On Literary Models and their Choosing

Excerpt from Article Titled: MISUNDERSTANDINGS SURROUNDING GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ by JUAN GABRIEL VÁSQUEZ
Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
Source: http://brickmag.com/brick-87/vasquez

Taking by storm a novelist whose method is useful for the telling of one’s own reality, that’s what influence is. Another way of saying the same thing: influences are only involuntary for bad writers. A novelist with a minimum degree of control over his material searches them out and chooses them fully aware of what those choices will allow him to do, aware of the risks he’s running and how to manage them. An analysis of the process of influences adopted by García Márquez sheds important light on the theme of the authentic tradition: for the successor novelist, tradition (from the Latin tradere, to hand over or transmit) is the receipt of a set of tools he chooses to inherit not by virtue of national ties but of literary ones: the tools he chooses to inherit because they will be useful to him in transforming his experience into literature. The writer, said Borges, creates his precursors. That’s how it is. The novelist, loyal to his parasitic vocation, takes from life the events that he can use to make novels, and takes from novels the instruments he can use to narrate those events, aware that the achievements of one’s predecessors belong to the successor. And in doing so he establishes a special relationship, a sort of search for identity that can sometimes pass for a confrontation with one’s literary fathers, and sometimes for their premeditated cold-blooded murder, but always passes for what Harold Bloom, in that marvellous and excessive little book, The Anxiety of Influence, calls the “act of misreading,” which can be translated as “misinterpretation” and also as “reading wrong.” The successor novelist, the novelist who receives the influence of an important book like One Hundred Years of Solitude, carries out a misinterpretation of the novel, a revisionist reading that departs from a necessary lie or, at least, necessary to the successor novelist: the father’s book is insufficient, defective, incomplete. The successor novelist says, My obligation is to fix it. This is the main difference between the mediocre writer and the genuine writer. “Weaker talents idealize,” says Bloom. Those with capable imaginations “appropriate” from other people’s books. Cheap imitators of García Márquez are incapable of this misinterpretation. They read in such an aseptic and respectful way that their products are mere pastiches, for they don’t have the slightest problem in repeating in their books the procedures they’ve read—repeating them, I insist, not correcting them. They thus become mere imitators when they should be critics.

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Always

It isn’t always the memories
that undo you late at night
Sometimes it’s only a feeling,
an absence of some near-divine light
Sometimes it is a number plate,
when the numbers add up to a name
Or a person stands up to be who you were,
and you avert your eyes in shame

It’s knowing that you’re growing
and that things must be left behind
That you are only a stranger
lost somewhere in the threads of time
And it’s paying the cost of life
in memories not yet made
It’s holding on to the hope
that some things can still be saved

For in the depths of something unstoppable
always tugging at my soul
You were the first hand to grab mine
and burn through all the cold
And I know you haven’t cared
for quite a long long time
But I’ll never forget that moment
when I first learned that I was still alive

And if I could have just one thing,
I don’t know if it would be you
But I remember the shade of your eyes
better than you ever could
It’s because I’ve seen the light in them
And it’s a light I can’t unsee
So, if it comes to a choice between us,
even my darkness could never choose me.

Storms and Cottages

He woke up with a start upon hearing the heavy wooden door to the cottage swing open, drenched in sweat, and his hair all disheveled, yet instinctively reaching out for the sword. Before remembering that he had lent it to her.

It was hers in the first place, said a niggling voice at the back of his mind.

“It’s just me”, she whispered to him, the quietness of the cottage hidden away from the snowstorm outside suddenly too much to bear. Her eyes drifted to his slowly healing bruises and he looked away, scowling. He waited until she had knelt by the fire to stoke it before risking another glance at her. She appeared alright, he thought, as she placed the sword beside the door.

It was much too large for her anyway.

“Why are you smiling?”, she asked, curious. He blinked at her blankly for a second, before giving her a curt nod and gingerly laying himself down again, even as she turned to unpack the medicinal herbs and plants that she had been out collecting, wary yet hopeful that they would suffice.

“Did you run into any trouble?”, he asked, and her hands shook as she remembered the horrors of a nearby village she had stumbled upon, terrorized by a pack of vicious dogs, and their even crueler masters. They had followed her into the forest,barking and laughing as she had stumbled along with the village’s orphans. A year ago, they would have hunted her down and killed her, laughing as their beasts tore her apart. But the year had been a long one, and it had changed her.

