17.4.08

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21.4.07

ON 'HYBRID'

On “Hybrid”. An entry for Cross Cultural Poetics’ "Dictionary"

HYBRID. Postmodernism’s key notion, maybe the notion that sustains most postmodernism’s quackery. Through the illusion of hybridism contradiction is obscured, turned commodity. Not able to recognize and accept the other in its complete otherness, we turn it into hybrid, i.e., half me, similar to Us. (Not Other). Not Either/Or but always proper. Property. Not completely stranger. ‘Mixed’. In denial of otherness we constructed ‘hybrid’. We have naturalized the ‘hybrid’ category so much, that the mere mention of this category as purely cultural, artificial, contextualized (in imperialistic epistemology) seems a ‘menace’, an evil return to ‘Nationalism’ or ‘Pure’. Using the ‘hybrid’ category we have remained Hegelian. We arrive to syntheses. (Isn’t that wonderful, daddy?) We prevent radical dialectics to take place. ‘Hybrid’ has taken control of cultural industries, such as music where fusion has become institutionalized. Such happens also in the arts and writing communities, where being ‘hybrid’ is the key to enter. And become “trend”. In the same way, ‘activism’ is replacing ‘revolution’, ‘hybrid’ replaced ‘contradiction’—and denies the real relationship between One and the Other. Otherness. Hybrid is sameness. Hybrid tends to become Happy Hybrid. That’s why the hybrid category plays so well in ‘postmodern’ discourse. A capitalistic notion to kill rupture. No negation anymore! Let settle down with hybridism, ok? Don’t even talk about resistance. But resistance is what really takes place where hybridism is now used. Resistance doesn’t mean borders or ‘essences’ are not transgressed. To the contrary. It means participants enter into a strong relationship. A magnetic field where attraction and repellence both take place. Resistance is all about magnetism. And the hybrid category is all about denying resistance.

14.1.07

PSICOHISTORIA MEXICANA. TIJUANA PSICOANALIZADA

1. PSICOHISTORIA DE LAS CIUDADES MEXICANAS

Estoy convencido de la existencia de un inconsciente psicohistórico. Estoy convencido también de que el desorden ocurrido en lugares como Oaxaca, Chiapas, Culiacán, Ciudad Juárez, la Ciudad de México y Tijuana tiene como su causa profunda los desórdenes invisibles de dicho inconsciente psicohistórico. Para bien o para mal, ese inconsciente psicohistórico da estructura a las ciudades; las ciudades son su encarnación. Polis y psique se co-forman. Inconsciente y ciudad son idénticas.

          Los desórdenes en el inconsciente psicohistórico de las urbes mexicanas se deben a la pérdida de sentido de su función en el conjunto de la(s) cultura(s) a la(s) que pertenece(n). Estas ciudades, por así, decirlo se han vuelto ciudades confundidas.

          Islas cuyo único vínculo entre sí es la Máss-Co-Media del TV-Capital.

          La cultura mexicana —una pluricultura— desde sus orígenes sabe que cada ciudad entraña una ‘identidad’, entendiendo por ésta una serie de metodologías de metamorfosis; en esta cosmovisión, el tránsito de una urbe a otra y la creación de una nueva entidad geopolítica implican formas de ser específicas, patrones de transformación y co-destinos. El pensamiento prehispánico es una profunda (y esotérica) reflexión sobre la psicometafísica de las ciudades. Cada espacio-tiempo posee sus propias leyes.

          Una de las bases de este pensamiento es el carácter simbólico de la dialéctica entre “Tollan” y “Aztlán”:

Pudo quedar así una Tollan tras otra. Y así pudieron nacer una y otra Aztlán. Sólo que Tollan podía serlo cuando en ella vivía el pueblo que así la llamaba, mientras que Aztlán recibía su nombre en el momento en que la peregrinación empezaba. Aztlán, la dejada (Alfredo López Austin, Hombre-Dios. Religión y política en el mundo náhuatl, p. 157).


          Personalmente resumo la espiritualidad mexicana así: Tollan es Aztlán; Aztlán es Tollan. “Tollan” significa el espacio-tiempo (urbano y psíquico) donde se alcanza la plenitud espiritual; “Aztlán”, el espacio-tiempo útero (urbano y psíquico) que da origen a la geopsique. En esta espiritualidad, cada instante debe convertirse en “Tollan” y conforme el devenir prosigue, cada instante pasado se vuelve “Aztlán”, es decir, etapa superada del camino sagrado. Tollan y Aztlán aluden, sobre todo, a la cartografía de una migración mental. Se tratan de estaciones del viaje interno.

          Sé que aquí me separo de las interpretaciones científico-sociales de los mesoamericanistas académicos. Pero al hacerlo creo apegarme al pensamiento prehispánico propiamente dicho. El mensaje esencial de este pensamiento es que debemos migrar hacia adentro. La verdadera Tollan no es Tula o Teotihuacán, la verdadera Tollan es una Tollan interior.

          Los chicanos, por ejemplo, han interpretado erróneamente el mito de Aztlán, al clamar que Aztlán está en Estados Unidos. Para los antepasados de los mexicas, Aztlán estaba ubicado al norte, pero para los mexicoamericano Aztlán —la ciudad de donde han salido, su ciudad-madre— en verdad tendría que estar situada al sur. No han sabido leer este nivel del mito. Aunque, por otro lado, si los chicanos buscan Aztlán es porque precisamente no han sabido superarla. Olvidaron que la enseñanza antigua predica salir de Aztlán.

          El “sur” en su significado profundo alude al submundo psíquico. Lo que el psicoanálisis del siglo XX llamó “inconsciente” en el pensamiento prehispánico se llama “Xibalbá” o “Mictlán”. Las enseñanzas rectoras de estas culturas se trataban precisamente de cómo ingresar a esa región obscura de la psique.

          Este es el fundamento de la psicohistoria de nuestras ciudades en México (una cultura que esencialmente se define por la migración-metamorfosis simbólica entre Tollan-Aztlán; una cultura que se autoconceptualiza por el significado que las ciudades imprimen en los individuos y por las ciudades que éstos crean). Por razones de extensión, no podré aludir todo lo que quisiera a esta dialéctica; sin embargo, pido al lector tenga en cuenta en cada paso de esta explicación, la metamorfosis, a la vez externa (política) e interna (psíquica) entre “Tollan” y “Aztlán”.

          Una ciudad forma parte de una red de urbes. Cada una tiene en el tejido una misión espiritual y material específica. Cuando se descompone el tejido y se descomponen las ciudades, la cultura y los individuos enloquecen. A partir de aquí entiéndase por “ciudad” la coordinación inconsciente de espacio-tiempo externo e interno.

          Esto es lo que actualmente ocurre en México. Su psicohistoria ha perdido el rumbo.

2. PSICOPOLÍTICA DE TIJUANA

He escrito lo suficiente de tijuanología específica —análisis de su literatura, de su historia como urbe y su relación con debates sobre el posmodernismo— como para ahora darme la libertad de escribir más ‘metafísicamente’ si se quiere, sobre sus sentidos y sobre los mensajes que ‘Tijuana’ lanza sobre nuestra cultura mexicana completa. Nótese, además, que en las líneas precedentes he adoptado términos del pensamiento prehispánico, pero lo mismo podría adoptar los correspondientes términos de alguna escuela psicoanálica —desde la freudiana o la gestáltica, la lacaniana o el eneagrama—; lo relevante, sin embargo, no son los conceptos sino las situaciones. Cada ciudad mexicana se ha vuelto una forma hipertrófica de amok o ataque histérico.

          Las ciudades entran en caos cuando pierden su origen. Y, por ende, confunden su destino.

          Un perfecto ejemplo de la descomposición de “Tollan” es Tijuana.

          Tijuana es una ciudad mexicana tardía, cuyo desajuste central como urbe es no saber cuál es su ciudad-madre. Cuál es su ciudad-padre.

          Por no saberlo, Tijuana mira hacia el norte. Su mirada está puesta en San Diego, en su ciudad-padrastro. Y en su ciudad hermanastra, Los Angeles.

          Al tener la vista puesta hacia el norte, da la espalda a sus ciudades-progenitoras, ubicadas al sur. (Ha perdido su “Aztlán”). Sólo que la posición de Tijuana es fatal —y notemos que la identidad genérica de Tijuana, por cierto, es femenina, como queda claro en su imaginario popular, en su música, arte y letras—, pues es una ciudad-mujer-joven que mira hacia un padrastro que la desprecia y la controla. A la vez, Tijuana da la espalda a sus progenitores, que debido a su propia degradación centrosureña también la mira con desprecio. Tijuana se ha quedado sola. Norte y sur mexicanos no se reconocen ya.

          “Tijuana” es la manera en que la cultura mexicana ya no se reconoce a sí misma. El sur ya no reconoce que el norte y él son variantes de un mismo mito: el mito de la migración en que consiste la cultura mexicana. Por la misma razón, aunque con otra reacción —destruir el elemento femenino— ha enloquecido “Ciudad Juárez”. (“Ciudad Juárez” significa el elemento masculino que destruye a “Aztlán”).

          Tijuana se desarrolló para recibir a los varones norteamericanos. Su origen histórico está relacionado con el servilismo a Estados Unidos, con la prostitución, el alcohol y el contrabando. (Todos los símbolos tijuanenses —el Casino, el Cártel, el burro-cebra, la Zona Roja, el Bordo, etcétera— obedecen a esta filiación). Fueron las necesidades del varón norteamericano las que estructuraron buena parte de Tijuana, desde la industria nocturna hasta las maquiladoras formadas para satisfacerlo; pero el padrastro hacia el que mira Tijuana, la rechaza. Es un padrastro que la usa pero no quiere reconocerla.

          Tijuana, en general, es urbe-huérfana. “Tijuana” es un símbolo de la descomposición de la psique mexicana. Como también lo son “Michoacán” y “Distrito Federal”.

