A LEZAMA FOR MOPPING (DUPING)

28 01 2011

FROM “THE FLIGHT OF THE CAT”* TO YOUR MOTHER’S TWAT**

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

There’s the lyrical Lezama Lima, of unintelligible flight, before whose spirals we bow because to read them would be in vain, and a pain.  And good for us.  That Lezamian lyricism never had much success, except for quoting and thus accumulating a certain intellectual prestige.  That obscure yet not at all secretive writing, crippled by its symbols meant to multiply its meaning, was pure inner space, the intestines of an author that regurgitated everything.  Solipsistic saliva, sometimes another mood of our sentimental being, interjections included.  The least Cuban thing in the world, let there be no doubt.

But there’s also that big impressive bastard Lezama Lima.  The prose-writer that flirts with the prosaic, although, unfortunately, his overdiscursive always impeded it.  The man who filled his novels with a homo Bible to defend ourselves not just against the old Catholic God, but also, when it arrived, against the new communoid State.  The guy who made guys hurl themselves at other guys, using strange verbs and invented adjectives, just the same at the end of our tiny Republican era as at the beginnings of the overstaying Revolution.  The magister penis within whose paragraphs of impossible punctuation the only word missing to label the human cock is precisely that one: cock (at this point, the professional prudes may now proceed to spit on me, they won’t be the first: the Ministry of Culture and the secret police have beaten you to it).

That Lezama Lima of “your mom’s twat” and “no, a thousand times your mom’s twat” (they’re quotes from his Oppiano Licario), the one who disguised genitalia with undershirts because if the vagina appears… I don’t know, Fronesis cannot enter (now this quote is mine, luckily), the one of voyeurism in the dumpiest movie theaters and pissing on the shoes of the man that, during the last macho night, stuck it in you (in his Paradiso, that is), the one of the 20,000 Eudoxus cured of Foción’s father’s madness (army of characters that Cuban literature has not had the cojones to process), the one of incestuous three-ways and illicit trysts and throat-slittings with bound-up balls, plus the nocturnal groping of Parisian testicles by an arid Arab… anyway, that masterful Lezama Lima of anti-lyrical substance (even with his exhibitionistic and extravagantly thundering glands of cornaline agate), the one of certain etymology, for example: templar (“a delicate word in the extreme”), the one who waited for the death of his mother to then escape into desire, or at least publicize it at the UNEAC (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba).  That underground author shall be forever our best unknown.

Lezama Lima deserves a little phallus upon his tomb the size of Revolution Square (in his work there is no lack of such penile visions, even right in the middle of a ragtag mob of students against the dictatorship of the time).  But our baroque man is little by little getting stuck in the cultural swamp of mythic bullshit (even the minister of culture was a Lezama admirer!), as if the classics for their part (not very saint-like in their beginnings) weren’t fundamentalist fornicating fauns.

Lezama Lima was not.  A shame.  Those will be, I suppose, the limits of his colossal writing, never delirious.  There he lacked, I think, the touch of Truth and Life in the experience of reading him.  Sex for him continued to be a downfall.  He wasn’t able to denounce head-on those who expropriated from him, because social blackmail works marvelously against someone who doesn’t dare to declare out loud his own pleasures.

Lezama Lima died sorely needed.  He owed us a bit more.  In his novels he was just starting to liberate himself of that more respectable and private pose.  Perhaps his last verses tried to erase, by invoking the absolute void, all the back and forth of his countless paths and supposed poetic system, maybe to later insert in that black hole, if death had given him a chance, the macrogenitosomatic magnificence of that massive, pertinent prick.

Ah, spit away.

It’s not without significance that no biographer (he doesn’t have any, of course) has been concerned with identifying a Cuban who physically loved José Lezama Lima. Our man never found the love of another human being (that of the readers doesn’t count for shit, don’t play the anointed ones now). He only managed mediocre maternal friendships, wholesale spies (they sent anonymous threats as easily as they sent ambulances, so that he wouldn’t die without saying that Cuban healthcare was free), and the semen of strays in exchange for his salary.  And that imago truly does disconcert me.  The whole time he lived in internal exile in respectable suit and tie (except when fantasizing in his writing, and that gift saved him).  The whole time he keeps getting parodied for his spicy, asthmatic wit and his affectionate touchy-feeliness (disciples still survive him who speak wheezing with emphysema, as a guarantee of authenticity).  We don’t even know if upon ejaculating his prose he once cried out (in this sense, his transcendence is mute, almost null).

José Lezama Lima died a virgin, he could’ve been our first fag martyr. The little joy found in Cuba stuck a tampon on his pride of being the best (in gay pride he didn’t even reach gay shy).  Maybe his cross was exactly that.  Being forced into a closet, and on top of that saddled in a corset.

Translator’s notes:

*”The Flight of the Cat” refers to El vuelo del gato, the first novel by Abel Prieto, published in 1999.  Prieto is Cuba’s current Minister of Culture and widely regarded by Cuba’s independent artists and intellectuals as the cultural gatekeeper of the regime.

**This refers to a very popular Cuban epithet, el coño de tu madre, yelled at someone in anger, which literally means “your mother’s twat”.  This epithet, and countless versions of it, is also very common in at least Argentina, Spain and Venezuela.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

November 30 2010





This is Not the Novel of the Revolution (4)

27 01 2011


(CHAPTER 4 … …)

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

I turn on the TV.

They are rebroadcasting an old Roundtable show where Fidel smiles showing his dental prosthesis. He has his arm in a cast but with the other he gesticulates more. He talks of the dollar, that curse without which life would not be drinkable.

Fidel ranted about the pros and cons of the U.S. dollar circulating at will on the Isle of Freedom. He affirms there has already been enough audacity. If it bothers him, he will put an impossible tax on it. He takes the measure of the idea. He plays the fool. The panelists unanimously support him. They almost push him into the middle of the ring. The people of Cuba point thumbs down, each one eating off a tin plate in front of the TV. The poor dollar, it will lose this theatrical sporting competition. And in the end Fidel imposes that impossible tax. Tames that bull of the stars and bars and an eye more pineal than inscrutable. It’s taken him less than an hour to erase a decade of Yankee national heroes as icons of our national salvation.

It’s a Roundtable from mid 2005, I think. A year of hurricanes and power outages. The year in which Fidel tripped in public and broke his kneecap into one thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine pieces, I believe. His last year in power. And not even he knew it. On this morning’s rebroadcast Fidel still doesn’t know it. So he is immortal, I think.

I turn off the TV.

The crack in the ex-Soviet picture tube leaves a smell of ozone in the room. Electron-216.

Flashes through the blinds.

After a while distant thunder is heard, perhaps on the open sea beyond the wall of the Malecon and the forked lighthouse of Morro Castle.

An echo rolls far away, out there. In life, I believe, nowhere.





This is Not the Novel of the Revolution (3)

27 01 2011


(CHAPTER 3 … …)

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

No it wasn’t.

It was JAAD.

Calling me from the quiet early morning in Spain. Six years or six-hours difference between my writer friend and me.

I heard him joking, almost happy. After decades of paralysis because of rather pedestrian politics, he had won his first literary contest. And not just any. The Hucha de Oro prize. Euros, many euros his broken street-bookseller pockets. With pinworms and lice, but with an incandescent brain. Indecent.

JAAD singing boleros into the receiver. It was a remix with themes of Habana Abierta: We Were Friends of Orlando, what a riot, an incredible riot …

He quoted full sentences of his winning story. The beginning was apparently the greatest: It had an ass of sixty and some tits of twenty, but wasn’t even fifteen…

JAAD would be free now. Finally.

Lack of money was drowned him as a child. He himself was a ruined character of JAAD. Or of Pedro Juan Gutiérrez. Or of Charles Bukowsky. Or of Lino Novas Calvo. Or of Roberto Arlt. A tragic guy. Always dying between suicide and semen and the upcoming toothache.

JAAD hung up between his own applause and my congratulations.

I loved that man, but it was already too late for anything. For everyone.

Fuck you in your Europe of successes and Japanese whores touring with flashes in the museums of Valencia without leaving the whole of adolescence. Have zen sex in the lotus position under their hentai vulvas. Vomit within the vaginas of the First World all your subnational hatred. Fuck with your cock the good news that soon you will not know how to write, nor to sing with your ding dong, balls. Rest in pus.

JAAD, the family idiot. JAAD, the pornographic genius of my generation. Coito ergo sum. Everything you touched turned to horror. The Hucha of Horror.

I wish you know a kitsch story of Kim Ki Duk. I wish you a rhizomatic death. I wish you all that the future molecularly holds for you.

Goodbye, JAAD.

I spent a lot of time listening to the static of the hung up telephone in Havana, first and only free territory of America.

