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Julio Cortázar "Blow-Up" was first published in Argentina in 1964 in the collection Final del juego. It was translated into English and published in the United States in 196 ! "he stor# inspired $ichelangelo Antonioni to co-write the screenpla# for Blow-Up, which he also directed% the fil& is now considered a cult classic! It starred 'anessa (edgra)e* Sarah $iles* 'erush+a* ,ane Bir+in* and -eter Bowles* and featured a soundtrac+ b# .erbie .ancoc+ and the /ardbirds! 0hen Blow-Up was released in 196 * it won the -al&e d12r at 3annes and was no&inated for Acade&# Awards in 4irecting and 0riting!
5 It1ll ne)er be +nown how this has to be told* in the first person or in the second* using the third person plural or continuall# in)enting &odes that will ser)e for nothing! If one &ight sa#6 I will see the &oon rose* or6 we hurt &e at the bac+ of &# e#es* and especiall#6 #ou the blonde wo&an was the clouds that race before &# #our his our #ours their faces! 0hat the hell! Seated read# to tell it* if one &ight go to drin+ a boc+ o)er there* and the t#pewriter continue b# itself 7because I use the &achine8* that would be perfection! And that1s not 9ust a &anner of spea+ing! -erfection* #es* because here is the aperture which &ust be counted also as a &achine 7of another sort* a 3onta: 1!1!;8 and it is possible that one &achine &a# +now &ore about another &achine than I* #ou* she--the blonde--and the clouds! But I ha)e the du&b luc+ to +now that if I go this (e&ington will sit turned to stone on top of the table with the air of being twice as <uiet that &obile things ha)e when the# are not &o)ing! So* I ha)e to write! 2ne of us all has to write* if this is going to get told! Better that it be &e who a& dead* for I1& less co&pro&ised than the rest% I who see onl# the clouds and can thin+ without being distracted* write without being distracted 7there goes another* with a gre# edge8 and re&e&ber without being distracted* I who a& dead 7and I1& ali)e* I1& not tr#ing to fool an#bod#* #ou1ll see when we get to the &o&ent* because I ha)e to begin so&e wa# and I1)e begun with this period* the last one bac+* the one at the beginning* which in the end is the best of the periods when #ou want to tell soðing!8 All of a sudden I wonder wh# I ha)e to tell this* but if one begins to wonder wh# he does all he does do* if one wonders wh# he accepts an in)itation to lunch 7now a pigeon1s fl#ing b# and it see&s to &e a sparrow8* or wh# when so&eone has told us a good 9o+e i&&ediatel# there starts up soðing li+e a tic+ling in the sto&ach and we are not at peace until we1)e gone into the office across the hall and told the 9o+e o)er again% then it feels good i&&ediatel#* one is fine* happ#* and can get bac+ to wor+! =or I i&agine that no one has e:plained this* that reall# the best thing is to put aside all decoru& and tell it* because* after all1s done* nobod# is asha&ed of breathing or of putting on his shoes% the#1re things that #ou do* and when soðing weird happens* when #ou find a spider in #our shoe or if #ou ta+e a breath and feel li+e a bro+en window* then #ou ha)e to tell what1s happening* tell it to the gu#s at the office or to the doctor! 2h* doctor* e)er# ti&e I ta+e a breath!!!! Alwa#s tell it* alwa#s get rid of that tic+le in the sto&ach that bothers #ou! And now that we1re finall# going to tell it* let1s put things a little bit in order* we1d be wal+ing down the staircase in this house as far as Sunda#* >o)e&ber * 9ust a &onth bac+! 2ne goes down fi)e floors and stands then in the Sunda# in the sun one would not ha)e suspected of -aris in >o)e&ber* with a large appetite to wal+ around* to see things* to ta+e photos 7because we were photographers* I1& a photographer8! I +now that the &ost difficult thing is going to be finding a wa# to tell it* and I1& not afraid of repeating &#self! It1s going to be difficult because nobod# reall# +nows who it is telling it* if I a& I or what actuall# occurred or what I1& seeing 7clouds* and once in a while a pigeon8 or if* si&pl#* I1& telling a truth which is onl# &# truth* and then is the truth onl# for &# sto&ach* for this i&pulse to go running out and to finish up in so&e &anner