Artaud’s Advice. Gustavo Campos

El siguiente texto es la traducción de uno de los capítulos de mi libro El libro perdido de Eduardo Ilussio Hocquetot (Editorial Nana Vizcacha, España, 2019), acreedor del VII Certamen del Premio Único Centroamericano de Novela Corta 2016. La traducción al inglés la hizo la traductora e intérprete canadiense Jesse Tomlinson.

Este texto también fue antologado y publicado (en español) en el Proyecto Arraigo & Desarraigo:  los 23 jóvenes creadores ochenteros más destacados del continente (dieciocho países americanos), desde Canadá hasta la Argentina.

Artaud’s Advice. Gustavo Campos

“There is no beginning and no end, no Law, no way

To win or lose. We know that. It’s our story.”

 Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003)

I live here: right here. At this precise moment. In this place. On this white page. Or more to the point, in this Word 2007 program. In this laptop. At this desk. My base. My portable desk. This is where I must begin. With these first words. From this first blink of an eye. At any time. On any date. This is the place. Mine. Yours. Ours. This is our place. This, is our project. Far from specificity, embedded in the awareness of writing. Without ever specifying what is new. Without setting down roots again. Without specifying what I write. Without allegiances. Presenting the story. Being in the story. Or in the fable. Losing once and for all every inspiration unrelated to writing. The act of writing and reflecting on what I write. Let’s start again. I messed up the beginning. Should I invoke Antonin Artaud? We could start again. Or begin. Just like that. Without an idea after the blink of an eye. It’s a problem wrapped up in thought. Or wrapped up in prose. The show must go on.

This is to say that I have come to understand my life as a life that lived through a part of me that blended with everything. It lived by mingling with everything. It would be better to just surrender. No, it would be better to move away. Yes. And from there, begin again. I should begin again. At this moment. At any place that is a place. Somewhere that hasn’t been discovered, that already is. At any place that can support my writing. Or document what I do. Written or oral. It’s the same. But begin. I could use my Sony Ericsson to record a few sentences that I could string together later. These sentences could become fragments. Or they could be forgotten. Forgotten and other phrases sought out. Let’s see. Melodious ones. Or thoughtful ones. Let’s see. And this speech could also be forgotten anew. For many reasons. I can think of one: my memory could fail me and re-format itself, taking my voice hostage in I-don’t-know-what digital world. That’s one way you could lose your voice. A human being could lose their voice that way. An artist could lose their voice that way. Or like in Windows, infected with a virus and spyware and everything disappears. And everything you’ve written is dissolved. The office disappears. It’s been eaten. And what you wrote, forgotten. That’s how writing is lost. And that’s also how you can lose the will to write. You can lose everything. Your voice. The files and the images. And above all, the inspiration. That’s how I lost my voice and how I lost the inspiration to write. That’s how I lost it all. My inner life and my projects. And that’s how I’ll lose my new life. And I’ll have to pursue the lives of others. Seek them out. Invent them. Replace them. Or simply live.

It’s called Picnic and it is now my home. Since before sunrise students have been walking to their classes. I don’t have anywhere to live. But a friend is letting me crash. I need to get at least 50,000 lempiras to get through the day.

Four a.m. is the witching hour to observe solitude enter and exit.

Seventy and 80 year-old-men come in for a mickey of hooch. Each more alone than me. And me, probably even more alone than them. libro-faja

The first days are always hard. Asking friends if I can stay over. Some would put me up and then after a short while they would kick me out. My uselessness was more than obvious. I asked myself who would kick them out of their houses? Who were they really kicking out? Each stayover implied an unspoken agreement: in exchange for putting me up I became their servant. It became the price for their generosity. I cooked for them day and night and washed their dishes. The country that should take me in doesn’t. Should I leave? Should I go?

