miércoles, 27 de diciembre de 2017

La noche de una Cuba Mulloy


CINE

Todas las noches, la noche

Archivado en
Imagen de 'Una noche', de Lucy Mulloy.
Pueblo ya sin Dios y sin Estado, tras las incesantes muertes mediáticas de Fidel Castro, como en un aula-jaula que se hubiera quedado sin su déspota profesor, nuestra sociedad está abocada a desquiciarse de la noche a la mañana. Incluso en una sola noche, sin necesidad de esperar a la mañana, nuestras viditas pueden experimentar las mil y novecientas cincuentinueve anécdotas y no extraer de ellas ni un solo significado.
En efecto, Cuba comienza a parecerse a un tele-play, revolucioncita temática de clase Z. Serie sin captions. Pasto para producciones foráneas. Escenario donde todos los personajes son extras: hojitas de un guión flotante en el viento de la insoportable insulsez insular.
Nada es viejo bajo el mismo sol post-socialista. Lineamientos del Eclesiastés. Neohabla, neohistoria, Neo. Cuba no es el tedio de una cinta fílmica de Moebius sin adentro ni afuera, sino una aventura vacía al mejor estilo The Marxtrix, donde el poder despótico no se ve pero se presiente. Y donde lo único que aún brilla en medio de la barbarie son las gafas del General Presidente, cuya claqueta controla no el cambio fraude sino un fraude incambiable. Ad islinitum.
Mucho de esta velocidad televisiva se incluye de copy-and-paste en el filme neoyorkino Una noche, de la realizadora Lucy Mulloy, una película made in Manhattabana que hasta sus actores confundieron con un reality-show, al usarla como catapulta para escapar de las catacumbas castristas de nuestra Norcorea del Caribe.
Aquí en el principio y al final es el verbo: la acción, la persecución que no persigue otra cosa que ganarle a la muerte algunos minutos de rodaje, cut to the Che. Poética del video-clip, de lo efectista efímero, de la superficie que casi siempre es un síntoma mucho más sincero que la llamada profundidad.
Corre-corre de secuencias trucadas, ira y apuro, por momentos con dejos de fake documental policiaco. Las palabras como patadas. El lenguaje libre, loco y locuaz, como le corresponde a un reparto profesionalmente amateur. Y, de fondo, además de la música redundantemente cubana, ni siquiera es necesario poner en off aquel desplante de Desnoes de que nuestra capital "parece una Tegucigalpa". Y es que no lo parece a estas alturas de la historieta. La ironía de Memorias del subdesarrollo contra las ilusiones de izquierda, a la vuelta de medio siglo de totalitarismo, es ya un background inevitable, que ocupa de manera espontánea incluso la peor de las fotografías turísticas de la propaganda oficial.
Una noche no es un mal story-board para cuando Lucy Mulloy vuelva a La Habana una noche, no sólo para recrear sino a crear la tragedia. Necesitamos eso, una cultura sin culpas capitalistas de resultar a la postre "injusta" con el pueblo cubano. O "inapropiada" ante el altar de la academia norteamericana (sin Revolución no habría tesis de PhD ni copyright por concepto de libros de texto). Me temo que nos urge una filmografía reaccionaria. De derecha indecente. Neocon. Películas dispuestas a precipitar la debacle no desde el arte, sino desde el desastre.
Lo otro sería otro medio siglo de kitsch.
Cubansummatum est!

martes, 26 de diciembre de 2017

Seguridad del Estado cubana amenaza a Lia Villares

HEROES Y HORRORES


Sobre héroes y tumbas
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo



Se ven tan hermosos con sus uniformes en paralelo.

Son los dos políticos más influyentes de la muerte en Latinoamérica.

Fidel Castro y Augusto Pinochet.

Dos patriotas, en toda la extensión terrible del término.

Patriotas de corazón. Sin ironías. Patriotas de alma.

Ambos amaron a sus respectivas patrias como ningún cubano amó nunca a Cuba y como ningún chileno amará nunca a Chile.

Colaboraron en todo lo que pudieron, por lo demás, mientras pudieron.

Después, cuando las cosas se les fueron a uno y otro de las manos, jugaron entonces a matarse de mentiritas entre ellos.

Ninguno lo hizo por maldad, mucho menos por ideología ni convicción política ni tonterías así. Lo hicieron otro y uno solamente por pura admiración biográfica, por competitividad de puro protagonismo, por travesuras entre tiranos que saben muy bien que, aunque se vieron obligados a matar por miles a los cubanos y a los chilenos, en realidad pacificaron a Cuba y a Chile más allá de sus respectivas tiranías, cuando el resto de los países del continente son hoy por hoy una América Letrina de mediocres narcodemocracias.

Hoy ya los dos están muertos.

Ahora son ellos los desaparecidos.

Murieron, eso sí, con soberanísima dignidad.

El comandante y el general.

Líderes de nadie en mausoleos hermanados por el horror y la libertad del hombre, que vienen a significar lo mismo en nuestro continente.

Prohombres.

Seres de un pasado remoto llamado el siglo XX. Paleodictadores, pasto para libros escolares que a nadie ya aterrorizan.

Al contrario. Da gusto contar con Castro y Augusto, con Fidel y Pinochet, en nuestra tradición nacional. Otros paisitos no dieron ni eso. Otros tuvieron que conformarse con Correas y Fujimoris, con Cristinas y Lulas, con Ortegas y Evos.

Por eso Chile y Cuba no forman parte de Latinoamérica.

Con perdón de los latinoamericanos, pero no seremos nunca latinoamericanos.

El futuro nos llama hoy de nuevo a ambas naciones. Chile, una isla vertical entre el capitalismo y la cordillera. Cuba, una isla horizontal entre el socialismo y los Estados Unidos.

Pueblos otra vez hermanados por nuestro destino de excepción, antiparalelo.

Pero, por favor, no nos anticipemos al futuro.

Volvamos por un momento a la foto original.

La belleza de los rostros es conmovedora.

Fidel tenía carisma de ángel para engatusar intelectuales. Pinochet era apenas un grosero trabajador sin mayor cultura.