with* this* whate)er it is! 0e1re going to tell it slowl#* what happens in the &iddle of what I1& writing is co&ing alread#! If the# replace &e* if* so soon* I don1t +now what to sa#* if the clouds stop co&ing and soðing else starts 7because it1s i&possible that this +eep co&ing* clouds passing continuall# and occasionall# a pigeon8* if soðing out of all this!!!! And after the "if" what a& I going to put if I1& going to close the sentence structure correctl#? But if I begin to as+ <uestions* I1ll ne)er tell an#thing* &a#be to tell would be li+e an answer* at least for so&eone who1s reading it! (oberto $ichel* =rench-3hilean* translator and in his spare ti&e an a&ateur photographer* left nu&ber
what a du&b lie8 I was able to sit <uietl# on the railing o)erloo+ing the ri)er watching the red and blac+ &otorboats passing below without it occurring to &e to thin+ photographicall# of the scenes* nothing &ore than letting &#self go in the letting go of ob9ects* running i&&obile in the strea& of ti&e! And then the wind was not blowing! After* I wandered down the <uai de Bourbon until getting to the end of the isle where the inti&ate s<uare was 7inti&ate because it was s&all* not that it was hidden* it offered its whole breast to the ri)er and the s+#8* I en9o#ed it* a lot! >othing there but a couple and* of course* pigeons% &a#be e)en so&e of those which are fl#ing past now so that I1& seeing the&! A leap up and I settled on the wall* and let &#self turn about and be caught and fi:ed b# the sun* gi)ing it &# face and ears and hands 7I +ept &# glo)es in &# poc+et8! I had no desire to shoot pictures* and lit a cigarette to be doing soðing% I thin+ it was that &o&ent when the &atch was about to touch the tobacco that I saw the #oung bo# for the first ti&e! 0hat I1d thought was a couple see&ed &uch &ore now a bo# with his &other* although at the sa&e ti&e I realiCed that it was not a +id and his &other* and that it was a couple in the sense that we alwa#s allegate to couples when we see the& leaning up against the parapets or e&bracing on the benches in the s<uares! As I had nothing else to do* I had &ore than enough ti&e to wonder wh# the bo# was so ner)ous* li+e a #oung colt or a hare* stic+ing his hands into his poc+ets* ta+ing the& out i&&ediatel#* one after the other* running his fingers through his hair* changing his stance* and especiall# wh# was he afraid* well* #ou could guess that fro& e)er# gesture* a fear suffocated b# his sh#ness* an i&pulse to step bac+wards which he telegraphed* his bod# standing as if it were on the edge of flight* holding itself bac+ in a final* pitiful decoru&! All this was so clear* ten feet awa#--and we were alone against the parapet at the tip of the island--that at the beginning the bo#1s fright didn1t let &e see the blonde )er# well! >ow* thin+ing bac+ on it* I see her &uch better at that first second when I read her face 7she1d turned around suddenl#* swinging li+e a &etal weathercoc+* and the e#es* the e#es were there8* when I )aguel# understood what &ight ha)e been occurring to the bo# and figured it would be worth the trouble to sta# and watch 7the wind was blowing their words awa# and the# were spea+ing in a low &ur&ur8! I thin+ that I +now how to loo+* if it1s soðing I +now* and also that e)er# loo+ing ooCes with &endacit#* because it1s that which e:pels us furthest outside oursel)es* without the least guarantee* whereas to s&ell* or 7but $ichel ra&bles on to hi&self easil# enough* there1s no need to let hi& harangue on this wa#8! In an# case* if the li+el# inaccurac# can be seen beforehand* it beco&es possible again to loo+% perhaps it suffices to choose between loo+ing and the realit# loo+ed at* to strip things of all their unnecessar# clothing! And surel# all that is difficult besides! As for the bo# I re&e&ber the i&age before his actual bod# 7that will clear itself up later8* while now I a& sure that I re&e&ber the wo&an1s bod# &uch better than the i&age! She was thin and willow#* two unfair words to describe what she was* and was wearing an al&ost-blac+ fur coat* al&ost long* al&ost handso&e! All the &orning1s wind 7now it was hardl# a breeCe and it wasn1t cold8 had blown through her .2 11* rue $onsieur-le--rince