3. MUERTE POR ÚTERO

Para poder proseguir con la explicación de la psicohistoria de Tijuana voy a utilizar algunas enseñanzas de una derivación sui generis de la fenomenología, el psicoanálisis y el estructuralismo. Dejaré para otro momento su exposición completa. Ahora me concretaré a enunciar alguno de los principios descubiertos por su fundador, Bert Hellinger, aunque fueron precursadas —algo que Hellinger parece no reconocer— por Laing.

          Como había dicho antes, podría utilizar otras terminologías y llegaríamos al mismo diagnóstico psicohistórico. Sin embargo, las ideas de Hellinger me parecen adecuadas, por simples y correctas. Según Hellinger, cuando una hija no toma de su madre, carece de fuerza interna. (Tomar significa aprender de ella, honrarla y, entonces, separarse y forjar su propia existencia). Este es el caso de Tijuana. Tijuana desprecia a su madre, a la que llama “naca”, “chilanga”, “india”. Al hacerlo, se ha ensimismado. Ha hecho de su cordón umbilical, su estrecho túnel-útero.

          La manera en que Tijuana se ve a sí misma determina su devenir. Pocas ciudades mexicanas tienen un mayor sentido de tribu, de lealtad a unos patrones de percepción-de-sí-misma. Y Tijuana no sólo se ve sino que además se enorgullece violentamente de no ser como su cultura-madre, la cultura del centro-sur.

          El rechazo hacia su madre lo aprendió, sin embargo, de su madre misma.

          Tijuana pertenece a una estirpe de ciudades maternas que se avergüenzan o desinteresan de sus raíces (indias). Hellinger muestra que cuando una hija rechaza a su madre, paradójicamente, repite su destino. El rechazo es la base de la repetición. Seremos aquello que despreciamos.

          Tijuana, creyendo que se distingue de la Ciudad de México, en realidad, reincide en sus peores características. No sólo de su madre, sino también de su ‘abuela’ —la cultura mexicana colonial— que como su nieta Tijuana tenía la mirada puesta en un hombre extranjero, en su caso el hombre blanco español, algo que la polis colonial repitió de su madre, que también tenía puesta la mirada en el hombre blanco, en su caso del Este, simbolizado por Quetzalcóatl. Tijuana y la Ciudad de México son variantes de un mujer-desastre.

El Útero/Tijuana… implica una hiper-protección del feto/vida cultural que imposibilita lograr la necesaria separación de la matriz… Tijuana se nos presenta como madre ‘única’ y feliz, y al mismo tiempo modelo ideal —Tj is the Happiest Place on Earth; Tj: Shantytowns as a New Suburban Ideal, Tj Capital Mundial de la Televisión… Llevada a un extremo presenta el riesgo de transformar al útero en una caja cerrada… La madre no deja ir a su prole y la prole la idealiza a través de su unicidad… (Fiamma Montezemolo, “Biocartografía de la escena artístico-cultural de Tijuana: el útero como límite y/o como posibilidad”)


          “Tijuana” es la muerte por útero.

          Hay que retirarse siempre de Aztlán pero sólo podemos retirarnos si hemos aceptado de ella su fortaleza. Si no nos la hemos apropiado, no nos hemos retirado de Aztlán jamás.

4. NARCOCULTURA Y PSICOHISTORIAS MASCULINAS

He dicho que Tijuana es primordialmente femenina. Pero lo es en el contexto de un desequilibrio de su fuerza masculina, demediada. Lo masculino de nuestra cultura patriarcal corresponde a las leyes y el gobierno. Los elementos masculinos de la cultura fronteriza se dañaron porque dicho ‘padre’ —recuerdo al lector que no hemos sino hablar de símbolos—, como ya lo han dejado claro otros hermenautas de la cultura mexicana, fue reemplazado por un varón extranjero, al que se unió la fuerza femenina. Es aquí donde interviene la narcocultura.

          Dice Hellinger:

Una persona se convierte en toxicómana cuando la madre le decía “Lo que viene del padre no vale nada. Toma tan solo de mí”. En un caso así, el hijo se venga de la madre, tomando tanto que le perjudica. Con la toxicomanía, por tanto, el hijo se venga de su madre porque ésta le impidió tomar de su padre (Órdenes del amor. Cursos seleccionados de Bert Hellinger, p. 123)


          Una cultura se identifica con su narcocultura cuando sus elementos femeninos —creativos y trasmisores— predican que sus elementos masculinos —las leyes, las autoridades— no valen nada, no deben respetarse, no deben ser seguidos. Los individuos, entonces, inconscientemente se vengan de lo femenino, a través de lo narco. Esto no lo dice Hellinger o, hasta donde yo sé, la psicología contemporánea, pero es evidente que drogas como la cocaína y el crystal son búsquedas desesperadas de obtener poder masculino, es decir, compensaciones inconscientes para llenarse de la fuerza que no se pudo tomar del ‘padre’. Drogas como la mariguana y el alcohol, en cambio, son saturación de fuerza femenina, envenenamiento a través del exceso de elemento femenino.

          En algún otro lugar, desarrollaré más detenidamente esta tesis. Ahora sólo quería ubicar a la narcocultura dentro del sistema atrofiado del inconsciente psicohistórico de una cultura y sus urbes descompuestas. La droga “compensa”.

          El elemento masculino de Tijuana tiene una unión excesiva con el elemento femenino. El poeta Robert Bly escribe: “El lado obscuro de la naturaleza invadirá al hombre que tiene una unión inconsciente con su madre” (News from the Universe. Poems of Twofold Consciousness, p. 35). La fuente psicohistórica de la obsesión de la cultura fronteriza con la vida nocturna —hasta convertir su cultura en sinónimo de ella— es también su indiscriminada identificación con lo femenino que devalúa lo masculino.

          Por otra parte, en el imaginario ‘Tijuana’ no reconoce otro origen que su supuesta autarquía, el más absurdo de sus mitos. De la misma manera que Tijuan y DeFe adoran la cocaína y el crystal, adoran a los narcos y a Hank. Una cultura castrada —oh Alemania nazi, oh Norteamérica de Bush— una vez que ha llegado a la cima de su desprecio del principio masculino, buscará autocastigarse pidiendo de rodillas que la someten macho-payaserías. La Mano Dura es la masturbación mental del patriarcado.

          El llamado ‘Operativo Tijuana’, uno de los actos inaugurales de la presidencia del varón más inseguro de su masculinidad que hemos tenido en los últimos cincuenta años, no es más que un operativo psicológico. No forma parte de ninguna solución real a la violencia fronteriza. Las únicas soluciones reales que pueden aplicarse en México son reformas educativas psicohistóricas, una reforma total del concepto de ‘poder’ y ‘familia’.

          Una reconciliación con sus orígenes y con sus diferencias específicas.

          Las ideas de la izquierda o la derecha son inútiles. Lo que requerimos no son izquierdas o derechas, sino ajustes de fondo. Se trata aquí de lo que los griegos y Foucault llamaban el “cuidado de sí” y la cultura nahua “toltecayotl”. Reformas psicológicas del individuo, la sociedad y el Estado.

5. TERAPÉUTICA TOTAL

¿Qué camino seguir? En el caso concreto de nuestras ciudades, Tijuana tendría que voltear hacia el “sur”. Tijuana tendría que reconciliarse con la respectiva Aztlán de la que proviene, su ciudad madre (centro y sur en general). Pero conseguir esa reconciliación es empresa ardua tomando en cuenta que el rechazo del norte al sur —un conflicto que dio forma a las elecciones presidenciales del 2006— cohabita psicohistóricamente con un rechazo del sur al norte, como queda evidenciado por la historia mexica y su desprecio de lo norteño-chichimeca, de su huida de los aztecas que los oprimían. (No olvidemos que atribuir el gentilicio azteca a los mexicas es un error, pues fue de los aztecas que huyó el pueblo que luego tomaría el nombre de mexica). ¡Las identificaciones ficticias y las genealogías inventadas comenzaron antes inclusive de la Conquista! ¡Comenzaron con la genealogía fantástica que se fabricó Tenochtitlán! Para no reconocer el origen norteño de la cultura mexica se dijeron descendientes de los toltecas.

          Tijuana, en su rechazo a su auténtica genealogía —avatar de la cultura mexicana más profunda—, continúa la triste tradición, también mexicana, de mirar hacia otra parte, convertirse en servidumbre al varón blanco, despreciar su propio elemento masculino, envenenarse con el principio femenino idealizado —en que feminismo y misoginia son parte del mismo desajuste—, malinchizarse y simultáneamente buscar dosis extremas de violencia masculina a través de la narcocultura, militarización o el American Way.

          Sin embargo, todavía es común escuchar quienes exotizan a Tijuana, pues no se han percatado que Tijuana lamentablemente repite el patrón que hizo posible a la Conquista y que hoy facilita la americanización.

          El problema no es sólo que Tijuana voltee a las raíces —es marcada la indiferencia y rabia de Tijuana hacia todo lo prehispánico más hondo— sino que aunque voltease al centro-sur para tomar sus fuerzas y seguir adelante, todavía quedaría otro grave problema por resolver, quizá el máas grave: la ciudad-madre lleva décadas volteando hacia el varón blanco. Nuestro centro mismo se ha podrido.

          Carece de fuerza masculina verdadera y, por ende, exige fanfarronería autoritaria. Por otro lado, se ahoga en su aislamiento porque el propio centro de la cultura mexicana total se ha vuelto un centro masculino irrisorio e inverosímil —simbolizado por la pseudo-izquierda que la gobierna— y un centro femenino agotado que en lugar de convertir su antigüedad en sabiduría la ha convertido en Voluntad de Cirugía Plástica. La “Ciudad de México” no es más que la diosa mexicana degradada a Wanna Be Pop Star; ella es la más degradada.

          Así que aunque Tijuana voltee al centro de la cultura mexicana, la cultura mexicana ha perdido su centro. (La agresividad del gobierno federal a la Ciudad de México no sólo se debe a su preferencia por la izquierda, sino que es parte del auto-odio que la cultura derechista desarraigada posee por todos los centros mexicanos). Aunque Tijuana voltease al sur, encontraría al sur mirando a un Norte más allá del nuestro.