Los dos terminaron mucho más millonarios de lo que Forbes podría jamás especular.

Sus legados, que nadie recuerda, en ambos casos serán para la posteridad.

Los cubanos y chilenos de estas generaciones todavía no sabemos la clase de Fidel Castro y de Augusto Pinochet con quienes hemos tenido el privilegio de coincidir, de ser contemporáneos.

No sólo la historia los absolverá.

El olvido los canonizará.

Los muertos que mataron murieron amablemente por gusto.

Los paredones de fusilamiento y las picas de electricidad en los genitales. Las balsas vacías de pueblo en el Estrecho de la Florida y los helicópteros repletos de muertos sobre el Océano Pacífico. De un lado, las décadas de presidio político y un exilio cubano a perpetuidad. Del otro lado, los desaparecidos que desaparecieron en el desierto chileno, bajo las estrellas más límpidas del planeta.

Todo por amor. El odio ideológico no pinta nada aquí. No hubo ni siquiera violencia, al menos no como se explica este concepto en las academias de la izquierda covfefe primermundista.

La muerte en masa nunca es violenta. La palabra masivamente enmudecida nunca es brutal. Se trató de mero sentido común: de una repartición de roles mientras los títeres andábamos como ciegos, cacareando consignas comemierdas en las plazas de uno y otro país.

Tal como colaboraron en vida, en muerte también colaborarán.

Soldados del destino. Refundadores de la nación. Saludando con sus rostros egregios la aventura de vivir entre dos milenios.

Helos aquí.

Aprended a amarlos, chilenos.

Aprended a amarlos, cubanos.

O no habréis entendido nada de nada de lo que a los cubanos y a los chilenos un día de gloria fatua nos ocurrió.

