"This man moves within the lowest and highest of frequencies, deliberately disdaining those in between, that is to say, the current band of the human spiritual mass. Incapable of liquidating circumstances, he tries to turn his back on them; too inept to join those who struggle for their liquidation, he thinks therefore that this liquidation is probably a mere substitute for something else equally partial and intolerable, he moves off shrugging his shoulders. To his friends, the fact that he finds happiness in the trivial, in the puerile, in a piece of string or in a Stan Getz solo indicates a lamentable impoverishment; they do not know that he is also at the other extreme, the approach toward a summa that denies itself and goes threading off and hiding...

On the level of day-to-day acts, the attitude of my nonconformist is translated into his refusal of everything that smells like an accepted idea, tradition, a gregarious structure based on fear and falsely reciprocal advantages. He is not a misanthrope, but merely accepts from men and women that part which has not been plasticized by the social superstructure; he himself is afraid of his body's getting stuck in the mold and he knows it, but this knowledge is active and not that resignation that keeps time to the rhythm. With his free hand he slaps his own face for most of the day, and in spare moments he slaps the faces of others, and they pay him back in triplicate. He spends his time, therefore, in monstrous rows brought on by lovers, friends, creditors, and officials, and in the few moments he has left he makes use of his freedom in a way that startles everyone else and which always ends up in small ridiculous catastrophes, measured against himself and his attainable ambitions; another more secret and evasive freedom works on him but only he (and then just barely) is conscious of its movements."

from Julio Cortázar's Rayuela
top