Apr 25, 2011

A Mini Intro to Macedonio Fernandez

A wind beaten hermit-philosopher, some kind of dashing matinée conjurer, an aged troubadour whose spindle fingers grip his guitar close to his hollowing suit: it is difficult not to picture the life of Macedonio Fernández (1874-1952) driven by a mythological narrative.

And many who write about Macdenio nowadays believe his contemporaries willed it so.

Somewhat older than the writers of the early twentieth-century Argentine avant-garde - to which Macedonio became attached as a "permanent newcomer" - his unconventional lifestlye, his stimulating ideas and his disregard for recognition (Borges said that when changing lodgings, Macedonio simply left his piles of litererary and metaphysical writings behind) provided this keen generation of artists with a stock of anecdotes and a persona with which to endow the nascent Argentine literature with a mythical anchor.

I don't know if Macedonio ever mentioned brevity, but all of his work is fragmentary and experimental, and happily defies categorisation. For this reason, it is easy to see why Macedonio is considered a precursor to the minifiction that would come later, while giving writers of minifiction a mythological figure of their own.

***

    The She-without-shadow

    An accusation of having had a moment of bad thought towards the other, the fleetingest desire for bad, or forgetting for your own convenience, will cause Her to leave. But her shadow stain remains on the floor.
    The She-without-shadow.
    He, alone.
    In the chapter “how to erase the shadow” the friends start arriving, and he asks each one of them for the best way to extinguish the shadow, which has turned out to be indelible; everyone tried to get rid of it but nobody could.
    Until the chapter “Fortune had it that my foolish attempt to erase the shadow was impossible” starts. Then he burdens himself with problems regarding his duties, conduct towards that shadow.
    Meanwhile, the problem (for others, not for Her) of her walking without a shadow. Losing it was a deliberate act, leaving it there to obsess him, to raise him to a man whose only thought is the thinking on what this shadow is lacking; and her certainty that her shadow and his love will be hers again.



***

    Headline for drama

    In the silkasian village of Delitum, the girl Kina was startled by a mouse approaching the frying pan, and her first reaction was to throw a twig at it that she happened to have in her hand, very difficult to aim as a projectile, but which nevertheless struck the head of the mouse, which keeled over. In the meantime, in Rome, in the time between which Kina saw the mouse and struck it, Cassius’ dagger sunk into Caesar the second time. So as you can see, great successes were not only achieved in Rome.

***

    Symbols

    Symbol for the mystic innocence of living: Mother who on the threshold of her rural cottage looking and awaiting the arrival of her children at supper time cuts thick bread while balancing it on her belly, within which she already gave them their first nourishment.
    Mother always exactly herself; mysterious destiny accepted. Why? Why?

    Symbol for hardness or incomprehension or unaffection: wounding the yerba maté pressed into a portion, cracking it with blows from a hammer and chisel that destroy its perfumed and delicate soul.

    Universal static-structural symbol for pain: The curve of the human back.

    Dynamic symbol for pain and worldly concerns: The father’s inclined bust over a bowl of soup, sucked up without a word, without lifting his head until finished; who after today’s fatigue eats the soup, that’s to say the worldly life for tomorrow, tame delicacy in the gentleness of continued living.

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