1990 : Octavio Paz

1990 : Octavio Paz

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“for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity”



March 31, 1914

Place of birth


Macalen Bar, D.F., Mexico



April 19, 1998

Place of death


Mexico City, D.F., Mexico



Writer, Poet, Diplomat




Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1990


Octavio Paz Lozano was born in Mexico City on March 31, 1914, in the midst of the Mexican Revolution. Raised in Mixcoac, a nearby village (and now part of Mexico City) by his mother, Josefina Lozano, a religious woman, as well as an aunt and her paternal grandfather, Ireneo Paz, a retired soldier from the forces of Porfirio Diaz, a liberal intellectual and novelist. His father, also named Octavio Paz, worked as a clerk and lawyer for Emiliano Zapata, was involved in land reform that followed the revolution, and collaborated actively in the movement Vasconcelos. All these activities that led the father away from home for long periods. Peace was influenced by literature from small through his grandfather, who was familiar with both classical literature and with the Mexican modernism. During the decade of 1920-1930 discovered poets Europeans Gerardo Diego, Juan Ramon Jimenez and Antonio Machado, who also influenced his earliest writings. She published her first poem and as a teenager in 1931, under the name Sea of day, to which he added a subtitle of the French poet Saint-John Perse. Two years later, at age 19, Paz published Luna Silvestre, a collection of poems. By 1937, Paz was already considered the youngest and most promising poet of the Mexican capital. In 1937 he finished his studies and traveled to the Yucatan in search of work in a school near Merida. There he began working in his poem Between the rock and the flower (1941, revised in 1976), which describes the cultural situation and the loss of faith of the Mexican peasant as a result of a capitalist society. In 1937, Paz visit Spain during the Spanish Civil War, showing their solidarity with the Republicans, whose political ideology influenced his work for young people, providing a vision worried, even distressed, with respect to living conditions that existed in his native country and in Spain. On his return to Mexico, participated as a co-founder in a literary magazine called Workshop in 1938, and wrote on it until 1941. In 1943 received the Guggenheim Fellowship and began his studies at the University of California, Berkeley in the United States of America, and two years after beginning to serve as a Mexican diplomat, working in France until 1962. During that stay, in 1950, writes and publishes The Labyrinth of Solitude, an innovative anthropological study of the thoughts and identity of Mexico. In 1985 received the International Prize Alfonso Reyes. In 1987 he was awarded the First Prize International Menendez Pelayo. In 1990 received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Experimentation and disagreement may be two of the words that best define his poetic work, but he is a poet difficult to pigeonhole. None of the labels awarded by critics fits with his poetry: the poet neomodernista in its early stages, later, existential poet, and sometimes poet surrealist with dyes. No label will block it and no spare. In fact, this is not a poet who has taken root in any movement because he was always alert to the changes that were occurring in the field of poetry and was always experimenting, so that his poetry eventually become a very personal expression and original. In addition, it is a great poet whose lyrical poems contain images of great beauty. After the social concern, in his first book, came to treat the root existential themes, such as loneliness and isolation. One of the most common obsessions in his poems is the desire to flee the time, which led to the creation of a poetry space whose poems were baptized by the author under the name topoemas (of moles + poem). This is what it means to space poetry: poetry opposed to the typical poetry temporary and discursive. This is a poetry and intellectual minority, almost metaphysical in sign language also includes visual signs. In topoemas, just as happened in the poetry of the avant-garde movements, we give importance to the evocative and expressive power of visual images. There is no doubt that the last poetry of Octavio Paz are quite esoteric, but, apart from this, above all his poetry notable for its lyricism and the magical sense that the author gives to the words. On April 19, 1998 Octavio Paz died in his hometown who was Mexico City..


Works in Spanish:


  • Luna silvestre – Mexico : Fabula, 1933

  • No pasaran! – Mexico : Simbad, 1936

  • Raiz del hombre – Mexico : Simbad, 1937

  • Bajo tu clara sombra y otros poemas sobre Espana – Valencia : Espanolas, 1937

  • Entre la piedra y la flor – Mexico : Nueva Voz, 1938

  • A la orilla del mundo y Primer dia; Bajo tu clara sombra; Raiz del hombre; Noche de resurrecciones – Mexico : Ars, 1942

  • Libertad bajo palabra – Mexico : Tezontle, 1949

  • Aguila o sol?. – Mexico : Tezontle, 1951

  • Semillas para un himno – Mexico : Tezontle, 1954

  • Piedra de sol – Mexico : Tezontle, 1957

  • La estacion violenta – Mexico : Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1958

  • Agua y viento – Bogota : Ediciones Mito, 1959

  • Libertad bajo palabra : obra poetica (1935-1958) – Mexico : Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1960

  • Salamandra : 1958-1961 – Mexico : Mortiz, 1962

  • Viento entero – Delhi : Caxton, 1965

  • Blanco – Mexico : Mortiz, 1967

  • Disco visuales – Mexico : Era, 1968

  • Ladera este : (1962-1968) – Mexico : Mortiz, 1969

  • La centena : (Poemas: 1935-1968) – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1969