I moved to another city. I thought I’d have a fuller life than before. I walked unimaginable distances to find a place that would wrap me in its arms. But it wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t always. Once when I moved I rented a humble apartment. Damp. They advised me to seal the walls with tile dust, but the color of the mold simply changed to a white that was constantly moist. I decided to live there in spite of the room because of the beautiful terraces. I think I came here to run away from myself. Fleeing my name. But as Cartarestu said, this turned out to be fateful/fatal because writing does not often go hand-in-hand with wealth or happiness.

When I moved from the capital to another country I also thought my life would improve and it didn’t. I travelled to El Salvador. I lived there a little more than a month. Emotional stability emerged and I became part of a family. At last I would have a family. She was a poet, single and had two children. I, little more than a beggar, apparently. I don’t know why I stayed with my friend or how I ended up going back to my country, just as I don’t remember how I blew a year’s budget in two months. I remember how hopeless I felt. At other times I remember taking the only copies I had left of my books and trading them for beers. I relinquished myself because my life began to lose value. Even though I looked for work I couldn’t get any; even when I got it I couldn’t keep it; and when I did get it, it was only for a brief time.

As I remember my failed plans I become distracted by the two-month old black cat playing with me. Sometimes when I’m reminiscing he is my only companion. He jumps onto the table from the sofa. He lies down beside me. Neither of us can sleep. In the house next door we can hear the sound of chains and I feel a sense of foreboding. These are the only moments when I am truly here. In this place. The blank page is nothing more than a blank page. Or it continues being blank. Let’s begin again. At this desk. Starting with these words. In this place that is yours and mine and also ours. Where many stories emerge and conspire. And where it is also possible to lose your voice. That is to say I understand that my life was a life that lived through a part of me blending with everything. Disconnecting itself from everything. From the inspiration. From the voice and the files. Like someone who loses a new life. Or an unconnected one. Survive. Invent. Replace. Live. And everything that I have written dissolves. Microsoft Office disappears. It’s eaten. And what you wrote (I wrote) is forgotten.

And that’s how writing is lost. And that’s how you can lose the inspiration to write. You can lose everything. Your voice. The files. The images. Above all, the inspiration. That’s how I lost my voice and how I lost the will to write. That’s how I lost my mind. That’s how I lost everything. My projects. My former life. And that’s how I’ll lose my new life. And I will have to seek out the lives of others. Find them. Invent them. Impersonate them. Or just live. Deny the writing. Deny pleasures and trends and art. It’s simple: it’s better to live. In order to lose a life or a voice, it’s better to live. To lose life, it’s better to drink. And here we are again. In the same dilemma. Or in the same certainty. In the same writing skin. This is where I must begin. The writing starts here. This is the place. This could be the story (see narrative text). This could be the fable (cue Aesop). This could be the fable (repeat tirelessly). This. This. This. This could be. Could be. Could be. It could be the fable (Compare with theories of narratology.) But repeat. You can repeat the error. To err is the work of the wise. Or the wise could repeat themselves. Drinking from the font of knowledge is of the wise.  Getting stuck in a rut is of the ego. The ego can also lose its way. Or forget itself. Or destroy itself. Self-destruction is legendary. In geniuses. In lay-a-bouts. In whomever pays the price of self-mutilation. In that which cannot be named. Impersonating the un-nameable or characters from a Beckett play. Or personally being reflected in a character. To achieve a false stigma. An insincere face. But reproached. Always reproached. And from there be unmasked. Rip off your face. Or the mask. Or both. Or only rip out my eyes. Or rip off my face. Or the mask. And write starting from there. With other hands. In another tone. In everyone’s name. Solemn. Bored. Oh, and impersonal. Seeking out the third person like Cabrera Infante did. Seeking that third person for the seventh time in order to forget them. To lose them. To destroy them and turn them into myself. Into a first person. With cachet. First person à la mode. Because narrating in first person is in style. (Do you see how a fable can be substituted for a story?) Speak. Speak. Even when defining the mortar for your literary structure? Still? Yes, still. And the structure? A poet swore there are books without structures. Foolish. Bohemian. Or drunk. An affected poet. Were people offended? Some were. The guests? Yes. We could begin with them. Come in. Enzensberger, we’re still defining the mortar of the structure. The beams. The materials. The cheap South American labor, they’ve already started. This is very good to hear. Third world labor invites you in. At the beginning, at the start. The 21st century, The South American 21st century. The 21st century in the most violent country in America’s torso. (Yes, the sentimental has leapt out of me.) The 21st century in the third most violent city in the world. One year away from the end of the world. Many centuries before the world’s end. The religious ones. The Crusades. The Middle Ages. Today the Mayans. According to our second guest: nuclear war. Yes Derrida, come in. You are cordially invited for being a fan of Artaud. Take a seat. Even though you might not be able to. Don’t get too comfortable. We haven’t started yet. This is the year of Cioran. We should celebrate it. But first we must see to our guests. Oh! Deleuze, Deleuze my friend, yesterday I spoke with a friend who reproached me for not having studied you. He talked about dismantling and deconstructing. He defended a current Chilean poet who is in a coma. He told me that language deconstructs itself and I was frightened. I didn’t want to know any more about it. But he insisted and told me that language as well as deconstructing itself should stay that way, deconstructed. The true work of art is deconstruction. I was frightened still even more. And I had to tell him that an artist deconstructs a language or art in order to put it together again and show it to the world. You shouldn’t simply deconstruct it crazy-style. And worse still is to leave a work of art unconstructed. And with what I said I scared myself and I decided to forget it. I forget by choice. I also forget because my neurons are expiring. War of the neurons. As an inhabitant of the third most violent city in the world why not think that my neurons live within the most self-destructive and violent headspace in the world? Patience. Patience. It will be a reconstruction. Will it be? A reconstruction that looks like a puzzle. (Puzzle art?) Could it be? A reconstruction that looks like a puzzle where the pieces fit together seamlessly. Seamlessly? Could it be?

