Julio Cortázar: Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

23 October 2019

The state that we describe with the word distractions is perhaps only another form of attention, its symmetrical and more profound manifestation located in another region of the psyche: an attention directed from or through or even toward that more profound region. It is not unusual for the subjects of such distraction (in what we call stargazing) to instantly create a dazzling homogeneity form the successive appearance of heterogeneous phenomena. In my habitual stargazing condition a series of phenomena initiated by the noise of a door closing, which precedes or superimposes on one of my wife’s smiles, and recalls a passageway in Antibes and the image of a rose in a vase composes a pattern that is separate from all threse elements and completely unaffected by their associative or causalties, wich proposes- in this unrepeatable instantaneous flash already disappearing into the past-the covision of another reality in wich what is for me the sound of a door, a smile, or a rose constitutes something completely different in essence, in significance.

One might say that the poetic image is also a re-presentation of elements of ordinary reality, articulated in such a way that its system of relations favors this covision of another reality. The difference lies in the fact that the poet is a voluntary or involuntary but always intentional transporter of these elements (intuiting a new articulation, recording its image), while for a stargazer the covision oeeurs passively, irresistibly: the door shuts, someone smiles, and he experineces an instantaneous estrangement. Personally, I a inclined to both forms, to the more or less intentional and to the totally passive, but it is the latter that carries me away from myself most forcefully and gives me a perspective on reality in which I am sadly unable either to remain or to move forward.

In the example I mentioned, the elements of the series – door shutting- smile- Antibes- rose no longer have their usual meanings,without my knowing what they have become. The transformation is like the phenomenon of déjà vu as soon as the series begins the first elements become door-smile, and what follows becomes Antibes-rose-it becomes part of the complete figure and ceases to function as Antibes and as rose; likewise, the liberating elemnts (door-smile)are also integrated into the total pattern. One face a startling crystallisation, and if we sense it develop temporally- (i)door (2)smile- we can be sure that this is only because of psychological contitionning or the mediation of the space-time continuum. In reality everything occur in a (is)simultaneity: door, smile, and the rest of the elements that make up the pattern appear as facets or links, like a lightning bolt that transforms the glass outside of time. It is impossible to retain this vision, since we don’t know how to displace ourselves. There remains only an anxiety, a trembling, a vague longing. Something was there, perhaps quite near. And now there is nothing but a rose inside a glass, on this side where a rose is a rose is a rose, and no more.

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