The Salty Tears of a Roach

The Passion According to G.H. (1964) is a disturbing and shocking novel by Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Set in Rio de Janeiro, it tells the story of a wealthy woman, G.H, who encounters a cockroach in the service quarters of her apartment. The occurrence leads to a nervous breakdown and an existential crisis and ends in our heroine eating a part of the roach…

“The roach is an ugly and sparkling being. The roach is the other way around. No, no, it doesn’t have a way around: it is that. Whatever is exposed in it is what I hide in me: from my outside being exposed I made my unheeded inside. It was looking at me. And it wasn’t a face. It was a mask. A diver’s mask. That precious gem of rusted iron. Its two eyes were alive like two ovaries. It was looking at me with the blind fertility of its gaze. It was fertilizing my dead fertility. Would its eyes be salty? If I touched them — since I was gradually getting more and more unclean — if I touched them with my mouth, would they taste salty?
I’d already tasted in my mouth a man’s eyes and, from the salt in my mouth, realized he was crying.
But, thinking about the salt in the roach’s black eyes, suddenly I recoiled again, and my dry lips pulled back to my teeth: the reptiles that move across the earth! In the halted reverberation of the light of the room, the roach was a small slow crocodile. The dry and vibrating room. The roach and I posed in that dryness as on the dry crust of an extinct volcano. That desert I had entered, and also inside it I was discovering life and its salt.”

Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas by Graciela Iturbide

Our Lady of the Iguanas. Juchitán, México. Graciela Iturbide. 1979.

Eating a Banana. Sarah Lucas. 1990.

Eating a Banana. Sarah Lucas. 1990.

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The Sea! Rhythm of Digression

Sketch in the Sand

A poem by Oliverio Girondo

*
The morning strolls along the beach dusted with sun.

Arms.
Amputated legs.
Bodies intermingling.
Floating rubber heads.

Tossing the bodies of the bathers, the waves spread their shavings along the sawdust beach.

Everything is blue and gold!

The shade of the cabanas. The eyes of girls who inject themselves with novels and horizons. My joy, in rubber-soled shoes, that makes me bounce along the sand. For eighty cents, photographers sell the bodies of the bathing women.

There are kiosks that exploit the drama of the coast. Moody servant girls. Irascible soda water, with a hint of brine. Rocks with the seaweed breast of a sailor and the painted heart of a fencer. Flocks of seagulls that mimic the weary flight of a scrap of paper.

And above all, the sea!
The sea! Rhythm of digression. The sea! with its spittle and its epilepsy.

The sea! . . . until you scream
ENOUGH!
like at the circus.

massimo-vitali-brazil-01

Massimo Vitali

See more on the Beach


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.


Shibboleth

GD4925419@'Shibboleth',-by-Colo-1682

Colombian artist Doris Salcedo is the first Latin American to be invited to work in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern. In her piece Shibboleth, which was her response to this invitation, she draws attention to issues of racial intolerance and segregation. The title of the piece, “Shibboleth” is an essential hint to understanding Salcedo’s intentions and is explained in this passage from the Bible:

“Therefore Jepthah gathered all the males from Gilead, and warred against Ephraim, and the Gileadites defeated Ephraim […] and occupied the margins of the Jordan, through where Ephraim’s people would have to pass on their return. And some of them arrived there and prayed to be let through, they asked him, Aren’t you from Ephraim? And as he answered, No, I am not, they replied: Then, say “shibboleth,” which means wheat spike […] And they pronounced it “sibbolet,” as they were unable to pronounce the same letters […] and were beheaded […] so that forty thousand men from Ephraim died in that war”. (Judges 12,4-6)

Shibboleth is a Hebrew word with multiple meanings, wheat spike, river, and olive branch, but beyond that it is a symbol of a strong cultural identity, since knowing how to pronounce it can indicate belonging or exclusion, or in the case of the biblical story, it can mean life or death. Being the first Latin American artist to be invited to work in the Turbine Hall, Salcedo felt strongly about making a piece which represented her personal perspective as a Third World person in the First World. Salcedo created a huge crack in the floor of the Turbine Hall. Breaking, penetrating, and invading the space. She said, “I think the space defined by the work is negative space, the space that, ultimately, Third World persons occupy in the First World” (Doris Salcedo, October 9, 2007). The work reveals a division that many people would rather ignore, an abyss between two worlds that do not touch and is a comment on the right wing European’s insistence that immigrants represent the loss of cultural heritage. Salcedo’s violent and bold action of creating a crack in the floor of the Tate Modern creates an impact on the viewer and leaves an important message, and even when the crack is filled there is a scar to show that this struggle continues.