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"Pedro Lasch in his map and article "Latino/a America" envisions the Americas without any boundaries. He discusses how a map can show traces of immigrants travels. His work explores how globalization enforces boundaries to loosen the flow of capital while preventing movement of people."

"Pedro Lasch en su mapa y artículo, 'Latino/a America,' considera las Américas sin fronteras. Él discute cómo un mapa puede mostrar rastros de los viajes de inmigrantes. Su obra explora como globalización impone limites para aflojar el flujo de capital mientras se prohibe el movimiento de las personas."

Text from "Mapping Very Large Complicated Machines"
by Ted English for the online broadside Molossus– August 4, 2009.

Cita de "Mapear Maquinas Grandotes y Complicadas" por Ted English para el volante online Molossus– el 4 de Agosto, 2009

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: Transatlantico

Transatlantico Transatlantico by Witold Gombrowicz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had to labor through this book. Since last year I've been chomping at the bit to read Witold Gombrowicz ever since the publishing house, el cuenco de la plata, began releasing a series of his writings translated into Spanish. It seems Sergio Pitol has been commended for his translation of a difficult, and often deemed impossible, translation of this surreal biography of Witold's first days in Buenos Aires. Despite this praise, the Castilian Spanish was the first contribution to a vicissitude of excitement previous to opening up this book. The difficult language and syntax was the second contributor to a stymied initial intrigue for a glance into a renowned Polish writer who spent 10 years (maybe more?) of his life living in Argentina.

However, I was pleased to encounter a most unique approach to the idea of identity, loyalty- both to nation and to individuals connected to oneself by the sole fact of nationality-, and the apparent transformation a person experiences when choosing to live in another Nation-state different from the one they hold inherent allegiance to.

One factor to the uniqueness in this book is that the flow and tone liken to a stream of consciousness type of narrative which guides the reader at an accelerated pace. This quickness captures a desperation as the individual seems helpless to control much of anything, while the futility of settling down in his new environment unfolds into a game of tug-o-war and ambiguous submission. What is most peculiar of Trans-Atlantic is that Gambrowicz confronts the forces and circumstances that are both within him and beyond him which are innately Polish, and only exposed by his decision to stay in a foreign land.

This peculiar approach to a migrant's account of their first experiences in Buenos Aires was the last and most penetrating vicissitude that turned this read into a rigorous one, however not hindering, another example of Witold's ingenuity.

My expectation was high and in search for a fresh and unique glimpse into a city I know well as an immigrant. I hoped to find similarities in passionate narrative, both in critique and appraisal, descriptions of a fondness for the streets and the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires, the admiration and annoyance of the crass Porteño manner. But to my surprise, and to the demise of my expectation, very little of Buenos Aires is registered in Witold's account in regards to landscape, arquitecture, intercultural exchange, and potent cultural nuances. Despite this, Gambrowicz cleverly uses Buenos Aires as a latent antagonist to issues otherwise held at bay in an individual comfortable at home. Buenos Aires plays the part as agitator to an individual's conception of identity and loyalty to a nation or the idea of home and the individual's pertinence to that home. I was disheartened that many different combinations of cities and nationalities could have been used as the setting for this story. But at the same time I must appreciate this universal characteristic and adaptability of Trans-Atlantic.

In the end, it is fascinating how the author was able to strip Buenos Aires of its heterogeneity and vibrancy. He leaves a blank canvass only to sloppily splatter the abstract mess that is blind allegiance to nations and fellow countrymen and giving an account of an individual desperately moving along to complete the fleeting journey of escaping, or disconnecting, from ones identity that is heavily saturated by the enigma of nationalism. The process is unique and much harder to explain in word, but I believe Witold Gambrowicz succeeds in Trans-Atlantic. However, this conclusion is hindered by my lack of Polish.

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