Her voice was steady when she turned to answer him, “Just some hungry dogs. But I took care of it.”

The smile on her face was a new one.

One that hadn’t been there before. And he didn’t know what it meant.

Nevertheless, he nodded in a way she had begun to interpret as relieved, and in turn, she was glad that the darkening evening kept the blood spattered sword hidden from his sight. At least until she had had the time to polish it, and feel the sharp edge of its steel, light against her skin. Just once more, and then she would return it.

She was only its guardian. It was time to let go.

He watched her gaze drift to the sword by the door, eyes full of emotions he couldn’t begin to decode. He wondered if she had been living by this underground lake for the entire year that she had been missing. He thought of telling her how he had looked for her. How far and low he had searched. How desperately he had hoped and prayed.. How hollow everything in the world had suddenly seemed to be. How he had learnt what it meant to be drowning in despair, feeling insanity clambering on to the sides of his mind; the absence of her, a raw wound that never learned to heal.

But he was not the same.

And, neither was she.

By choosing exile, by choosing this, by leaving when the war broke out, she had made a choice. Abandoning him, but also saving him from having to make any sort of choice himself. They would have never trusted him as long as she was around. Her hair was too wild, and her skin wasn’t pale enough. She would never be one of them. He would have had to make a choice..

“I can mend your weapon, you know”, he said quietly, and watched as she whirled around to face him, body taut and disbelieving, eyes boring into his, searching him for any sign of deception, or doubt.

He showed none.

“You”, she whispered. “You can fix Estel?”

He nodded, then pushed himself off the bed, swaying as his feet hit the ground. She rushed forward, her small cold hands reaching around him, steadying him as he gritted his teeth and shook his head. The Winter had hit him hard. He would need some time to recover before going ahead with his plans.

He glanced down at her worried expression, before letting his eyes drift to where her pale hands rested against his bruised skin, causing her to blush and look away. He leaned forward and closed his eyes, taking in the scent of the forest from her hair and clothes, trying to figure out where exactly they were, and how he would get them out of there. His eyes snapped open and fixed themselves on hers as he smelt the blood on her clothes, not her own, and that on her scratched and swollen wrist, her own.

She looked back at him in a confused mixture of fear and raw, aching desire.

“I can fix Estel”, he said.

The Devil’s Advocate

It took me about 16 years to get around to watching this movie. Despite nearly a decade of being obsessed with Keanu Reeves, six years of which I’ve been at law school. Why now? And, what am I supposed to do with this, now?

Free will. It’s like butterfly wings: once touched, they never get off the ground. No, I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.” – John Milton

What am I going to do? Whatever I want to? But, what do I want to do? Aaargh! It’s all just a God-damned test! All of fuckin’ everything! Damn it!

Why am I questioning my own existence?

Because! Because, because, because! It’s all ’bout free will. What we are, we choose to be. We choose. That changes everything. But, it doesn’t really matter what you choose. Because, we think the ability to make the choices we wish to make makes us free, but in reality, human beings choose the same things for the same reasons. Time after time after time. And we’re all headed in the same direction. And, the Devil was right about us. What if he’s also right about God? How can you choose options without knowing the end towards which you’re working towards? And, what can we know of the end, when we can’t even know the past, or understand the present?

I’m not questioning my existence as much as I’m trying to deal with the fact that I must do whatever I have to in order to reach wherever I want, whenever I want. When I know Nothing. Nothing. 

And, that’s why it’s a test, right? Because you first learn the questions, then look for the answers. And everybody fails. That’s why it’s a ‘damned’ test. Lol. 

Do we really amuse God? Does God even exist? What the hell are we all doing on this forsaken piece of rock, floating around a giant ball of fire, in endless, growing, empty space?!!

What is everything about? :\
The system isn’t like air because we didn’t invent air. The system is entirely a product of thousands of years of humans expressing their free will. Even when you bow your head before a God, or hijack a plane because you’ve been indoctrinated, it’s because you have free will. You can always choose.

