Lacan, Orwell, and the Illusion of the Big Br-Other

1984-John-HurtIt is perhaps redundant and obvious to say, with the hindsight of the 20th century, that Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, turned out to be quiete exact and uncannily accurate: a judgment so obvious and redundant that it was assimilated in our collective literary imagination as something “given.” Continue reading

Canetti and the Auto-da-fé of the Modern Reader

auto de feCanetti’s “Auto da fé” was an excruciating reading, a literally painful experience from beginning to end. Rewarding, for sure, but disturbing nevertheless and deeply unsettling. I have always believed in the right of a reader to simply toss a book away if the narrative would simply not get a grip on him.

In the case of Canetti’s novel, I had to resort to a form of unconscious trust in the perspicacity of the author. Like many readers, I came to know Canetti first and foremost through his opus magnus “Crowds and Power.” I had no expectations to find in the novel any diluted version of the sociological/political theories to which Canetti owes most of his fame, but I was somehow confident to find the same voice, the same insightful gaze. Instead, from the very inception of the novel, I was placed in the midst of a very dry and aseptic narrative landscape, where a man and a boy are engaged in an unusual conversation: Continue reading


340x340x100-anos-soledad11.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.qY0ExExh3L1I was lying in bed in a warm night of August when I turned the last page of Marquez’s One hundred years of solitude. The end of the novel, as all its readers know, is the end of an entire world. Literally.

I found myself wondering about what arcane reason had kept me away from that book until the age of thirty-five. That was my first thought. Why not sooner? And for the first time I could see my thoughts in the past, during my high school time, growing magically different, softer, more apt to conceive the magic of life and death beyond the philosophical constraints of understanding, of the search for a meaning. I remembered my nights with Dostoyevsky and his devils, the exhausting conversations with Kirillov, Myskin, Stavrogin, Ivan and Aleosa Karamazov. I recalled the decadent and languid art of Dorian Grey and Des Esseintes and how they taught me to paradoxically despise any excess of wealth. I recollect the shadows, the smells, and the smoky rooms of Paris traversed by an unfathomable spleen. And right there, in the midst of my vision of the dying cities which set up the architecture of my imagination for so long, right there I wished I could find a place for Macondo. Continue reading

Kurtz and the Silence of the Horror

Annex-Brando-Marlon-Apocalypse-Now_16-e1418881299292The echo of Kurtz’s final words resonates clearer and louder than ever. The horror. The horror. The last whispers of the charismatic and ruthless leader are the seal over the experience of the absurd violence ruling human existence. The horror is not the fear of a guilty consciousness, nor the cry of an agonizing body, but the final enlightenment of a man who lived beyond the customs of an ordinary society and made a king of himself in the midst of the jungle. What horror? Is it the colonization and transformation of the jungle into a profitable land? The slaughter of animals for the decoration of imperialist wealthy houses in the old continent? The annihilation of a “savage” culture in the name of civilization? Perhaps. Continue reading