On the Contemporary: Revólver by Gastón Colmenares (translation by Jen Hofer)

This fall, Open Space will feature a series of reflections by artists, writers, and curators on “the contemporary.” Today’s piece is written by Bolivian philosopher Gastón Colmenares.*

Dorantes_1

Gastón Colmenares, unknown photographer

Revólver

Todo aquel que esté acostumbrado a pensar tiene que molestarse. La cultura le provoca desazón porque le provee (a aquel que suele pensar) –únicamente- una base mínima. Quien tiene por costumbre pensar habla desde un estadio superior que implica, al comunicarse, un proceso absoluto de esfuerzo. No se trata de una chinche ociosa; sin embargo, él participa de la entidad mientras cree que pasa por encima. El poder del ser y sus juicios desatan en él desacuerdos, insuficiencias: el transcurso de un loco que intenta conciliarse consigo mismo. El pensamiento lo logra bien. Cuando el propio sujeto es fruto de la intensiva meditación resulta insoportable. No se trata de una chinche. Se trata de un fruto que resplandece como el odio. Son contadas –e incongruentes- las personas que se fascinan utilizando un arma en contra de sí mismos, sobre todo esa arma tan brillante que nos da el intelecto. Emociones hay muchas y de arma tienen lo mismo que un puño de alfileres. Pero pensar… pensar es un gran revólver.

Inevitablemente se llega hasta la vanidad, la vanidad aumenta el peso de la cultura que se critica. Incluso cuando el arma dispara es sólo para sostener la idea de control superior incuestionada y dogmáticamente. Quien posee el revólver del pensamiento se aleja del desorden que la realidad representa pero, ese alejamiento nunca significa que pase por encima de esa realidad. Sus esfuerzos por pensar logran engañarlo. Con el engaño sucede el desacuerdo, una lucha desesperada por comprobar, por insistir en su supremacía utilizando no únicamente su revólver, es decir, su arma más precisa, sino los tropiezos de la imagen que no domina: convencer. Convencer con determinada fibra tejida en su camisa, con el cabello despreocupado, con el tono extranjero en su charla o en su escritura. Convencer con estructuras tan falsas como su creencia de no pertenecer al mundo cultural -que se produce sin control del intelecto-. Cada acción que toma lo involucra y lo vincula a la cultura que le parece “errónea”. Su desacuerdo es con la realidad. Partir del error cultural es partir de nada. Construir un discurso a partir del “error cultural” y la supremacía del “pensante” es equivocarse. Un error que hunde y que puede tener trabajando inútilmente un pensamiento brillante toda la vida: trabajar creyendo que no se está tocando la realidad. Desperdiciar el pensamiento alejándolo de cualquier experiencia.

El desacuerdo se evidencia con la manifestación de la vanidad. La vanidad parte de las necesidades profundas. Un pensador de esta magnitud es siempre un necesitado. De ahí surge en él la vergüenza. Un pensador atento a la cultura que construyen los demás como si él mismo no contribuyera a generar esta cultura pero, además inconsciente y sentimentalmente pendiente de la aprobación de quienes conforman la misma, y los esfuerzos de su intelecto para demostrar una realidad que consiste en lograr que los ojos de la cultura que critica se posen en sus ojos.

Estamos entrando a una especie de aristocracia del pensamiento, existe toda una cultura que sostiene al crítico. Una cultura que al crítico no le interesa dar a conocer. Es decir, un grupo de particulares aislados: antisociables socializando. Esa es una forma muy agradable de contradecirse: contradictorios pero disfrutables. La calidad de movimiento que les proporciona la psicología con la que justifican un status o estrato socio-cultural, suele justificar cada uno de los juicios que se transforman en votos de verdad para aprobar o contradecir cualquier “comportamiento”.

Los frutos del crítico son así, formas de la ceniza, porque no se deben propiamente al intelecto del crítico, sino a una convergencia sociocultural en la que aquellos de pensamientos afines unen sus intelectos como si fueran manos y construyen el “poder”. No es que el poder influya en un contexto cultural, sino que el contexto cultural se convierte en un generador del poder. El poder debería ser la manifestación energética de un individuo. Sin embargo el crítico desconfía de su propio cuerpo cuando éste se relaciona con su mente y da inicio a cierta percepción. No es que al crítico no le suceda lo que le sucede a cualquier ser humano, sino que su intelectualidad lo niega. ¿El poder natural del crítico? amputarse a sí mismo, desde sí mismo.