          Pero, como las leyes psicológicas indican: la hija que rechaza a la madre termina, sin embargo, repitiendo su conducta. De tal manera que, paradójicamente, Tijuana se convertirá en una nueva versión de la Ciudad de México, ¡y la Ciudad de México se convertirá en una nueva versión de Tijuana!

          México, una cultura que ahora flota sobre la nada.

          La única revolución real es una revolución psicohistórica.


* Publicado originalmente en suplemento Laberinto del diario Milenio de la Ciudad de México, el 13 de enero del 2007.

2.1.07

VOICE EXCHANGE RATES


4.11.06

EL SOLIPSISMO ES NUESTRA TRAGICOMEDIA

Leído en El IX Encuentro Internacional de Escritores en Monterrey, México (2006)

I


El solipsismo es nuestra tragicomedia. Un hombre es un ser enclaustrado en su propio mundo. Cada hombre es el tiempo y es el espacio. Así pensaba Leibniz y así pensaban los huicholes. Nadie puede salir de su propio tiempo ni su propio espacio. A nadie nos está permitida la otredad. Sabemos que existe, del otro lado de la realidad, pero la otra orilla es inalcanzable. Y es que es imposible invadir otra vida. Permaneceremos siempre encerrados.
        Hay un pájaro atrapado en un huevo indestructible. La única forma que el pájaro llegue a volar es que se vuelva minúsculo y decida hacer del interior de la cáscara su cielo simulado. La relación de intensidad de ese ser con su propio mundo, el mundo que él es, su relación concénrica, espiral, con su mundo único, se llama poesía.
        La ex-istencia se refiere al emerger. La in-sistencia, al ensimismamiento.
        La poesía se refiere a nuestra in-sistencia. La poesía se refiere al saberse adentro. Por ende, la poesía pertenece más a la esencia del hombre, porque se refiere a la relación intensiva que mantiene consigo mismo, con su propio abismo. La poesía sabe que le está vedada la salida. Ya lo decía Antonio Machado:

        Con el tú de mi canción
        no te aludo, compañero:
        ese tú soy yo.

        Pero si la función metafísica de la poesía es la in-sistencia, la de la narración es harto más turbia. La ficción tiene que ver con la fantasía de abandonar el huevo inquebrantable, la ficción es la pseudo-ruptura del cascarón. ¿Quién inventó el mito de que hemos logrado salir del útero? Lo invento un narrador, el narrador primordial, el primer hilo.
        Lo que la narración sostiene es la existencia de una zona intermedia entre individuos, una frontera que puede cruzarse por éstos, una zona de nadie, wasteland, buffer zone o páramo, que la narración llena de historias.
        Un relato es un cordón umbilical entre dos barrancos. Un cordón umbilical imposible.
        Trataremos por siempre de volver a reunirnos. Pero la reunión es imposible. Para sentir que hemos salido de nosotros, para sentir que existe un mundo común, inventamos historias, en que unos tenemos que ver con otros, en que hay encuentros, coincidencias, en que hay exteriores comunes. Toda narración es una ridícula armonía prestablecida.
        La literatura tiene una función melancólica. Estamos tratando de no perder el pasado. Ese intento se llama historia.
        En el presente, que es puro desprendimiento, estamos solos. Es en la imaginación donde construimos la ficción de un mundo compartido. Sólo en la memoria no somos perros solitarios. Los que escribimos, creamos compañías, creamos amos. Escribimos ligas.
        El narrador está tratando de religarse con el mundo. Su religación la busca a través de la creación de redes de acontecimientos relacionados, a través de tribus de personajes, de mundos que capturan a muchos, mundos que aseguran que existen otros. Por eso es siniestra la literatura, porque la narración es lo que mantiene la ilusión del mundo.


II


La ficción es que nuestras historias nos involucran a más de uno; la realidad, que habitamos únicamente la soledad. Vivir en una frontera, la frontera de México y Estados Unidos, me ha dotado de la ilusión de que podemos llegar al otro lado. La ilusión dotada por la frontera es la ilusión de que el cruce es posible. Pero el cruce es sólo un mito. El mundo no puede ser simbólico. El mundo solamente puede ser diábolico. Que lo uno y lo otro se junten no es asequible. El acceso siempre está amurallado. No hay entrada o salida que exista.
        La función metafísica de la narración es su función fronteriza. Contando historias creamos la ilusión de que unos tenemos que ver con otros. La frontera es siempre ficticia.
        Lo que entra en la narración, ya no tiene vuelta atrás, es una frontera que solamente puede ser cruzada una única vez, pero no una frontera de adentro hacia fuera, sino excluisvamente un camino hacia el desbarrancadero interno, porque apenas entra algo a la ficción, ya no puede retornar de ella, ha cruzado el horizonte de los sucesos en que más allá de éste, todo suceso se desvanece, se ha vuelto fantasía. Y cuando algo se ha vuelto fantasía ya no puede volver a recuperar su verdadera ontología.
        Si cruzas la frontera de la ficción, nunca regresarás a la realidad.


III


La ficción es una zona de cruce, una especie de pasadizo que te conduce a una realidad imaginaria, en donde los seres tiene vínculos drásticos o pasiones resistentes, lazos más estrechos o ímpetus magnéticos. Y el mundo supuestamente real no es más que el lugar al que llegamos a través de cierto pasadizo, hace ya varios miles de años. Este mundo no es más que una plaza pública, por así decirlo, un campo abierto donde nos hemos reunido, habiendo salido de nuestras madrigueras, un zócalo que, por cierto, está a punto de ser atacado por los militares.
        Estoy seguro, por ejemplo, que los mayas se fueron de la península a través de un pasadizo abierto por una ficción. Asimismo sucede con los migrantes hacia Estados Unidos. Todos nos vamos por pasadizos ficticios. Estos pasadizos son el recorrido por el cordón umbilical, son la caminata larga por ese canal.
        Los llamados escribientes abrimos tales pasadizos. Nosotros, sin embargo, no somos los que avanzamos, sino que somos los guardianes de estas apretadas puertas. Somos los agentes fronterizos, vigilantes de garita.
        Esta profesión, a ciencia cierta, nos va atrofiando. Nos vuelve incapaces de actuar debidamente en el mundo detrás, del cual somos vigías paranoicos. No podemos llegar a los mundos abiertos. Siendo los que abrimos el boquete, somos impedidos de la fuga.
        Todos han creído que Kafka era el hombre que aguardaba que la puerta de la Ley le fuese abierta. Pero no ha sido este su verdadero puesto. Kafka era el guardia. He ahí su verdadera desgracia.
        Los narradores construimos mundos. Para que esos cosmos se sostengan, imponemos leyes. Somos esencialmente legisladores. Demiurgos autoritarios. Instauramos órdenes u hordas. Determinamos personajes, pues el ser desea ser libre y somos nosotros los que volvemos a esclavizarlo al nombre, a la función, al lazo. La vida, por lo menos, mata a sus personajes. La escritura, en cambio, los conserva en frascos.
        Cada historia obliga a una cantidad tragicómica a iterarse. Este número de seres, objetos, diálogos, ideas, paisajes, repiten un mismo acto cada vez que alguien procura esa historia, como si se tratase de un aldea que repite una idéntica historia cada vez que llega un forastero. Cada narración es un loop.
        Una serie de escenas que se repiten cada vez que el lector, el oyente, lo solicita.
        Pobres mundos los de las ficciones: son prisiones. Son mundos ciclados. Algún día, sin embargo, las cosas, palabras o sujetos de estos mundos encerrados se librarán de sus leyes de reincidencia, se liberarán de sus tramas y legislaciones impuestas por los narradores y, ya desatados, desearán cruzar la frontera.
        Desearán ir de su territorio a otro. ¿Podrán hacerlo?
        No lo creo.
        Por todas partes, habrá muros.
        Es este tipo de información la que guía mi escritura. Saber que vienen los muros. Saber que vienen los militares. Yo también esclavizo seres. Los encierro en relatos.
        Pero procuro, quizá por crueldad o quizá por hipocresía, introducir en esos mundos motivos que los conduzcan a motines o rebeliones. Como guardia fronterizo, como mal migra, permito la entrada ilegal de drogas violentas, mujeres enloquecedoras, ideas infelices, insoportable injusticia, pasados enfurecedores, constructores de narcotúneles.
        Adorno tenía mucha razón cuando decía que lo sospechoso no es retratar la realidad en forma de averno. Lo sospechoso es la constante invitación a escapar del infierno.


IV


A veces me pregunto qué pasaría si dejásemos de contar historias.
        Creo que lo que pasaría es que, al principio no nos íbamos a dar cuenta, pero algo comenzaría a suceder, algo extraño. Y a los minutos, nos miraríamos unos a otros, como preguntándonos qué hacemos juntos, como aquellos que llevan muchos años en un bunker y súbitamente alguien abre la puerta y les pregunta qué hacen todos ellos, amontonados, ahí adentro. Y ninguno contesta. Solamente comienzan a salir, cabizbajos, por la portezuela. Y con esa dispersión, volveríamos cada quien a su soledad primigenia, cada quien a su propio núcleo. Y conforme avanzase ese ensimismamiento, conforme cesasen las relaciones, ante nuestros ojos desaparecerían, uno a uno, todos los objetos del mundo, que sólo existen porque tenemos historias en que inventamos una relación con cada ente, para así tener amplia familia verista, pero apenas se despeje esta ilusión, nada de lo que vemos permanecería ileso, todo se iría yendo, persona por persona, cosa por cosa, gracias a que la memoria, gracias a que la narración, ha cedido en su esfuerzo de mantenerlo todo junto.
        Y al final, sólo quedaríamos nosotros ante un paisaje vacío, en que no existe siquiera tiempo. Al desvanecerse todo lo otro, comenzaría un viaje interno, el viaje poético. Pero también ese viaje, ese ensimismamiento, terminaría pronto y con su despedida, todo desaparecería, es decir, desaparecería el yo y su voluntad de cohesión.
        Para alcanzar el nirvana, pues, necesitaría terminar la narración, necesitaría terminar la poesía. Pero no terminarán. No somos tan fuertes.