  • Topoemas – Mexico : Era, 1971

  • Vuelta – Mexico : El Mendrugo, 1971

  • Pasado en claro – Mexico : Fondo de cultura economica, 1975

  • Poemas : (1935-1975) – Mexico : Seix Barral, 1979

  • Prueba del nueve – Mexico: Circulo de Lectores, 1985

  • Arbol adentro – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1987

  • La otra voz : poesia y fin de siglo – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1990

  • La Casade la Presencia :poesia e Historia – Mexico : Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1994

  • Delta de cinco brazos – Barcelona : Galaxia Gutenberg, 1998


  • Las peras del olmo – Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1957

  • Corriente alterna – Mexico : Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1967

  • Conjunciones y disyunciones – Mexico : Mortiz, 1969

  • El signo y el garabato – Mexico : Mortiz, 1973

  • Los hijos del limo : del romanticismo a la vanguardia – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1974

  • El mono gramatico – Mexico : Seix Barral, 1974

  • In/mediaciones – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1979

  • Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz; o, Las trampas de la fe – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1982

  • Sombras de obras : arte y literatura – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1983

  • Tiempo nublado – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1983

  • Hombres en su siglo y otros ensayos – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1984

  • Pasion critica – Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1985

  • Primeras letras (1931-1943) / seleccion, introduccion y notas de Enrico Mario Santi. Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1988

  • Pequena cronica de grandes dias – Mexico : Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1990

  • Al paso – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1992

  • Itinerario – Mexico : Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1993

  • Un mas alla erotico: Sade – Mexico : Vuelta/Heliopolis, 1993

  • La llama doble : amor y erotismo – Barcelona : Editorial Seix Barral, 1994

  • Vislumbres de la India – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1995

  • Reflejos, replicas : dialogos con Francisco de Quevedo – Mexico : Vuelta, 1996

  • Memorias y palabras : cartas a Pere Gimferrer 1966-1997 / edicion, prologo y notas de Pere Gimferrer, prefacio de Basilio Baltasar – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1999

  • Por las sendas de la memoria : prologos a una obra – Barcelona : Galaxia Gutenberg, 2002

Translations into English:

  • Selected Poems of Octavio Paz : a bilingual edition / translations by Muriel Rukeyser – Bloomington, Ind. : Indiana Univ. Press, 1963

  • The Other Mexico – New York, 1972.

  • Alternating Current – New York : Viking Press, 1973

  • The Bow and the Lyre : (El arco y la lira), the Poem, the Poetic Revelation, Poetry and History / transl. by Ruth L.C. Simms – Austin : Univ. of Texas P., cop. 1973

  • Early Poems 1935-1955 / translated from the Spanish by Muriel Rukeyser and other poets – Bloomington, Ind. : Indiana Univ. Press, 1974

  • The Siren & the Seashell and Other Essays on Poets and Poetry / transl. by Lysander Kemp and Margaret Sayers Peden – Austin: Univ. of Texas Press., cop. 1976

  • Marcel Duchamp : Appearance Stripped Bare / translated by Rachel Phillips and Donald Gardner – New York : Viking, cop. 1978

  • The Monkey Grammarian / translated from the Spanish by Helen R. Lane. New York : Seaver Books, 1981

  • Selected Poems / edited by Eliot Weinberger ; translations from the Spanish by G. Aroul [et al.] – New York : New Directions, 1984

  • The Labyrinth of Solitude : Life and Thought in Mexiko / translated by Lysander Kemp – Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1985

  • One Earth, Four or Five Worlds : Reflections on Contemporary History / translated by Helen R. Lane – New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, cop. 1985

  • On Poets and Others / translated by Michael Schmidt – New York : Seaver Books, cop. 1986

  • Sor Juana or, The Traps of Faith / translated by Margaret Sayers Peden – Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1988

  • The Collected Poems : 1957-1987 / edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger ; with additional translations by Elizabeth Bishop – Manchester : Carcanet, 1988

  • Aguila o sol? : Eagle or Sun? / translated from the Spanish by Eliot Weinberger – London : Peter Owen, 1990

  • Convergences : Essays on Art and Literature / translated from the Spanish by Helen Lane – London : Bloomsbury, 1990

  • The Other Voice : Essays on Modern Poetry / translated from the Spanish by Helen Lane – New York : Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1991

  • In Search of the Present : Nobel Lecture, 1990 – San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991

  • The Double Flame : Essays on Love and Eroticism / translated from the Spanish by Helen Lane – London : Harvill, 1996

  • In Light of India : Essays / translated from the Spanish by Eliot Weinberger – New York : Harcourt Brace, 1997

  • Versiones y diversiones. – Ed. bilingue, rev. y aum – Barcelona : Galaxia Gutenberg ; Circulo de Lectores, 2000

Literature (a selection):

  • Phillips, Rachel, The Poetic Modes of Octavio Paz – London, 1972

  • The Perpetual Present : the Poetry and Prose of Octavio Paz / ed. by Ivar Ivask – Norman, Okla, 1973

  • Magis, Carlos H., La poesia hermetica de Octavio Paz – Mexico : Colegio de Mexico, 1978

  • Chiles, Frances, Octavio Paz : the Mythic Dimension – New York : Peter Lang, 1987

  • Santi, Enrico Mario, El acto de las palabras : estudios y dialogos con Octavio Paz – Mexico D.F. : Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1997