domingo, 24 de diciembre de 2017

Covfefe de Capablanca


Joven, usted no ha cometido errores,
o el día en que le gané al campeón mundial
       

        Saint Louis tiene el mejor club de ajedrez de los Estados Unidos. Y probablemente del mundo.
        Muy cerca de mi casa, en la esquina más concurrida de Central West End. Una de las pocas donde puede fumarse de todo y beber alcohol en plena acera. Como en New Orleans.
        A la burdajá. USA for Africa. En el mejor espíritu anti-sajón.
        El club lo fundó un millonario conservador.
        Rex, republicano de pura cepa que, como no pudo lograr un alto ELO jugando ajedrez, al menos sí ayudó a que muchos pudieran mejorar el suyo.
        Incluido yo, que pierdo más tiempo a mover las piezas en el club que leyendo los mamotretos de izquierda con nos embuten el claustro latinoamericanista de mi universidad.
        La verdad es que avanzo poco. Quiero decir, en el ajedrez.
        Mi ELO nunca ha rebasado los 1600. O sea, nunca tendré un ELO para mostrarles con orgullo a mis nietos.
        En el club hay un retrato enorme de José Raúl Capablanca.
        Tengo la decencia de, cada vez que juego, ir hasta su marco de vidrio y pedirle sinceramente perdón. Debo ser vergüenza del genio cubano, pero qué le vamos a hacer.
        La extrema derecha es ansí.
        En el club conocí a Leinier Domínguez, el Gran Maestro de élite cubano, ahora medio quedado en Miami. 
        Conocí a Nazi Paikidze, que en 2016 fue campeona de los Estados Unidos siendo georgiana. Una muchacha valiente lo suficiente para encararse ella sola al régimen islamista de Irán, que en el nombre de Alá no dejan que las mujeres jueguen ajedrez, si no se tapan el cuerpo antes.
        De hecho, los fundamentalistas de Teherán no dejan que las mujeres sean mujeres, ni en público ni en privado, si no se tapan el cuerpo antes.
        Alá es ansí.
        Para eso están los Guardianes de la Revolución. Para guardar en la cárcel a los revolucionarios, donde las opciones entonces son radicalmente simples, según las alegres aleyas del Corán: tortura, conversión o pena de muerte.  
        Y conocí al prodigio precoz de Noruega, el implacable campeón mundial de la actualidad: Magnus Carlsen.
        Con ninguno de ellos me hice ni un selfie.
        Para los que dicen que soy un exhibicionista.
        Cuando más, un aplauso y un estrechón de manos. Ni siquiera un autógrafo.
        De vez en cuando un Like o un Retweet, pero esa es una tendencia global inevitable.
        El club escolástico de ajedrez de Saint Louis, Missouri, es un lugar limpio y bien iluminado, perfecto para suicidarse al estilo de Hemingway.
        Peón 4 Alfil Rey. Torre 7 Caballo Dama.
        Bala 1 Cráneo, la mejor manera de coronar.
        El club cuenta, además del regajero de Grandes Maestros, con unos personajes muy peculiares. Como toda red que uno lanza a la sociedad, se pesca de todo en el corazón del Mid-West.
        Gente noble, triste y solitaria. Que llevan dos o tres décadas intentando subir el ELO por encima de 2000. Por lo que ni siquiera son expertos nacionales.
        Gente de bien. La ropita raída. El olor de la piel, penetrante.
        Se ven que son pobres de solemnidad, pero proyectan una imagen de aristocracia. Una actitud de caballeros medievales, donde la dignidad suple con creces la humillación de sus diarias derrotas.
        Una debacle indetenible.
        Ken, Mario, Keith y otros chicos del montón.
        A todos los amo. Con todos he compartido comentarios, cabezazos, contrasentidos, y también un poco de mi comida y dinero.
        Perdedores de todos los países, uníos.
        Cada uno de ellos, y otros muchos (menos yo), mantienen viva la llama de la alegría en un mundo donde las piezas nunca las mueven ellos (ni tampoco yo).
        Son una lección de ese vitalismo natural que nunca logró contagiarme. Así en la Isla como en el Exilio.
        Sea el 4 de Julio. O sea en Halloween o en Christmas o por el fin de año. Ellos persisten de 10 a 10 en una mesa del club.
        Allí almuerzan, comen y cagan.
        Allí esperan un golpe de suerte para ganar alguno de los incontables campeonatos por los cuales se paga una cuota para jugar. Y no muy barata que digamos.
        Moviendo cada uno sus 16 piezas esperan ser descubiertos, aunque sea tarde, por algún cazatalentos amateur.
        Algo es mejor que nada.
        Alguien es mejor que nadie.
        Y, en la medida de lo posible, estudian los análisis de ajedrez de sus propias partidas, gracias a esas pequeñas computadoras en que se han convertido hoy incluso los modelos más humildes de teléfonos.
        Hace poco yo mismo, para no ir más lejos, jugando con mi móvil en el aula (me aburría en una clase sobre el plebiscito chileno), le gané al programa oficial del campeón del mundo.
        Tú también puedes retarlo, a Carlsen.
        Basta con bajar una aplicación que, como todas, primero es de prueba gratis y, después, cuanto ya estás enganchado, se convierte en un App de pago. Se llama Play Magnus.
        No sé ni cómo coño pasó, pero pasó. Tal vez porque empecé tirándoles los peones encima, como si fuera una especie de poseído.
        Fue una Apertura Bird.
        Yo, las Blancas. El programita de Magnus Carlsen, las Negras:
        1. f4          d5
        2. Cf3        Cf6
        3. e3         Ag4
        4. h3         Af3
        Primera sorpresa. No sabía que a las Negras le interesaba soltar así como así a ese Alfil.
        5. Df3       
        Lo comí con mi Dama sin pensarlo y seguí jugando contra el campeón mundial en mi móvil Samsung, un smartphone de los viejitos.  
        5.  …         Cbd7
        6. g4         e6
        7. g5         Ce4
        8. d3         Cd6
        9. e4         Cb5
        Cuatro jugadas de peones, uno detrás del otro. Para espantarle su caballo por medio tablero y ganar enseguida en espacio. No se ve bonito sobre el tablero pero, total, se suponía que más temprano que tarde el programa de campeón del mundo me iba a vapulear.
        10. Ae3      Ac5
        11. Ac5      Cc5
        12. Df2      Ca4
        Después de cambiarle su otro alfil, lo dejé al galope con sus dos caballos, y seguí tirándole encima a Magnus cada peón blanco que me encontraba.   
        13. b3       Cb6
        14. a4       Cd6
        15. Ag2      c6
        16. a5       Cd7
        17. h4       O-O
        18. Cc3      Te8
        Y decidí no enrocarme, como acababa de hacer Magnus, sino dejar a mi Rey parapetado en el centro, para poder colimar al suyo con mis dos torres en el flanco del Rey.
        19. Rd2     b5
        Y peones y más peones. Como diría Elpidio Valdés: “Corneta, toque usted a degüello”.
        20. b4       Dc7
        21. e5       Cf5
        22. d4       Tad8
        23. Ce2      Cf8
        24. Ah3      Ce7
        Y seguí empujando mis peones dentro de las trincheras de Magnus, cada vez más restringidas y boqueando por un poco de aire.
        25. c3        a6
        26. h5       Td7
        El análisis de computadora en este punto me da una ventaja de casi +2. Pero lo cierto es que aún no tenía ni idea de qué podía hacer para concretizar un plan ganador.
        27. Cc1      Tdd8
        Cuando Magnus empezó con su dale pá lante y su dale pá tras con la torre de la columna d, me creí que de verdad lo tenía arrinconado. Tal vez, como Chacumbele, él solito se iba a matar.
        28. Cd3     Da7
        Llegados hasta la quinta fila, ya no había más remedio que irrumpir en su enroque, pasara lo que pasara después.
        29. g6       hg
        30. hg       Cfg6
        31. f5        ef
        32. Af5      Cf5
        33. Df5      Te6
        34. Dh5     Rf8
        35. Nc5
        Y esto fue todo, queridos amiguitos, papaítos y abuelitos. La ventaja computacional es ahora de +8. Por muy Magnus App que fuera, el Negro ya está reventado. Como Cafunga. Se pudiera rendir aquí sin ningún complejo.
        35.  …       Tde8
        36. Taf1
        Estoy muy orgulloso de este remate. En lugar de comerle la Torre de e6 con mi Caballo, traje mi Torre Dama al frente de guerra. Total, igual me la podría comer después. Aunque en definitiva esa ganancia de calidad nunca pasó. No hizo falta.
        36.  …       Dc7
        37. Dg4     Rg8
        38. Dh3     Dc8
        Voy pá ti, papi. No te salva ni el médico chino. Ni el de los vikingos.
        39. Dh7+    Kf8
        40. Thg1    Re7
        No huyas, que ya es un poquito tarde para esa gracia.
        41. Tf7+
        ¡Toma, cobarde!
        41.  …       Rf7
        42. Tf1+    Re7
        43. Dg7+    Rd8
        44. Cb7+
        Y ahora me tienes que regalar la Dama. No inventes ni experimentes.
        44.  …       Db7
        45. Db7     T8d7
        Pero, ¿serás descarado? Jubo, otra vez con tus jueguitos de intentar atraparme ahora a mi Dama?
        46. Da6     Tc7
        47. Db6     T6d7
        Y dale Juana con su matraca.
        48. a6
        Y sólo en este punto, tras pensarlo como media hora, comiéndose por gusto mis baterías,Magnus App se rindió con un cartelito en pantalla al que no me dio tiempo de capturarlo para la posteridad.
        Blancas, 1. Negras, 0.
        Firmado: Orlando Luis Capaparda, vencedor virtual del campeón mundial. Domingo 19 de Noviembre de 2017, cumpleaños ciento no sé cuántos del niño genio de La Habana.

viernes, 22 de diciembre de 2017

La libertad de Cuba se impone, no se debate con los cubanos


Por la libertad de Cuba: nunca disculparse, jamás explicar
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo


La frase “nunca te disculpes, jamás expliques” se le atribuye al académico decimonónico Benjamin Jowett, un traductor y teólogo de la Universidad de Oxford, el que remataba su sentencia con este colofón: “supéralo y deja que los demás sigan gritando”.