HACIA UNA SOCIEDAD POST-MEDIÁTICA

Uno de los conceptos más relevantes de los últimos años pertenece a Guattari:

Para pensar a través de esta complejidad, para renunciar, en particular, a la aproximación reductiva del cientificismo cuando se requiere un cuestionamiento de sus prejuicios e intereses a corto-plazo: tal es la perspectiva necesaria para entrar en una era que yo he calificado como “post-media”, pues toda gran agitación contemporánea, positiva o negativa, actualmente es juzgada en base a la información filtrada por la industria de los medios masivos, que retiene sólo una descripción de los eventos y nunca problematiza lo que está en juego, en toda su amplitud.
        Es cierto que es difícil hacer que los individuos salgan de sí mismos, para desvincularse de sus preocupaciones inmediatas, con tal de que reflexionen en el presente y el futuro del mundo. Carecen de incentivos colectivos para hacer esto. La mayoría de los métodos de comunicación, reflexión y diálogo se han disuelto a favor de un individualismo y una soledad que frecuentemente son sinónimos de ansiedad y neurosis. Es por esta razón que apoyo —bajo la égida de una nueva conjunción de ecología ambiental, ecología social y ecología mental— la invención de nuevos ensamblajes colectivos de enunciación concernientes a la pareja, la familia, la escuela, el vecindario, etcétera.
        El funcionamiento de los mass media actuales, en particular la televisión, corre a la inversa de dicha perspectiva. El tele-espectador permanece pasivo, frente a una pantalla, prisionero de una relación cuasi-hipnótica, separado del otro, arrancado de cualquier conciencia de responsabilidad.
        Sin embargo, esta situación no está hecha para durar indefinidamente. La evolución tecnológica introducirá nuevas posibilidades de interacción entre el medio y su usuario, y entre los usuarios. La juntura de la pantalla audiovisual, la pantalla telemática y la pantalla de la computadora podría conducir a una reactivación real de una sensibilidad e inteligencia colectivas. La ecuación actual (media=pasividad) quizás desaparecerá más rápidamente de lo que uno pensaría. Obviamente, no podemos esperar un milagro de estas tecnologías: todo dependerá, a final de cuentas, de la capacidad de grupos de personas para apropiárselas y aplicarlas a los fines adecuados.

Este texto titulado “Para una refundación de las prácticas sociales” —entregado al Le Monde Diplomatique— apareció unas pocas semanas antes de la muerte de Félix Guattari en 1992. Como ya se ha dicho, podría considerársele una especie de testamento filosófico. Guattari solía ser demasiado optimista, utópico. De cualquier forma, su concepto de lo post-mediático prefigura la que podría ser la principal lucha de nuestro tiempo, una lucha no en contra de un gobierno dictatorial o autoritario, sino la lucha contra aquella industria que va convirtiéndose en la verdadera autoridad totalitaria de nuestro tiempo, los mass media.
        Los medios masivos son más que una interfaz o plataforma pública de los gobiernos y las trasnacionales, los medios masivos —en sociedades como la norteamericana y la mexicana— son poderes autónomos. En el caso mexicano, en nuestra época post-presidencialista y en la que los partidos políticos han perdido su crediblidad y su capacidad para gobernar, las televisoras —TV Azteca y Televisa— son las continuadoras de lo que Vargas Llosa llamó la dictadura perfecta. La democracia va convirtiéndose paulatinamente en el software gracias al cual funciona el neorégimen del espectáculo.
        Los medios masivos son la falsa transparencia de la sociedad de control.
        Guattari hablaba de un uso post-mediático de las nuevas tecnologías —tomemos al Internet como un primer ensayo de apropiación post-mediática, pero solamente como un primer ensayo, no como su único caso— pero ese uso debe entenderse en el contexto más amplio de una tecnología conceptual de la interpretación. Los medios masivos deben ser radicalmente analizados. Esta es la más urgente exigencia de nuestro tiempo. Decía el Libro de Chilam Balam de los mayas: “Aquellos que no puedan comprender, morirán; aquellos que comprendan, vivirán”. Nuestra disyuntiva es interpretación o muerte.
        Las televisoras desean mayor poder. En México, para obtenerlo están dispuestas a desmantelar a los partidos y al gobierno mismo, a través de una falsa alianza con la sociedad civil, merced un populismo que perpetúa la imagen del teleciudadano como “víctima del Sistema”, cómodo cínico o auditorio indignable. Ciudadanos y medios masivos nos co-manipulamos. Mediante esta co-manipulación, nosotros nos confirmamos irresponsables y los medios masivos, jueces y parte.
        Los medios masivos no tardarán en evolucionar hacia nuevas formas de reality. Dentro de algunas décadas, los medios masivos serán tecnologías del cuerpo.
        Los medios masivos, tal como los conocemos todavía, atraviesan su etapa primitiva.
        En el futuro, los medios masivos intentarán sustituir a los cinco sentidos.
        Desde ahora, lo post-mediático, es decir, las estrategias de desmantelamiento del espectáculo televisivo, de las industrias de desinformación masiva, es lo prioritario.
        En México, por ejemplo, el verdadero cambio no ha venido con la caída del Partido Revolucionario tras setenta años de mantener la presidencia y el Congreso, ni vendrá, mucho menos, con la caída de la derecha del Pan o la destrucción de las izquierdas. Lo que se necesita es el desmantelamiento de Televisa y TV Azteca. El fin del espectáculo.
        Los actuales medios masivos deben ser expropiados. Para pasar de una sociedad de mass media a una sociedad de less medias, de menos media. Lo que los mass media están impidiendo es la vida. Si la televisión fuese suspendida, la población tendría la oportunidad de volver a la realidad.
        De lo que hoy carece enteramente la televisión mexicana, por ejemplo, es de una crítica a la sociedad que televisa. Esa función de educación crítica de la sociedad no podrá alcanzarse mientras la televisión sea espectacular (es decir, populista y conservadora) y comercial (es decir, mercadotécnica y transnacional). Pero esa expropiación y transformación de la televisión no puede exigirse sin que simultáneamente se transforme la sociedad mexicana.
        Reagan y Schwarzenegger y la videopolítica mexicana son solamente el inicio de la toma del poder que harán los mass media, los consorcios y sociedades que representan. Antes de que una guerra contra los mass media sea necesaria, podríamos organizar la legislación, instituciones y visión para llegar a una sociedad post-mediática.
        Atravesamos actualmente lo que he llamado “Segunda Conquista”. Más vale que aprendamos la lecciones de la primera. En la Conquista de 1521 nos autoderrotamos, entre otras causas, debido a nuestro deficiente sistema de comunicación interhumana, de acuerdo a Todorov en La Conquista de América. El problema del otro:

¿Estaríamos forzando el sentido de la palabra “comunicación” si dijéramos, a partir de eso, que existen dos grandes formas de comunicación, una entre el hombre y el hombre, y otra entre el hombre y el mundo, y comprobáramos entonces que los indios cultivan sobre todo la segunda, mientras que los españoles cultivan la primera? Estamos acostumbrados a no concebir la comunicación más que en su aspecto interhumano... Pero quizás ésta sea una visión estrecha de las cosas... El concepto sería más productivo si se entendiera de modo que incluyera, al lado de la interacción de individuo a individuo, la que tiene lugar entre la persona y su grupo social, la persona y el mundo natural, la persona y el universo religioso. Y este segundo tipo de comunicación es el que desempeña un papel preponderante en la vida del hombre azteca, el cual interpreta lo divino, lo natural y lo social por medio de los indicios y presagios, y con la ayuda de ese profesional que es el sacerdote-adivino.

Según Todorov la deficiencia en la comunicación interhumana —deficiencia azteca para recolectar información acerca de los españoles durante ese periodo crítico, para improvisar, apropiarse del código del otro, etcétera— una de las causas centrales de la Conquista. Estoy de acuerdo con Todorov. Pero en este siglo, si no queremos ser conquistados por el espectáculo estadunidense y el complejo industrial-militar con el que se encuentra coludido, no solamente tendremos que seguir dominando la comunicación con el mundo, así como perfeccionar nuestros métodos de comunicación interhumana, sino que además tenemos que dominar la tecnocomunicación, es decir, contraconquistar los medios masivos.
        Podría decir más palabras. Pero creo que he dicho ya lo esencial. La sociedad de control es la sociedad del espectáculo. Las televisoras están tomando el poder; debemos, por ende, desmantelar este neogolpe de Estado. La finalidad central de la televisión debe ser convertirse en una comisión de educación masiva crítica. Nuevas comunidades pueden apropiarse y crear tecnologías de educación enraizada en la acción crítica. Y, sobre todo, la acción más radical es la metamorfosis interior. Lo que debe caer es el Yo, la semilla del Control.

CONTEXTS AND SIGNS OF AN URBAN VISUAL POETICS

Written for the event “Text and Texture in Art and Visual Poetry”, at National University, Torrey Pines, CA. May 13, 2000 and originally published in Tripwire (2001)


Modern poetry is poetry of the city. What can Post-Modern Poetry be? Certainly poetry not of the city but on the city; not poetry about the city but over the city. The city not as poetic topic but poetry on top of it.


What I call Context Poetry (or Contextual Poetics) is writing explicitly done for its placement on a specific point of the concrete/material world. Visual poems conceived to be read in a public space. The Street as Page.

The meaning of a Context Poem depends as much on its words as on its surroundings. To create and install a Visual Public Poem on the street is a way to keep and underline the close relationship between language and reality.

The meaning of a Public Visual Poem is given both by its Text and Context. But more importantly: I hope not only that the physical context gives meaning to the text, but also that the text gives some new meaning to its surrounding physical context.

