Patricio Pron Bercakap Tentang Sastera Amerika Latin

Patricio Pron
Boom bukan segala-galanya dalam sastera Amerika Latin. Saya harap sepuluh tahun akan datang kita akan berhenti mengagung-agungkan generasi Boom seolah-olah itu sahaja yang ada di sana. Eka Kurniawan pernah kata kepada saya bahawa idea nasionalisme dan idea bangsa serumpun itu adalah angan-angan dan permainan ideologi yang akan menyebabkan bahasa, budaya, dan bangsa tertentu menjadi terpinggir bagi membenarkan suatu gagasan nasional dibangunkan. Memang benar. Lebih-lebih lagi di zaman kita kerana identiti manusia sudah semakin cair. Suatu hari nanti teknologi internet yang ada sekarang akan menjadi lebih bijak, dan tidak mustahil pada masa itu pemikiran internet akan mampu mengatasi pemikiran manusia. Justeru  bangsa internet atau bangsa Artificial Intelligence akan menjadi bangsa baharu yang menguasai dunia.
Tetapi masih jauh kita nak risau tentang kemunculan sebuah dunia Asimov. Manusia di seluruh dunia sedang bercambah wajah identitinya. Orang Cina di Malaysia hampir sama dengan orang Korea dari segi budaya, makanan, dan kereta mereka gunakan. Orang Melayu pun ada yang berkelakuan macam orang Amerika, malah kadang-kadang lebih Amerika daripada orang Amerika. Tidak mustahil ia sedang berlaku juga di Amerika Latin. Kita tidak boleh nak membataskan lagi orang Amerika Latin kepada Marquez, Neruda, Borges, dan Cortazar. Ia sama seperti kita membataskan orang Mexico kepada tortilla dan nachos. Entah-entah ramai sahaja orang Mexico yang berkelakuan seperti orang Jerman ketika sarapan pagi, kemudian menjadi  orang Korea ketika tengah hari, dan di sebelah petang menjadi orang Jepun. Tidak ada jalan mudah nak memahami secara menyeluruh sastera Amerika Latin. Menurut penulis Argentina, Patricio Pron, cara terbaik untuk melihat Amerika Latin adalah dengan memandangnya dari jauh, seperti kita sedang memandangnya dari benua Asia Tenggara. Berikut saya kongsikan kutipan daripada email Patricio Pron kepada sepupunya Rafael Gumucio, seorang pengarang dari Chile.
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 Dari: Patricio Pron
Kepada: Rafael Gumucio
totally agree with you (and also, i see, with Constantino Bértolo) about the insularity of contemporary Spanish literature. I admit that my question was the result of a certain estrangement from it on my part, and of a very real desire to be mistaken and for Spanish literature really to deserve (in spite of everything) the central place that its authors are striving for. Madrid isn’t exactly a Central European forest, but (every time I go outside, and I should point out that I do that very little) my impression is that that forest (which is also the forest of Spanish literature) doesn’t allow us to see the trees, which are actually quite scrawny. Naturally, there are exceptions (marvellous and essential ones), but they only do what all exceptions do all the time: prove the rule. From there comes my estrangement when faced with the prevailing idea that passing through Spain is necessary or inevitable for the Latin American writer. Apparently, it isn’t enough that a large quantity of Spanish publishers have spent the last decade publishing bargain articles from the Latin American literary scene in order to make it clear that their interest (primarily commercial, of course) is oriented more towards there than here, these sad Spanish capitals devastated by moral misery and economic depression, where very few people still have any interest in reading books.

This disinterest (of course) only increases when the selfless and patient readers who still remain in this country come to what is sold to them as literature in Spanish only to discover that its authors can be divided into just a handful of categories: a) the serious young people for whom the only possible subject matter is PURE EVIL (Oh! The murderer was the official stamp-licker at Auschwitz!), b) writers of little detective novels who aspire to win prizes, c) the ones who think that TV series are the new literature (which is equivalent to saying that veal fillets are the new vegetable soup), d) the old who want to write like the young, e) the young who want to write like the old, f) the ones who don’t know who Thomas Bernhard was, g) the ones who, since they know nothing, don’t even know who Jorge Luis Borges was (and he was the one who gave birth to us all), h) the ones who write novels about the crisis or high-up politicians, with all the depth of a Reader’s Digest article, i) the women whose only literary merit is being women, j) the homosexuals whose only literary merit is being homosexuals, k) the men whose only literary merit is being men, l) the ones who are alcoholics and sleep in their cars, where they continue writing their great novel, m) the ones who only write so that their city council puts them in charge of a writing workshop, n) the ones who in these workshops intend to teach well what they themselves do poorly, o) the ones who believe that they know everything about literature because they flick through the Sunday supplements every so often, p) the ones who sign their work with their name, q) the ones who don’t sign their work with their name, r) the ones who make trailers for books, s) the ones who think they’re “from the same stable as Cervantes, Borges and Nabokov” (ridiculous phrase of 2010), t) the ones who boast about their independence whilst working for the Cervantes Institute, u) the ones who boast about supporting small presses once their novel has been rejected by six major ones, etc.

In this context, the bad thing isn’t (as everything seems to suggest) that Spanish literature is disappearing; the bad thing is that it didn’t disappear a long time ago and save us all these horrors.

That said, however, it doesn’t seem to me that the Latin American panorama is much better, excepting the honourable exceptions that, like all exceptions, etc. etc. Of course, good literature is written wherever Alejandro Zambra and Marcelo Mellado are (just as it is in places such as Coahuila, some parts of Buenos Aires and the incommensurable Santiago barrio of Providencia, the surroundings of Barcelona, and in dozens of other similar places, each of which is the centre of its own periphery), but I get the impression that the majority of that literature (with the aforementioned exceptions, etc.) is ruled by its authors’ ambitions to earn money, to obtain something like “fame” or to receive a conspiratorial wink from (another) Spanish editor ready to invent Latin American writers (“Who knows, maybe this is the next Bolaño” – as if there were going to be another Bolaño).


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