La nueva disidencia cubana, los jóvenes que ya no soportan ni la pronunciación de la palabra “castrismo”, esos que trabajan de manera sacrificada pero también divertida a favor de un cambio definitivo de la dictadura a la democracia (transición que involucra necesariamente una etapa de refundación nacional a través de un plebiscito, tal como lo exige la iniciativa ciudadana Cuba Decide de Rosa María Payá), esos que constantemente son denigrados por la prensa oficial cubana, y son expulsados de sus trabajos, y sus obras artísticas son censuradas por el Estado, a la par que ellos mismos son arrestados arbitrariamente y condenados en juicios trucados, hasta que, por desgracia, muchas veces se ven forzados a salir a un exilio sin retorno por cuestiones de seguridad personal, esos jóvenes que no le deben nada a la envejecida oposición cubana de la Isla, y que son nuestra mejor garantía viviente de un futuro libre del legado despótico de Fidel y Raúl Castro y su dinastía de hijos, nietos, sobrinos, cuñados, y demás parentela dinástica, esa novísima disidencia cubana debiera aprenderse de memoria, sin ningún complejo de culpa, el axioma de Benjamin Jowett, y entonces nunca disculparse y, por el momento, mientras sigamos en plena tiranía totalitaria, jamás explicar.

Con el jueguito de que todos tenemos derecho a la libertad de expresión, con el fariseísmo de la transparencia y el blablablá de una supuesta cultura del debate, con polémicas estériles desde antes de su nacimiento, que lo único que consiguen en hacernos olvidar que ningún cubano es un ser libre hoy, ya casi en el 2018, con todas esas maniobras divisionistas y distractoras de nuestro objetivo común de liberación en tanto pueblo sin soberanía, es poco lo que podría avanzar la joven disidencia cubana si se enreda en todo ese laberinto de tira-y-encojes donde la única ganadora es cínicamente la Revolución, con su unidad funeraria de partido único y, sobre todo, de ejército único.

El caso mas reciente, por ejemplo, es el arresto de la bloguera habanera Lia Villares, desaparecida desde hace dos días por los órganos de la Seguridad del Estado cubano, sin que los oficiales del tirano le hayan dado explicación a ninguno de sus amigos, familiares ni a los representantes legales o de la prensa en la Isla.

Mientras Lia Villares languidece en un calabozo del Ministerio del Interior, probablemente golpeada, quizás en huelga de hambre y sed, los libre-pensadores y libre-opinadores en internet se dedican a denigrar su coraje y autenticidad, así como a mofarse de quienes desde la distancia (como yo, como tú) apoyamos a Lia Villares y a los tantos y tantos jóvenes de un futuro sin Castros en Cuba, por el cual ellos trabajan en condiciones de guerra incivil, con su arte radicalmente irreverente y con su activismo a favor del plebiscito que Cuba Decide propone para el 2018 en la Isla, que es la única alternativa política a un neocastrismo a perpetuidad.

No voy a mencionar nombres. No estoy debatiendo con ellos. Los estoy ignorando, de hecho. No le pido disculpa a nadie. Y a nadie tampoco le daré explicación. Y si escribo esta columna es para transmitirle a mis hermanos de la Isla esta actitud. No hay arrogancia posible cuando la tarea se trata de extirpar de Cuba a la junta corporativa-militar, lo cual es hoy por hoy una cosa casi de titanes, gracias a la complicidad con los criminales cubanos por parte de la Comunidad Europea, y sobre todo gracias a la mano mitad marxista y mitad maléfica del ex presidente Barack Obama de los Estados Unidos.

Pero ya pasó. Pero ya está pasando. Pero ya va a pasar. Con la nueva administración norteamericana del presidente Donald Trump, un hombre que quiere empujar bien fuerte la causa de la democracia en todo el planeta, y con la muerte inminente más que el retiro de Raúl Castro en el 2018, se abre para Cuba una nueva era de esperanza. Los demócratas cubanos en este momento no podemos detenernos a disculparnos ante quienes pretenden paralizar nuestra energía, ni mucho menos ponernos a perder el tiempo dando explicaciones a los cubanos que no entienden otro lenguaje que no sea el de la continuidad del castrismo.

Lo vamos a lograr. El futuro pertenece por el entero al futuro. La liberación espiritual y social de Cuba se merece de una vez y por todas no uno sino diez millones de Benjamin Jowett: nunca disculparnos ante la cobardía de quienes le tienen pánico a la libertad, jamás darle explicaciones a los necios que no superan su comunismo de closet y se la pasan dando gritos, excepto, por supuesto, el grito del mártir Oswaldo Payá al que ahora nos convoca su hija Rosa María Payá: “si tu decides, Cuba Decide”.

El totalitarismo cubano, como todos los totalitarismos de los que no queda ya ni el recuerdo, también colapsará muy pronto bajo su propio peso muerto. Basta que sea la ciudadanía cubana la que ejercite su derecho pacífico a participar. Como Lia Villares hoy. Como tú, tan pronto como tú lo decidas.

lunes, 11 de diciembre de 2017

LEEZAMA

The Son of the Zero or Eudoxia’s Way:
In Search of Lost Cuban Literature
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

         “The bathroom mirror is almost always the last memory of a suicide, or a person who dies without knowing it.”

         Mysterious words for a mysterious moment: Death, the end of Life or the beginning of Afterlife. It depends. Death itself depends. Death is always pending upon life. Not Death the leveler, then, but Death the raiser.

         Reflections on death, deaths reflected. The words of Ricardo Fronesis pretend to simply answer a question of Jose Cemí about Eugenio Foción: “Who is Foción, what’s his family like, what happened to him in his life that makes everything seem hidden?” (312).

         Fronesis, Foción and Cemí are not biographical beings. That’s why their respective biographies are so indelible. They are three literary characters who are the protagonists of Paradise,[1] the 1966 novel written over two decades by José María Andrés Fernando Lezama Lima, or just José Lezama Lima, one of the greatest of all Cuban authors.

         Paradise is a book which immediately became the epicenter—epic center?—of the Cuban literary canon, including a very early episode of censorship by the Cuban State, which ultimately led to the ostracizing of Lezama Lima until his death a decade later in Havana, in August 9, 1975.