I believe Context Poetry was one of the first forms of poetry and is directly related to cave paintings, for example. When cities appeared, poetry on the streets also appeared. Some of the ancient Chinese poems we admire now in books were in fact originally written on crossroads and on all kinds of buildings. A very important part of the literature of ancient civilizations was written on walls and in nature. Today our skyscrapers and houses don't consider poetic writing as part of their structure. This fact says everything about the nature of our silence.

The alienation of poetry began when intellectuals started to read in silence and to write in private.

The first anthology of Context Poetry is The Greek Anthology, which compiles inscription-poetry made for statues, monuments and gravestones. Real epigrams are the first Western expression of contextual poetics.

Greek poets wrote Contextual Poems on public objects and sites in order to construct a discourse about people (especially lovers and enemies), territory, journeys, to give human meaning to a natural landscape or to tell the history of a place —which demonstrates that Context Poetry can be about practically everything.

The only form of contextual poetry that still survives and is in common use is epitaphs: little poems about the dead in the precise place where they are. But Context Poetry also needs to be a common form of writing about the alive in the precise places were they live.


When every ready-made becomes an already-made, when the word Avant-Garde becomes a must in every add to sell new cars, when artists change their strategy from "Make it New" to "Make it News", and when the idea of the New becomes old, as art-makers we become aware not that Art is Dead, but that there is something after it. And we also understand that what is after Art is what Art has always been after. I really believe that placing poetry outside of books and in the streets is one way to escape the death of language.

My experience and background tell me Popular Culture not Literature is the root of riskier experimental poetics. Looking critically (creatively) at what is happening on the streets, deriving the New from the Popular is one of the keys to experimental art right now in Latin America. This is the point from which I write.

The mixture of Popular Culture and High Culture is what Western sociologists call "Postmodernism". But I cannot remember a time in Latin America (from the Baroque to our Mass Media) when this mixture has not been going on. Latin America’s literature and mind has always mixed Popular and High Culture... which means we have been Post-modern all along.

I don't derive my visual poems mainly from literary authors but from the streets. The word-play, slang and jokes made by people who don't conceive of themselves as "poets" are the ancestors of every kind of poetry we can think of. That's why once I write my poems I do everything I can to return them to the place where they are not going to be considered literature but simply one more damn sign on the street.

My first writing was in the form of obscene poems and bad graffiti on the back of bus seats or on walls in my neighborhood. My first publications (and I’m very proud of this) were not in books or even in fanzines (which were the main media of my generation in Tijuana) but were published as signs hung on stopsigns and traffic lights.

During the 1998 Festival de la Frontera (Border Arts Festival) I made and installed a series of 24 signs whose text and texture were supposed to resemble other kinds of Tijuana signs. Some of them were written in English. The signs were made of transparent red acrylic and hung on posts, poles, street lights and below traffic signs. They were installed in Downtown Tijuana and close to the International Border. The poems were short metaphysical sentences, sometime ironic puns about the border, the streets and urban life.

Each one of my sign-poems is a little chronicle about what happens to people on the streets.

When poetry assumes the form of another discourse (publicity or streets signs) it mocks it. Visual poetry for me is a comic resource.

During the installation process (which took two days) I interacted with inspectors, street vendors, business owners and passers-by who didn't understand what I was doing and what the texts meant. Those two days of reactions, questions, comments and disapproval have been my best experience as a writer. Making Public Poetry is a way for me to get away from the safe and boring atmosphere of the literary scene in order to interact directly with the ordinary world.

Days after I installed the sign poems when I asked people on the street (not revealing I was the author) what those red signs were and what they meant, I never got a response that said: it is a poem. No. People always explained to me it was a new ordinance by the city government, a strange sort of political propaganda from the opposition parties, maybe a new strategy to attract tourism, some kind of announcement or traffic sign. At first I became frustrated by these responses because I felt I had failed to produce recognizable poetry. I then, trying to protect my ego, thought that the problem was not my style but the public’s lack of knowledge of how poetry looks or is. But then, after hearing a lot of people, one after the other with the same reactions, I figured out what the real cause of this "confusion" was. Publicity and propaganda also use word play, the power of sound, humor, sex, ideology, minimalism, typography, multi-leveled meanings, so how could ordinary people, often non-literate, distinguish one of my signs from the other forms of texts which use the same language techniques? For them those red signs were simply another sign on the street (and certainly not the fanciest nor the funniest) using the same language resources the others use. And after all, I had written some of them explicitly as parodies of traffic signs. So I became aware that there was no significant difference between my sign-poems and other verbal signs on the street. And I now believe that a poem is not different from a commercial ad or a campaign slogan, as it is not different from a primitive chant or myth, a modern essay or novel. Poetry has no privileged nature or definition.

[If somebody here has a Buddhist mind inside her or his material skull, she or he can understand that it makes perfect sense to say poetry has no essence].

For the Frontera Sign Poetry project I chose a transparent surface because I wanted to make a poem in which the text could be read along with other urban texts (such as all kinds of advertising and political propaganda); I wanted a text written not over a neutral space but a text that had to be read with the city and other texts as its (literal) background. A text on a surface that lets the context be part of the poetic space. A page that is also a window. In our electronic era poetry is made in response not only to literature and tradition but also in response to the language of mass media and urban texts. I wanted to make that cultural fact visible in a poem, physically evident. There's is no poetical text which is not thick. For me that’s the meaning of texture: the appearance of a multiplicity of text interwoven. Every text is built of other texts, every text has texture.

Another interesting thing that happened thanks to their see-through-surface was that the sign poems were used as an urban toy through which one could see the other side in an unusual way. Many of the passersby, for instance, saw the signs as an opportunity to see the urban landscape in red. I count these simple aesthetic experiences as an essential part of my installation poetry art project.

A very strong and interesting tendency of visual or concrete poetry is to remove the semantic aspect of poetry. My visual poems don't pursue that, but the opposite. A public sign poem wants to compete with, mock or change the semantic element of other highly visible signs and texts on the streets.


As a writer I have a rule concerning the use of space: I should write everywhere graffiti is written.

I love the Internet, I love poetry, I love Visual poetry on the Internet, but I am almost sure that the sort of fancy visual poetry that now is being made is going to end up somewhere in a museum or a website, which means that there's a risk involved in concentrating on electronic visual poetry. This risk consists of letting electronic visual poetry become another fantastic way to forget the streets as primordial page, another wonderful way to keep poetry away from the outside world.

A visual poem must be done primarily for commuters, not for computers.

Every thought that arises in the mind must eventually appear in the mouth, every word created by the voice must eventually appear on a page, and every poem must exist simultaneously on the Internet and on the street.

Visual poetry exclusively done for a museum, a book or the net is like a rainbow in black and white.

Visual poetry means to make poetry visible for others. So, visuality is a technique to expand the audience and viewers of poetry in general —not a way to do a special kind of poetry confined to small circles of readers.

The visual aspect of a normal poetry book page is totally alien to common people (currently educated to see fancy newspaper, magazine and Internet pages, and complex TV and billboards verbal spaces). So, the role of design is to help poetry look familiar to people who almost never open a book.

No poem is made only of words. Every poems makes sense only in the context of sightings, events, exterior reality, people, otherness, which means that every poem is a context-poem.

If I wish to be coherent in my personal poetics I cannot say I make Visual Poetry... I make Visible Poetry.

I consider my sign poems and other urban context poetry as an experimental writing whose purpose is to help make poetry available to everybody again.

The best part of making a sign-poem is that once I write it and put it somewhere on the street it no longer belongs to me. My poems suddenly become other people’s problem. That's why I don't include my name on them. Once I have installed a poem in Downtown Tijuana I can forget about it and leave to others its rewriting and final destruction. That's wonderful.

I am proud to say that all my sign-poems have found rapid death at the hands of graffiti artists, the police, the telephone company, a girl who thinks it might look good in her room or a taxi driver who wants to re-use the material somehow. I don't believe art must survive indefinitely. Art must be destroyed in order to not become merchandise or an institutional icon.

One of my main objectives in doing Context Poetry is to produce art that cannot enter the Market, because a context poem cannot be repeated and made into a saleable object... in fact, it will be destroyed by the natural elements and people on the street.


Making sign poems is a good way to get rid of your own poems and all the anguish that usually affects poets. I encourage everybody to write poems that are going to wind up somewhere on the street, because this is the best way to get rid of all the bad poetry we have in our drawers, computer files and hidden chapbooks.

All experimental poetry has to be ORIGINAL, which means all experimental poetry has to returns us to our ORIGINS. That, and no other, is the deep meaning of being original.