Es en nuestros tiempos esta especie de faquir que se sacrifica por el bien del pensamiento de una sociedad aislada –por considerarse a sí misma una sociedad suprema- quien fecunda el concepto contemporáneo de “merecer”: merecer en un contexto globalizado, dentro de un pequeño grupo que se resiste por completo al mundo pero que, inconscientemente juega, pertenece y se sirve del mundo: dinero, cosa, adquisición, merecer. Un aplauso no significa solo que estos seres supremos unan sus manos produciendo un sonido jubiloso de aprobación, significa que el crítico merece cosas. Merece un lugar de descanso construido de cosas de ese mundo que niega. Merece poner el pie dentro de una nave construida por el pensamiento del hombre -a quien considera estúpido- y ser conducido hacia su destino por esa estupidez que –decidida tanto como un tornillo de máquina cualquiera- se planta frente a las nubes detrás de un timón. Incluso, el crítico cree merecer proferir un insulto si alguien no capta su grandiosa idea de cómo debe cortársele el cabello para que él convenza a su micro-sociedad desde su predeterminado desarreglo personal. El crítico merece sentir que el mercado le sirve y merece también que las naciones y las corporaciones deseen que él esté contento. Desde Singapur hasta Colombia. De Bolivia a Tokio.

Gastón Colmenares. La Paz, Bolivia, 1961. Curso estudios de filosofía en la Escuela Superior Hernán Siles. Se autodenomina antiacadémico. Actualmente vive en Sao Paulo, Brasil. Donde colabora en diferentes diarios e imparte clases dentro de la Facultad Alternativa “Mundo Soares”. Desde 1990 dirige la realización de reportajes de corte antropológico. Una de sus aficiones es llevar diarios con dibujos de mapas.

Gastón Colmenares es el seudónimo con que está escrito este fragmento, que forma parte de un libro de ensayo-ficción escrito por Dolores Dorantes. “Revólver” experimenta el ensayo como una forma de escritura donde el tema desconoce su destino y, donde el autor va enterándose, al escribir, lo que el ensayo significa; totalmente separado, por medio del personaje, de la personalidad, del tiempo y del lugar donde la autora se encuentra.

 

Revolver (translated by Jen Hofer)

Any person who’s in the habit of thinking must necessarily become perturbed. Culture causes such a person uneasiness because it provides (to one accustomed to thinking) — only — a minimal foundation. A person who makes a habit of thinking speaks from a superior state that implies, when that person communicates, a tremendous process of effort. We’re not talking about an idle bedbug; such a person participates in culture, however, even as they believe they rise above it. The power of beings and their judgments unleash in that person a certain discord and insufficiency: the process of a madman who attempts to reconcile with himself.

Dorantes_1

Gastón Colmenares, unknown photographer

Thinking achieves this readily. When one’s own subjectivity is the fruit of intensive meditation it becomes insufferable. We’re not talking about a bedbug. We’re talking about a fruit that gleams like hate. It is only a few people — and illogical ones at that — who become fascinated by the use of a weapon against themselves, above all that ever-so-brilliant weapon the intellect offers us. Emotions are legion and in the way of a weapon they are the same as a fistful of pins. But thinking… thinking is a great revolver.

