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Exercise in books

Exercise in books

On May 19, 2021, as the chief correspondent for Nuevo Laredo at Seminario de Cultura Mexicana, I coordinated a video conference with historian Javier Garciadego. It was a bad vario date, a personal thing that prevented the guest from delaying the conversation with the assistants. On the other hand, we had just experienced a storm that, among other failures, damaged the electric power service, rendering some enthusiasts unable to participate.


The point of the talk was to reflect on the context in which, in 1911, “Aesthetic Questions,” Alfonso Reyes’ germline book was published. As is often the case where Garciadiego attends, he added clarity to his erudition. (Once the event was over, I got a WhatsApp message from Lic. Rafael García Ortega, amazed at the talent of words and knowledge in the highest degree of the guest).

Already in the quiet of the house I took the volume “Alfonso Reyes, little son of the word.” Excerpts by Javier Garciadiego, highly recommended for those interested in the world of Alfonsino. I embarked on an exercise in the books. That’s fun. i.e. do not look for metaphysics where it cannot be found, it has gathered in the following: the book is opened, at random, on page 795, where it begins “by mail return”, a text framed in the national complaint; Bell tower suits, sentenced by Reyes. Don Alfonso, after the fateful year of 1913, spent three decades abroad, but you have to be myopic or have a trace of a bad person to see the contempt for the land in which it is. On the other hand, there were those who blamed him for caring about Goethe, Homer or Mallarm. Things that, in their opinion, have nothing to do with us (as if we Mexicans were extraterrestrial).

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Briefly, in 1932, from the pages of El Nacional, Héctor Pérez Martinez criticized those pages of Monterrey, Don Alfonso’s literary mail, which he considered to be separate from Mexico; From Brazil, where he served as ambassador, Reyes wrote his answer: return the mail. From that writing come quotable reflections. Here it flourishes: “… to be a good son of Mexico, it is not necessary to call the name of the country from an appetizer to a dessert … Gentlemen: a little humility in loving love! .. Can we go where all the peoples go? .. No and a thousand times no: nothing can be alien to us except what we ignore. The only way to be a profitable patriot is to be generously cosmopolitan, in which the part is never understood without the whole … Mexican literature is the sum of the works of Mexican writers … What I do belong to my land in the same degree that I belong to it.”

We cannot ignore the controversial nature of “by mail back” (“…it would be to take the sting out of the bee”) but, in fact, Reyes took it freely. Fortunately, there are many, such as the following advice, authentic sayings: “- Give less advice and make good books. – See not how others live, but write. – What you spend on judgment, you spend on improvement.” One last piece of advice, addressed to small churches who do not realize that there is a street for everyone: “…let each live the other, and for your part, try to do well in your hands.”

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It should be noted that for the rest, Don Alfonso gave no greater importance to Monterrey: “It is the newsletter of my workshop; there they will give the chips and engravings of the manufacture of my small cabinets: the surroundings of the work and not the work itself.” But let us return to the issue of books, that reading gave a rotten light, the scythe that will loosen the weeds to open the way, I want to think the following: “… I advise my colleagues (says Don Alfonso), as a healthy practice leave always, in the melodies cabinet, a window open to the street; going frequently to the newspaper and explaining there to the general public. It strengthens the audience and strengthens the writer.”

The next day I searched for Malina Sharur and took up with her the writing project for Avenida 35, Cultural Section, in Spanish, which she publishes for the Laredo Morning Times, some parts that I call “Reader Considerations,” because they are nothing else. On May 22, the first book was published: on a novel by Mabel. The rest will be history. Who cares what has been said so far? I don’t know, but it needs to be registered. At least I think so.

Alfredo Arcos is a poet and heads the Nuevo Laredo correspondent at the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana.