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Jorge Luis Borges said that while Mexicans descended from the Aztecs, and Peruvians from the Incas, the Argentines descended from boats. That connection, closer to the old world than the new, has often set Argentines apart culturally from other Latin Americans. Born in Brussels in , he grew up in Argentina but moved to Paris in , where he wrote most of his notable work and where he died.
He liked holes, lacunae, places without place, alternative ways of entering into the text. A man discovers that by thinking of his aunt when he attends concerts he wreaks havoc on the musicians: violin strings break, the piano top falls with a crash, the lights go out in the auditorium.
With this newly discovered power he travels the world, blackmailing famous musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, and Pablo Casals. Since he must be in the concert hall to inflict his damage, the narrator is forced to fly from city to city and country to country to maintain his racket, pressuring with interruptions and disasters at performances those hesitant to believe in his power.
One of the natives sticks a knife into it and the structure collapses, causing chaos when the terrified people try to escape amidst the cursing of the priests.
The title can be read two ways: how faith and religion take place in the Third World, but also as an instruction to have faith in the Third World, whose inhabitants can dispel and destroy the myths of the colonizers with the least of their gestures. This is real liberation theology, or, better, the experience of being liberated from theology.
The three new accounts of cronopios are snapshots of these innocent, often unlucky, travelers through the world. Here is another brief allegory on the powerful and the powerless. The first meeting is between the illustrious author and a nine-year-old shoeshine boy who presents the paradox, or rather paradigm, of the bright child with no opportunity for school. But the second half of the essay shifts to a sharper lens, not so much on Cuba itself but how the world saw—sees—it.
Patria de lejos, mapa, mapa de nunca. Homeland from afar, map, map of never. Because yesterday is never And tomorrow tomorrow.
All translations from the Spanish by Jay Miskowiec.
Papeles Inesperados by Cortázar Julio
ISBN 13: 9789870412472