Outside could be heard the early morning horns on Porvenir Avenue. Occasionally a train on the Crucero de Luyanó. From time to time a boat adrift on the oil in the port.

I wrapped the coiled wire around my neck.

Only then I hung up.





This is Not the Novel of the Revolution (2)

27 01 2011


(CHAPTER 2 … …)

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

I got to Lawton two hours later.

I’d walked fast. I got a nosebleed. I had chills.

I passed my block. I didn’t recognize my wooden house.

I turned around several times, finding myself on the stairs that make the corner of Fonts and Beales a cesspool.

Poles with no lights. Doorways with no lights. The moon above without light. A moon of props, cut like a pussy under the concave tarp of heaven.

Finally I opened the grill.

Fonts No. 125, my house.

My dog barked in the background. Kelly, remembered.

I laughed. Kelly, the first word in the world.

The laughter gave me motion sickness. Shortness of breath. I wiped my nose with quilted sleeves.

It was no longer dripping. There were just fresh outriders of coagulated blood. Black.

I breathed.

Smell of iron, rust, trains, harbor.

I took out my keys. I sat on the doorstep. The areca palm was moving in slow motion. The cold front numbed all reality.

I looked at the garden. The nopal cactus brought from the Fernández-Larrea house in Vibora Park. The false yellow flame trees. The fragile lilies, of glass. The witches before human history in Cuba. The snails endemic to my house. Roses, of course. And an asparagus bush pruned at every poor wedding in the neighborhood.

Lawton, the second word in the world. Also corset.

I do not speak Spanish.

I do not speak.

No.

.

I lay on the tiles. Kneeling. Ice on my back. I coughed. Having lungs is a danger.

If a patrol was passing, they would take me for dead. Better so.

Then they would take me for a madman. Than no.

I sat up.

I opened the door. I went inside. I closed. I walked without seeing, to the long, narrow hall of tongue and groove boards. I got to the bathroom.

Pissed.

Long and bitterly, pissed.

My urine bubbled, frothy. Beer of an uncivil and soft odor.

For a long time I stood there in the absolute darkness of the bathroom. My penis hanging in my hand. The left, always.

The penis flaccid at first. Then turgid, then hard. Tetanic muscles, circulation atrocious. The penis recognizable in the middle of a total state of unrecognition.

If I moved my hand now I would faint.

I didn’t. I wanted to, but I didn’t.

I wanted more to survive that night. Let the dawn never come, but I survive that.

Then the phone rang.

A whip of chills in my spine.

Lightning out of the blue.

Of course it was Ipatria.

It would have to be Ipatria.





This is Not The Novel of the Revolution (1)

27 01 2011

( …CHAPTER 1… )

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

I looked up.

I saw two moons.

I said, “Shit, Orlando, today you’re gonna kill.”

Two moons.

Perfect, in focus, insane.

The winter night in Havana as a red shroud.

I thought about my mother.

I thought about Ipatria.

I thought about me, about us.

Of all the dead and all dead loves, how to distinguish?

I thought about the beauty and lies of any Revolution.

Crime, screaming, wanting to run, anger, tenderness. Enough.

Two moons.

I was going crazy. Finally.

I knelt.

I did not want to go crazy. The idea terrified me.

I was terrified to realize that the madness was now pure truth.

“No, please,” I whispered to God or to anyone, and I closed my eyes and began to pray.

In silence. I do not know how to pray. They didn’t teach me in time.

In the middle of the night without Cuba. What do you call at this hour in the world this illusion of a city?

Havana, pray for us sinners …

Under the color-blind traffic light at 12th Street and 23rd Avenue, the most central and desolate corner of the universe. Most central and deserted.

Havana, now and at the hour of our death …

Two moons, Landy, fucking amazing.

I started to pray but the pain did not leave.

The worst always remains. The rest are words.

I opened my eyes. My eyes of undefined color. Of water.

The moon was still there.

Unique. Immeasurable. Inert. Myopic.

A nocturnal sun on our bodies again and again Cubans butting heads in the middle of the night.

“Orlando,” he said, “Orlando.”

I gulped.

I wiped my tears.

I stood up.

“Your name is Orlando and you will not kill,” repeated in the loud voice of no one: “Your name is Orlando and never ever ever are you going to kill.”

I stuck out my hand at a taxi charging dollars.

I threw myself at the car.

The driver avoided me slamming on the breaks and swerving. Then he made a U-turn and pulled out with tires screeching toward Zapata.

He fled from me.

Like my mother.

Like Ipatria.