  • Pasten B., J. Agustin, Octavio Paz : critico practicante en busca de una poetica – Madrid : Editorial Pliegos, cop. 1999

  • Quiroga, Jose, Understanding Octavio Paz – Columbia, S.C. : Univ. of South Carolina Press, cop. 1999

  • Gonzalez Torres, Armando, Las guerras culturales de Octavio Paz – Mexico : Colibri, 2002

  • Octavio Paz / edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom – Philadelphia, PA : Chelsea House Publishers, 2002

  • Sheridan, Guillermo, Poeta con paisaje : ensayos sobre la vida de Octavio Paz – Mexico, D.F. : Ediciones Era, 2004

  • Diaz, Susana, (Per)versiones y convergencias. – Madrid : Biblioteca nueva, 2005


01. Nobel Prize for Literature.

02. Peace Prize of the German Book Trade Cervantes Prize.

03. National Literature Prize (Mexico).

04. Premio Mondello (Palermo, Italy).

05. Alfonso Reyes Prize.

06. Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

07. Jerusalem Prize.

08. Menendez y Pelayo Prize.

09. Alexis de Tocqueville Prize.

10. Xavier Villaurrutia Award.

11. Doctor Honoris Causa (Harvard).

12. Doctor Honoris Causa (National Autonomous University of Mexico).


The Clerk’s Vision

And fill all these blank sheets that I am missing with the same monotonous question: at what hour just hours? And antesalas, the memorials, the intrigues, moves to the Porter, the officer in Rota, the Registrar, the Deputy, Deputy. Glimpse of Influence and send away to my card every year to remember – to whom? – That at one corner, determined, strong, pushy, but not very sure of my existence, I also look forward to the arrival of my time, I also exist. No, abandoning my post.

Yes, I know, you could sit on an idea, a habit, a stubbornness. Or lie on the embers of pain or hope someone else and wait there, without making much noise. True, it feels good: like, drink, sleep, fornicators, save for the holidays and store in the summer I’m going to the beach. The people love me and I want to. I’ve lightly my condition: disease, insomnia, nightmares, bouts of the expansion, the idea of death, the gusanito to scratch the heart or the liver (the gusanito that deposited their eggs in the brain and punches in the night the dream thicker), tomorrow at the expense of today – today than ever arrive on time, always losing their bets -. Do not: give up the ration card, the identity card, certificate of survival, the form of filacion, passport, the number key to the password, the credential, to pass, the badge, the tattoo and the iron.

In front of me lies the world, the vast world of large, medium and small. World of kings and presidents and jailers, and outcasts of mandarins and liberators and freedom of judges and witnesses and convicted: Stars of the first, second, third and lot sizes, planets, comets, wandering bodies and eccentric or routine and domesticated by the laws of gravity, the subtle laws of the fall, all carrying the meter, all spinning, slowly or quickly, about an absence. Where they said that was the central sun, the solar being, the hot beam made of all human eyes, but there is a hole and less than a hole: the eye of the fish died, oquedad dizzying falls into the eye itself and looked without looking. And there is nothing to fill the void center of the whirlwind. Were broken springs, the foundation collapsed, visible or invisible bonds linking one star to another, one body to another, one man to another, are but a enredijo wire and spikes, a tangle of claws and teeth to us twists and chew and spit and chew us again. No one was hanged with the rope of a physical law. The equations fall relentlessly in themselves.

And as for the chores now and what to do with now: I do not belong to the lords. I do not wash their hands, but I am not a judge nor prosecution witness, or executor. Neither tortured nor questioned, nor suffer interrogation. I ask no one to watch my conviction, I would not save me, nor save anyone. And everything that I do, and everything that we do not forgive or ask forgiveness. His piety is so abject as his justice. Am I innocent? I am guilty. Am I guilty? I am innocent. (I am innocent when I am guilty, guilty when I am innocent. … I’m as guilty but that’s another song. Another song? Everything is the same song.) Guilty innocent, innocent guilty, the truth is that abandoning my post.

I remember my love, my talk, my friends. I remember everything, everything I see, I see them all. With melancholy, but without nostalgia. And above all, without hope. I know that it is immortal, and that if we are something we hope for something. For me and I spent waiting. The abandonment however, still on despite everything, holidays, apologies and exculpantes. I know the mechanism of the pitfalls of morality and power adormecedor of certain words. I have lost faith in all these buildings of stone, ideas, figures. I give my post. I no longer advocate this tower Cracked. And, in silence, I hope the event.

Vientecillo blow a little ice cream. The newspapers speak of a cold wave. People are raised his shoulders and continue life as usual. The first killed just a little more inflated the figure everyday and no one in statistical services warn that more zero. But over time everyone will start to look and ask: what is it? Because for months are going to shake windows and doors, are going to crack furniture and trees. For years there scrapie entrechocar of bone and teeth, shiver and goose meat. For years howl chimneys, the prophets and leaders. The fog that pitching in ponds rotting come to stroll to the city. And at noon, the sun low-misleading, the vientecillo carried the smell of blood dried to a abattoir already left by flies.