Sunda#* >o)e&ber of the current #ear 7now there1re two s&all ones passing* with sil)er linings8! .os@ >orberto Allende* professor at the Uni)ersit# of Santiago! It1s rare that there1s wind in -aris* and e)en less seldo& a wind li+e this that swirled around corners and rose up to whip at old wooden )enetian blinds behind which astonished ladies co&&ented )ariousl# on how unreliable the weather had been these last few #ears! But the sun was out also* riding the wind and friend of the cats* so there was nothing that would +eep &e fro& ta+ing photos of the 3onser)atoire and Sainte-3hapelle! It was hardl# ten o1cloc+* and I figured that b# ele)en the light would be good* the best #ou can get in the fall% to +ill so&e ti&e I detoured around b# the Isle Saint-Aouis and started to wal+ along the <uai 41An9ou* I stared for a bit at the hBtel de AauCun* I recited bits fro& Apollinaire which alwa#s get into &# head whene)er I pass in front of the hotel de AauCun 7and at that I ought to be re&e&bering the other poet* but $ichel is an obstinate beggar8* and when the wind stopped all at once and the sun ca&e out at least twice as hard 7I &ean war&er* but reall# it1s the sa&e thing8* I sat down on the parapet and felt terribl# happ# in the Sunda# &orning! 2ne of the &an# wa#s of contesting le)el-Cero* and one of the best* is to ta+e photographs* an acti)it# in which one should start beco&ing an adept )er# earl# in life* teach it to children since it re<uires discipline* aesthetic education* a good e#e* and stead# fingers! I1& not tal+ing about wa#la#ing the lie li+e an# old reporter* snapping the stupid silhouette of the 'I.FD sec! (ight now 7what a word* now.e had spent three wee+s wor+ing on the =rench )ersion of a treatise on challenges and appeals b# .lea)ing >u&ber 1D 4owning Street* but in all wa#s when one is wal+ing about with a ca&era* one has al&ost a dut# to be attenti)e* to not lose that abrupt and happ# rebound of sun1s ra#s off an old stone* or the pigtails-fl#ing run of a s&all girl going ho&e with a loaf of bread or a bottle of &il+! $ichel +new that the photographer alwa#s wor+ed as a per&utation of his personal wa# of seeing the world as other than the ca&era insidiousl# i&posed upon it 7now a large cloud is going b#* al&ost blac+8* but he lac+ed no confidence in hi&self* +nowing that he had onl# to go out without the 3onta: to reco)er the +e#note of distraction* the sight without a fra&e around it* light without the diaphrag& aperture or 1E.
e1d wal+ through the streets thin+ing of the girls in his class* about how good it would be to go to the &o)ies and see the latest fil&* or to bu# no)els or nec+ties or bottles of li<uor with green and white labels on the&! At ho&e 7it would be a respectable ho&e* lunch at noon and ro&antic landscapes on the walls* with a dar+ entr#wa# and a &ahogan# u&brella stand inside the door8 there1d be the slow rain of ti&e* for stud#ing* for being &a&a1s hope* for loo+ing li+e dad* for writing to his aunt in A)ignon! So that there was a lot of wal+ing the streets* the whole of the ri)er for hi& 7but without a nic+el8 and the &#sterious cit# of fifteen-#ear-olds with its signs in doorwa#s* its terrif#ing cats* a paper of fried potatoes for thirt# francs* the pornographic &agaCine folded four wa#s* a solitude li+e the e&ptiness of his poc+ets* the eagerness for so &uch that was inco&prehensible but illu&ined b# a total lo)e* b# the a)ailabilit# analogous to the wind and the streets! "his biograph# was of the bo# and of an# bo# whatsoe)er* but this particular one now* #ou could see he was insular* surrounded solel# b# the blonde1s presence as she continued tal+ing with hi&! 