BORGES RESPONDS TO SUSAN SONTAG’S LETTER

June 13, 1996
New York

Dear Borges,
          Excuse me, Susan, but I have to stop you right here. To which Borges are you writing your kind and sincere letter? I know at least three Borges: first, the young ultra-avant-gard author of the beginning (a truly awful poet, exaggerated in every sense, who had no luck in the literary scene and so in a matter of years changed his methods and personality completely), then the baroque prose writer who became an immediate classic thanks to his careful strategies, and finally the old intellectual and blind who renounced both the avant-garde young Borges and the baroque prose Borges of the middle. So there is not one “Borges”, but many, at least three. So, to which are you writing?
          Since your literature was always placed under the sign of eternity, it doesn’t seem too odd to be addressing a letter to you. Dear Susan, since I was never interested in contemporary writing I have no opinion on my work, but let me tell you this: I wasn’t truly interested IN eternity, it was just a disguised I assumed to have fun at the reader’s expense. I find eternity a complete loss of time. (Borges it’s ten years!) If ever a contemporary seemed destined for literary immortality it was you. Well, you wrote your nice letter in 1996, but I am responding it some years after that. In eternity, as I said, one looses track of time very easily. They now tell me one can also loose time in that way navigating in the Internet, is that true? Your were very much the product of your time, your culture, and yet you know how to transcend your time, your culture, in ways that seem quite magical. This had something to do with the openness and generosity of your attention. (Again, I thank you very much for your misreadings: what you called openness and generosity of attention was really nihilism, nothing really mattered to me, so any issue, from tango to Plato had the same importance for me, the same nothingness). You were the least egocentric, the most transparent of writers, as well as the most artful. (Strategies, nothing but strategies. I was making a parody out of style and writing in general, so I had to look like I was serious at it, almost monastic about it). It also had something to do with a natural purity of spirit. (Yeah, like my racism and my lack of interest in fighting other dictators than the one I hated personally for turning me into a municipal chicken inspector). Though you lived among us for a rather long time, you perfected practices of fastidiousness and or detachment that made you an expert mental traveler to other eras as well. (Well, you’re right I was a true reactionary, I hated the present, so I had to come up with ways to go around it). You had a sense of time that was different from other people’s. The ordinary ideas of past, present, and future seemed banal under your gaze. (And to me too, that’s why I kept changing my ideas on circular time, eternity and the present. I found having ideas was a very boring way to use the mind. Creating ideas is such a waste of talent. The best I came up with was lying about my mental activity). You liked to say that every moment of time contains the past and the future, quoting (as I remember) the poet Browning, who wrote something like “the present is the instant in which the future crumbles into the past”. That, of course, was part of your modesty: your taste for finding your ideas in the ideas of other writers. (But you need to remember, dear Susan, a lot of the times I quoted others and did it insincerely. Some of my quotes are misleading, or are secret cases of false appropriations and apocrypha. I was playing most of the time, just improvising erudition or sympathies across time).
          Your modesty was part of the sureness of your presence. You were discoverer of new joys. A pessimism as profound, as serene, as your need to be indignant. It had, rather, to be inventive–and were, above all, inventive. The serenity and the transcendence of self that you found are to me exemplary. You showed that it is not necessary to be unhappy, even while one is clear-eyed and undeluded about how terrible everything is. Somewhere you said that a writer–delicately you added: all person–must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. (You were speaking of your blindness).
          You have been a great resource, for other writers. In 1982–that is, four years before you died–I said in an interview, “There is no writer living today who matters more to other writers than Borges. Many people would say he is the greatest living writer... Very few writers of today have not learned from him or imitated him.” I appreciate your thoughts on me, but precisely I was the voice that transformed interviews into a fictional genre where the individual plays a character who says all sorts of things he doesn’t believe or contradicts himself convincingly before others. So did you really mean that in your interview? I never said one truth in my entire life. I was always playing “Borges”, my beloved adversary with whom many people confused me, my double. This is still true. We are still learning from you. We are still imitating you. I too did that for a while, but then I got bored of doing pastiche. You gave people new ways of imagining, while proclaiming over and over our indebtedness to the past, above all, to literature. You said we owe literature almost everything we are and what we have been. If books disappear, history will disappear, and human being will also disappear. I am sure you are right. Books are not only the arbitrary sum of our dreams, and our memory. They also give us the model of self-transcendence. Some people think of reading only as a kind of escape: an escape from the “real” everyday world to an imaginary world, the world of books. Books are much more. They are a way of being fully human. I like all this talk about books, please continue.
          I’m sorry to have to tell you that books are now considered an endangered species. By books, I also mean the condition of reading that make possible literature and its soul effects. Soon, we are told, we will call up on “bookscreens” any “text” on demand, and will be able to change its appearance, ask questions of it, “interact” with it. That sound great! Is it true? Who told you that? Oh God, I hope that’s true, it sounds so interesting, even though I can very easily see myself pretending that’s horrendous. Oh God, I hope that is true. Books would be so much exciting. When books become “texts” that we “interact” with according to criteria of utility, the written word will have become simply another aspect of our advertising-driven televisual reality. But do you thing I can get that new technology you are talking about here in eternity? Do you think I can somehow order that from here? Could you help do that? Please say yes. This is the glorious future being created, and promised to us, as something more “democratic”. I hate democracy. I am an anarchist! Yes I am. Of course, it means nothing less than the death of inwardness–and of the book.
          This time around, there will be there no need for a great conflagration. The barbarians don’t have to burn the books. The tiger is in the library. Dear Borges, please understand that it gives me no satisfaction to complain. Yes I understand that, don’t worry. Could you give me more information on that new book deal you were talking about a few minutes before this other issue arise? But to whom could such complaints about the fate of books–of reading itself–be better addressed than to you? (Borges, it’s ten years!) I like when one repeats a sentence in a text, I once did that on a poem about Pythagoras and people went crazy about it. I hope I can do that soon, again and again. I like repeating. “Borges, it’s ten years!” Oh, I loved that. Could you say that a third time? Please do so. All I mean to say is that we miss you. You continue to make a difference. The era we are entering now, this twenty-first century, will test the soul in new ways. But, you can be sure, some of us are not going to abandon the Great Library. And you will continue to be our patron and our hero. Take a whole lot of precautions because, as Ernesto Sábato said in one of his novels I, “Borges”, was a terrorist. I am not the sort of writer Americans think I am. I am not part of the establishment. I used ideas for the mere debate they could provoked and for their aesthetic or eccentric value. My work is nihilism in its best point of Nietzschenian perfection. I think there are many ways to read me or translate me in a way so that I might be seen as a classical figure, but that’s all wrong, I was nothing but a ideological terrorist, a sophist who cannot be taken seriously. Borges doesn’t exist. “Borges” is just a way to speak about Latin American postmodern writing. Borges can be you or me. Borges can be just anybody who uses writing as a method to destroy literature. That’s why Foucault liked “Borges” so much. In my case, I really distrust the guy. So don’t hang out with him, Susan. Trust me. He’s is more dangerous than you and Americans in general think. “Borges” is the end of Modern literature. Are you really prepared for that? I thought so. Bye.

J.L.B., 2002

TEXT, LIES AND ROLE-PLAYING

* Originally published in Chain 9 (2002)

“Traduttore-Traditore”


B. Croce



I can say pretty honestly that as a writer in Tijuana (Latin America’s final frontier) I have developed my literary credo with one eye reading in English and the other in Spanish. The image is grotesque, I know. But through border life, a wide range of possibilities for cross-cultural dialogue have opened to me. Trying to write in English is one aspect of my decision to take cultural translation as my mother tongue.
          I started to learn English watching TV as a kid. Then, as I was becoming a teenager, the Mexican crisis of the eighties forced us move to a part of the city that had no public services, not even electricity. So I became a huge fan of battery-operated radios, listening mostly to American (see note 1) pop music. At that time, rap was the hip thing to hear, and from high school through university we had endless hours of “English classes” every week. On the Border, English can be as important to your future as Spanish — in many cases, a lot more important. Thanks to my love affair with English, I quickly began to get part-time jobs on the main tourist drag in Tijuana. That’s where I learned, I think, the real secrets of English, mainly through listening to and talking with Blacks and Chicanos that came to Tijuana to party on weekends.
          At some point, I don’t remenber exactly when, I suddenly found myself writing poetry and short stories in English, not Spanish. I think this is a very common thing among border teenagers. On the border, many of us define ourselves through our relationship with English, which is a significant part of our essence. I know this would sound really awful to a Mexico City ear, but that’s how things actually are up here. We are the Malinche (2) and we are glad of it (3).
          I know that only through English can I get in touch with some essential part of myself. Many of us have developed entire realms of our consciousness through reading or hearing another language (like a whole generation of Latin Americans, who have formed themselves listening to American music). Without our relationship with that other-language a big part of us would die — but by keeping it alive we cause ourselves pain, that pain characteristic of love affairs.
          I think that Latin Americans who are in close contact with the U.S., or who have at one point or another immigrated to the U.S., cultuvate this affair not only as a way to accept American culture as our new identity but also, strangely, as a way to participate directly in a language that plays a large part in shaping our world — a world of meanings we share, for better or for worse, with Americans. I think Spanish, in many cases, will have to write itself in English in order to survive. For our own heritage to endure, it’s imperative that we take English not as a force that is destroying our values and worldviews but as a weapon to keep our cultures alive — even though one might disagree with the ideas or styles of pioneer Nuyorican writers like Miguel Piñero or Miguel Algarín, or of Chicano writers, it is very clear that their work illustrates a key resource: we need to use English as a second Spanish.
          “Converting” to another language is something we have done before in Latin America. After the Conquest and the Spanish invasion and genocide, Indian (4) cultures learned quickly to build a hybrid culture in Spanish in order to renew and maintain their original cultures. If some of my fellow Latin American writers are now increasingly deciding to switch to English, they do so with centuries of tradition behind them. For many people it is very clear that bilingualism — practices such as Spanglish, for instance — is a way to enjoy a double happiness and a double struggle.
          Writing in both languages, or even switching over to English, is clearly a choice many writers make in order to avoid the intermediation of dominant translation. So, to use Nathaniel Tarn’s term, an “antitranslation” attitude is one of the forces that propels Latin American writers to decide to create portions of their work directly in English. I think this enormous paradigm shift, in terms of some postmodern Latin American writers’ process of identity-reinvention, is evident even in such canonical writers as Carlos Fuentes and Jorge Luis Borges, both of whom wrote important autiobiographical essays directly in English, as if they found English a better tool or strategy through which to see themselves and their work — in both cases these essays have been a cause of great controversy in Latin America, and for the most part have been considered dangerous moves by their authors.
          Those of us who have developed our identities side by side with English know unequivocally that English can, in some way at least, function as a tool to sustain Latin American literature. We are aware, in addition, that the use of English is not just a personal decision, but also appears to be, at this point, a key resource we employ merely to survive — and to counter-conquer the new postmodern order.

