May 9, 2011


What follows is a strange, nameless state, in which the present, which is as wide as the whole of time is long, seems to have risen, from who knows where, to the surface of who knows what, and in which what I was, which in and of itself in no way amounted to much, now knows that it is here, in the present, knows it, without being able however to pursue its knowledge any farther and without having sought, in the fraction of a second prior to that state, by any means whatsoever, to catch a glimpse of it. This state is going away now; and now, in the darkness, the sounds, the murmurs, the chorus of cicadas, the barking of a dog at the other end of town, begin, gradually, to come unbound from each other, to separate, building up, out of the black, compact mass of night, levels, dimension, heights, various distances, a structure of sounds that produce, in the uniform blackness, a precarious, fragile space, whose distribution in the blackness continuously changes shape, duration, and one might even say, to put it into words somehow, place. But now it is gone: it is as if an errant wave, a phosphorescent image of many colors combined in a harmonious way, had been reflected, on passing, for a few instants, through me, and had then continued on its way, leaving me in that other firmer, more permanent state, in which everything is within reach of my fingertips, with the same accessibility as a ship inside a bottle.

Juan José Saer, from Nobody Nothing Never (Serpent’s Tail, 1993), translated by Helen Lane.


Thomas McGonigle said...

Saer is a great writer... Sadly dead before his time Open Letter has done one book and will be doing more to add to the ones Serpents Tail did...but a bit wary as Helen Lane is dead and she was one the greatest translators

Edmond Caldwell said...

Yes, I was thrilled to see in my copy of "The Sixty-Five Years of Washington" that OL was also planning to publish "La Grande" and "Scars."

Too bad about Helen Lane, though. Margaret Jull Costa is probably too busy with other books . . . does Gregory Rabassa still translate?