7I1& tired of insisting* but two long ragged ones 9ust went b#! "hat &orning I don1t thin+ I loo+ed at the s+# once* because what was happening with the bo# and the wo&an appeared so soon I could do nothing but loo+ at the& and wait* loo+ at the& and!!!8 "o cut it short* the bo# was agitated and one could guess without too &uch trouble what had 9ust occurred a few &inutes before* at &ost half-an-hour! "he bo# had co&e onto the tip of the island* seen the wo&an and thought her &ar)elous! "he wo&an was waiting for that because she was there waiting for that* or &a#be the bo# arri)ed before her and she saw hi& fro& one of the balconies or fro& a car and got out to &eet hi&* starting the con)ersation with whate)er* fro& the beginning she was sure that he was going to be afraid and want to run off* and that* naturall#* he1d sta#* stiff and sullen* pretending e:perience and the pleasure of the ad)enture! "he rest was eas# because it was happening ten feet awa# fro& &e* and an#one could ha)e gauged the stages of the ga&e* the derisi)e* co&petiti)e fencing% its &a9or attraction was not that it was happening but in foreseeing its denoue&ent! "he bo# would tr# to end it b# pretending a date* an obligation* whate)er* and would go stu&bling off disconcerted* wishing he were wal+ing with so&e assurance* but na+ed under the &oc+ing glance which would follow hi& until he was out of sight! 2r rather* he would sta# there* fascinated or si&pl# incapable of ta+ing the initiati)e* and the wo&an would begin to touch his face gentl#* &uss his hair* still tal+ing to hi& )oicelessl#* and soon would ta+e hi& b# the ar& to lead hi& off* unless he* with an uneasiness beginning to tinge the edge of desire* e)en his sta+e in the ad)enture* would rouse hi&self to put his ar& around her waist and to +iss her! An# of this could ha)e happened* though it did not* and per)ersel# $ichel waited* sitting on the railing* &a+ing the settings al&ost without loo+ing at the ca&era* read# to ta+e a pictures<ue shot of a corner of the island with an unco&&on couple tal+ing and another loo+ing at one another! Strange how the scene 7al&ost nothing6 two figures there &is&atched in their #outh8 was ta+ing on a dis<uieting aura! I thought it was I i&posing it* and that &# photo* if I shot it* would reconstitute things in their true stupidit#! I would ha)e li+ed to +now what he was thin+ing* a &an in a gre# hat sitting at the wheel of a car par+ed on the doc+ which led up to the footbridge* and whether he was reading the paper or asleep! I had 9ust disco)ered hi& because people inside a par+ed car ha)e a tendenc# to disappear* the# get lost in that wretched* pri)ate cage stripped of the beaut# that &otion and danger gi)e it! And ne)ertheless* the car had been there the whole ti&e* for&ing part 7or defor&ing that part8 of the isle! A car6 li+e sa#ing a lighted streetla&p* a par+ bench! >e)er li+e sa#ing wind* sunlight* those ele&ents alwa#s new to the s+in and the e#es* and also the bo# and the wo&an* uni<ue* put there to change the island* to show it to &e in another wa#! =inall#* it &a# ha)e been that the &an with the newspaper also because aware of what was happening and would* li+e &e* feel that &alicious sensation of waiting for e)er#thing to happen! >ow the wo&an had swung around s&oothl#* putting the #oung bo# between herself and the wall* I saw the& al&ost in profile* and he was taller* though not &uch taller* and #et she do&inated hi&* it see&ed li+e she was ho)ering o)er hi& 7her laugh* all at once* a whip of feathers8* crushing hi& 9ust b# being there* s&iling* one hand ta+ing a stroll through the air! 0h# wait an# longer? Aperture at si:teen* a sighting which would not include the horrible blac+ car* but #es* that tree* necessar# to brea+ up too &uch gre# space!!! ! I raised the ca&era* pretended to stud# a focus which did not include the&* and waited and watched closel#* sure that I would finall# catch the re)ealing e:pression* one that would su& it all up* life that is .3 blonde hair which pared awa# her white* blea+ face--two unfair words--and put the world at her feet and horribl# alone in front of her dar+ e#es* her e#es fell on things li+e two eagles* two leaps into nothingness* two puffs of green sli&e! I1& not describing it! And I said two puffs of green sli&e! Aet1s be fair* the bo# was well enough dressed and was sporting #ellow glo)es which I would ha)e sworn belonged to his older brother* a student of law or sociolog#% it was pleasant to see the fingers of the glo)es stic+ing out of his 9ac+et poc+et! =or a long ti&e I didn1t see his face* barel# a profile* not stupid--a terrified bird* a =ra =ilippo angel* rice pudding with &il+--and the bac+ of an adolescent who wants to ta+e up 9udo and has had a scuffle or two in defense of an idea or his sister! "urning fourteen* perhaps fifteen* one would guess that he was dressed and fed b# his parents but without a nic+el in his poc+et* ha)ing to debate with his buddies before &a+ing up his &ind to bu# a coffee* a cognac* a pac+ of cigarettes! .
