This is a collection of essays, stories poems, photos, diagrams, and more, all thrown together, creating a hodgepodge that has the effect of an exquisite collage. For example, within one essay alone, Julios in Action, he goes from musing about the various Jules that have influenced him Jules LaForgue, Vernes, etc. By reading any text of popular science we quickly regain the sense of the absurd, but this time it is a sentiment that can be held in our hands, born of tangible, demonstrable, almost consoling things. We no longer believe because it is absurd: it is absurd because we must believe. This eventually leads us into rather academically philosophical territory: A clear sense of the absurd situates us better or more lucidly than the post-Kantian assurance that phenomena are mediators of an inaccessible reality that will somehow assure them at least a year of stability.
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Hopscotch Oh, Maga, whenever I saw a woman who looked like you a clear sharp pause would close in like a deafening silence, collapsing like a wet umbrella being closed. Too late, always too late, because even though we made love so many times, happiness must have been something else, something sadder perhaps than this peace, this pleasure, a mood of unicorn or island, an endless fall in immobility.
Thus they went along, Punch and Judy, attracting each other and repelling, as love must do if it is not to end up as calendar art or a pop tune. But love, that word Music that can be translated into emotion is one thing, but emotion which pretends to pass as music is another.
Happiness cannot be explained, Lucia, probably because it is the ultimate moment of the veil of Maya. Why have we had to invent Eden, to live submerged in the nostalgia of a lost paradise, to make up utopias, propose a future for ourselves? Being alive always seems to be the price of something. To know that he was in love with La Maga was neither a defeat nor any sort of fixation in any outdated order of things; a love that could do without its object, that could find its nourishment in nothingness, that could be totaled up and come out as other strengths, defining them and bringing them together into an impulse that one day would destroy that visceral contentment of a body stuffed with beer and fried potatoes.
And things like that, and bitter mate. In what is apparently perfect freedom, not having to render accounts to anyone, leaving the game, leaving the crossroads and following any one of the roads put there by circumstance, proclaiming it to be the necessary one or the only one. La Maga was one of those roads, literature was another burn the notebook at once, even if Getrepten wu-rr-inggs her hands , laziness was something else, and meditation on the sovereign kicking on the bucket was something else.
Talita slid up on the bed a little and leaned against Traveler. She knew that she was by his side again, that she had not drowned, that he was there holding her up on the surface of the water and that actually there was a pity, a marvelous pity.
They both felt it at the same moment, and they slid towards each other as if to fall into themselves, into the common earth where words and caresses and mouths enfolded them as a circumference does a circle, those tranquilizing metaphors, that old sadness satisfied with going back to being the same as always, with continuing, keeping afloat against wind and tide, against call and fall.
Maybe there is a millenary kingdom, but if we ever reach it, if we are it, it probably will not be called that anymore. In some corner, a vestige of the forgotten kingdom.
In some violent death, the punishment for having remembered the kingdom. In some laugh, in some tear, the survival of the kingdom. Beneath it all, one does not feel that man will end up killing man. He will escape from it, he will grasp the rudder of the electronic machine, the astral rocket, he will trip up and then they can set a dog on him. Everything can be killed except nostalgia for the kingdom, we carry it in the color of our eyes, in every love affair, in everything that deeply torments and unties and tricks.
Wishful thinking, perhaps; but that is just another possible definition of the featherless biped. The intimacy of the Travelers. Intimacy, what a word, it makes you want to stick the fateful wh in front of it.
When we were young, in a cafe, how many times did the illusion of identity with our companions make us happy. Identity with men and woman of whom we scarcely knew one shape of being, a shape of giving in, a profile. I remember with timeless clarity the cafes in Buenos Aires where for several hours we would succeed in getting away from family and obligations, where we would enter a territory of smoke and confidence in ourselves and in our friends, where we would accede to something that comforted us in our precarious state, which promised us a kind of immortality.
The cafe a little heaven, cielito lindo. Afterwards the street was like an expulsion, always, the angel with the flaming sword directing traffic on Corrientes and San Martin.
Why is it so necessary at certain times to say: "I loved that"? I loved some blues, an image in the street, a poor dry river in the north. Giving testimony, fighting against the nothingness that will sweep us all away. If you thought about everything that changes as soon as you leave the edge of the sidewalk and take three steps into the street I never took you to have Madame Leonie read your palm, probably because I was afraid that she would read some truth about me in your hand, because you have always been a frightful mirror, a monstrous instrument of repetitions, and what we have called loving was perhaps my standing in front of you holding a yellow flower while you held two green candles and a slow rain of renunciations and farewells and Metro tickets blew in our faces.
Only Oliviera knew that La Maga was always reaching those great timeless plateaus that they were all seeking through dialectics. What is there to do? Oblomov, cosa facciamo? The great voices of History stir us to action: revenge, Hamlet! Shall we avenge ourselves, Hamlet, or settle for Chippendale, slippers, and a good fire? The Syrian, after all, made the scandalous choice of Martha, as is well known. Will you give battle, Arjuna?
You cannot deny values, reluctant king. Happy are those who choose, those who accept being chosen, the handsome heroes, the handsome saints, the perfect escapists.
And it stayed down there in the grass, small and black, like some trampled insect. And it did not move, none of its springs popped out as once before. Oh Maga, and still we were not satisfied. How was I to have suspected that what seemed to be a pack of lies was all true, a Figari with sunset violets, with livid faces, with hunger and blows in the corners. I came to believe you later on, later on there was reason to, there was Madame Leonie, who looked at my hand which had gone to bed with your breasts, and she practically repeated your exact words: "She is suffering somewhere.
She has always suffered. She is very gay, she adores yellow, her bird is the blackbird, her time is night, her bridge is Pont des Arts. We had barely come to know each other when life began to plot everything necessary for us to stop meeting little by little. It was about time that I realized that searching was my symbol, the emblem of those who go out at night with nothing in mind, the motives of a destroyer of compasses. I could never resist the urge to call her over to me, to have her fall on top of me, unfold again after having been so alone and so in love for a moment, face to face with the eternity of her body.
But no, what really exasperated me was knowing that I would never again be so close to my freedom as in those days in which I felt myself hemmed in by the Maga world, and that my anxiety to escape was an admission of defeat. It grieved me to recognize that with artificial blows, with Manichaean beams of light, or desiccated, stupid dichotomies I could not make my way up the steps of the Gare de Montparnasse where La Maga had dragged me to visit Rocamadour. Maybe one had to fall into the depths of stupidity in order to make the key fit the lock to the latrine or to the Garden of Olives.
Happy was she who could believe without seeing, who was at one with the duration and continuity of life. Happy was she who was in the room, who had the freedom of the city in everything she touched or came in contact with, a fish swimming downstream, a leaf on a tree, a cloud in the sky, an image in a poem. There are metaphysical rivers, she swims in them like that swallow swimming in the air, spinning madly around a belfry, letting herself drop so that she can rise up all the better with the swoop.
I describe and define and desire those rivers, but she swims in them. I look for them, find them, observe them from the bridge, but she swims in them. Going out, doing things, bringing up to date were not ideas calculated to help him get to sleep. To bring up to date: what an expression. To do. To do something, to do good, to make water, to make time, action in all of its possibilities. But behind all action there was a protest, because all doing meant leaving from in order to arrive at, or moving something so that it would be here and not there, or going into a house instead of not going in or instead of going into the one next door; in other words, every act entailed the admission of a lack, of something not yet done and which could have been done, the tacit protest in the face of continuous evidence of a lack, of a reduction, of the inadequacy of the present moment.
To believe that action could crown something, or that the sum total of actions could really be a life worthy of the name was the illusion of a moralist. It was better to withdraw, because withdrawal from action was protest itself and not its mask.
Oliviera liked to make love to La Maga because there was nothing more important to her and at the same time, in a way hard to understand, she was in a sense dependent on his pleasure, she would reach him for a moment and would therefore cling desperately and prolong it.
It was as if she had awakened and recognized her real name, and then she would fall back into that always somewhat twilight zone which enchanted Oliviera, fearful of perfection, but La Maga really did suffer when she returned to her memories and to everything that in some obscure way she had to think about but could not.
