[Marxism] Inconvenient

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 22 20:46:21 MDT 2017

Written by Humberto Costantini
Translated by Sharlene Newman

I am not going to say that I was in the best possible world
but at least I had an archive
with all of its moons perfectly sorted,
the primrose folded four ways in the center drawer
here and there absurdities rest
off to the side of the bureau.

I do not claim to have been in the best possible world
but at least three or four friends delighted in my wine,
and three or four lovers delighted in my bed,
and my publisher truly believed in my novel,
and at a quarter to six
the timid ghosts quietly returned to chat with me.

I will not say that I was in the best of all possible worlds
but my future went on for at least a week out
wherein one could foresee one hundred and twenty lines written,
at least one insignificant inebriation,
as well as five minutes of daily exercise.

I was not, I will admit, in the best world possible
but generally things were reasonably clear;
fireflies did not hang from the roof as they do now,
nor did trains keep a wakeful vigil until dawn,
nor did September arrive declaring its presence
the wind did not show up in order to laugh to death at my face.

I do not wish to say that I was in the best of possible worlds
but this giant, trembling moon,
this unusual smitten moon,
this terrible red stop light of a moon,
this moon made of insomnia and small verses…
how maddening Lord,
how barbaric.

Escrito por Humberto Costantini
Traducido por Sharlene Newman

Yo no voy a decir que estaba en el mejor de los mundos
pero al menos tenía un bibliorato
con todas las lunas perfectamente clasificadas,
la primavera plegada en cuatro en el cajón del medio
y alguno que otro disparate
a un costadito del bargueño.

Yo no digo que estaba en el mejor de los mundos
pero tres o cuatro amigos apreciaban mi vino,
y tres o cuatro amantes apreciaban mi cama,
y mi editor creía firmemente en la novela,
y a las seis menos cuarto
dócilmente volvían a platicar conmigo los fantasmas.

Yo no diré que estaba en el mejor de los mundos
pero tenía un futuro hasta de una semana
donde estaban previstos ciento veinte renglones,
alguna intrascendente borrachera,
y hasta los cinco minutos diarios de gimnasia.

Yo no estaba, lo admito, en el mejor de los mundos
pero en general las cosas eran juiciosamente claras;
no colgaban luciérnagas del techo como ahora,
ni velaban los trenes hasta la madrugada,
ni septiembre llegaba con nombre y apellido
ni el viento venía para morirse de risa de mi cara.

Yo no quiero decir que estaba en el major de los mundos
pero esta enorme luna estremecida,
esta insólita luna enamorada,
esta terrible luna rojo stop de semáforo,
esta luna de insomnios y versitos…
qué trastorno Señor,
qué cosa bárbara.

Humberto "Cacho" Costantini (April 8, 1924 – June 7, 1987) was an 
Argentine writer and poet whose work is filled with the rich slang 
(porteño) of Buenos Aires. Except for his years of exile in Mexico, his 
life was lived in and around Buenos Aires.

Costantini was born and died in Buenos Aires, the only child of Italian 
Jewish immigrants who lived in the barrio of Villa Pueyrredon. From his 
marriage to Nela Nur Fernandez, he had three children: Violeta, Ana and 
Daniel. After he finished his university studies, he became a medical 
veterinarian. He practiced his profession in the fields near the city of 
Lobería, in the province of Buenos Aires, where he moved with his wife. 
There his two daughters were born.

In 1955 he returned to Buenos Aires, and his son was born shortly 
thereafter. He worked in various jobs: veterinarian, salesman, potter, 
medical researcher, etc. Because of a fierce discipline, working "nailed 
to the chair", he was able to write and rewrite everyday.

Costantini was the victim of political persecutions and blacklists. That 
posture of confronting the powerful that "Cacho" exercised naturally, 
without fuss, as the only possible road by which to travel through life, 
created both hatred and profound loyalty among many toward him. With 
Costantini nothing was ever wishy-washy; one was either honest or one 
was deceitful. He made it known that he wouldn't forgive any kowtowing.

 From his youth he was politically active: in his student days he 
confronted the Fascists of the Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista and was 
politically active in the Communist Party until serious divergencies of 
opinion with the bureaucratic and pro-Soviet leadership caused him to 
break away. His "doing what is right in the eyes..." moved him to admire 
profoundly Ernesto Che Guevara. In the 1970s he was politically active 
on the revolutionary left, together with other writers, such as Harold 
Conti and Roberto Santoro, who were imprisoned by the criminal 
dictatorship of Videla, and to this day are still disappeared. His novel 
De Dioses, hombrecitos y policías was written between scary moments and 
escapes, in clandestine houses at unthinkable hours. This novel was 
awarded the Casa de Las Américas Prize by an international jury and 
published in Mexico (later it was translated as The Gods, The Little 
Guys and the Police, translated by Toby Talbot and published in New York 
to excellent reviews). About this novel and other work of Costantini, 
Julio Cortázar said, "I love what Humberto Costantini does, and am full 
of confidence in his work. He is, for me, a very important writer."

In 1976 Humberto Costantini was forced into exile and went to Mexico. 
There he continued his writing that was to win important prizes. He 
suffered in an exile that obliged him "to glance through the lists for 
his loved ones, as if the city had been hit with a typhoon". He 
conducted narrative workshops regularly, made programs for radio and for 
television and he fell in love. As he said on his return: "In short, I 
lived". Another of his passions was the tango. An admirer of Osvaldo 
Pugliese, Anibal Troilo ("Pichuco") and Eduardo Arolas, he was a singer 
and dancer, knowledgeable in the lyrics and the history of the tango. In 
get-togethers with friends, there was always some guitar to accompany 
his voice, resonant with passion, as he would sing the milonga Marieta 
or El adios de Gabino Ezeiza. He composed milongas and tango lyrics, 
some of which were published and recorded.

In 1983, after seven years, seven months and seven days of exile, he 
returned to Buenos Aires. There he lived the democratic springtime. He 
walked through the city, conversed with the streets of his barrio and 
with old friends of his infancy, knocked around, flabbergasted through 
his Buenos Aires. His work is published in many languages in addition to 
English, among them: Czech, English, Finnish, German, Hebrew, Polish, 
Russian and Swedish. His second novel, appeared in English as The Long 
Night of Francisco Sanctis, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni.
He died on the morning of 7 June 1987 from an illness that he had 
contracted much earlier. The night before, taking advantage of the 
slight well-being between chemotherapy treatments, he worked—as he had 
each day—on his novel La Rhapsodía de Raquel Liberman of which he 
managed to complete two volumes. This work remains unpublished.

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