And, I’m not saying that we know what we want. I don’t have a clue. But, more importantly, how are we supposed to know? You can only make educated guesses as to things that you perceive as making you happy, and chase them. But, with every moment, you change, and things are too static. Thoughts, too dynamic. Words, too easy. Feelings, too complicated and unreliable. Dreams are illusions. Point being, there is nothing trustworthy enough to follow, or chase, or want.

What if you strive towards nothing? Living in the moment is one thing, but does that mean that the meth addict in the tiny shack down the dirty alley is happier than someone who plans everything out for their next day, right down to the tie-pin? The “test”, I don’t mean it in a religious sense of the word. Not even spiritual, bless that poor over-hyped word. I mean, objectively, the action of living is a test. And, it’s a test we’re all designed to fail. We’re designed to fail this test as a species. And, as individuals, we take the fall-out society, after society, after society. Just like society suffers for the sins of individuals. And, that’s the messed up part. That, while society is supposed to be for the betterment of human civilization, the real war, every time, is the individual vs the Society within which he exists. Even if they are hallucinations or virtual realities.

But, yes, I agree with you there. As Decartes said, “I think, therefore I exist.”

Lastly, I’m not in Test mode! I loathe being tested, you know that? I hate it. I mean, I get it if there’s something you want from me. By all means, test me to see whether I would work out. But, it’d be nice if you would first ask me whether I would be okay with giving you whatever it is that you wanted, right? Don’t just test me, assuming the rest will work itself out. Free Will. It’s important to me. 

Also, I can’t stop thinking about God, or the Devil. Just like I can’t stop thinking about Good and Evil and Right and War and Death and Innocence and the price of everything, the value of everything. I need to understand everything. I don’t ignore the people around me. But, only because they teach me about all these things. People and their complicated, sinful, joyful lives. Every person is a step closer to the complete view of the World.

What we are, we choose to be. We have every choice imaginable to us. *Everything* is permitted, because nothing is true. Did I already say that? But, it is so so important. You have every choice you can think of; it’s just you to tell yourself doing something is too impossible. Problem is, human kind confuses ends with means. You only have full control over yourself, and how you react to things that befall you. You can’t choose to be happy. But, you can choose to not dwell on the past, or take up a hobby to distract you. You can’t choose to have a loving marriage, but you can choose to marry someone you think you will probably be compatible with/someone you love, and be really nice to them. You can’t choose to die laughing, but you can choose to live laughing, so that death finds you that way, no matter where and when it approaches you.

But, human beings don’t get that. We make wishes, and want happiness, and cry when things don’t go our way. Regardless of the fact that not even a minute fraction of the Universe’s existence ago, we were atomic particles in a gaseous ball of fire a kazillion miles away, and it is just pure, unbelievable Luck that has let us exist in this form – as living breathing organisms with thoughts, memories and the ability to experience things. Everything that happens is good. Because something is better than nothing. And, you have all eternity to be star dust again.

So, my question to your answer stays the same – If everything is about me, then what am I?

What I am is what I choose to be.

(With no clue as to what the basis for my choices should be)

Nuala’s Poem

– The Sandman [The Kindly Ones]

Because I really do love this poem. And, I’m tired of looking for it every time I want to read it!

“I dreamed of kittens who were born to neutered puss, 
Then dreamed about a body buried in the corn… 
Be sure your sins will find you out.

You crippled you with pain and lies. 
You’re hurting all the time; and elf 
You built your prison cell yourself then schemed 
And dreamed of open skies. 

Princess! The river holds the trout,
So does the world take care of me.
And if you do not choose to see, 
That what we are we choose to be.
It’s hard, but is all one to me.

The rule is cruel, but there’s no doubt—
I’ll dream tonight of storms at sea…
Be sure your sins will find you out.”

Source: http://alexiel.net/nuala/poem.html

Advocating for the Devil

If you look at it, Lucifer was only exiled from Heaven because of his refusal to bow down and serve humanity, whom he considered an inferior race. Considering he was one of the first two sons of God, in the form of Samael, and was nearly the embodiment of Free Will itself, what he says when challenging the heavenly host does make sense, “If all God wanted from me was obeisance, he wouldn’t have made me capable of thinking for myself.”

Further, though there is a lack of consensus as to his motivations [He wanted to rule mankind, he wanted to take over heaven, he wanted to overthrow God as the supreme being], his intentions are believed to have been one, and not that ignoble, namely: To escape out of God’s plan. In other words, all Lucifer wanted was to not be a pawn or a puppet.