Like any revolution.

Like love.

Like death.





PRAYER FOR RUFO

25 01 2011

RUFO R.I.P.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

 

We clashed once, in early 2000, in the midst of editing the journal ExtramuroS, he being the great critic Rufo Caballero, and I the same as today, an obscure writer with politically incorrect eccentricities.

We published a text from Duanel Diaz that gave gorgeous conceptual tastiness to the caballero Rufo. He deserved it. It was, in addition, a delicious little essay where Duanel Diaz distorted theories to undress King Rufo a little, as in those days he had begun to drift into cockiness and despotism when it was time to legitimate or stigmatize the slightest little jealousy having to do with art. It was also, of course, a brilliant text like all of DD’s from when he was a student at the University of Havana, to the ire and envy of even the most mediocre and Marxistodox professor.

Rufus was pissed. He went to several bookstores in the capital and bought as many issues as he could of that impoverished edition of ExtramuroS. He turned into a censor thanks to his growing acquisitive power. Later he became a literary cop, when he wrote a letter of complaint to no less than Iroel Sanchez, president of the Cuban Book Institute, where he accused us of “sensationalism” and “attacking national cultural figures.” Still later, he also joined the City of Havana Provincial Center of the Book, with the objective of punishing the staff of ExtramuroS in the face of our more or less ignorant and terrified director (she didn’t want to lose her position which, in the end, she did).

He was a killing machine. RC wanted blood. DD laughed and rubbed his hands over there in his Lawton refuge (he’s my neighbor, although now he lives in the USA). I think everyone should applaud as in the boxing ring, as if the Cuban literary camp retained at least a hint of belligerence. Rufo Caballero then made a fool of a radical (it wasn’t even remotely our objective). He even called a kind of private auction so that his friends would write against Duanel Diaz (several of them did, but very awkwardly). The truth was that, at the height of my civil naivete, I wanted to take advantage of that rare interview to meet one of the most intelligent and iconoclastic critics of the 90s in Cuba, but I only scared myself in front of the injured ogre with his engorged ego.

We had to defend ourselves as badly as we did. Rufus was raging. He overwhelmed us with his wisdom, but we relied on the ExtramuroS editorial board to support us, it voted in favor of publishing that critique of DD versus RC. In the end, we lost the trust of our director general, and from then on he saw Margarita Urquiola, Norge Espinosa and me as a gang of outlaws cast in the editorial heart of the system of provincial magazines.

I never again interacted with RC. I had the good luck to run into him, one on one, always on the sidewalks of El Vedado and at bottom of the San Lazaro hill.  Maybe he lived in that area. Every time I saw him I had the urge to say hello and to tell him, in peace, that inquisitorial anecdote. But Rufo Caballero’s gaze into the distance told me he didn’t even remember me. I’m sure he never read me (unlike you, he himself escaped me). OLPL had been scarcely a moment of hatred, like so many others for him. A fly hovering over the learned cake of his fame. A mediocre little shit molesting the maestro. And, in more than one sense, it was literally so. Forgive me, if it’s possible, but I have no regrets. Because there was never any malice on our part, we just wanted to provoke an argument within our pacified Cubanesque intelligentsia.

Goodbye now for real, dear Rufo of the rhetoric. In a way that not even I understand your death quickly fills me with pain.  I counted on you secretly for the dismantling of the excessive cultural Cubanness. I still read you with humor and respect, with care and a desire to replicate if I had the aesthetic tools to carry it out. You were one of the good ones, it doesn’t matter how many rotten things you could have been involved in as part of floating in the revolutionary waters here and there. It doesn’t matter about the share of power you dreamed of investing yourself with to project from within the monster of your vehement voice. It doesn’t matter what you could have turned into to have a high political position in this Cuban of the changes that never change.

The truth is that we are left with less and less of the best. And more and more of the brutes.

Rufo Caballo, for you a flower not cut, but living. And for the last time, goodbye.

 

 

 

 

January 6 2011





BRILLIANT POST OF CLAUDITA CADELO

23 01 2011

BRILLIANT POST OF CLAUDITA CADELO, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.

It seems there are no eighth circles that put an end to this girl while, in the country of the pedantic and tantrum-throwing inter-llectuals, the camping literary Cuban continues to lose his last historic opportunity to speak of Cuba from a future perspective. Claudia, you go girl! You smoke all of them! Cuban writing will have to rely on your good bad-girl traits.

Octavo Cerco – Spaces Taken

January 22 2011