sábado, 6 de abril de 2013

La prueba

Cómo me hice monja/La prueba/El llanto (Debolsillo, 2006)
por César Aira
Argentina, 1992

Mao y Lenin son dos punks lesbianas, de negro, que abordan a Marcia, una gordita rubia y tímida de dieciséis años que camina "envuelta en su aureola" de conformismo heterosexual y virginidad (105), en la calle cerca de la Plaza Flores en Buenos Aires.  Mao, a Marcia:  --¿Querés coger?--  Después de su susto y miedo al principio se disminuyen, Marcia decide pasar un rato con las agresivas punks porque siempre quiso conocer algún punk "pero nunca se había dado la oportunidad" (115).  Las tres van al Pumper Nic, donde una de las muchachas punks blande una navaja frente a la supervisora del local.  Después, van a un supermercado gigantesco donde Mao y Lenin aterrorizan a los clientes con una orgía de destrucción llevada a cabo para poner a prueba "el amor" de Marcia por sus nuevas amigas.  En medio de estas dos escenas, Mao putea a Robert Smith of The Cure (¡bien hecho!) y Freddie Mercury de Queen (¡ídem!) y sin querer cuenta una historia divertida sobre un conocido punk suyo que se llama Sergio Vicio quien, como el bajista de los Sex Pistiols Sid Vicious pero ya vivo, andaba "siempre drogado" (134).  Dado que la pobre ultranormal Marcia se entusiasma por la forma de narrar de las punks pero no le gusta cómo su nihilismo "desvaloriza todo lo que han dicho..." (140), es difícil saber si La prueba es una provocación irónica que tiene algo que ver con la teoría literaria sobre "la verdad" de un texto, es una crítica marxista de la sociedad de consumo en la Argentina, o es una mera parodía violenta de las estupideces de las pelis norteamericanas estilo John Hughes de la década de los '80 dedicadas a los teenagers.  Sin obstante, no importa en tanto que, con la excepción de una mención de Tom Verlaine y su grupo neoyorquino Television, ésta sea la primera novela breve de Aira que he leído que juzgaría como, ¿cómo se dice?, un coñazo total.
*
Mao and Lenin are two lesbian punks all dressed in black who hit on Marcia, a chubby, sheltered 16-year old blonde who walks about "envuelta en su aureola" ["all wrapped up in her halo"] of heterosexual conformity and virginity, on the street near the Plaza Flores in the neighborhood of Flores in Buenos Aires.  Mao to Marcia: "¿Querés coger?" ["Do you wanna fuck?"]  After her initial shock and fear subside, Marcia decides to spend some time with the abrasive punks because she'd always wanted to meet a punk "pero nunca se había dado la oportunidad" ["but had never been granted the opportunity"].  The three end up going to a Burger King knockoff, the Pumper Nic, where one of the punk chicks brandishes a knife at the supervisor of the joint.  Later, they go to a mega supermarket where Mao and Lenin terrorize the customers with an orgy of over the top violence designed to test Marcia's "love" for her new friends.  In between these two scenes, Mao insults Robert Smith of the Cure (nicely done!) and Freddie Mercury of Queen (ditto!) and tells an unintentionally funny story about a punk acquaintance named Sergio Vicio who, just like fellow bassist Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols only still alive, was "siempre" ["always"] in the habit of going everywhere "drogado" ["all drugged up"] (134).  Given that poor ultranormal Marcia is so into the punks' manner of telling a story but can't relate to how their nihilism "desvaloriza todo lo que han dicho..." ["devalues everything that they've said"] (140), it's tough to figure out whether La prueba [The Test or The Proof, unavailable in English as yet] is an ironic provocation that has anything to with literary theory about "the truth" of a text, is a Marxist criticism of consumer society in Argentina, or is just a mere violent parody of the idiocies of all those John Hughes-style teen flicks from the '80s.  However, it doesn't really matter all that much insofar as this is the first Aira novella that I've read that, with the exception of one Tom Verlaine of Television reference aside, struck me as more or less a total dud on account of how fucking boring it was.

César Aira

16 comentarios:

  1. A test of reader's patience.? Proof that the NaNoWriMo method of composition isn't foolproof? Maybe I'll just look up the OST.

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    Respuestas
    1. Rise, ha--that's hilarious to think of Aira as a model of the NaNoWriMo writing methodology! It's kind of true, too, although I'm sure his results are usually better. Unfortunately, I also thought of using some sort of a "test of the reader's patience" crack when I was writing up my post last night. I obviously forgot to include it, but the bottom line is that La prueba basically isn't so hilarious. Gah!

