The short, provocative and controversial book of essays entitled “Literatura de izquierda” (Leftist’s Literature), rescued by Spanish Periférica publishing house in 2010, is now celebrating ten years of being published in Argentina. It is probably the most resounding critical hit in Latin America by novelist, editor, and sociologist Damian Tabarovsky (Buenos Aires, 1967).
First, the two explanations of the title. Literature does not cover its broad sense: Tabarovsky mainly referred to narrative practice, to fiction. But he could not be more explicit on the other term. Let us read:
” … Leftist’s literature does not refer to the literature written by leftist writers who underwent that policy or who say they still belong to it. Much of such literature is conservative, reductive, and simplistic. But not even their relationship with the market is closer to the left. From the boom, the vast majority of leftist writers adopt the most meritocratic and less questioning positions of the established order. Just like conservative writers, those from the left get linked to the market through the same way as they do with the texts: normative, conventional, full of low blows manner. In contrast, the situation is the other way around for the leftist’s literature, which gets related to the market and texts in only one way: an anti-hierarchical way.”
But this reversal is not enough. Tabarovsky recognizes that his left-literature is a problematic, easy to disassemble, difficult to define idea. He says: “It happens that the difficulty and discomfort are its touchstone, and also its fragility” (and it seems that he is also talking, of course, all the time, of another political left). The best thing about the book is that it does not try to define precisely, does not deal with the game of reasonable arguments ( “It happens that leftist’s literature distrusts reasonable grounds”). Before properly demarcate a territory, the author prefers to fold / unfold a map: routes, tracks, directions…
Here are some of them:
-Leftist’s Literature is written as doubt not as certain. It is written against, while the conservative literature does it for. It is written at risk (Market, but also the Academy, according to Tabarovsky are safe places).
-Leftist’s Literature is written for a reader that questions and even denies it, situation that “becomes it aware of its own impossibility, its ineffectiveness, of its belonging to an imagined community.”
-Leftist’s Literature does not seek to make sense, but to hold the sense in abeyance and / or brackets. Its goal is not so much to believe but to hinder existing beliefs.
-Leftist’s Literature always carries something “low, creeping, badly written.” It is like a radical virus, it carries within itself “the sign of the loss, the excess; the threshold of malfunction, accident, of the most absolute loneliness.”
-Leftist’s Literature suspects of any convention (including themselves´). I t does not intend to subvert a literary order but to question the very idea of literary order, whatever that order is (the status quo always belongs to right).
-Leftist’s Literature is written thinking about the outside, but that outside “is not the public, critics, circulation, posterity, doctoral thesis , the back cover, a pat on the shoulder”; It is the outside of the language that never comes, which is always delayed or disintegrates and it rather constitutes an unattainable inside, a dive “but not a dive as a search for the right, fine, precise word (the illuminated coral underwater ), but as the time in which spearfishing gets lost and becomes metal, acid, glass, crushed glass coral (exploring a sunken ship)”. And so on.
The latter underwater metaphor refers to Deleuze, of course. The b abbling. And the matter is that the notion of minor literature, the invention of a language within another language, pervades much of the book. “Now that France no longer has any influence on us, maybe it’s time to cite French again, quoting a French essayist has become very snobbish right now,” Tabarovsky says.
The “we” he speaks of is an Argentine plural. You have to remember. ¨Literatura de izquierda¨ (Leftist’s Literature) is a book made from a diagnosis of Argentine contemporary literature. Although it progresses much further, although its ideas are easily transferable to other contexts of current literature (but extrapolations to Cuba are always complex; Barthes, another Frenchman cited, told that literature, ” healthy trickery” allows “to hear the tongue out of power”, phrase that has a very different meaning around here), it is a book dealing with a discussion on post Borges literature, on the line passing through Puig – Copi – Libertella – Lamborghini – Nestor Sanchez – Aira – Fogwill – Chejfec – Bizzio – Guebel, on Argentine narrative of the 1990´ and the turn of the century, about inheritance and well known clashes experienced by those living near Buenos Aires. That is the core where Tabarovsky wants to intervene and, of course, when illustrating concrete examples of w hat Leftist’s Literature would be for him, he offers a list of titles of Argentine authors.
The list is not the most important (or maybe it does and I’m who downplayed it because I have not read and probably will never read any of those books and most of the names mean nothing to me). But it is worth noting the position assumed by Tabarovsky, knowing that when one is immersed within certain thought machines, the relationship between example and theory is almost always unhappy. The slip is not allowed. And tabarovsky, c onsistent with these “left” ideas he has been developing, proposes:
“We should write theories without examples or examples without theories; or, perhaps this is the case, making example and theory not to fit each other, to disengage, to rebel one against the other. Therefore there is not a prior theory that then goes down to empiricism to be verified, there is only an archipelago full of bridges but the islands are missing.”
An archipelago full of bridges but the islands are missing: a beautiful phrase about the space that could introduce literature on its future dimension. I shall return to the subject. The best is still missing.