Lets take a look at the “facts”:

God’s first two creations/sons were Samael (Lucifer) and Michael, and he used Lucifer to bring Stars and galaxies and Suns into existence, while he used Michael to bring “Life” into these Worlds, thus completing them. It’s after this that he created the Heavenly Host, which is the rest of the archangels, as well as the regular angels. Michael and Lucifer were always closer to each other than to the others, because Lucifer accepted that Michael was the “elder” (eldest) brother, and listened to *no one* else.

God himself loved Lucifer most, even more than he did Michael, because Lucifer was sharp and keen and never missed a thing, and God considered him his most perfect creation, especially in the way he searched the Universe for new and fascinating things, bringing them into existence by observation (which was originally the point of angels, before humanity was created).

About this time, because Lucifer was so awesome at stuff, and because Michael was not half as ambitious, God determined that Lucifer should watch over Earth, and Lucifer was absolutely fascinated with all life, and this period includes the dinosaurs, the first mammals, etc.

However, once Mankind was created, Lucifer was constantly in conflict with God, as well as the other angels, because God asked all of the angels to serve mankind, and Lucifer was convinced of their imperfection, which he held in contempt. He saw humans as treacherous, murderous beings, and refused to venerate them as God wanted. These arguments he kept having convinced quite a few angels (namely 1/3rd of the Heavenly host), but the majority of Heaven saw his words as ungrateful, and saw him as someone trying to take over the Throne of God.

Around this time, God suddenly cuts. And, the burden of ruling/governing heaven falls on the archangels. Michael sits himself in the tower of God, all depressed for having been deserted by God, but still governs it in terms of making decisions, and watching over everything. Lucifer first goes to Michael, and tells him that he doesn’t trust humans, and that he believes them to be even more vile than the beasts over which he has watched for millions of years. Though Michael loves Lucifer greatly, he sees Lucifer’s words as dangerous, and quite a few angels had already filled his tired mind with poison regarding Lucifer and his intentions. Harsh words are exchanged between the two. And, Lucifer basically tells him, “Bro, you may be the older brother, and our father may be God, but no one is the Boss of me.”

After a while, the arguments turn into full out rebellion. Though, the clever way the holy book never tells us what exactly started the war leads me to believe that Lucifer did not start the War, per se. Anyhow, once it did start, it was madness and chaos, and, of course, no one is as bad ass as Lucifer, so he started kicking everyone’s ass. I know Gabriel played a large role in what happened next. Because, he was the only other angel that both Michael and Lucifer equally loved and trusted. Anyhow, I think he runs to Michael, and tells him that Lucifer was going to get himself into trouble, and that he (Michael) had to stop him. Michael relents, and shows up with his sword, and Lucifer taunts him for being nothing more than a puppet of God, and Michael finally loses his temper, and they start fighting like crazy, and Lucifer takes on the form of a dragon [coz I think he really liked the dinosaurs :\] and they’re all going at it like a bunch of quarrelsome little boys. And God comes back, and he’s like, “What the..?”

And, Lucifer says “Humans suck, God! And I don’t wanna serve them! And, I’m your son, not your slave! You gave me the power of free will, but everything any of us do, it’s all supposed to be within your ‘plan’. Well, I can’t take it! If that’s all I am to you, I’d rather be nothing to you at all! I want out!”

And, God said, “You want your own realm? You wanna be free of ‘My Plan’? You want to truly exercise your free will? And, prove just how despicable human beings are? Well, I have just the place for you!”

And, Wham! Lightning strike to Hell. The first son, exiled. Made an example of. But also freed without God having to change the rules for everyone. Also, he got someone to look after Hell. If the most flawed and disturbing humans could see this perfect being amongst them, maybe God thought it would be an even better prison. And, which other child of God was capable enough of dealing with the worst of humanity? Why expose his angels, who were supposed, and required, to believe in the goodness of man, to the kind of filth mankind is actually capable of? And, after all, mankind was a kinda experiment… If Lucifer was right.. well, God knows that he (Lucifer) can handle them all.
[Okay, this last part is all just me trying to make sense of God’s decision. Because, he really loved Lucifer. And, how can you be so unfairly cruel to something, or someone, you claim to love?]