Worthless leave or stay at home. Useless lift walls against impalpable. A mouth shut down all fireworks, a doubt uprooted all the decisions. That’s going to be everywhere, not in any. Tarnish all the mirrors. Through walls and belief, garments and well-tempered souls, will be installed at the heart of each. Between body and body, wheezing, between soul and soul, agazapado. And all wounds will be opened, because with skilled and sensitive, though a bit cold, irritated sores and pustules, resale grains and swelling, scratch in the bad old wounds healed. Oh source of blood, inexhaustible forever! Life will be a knife, a gray sheet and agile and sharp and accurate and arbitrary falling and tears and separates. Split, tear, quarter, verbs that come as a big step against us!

It is not the sword that glitters in the confusion of what is coming. It is not the sword, but fear and whip. I speak of what is already among us. There are all trembling whisper, whisper and half-words. Everywhere the vientecillo blows, the slight breeze that causes the vast Whip each time it unrolls in the air. And many already have been in the flesh dwelling logo. The vientecillo rises from the prairies of the past and was jogging about our time.



If you are the amber mare

I am the road of blood

If you are the first snow

I am he who lights the hearth of dawn

If you are the tower of night

I am the spike burning in your mind

If you are the morning tide

I am the first bird’s cry

If you are the basket of oranges

I am the knife of the sun

If you are the stone altar

I am the sacrilegious hand

If you are the sleeping land

I am the green cane

If you are the wind’s leap

I am the buried fire

If you are the water’s mouth

I am the mouth of moss

If you are the forest of the clouds

I am the axe that parts it

If you are the profaned city

I am the rain of consecration

If you are the yellow mountain

I am the red arms of lichen

If you are the rising sun

I am the road of blood

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Professor Kjell Espmark, of the Swedish Academy.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

When the Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded, for the second time in succession, to a writer from the Spanish-speaking world, it is a reminder of the exceptional literary vitality and richness of this sphere in our age. However, our main focus is on one of its most brilliant representatives: the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz. The prize citation indicates what is perhaps most immediately striking in his writing: his passion and his integrity. We find them united in the energetic non serviam – the refusal to serve – that this poet addresses to various quarters. On one occasion he throws his “no” against the leftist utopia of an all-powerful society, on another his protest is directed against a capitalism lacking ethics and culture. But he also asserts his integrity vis-a-vis the heritage that is so alive to this great humanist – only by confronting tradition can the poet establish a real dialogue with the past.

Paz’s most familiar “no” is his resignation from the post as the ambassador of his country in New Delhi, in protest against the massacre of demonstrating students in the Plaza de Tlatelolco in 1968. But this outrage is, in his eyes, an outburst emanating from a troublesome past that lives on in our midst. Distant times and distant regions exist in the here and now. Indian and Japanese experience has a presence as natural as the Aztec calendar. Mexico’s great 17th-Century poet is in that way a contemporary: in Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Paz recognizes not only the distinctive Mexican character but also the intellectuals from our century who are transformed, under the pressure of a totalitarian inquisition, into their own prosecutors.

Most remarkable is how these broad configurations in time and space are condensed in a handful of words. Paz is, in Carlos Fuentes’s phrase, “the great welder.” Throwing off torrents of sparks, his paradoxes link the most differing entities. A central concept is “the eternal moment” – the frequent scene of Paz’s poetry. In the magnificent long poem Piedra de sol (Sunstone) from 1957 we face a present in flames where “all of the names are a single name,/all of the faces a single face,/all of the centuries a single moment.” It is, we learn, “a moment/chiselled from the dream” – and thus a reminder of the early influences of surrealism, which precisely forced different times, regions, and identities to merge in one single here, now, and I, dictated by the logic of the dream. But Paz is also one of the great love poets of his language and in his central poetry it is less the dream than the sensual communion that overcomes all distinctions, as when the two, “dizzy and entwined, fall/on the grass,” “the sky comes down,” space “nothing but light and silence,” and “we lose our names,” floating adrift between “blue and green” in “total time” (Piedra de sol). Also in the latest collection of poems, Arbol adentro (A Tree Within), love can in this way erase what limits us: it opens “the forbidden door” and “takes us to the other side of time.”

Of special importance is the welding together of thought and sensuousness. This is a great theme in modern poetry. T.S. Eliot thus went back to the English 17th-Century poets who could still “feel their thoughts as immediately as the odour of a rose”. In a similar way, Paz draws strength from the original Indian poetry of his country in his striving for the “sensuous intelligence” indicated by the prize citation. “Reason is incarnated at last,” as he says in a poem from 1948. By welding together thinking and sensuousness Paz can give an immediate palpability to his continuous reflection on poetry, both when he participates in the mission of “spelling” the world, giving it a name and thereby a visibility, and when, as a reader, he finds himself watched from the whispering “foliage of the letters” (Pasado en claro). With such a method he can depict time in all its obtrusive ominousness, and give love power to surmount it.

Dear Dr. Paz,

It has been my task to give a picture of your writing in a few minutes. It is like trying to press a continent into a walnut shell – a feat for which the language of criticism is poorly equipped. This is, however, what you have managed to do, again and again, in poems which have, quite rightly, an improbably high specific gravity. I am happy to convey the cordial congratulations of the Swedish Academy to a writer of such substance. I now ask you to receive from the hands of His Majesty the King this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature.

