gaze of the male critics, we hear from Rosa Amalfitano, but only as she is heard by Oscar Fate, Florita has her own voice but we don't see inside her head). Because of this, I guess I felt like Bolaño missed an opportunity to imbue all the bodies of Part 4 with even more weight. If there had been a truly subjective, interior portrait of a woman in the novel, I would have felt the loss of each of the murdered women more keenly because I would have related each death to the rich inner life of the well-developed female character. The way it actually went down, I was a little disappointed that Bolaño didn't work harder to subjectify the women whose brutal OBjectification he obviously finds so outrageous.

    OK, enough of my little novel in your comments box. I'm finding your posts on this section extremely thought-provoking, so I'm glad there are five of them! I don't really disagree with anything you've said; I'm kind of just riffing on it in my own way.

    ResponderEliminar
  4. I love how both you and Gavin brought up Dante.

    But I was struck by your argument that Santa Theresa itself is a (personified) protagonist in the overall story. It reminded me of one of the features of Gothic literature: how "the house" (i.e. The Fall of the House of Usher, The Castle of Otranto, Rebecca) is often as much a character as the humans are. The Gothic aesthetic actually developed out of Europeans' (particularly Horace Walpole's) fondness for "ruins" (real or fake) and atmospheres suggestive of mystery, secrecy, crime, decadence, and so forth. I think 2666 definitely has a very Gothic sensibility - sort of a Latin American variation that combines social justice and protest.

    ResponderEliminar
  5. *Hi Claire: Thanks so much for hosting the readalong and for your extremely generous comments here. I've gotten a lot out of your posts as well as those from the other participants, too!

    *Hola Mario: Sí, recientemente he sido un poco alocado con los post. Espero que lo disfrutes el libro tanto como yo (y me has hecho feliz en decirme que estás investigando algunas de las citas). ¡Saludos!

    *Hi Emily: Wow, you are one tough critic! :) I actually agree with you about the lack of unmediated female characters vis a vis the male characters, but I didn't see that as a particular negative until I read your comment. Maybe I unconsciously assume that male authors will have more of a "male point of view" and female authors will have more of a "female perspective," etc. I'll have to think about that one, and I know I've now opened a potential can of worms by thinking out loud about my response in such a non-PC fashion! Although I'd love to have seen how Bolaño would have responded to your observation, I do wonder if you feel that the congresswomen was a worthwhile exception to the rule as a character. I didn't find her as interesting as some of the other characters, but I thought her portrayal was a bit of a counterbalance to some of the charges you level here. Would be interested in your response--thanks for bringing up such a provocative topic!

    *Hi E.L. Fay: I thought about Dante a lot here, although I'm embarrassed to admit that Inferno is the only part of The Divine Comedy that I've ever made it all the way through. I hope to rectify that by the end of the year, though! As to your point about gothic literature, I'm intrigued by the whole house-as-character thing--which I had somehow managed to forget about. And although I'm hesitant to label 2666 "gothic" because of my own genre biases equating gothic with innate cheesiness, I think the way you framed your last sentence would make a great essay topic. Thanks so much for the comment--the Bolaño readalong has brought such fascinating perspectives to my inbox this week!

    ResponderEliminar