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Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Senselessness

I've seen a few references to Horacio Castellanos Moya's newly translated Senselessness -- sounded interesting and worth checking out. Chad Post of 3% posts about it today as part of his Best Translated Books of 2008 series, with links to reviews and to interviews with Castellanos Moya and translator Katherine Silver. I'm much more interested now after reading these -- and by coincidence I have the movie Innocent Voices currently checked out from Netflix, also about victims of the civil war in El Salvador.

New Directions has an excerpt from the first chapter up on the book's home page.

l am not complete in the mind, I repeated to myself, stunned by the extent of mental perturbation experienced by this Cakchiquel man who had witnessed his family's murder, by the fact that this indigenous man was aware of the breakdown of his own psychic apparatus as a result of having watched, albeit wounded and powerless, as soldiers of his country's army scornfully and in cold blood chopped each of his four small children to pieces with machetes, then turned on his wife, the poor woman already in shock because she too had been forced to watch as the soldiers turned her small children into palpitating pieces of human flesh. Nobody can be complete in the mind after having survived such an ordeal, I said to myself, morbidly mulling it over, trying to imagine what waking up must have been like for this indigenous man, whom they had left for dead among chunks of the flesh of his wife and children and who then, many years later, had the opportunity to give his testimony so that I could read it and make stylistic corrections, a testimony that began, in fact, with the sentence I am not complete in the mind that so moved me because it summed up in the most concise manner possible the mental state tens of thousands of people who have suffered experiences similar to the ones recounted by this Cakchiquel man found themselves in, and also summed up the mental state of thousands of soldiers and paramilitary men who had with relish cut to pieces their so-called compatriots, though I must admit that it's not the same to be incomplete in the mind after watching your own children drawn and quartered as after drawing and quartering other peoples' children, I told myself before reaching the overwhelming conclusion that it was the entire population of this country that was not complete in the mind, which led me to an even worse conclusion, even more perturbing, and this was that only somebody completely out of his mind would be willing to move to a foreign country whose population was not complete in the mind to perform a task that consisted precisely of copyediting an extensive report of one thousand one hundred pages that documents the hundreds of massacres and proves the general perturbation.

posted evening of January 6th, 2009: Respond
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Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Just a recommendation

I watched Innocent Voices Tuesday night, and again tonight. I want to write a post about it but am having a hard time getting my thoughts about it into any kind of postable order. So: maybe I will write about my reaction to it later on. But for now I just wanted to let you know about it; it's very much worth your while and I had not heard about it until just recently. Here is an interview with the screenwriter Oscar Torres, whose childhood is the subject of the film.

posted evening of January 8th, 2009: Respond
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