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If you take away from our reality the symbolic fictions which regulate it, you lose reality itself.

Slavoj Žižek


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From the Ashen Land of the Virgin

For the past few weeks I've been reading Raul Galvez' book, From the Ashen Land of the Virgin: conversations with Bioy Casares, Borges, Denevi, Etchecopar, Ocampo, Orozco, Sabato -- this is certainly the proper way to read this book, a bit at a time rather than sitting down and plowing through it; so that one does not become frustrated and throw it down in disgust. There is much about the book that I would characterize as self-indulgent and silly; but there are also interesting, rewarding nuggets among the chaff.

The most enlightening two conversations (and they are for better or worse "conversations", not "interviews") are the first, with Bioy Casares, and the last, with Ernesto Sabato. (I had never heard of Sabato before, but want to learn more about him -- in addition to his novels he was an anarchist and a nuclear physicist, and the director of CONADEP.) I'm also grateful to Galvez for hipping me to the name of Olga Orozco, who sounds like a wonderful poet; and for his conversation with Borges, which while it imparts very little in the way of information, is a charming impressionistic piece about the man's old age.

posted afternoon of Friday, May 14th, 2010
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