Then he would have to kiss her deeply, incite her to new play, and the other woman, the reconciled one, would grow beneath him and pull him down, and she would surrender them like a frantic animal, her eyes lost, her hands twisted inward, mythical and terrible, like a statue rolling down a mountainside, clutching time with her nails, with a gurgling sound and a moaning growl that lasted interminably. One night she sank her teeth into him, bit him in the shoulder until blood came, because he had fallen to one side, a little forgetful already, and there was a confused and wordless pact.
Oliveira felt that La Maga wanted death from him, something in her which was not her awakened self, a dark form demanding annihilation, the slow wound which on its back breaks the stars at night and gives space back to questions and terrors. Only that time, off center like a mythical matador for whom killing is returning the bull to the sea and the sea to the heavens, he bothered La Maga in a long night which they did not speak much about later.
He felt a sort of hateful tenderness, something so contradictory that it must have been truth itself. Being alone is basically being alone on a certain level in which other lonelinesses could communicate with us if that were the case. Edgar Allan Poe on a stretcher, Verlaine in the hands of a sawbones, Nerval and Artaud facing psychiatrists. What could that Italian Galen have known about Keats as he bled him and helped him die of hunger?
If men like them are silent, as is most likely, the others will triumph blindly, without evil intent, of course, without knowing that the consumptive over there, that injured man lying naked on that bed, are doubly alone, surrounded by beings who move about as if behind a glass, from a different place in time How much better, then, to make a pact with cats and mosses, strike up friendship right away with hoarse-voiced concierges, with the pale and suffering creatures who wait in windows and toy with a dry branch.
No, but thinking about it frankly, the most absurd thing about these lives we pretend to lead are the false contacts in them. And all the same one lives convinced his friends are there, that contact does exist, that agreements or disagreements are profound and lasting. How we all hate each other, without being aware that endearment is the current form of that hatred, and how the reason behind profound hatred is this excentration, the unbridgeable space between me and you, between this and that.
And why this mania for spiritual possession, Horacio? Why this nostalgia for annexations, you, who have just broken your moorings, just sown confusion and despair perhaps I should have spent a little more time in Montevideo and done a better job of searching in the illustrious capital of the Latin spirit? Why am I writing this? I have no clear ideas, I do not even have ideas.
There are tugs, impulses, blocks, and everything is looking for a form, then rhythm comes into play and I write within that rhythm, I write by it, moved by it and not by that thing they call thought and which turns out prose, literature, or what have you.
First there is a confused situation, which can only be defined by words; I start out from this half-shadow and if what I mean if what is meant has sufficient strength, the swing begins at once, a rhythmic swaying that draws me to the surface, lights everything up, conjugates this confused material and the one who suffers it into a clear third somehow fateful level: sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, book.
This swaying, this swing in which confused material goes about taking shape, is for me the only certainty of its necessity, because no sooner does it stop than I understand that I no longer have anything to say. And it is also the only reward for my work: to feel that what I have written is like the back of a cat as it is being petted, with sparks and an arching in cadence.
In that way by writing I go down into the volcano, I approach the Mothers, I connect with the Center--whatever it may be. On top of physical pain like a metaphysical pinprick, writing abounds.
All pain attacks me with a double-edged sword: it makes me aware as never before of the divorce between my ego and my body and its falseness, its consoling invention and at the same time it brings my body close to me, dresses me in it as pain.
I feel it to be more mine than pleasure or mere coenesthesis. It is really a bond. Individuals like Goethe must not have abounded in experiences of this kind. By aptitude or decision genius lies in choosing to be a genius and in being right they have their pesudopods stuck out as far as they will go in all directions.
Around the Day in Eighty Worlds by Julio Cortázar (1986, Hardcover)
The home in Banfield, with its back yard, was a source of inspiration for some of his stories. He would later pursue higher education in philosophy and languages at the University of Buenos Aires , but left for financial reasons without receiving a degree. In , using the pseudonym of Julio Denis, he self-published a volume of sonnets , Presencia,  which he later repudiated, saying in a interview for Spanish television that publishing it was his only transgression to the principle of not publishing any books until he was convinced that what was written in them was what he meant to say. He wrote most of his major works in Paris or in Saignon in the south of France, where he also maintained a home. He later married Canadian writer Carol Dunlop.
Around the day in eighty worlds
Around the Day in Eighty Worlds
AROUND THE DAY IN EIGHTY WORLDS