         About this monumental novel, the Literature Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz[2] commented: “Paradise has transformed the world of preexisting symbols through an inventory of the past, altering history and even the orthography of Spanish language”[3] (316).

         The critic and professor Juan Pablo Lupi, in the 2011 book Foundational Texts of World Literature,[4] acknowledges that Lezama Lima has been “variously portrayed as paradigmatic representative of the Neobaroque, Catholic bellestrist, mystic, or postmodern and queer theorist avant la letter,” but in any case the Cuban poet, novelist and essayist for Lupi is “widely regarded as one of the greatest Latin American writers of all time,” “one of the major figures of the canon, both within and beyond the intellectual field of Latin American literature,” as well as “one of the most opaque and difficult writer in the Spanish language,” (215) in part because of Lezama Lima’s “highly imaginative mode of engaging with ‘worlds beyond his own place and time’” (225).  

         In his canonical 1994 book The Western Canon. The Books and Schools of the Ages,[5] Harold Bloom included Lezama Lima’s novel Paradise as part of “The Chaotic Age: A Canonical Prophecy” (560). While in his essay “Lezama Lima in the Paradise of Poetry,”[6] Jean Franco inserts this book in “a Latin American tradition that was initiated by modernism and German Romanticism in Europe:” that is, “the tradition that considers poetry to be a privileged genre, where language flees from utilitarian daily discourse” (240).

         Franco believes that “the theme of his novel Paradiso (1966) is the poet’s search for the ‘invisible’ world that is beyond the tangible” (239), in “an ascent toward poetry by way of the material world,” from the very “family placenta” to the “opening of an exterior world, the time of friendship,” and then to the final ascension “through an oneiric and symbolic landscape toward his encounter with poetic destiny” (241).

         Foción, Fronesis and Cemí are friends. Three imaginary young men in some time period impossible to define precisely, but certainly during the historic period called The Republic in Cuba, maybe not long before the communist Revolution of Fidel Castro, whose Rebel Army overtook power on January 1, 1959, only to remain in power for life.

         As with most classics, Paradise opened and closed a door. A secret door. Technically, a concealed one. An entry/exit made of mysterious words that Lezama Lima assembled as if it were literally—more than literarily—a hidden passage: Eudoxia’s way.

         For our purposes, it is of little use, for example, to google “Eudoxia’s way.” In fact, most web search engines will take us to modern vampires’ chronicles and related best-sellers of The New York Times, as well as to references to a Roman empress from the fifth century. Not a single hint or hit about any Eudoxia in a Cuban novel called pretentiously or perhaps pertinently Paradise. In this respect, the question of Jose Cemí that Ricardo Fronesis tries to answer could also be asked about “who is Eudoxia, what’s Eudoxia’s way, what happened to life that makes everything seem hidden?”

         Maybe not even Lezama Lima was fully aware of his own Eudoxia’s way when he was writing it down in a few paragraphs of Paradise. We can now envision his vision as an encrypted message that the author was perhaps unconsciously leaving for us. A miraculous bottle that Lezama Lima tossed into the sea of his future’s readers—i.e., today’s readers—with some symbolic keys inside impossible to decode as much as to deconstruct.

         At the turn of the 1970s in Cuba, more than censored and ostracized, Lezama Lima was being spied on and harassed by the Cuban government. They were listening to his conversations and at least once they interrogated him, humiliating the novelist by making obvious that they had complete access to his private life. They took private documents from his own apartment, the emblematic home at Trocadero #162, in Centro Habana. And a file with Lezama Lima’s supposedly disaffected opinions and disloyal actions even managed to reach the archives of the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service in the German Democratic Republic: the much-feared Stasi which, like every Soviet-like intelligence organization, was in practice the bedrock of all socialist societies[7].

        Lezama Lima can be read as the most prolific perpetrator of permutations in Cuban literature. His author’s alchemy can be compared with a labyrinthine game of beheadings. Consequently, we cannot expect Eudoxia to be Eudoxia from the beginning. In fact, she was simply Celita, a very common Cuban name for quite a common Cuban woman from early-20th-century Cuba: Celita, the tender diminutive nickname of Celia, who almost without knowing how ended up sexually involved with two men who happened to be brothers.

         Celita’s―not yet Eudoxia’s―men were Juliano Foción, the younger, and Nicolás Foción, her own husband. In Paradise,1 both brothers had been silently in love with Celita since her family moved next to their home, in Centro Habana, where “the two of them lived in Industria, almost at the corner of Neptuno. Their house, on one side, faced a street with a lot of movement from morning on; on the other corner, a neighborhood of a strange silence” (313).

         The home of the Foción family was soon to become the vortex of the founding event of Paradise that we are trying to reimagine or reinvent with our peculiar approach to this novel. As expected, such a literary house had to be located by its author only a few blocks away from Lezama Lima’s real address, for the continuous connection between life and language is intimately indistinguishable both in his fiction and his poetry. Perhaps the literary critic Jean Franco6 is somehow referring to this quality when he detects in Lezama Lima’s Paradise the “intention to hypostasize poetry” (244).

         Juliano and Nicolás Foción were supposed to be the uncle and the father, respectively, of the still unborn Foción about whom Fronesis and Cemí will talk many years later, in Chapter 10, in the middle of some highly sexualized chapters that immediately turned Paradise into a scandal for Fidel Castro’s quasi-Calvinist regime at that time, whose cultural authorities predictably accused the novel of being pornographic.

         In different moments of his life, Lezama Lima replied to such arguments in his private correspondence with his sister in exile[8]: “Some with insolence have affirmed that in my works there are pornographic elements, but not only this is unfair but it can also be vileness, since precisely if some author is characterized by the gravity of his works, that’s me. My work could be censored for flaws of style, but never for ethical reasons, as in its roots is essentially a sacramental act (21). And also to the Spanish intellectual Juan Goytisolo[9]: “The only pornographic books I have read are the Bible (Genesis) and Plato…” (783, 784).