Nobel Lecture:

December 8, 1990

In Search of the Present

Beginning with a word that all men, since man is man, had uttered: thank you. It is a word that is equivalent in all languages. And everywhere is rich range of meanings. In the Romance languages ranging from the spiritual to the physical, the grace that God gives to men to save them from error and death to grace body of the girl who dances or the cat that jumps in the bush. Grace is forgiveness, mercy, favor, benefit, name, inspiration, joy in the style of speaking or painting, gesture that shows good manners and, finally, an act that expresses the soul of goodness. Grace is free, is a gift, one that receives it, the graceful, if not born bad, so thanks: thanks. It’s what I do now with these words of little weight. I hope my emotion compensates its lightness. If each one was a drop of water, you could see, through them, what I feel: gratitude, appreciation. And also an indefinable mixture of fear, respect and surprised to see me before you, here it is, simultaneously, the home of the Swedish lyrics and the house of world literature. The languages are realities that the larger political and historical entities we call nations. An example of this are the European languages that we speak in America. The peculiar situation of our literature compared to those in England, Spain, Portugal and France depends precisely on this basic fact: literature written in languages are transplanted. The languages are born and grow in soil; fed a common history. Torn from their homeland and their own tradition, planted in an unknown world and to name, European languages rooted in the new land, grew up with American societies and were transformed. They are the same plant and a plant are different. Our literature is not passively experienced the vicissitudes of the transplanted languages: participated in the process and rushed. Very soon ceased to be mere transatlantic reflections and often have been the denial of European literatures and other, more commonly, their reply. Despite these ups and downs, the relationship has never been broken. My classics are those of my tongue and I am a descendant of Lope de Quevedo, and like any Spanish writer … but I am not Spanish. I think we could say the same thing the majority of Hispanic writers and also those of the United States, Brazil and Canada against the tradition English, Portuguese and French. To understand more clearly the peculiar position of the American writers, just think about the dialogue that holds the writer Japanese, Chinese or Arabic with this or that European Literature: is a dialogue across different languages and civilizations. In contrast, our dialogue is conducted inside the same language. We are and we’re not Europeans. What are we then? It is difficult to define who we are but our deeds speak for us. The big news of this century, in literary matters, has been the occurrence of literatures of America. First came the Anglo-American, and then in the second half of the twentieth century, Latin America in its two main branches, the Latin American and Brazilian. Although they are very different, the three literatures have one trait in common: the struggle, more ideological than literary, between the nativist and cosmopolitan trends, Europeanism and Americanism. What has become of this dispute? The controversy is cleared up, remaining works. Apart from this general resemblance, the differences between the three are numerous and profound. One is historical rather than literary: the development of the Anglo-American literature coincides with the historic ascent of the United States as a world power, that of our misfortunes and with the political and social upheavals of our people. New test the limits of social and historical determinism, the twilights of empires and disruption of societies coexist with sometimes works and moments of brilliance in the arts and literature: Li-Po and Tu Fu witnessed the fall of the Tang, Velazquez was a painter of Philip IV, Seneca and Lucan were contemporaries and victims of Nero. Other differences are in the literary and relate more to the works in particular that the character of each literature. But are literatures, have a common set of features that distinguishes them from each other? I do not think so. A literature is not defined by a chimerical, elusive character. It is a unique company works together by opposition relationship and affinity. The first and basic difference between the Anglo-American and Latin American literature lies in the diversity of their origins. Both start by being a projection of Europe. Them to an island and a peninsula of us. Eccentric two regions by geography, history and culture. They come from England and the Reformation; us from Spain, Portugal and the Counter Reformation. I barely mentioned, in the case of Hispanic Americans, what distinguishes Spain from other European nations and gives a remarkable and original historical appearance. Spain is no less eccentric England that although what is so different. English