Foto: Roxana Pavón

If you knew how to fall in love, there would be no crime in believing. We both learned this from each other. Over a year we learned to see each other – are we a blank page, are we woman or man? Let’s start again. And who was my rock, always looking inside of me, deeper than anyone else could see into me, while I, as ashamed as I am now, knowing that I could have reciprocated, that there was something in me and that I knew that I could repay and reciprocate, and I couldn’t and I say it here now in confidence, because I don’t know who else to say it to, because I’m crying here, in confidence because I don’t know where else to write it …? (I’m sorry. Sometimes my heart opens, it splits, it breaks. I cry. And I cry in the way you may see a man cry only a few times in your life. Each blink of the eye is an axe to the heart. It’s something strange, it’s splitting open a void that shouldn’t hurt and that nevertheless does hurt. There’s nothing more painful than cracking open your own void. And even though I don’t believe it I would pay to die and be someone else. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be me. I don’t want to be. I know that you don’t understand. Or maybe you do. Maybe. Maybe you do.)

Yeah, man, it will be a reconstruction that will look like a puzzle where the pieces fit together seamlessly. (Perec, don’t be shy, get out of this building. Get out. Don’t let Graq surround you with doors that open and close in a frenzy. Get out. Wherever you are there won’t be any coordinates. Maybe an Indian from the new continent will greet you.) Let our third guest come in: Michaux. (We wait for applause. None is heard.) It will be an awareness. Will it be? Yes, an awareness. It won’t even be a book? Not even a book. God didn’t want that! Herralde didn’t want that! It will be an awareness. It won’t even be an account or a novel or a story or a fable or a narrative text. Let’s begin with the first piece:

Who am I?

Where do I come from?

I’m Antonin Artaud.

And if I say

How I know how to say it


You will see my current body

Fly into pieces

And meet under

Ten thousand distinctive aspects –

A new body

Where you will never be able to

Never ever

Forget me.




Traducción: Jesse Tomlinson

Interpreter, Spanish & English. Literary translator. Perito traductor. Voice talent. Direct clients, language, Mexican culture & news.




1 comentario

Deja una respuesta

Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Salir /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Salir /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: