Monday, January 4, 2010

'El comermierdismo intelectual'

Doing a little digging on contemporary Venezuelan writers for the (what am I going to call it?) Latin American literary tour I described the other day, I ran across this post about Rodrigo Blanco Calderón. Man, I wish American literary criticism was this hilariously and exaggeratedly impassioned (let me point out that Rodrigo Blanco Calderón doesn't even have a Spanish Wikipedia page):
Yo no tengo nada contra Rodrigo Blanco Calderón (me adelanto a sus defensores que vendrán a acusarme de resentido y a decir que escribo este post porque R.B.C. me tumbó una jeva), reconozco que escribe bien y que, cuando le da la gana, alcanza momentos excelentes en sus escritos. Además, a mí también me gusta Coldplay, aunque no me metería a un foro de Internet a defenderlos; coño, eso no lo hago ni con Nelly Furtado.

Pero detesto que Rodrigo Blanco Calderón sea como un niño consentido de la literatura, no porque tenga méritos como escritor, que los tiene, sino porque le ha rendido un culto absurdo y exagerado a Pancho Massiani. Las razones por las que todos hablan maravillas de R.B.C. no son sus cuentos o su talento, es su postura de cobardía intelectual, de andar, cual Mimí Lazo, en una de corrección política, de hacer críticas light al gobierno y, en paralelo, recibirle premios y andar en cuanta bobería organiza Monte Ávila Editores. Otra cosa es esa vaina de los premios, el comermierdismo intelectual caraqueño, de esos señores que escriben para sí mismos, que no le llegan a nadie porque a nadie le importa leerse un libro en el que un tipo nos echa los cuentos de lo que vivió cuando conoció a Massiani, a Federico Vegas, o a cualquiera de esos señores que son tenidos como dioses por los “nuevos narradores” de Venezuela.
Not knowing a great deal about the literary (or political) circles of contemporary Venezuela, I'm sure to miss almost all of the references, but here's a very quick (and very imperfect) approxlation:
I don’t have anything against Rodrigo Blanco Calderón (to forestall his defenders who’ll accuse me of resentment and will say that I write this post because R.B.C. [Blanco Calderón] stole my chick [??]). I recognize that he writes well and that, when he lets himself, he reaches moments of excellence in his writings. But then, I also like Coldplay, even though I wouldn’t defend them in an Internet forum; shit, I don’t do that for Nelly Furtado.

But I detest the fact that Rodrigo Blanco Calderón is like some spoiled brat of literature—not that he doesn’t have merits as a writer—he does—but because he’s submitted to an absurd and exaggerated cult to Pancho [Francisco] Massiani. The reasons people speak of the marvels of R.B.C. aren’t [really] his stories or his talent, but his posture of intellectual cowardice, of walking, like Mimí Lazo, a politically correct line, of making light criticisms of the government and, in return, receiving prizes and participating in whatever foolishness Monte Ávila Editores organizes. Another thing is this prizes crap, this Caracan intellectual shit-eating, about these gentlemen that write for themselves, that don’t reach anyone because no one cares to read a book full of stories about how he met Massiani or Federico Vegas, or whichever of those gentlemen that are regarded as gods by the “new storytellers” of Venezuela.
The post ends in an intelligent bit of criticism:
Los invencibles es la mayor de las paradojas en las que se encuentran metidos los jóvenes escritores venezolanos, un libro qué, según sus propio autor pretende demostrar “que la verdadera heroicidad no consiste en vencer todos los obstáculos, sino, al contrario, como bien lo sabía Kafka, en ser vencido y superado por todos los obstáculos y, a pesar de todo, continuar”. Es decir, un libro que quiere ser un homenaje a los perdedores, pero escrito por un escritor que no se arriesga a perder, sino, al contrario, usa la fórmula más ganadora, la que le granjeará comentarios amabilísimos y críticas excitadas y exageradas. Es una pena. Esperamos que la literatura criolla pueda, algún día, tener a un legítimo invencible capaz de arriesgarlo todo por hacer un libro que sea igual de arrojado que los personajes de éste. Mientras, este libro es más una impostura que otra cosa.
The Invincibles is the greatest of the paradoxes facing young writers in Venezuela—a book that, according to its own author, pretends to show “that the true heroism isn’t to overcome all obstacles, but rather, as Kafka knew so well, in being overcome by all obstacles and, in spite of everything, to go on.” That is to say, it’s a book that wants to be a tribute to the losers but is written by a writer that will not risk losing—on the contrary—by one who uses the most winning formula, that which will earn the kindest commentary and the most excited and exaggerated criticism. It’s a shame. We hope that our literature can, some day, have a legitimate “invincible” able to risk everything to make a book equal in boldness to the characters in this. Meanwhile, this book is more of an imposter than anything else.
Here's an essay (in Spanish) that "R.B.C." wrote about his stories.

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