4 rh#th&ed b# &o)e&ent but which a stiff i&age destro#s* ta+ing ti&e in cross section* if we do not choose the essential i&perceptible fraction of it! I did not ha)e to wait long! "he wo&an was getting on with the 9ob of handcuffing the bo# s&oothl#* stripping fro& hi& what was left of his freedo& a hair at a ti&e* in an incredibl# slow an delicious torture! I i&agined the possible endings 7now a s&all fluff# cloud appears* al&ost alone in the s+#8* I saw their arri)al at the house 7a base&ent apart&ent probabl#* which she would ha)e filled with large cushions and cats8 and con9ectured the bo#1s terror and his desperate decision to pla# it cool and to be led off pretending there was nothing new in it for hi&! 3losing &# e#es* if I did in fact close &# e#es* I set the scene6 the teasing +isses* the wo&an &ildl# repelling the hands which were tr#ing to undress her* li+e in no)els* on a bed that would ha)e a lilac-colored co&forter* on the other hand she ta+ing off his clothes* plainl# &other and son under a &il+# #ellow light* and e)er#thing would end up as usual* perhaps* but &a#be e)er#thing would go otherwise* and the initiation of the adolescent would not happen* she would not let it happen* after a long prologue wherein the aw+wardnesses* the e:asperating caresses* the running of hands o)er bodies would be resol)ed in who +nows what* in a separate and solitar# pleasure* in a petulant denial &i:ed with the art of tiring and disconcerting so &uch poor innocence! It &ight go li+e that* it &ight )er# well go li+e that% that wo&an was not loo+ing for the bo# as a lo)er* and at the sa&e ti&e she was do&inating hi& toward so&e end i&possible to understand if #ou do not i&agine it as a cruel ga&e* the desire to desire without satisfaction* to e:cite herself for so&eone else* so&eone who in no wa# could be that +id! $ichel is guilt# of &a+ing literature* of indulging in fabricated unrealities! >othing pleases hi& &ore than to i&agine e:ceptions to the rule* indi)iduals outside the species* not-alwa#s-repugnant &onsters! But that wo&an in)ited speculation* perhaps gi)ing clues enough for the fantas# to hit the bull1s-e#e! Before she left* and now that she would fill &# i&aginings for se)eral da#s* for I1& gi)en to ru&inating* I decided not to lose a &o&ent &ore! I got it all into the )iew-finder 7with the tree* the railing* the ele)en-o1cloc+ sun8 and too+ the shot! In ti&e to realiCe that the# both had noticed and stood there loo+ing at &e* the bo# surprised and as though <uestioning* but she was irritated* her face and bod# flat-footedl# hostile* feeling robbed* igno&iniousl# recorded on a s&all che&ical i&age! I &ight be able to tell it in &uch greater detail but it1s not worth the trouble! "he wo&an said that no one had the right to ta+e a picture without per&ission* and de&anded that I hand o)er the fil&! All this in a dr#* clear )oice with a good -arisian accent* which rose in color and tone with e)er# phrase! =or &# part* it hardl# &attered whether she got the roll of fil& or not* but an#one who +nows &e will tell #ou* if #ou want an#thing fro& &e* as+ nicel#! 0ith the result that I restricted &#self to for&ulating the opinion that not onl# was photograph# in public spaces not prohibited* but it was loo+ed upon with decided fa)or* both pri)ate and official! And while that was getting said* I noticed on the sl# how the bo# was falling bac+* sort of acti)el# bac+ing up through without &o)ing* and all at once 7it see&ed al&ost incredible8 he turned and bro+e into a run* the poor +id* thin+ing that he was wal+ing off and in fact in full flight* running past the side of the car* disappearing li+e a gossa&er fila&ent of angel-spit in the &orning air! But fila&ents of angel-spittle are also called de)il-spit* and $ichel had to endure rather particular curses* to hear hi&self called &eddler and i&becile* ta+ing great pains &eanwhile to s&ile and to abate with si&ple &o)e&ents of his head such a hard sell! As