June 20, 2013

Macedonio Fernández on the beauty of non-History


The beauty of non-History came about; all homage to captains, generals, litigators, and governors was abolished – not a single recollection of a mother’s magnificent act, nor a childhood grace, nor the dark suicide of a youth overwhelmed by life; death was left to the dead and people spoke only of the living: soup, the tablecloth, the sofa, the hearth, nasty medicine, little shoes, the steps, the nest, the fig tree, the pine tree, gold, a cloud, the dog, Soon!, roses, a hat, laughter, violets, the teruteru bird (there’s nothing sweeter than to use children’s nonsense to speak of Happiness); plazas and parks that bear the names of superlative human lives, but with no last names; streets named The Bride, Remembrance, the Prince, Retirement, Hope, Silence, Peace, Life and Death, Miracles, Hours, Night, Thought, Youth, Rumor, Breasts, Happiness, Shadow, Eyes, Patience, Love, Mystery, Maternity, Soul.

All the statues that saddened the plazas were evicted, and in their place grew the best roses; the only exception was that the statue of José de San Martín was replaced by another statue symbolizing “Giving, and Leaving.” In the end, something happened to non-flowing time, like history, and there was only a fluid Present, whose only memory was of what returns to being daily, and not what simply repeats, like birthdays. That’s why the city almanac has 365 days with only one name: “Today,” and the city’s main street is also named “Today.”

Many other small things were also accomplished, whose tiny sorrows might fill a life with horror, like what was spared, for example: the half-full glass, or the little lamp with hoarded light, or the twisted tie, or artificial flowers on tombs.

- Macedonio Fernández, The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel)


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