eccentricity is insular and is characterized by isolation: an eccentricity by exclusion. The mainland is Hispanic and is the coexistence of different civilizations and past: an eccentricity for inclusion. In what would be the Roman Catholic Spain the Visigoths professed Arriano of heresy, not to mention the centuries of domination by the Arab civilization, the influence of Jewish thought, the Reconquista and other peculiarities. Hispanic American eccentricity is reproduced and multiplied, particularly in countries with ancient civilizations and brilliant as Mexico and Peru. The Spaniards found in Mexico not only geography but a story. That history is still alive: it is not a past but a present. The pre-Columbian Mexico, with its temples and their gods, is a pile of ruins, but the spirit in which this world has not died. We spoke in the language of encryption myths, legends, ways of living together, the folk arts, customs. Being a Mexican writer means what he says hear that present – that presence. Listen, talk to her, decrypt: say … Perhaps after this brief digression is possible to glimpse the strange relationship that at the same time, separates and unites us in the European tradition. The conscience of separation is a constant note of our spiritual history. Sometimes we feel the separation as a wound and then is transformed into internal division, torn conscience who invites us to the examination of ourselves, others see as a challenge, which spur us to action, to come looking for the others and world. True, the feeling of separation is universal and is not exclusive to Hispanic Americans. Born in the moment of our birth we fall off altogether in a strange land. This experience becomes a wound that never heals. It is the unfathomable depth of every man, all of our businesses and actions, everything we do and we dream, are bridges to break the disengagement and joining the world and to our fellow human beings. From this perspective, the life of every individual and the collective history of mankind can be seen as attempts to reconstruct the original situation. Unfinished and endless cure for the division. But I do not intend to make another description, one more, this sentiment. I stress that we are manifested mainly in historical terms. Thus, he becomes aware of our history. When and how this feeling appears and how it transformed into consciousness? The answer to this question may be to double a theory or a personal testimony. I prefer the latter: There are many theories and none entirely reliable. The feeling of separation is confused with my oldest memories and confusing: the first cry, with the first fear. Like all children, built bridges and imaginary emotional that I joined the world and others. He lived in a village on the outskirts of Mexico City, in a ruinous old house with a garden jungle and a large room filled with books. First game, first learning. The garden became the center of the library in the world and enchanted cavern. Reading and playing with my cousins and my fellow schoolmates. There was a fig tree, temple plant, four pine trees, three ash, a smell-of-night, a pomegranate, grasslands, thorny plants that produced purple grazes. Adobe walls. Time was elastic; space, rotating. Or rather: all-time, real or imaginary, were now; space, in turn, transformed unabated: there was here: it was all here: a valley, a mountain, a distant country, the yard of the neighbors . The books of stamps, particularly those in history, eagerly browsed, we provided images: deserts and jungles, palaces and huts, warriors and princesses, beggars and kings. Comrades with Sinbad and with Robinson, we broke with Artagnan, we took Valencia with the Cid. How I would have liked to stay forever on the island of Calypso! In summer the fig tree Meciar all its branches green as if they were the sails of a caravel or a pirate ship, from its high mast, flapping in the wind, I discovered islands and continents – lands that barely faded. The world was limitless, and yet always at hand, the weather was a malleable substance and present a seamless. When broke the charm? No coup: little by little. We are hard to accept that the friend betrays us, that the woman deceived us dear, that the libertarian idea is the mask of the tyrant. What is called “realize” is a slow and winding because we ourselves are accomplices of our errors and deceptions. However, I can recall with some clarification an incident that, though soon forgotten, was the first sign. Would take about six years and one of my bonuses, a bit older than me, taught me an American magazine with a picture of soldiers marching by a wide avenue, probably in New York. “The return of the war,” he said. Those few words peat as if I should announce the end of the world or the second coming of Christ. He knew, vaguely, that far apart, a few years before, had ended a war and that soldiers parade celebrating their victory, for me that war had happened in another time, not now, not here. The photo lie to me. I was literally evicted from this.