I was beginning to get tired* I heard the car door sla&! "he &an in the gre# hat was there* loo+ing at us! It was onl# at that point that I realiCed he was pla#ing a part in the co&ed#! .e began to wal+ toward us* carr#ing in his hand the paper he had been pretending to read! 0hat I re&e&ber best is the gri&ace that twisted his &outh as+ew* it co)ered his face with wrin+les* changed so&ewhat both in location and shape because his lips tre&bled and the gri&ace went fro& one side of his &outh to the other as though it were on wheels* independent and in)oluntar#! But the rest sta#ed fi:ed* a flour-powdered clown or bloodless &an* dull dr# s+in* e#es deepset* the nostrils blac+ and pro&inentl# )isible* blac+er than the e#ebrows or hair or the blac+ nec+tie! 0al+ing cautiousl# as though the pa)e&ent hurt his feet% I saw patent-leather shoes with such thin soles that he &ust ha)e felt e)er# roughness in the pa)e&ent! I don1t +now wh# I got down off the railing* nor )er# well wh# I decided to not gi)e the& the photo* to refuse that de&and in which I guessed at their fear and cowardice! "he clown and the wo&an consulted one another in silence6 we &ade a perfect and unbearable triangle* soðing I felt co&pelled to brea+ with a crac+ of a whip! I laughed in their faces and began to wal+ off* a little &ore slowl#* I i&agine* than the bo#! At the le)el of the first houses* beside the iron footbridge* I turned around to loo+ at the&! "he# were not &o)ing* but the &an had dropped his newspaper% it see&ed to &e that the wo&an* her bac+ to the parapet* ran her hands o)er the stone with the classical and absurd gesture of so&eone pursued loo+ing for a wa# out! 0hat happened after that happened here* al&ost 9ust now* in a roo& on the fifth floor! Se)eral da#s went b# before $ichel de)eloped the photos he1d ta+en on Sunda#% his shots of the 3onser)atoire and of Sainte-3hapelle were all the# should be! "hen he found two or three proof-shots he1d forgotten* a poor .
abits are li+e i&&ense herbariu&s* in the end an enlarge&ent of G.5 atte&pt to catch a cat perched astonishingl# on the roof of a ra&bling public urinal* and also the shot of the blonde and the +id! "he negati)e was so good that he &ade an enlarge&ent% the enlarge&ent was so good that he &ade one )er# &uch larger* al&ost the siCe of a poster! It did not occur to hi& 7now one wonders and wonders8 that onl# the shots of the 3onser)atoire were worth so &uch wor+! 2f the whole series* the snapshot of the tip of the island was the onl# one which interested hi&% he tac+ed up the enlarge&ent on one wall of the roo&* and the first da# he spent so&e ti&e loo+ing at it and re&e&bering* that gloo&# operation of co&paring the &e&or# with the gone realit#% a froCen &e&or#* li+e an# photo* where nothing is &issing* not e)en* and especiall#* nothingness* the true solidifier of the scene! "here was the wo&an* there was the bo#* the tree rigid abo)e their heads* the s+# as sharp as the stone of the parapet* clouds and stones &elded into a single substance and inseparable 7now one with sharp edges is going b#* li+e a thunderhead8! "he first two da#s I accepted what I had done* fro& the photo itself to the enlarge&ent on the wall* and didn1t e)en <uestion that e)er# once in a while I would interrupt &# translation of .I loo+s li+e a &o)ie screen* where* on the tip of the island* a wo&an is spea+ing with a bo# and a tree is sha+ing its dr# lea)es o)er their heads! But her hands were 9ust too &uch! I had 9ust translated6 "In that case* the second +e# resides in the intrinsic nature of difficulties which societies!!!"