Inevitably one reaches the point of vanity; vanity increases the weight of the culture being critiqued. Even when the weapon fires, it’s only to maintain the idea of a superior control, unquestionably and dogmatically. A person who possesses the revolver of thinking maintains a distance from the disorder reality represents, but that distancing never means that he overlooks that reality. One’s efforts at thinking succeed in deceiving one. With this deception, disharmony occurs, a desperate struggle to prove, to insist on one’s supremacy utilizing not only one’s revolver — that is, one’s most essential weapon — but also the falterings of an image that doesn’t dominate: the attempt to convince. To convince with a particular fiber woven into one’s shirt, with one’s hair in disarray, with a foreign tone in one’s speech or writing. To convince with structures as false as one’s belief that one does not belong to the cultural world — produced without any control over the intellect whatsoever. Each action a person takes involves that person and links them to the culture that seems to them “wrong.” Such a person’s discord is with reality. To start from cultural error is to start from nothing. To construct a discourse that starts from “cultural error” and the supremacy of the “thinker” is to make a mistake. An error that submerges, that might keep a brilliant thought working uselessly for a lifetime: to work in the belief that one is not touching reality. To waste thought by distancing it from any experience.

The discord is demonstrated as a manifestation of vanity. Vanity arises out of deep needs. A thinker of this magnitude is always a needy person. Hence shame arises within that person. A thinker attentive to the culture constructed by others as if he were not contributing to the production of this culture; further, unconsciously and sentimentally to be dependent upon the approval of those who constitute that very culture, for the efforts of one’s intellect to demonstrate a reality that consists in getting the eyes of the culture being critiqued to settle on one’s own eyes.

We are entering into a kind of aristocracy of thought; an entire culture exists simply to sustain the critic. A culture the critic has no interest whatsoever in bringing to light. That is, a group of isolated particulars: anti-social people socializing. That is a very agreeable way to contradict oneself: contradictory but enjoyable. The quality of movement psychology offers them, and with which they justify a socio-cultural status or stratum, tends to justify each of the judgments that transform into true vows to approve or contradict any “behavior.”

Thus, in this way, the fruits of the critic are forms of ash, because they don’t depend, precisely, on the critic’s intellect, but rather on a sociocultural convergence in which those who share kindred thoughts might unite their intellects as if they were hands with which to construct “power.” It’s not that power might influence a cultural context, but rather than the cultural context becomes a generator of power. Power should be an individual’s energetic manifestation. Nonetheless, the critic distrusts his own body when it exists in relation to the mind and gives rise to a certain perception. It’s not that what happens to any human being doesn’t happen to the critic, but rather that the critic’s intellectuality negates it. The critic’s natural power? To amputate himself, from within himself.

It is in these times just this sort of fakir who sacrifices himself in service to the thinking of an isolated society — as such a person considers himself a supreme society — and who fertilizes the contemporary concept of what it is “to deserve”: to deserve in a globalized context, within a small group that completely resists the world yet unconsciously plays, belongs, and helps itself to the world: money, thing, acquisition, to deserve. A round of applause doesn’t mean only that these supreme beings join their hands to produce a jubilant sound of approval, it means that the critic deserves things. Deserves a place to rest constructed out of the things of that world he negates. Deserves to place his foot onto a vessel constructed by the thinking of man—whom he considers stupid — and to be led to his destination by that stupidity which — so resolute, like a screw in any machine — plunks itself in front of the clouds behind a rudder. The critic even believes he deserves to proffer an insult to anyone who does not understand his magnificent idea of how one’s hair should be cut so as to impress one’s micro-society from within one’s predetermined personal disarray. The critic deserves to feel that the market serves him and also deserves nations and corporations to desire his contentment. From Singapore to Colombia, From Bolivia to Tokyo.

Gastón Colmenares (La Paz, Bolivia, 1961) studied philosophy at the Hernán Siles University. He is a self-proclaimed anti-academic, currently living in São Paulo, Brazil, where he writes for a number of newspapers and teaches at the “Mundo Soares” Alternative School. Since 1990 he has been directing anthropological documentaries. One of his greatest passions is keeping a diary with drawings of maps.

Jen Hofer is a translator, i.e., a writer, i.e., a translator. Who am I when I am writing your words, thinking your thoughts, forming my hands and mouth into your syntax, or into a version of your syntax, shifted to fit into my syntax, which shifts to make space for your syntax?

*Gastón Colmenares is the pseudonym used to write this fragment, which is part of an essay-fiction book written by Dolores Dorantes. “Revolver” takes up the essay as a form of writing where the subject matter is unaware of its final destination, and in which the author learns, through writing, what the essay means — totally separate, by way of the character, the personality, from the time and place where the author is located.

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