To be Read in the Interrogative

By Julio Cortazar

Have you seen,
have you truly seen
the snow, the stars, the felt steps of the breeze…
Have you touched,
have you really touched
the plate, the bread, the face of that woman you love so much…
Have you lived
like a blow to the head,
the flash, the gasp, the fall, the flight…
Have you known,
known in every pore of your skin,
how your eyes, your hands, your sex, your soft heart,
must be thrown away
must be wept away
must be invented all over again.
Julio Cortazar


Instructions on How to Wind a Watch

By Julio Cortazar

Death stands there in the background, but don’t be afraid. Hold the watch down with one hand, take the stem in two fingers, and rotate it smoothly. Now another installment of time opens, trees spread their leaves, boats run races, like a fan time continues filling with itself, and from that burgeon the air, the breezes of earth, the shadow of a woman, the sweet smell of bread.

What did you expect, what more do you want? Quickly. strap it to your wrist, let it tick away in freedom, imitate it greedily. Fear will rust all the rubies, everything that could happen to it and was forgotten is about to corrode the watch’s veins, cankering the cold blood and its tiny rubies. And death is there in  the background, we must run to arrive beforehand and understand it’s already unimportant.

Graciela Iturbide4

Graciela Iturbide

 

 


Formas Continuas

Formas Continuas, Enio Iommi. 1948.

Formas Continuas, Enio Iommi. 1948.


Faint Taste of Salt

An extract from From the Observatory by Julio Cortazar:

…amor de siesta o duermevela, entreviendo en esa mancha clara la puerta que se abre a la terraza, en una ráfaga verde la blusa que te quitaste para darme la leve sal que tiembla en tus senos.

English translation:

…holding you in my arms, siesta love or half asleep, glimpsing in that patch of light through the door that opens onto the terrace, in a green gust the blouse you took off to give me the faint taste of salt trembling on your breasts


Instructions on How to Cry

From Julio Cortázar’s Cronopios and Famas (1962), translated by Paul Blackburn, we bring you Instructions on How to Cry:

Putting the reasons for crying aside for the moment, we might concentrate on the correct way to cry, which, be it understood, means a weeping that doesn’t turn into a big commotion nor proves an affront to the smile with its parallel and dull similarity. The average, everyday weeping consists of a general contraction of the face and a spasmodic sound accompanied by tears and mucus, this last toward the end, since the cry ends at the point when one energetically blows one’s nose.

In order to cry, steer the imagination toward yourself, and if this proves impossible owing to having contacted the habit of believing in the exterior world, think of a duck covered with ants or of those gulfs in the Strait of Magellan into which no one sails ever.

Coming to the weeping itself, cover the face decorously, using both hands, palms inward. Children are to cry with the sleeve of the dress or shirt pressed against the face, preferably in a corner of the room. Average duration of the cry, three minutes.


Sueños/Dreams

From 1948-1951 German-born Argentinian photographer Grete Stern was commissioned to create photo-montages for an Argentinian romance magazine called Idilio. On the basis of descriptions sent in by its female readership she visualised 143 dreams for the series “Psychoanalysis Will Help You“, working in close collaboration with the sociologist and psychoanalyst Gani Germani, who directly advised her on how to depict certain dreams in a Freudian way. Stern had less than a week for each collage, drawing on her archive of landscape photography and using relatives and friends as models. Germani would then refer directly to the collage when analysing the dreams in the magazine.

Stern often presents family as a deathly, alienating force completely inverting its traditional role. Men invariably appear menacing, be it as a direct physical threat in form of a monstrous macho with a tortoise head or as a commodifying force, transforming the female into a usable object, as in ‘Dream 61′ where the woman is the base of a lamp which is about to be switched on by a man. And then there are the obvious, and metaphorically heavy-handed, collages where the female protagonist is trapped in a literal cage, in a corked glass vessel, or beneath a net thrown at her by her husband.

Text from The Argentina Independent

Dreams No. 1. Grete Stern. 1948.

Dream No. 61. Grete Stern. 1948.

Grete Stern  Dream No 5 Bottle cast into the sea 1949

Dream No. 5 (Bottle cast into the sea). Grete Stern. 1949.

Grete Stern – photomontage, 1949

Dreams. Grete Stern. 1949.

Grete Stern – Dream Nº 28, 1951

Dream No. 28. Grete Stern. 1951.


Sleep

A poem by Jorge Luis Borges:

Image


The Labyrinth

By Jorge Luis Borges

(Translated by Stephen Kessler)

Zeus himself could not undo the web
of stone closing around me. I have forgotten
the men I was before; I follow the hated
path of monotonous walls
that is my destiny. Severe galleries
which curve in secret circles
to the end of the years. Parapets
cracked by the days’ usury.
In the pale dust I have discerned
signs that frighten me. In the concave
evenings the air has carried a roar
toward me, or the echo of a desolate howl.
I know there is an Other in the shadows,
whose fate it is to wear out the long solitudes
which weave and unweave this Hades
and to long for my blood and devour my death.
Each of us seeks the other. If only this
were the final day of waiting.

Six Labyrinths. Joe Tilson. 1976.

Six Labyrinths. Joe Tilson. 1976.


Flying Love

by Oliverio Girondo

I don’t give a darn if women’s breasts are like magnolias or like dried figs; a complexion like a peach or like sandpaper. Importance equal to zero I give to whether they awake with a breath like an aphrodisiac or a breath like insecticide. I am perfectly capable of bearing a nose that would take first prize at a carrot show; but one thing is for sure! And this is irreducible. Under no pretext whatsoever will I forgive them for not knowing how to fly. Any one of them who doesn’t know how to fly is wasting her time trying to seduce me!

This was – and none other – the reason that I fell in love, so madly, with María Luisa.

What did I care about her lips in installments and her sulfurous jealousies? What did I care about her web-footed extremities and her looks that withheld judgment?

María Luisa was truly light as a feather!

From daybreak on, she flew from the bedroom to the kitchen, from the dining room to the pantry. Flying she prepared my bath, my shirt. Flying she did her shopping, her chores…

With what impatience I waited for her to return, flying, from some outing in the surroundings! There far off, lost in the clouds, a little pink dot. “María Luisa! María Luisa!…and in a few seconds, she was there embracing me with her feather-like legs, to carry me, flying, to anyplace at all.

For kilometers in silence we soared on a caress that brought us close to paradise; for hours on end we nested in a cloud, like two angels, and then suddenly, in a loop-the-loop, on a dead leaf, the forced landing of a spasm.

How delightful to have a woman so light…even if she makes us, from time to time, see stars! How voluptuous to pass the days among the clouds…to pass the night on a single flight!

After knowing an ethereal woman, can an earthly woman render us any sort of attraction? Isn’t it true that there is no substantial difference between living with a cow or with a woman who has her buttocks seventy-eight centimeters off the ground?

I, at least, am incapable of understanding the seduction of a pedestrian woman, and no matter how much effort I put into conceiving of it, it is not possible for me to even imagine that love can be made any other way but flying.