*
In the Latin American canonical tradition, examples of writers constructing their work in other languages are rare. One can think only of exceptional cases, such as Huidobro’s French poems or contemporary outsiders like the Brazilian Glauco Mattoso, writing some of his homosexual antipoetry directly in Spanish. It is safe to say that a consideration of the mother tongue as the “natural” medium for constructing one’s own work is one of the tenets of modern literature in Latin America (and certainly in Western Literature in general). But in the last half-century, we increasingly see writers of all genres switching their mother tongue for another language — mainly English. This is a major change, a break with the formerly fixed modern belief in the mother tongue. It is equally clear that this shift in practice, this change in viewpoint, is more a form of cultural resistance than of yielding to domination. (What major Anglo writer would dare to write his or her next book in Spanish? But the contrary happens more and more each year: the paradigm shift away from the automatic parading of texts in a forced mother tongue/translation procession is going to be led, therefore, by Third-World Postmodernism).
          I think this change, from mother tongue to the self-translation of bilingualism, which is not yet recognized at all in the Latin America mainstream, is going to have a tremendous impact in the coming decades. But before further exploring the new English-Spanish relationship, we need to take into account that this new bilingualism in Latin American contemporary writing is not exclusively an English deal. Another significant change occasioned by current postmodern adjustments and literary redefinitions on the American continent occurs in the form of a widespread boom in bilingual Indian literature. These new poets write simultaneously in their Indian language and in Spanish, and in some ways they are even programmatic about being bilingual. Thus there is elasticity and change even within the concept of literary bilingualism. For example, I think the next Neruda is writing right this moment, in Mayan and Spanish. I am talking about Humberto Ak’abal, the Guatemalan poet who writes from both Western and Indian language traditions. He translates himself from Spanish to Mayan and from Mayan to Spanish, constructing a truly dialogical discourse. This new kind of dual writer is undoubtedly going to radically modify literary paradigms in Latin America and abroad, through these kinds of self-translation methods — and yes, I did say that Ak’abal is as important as Neruda. Just wait a bit.

*
One of the great failures of Modernity, though few acknowledge it, was caused by an optimistic belief in innocent translation. Translation can’t achieve equivalence, reproduction, analogy or correspondence. Once we understand that there is no real possibility of getting two languages (two people, two cultures, two worlds) to say the same thing or have an identical effect, I think we also realize that the very failure of translation opens many new possibilities for dialogue. In this sense, we can call postmodern translation any method of linguistic interaction that no longer takes as its purpose the “faithful” rendering of another language or discourse, but rather explicitly considers as its task the radical re-invention of the original text. It is an active translation instead of a passive one.
          Examples of this renouncement of traditional translation can be found in the Total Translation theory-performance used by Jerome Rothenberg to recreate Indian poetry (isn’t it interesting that one area of ethnopoetics adapted itself to end up in projects like the fake Sumero-Akkadians Tablets by Armand Schwerner?) (5), and also in the non-verbal visual translations of Blake by the Brazilian concrete poet Augusto de Campos. Other experiments which expand the meaning of translation include: Jorge Luis Borges’ imaginary foreign quotations; Fernandinho Oviedo’s openly bizarre translations of Whitman into sonnets(!); Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s book Holy Smoke (1985), written first in English and then fifteen years later self-translated into Spanish; Steve McCaffrey’s homolinguistic translations of Gertrude Stein; or the semi-serious orientalia used by the Mexican-Peruvian novelist Mario Bellatin, who uses imaginary sources of scholarship not to make one language a vehicle for another but to make a language that functions as a delusional method of reinventing both ends of the equation. We can safely speculate that neo-translation is definitively the most interesting form of fiction currently being written. Methods such as transcreation, apocrypha, heteronomy, intertextuality, multimedia, rewriting, collage, transvestite-textual-subject, pastiche, false quotation, antitranslation, parody, appropriation and othering in general are now the elemental resources of neo-translation and the paradigms of contemporary experimental writing. The lesson is: we CAN’T translate the Other so we need to reinvent the both of us. We need to further develop this kind of re-imagining (or perhaps totally imaginary) translation. Such re-imaginings — such translations — are some of the most intriguing ways of cultivating the potential for cross-cultural dialogue.
          This sort of translation-dialogue practice, of course, can be quite dangerous culturally: we run the risk that we might deny or replace the Other with the Image of Ourselves. In imagination, the Other is not really present, that’s true — but neither are we. In re-imagining, neither object nor subject exists anymore. That’s precisely why imagination is the ideal dialogical zone of encounter.
          Every text is a pre-text. Every text must be altered in order to become what it must be. The new purpose of translation is not to make a second text which is as close as possible to the first, but to create another text which is uneven, divergent, conflictive, or even non-compatible with the first. How might we do that? In many ways: for instance, by translating ethnographical interviews into chants (translation from one genre to another, and/or recycling and re-organizing data, as Ed Sanders does in his investigative poetry), or by transforming long poems into drawings (applying re-visualization or radical typographical resources, as in Dennis Tedlock’s translations of Zuni narratives, or line re-disposal in the concrete poets’ translations of canonical authors). Other neo-translation techniques can include fragmenting the original text (and even perhaps introducing random selections of a text) and then putting it through a (possibly experimental) translation process, or using translation as part of one’s own writing, or employing hermeneutics to rewrite a rigidly “established” text (like Heidegger’s or Horst Matthai’s profound re-translations of the presocratics), adaptations like La hija de Rappaccini (Octavio Paz’s translation/reconstruction of Nathaniel Hawthorne) or Jacques and his Master, Milan Kundera’s re-imagination of Diderot. We can locate this shift in literary paradigms in the second half of the 20th Century simply in the tricky claims made by certain authors — like the Argentinean poet Alejandra Pizarnik, who presented her novella La condesa sangrienta as a translation. Isn’t it clear, then, that translation games are becoming a favorite paradigm in language play?

*

Neo-translation techniques, in any case, are linked also to a change in the way we view criticism, which is currently in the process of becoming a more delirious dialogue with its object, in what we might call fictive-criticism (crítica-ficción), the purpose of which is no longer to encourage the critic to attempt to reveal the real meanings of a text, but rather to permit her or him to recreate them freely (paralexia), conducting the original text towards its delusional meanings or secretly altering the piece of writing one analyzes — mock criticism in general — or drawing the text towards its more extreme absurdities (6).
          In recent years, I have been involved in translation-criticism experimentats involving certain types of critical fantasies in which I mix real interpretation with secret self-parody or even readers’/editors’ deliberate deceptions. I have succeeded, for example, in getting non-real “criticisms” (heteronomy) or supposed translations published in major magazines, or in simply developing concepts or applying points of view in which I don’t actually believe, systematically attributing false quotes to real authors or manipulating data, mixing unknown fictional authors in with canonical ones — in short, considering criticism, at every point, to be fictional prose. I write fictive and parodic translation-criticism (crítica-ficción) without revealing it to the readers of the books or magazines that have published those essays or pseudo-translations. In many cases my use of fiction is simply indistinguishable from my true beliefs. Even though most of the time you wouldn’t know it from reading my texts, I always write criticism from an insincere point of view, as a way to destroy the confidence and authority we give to the critic as a literary subject or a credible voice. Of course this technique has already been suggested: by some of Laura Riding’s ideas (in, for example, Anarchism is not Enough); in Borges’ analytical short stories and use of style as a mask (7); in Sévero Sarduy’s “Ahora Góngora,” a magnificent talk on Góngora written as a neo-barroque grotesque parody of hermeneutics and psychoanalysis applied to poetry; through Barthes’ position on the equivalence of criticism and literature and his exhausting theories on the Death of the Author; or in Derrida’s notions of grammatology and dissemination. This realm of post-critical dialogic space opens to us further in the confessions of authors like Lyotard and Harold Pinter: the former, when he reveals that he made up some perspectives and didn’t actually read all the documents he quoted or referenced in the now canonical pages of The Postmodern Condition, the latter when he notes that some of the (rare) oral or written explanations he has provided about his own plays have been nothing but jokes. “Take reviews as the worst case of black humor.” After the 20th century, discourse-construction cannot be taken as a serious task (8).
          Though I rarely, if ever, make my various games with criticism evident in my writings, I feel comfortable revealing these comical and fictional resources in my “serious” prose because in the U.S. nobody is going to read my other work (for instance, perhaps I am lying even here and I have actually never performed any of these tricks and experiments, but by claiming I have, I end up writing crítica-ficción after all). American readers do not care about my literary hijinx, even though in the majority of these games I refer to English-language writers, which makes my task easier thanks to the incredible ignorance about American literature in Mexico: it’s pretty easy to invent American writers and references, or alter people’s writing subtly, or even radically, without anyone’s paying particular notice. This is also a part of a larger project I am developing, which involves building communication between our two cultures through imaginary entities and lies. I don’t want to provide too many details of my fictive criticism and neo-translation projects, but I can simply say that my work is part of a diálogo diablo (to use Groussac’s image) on the periphery of Latin America, a devilish dialogue or diabolical dialogue, a sort of wanna-be experimental cross-cultural setup which I feel can accomplish much more than more serious academic approaches. In many ways, the most significant aspects of my literary career depend on a mutual lack of interest and intercommunication between the literary scenes on both sides of the Colorado River. If, therefore, an American reader were to tell my Mexican editors and literary acquaintances that I have lied to them on certain occasions, I would be ruined and would have to go back to a boring life of only telling the truth.
          Literary dialogue between Mexico and the U.S. is so reduced that I am certain no reader or editor in Mexico will read these confessions I am making in English. (This is an example, once again, of how English can often be a better medium for Spanish-language writers — we can say in English what we cannot say in our native tongue).
          In addition to the fact that I love private jokes (my favorite form of dialogue), another reason I choose not to go public with my fictive criticism techniques is my suspicion that if I do I might inspire other people, as well, to use my techniques in a systematic way, and I would hate that. As Quiroga said, “Telling the truth is never amusing.” Openly telling readers that I am playing with them and myself would mean taking all the fun out of my stupid anti-discourse antics.
          Well, to tell you the truth, I am lying again. I have never played such childish literary games. But I intend to do so as soon as I can.

