Opoyaz — Andrea Fernández
Celebre gusto fue el de aquel varón galante,
que repartió la Comedia en tres jornadas…
La primera empleó en hablar con los muertos.
La segunda con los vivos.
La tercera, consigo mismo.
Baltasar Gracián, “El Discreto” 1640
The Third Rome was hosting those games where the world’s strong and youthful seek personal famam gloriamque by brandishing extremities in all forms of contortions, a nation’s flag validating their claim to athleticism as an excuse to vomit the fatherland’s greatness over ulterior fatherlands.
During this climate of ecstatic humanity and sweating puerility, Uncle Micha came for supper.
He knocked on the door, formally introducing himself, as though the five years since his passing had erased his fervent memory from his relatives. The man’s apparition proceeded to shake hands with his four year-old great-niece, the birthday girl, whose nativity he regrettably missed. He manifested for everyone present a rapacious jazz learned with Anubis, thus showing off a much deserved reunion with his lower half, both legs having been amputated during his life due to osteomyelitis’s fascination with our favorite erudite uncle.
Over the course of sipping shchi and cuddling the birthday girl against his ancient chest, much to the child’s delight, he told us, in a convoluted, downright retrograde method, his chronicle. He desired to insure his descendants remembered the old man.
I, throughout my life, did many things. Among them, declare war on poetry; that monstrous she-dog devouring all that approaches diversity, cave canem, ensnare a retinue of fanatics, and exile my hamstrings to Kazakhstan, which was a lucky stroke as they almost sent this humble scholar to the bowels of hell, Siberia, under the excuse he participated in underground machinations alongside the Russian Orthodox Church. I am personally not convinced whether that was accurately the case, but nobody recalls anyways, and who am I, Bakhtin, to correct the multitudes? Uncertainty makes this dilapidated man worthier of history’s precarious reminiscence.
In one’s winter, the urge to reflect upon the mortal coil’s progress from one’s primavera happens with solitude.
“Only I am untouched by otherness.”
She is so gallant.
You, Bahktin, walked lopsidedly, longing for a leg, who departed without saying good bye.
The meeting at the Mordovian Pedagogical Institute, where you parted ways with the leg’s need while recoiling once and from all from OPOYAZ, took place in the courtyard.
“Poetry is a science, Micha.” Shklovsky, his claws clutching your letter, greeted you to the bench, not bothering to utter a “hello,” knowing full well intelligent conversation between literati possesses little time for frivolities. Instead, the formal man launched headfirst the method’s apologia. Supporting OPOYAZ’s formula for organizing the written word, that unappreciative leg, unfolds into the ridiculous. The addendum now physically vanished, but psychologically ever present.
“The science, old friend, supports poetry as though it were supreme, when in reality she is a beggar, an excuse, an impoverished, famished genre needing, as my letter states, support.”
Prose is reality’s only literary reflection. You produced for Shklovsky a more detailed explication for your rejection of the formalization of literature and language.
You see, Micha, the world is a plethora of multiples. The novelist’s only resource to lengthen a tale resides in his talent to reformulate the multiples beautifully in order to remind those very multiples of their own existence. The multiples influence one another; they are perhaps words or even thoughts outside “correct language.” They, note the plural use of the third person nominative, battle to infiltrate it, note the third person singular dative.
Your teachers are all liars. They impose upon you from genesis a compendium of appropriate terms housed in a dictionary as though the world outside it is a mere temporary fabrication. The little book secretly changes under your grasp, expanding.
“Why,” the student asked, “does my dictionary have new editions every few years?”
Bakhtin, you, the truthful teacher, answered the pupil: “because the multitudes infiltrate it, the real temporary fabrication—the imaginary prop with whom one learns reading.”
Poetry, cave canem, is unitary, you told OPOYAZ’s father. It does not like the multitudes it eventually needs to evolve. Prose, imprisons the unitary, humiliates it, tortures it, urinates on its face, and when it is humbled, exhibits dialects, multiple narrators, internal and external motivations, and an overall picture of all those multitudes in a constant state of change, in a constant dialogue, in a constant struggle to display the world as it really is—a parody, a carnival, a burlesque desecration of all official forms.
Poetry, the gargantuan sack of bones.
Shklovsky tore your letter and, throwing an Olympian tantrum, held responsible Raskolnikov, of all people, for your delusions, Bakhtin. “Poetry is a science. What claims you it an emaciated cadaver?” Your friend, who traveled all the way from civilization to visit you in exile, rained shredded paper upon the courtyard, jumped from one buttress to the next, pivoted and stomped on them, his bald head sprouting one or two new whites, bit his thumb, shed his coat, and overall looked like the King of Fools to show enragement.
OPOYAZ had both legs.
He was a sickly youth, but that impeded not his mind, which encouraged by a kinship to prominent forefathers, tore mouthfuls off up to ten books at once, not a single footnote going to waste. The Polyphemus of Odessa heeded the matron’s words, “eat all that’s on your plate, Micha, just like your brother Nikolai.”
Micha shat criticism from his supper with little difficulty. His mastery was that of literary diarrhea. Smeared in excrement were his beloved Dostoyevsky, Rabelais, Dickens, and even that revered master, Cervantes, whom the boy carefully decorated with rear honors front to back, the medals drooping in heavy stalactites of matter ranging from baby-chicken-yellow, burned-white-man-skin-red, corrugated-tree-bark-like-testicle-brown, to hammer-that-cave-away-you-yahoo-black.
It was a festival, that Bakhtin’s wit. He conversed well with death’s putrefaction.