Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Twenty years. Anniversary of the adversary.
Suicide in the winter. Suicide to win the marathon against the doctors and politicians (often indistinguishable) and also to kick his reading public (which did not exist then) to cuss it out twenty years later. In other words, today.
Suicide when beauty does not reach. Opening the mind when the brain no longer helps us to imagine our war in absolute freedom. To eject our delirium from our paranoia, the pamphlet and the plot. To put the rope around one’s own neck, the gun to the temple, or the soft palate (under the plastic prosthesis), to throw oneself under the train, rush the pills down the the throat, balance feet on the rough edge of the roof — not of Havana but of New York, the city that never sleeps away its nightmares while in the tropics we snore away our nap or our hangover.
To kill oneself in development. Annihilate one’s young and spirited self, whore with a furious desire to fornicate. Argh. With gonadtropical irrigation and damp intestines and semen to donate to the “heinous sinners” of the Third World, according to the Old Testament of the New Man.
To kill oneself without love. In a single bed. Not I, not yet. Another limited Cuban did it for me. He left the world in one go on December 7, a venereal Friday in 1990, while Cuba was about to dynamite its triumphalist discourse and impose another (no less despotic) to palliate the debacle: Special Period, War in Times of Peace, Option Zero, State of Exception, Death or Death, We Shall Overcome…
I’m talking about Reinaldo Arenas. The writer. The curse of mediocrity.
His death coincided with that of a mulatto not as brave as this little white guajiro. Anniversary of another shot to the temple that is celebrated even on the front page of the newspaper Granma. Antonio Maceo and olé, who didn’t care for traitors, poets nor faggots (often in distinguishable). And Reinaldo Arenas hit a trifecta. He was proud to inhabit these unowned wastelands, these unclaimed niches of our nation, this materialistic marginalia bordering the madness of ass whippings and lucidity. ARGH. Zen phallusophy.
Correspondingly, the Isle of Ill Will burned him. Cuba vomited out Reinaldo Arenas and neither the accomplice guilt nor the Cardinal saved him. His biography was the only thing that generated hate and envy (and the pain of those least known, like his mother). His work was the only thing that generates a spasm in the hands and eyes, an arched, “How did this son of a bitch to write so well?”
Reinaldo Arenas came from the future and he knew it. And he said it. The loneliness of his mission was self-imposed, because a wounded wolf cannot avoid vengeance even to see the blood flow (more than milk). There are spirits which crystallize anger and laughter, sweeping the rest of local literature that lacks it, dulled between court and court, among the hymns of a kamikaze comandate and the operetta or the tantrum of a key proletariat of a Revolution. Phooey.
He died on this day in 1990, no one around me remembers the anniversary of his suicide, with AIDS in the U.S. (this Friday the 10th my first 38 Decembers killed themselves). Nor can anyone of my generation name the exact title of a single one of his novels except Before Night Falls, which is not a novel but a lousy movie, not as cartoonish and Castroesque, and to make it worse I believe it was Made in Hollywood.
Personally, my soul rejoices. Reinaldo Arenas did not deserve to be part of academic curricula that classify all “isms” into themes. Reinaldo Arenas has earned for his tin drum (a lieutenant on horseback ate the bronze) the medal of national amnesia, a trophy better than the cultured and complacent appointment of a long-haired minister, or even worse, of the thousand and one good little girls with enough time and goodwill to get his doctorate at the cost of his original manuscripts and a library of exile. Grrrrr.
Reinaldo Arenas fell first that Cuba, like those gods displaced by brutes which are the clinical signs of the fall of the rest of their civilization. There is not Cuba after Him, no one should consider themselves deceived. His suicide as sacrificial, sacred. He sacrificed himself to imagine an island the congenital immunodeficiency of an impossible, or at least breathable, island.
His work is apocalyptic and accelerated as this column and, as such, naive. It was bigger than the wise. It was a rotten atrophied limb, chaotropic (mushrooms poisoned against the demagoguery of the dragon).
Today it has been twenty years and still there is not the least sign of his resurrection. Reinaldo, this is done (!!), when one is convinced in life to be immortal. Defeated by the mass for being immoral. Dry quicksand where you fermented your blood in this archipelago of swamps or the initials GULAG/UMAP.
(Forgive me, for your sharp planes of light like precious jewels. Reading is the eccentric experience of an ahistorical horror. All my text is photophobic.)
December 7 2010