Some Quotes from “The Art of Flight” by Sergio Pitol

by Nick

“Memory works with the same oblique and rebellious logic as dreams. It rummages in dark holes and extracts visions that, unlike those of dreams, are almost always pleasant. Memory can, at the discretion of whoever possesses it, be colored by nostalgia, and nostalgia produces monsters only by exception. Nostalgia lives off the trappings of a past that confronts a present devoid of attraction. Its ideal device is the oxymoron: it summons contradictory incidents, intermingles them, causes them to merge, and brings order in a disorderly way to chaos.” (63)

“Now, more than forty years after that incident, he’s content with merely acknowledging the event. He tries to examine the circumstances, to elaborate a few hypotheses. Why was that rite of initiation bathed in horror? Did it have something to do with a late detachment of his umbilical cord, a bloody separation of his body from those around him? He arrives at the conclusion that the exercise is becoming a pointless guessing game, that to continue it would send him into a labyrinth of astonishment. He would become lost in marshes without ever touching solid ground.

Perhaps he owes to that experience his inability to write at home, as if it were an activity to be avoided at all costs. Writing in the same space where he lives was for much of his life equivalent to committing and obscene act in a holy place. But that’s anecdotal. What is certain is that his fall into uncleanness that characterized, at the end if his adolescence, his confrontation with the word, his printed word, has conditioned his most personal, most secret, most unwitting manner of writing, and has transformed the exercise into a joyful game of concealment, an approach to the art of flight.” (84)

“Without an affirmation of his language, the traveler loses the capacity to aspire to translate the universe; he will become a mere interpreter on the level of a tour guide” (120)

“The mere existence of a great creator erases many of his contemporaries and multitudes of predecessors whose mediocrity only becomes obvious after the appearance of a greater figure” (176)

The Art of Flighttranslated by George Henson, is out now from Deep Vellum Publishing.

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