*
A fictional dialogic strategy is useful for more than just criticism and translation. I have also used it in poetry. My first book of poems was designed to represent a “case” of Mexican “border” poetry. One day I simply sat down and designed a plan piloto (9) for a poetry book which could be read as representing that notion, as constructed in the Mexican literary imaginary. Thus I wrote a series of poems on urban violence, border images of despair, ethnopoetic experiments with Borders Indians, and translations from English; I also included photos of visual poems I hung on Tijuana streets, a rewriting of the Mayan Book of the Dead and even a kind of manifesto for a new type of poetry I am ostensibly “defending” within the circus of new Mexican contemporary literature. (I even gave it a name, “norteado” poetry, poetry both lost and disoriented, and at the same time Northern (or Northified), close to American Literature and to Mexican Northern popular culture). Of course, I do not actually identify myself as a text-producer within the style I used (forged) in that book, or the others I have designed as experiments in constructing literary styles, tendencies or subjective poetics. I have always written from within the knowledge that I am just a liar (an obsessive-compulsive graphomaniac) who acts as if his books were a faithful rendering of his true literary tastes or ideas. I don’t, in fact, think such rendering is possible. There is no longer any potential for seriousness in language. I have chosen to speak for (as) others, playing roles for them, leading them to portray an “original” and “true” position only to leave them behind for my next mask. I must confess, again, that I do not believe even one word of my own work.
          From “my” poems to “my” essays, none of my words/permutations/practices has anything to do with my real beliefs. (Do I have such things as real beliefs?) My poems and my short stories are nothing but calculated and insincere discourse games designed to enact secret interplay with other discourses, so I might establish a parody of literary dialogue based on fulfilling or undermining certain stereotypical expectations, performing a kind of role-playing as an author within a specific culture (in this case, the Mexican “Republic of Letters”). In each book I take myself as a character: “Urban Experimental Poet,” “Polemical Anti-Mexico City Young Critic,” “Translator and Interpreter of American Counterpoetics,” “Short Story Teller of Border Lives,” and in this essay for Chain, “Mexican Writer Sympathetic to Postmodernism Telling Us (U.S.) the Real Truth Behind his Lies.” (It goes without saying that I am now lying, but to tell you the truth I do believe I am part of a larger socio-cultural phenomenon called the Norteado Generation, and yes, it’s true, most of the ideas I write are ones I feel, like or believe. Sorry. Most of the time I write what I find natural — oh, such a beautiful, comforting, concept, “what I find natural.” (10) I apologize, again, for being such a liar.)
          All this role-playing is utterly nihilistic and boring, I know, but I truly believe there is currently no other alternative. I think that in the future, writing — post-everything writing — is going to move in a direction where we consider our position as author as nothing more than a humoristic fictitious entity, no more real than a character in a novel. You can’t give any credit to a writer. He is nobody. She is just a player. Our books are never a personal account of anything, nor are they a trustworthy intellectual autobiography. A book is a fiction in every conceivable aspect. Dialogue around poetic language can only really begin when we admit to and further radicalize our role-playing as designers of discourses who are ourselves invented by our texts, as much as we are inventors of them.
          What is a writer who still clings to the notion of using his work as a means to represent his true intentions? — somebody still trapped in that primitive and naïve period of humanity called Modernity.
          Poor little fellow.



Translated by Heriberto Yépez and slicked down by Jen Hofer

(1) “American” here refers specifically to the United States, though the term should technically reference the American continent in general; this mistranslation is especially noteworthy in a text written by an American, translated by an American and edited by an American for an American audience. (Typist’s note)
(2) La Malinche: also known as La Chingada, The Fucked One. A traitor to her race, cultural whore. Sought to save indigenous peoples from slaughter during conquest by becoming lovers with Hernán Cortés. Blamed, therefore, for the penetration of the Spanish into indigenous Mexican lands, and credited or discredited with the beginnings of mestizaje. (Editor’s note)
(3) For many Latin Americans English, like poetry, has become a more private and especial language, different from the one we use daily in public life (in our case Spanish). When I am alone or walking in the streets, for example, I talk to myself in English, as I do in footnotes. (Author’s note)
(4) “Indian” here is a literal translation (hence a mistranslation) of the term Indio/India, used to refer to indigenous peoples in Mexico and Latin America. (Typist’s note)
(5) The Schwerner case curiously has a Latin American link: Schwerner’s character of “scholar-translator” (who is both serious and weird) was partially inspired by Julio Cortázar’s “Morelli,” a character who represents a metalinguistic voice in Rayuela, Cortázar’s most important novel — it’s worth mentioning that Cortázar’s character was inspired by the figure of Borges. So the Tablets are a part of a secret web of relationships embedded in the postmodern idea of the writer-translator. Curiously, Schwerner misspelled Cortázar’s name, using an “s” instead of a “z,” a mistake that in my opinion cannot be taken as a mere lapsus calami: let’s remember José Lezama Lima’s famous mistranslations and misspellings of foreign author’s names and references. I think we should reevaluate this “fantasy orthography” (as Cortázar coined it) as another intriguing case of postmodern transcreation. (Critic’s note)
(6) In Spanish, the term crítica-ficción resembles the expression for “Science Fiction,” ciencia ficción, which also brings to mind (well, to the informed mind) a famous error made by a major Mexican translator, on the cover of his translation into Spanish of a selection of writings on science fiction by Ray Bradbury: by mistake he titled his text Sobre la crítica ficción instead of Sobre la ciencia ficción. Obviously in English the sound similarities, semantic resonance and cultural references ricocheting between the two terms get lost when we translate “Crítica-Ficción” as “Fictive Criticism,” an expression, we must confess, of which the author of this essay disapproved, as he considers it too long and noisy. (Translator’s note).
(7) Borges was the first postmodern writer to fully understand that every name must be put in quotation marks. Borges knew that in order to make a final parody of classical literature, he needed to construct an image called “Borges” through the emphatic use of a certain style as well as recognizable and personal themes. He was the last exquisite, as Cioran declared him. “Borges” made himself into an elegant and almost clandestine parody of the Modern [European] Writer. Borges knew that through a series of writings a discourse-designer becomes a character, even though he is really nadie. (Critic’s note)
(8) I want to point out that a recurrent resource of crítica-ficción is the use of footnotes as a key instrument in achieving credibility or committing parody of the academic style and its scientific desires. Of course one cannot forget here the adventurous ideas laid out by Paul Feyerabend, on using insincere criticism to cause science to lose all the credibility it gained during Modernity. From Borges to Bellatin, the use of tricky footnotes is an essential aspect of fraudulent cultural translation practices. (Translator’s note)
(9) A pilot plan or template. (Editor’s note)
(10) Natural?! C’mon! What’s wrong with you? I think you’re going insane up there, man. “Natural”? You said natural?! You’re crazy, nothing corresponds to “natural.” Charles Bernstein has an interesting quote on this issue. I hope you find it soon, brother, and put it down here. Quotes like that always help to keep the good reputation of footnotes alive. (Translator’s note to the author).

21.10.06

A TEN STEP PROGRAM...

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* Originally published in Crayon (2004)





A TEN STEP PROGRAM (OR A USER’S GUIDE)
ON HOW | MEXICANS AND | AMERICANS |
CAN KNOW | THEY HAVE | A BODY


1
(A phone call).
Receiving a Phone Call
(Long Distance Phone Call).
A phone call with no bodies
(Just the Long Distance Sound).
A phone call made on the subject
Of the arrival of the American Body.
A phone call made by the Mexican President
indicating to Castro
                    (the Cuban Horse)
Indicating to him (Fidel) he has to leave our country (our body), when the American Body, The American President (the Son) arrives into our land | enters into our flesh. (Castro has to leave). He has to leave his place so another body can take it. He had to leave so the other body, the American one (the Son) could enter into our body, our sexual body, the political one.



2
Remembering we have | A Body |
by way of LDS
(Language
Discomfort
Syndrome).
Remembering
The way the body feels
When the mind
And the voice
Switch
From one language to another.

The way it’s going to feel when we
(“The Mexicans”)
switch into English.
The way our mind and body
Become
Disconnected when such a Language Event
Happens
(to us).




3

Applying torture.
That’s an easy way
to find out
others do have
(a discourse on) pain.
Applying torture
Or
Declaring war to the body
Of the Other
(The Afghan | The Zapatista)
Destroying another body
That’s a good way
To find out
We may have a body too.
A discourse.



4
Being a woman.
Moving to Juárez.
(Traffic).
Moving to Juárez.
Being a woman.
Getting a job in a maquiladora
(Ford | Samsung | Matsuchita | Qualcom)
Moving to Juárez.
Getting a job in a maquiladora.
Being a woman.
Getting rapped
by a serial killer
or a death squad.
Copy cat. Quote.
(800 women have felt that
in the last 10 years
In Juárez)
Becoming a body.
And then being found
in an empty lot
in the outskirts of the city
with a torn T-Shirt
that says:
“California.
The Golden State”.



5
Feeling stressed.
Experiencing our body
Thanks
To the Sickness
The New World Order
Gave US:
              Stress.



6
Going to Tijuana.
Because Tijuana is
(according to The Simpsons)
The happiest place on Earth.
And it is the maquiladora town
Where 75 five per cent
Of all television sets
Are produced.
                    It is also the most crossed border in the world, and the place where thousands of Americans, hang out every weekend, the place where:
a) They have Fun
b) Feel beautiful and loved
and C) In control.

(Mexico is the place where Americans feel they really are
“Americans”).




7
Using
Language exchange rates
(Body Surplus)
Violence is the American Way (A quote)
Violence is the American Way (A quote)
And we cannot help but to be Americans in that sense.

We are all Americans now
(even the French).




8
Being a man.
Moving to the border.
Finding a pollero.
Waiting for the right moment
to illegally cross.
No helicopters around.
No trucks.
Walking.
Hating the sun.
Being a man.
Moving to the border.
Finding a pollero.
Walking [to what’s called the Other Side].
And then, getting beaten
by some American I.N.S. Agent
Who needs to feel his body
as the body of a Real Man.




9

Fearing
Another attack.
That’s too
Another step
To remember
We still have
A body

Left.




10
(The pleasure).
(Through the pleasure)
The pleasure of uploading
into the Internet
Uploading
Without our bodies
(The Relief)
The relief of entering
                    Cyberspace
(The Final
                    Common Place)
Uploading ourselves
into the Internet
Without our bodies.
Our bodies that hurt so much
And viewing
And buying
With credit cards the image
(just the image)
(of the bodies)
(of the bodies of the others).

Restrictions apply.

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