Reversion = Fearless living?

And then along comes Mallarmé, the least innocent of all the great poets, who says that we must travel, we must set off traveling again. At this point, even the most naïve reader has to wonder: What’s got into Mallarmé? Why is he so enthusiastic? Is he trying to sell us a trip or sending us to our deaths with our hands and feet tied? Is this an elaborate joke or simply a pattern of sounds? It would be utterly absurd to suppose that Mallarmé had not read Baudelaire. So what is he trying to do? The answer, I think, is perfectly simple. Mallarmé wants to start all over again, even though he knows that the voyage and the voyagers are doomed. In other words, for the author of Igitur, the illness afflicts not only our actions, but also language itself. But while we are looking for the antidote or the medicine to cure us, that is, the new, which can only be found by plunging deep into the Unknown, we have to go on exploring sex, books, and travel, although we know that they lead us to the abyss, which, as it happens, is the only place where the antidote can be found.

– Roberto Bolaño, “Literature + Illness = Illness”

Any time I re-read him, even if it is a passage I have just finished, uncannily, strikingly new phrases catch my eye. Where were they the first intent, deliberate (to avoid completely missing his associations) time around, the second, the third?

Also, the terrifying:

But writing and literature are worthless if they aren’t accompanied by something more imposing than mere survival.

Does he really believe that? Does anyone, who writes something worth reading?


2 responses to “Reversion = Fearless living?

  1. Oh, so Santa has brought us eye candy. :-)

    I believe it’s typical Bolañian bravado. He kept trying to connect writing with bravery, excellence in writing with excellence in, say, swordmanship.

    Despite my overall non-agreement, it’s good writing – Bolaño knew the score.

    • Indeed. Disagreeing somehow implies unsavory concessions to pragmatism or ideological sobriety, however. He puts one in quite the bind, doesn’t he?

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