There is a new translation of a compendium of lectures by Julio Cortázar, article here. A great article by the way, which highlights his work and this recently published volume. I mention this because if you peek around this site a little you will find a little story about why I chose La Maga Tarot for my tarot readings. It all came about because of Julio Cortázar and one of my favorite books of his, Rayuela or Hopscotch (english translation). As I was reading the article I was reminded of why Rayuela is one of my favorite books, and why Julio Cortazar ranks as one of my favorite authors. The crux lies in his profound exploration of reality, textual reality, perceptual reality, and the stories that form said realities, basically his approach to the unreality of reality. In all his short stories and books there is a latent and visceral sense that this reality is not all reality, conveyed through the character’s interaction with the unfolding story. This is all quite magical in fact. There is one particular short story that really struck me when I first read it, and continues to do so when I reread it. It is called La Noche Boca Arriba (click on the title to read it in spanish). In this story, two lives are playing out simultaneously, one is in the distant past during the Aztecs, and the other is in the present. The narrator begins on a normal day, the main character riding his motorcyle. Everything is going smoothly until a brief slip occurs and he has an accident. As he is taken by the ambulance and lapses into unconsciousness the two timelines bleed into each other and flip upside down. Now he is an indigenous man running for his life during a ritual hunt. Is it an exploration of past lives, perhaps? But I feel this short story is emblamatic of more than just that, Cortázar is exploring here through the precise medium of storytelling, the rhizomatic essence of reality, while also denying a master narrative, the ONE reality. He weaves the text, the words snaking back and forth with such finesse that you as the reader are not sure where the truth lies. Cortázar is a master story teller that excelled at the art of writing short stories. His theory about short stories is that they are a snapshot, a precisely captured image, wherein a portal is opened and the reader is able grasp what in everyday life escapes perception. Revealing in the process, abiding truths in the shape of the big questions. Or rather, unmasking the Big Questions, those that reside just at the periphery of our consciousness, those we generally ignore.
Why do I share this here, well this site is my attempt at openly exploring all questions through the stories formulated by images and text. Card reading is about piercing the veil, lifting it just a slight bit and letting the question interact with the images so that a story emerges. Card reading is about formulating the mutlifarious nature of truths. Like the example of the snapshot, laying down a group of cards is the captured image, the portal opens and now the reader lifts the veil and glimpses the answer already inherent in the question. In essence making the unconscious conscious.
Needless to say, I recommend Julio Cortázar. If you read spanish dive in, if not, find a translation and give it a go. I will definitely be picking this new publication up.
5 thoughts on “Unreal reality”
Thank you. It’ll mean more later, but thank you.
Firstly, yes, thank you for talking about rhizomatic narrative structure of lived life (and art, and art-as-life). Cortázar sounds like someone after my own heart, and there’s a nice Jungian engagement from the sounds of it. (Well, I say Jungian: Jung just offered an extended description for something primordial about the nature of reality.) Is Cortázar a magic realist?
It occurs to me that folks like to see the kinds of narratives you’re describing from Cortázar as having to be “fantastical” but also having to be “banal” in some way: that is, it IS a past life narrative brought on by NDE, or it’s “psychological” or “symbolic,” and therefore in a rationalist mode robbed of its actual significance because western culture renders those terms as unreal. It makes me think that it can also be a kind of simultaneity: our lives have underlying or parallel (or however you want to offer a spatial metaphor) mythic, archetypal valences that are also “true”–as true and “real” as the crash. Both are real and true–even as there are MORE realities that could also come forth, and may. It strikes many folks as “irrational” or merely “dreamlike” or as “just magic realism”–but that’s only because, ahem, we were led to cut our reality in accordance with authority’s view of the world and of our selves.
In a similar manner, the tarot offers a way to apprehend that simultaneity of “mundane” with the “archetypal” or “mythical” and to find meaning and significance in it–which makes sense to me. However, it would seem that nothing is “mundane” unless we slice away all the rest?
Oh, by the way, you helped inspire me to go get a Tarot de Marseilles deck, and it seems very eager, very present–and VERY interesting. Many thanks.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Cortázar is contemporaneous with Borges, and also Argentinean, around mid 20th century. He was part of the jazz age with postmodern preoccupations and employing textual explorations. Stringing ideas similar to Derrida and the likes, while criticizing contemporary reality. Very similar to the magical realism movement, one could say that yes his works string the narrative of the ‘fantastical’ intertwined with routine life. I would say that as for this particular short story and in my opinion, the idea you pose of simultaneity is part of what he explores in the dual stories of the main character, in the end one is left unsure which one is real and which one is ‘not’real. Personally, I am of the idea that there are varying realities and narratives as opposed to one Reality, and I dar say I lean towards the concept of parallel realities playing out different timelines. With this story I feel he was doing what occupies most of his work, challenging the master narrative, challenging our concept of solidity in our routine daily lives. There is also a suggestion of dream “traveling”/”journeying” which perhaps taps into other lives. Who knows? I am by far no Cortázar scholar, I purely love his work, how he plays with the text, with words, how he creates and dismantles. I highly recommend him, also Jorge Luis Borges, another giant of the word. Also, because you mentioned magical realism and that term came around the time of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who was inspired to write his epic tome 100 Años de Soledad by another writer who only wrote two books, one Pedro Párramo and another of short stories El Llano en Llamas, Juan Rulfo. This man, boy oh boy, that book Pedro Parramo is pure magic of the eerie kind. Just incredible, it envelops you in a haze of smoke and dirt and echoes where time is ephemeral and the dead reside with the living. Truly a masterpiece of a mere 150 pages or so and when you are done you feel as if you have read a tome of 500 pages.
I am happy to hear you got a Marseille pack, the most enchanting in my humble opinion. I hope you enjoy the ride!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Also if you would like a practice buddy with the Marseille, let me know.
LikeLiked by 1 person
excellent! thanks for the recommendation. i will check him out.