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  2. I can't believe this is boring! It sounds like it has so much promise - especially for you, given the nihilism and darkness! I love that the lesbian punks took the names of Mao and Lenin (but why don't they call Marcia Trotsky or something?) and I love the line "envuelta en su aureola" ["all wrapped up in her halo"] of heterosexual conformity and virginity" which I totally must steal, I mean, borrow and transform ever so slightly when excoriating my female family members for their having succumbed so successfully to socialization! (a little Sunday alliteration for you).

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    Respuestas
    1. Jill, I know, I wouldn't have believed it was boring either--especially after having read my own post! Of course, I now see I failed to explain why. The usual Aira ingredients (i.e. the ones I like) and the occasional great stray line were all there, but so was an overreliance on the symbolic elements of the punks vs. squares divide, too much cartoonish violence, and lots of clunky dialogue (probably due to the dialectical presence of Marxists!). P.S. I think Marcia was too plain Jane to be branded as Trotsky even in jest (she's kind of like an unwitting example of everything that the punks in the story aren't), but that should be all the more reason to excoriate your female family members in the manner you suggest. In other words, nicely done, Comrade!

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  3. Oh I really want to get to Aira he is the major argentina I ve yet to read ,this maybe isn't the one to start with hey richard ,all the best stu

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    Respuestas
    1. Stu, I definitely recommend Aira--just not this novella. For stuff of his that's available in English, I'd start off with either An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter or How I Became a Nun...or both!

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  4. Hola, richard!

    Me está pasando eso con los últimos libros que leí de Aira, ya hace unos años. Siento como verguenza porque me aburren y los dejo por la mitad, además no sé a quién decírselo porque quedo como un extraterrestre. Y pasa eso que decís: está todo bien con lo teórico, la parodia, todo lo que toca, sus tematizaciones, la metaliteratura, etc.; pero como novelas me pasa eso que se define perfectamente con la palabra coñazo.
    Esta semana leí un ensayo de un filósofo argentino, Tomas Abraham, no sé si lo ubicás; en fin, que resuelve otra vez eso de que aira es un genio. Me volví a entusiasmar, pero no sé qué pasará si agarro un libro. El placer que me produjeron sus dos o tres primeros textos (primeros para mi lectura) quedó extraviado quién sabe dónde. Por lo pronto, voy a guardar ese entusiasmo bien lejos de sus libros, por lo menos un tiempo...
    Saludos!

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    1. ¡Hola Ever y/o "E.R., el extraterrestre"! Tengo entendido que la mayoría de las obras de Aira son buenas pero que un porcentaje de ellas (ojalá un número no muy significativo) en realidad son no tan buenas. Supongo que es como una lotería, ¿no? De todos modos, aunque sigo tener ganas de leer más obras de Aira, finalmente puedo entender tu decepción en cuanto a sus libros aburridos porque La prueba era tan pesado que me sorprendiera durante la lectura de ello. ¿Es éste el mismo escritorazo genial que nos dio el cuento Cecil Taylor? Muy dificíl explicar eso asunto, ¿viste? De todos modos, voy a seguir con Aira porque en general me gusta mucho (ojo: hasta este punto) y, quizá más importante, ya tengo cuatro libros suyos en el tintero además de un par de textos críticos sobre él. Buscaré ese texto de Abraham que mencionas, pero veo que el tipo ha escrito mucho sobre Aira. ¡Un abrazo!

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  5. Great commentary. Though until the end this does not sound like a dull story. I must admit that the pop culture Rock music references as well as the gritty street punk aspects of the story make this sound intriguing to me.

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    1. Brian, Aira's usually inventive and unpredictable enough that I would have never imagined him being boring before even though he has his share of detractors (like E.R. above). Plus, I would have thought that all the punk references would have made La prueba more appealing to me; however, they only underscored its otherwise dull qualities. Rise tells me that this is one of the favorite Aira titles of one of his English translators, but for the life of me I can't imagine why.

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  6. So do you find this to be the *worst* Aira then?

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    1. Eric, it's easily the worst Aira I've read so far considering that I liked all the others to varying degrees--some quite a bit at that. My favorites are the short story "Cecil Taylor" and the semi-recent novella La Vida Nueva, but I've really only read a handful of his works to date. Still hope to get to two to three more before the end of the year, though. Do you have a favorite by him?

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    2. I haven't read all that much either: just what's out in English plus two more (Cumpleanos, El Mago). At this moment my favorites are Landscape Painter and Miracle Cures; just started La Villa, and have very high hopes for the new short story collection.

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    3. Belated thanks for those recs, Eric. I haven't read four out of the five you mentioned by name nor all of the translated into English works yet, so I guess I've still got quite a ways to go!

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