Since then the time began to fracture more and more. And the space, the spaces. The experience was repeated again and again. News either, an anodyne phrase, the proprietor of a newspaper, a song fashion: evidence of the existence of the outside world and revelations of my fantasy. I felt that the world was split: I was not in the present. My now disintegrated: the real time was in another part. My time, the time in the garden, the fig tree, the games with friends, the torpor in the sun for three in the afternoon among the herbs, the fig ajar – as a black and reddish ember ember but a sweet and fresh – was a fictitious time. Despite the assurances of my senses, the weather over there, the other was the real, real this time. I accepted the unacceptable: I was an adult. Thus began my expulsion from this. To say that we have been forced out of this may seem a paradox. No: it is an experience that we all have felt at some time, some have lived through the first as a conviction and then transformed into awareness and action. The pursuit of this is not the pursuit of Eden or land of eternity without dates: the search for the real reality. For us, Hispanic Americans, that this was not true in our country: it was the time lived the others, the British, French, the Germans. The weather in New York, Paris, London. Had to go in its search and bring it to our lands. Those years were also those of my discovery of literature. I began to write poems. I did not know what led me to write: I was moved by an inner need hardly definable. Just now I have understood that what I have called my expulsion from this and write poems had a secret relationship. The poetry of the moment is in love and wants to revive in a poem, it deviates from the succession and this makes it fixed. But at that time I wrote without wondering why he did. Looking for a gateway to this: I wanted to be my time and my century. A little later this obsession became fixed idea: I wanted to be a modern poet. Began my quest for modernity. What is modernity? First of all, is a misnomer: there is both modern and societies. Each has its own. Its meaning is uncertain and arbitrary, like the period that precedes it, the Middle Ages. If we are modern compared to the Middle Ages, will we perhaps the Middle Ages of a future modernity? One name that changes with time, is it a real name? Modernity is a word in search of its meaning: is it an idea, a mirage or a moment in history? Are we children of modernity or she is our creation? Nobody really knows. It matters little: the still, the chase. For me, in those years, modernity is confused with this, or rather what it produced: this was their last resort and flowers. My case is not unique or exceptional: all the poets of our time, from the symbolist period, fascinated by the figure at a time magnetic and elusive, have run after her. The first was Baudelaire. The former also managed to touch it and thus discover that it is not time but that melts in your hand. Do not touch my adventures in the pursuit of modernity: they are almost all the poets of our century. Modernity has been a universal passion. Since 1850 has been our goddess and our devil. In recent years it has tried to exorcise and there is much talk of “post”. But what is post-modernity but an even more modern? For us, Latin Americans, the pursuit of modern poetry has a historical parallel in the repeated and various attempts at modernization of our nations. It’s a trend that is born in the late eighteenth century and which covers the same Spain. The United States were born with modernity, and for 1830, as Tocqueville saw it, were the parent of the future, we were born at the time that Spain and Portugal deviated from modernity. Hence, sometimes referred to “Europeanize” our countries: the modern was outside and had to import it. In the history of Mexico begins the process shortly before the wars of Independence, later became a great ideological debate and political divides and a passion for Mexicans in the nineteenth century. An episode brought into question not so much the legitimacy of the reformer project as the way in which they had tried to do it: the Mexican Revolution. Unlike the other revolutions of the twentieth century, Mexico was not so much an expression of a utopian ideology more or less as the explosion of a historical reality and psychological oppressed. It was not the work of a group of ideologues determined to establish some principles derived from a political theory, was a popular sway in the light that showed what he was hiding. For this was the same, much as a revolution, a revelation. Mexico sought to present outside and found him inside, but buried alive. The quest for modernity led us to discover our age, the face of the nation. Unexpected historical lesson that I do not know if we all have learned: between tradition and modernity there is a bridge. Isolated, the traditions are petrifican and currencies are volatilized; together, one encourages the other and the other responds by giving weight and gravity. The quest for modernity was a real poetic Queta, in the allegorical meaning and chivalry that had that word in the twelfth century. Not any rescued Grail, although toured a number of waste lands, visited castles of mirrors and camping between tribes ghostly. But I found the modern tradition. Because the currency is not a school but a poetic lineage, a family scattered in several continents, and that for two centuries has survived many vicissitudes and misfortunes: public indifference, loneliness and the courts of the orthodoxies religious, political, academic and Sex . Being a tradition and not a doctrine has allowed him to simultaneously stand and change. It also has given him diverse: each poetic adventure is different and every poet has planted a tree different in this forest prodigious speaker. If the works are diverse and different ways, what unites all these poets? Not an aesthetic but a search. My search was not utopian, but the idea of modernity is a mirage, a bundle of reflexes. One day I discovered that not progressed but came back to square one: the quest for modernity was a descent to the origins. Modernity led me to my beginning, my seniority. The rupture was further reconciliation. I knew well that the poet is a beat in the river for generations. * The idea of modernity is a sub-product of conception of history as a process now, linear and unrepeatable. Although its origins are in the Judeo-Christian, is a break with the Christian doctrine. Christianity traveled to the cyclical time of the pagans: history never repeats itself, it had a beginning and will have an end, the time now was the time of profane history, theater of the actions of the men died, but before the sacred time, without beginning or end. After the Reckoning, as in heaven than in hell, there will be no future. In eternity, nothing happens because everything is. Triumph of being on the future. The new time, ours is linear as a Christian but open to infinity and without reference to Eternity. Our time is the story of the profane. Time irreversible and perpetually unfinished, not running toward its end but to the future. The sun of history is called the name of the future and the future is moving toward Progreso. For the Christian, the world – or as I said earlier: the century, life on earth – is a place of proof: the souls are saved or lost in this world. For the new design, the historical subject is not the individual soul but the human race, sometimes conceived as a whole and others through a selected group that represents it: the advanced nations of the West, the proletariat, white or any another entity. The philosophical tradition pagan and Christian had to be exalted, fully drenched, perfection that does not change ever, we adore Change, the engine of progress and model of our societies. Change has two preferred modes of expression: the evolution and revolution, the trot and jump. Modernity is the tip of the historical movement, the incarnation of evolution or revolution, the two sides of progress. Finally, progress is thanks to the dual action of science and technology, applied to the domain of nature and the use of its vast resources. Modern man has been identified as being historic. Other companies preferred to be defined by different values and ideas to change: the Greeks worshiped at the Polis and the circle but ignored the progress, Seneca reveals