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Noises

by Renato Leduc

Noises from the street. The window trembles,
like a window trembles, as it often does.
I, a part-time poet, wonder
“à moi même,”
could it be Death’s calling? or perhaps be Love’s…
But the window, trembling, quite plainly provided
the terrible truth:
                                         Sir, it was a bus…

Renato Leduc (1897–1986). Fragment of Ruidos. Translated from Spanish by Alex Adame Basilio

20Nov1948

Avenida 20 de Noviembre, with the Metropolitan Cathedral in the background, Mexico City (1948)

Tenacity

by Nellie Campobello

I asked them
for just a little
time
so they could see
my soul

They paid me no attention
and moved on
I followed after them
and after them
I told them she
was hiding
was afraid
and asked them for just a little
time
as I wished to persuade her
but they moved on
I followed after them
and after them

One day a song sprung from
out my soul
and everyone
looked back
and remarked
how poor it was
the joy from
out my soul

They didn’t want it

But I went
and followed after them
and after them…

Nellie Campobello (1900–1986). Original title: Tenacidad. Translated from Spanish by Alex Adame Basilio.

My aunt Nellie (yet again) counsels Socrates on not confusing the Unexamined with the Unworthy

Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living!

My aunt Nellie: Speak for yourself, dear. Alright, alright. That which is worth-living might perhaps be worth for indulging in a little examination too. Well, why not? But to me it just isn’t clear how the unexamined is equal to the unworthy. If that were as obviously the case as you seem to think, archaeologists, psychoanalysts and their friends would rather spend their time more profitably than digging for only god knows what that lies unexamined beneath the surfaces. But look at them!

Me: Ah, if only they would!

Negligence

by Nellie Campobello

I went to him
the doctor
I was ill

Here inside
doctor, in my
head

Noise, lots
of noise
Sounds of musics
Vivid colours
Smiles that
I can’t repress
Joy all over
my body

They say it’s
an illness
doctor, and that’s
why I’ve come

Sadness
plenty
of sadness
he prescribed

We don’t have it
They said everywhere
laughing
and I’d say to myself
very softly:
These
are ill as well

Where can I
find it, doctor?
                I’ve got it.
I saw him so pale
almost a spectre
                No, doctor,
                mine’s better.

Nellie Campobello (1900–1986). Original title: Irresponsabilidad. Translated from Spanish by Alex A. Basilio.

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Nellie and Gloria Campobello, circa 1932. Photo: Archivo Alberto Dallal

 

Freud, Ghostbusters, and the Past

Many viewers of the original Ghostbusters film (1984) have been quick to spot an element of homoerotic anxiety behind Egon’s admonition not to cross the streams of their protonic weapons (“Don’t cross the streams… It would be bad”), and various internet memes to that effect have circulated in recent years. Indeed, the climactic scene towards the end of the film when, in a desperate ruse to save New York and civilization itself, the four (male) ghostbusters bring together their streams while aiming at a transdimensional door that — as Egon puts it — “swings both ways” seems to confirm this impression, which is then further emphasized by the discharge of white viscous matter from the roof of the building, following the success of the quartet’s collaborative effort.

When an undercurrent of concerns about sex is as close to the surface as it is in this film, it may seem as if Freud’s theories about unconscious sexual drives could hardly do anything beyond restating the obvious. Nevertheless, if I resort to Freud in what follows is, first of all, to consider the rich historical — perhaps, prehistorical — echoes of some of these drives and their prohibitions, and also to highlight the spectacular way in which the plot of Ghostbusters proceeds from confirming to then subverting Freud.

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Tinker, Tailor, Boxer, Water-Carrier

“Just as breath emerges with a brighter voice from the narrow bore of a trumpet, the thought that carves its way through the rigours and the rhythms of poetry must come to surface with a livelier force and light.” Words to that effect were said by Cleanthes, who some 23 centuries ago was a boxer, philosopher, and water-carrier.