         Sexuality always tends to be tragic in Paradise. Probably sex is meant to be tragic in all true-to-life paradise, where everyone lives at risk of being expelled at any time. The Cuban Utopia had thus its own share of dystopic para-paradise, particularly when it came to pleasure, maybe because of the competition for uniformed bodies in the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of the Armed Forces, which kept three armies running on the Island and exported thousands of troops to Africa, Asia and Latin America, in a sort of humanitarian imperialism officially called proletarian internationalism.

         The exception as always was Fidel Castro, who promiscuously violated his own dictum against literary sensuality, to the point of publishing two extensive interviews with the American magazine Playboy,[10] forbidden in Cuba for being American in general, for being specifically Playboy, and perhaps for being a magazine as such: a printed compendium of images and texts well outside the control of the P.C.C., the only political party which—according to the Constitution—is legal in Cuba until today.[11]

         “Smiling, with that semi-demoniacal malice that pleasure bestows,” only once Celita made love in Paradise1 to the younger brother Juliano of her husband Nicolás. That first time was also to be the last, for “they had both incorporated themselves as happiness in eternity.” Literally, in eternity: as “Celita was closing her eyes” and “ascended through ecstasy to sleep,” “moments later Juliano was opening his in death” and “descended to the cold grottoes of Persephone.” Just “after seeing her face,” “the face with red flowers in its hair,” “now he had to die” and, in fact, Juliano was definitely dead in Celita’s “serpent’s embrace,” probably while he was still inside her after their first and last fruitful orgasm: “the two sweats, the two salivas, the two essential dampnesses drowned in their complementarities” (316).

         This is a magical and intense instant of epiphany. It’s also the complicity of conception between two minor characters of Paradise, whose names and sagas seem unworthy of remembrance for most Cuban cultural experts, both locally and worldwide. A genital Genesis, a fertile fornication, a critical creation beyond Good and Evil, yet eluding none of either. And it is also the cruelest coda conceivable for love—and life—: a sort of Apocubalypse according to Lezama Lima, who tells us about this adulterous rapture that happened one instant before the fecundation of Foción, through the dialogue between Fronesis and Cemí many years later.

         It is implicit in this sensational scene of Paradise1 that we are witnessing the conception of the fetus of Foción:[12] “in the center of her tree Celita received the weight of imposing distances, agglomerations of ants, gloomy distributions of Mongolic emigrations, howling voices among snow animals, whispers turned into pounding tides,” while her lover “from the twilight’s swell he sprang like a titanic carpet that enveloped the moans and all those fragments of the moon as it splintered” (316).

         This brutal beauty crystalizes in its purest state as infinite wonder and infinite pity, in a reminiscence of Jorge Luis Borges’s short-story The Aleph,[13] where this Argentinian writer confesses that “I arrive now at the ineffable core of my story. And here begins my despair as a writer. All language is a set of symbols whose use among its speakers assumes a shared past.”

         In fact, in his unique enumeration of memories and objects that recombine past, present and future, Borges resembles Lezama Lima in naming “tides,” “all the ants on the planet,” “snow,” “multitudes,” a number of animals (“horses,” “tigers,” “bison”), “a ring of baked mud in a sidewalk, where before there had been a tree,” “daybreak and nightfall,” “the coupling of love and the modification of death,” and “unending eyes watching themselves in me as in a mirror:” indeed “all the mirrors on earth and none of them reflected me.”

         And, again, Borges’ enumeration in his aleph could then be read as a mirroring reminiscence, in return, of Lezama Lima’s paradise. At this point one is tempted to believe—without the vulgarity of further evidence—that both narrative passages were being written simultaneously by Jorge Luis Borges and José Lezama Lima, two procreators of alephs and paradises who never met each other in life but did so many times, unexpectedly, in their respective literatures.

         The lover triptych of Paradise1—Juliano/Celita/Nicolás—seems to move from delight to death to delirium, when we realize that “a third figure was lacking in that tragic composition: madness.” It all happened because the older brother, Doctor Nicolás Foción, arrived back home all of a sudden, from a medical trip to Mayabeque in order to consult a patient who coincidentally died that same day. Unavoidably, the doctor in his family house of Centro Havana was shocked to insanity as he opened the door of Juliano’s room, only to see two familiar bodies lying naked, in an almost posthumous peace. Instinct or premonition? In any case, there were two domestic bodies divinely asleep. But, given his proficiency in the medical profession, “the doctor interpreted his brother’s paleness correctly.” Nicolás knew before Celita did that Juliano had died while making love to her. A truth twice terrible for a doctor, so that “at the end of that labyrinth he would find the hammer blow that would destroy his life as a reasoning animal” (315, 316). He was suddenly out of his mind, from one of Paradise’s lines to the next.

         When Celita finally woke up, between the dead brother Juliano and the mad brother Nicolás, she was no longer Celita, of course, but already Eudoxia, even if she still ignored her transfiguration. The abrupt madness of Nicolás Foción rebaptized her as Eudoxia, while he still held “his brother’s pulse in his hand, shaking his head, facing up to the crisis with an incomprehensible scientific seriousness.” Nicolás just said to her: “Eudoxia—that was the name of his nurse—this patient has died in the office, he had a bad heart, take care of the patients who are waiting, tell them that I am indisposed, and then we’ll notify his family” (316, 317).

         Doctor Foción, as swift as his brother’s death, had simply “lost his mind.” “This time the bull wouldn’t sink its horns into the man’s groin, as if seeking out and enshrouding the secrets of his sperm, but it would proclaim that its horns were carrying off the trophy of his reason, which was kept in his horns from supporting the balance of the stellar collections.” It was a kind of kind madness—maybe Horace’s amabilis insania?—that in the surviving doctor “took the form of receiving non-existent patients in his office in the morning,” always accompanied by Celita, who “had to play her role as the nurse Eudoxia to perfection” (315, 317).

         From then on, every single day, during two whole decades, “shut up in his office at ten in the morning,” the doctor unfailingly “would talk to Celita, transformed now forever into Eudoxia the nurse, and tell her: ‘Bring in the first patient.’” And then he would carry out a detailed clinical questioning, evaluation, and finally a precise diagnosis of the virtual disease affecting each and every one of his imaginary patients during each day (317).