you as to all the Stoics, the eternal return, Saint Augustine believed that the end of the world was imminent, St. Thomas built a scale – grades being – of the creature creator and so on. One after another those ideas and beliefs were abandoned. I think that starts to happen the same with the idea of Progress and, accordingly, with our vision of the time, of history and ourselves. Witnessing the twilight of the future. The decline of the idea of modernity, and the fashionable notion of a very dubious as the “post”, are phenomena that affect only the arts and literature: we are living the crisis of ideas and basic beliefs that have moved to the men from For over two centuries. On other occasions I have spoken at some length the issue. Here I can only make a very brief summary. First: is in the design of an open process towards infinity and synonymous with continuous progress. If I should just mention what everyone knows: natural resources are finite and one day it will end. In addition, we have perhaps caused irreparable damage to the natural environment and the species itself is threatened. Moreover, the instruments of progress – science and technology – have shown with terrible clarity that can easily become agents of destruction. Finally, the existence of nuclear weapons is a refutation of the idea of progress inherent in the story. A rebuttal, I would add that there is no choice but to call devastating. Secondly: the fate of the historical subject, ie the human community, in the twentieth century. Rarely peoples and individuals have suffered so much: two world wars, despotism on five continents, the atomic bomb and, finally, the multiplication of one of the most cruel and deadly men who have known, the field of concentration. The benefits of modern technology are uncountable but it is impossible to turn a blind eye to the killings, torture, humiliation, degradation and other injuries they have suffered millions of innocent people in our century. Thirdly: the belief in the progress needed. For our parents and our grandparents the ruins of history – corpses, desolate battlefields, cities demolished – not denying the essential goodness of the historical process. The scaffold and tyranny, war and barbarism of civil strife were the price of progress, the blood ransom to be paid to the god of history. A god? Yes, the same reason, divinizada rich and cruel tricks, according to Hegel. The alleged rationality of history has evaporated. In the domain of the same order, regularity and consistency – in the exact sciences and physics – have resurfaced the old notions of accident and disaster. Disturbing resurrection that makes me think about the terrors of the Thousand Year and the anguish of the Aztecs at the end of each cosmic cycle. And to conclude this hasty enumeration: the ruin of all these philosophical and historical assumptions which sought to know the laws of historical development. Their (reyentes, confident that they were masters of the keys to the story, built on powerful states pyramids of corpses. These proud buildings, designed in theory to release the men, became very soon in huge prisons. Today we have seen falling ; Poured down the idelogicos not enemies but fatigue and the libertarian zeal of the younger generation. End of utopias? Rather: so the idea of history as a phenomenon whose development is known in advance. The historical determinism has been a costly and bloody fantasy. The story is unpredictable because its agent, the man, is the indeterminacy in person. This review shows that small, very probably, we are at the end of a historic period and the beginning of another. End or mutation of the Modern Age? It’s hard to know. However, the collapse of utopias has left a great void, not in countries where this ideology has made its evidence and failed but in those where many embraced with enthusiasm and hope. For the first time in history men live in a kind of spiritual weather and not, as before, in the shadow of these religious and political systems that simultaneously, oppressing us and console us. The companies are historic but have lived all guided and inspired by a set of beliefs and ideas meta. Ours is the first to be preparing to live without a meta doctrine, our absolute – religious or philosophical, ethical or aesthetic – are not collective but private. The experience is risky. It is impossible to know whether the tensions and conflicts of this privatization of ideas, practices and beliefs that have traditionally belonged to public life did not end up breaking the social factory. The men could be held back by old furies of religious and nationalist fanaticism. It would be terrible that the fall of the idol of abstract ideology announced the resurrection of the buried passions of the tribes, sects and churches. Unfortunately, the signs are troubling. The decline of ideologies that I called meta, that is, assign a purpose and direction to history, implies tacit abandonment of global solutions. We are inclined more and more, with good sense, for limited remedies to solve specific problems. It is sane refrain from legislating in the future. But this requires not only meet their immediate needs but also asks us to reflect more comprehensive and rigorous. I think a long, and I firmly believe that the twilight of the future heralds the advent of today. The thinking today is, above all, regain the critical gaze. For example, the triumph of market economy – a victory by default of the opponent – can not be just cause for rejoicing. The market mechanism is an effective but, like all mechanisms, has no conscience and no mercy. We must find a way to insert it into society so that it is the expression of the pact and a tool for social justice and equity. Developed democratic societies have reached an enviable prosperity as well, are islands of abundance in the ocean of universal misery. The theme of the market has a very close relationship with the deterioration of the environment. The contamination not only infest the air, rivers and forests but to the souls. A company owned by the frenzy to produce more to consume more tends to turn ideas, feelings, art, love, friendship and people themselves into objects of consumption. Everything becomes something that is bought, used and disposed of in landfill. No society had produced so many wastes such as ours. Waste material and moral. The reflection on the now does not imply renunciation of the future and forget the past: this is the meeting place of three times. Nor can it be confused with a simple hedonism. The shaft of the pleasure does not grow in the past or the future but at the moment. Also death is a result of this. We can not reject: it is part of life. Living well requires good die. We must learn to look on the face of death. Alternately light and dark, this is an area where the two halves are joined, action and contemplation. Just as we have had philosophies of past and future, of eternity and nothing, tomorrow we will have a philosophy of the present. The poetic experience may be one of their bases. What do we know this? Nothing or nearly nothing. But poets know something: This is the source of presences. In my pilgrimage in search of modernity I missed and I found myself many times. I returned to my home and discovered that modernity is not outside but inside of us. It is today and is the oldest old, is tomorrow and it’s the beginning of the world, has a thousand years and has just been born. Spoke in Nahuatl, Chinese ideograms trace the ninth century and appears on the television screen. This intact, freshly unearthed, which shakes the dust of centuries, smiles, and suddenly thrown to fly out the window and disappears. Simultaneity of times and presences: modernity breaks with the past only to rescue the last millennium and convert to a fertility figurine from the Neolithic in our contemporary. Seek to modernity in their ceaseless metamorphosis and never managed to grasp. Always escapes: each encounter is a leak. The hug and dissipates to the point: it was only a little air. It is instant, that bird that is everywhere and nowhere. We want to grasp alive but opens its wings and disappears, returned a handful of syllables. We are left with empty hands. Then the doors of perception are entreabren, and the other time, the real, which sought unknowingly: the present, the presence.


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