¿Y dónde está la literatura del chavismo? (algunas sentencias lapidarias) / Eduardo Febres

And Where is the Literature of Chavismo? (A Few Lapidary Precepts)


Chavista literature is a contradiction. An aporia. In any form of Chavista writing the weight of the anchoring Chávez/Chavismo turns any horizon different from the political one into nothing. It subordinates and subsumes it. And more so if it’s a horizon as fragile as the literary one. My neighbor Aquiles Zambrano wrote about this in an episode of lucidity: “If it’s Chavista then it isn’t literature: it’s Chavismo, in other words, a political discourse.”


Chavista writing, if it’s authentic, is political, and its horizon is the possible, which isn’t always verifiable, but does point towards the truth. That’s why the best Chavista writing isn’t literature, and if there are Chavistas who write good literature, the good aspects of that literature are not that they’re Chavista, in the same way that the good aspects about their Chavismo aren’t the literary ones.

“Today’s events are what matter. But more than writing them, they must be produced,” could be a key phrase for the Chavista writer.


That was written by Rodolfo Walsh in 1969, in a private diary (published in Argentina in the 1990s), where the same tension moves through all the pages more or less from 1968 onwards. A tension the editor of those private papers (Daniel Link) condenses into “there’s no separation between life and literature.” But it gets better on the scene in this anecdote from the diary: “The time I should have spent on the novel I spent, mostly, in founding and directing the weekly for the CGT (General Central for Workers).”

You can rest assured that during these past fifteen years the time for writing novels of the best Chavista writers has likewise not been dedicated to the novel. And if there’s something similar to what we can call “Chavista literature,” one of the places to look for it is in the possible diary, or the email inbox, of one of those writers: in a writing that transforms into text the conflict described by Juan Calzadilla: “Not being able to choose action is always the fate and tragedy of all poetry.”


That conflict can end up producing a very potent writing, between the irreversible addiction to literature and the deep conviction that: “All males should ignore and curse literature. Reading it is a dissipation worthy, at most, of the harem’s deceitful odalisques and perverse eunuchs. ”

A lapidary precept by our Caribbean poète maudit, José Antonio Ramos Sucre, who also passed through and experimented that tension, although he never got close to political life except by accident, and in fact fled from the world and from life.

Nevertheless, his imaginary, isolated, bookish and self-destructive manner of living heroically produced a writing much more revolutionary, for example, than that of his contemporary Andrés Eloy Blanco, who really was a poet of the people, and definitely wanted to place his literature at the service of revolution.

Revolutionary literature has rarely been made by those who wanted to serve political revolution with literature, and it has always been made by those who have aimed to go beyond the limits of what is known and read as literature in their time.

The best place to look for the literature of Chavismo is in the future, or in forms of reading (or not reading) in the future.


One place where you definitely won’t find the literature of Chavismo is in established literature. Though there are plenty of writers who’ve tried to simplify (and capitalize) the storm of Chavismo from the comfort of that literature, all of them have crashed straight into what Che already warned against in 1965, in Socialism and Man in Cuba: “Authentic artistic research is annulled and the problem of general culture is reduced to an appropriation of the socialist present and the dead (but not too dangerous) past. This is how socialist realism is born.”

{ Eduardo Febres, Contrapunto, 7 October 2015 }

1 comment:

Boludo Tejano said...

I have long been of the opinion that the Chavista era will provide rich material for literature, in a "truth is stranger than fiction" way. Just write it down. Could Gabriel Garcia Marquez have improved on Chavez's "Yanqui de Mierda" rant? Literature of the Chavista era will be that of a roman a clef, or journalistic accounts. Think Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, or the journalistic forays of Tom Wolfe or Norman Mailer.

Some of the blog writings on Venezuela could make good literature, or at least journalism turned into literature. Of the three main English language blogs on Venezuela, Daniel Duquenal's Venezuela News and Views has the best literary quality, of best conveying what it is like to live day to day in Chavista-ruled Venezuela, beyond a mere recitation of the numbers.

One problem with "Chavista literature" is that Chavismo is hostile to any writing that doesn't follow the company line. But plenty of good literature has come out of countries ruled by tyrants or despots. Just don't expect tyrants to be patrons for authors.