         Over and over, concise and touching: “Bring in the next patient.” And Eudoxia would obey out of mercy, maybe also out of love. In any case, she “had to follow all the details of that madness with tersest sanity.” “In that way he had ten consultations in the morning and another ten in the afternoon,” so that “every day twenty people who didn’t exist would file through; he spoke to the air.” At the end of his office hours, “at seven or eight at night, depending on how much time he had given each of the patients,” then Doctor Foción “would get his reason back” for the rest of the evening, and only during those hours his wife “became Celita again,” relieved from her daytime incarnation in the nurse Eudoxia (317).

         The doctor “was that way for twenty years, seeing patients created by his madman’s imagination, changing Celita into nurse Eudoxia from ten in the morning until eight in the evening and the nurse into his wife for the remainder of the day, changing the starched cap for the flowers in Celita’s damp hair.” In Lezama Lima’s Paradise, Dr. Foción even personalizes each of his twenty daily patients, shaking “hands with space” while talking to them with absolute normality, charging them nothing for his specialized services. For example: “I find you improved, your blood pressure is near normal, keep talking the pills, most of all, don’t use any salt on your food, come back at the end of the week” (317, 318), as if he meant come back at the end of the century. Or at the end of life.

         Only “after twenty years in that office of shadows,” the doctor “reached retirement.” And, “since he no longer had to see patients, his madness and his reason were the same.” Reality had been restored. And the doctor dedicated himself peacefully to practicing “chess,” to read devotedly the “Alexandrine Gnostics,” and to taking care of his son’s education “with extreme zeal,” although Foción Jr. was never sent to school. His father “himself took charge of teaching him, from the history of zero to the variations of functions in trigonometry, passing through an extensive cultural, metaphysical, and theological landscape, as he fit in those variations between zero and infinity” (318).

         Father Foción used to say to his son Foción during all those years of truncated lucidity intertwined with terminal lunacy: “Between the zero, which I am, and infinity, which, according to the Greeks, I don’t want you to be, without exhausting all the knowledge of the possible finite” (318).

         His growing son, Eugenio Foción, as he “was opening his eyes” surrounded by an interminable exercise of phantoms,” “hearing his mother sometimes called Eudoxia and other times Celita,” precisely for being so innocently “surrounded by madness,” then “grew up without original sin.” And what happened was that “the nurse’s cap and the flowers in the hair came to be like a clock to him which warned of dementia and recovery, silence and chattering, minute reason put to the service of madness and madness working with great care, with a slow zeal, as if in the fullness of reason attained by the Greek.” So that Eugenio Foción, the son of the zero Nicolás Foción, had but zero choice in this respect: “his senses didn’t segregate concupiscent material, but data of knowledge that advanced or retreated toward the image, floating like the peduncles of a Gorgon that never learned to decipher the river’s clay” (318).

         The conclusion of Foción’s two friends, Fronesis and Cemí, is that Foción had an “abstract development of his childhood and adolescence.” They imagine that fatally for Foción all “those phantoms incubated a crystal homunculus who lives inside Newton’s binomial or Pascal’s triangle and who breathes quicksilver.” Until, of course, one day, when “suddenly the homunculus launches a clandestine harangue into his subterranean palace and temptations begin to arise. The larvae throw themselves onto a skeleton in the desert, leaving a calcinated track where a cactaceous plant begins to bloom.” And thus “the homunculus begins to play with the cactus, a rain of sand falls” (318, 319).

         For them this would explain why Foción from very early on “suffered from the complex of the toothed vagina.” That is, “he saw a woman’s vulva as an immense mouth that devoured the phallus.” For the son of the zero, “the edges of the feminine cistern were converted into an infernal lagoon where a froth boiled up that gave off monstrous little horns, now the tails of Neapolitan sirens, now centaurs with prepotent members erect to the requirements of the god Pan” (319). There was no paradise possible for Foción, according to his two friends in Paradise.

         Thus, Fronesis and Cemí assume that their mutual friend Foción is doomed: despite being “in the bloom of adolescence,” he was “ending up in a noble cynicism,” as when “he fell into homosexuality, led by the hand of that old connoisseur of sexual relations between man and man.” The son of the zero, “without knowing the penetrating energy, was an object penetrated by someone else’s barb,” in part “because nature had given him a chaos but didn’t give him enough strength to fight against it. He feels destroyed, but he has no destructive force” (320).

         This is why that, when later in his “abnormal marital situation,” Eugenio Foción finally managed to beget a son with his wife, despite his persistent practice of “interfemoral copulation, as the Romans of the decadence said,” Fronesis and Cemí again agree that this new Foción III, the grandson of the zero, will “be a new homunculus, in the midst of mirrors, quicksilver, and sexual terrors” (320). It’s called faith in fate, an abyss from which we cannot escape no matter which role we are bound to play in the novel of our lives: reader, character, author.

         Beyond the applicability or not of Eric Berne’s sentence that “it takes three generations to make one neurotic,” let’s imagine the environment of the Foción family for a moment in Lezama Lima’s Paradise. Let’s stop for a while rereading Cuban literature and let’s start once and for all rewriting the whole of it:

         Twenty patients a day, during five working days, as it was usual in Cuba during the capitalist period (after 1959, the Revolution was to force “volunteer works” during most weekends). A hundred patients a week, during a whole year of incessant illnesses in Havana arrived from anywhere on the Island (all of them dwelling exclusively in the demented mind of Doctor Nicolás Foción, the zero). Over fifty hundred patients a year, during two disproportionate decades, a whole chaotic age during which other medical colleagues warned Celita/Eudoxia “to be very careful in the distribution of the ideal consultations given,” because “one mistake, the penetration of light into that errant mentality,” could clinically cause a catastrophe: an “explosive attack,” an “ax blow,” the “interrogation of a scalpel on her rosy flesh” (317).

         In total, over a hundred thousand patients, generously created and graciously cured by the zero man. A deathless universe, myriads of unexplored biographies. An allegorical aleph, a hermetic history with no hermeneutics. Error, Eros. Awe, horror, awerror.

