Fighting a duel with Chekhov


Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was praised by many of his contemporary for including anti-heroic characters and for leaving his stories with a non-ending flavor. In The duel both characteristics are present and two main ideological positions confronted. Biologist Von Koren represents social Darwinism, the supremacy of the strong, XIXth century German philosophy of the will, and moral rigidness as a way to improve human race. Public officer Layévskii is more about laxity in life, aware of the imperfectness and the irrational in the human beings; he is a nihilist, disenchanted with society and recurring to literature to justify his pusillanimous and dissolute behavior. He trivializes moral ideals and Von Koren hates him for that.

Chekhov’s characters behave like and discuss about Hamlet, Anna Karenina, Fausto…They even fight a duel following the instructions they have read in Turgenev. They mix writers and characters in their fictional discourses themselves, and no one gets to know reading the novel what’s the real world and what’s the fictional one: maybe both are the same, cause literature drinks from “reality”, and “reality” is built through literature (or cinema or TV, think about The Sopranos, being imitated by the real Mafia).

Moscow Art Theater’s company came last week to Madrid to present a play based on the novella, using Chekhov’s text in a masterly literal way. The first act’s comical tone (provoking nonsensical laughs in the audience) and the main actor’s initial histrionics left me with some doubts, but in the second act, everything went back to the Chekhovian line, deep-thought and dramatic stories with a feeling of continuity. An original mise-en-scène composed by mooring lines around the stage, a boat in the middle, a table on the right, a bed on the left; music and lights correctly administered, and all actors’ impeccable performance, including attractive Natalia Rogozhkina. Поздравляю!

The “in-love” inside the Red Room at Microteatro por dinero


Beware, teachers, of the Red Room, and of resented former students who decide to blame you for their failing lives and take revenge torturing you under a red bulb, as the Nazis used to do.

In Tokyo, in 2008, I heard from a colleague of a drop-out student who, after several years of low-income temporary jobs, went back to the Japanese university to stab to death in the restroom one of his former professors, the “guilty” of all his misery. At the University of Arkansas, a few years before I started my MA, a Ph.D candidate in the Comparative Literature department, after seeing his dissertation being turned down for the second and last time, locked himself at his thesis’ director’s office, shot this one three times and committed suicide afterwards.

Los enamorados, the couple in love.

First date: nervous faces and spasms, neutral and insipid conversations, the broke young man sweating at the sight of the prices on the menu.

First anniversary: fluid love story, passionate and romantic attitude, oath for eternal love.

Tenth anniversary: Tedious routine at its height, children as a motive for an argument, professional envy, likely infidelities.

Twentieth anniversary: Sour character, physical decay, companion love. Shall we dance?

ORANUS, the new Russia


Does advertisement work the same way in all countries? Do publicity messages reach people regardless of nationality and culture? Are we just puppets in the hands of publicists? Victor Pelevin’s hilarious novel Homo Zapiens (Generation п) deals with the matter in a creative way: a post-Communist Russia is entering the Western world of consumism through TV commercials that must be adjusted to the Russian zeitgeist, as a way of approaching Uncle Sam to Lenin. Babylen Tatarsky, the protagonist, coming from the Institute of Literature and with the help of hallucinogenic fly-agaric mushrooms and a Ouija board, becomes an advertising creative and discovers a world where “Identification of the self is only possible through the compilation of a list of goods consumed, and transformation is only possible by means of a change in the list”, ORANUS, and where nothing or nobody is what/who looks like, especially on TV.

There is also a recent film adaptation and here is the trailer.

Good for nothing


Hierarchical and aggressive youngsters playing tough guys; an indulgent and chubby father, powerful CEO, who is afraid of his own spoiled teenage son; the boss’ secretary, in love with a good-hearted but pusillanimous Japanese good-for-nothing resentful young man, thinking she can redeem him;  a mature office worker, picking up company girls to bear everyday’s tedium. There is room for all of them in this black and white theatrical depiction of the Japan of the 60’s, Yoshida’s first film.

A little bit of American ideology


This week I’ve seen myself taken to a couple of Hollywood’s productions and I must admit that they were entertaining and, above all, neuron-relaxing.

For a child or even a young teenager, love is a binary matter, either you love or you don’t, with all its eternal consequences, as simple as that. However, in the adult/erous world, things are not so clear but full of grayish nuances. MUD and his overexposed naked chest, a mélange of Pocholo, Bisbal, and MacGyver, helps 14-year old Ellis to keep on believing in Manichaean existences, in an idyllic and laid-back American South: Tom Sawyer revisited.

It’s always inspiring to realize how thousands of no-face digitalized extras are killed in Hollywood’s catastrophe films, while the protagonist –in this case, a mature but still babyface Brad Pitt in the role of a model father and an obedient husband-, and his whole family end up unharmed (Deus ex machina, as usual), as if their lives were more valuable than the other ones. At least, this The Walking Dead’s longer chapter, WORLD WAR Z of zombie, gives you a good amount of overseas fighting, PG-13 rated flesh and blood, and doesn’t hide its bold political correctness.




It’s bad to lie to people, but it’s worse to lie to yourself, someone used to tell me. Being a lonely and sloppy middle-age Austrian woman is far from paradise, but if, in addition, you intend to go to the Kenian coast in search of a young African true-love, the roller coaster of expectations, reality and frustration is more likely to take you to a hell of emotions. In the meanwhile, you might have certain moments of happiness, disguised in sexual pleasure and comradeship.

This movie is about self-deceive and the condition of the hegemonic-subaltern that keeps on existing in Africa and in so many other places. One of the achievements of the director, Ulrich Seidl, is the successful depiction of unstable human motivations and their even more erratic and (un)expected behavior. He masterly alternates both sides of the story: Teresa’s hurting solitude and the disrespectful treatment that she grants her black “lovers”.

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Literatura, opinión y otros habaneceres, porque habanecer es una perspectiva, un estado de ánimo, un vicio de la memoria