--when I saw the wo&an1s hand beginning to stir slowl#* finger b# finger! "here was nothing left of &e* a phrase in =rench which I would ne)er ha)e to finish* t#pewriter on the floor* a chair that s<uea+ed and shoo+* fog! "he +id had duc+ed his head li+e bo:ers do when the#1)e done all the# can and are waiting for the final blow to fall% he had turned up the collar of his o)ercoat and see&ed &ore a prisoner than e)er* the perfect )icti& helping pro&ote the catastrophe! >ow the wo&an was tal+ing into his ear* and her hand opened again to la# itself against his chee+bone* to caress and caress it* burning it* ta+ing her ti&e! "he +id was less startled than he was suspicious* once or twice he po+ed his head o)er the wo&an1s shoulder and she continued tal+ing* sa#ing soðing that &ade hi& loo+ bac+ e)er# few &inutes toward that area where $ichel +new the car was par+ed and the &an in the gre# hat* carefull# eli&inated fro& the photo but present in the bo#1s e#es 7how doubt that now8 in the words of the wo&an* in the wo&an1s hands* in the )icarious presence of the wo&an! 0hen I saw the &an co&e up* stop near the& and loo+ at the&* his hands in his poc+ets and a stance so&ewhere between disgusted and de&anding* the &aster who is about to whistle in his dog after a frolic in the s<uare* I understood* if that was to understand* what had to happen now* what had to ha)e happened then* what would ha)e to happen at that &o&ent* a&ong these people* 9ust where I had po+ed &# nose in to upset an established order* interfering innocentl# in that which had not happened* but which was now going to happen* now was going .ose >orberto Allende was sa#ing in )er# good Spanish* I raised &# e#es and loo+ed at the photo% so&eti&es the wo&an would catch &# e#e* so&eti&es the bo#* so&eti&es the pa)e&ent where a dr# leaf had fallen ad&irabl# situated to heighten a lateral section! "hen I rested a bit fro& &# labors* and I enclosed &#self again happil# in that &orning in which the photo was drenched* I recalled ironicall# the angr# picture of the wo&an de&anding I gi)e her the photograph* the bo#1s pathetic and ridiculous flight* the entrance on the scene of the &an with the white face! Basicall#* I was satisfied with &#self% &# part had not been too brilliant* and since the =rench ha)e been gi)en the gift of the sharp response* I did not see )er# well wh# I1d chosen to lea)e without a co&plete de&onstration of the rights* pri)ileges and prerogati)es of citiCens! "he i&portant thing* the reall# i&portant thing was ha)ing helped the +id to escape in ti&e 7this in case &# theoriCing was correct* which was not sufficientl# pro)en* but the running awa# itself see&ed to show it so8! 2ut of plain &eddling* I had gi)en hi& the opportunit# finall# to ta+e ad)antage of his fright to do soðing useful% now he would be regretting it* feeling his honor i&paired* his &anhood di&inished! "hat was better than the attentions of a wo&an capable of loo+ing as she had loo+ed at hi& on that island! $ichel is soðing of a puritan at ti&es* he belie)es that one should not seduce so&eone fro& a position of strength! In the last anal#sis* ta+ing that photo had been a good act! 0ell* it wasn1t because of the good act that I loo+ed at it between paragraphs while I was wor+ing! At that &o&ent I didn1t +now the reason* the reason I had tac+ed the enlarge&ent onto the wall% &a#be all fatal acts happen that wa#* and that is the condition of their fulfill&ent! I don1t thin+ the al&ost-furti)e tre&bling of the lea)es on the tree alar&ed &e* I was wor+ing on a sentence and rounded it out successfull#! .os@ >orberto Allende1s treatise to encounter once &ore the wo&an1s face* the dar+ splotches on the railing! I1& such a 9er+% it had ne)er occurred to &e that when we loo+ at a photo fro& the front* the e#es reproduce e:actl# the position and the )ision of the lens% it1s these things that are ta+en for granted and it ne)er occurs to an#one to thin+ about the&! =ro& &# chair* with the t#pewriter directl# in front of &e* I loo+ed at the photo ten feet awa#* and then it occurred to &e that I had hung it e:actl# at the point of )iew of the lens! It loo+ed )er# good that wa#% no doubt* it was the best wa# to appreciate a photo* though the angle fro& the diagonal doubtless has its pleasures and &ight e)en di)ulge different aspects! E)er# few &inutes* for e:a&ple when I was unable to find the wa# to sa# in good =rench what . H .
