Per my annual habit of reading Spanish masters in México, I’m indulging in another Archipelago Books offering of Julio Cortázar, his early-but-posthumously-published Diary of Andrés Fava. The translation by Anne McLean is smooth, witty, obscure where it needs to be, and altogether delightful. Here’s an example—Cortázar’s take on those writers who whine about the limitations of Language (always with a capital L, because after all they are using words to whine with):
They say—and one smiles—“Language keeps me from expressing what I think, what I feel.” It would be truer to say: “What I think, what I feel, keeps me from getting to language.” Between my thinking and me, language raises objections? No. It’s my thinking that comes between my language and me.
Therefore there is no other way out except to hoist language up until it reaches total autonomy. In great poets, the words don’t carry the thought along with them; they are the thought. Which, of course, is no longer thought but Word.
This puts me in mind of so many avant-gardists, creepy little ironists filling page after page with (literally) uncreative writing, thinking they are somehow performing a service when they are merely typing—or not even typing, but cutting-and-pasting, assembling whatever their web-crawling bots have brought them. The mechanistic idiocy of OULIPO and Flarf (is there still Flarf? or is it not blessedly, finally dead?) and their various progeny born with that Benjamin Button disease. Elitist culture in the throes of its 19th nervous breakdown….