         When one realizes the poetic and political power of such a generator—and such a formidable reserve— of characters for the Cuban literary canon that never was, other literatures seem to faint in frustration, and not only in the Caribbean and Latin American, where the most Cuban novel of Lezama Lima hardly belongs, for its true tradition―like the 100,000 patients lost in our Paradise―is made of air.

         These are the thousand-and-one nights in which Cubans haven’t yet recreated a Cubanness that was not, that is not ever to be, that is only becoming. Such is also the innumerable number of doors and the undecidability of all exits and returns to the Island: a panoply of plots to perform. A wasted territory so far, forgotten out of fear of not knowing what to do with such a fundamental freedom, such a plea to explode from within this novel condemned to constitute a complete cosmology in itself.

         Maybe this is connected in a paradoxical way, to what Raymond D. Souza[14] has seen as Lezama Lima’s anxiousness to build Paradise in “a denial or randomness and time” (21), combining “metaphoric and metonymic processes in his creation of poetic figures” (36). Others authors[15] have ascribed to Lezama Lima the term “aposiopesis (the interruption of discourse, reticence, ellipsis)” (129) in order to signify his “letting others do the political talk,” as a “rhetorical figure of the unrepresentable” or “the poetic mark of that which cannot be presented” (131). Still others[16] assume that Paradise is but “the fixation of an intangible otherness, authentic and truthful in itself” (134) but, “above all, an allegory of the poetic recovery” of an “absolute and immobile Presence” as well as a “logos independent from the universe, but which is at the same time its creator and its reason for being” (137). And, of course, some[17] also claim that “the elaborate hermeneutics needed to explicate some of Lezama’s dense imagery and quirky metaphysics help reinforce the idea that to read Lezama well one must choose to enter a Delphic circle which one may not choose to leave” (44).

         In any case, José Lezama Lima at least must have known one thing from the beginning, even unbeknownst to himself: the pristine perfection of his Paradise will be reached only when its readers start to turn Eudoxia’s way into a cosmopolitan cathedral built upon a magnificent zero. Not before, not after.

         To imagine and to incarnate, both in text and in the flesh, where might be wandering around all those inconceivable Cuban characters is more urgent that, for example, to describe the destiny of our nation after the death of Fidel Castro and the concomitant disappearance of the Revolution. Politics as a footnote of fiction: the dreams of reason may produce monsters, yes, but a monster of dreams―like the author of Paradise still is―can only produce reason.







[1] Lezama Lima, José. Paradise. Translated by Gregory Rabassa. Normal, IL: Delkey Archive Press, 2000.

[2] Paz, Octavio. In: José Lezama Lima, valoración múltiple. Casa de las Américas. La Habana, 1970.

[3] Paradiso ha transformado el mundo de los símbolos preexistentes inventariando el pasado, alterando la historia y hasta la ortografía de la lengua española.”

[4] Lupi, J. P. “(Mis)readings as Engagement: Some Thoughts on World Literature and José Lezama Lima.” Foundational Texts of World Literature. Edited by Dominique Jullien. New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Bern, Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna and Oxford: Peter Land, 2011. 215-228.

[5] Bloom, H. The Western Canon. The Books and Schools of the Ages. New York, San Diego and London: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1994.  

[6] Franco, J. “Lezama Lima in the Paradise of Poetry.” Critical Passions. Selected Essays. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1999. 239-258.

[7] Documents about José Lezama Lima in the Stasi archives (Documentación sobre José Lezama Lima en los archivos de la Stasi). Uploaded by DIARIODECUBA. SCRIBD. 2 Jun 2014. https://www.scribd.com/doc/227574444/Documentacion-sobre-Jose-Lezama-Lima-en-los-archivos-de-la-Stasi

[8] Lezama Lima, Eloísa. “Mi hermano”. José Lezama Lima, cartas (1939-1976). Colección Tratados de Testimonio. Editorial Orígenes. Madrid, 1979. 11-40. “Algunos insolentes han afirmado que en mi obra hay elementos pornográficos, pero no solamente es una injusticia sino que hasta puede ser una canallada, porque precisamente si algún autor se ha caracterizado por la gravedad de su obra he sido yo. Mi obra podrá ser censurada por defectos de estilo, pero jamás por motivos éticos, puesto que su raíz es esencialmente la de un auto sacramental.”

[9] Goytisolo, Juan. “La metáfora erótica: Góngora, Joaquín Belda y Lezama Lima.” Desidencias. Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1977. “Los únicos libros pornográficos que he leído son la Biblia (Génesis) y Platón…”

[10] The Playboy Interview. “A Candid Conversation with the Bellicose Dictator of Communist Cuba.” Playboy, Jan 1967.
  Jeffrey M. Elliot and Mervyn M. Dymally. “Fidel Castro, On Reagan and Revolution.” Playboy, Aug 1985.

[11] P.C.C.: in Spanish, Partido Comunista de Cuba. The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba in its Article 5 establishes that: “The Communist Party of Cuba, Martian and of Marxist-Leninist, the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the superior leading force of the society and the State, organizing and guiding the common efforts aimed at the highest goals of the construction of socialism and advancement toward the communist society.” https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Cuba_2002.pdf?lang=en

[12] The author José Lezama Lima at some point hesitates on what his own novel Paradise makes obvious about the paternity of Eugenio Foción, the friend of Fronesis and Cemí: “When Celita turned out to be pregnant, it was impossible to tell which of the brothers had been the archer” (318).

[13] Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Aleph.” Translation by Norman Thomas Di Giovanni. 1945. http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/borgesaleph.pdf

[14] Souza, R. D. The Poetic Fiction of José Lezama Lima. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1983.

[15] Matos, J R. José Lezama Lima and the End of Time. New York, Fordham University Press, 2017.

[16] Ríos-Arila, R. R. A Theology of Absence: The Poetic System of José Lezama Lima. 1983 Ph.D. Thesis, Cornell University. University Microfilms International, Dissertation Information Service, 1989.

[17] O’Connor, P. Latin American Fiction and the Narratives of the Perverse. Paper Dolls and Spider Women. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004.