6 to be fulfilled! And what I had i&agined earlier was &uch less horrible than the realit#* that wo&an* who was not there b# herself* she was not caressing or propositioning or encouraging for her own pleasure* to lead the angel awa# with his tousled hair and pla# the tease with his terror and his eager grace! "he real boss was waiting there* s&iling petulantl#* alread# certain of the business% he was not the first to send a wo&an in the )anguard* to bring hi& the prisoners &anacled with flowers! "he rest of it would be so si&ple* the car* so&e house or another* drin+s* sti&ulating engra)ings* tard# tears* the awa+ening in hell! And there was nothing I could do* this ti&e I could do absolutel# nothing! $# strength had been a photograph* that* there* where the# were ta+ing their re)enge on &e* de&onstrating clearl# what was going to happen! "he photo had been ta+en* the ti&e had run out* gone% we were so far fro& one another* the abusi)e act had certainl# alread# ta+en place* the tears alread# shed* and the rest con9ecture and sorrow! All at once the order was in)erted* the# were ali)e* &o)ing* the# were deciding and had decided* the# were going to their future% and I on this side* prisoner of another ti&e* in a roo& on the fifth floor* to not +now who the# were* that wo&an* that &an* and that bo#* to be onl# the lens of &# ca&era* soðing fi:ed* rigid* incapable of inter)ention! It was horrible* their &oc+ing &e* deciding it before &# i&potent e#e* &oc+ing &e* for the bo# again was loo+ing at the flour-faced clown and I had to accept the fact that he was going to sa# #es* that the proposition carried &one# with it or a gi&&ic+* and I couldn1t #ell for hi& to run* or e)en open the road to hi& again with a new photo* a s&all and al&ost &ee+ inter)ention which would ruin the fra&ewor+ of drool and perfu&e! E)er#thing was going to resol)e itself right there* at that &o&ent% there was li+e an i&&ense silence which had nothing to do with ph#sical silence! It was stretching it out* setting itself up! I thin+ I screa&ed* I screa&ed terribl#* and that at the e:act second I realiCed that I was beginning to &o)e toward the&* four inches* a step* another step* the tree swung its branches rh#th&icall# in the foreground* a place where the railing was tarnished e&erged fro& the fra&e* the wo&an1s face turned toward &e as though surprised* was enlarging* and then I turned a bit* I &ean that the ca&era turned a little* and without losing sight of the wo&an* I began to close in on the &an who was loo+ing at &e with the blac+ holes he had in place of e#es* surprised and angered both* he loo+ed* wanting to nail &e onto the air* and at that instant I happened to see soðing li+e a large bird outside the focus that was fl#ing in a single swoop in front of the picture* and I leaned up against the wall of &# roo& and was happ# because the bo# had 9ust &anaged to escape* I saw hi& running off* in focus again* sprinting with his hair fl#ing in the wind* learning finall# to fl# across the island* to arri)e at the footbridge* return to the cit#! =or the second ti&e he1d escaped the&* for the second ti&e I was helping hi& to escape* returning hi& to his precarious paradise! 2ut of breath* I stood in front of the&% no need to step closer* the ga&e was pla#ed out! 2f the wo&an #ou could see 9ust &a#be a shoulder and a bit of hair* brutall# cut off b# the fra&e of the picture% but the &an was directl# center* his &outh half open* #ou could see a sha+ing blac+ tongue* and he lifted his hands slowl#* bringing the& into the foreground* an instant still in perfect focus* and then all of hi& a lu&p that blotted out the island* the tree* and I shut &# e#es* I didn1t want to see an# &ore* and I co)ered &# face and bro+e into tears li+e an idiot! >ow there1s a big white cloud* as on all these da#s* all this untellable ti&e! 0hat re&ains to be said is alwa#s a cloud* two clouds* or long hours of a s+# perfectl# clear* a )er# clean* clear rectangle tac+ed up with pins on the wall of &# roo&! "hat was what I saw when I opened &# e#es and dried the& with &# fingers6 the clear s+#* and then a cloud that drifted in fro& the left* passed gracefull# and slowl# across and disappeared on the right! And then another* and for a change so&eti&es* e)er#thing gets gre#* all one enor&ous cloud* and suddenl# the splotches of rain crac+ing down* for a long spell #ou can see it raining o)er the picture* li+e a spell of weeping re)ersed* and little b# little* the fra&e beco&es clear* perhaps the sun co&es out* and again the clouds begin to co&e* two at a ti&e* three at a ti&e! And the pigeons once in a while* and a sparrow or two! .