Once a Shipwreck, Always a Shipwreck

So I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Relato de un Náufrago” (“The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor”) in one sitting. I had my doubts when buying it beacuse I tend to find that all shipwreck stories are the same. Sun, thirst, hunger, dead fish. 

Indeed, my favorite part of the tale was Marquez’s introduction, which included the stupendous description above of the Colombian historical context at the time the story was published (apologies to non-Spanish readers).

And, while no one can say that Marquez’s shipwreck tale is bad, it’s a story of sun, thirst, hunger, dead fish. It does interweave an interesting message, however, of the difference between the fear of dying and the fear of death. 

Death, actually being dead, does not scare the narrator. Death is a form of salvation, the end of water hell. But the act of dying is immediate, terrifying hell. The options are not good: sharks, imagined carnivorous turtles, burnt lungs. 

Fear of going through such terrible experiences keeps the narrator from letting himself die, no matter how much he claims to want the out of death. As a result, he stays alive. 

With this story Marquez confirms that our extreme cowardice when faced with gore, pain, any form of death by dying  is so effective that it finally makes us brave. 


Bon Voyage

I can think of few things I enjoy more than buying a new book at an airport. The thought of being trapped in the air inside a metal tube for hours with nothing to do but read or watch bad movies is thrilling. The more so with a brand new glossy book upon my lap. 

On my flight today I carry the story above. Garcia Marquez’s first formal forray into the novelesque: a literary rendition of a true-life shipwreck tale. The “actual” story took place here, in Colombia, where I often work and play. Marquez’s version was first published in installments in one of the main national newspapers. 

Which brings forth the question: why doesn’t installment writing happen anymore? Perhaps this blog will do something about that. 

But, for now, there is nothing but paper and plane. 

Survival of the Horniest

During a recent blissful Sunday afternoon on a London rooftop a friend dutifully informs me that, from an evolutionary perspective, our happiness is problematic. He then plops open the book he is currently logging around town to the page above. 

Writer Yuval Noah Harari makes a good point: our evolution is not based on survival of the fittest but, rather, on survival of the hungriest, indeed, the horniest. 

Those of us who are most adept at wanting and finding instant gratification have a better chance of surviving and reproducing out in the wild. But, we are no longer out in the wild.  

Here, in an urban context, the constant need for instant gratification becomes a burden, one that hinders our ability to execute long-term plans, which are key to obtaining hapiness’ less attractive but more discerning older cousin: satisfaction. 

Our biological need to get fed and laid is the reason why Mick Jagger et al can’t get no satisfaction. Perhaps the results would vary if we gave vegan sober abstinence a try. And a try. And a try. 

The Best Gallery in Paris

After three days of intense art immersion, I took the early afternoon off to browse the book stalls along the Seine.

Here, I found what I consider to be the most beautiful works of art in the entire ville.

A child-drawn cover on Raymond Quenueau’s “Zazie dans le métro,” one of my favorite books of all time. An incendiary color scheme on naughty Robbe-Grillet’s “La maison de rendez-vous.” Minimal design on numerous Becket covers.

But the beauty of these works lies not in their covers, which are mearly invitations to discover the magic inside.

The best works of art in Paris are the rows of words set down by gigantic French writers, found in the dishevelled stands along the Seine’s quais.

Below is a shot of Marguerite Duras’s “Le ravissement of Lol V. Stein,” which by its second page already sets the ground for decades worth of post-feminist, post-modern, deconstructive thought, art, fashion and life.

Yellow Tomatoes

 

I once thought I could know anything

 

The death knowledge of the Buddha

The clarifying call of Gabriel

Former lives and abetting suns

That enthrall worlds more able than mine

 

I too never doubted my time supply

To be the daughter to the dying father

Who buries without the blow of love regret

 

But my father is dying an excessive death

With a wounded body

That aligns rare moments of life

To the faint efforts of his mind

 

And I do

 

I offer my happy baby’s dance

Ask about our mayor and the bad president

So together

We can wave our related heads with a laugh

 

I bring home the foods he likes to eat

Chocolate sugar-free

A bag of sweet yellow tomatoes

That falls when his good hand forgets to grab

 

And when he insists on phoning my mother

Makes a promise that he won’t speak drink

I dial

 

I do I dance

 

Far from the Buddha knowledge of the giving death

Deaf to the recurring chant of Gabriel

Books by my bed and worlds of grace

That I grasp

But lack the good hand with which to grab

 


 

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