Reading Clara Obligado is very different from being with her.
His prose is so deep, it digs so deeply into the recesses of memory and nature that one imagines a meditative, intimate being, almost an ascetic in full contemplation of the petals of a growing flower, far removed from the reality of life. noisy Madrid terrace where we meet to chat.
But it's not like that.
Close, smiling and talkative, this 72-year-old Argentine today feels as young as she could not feel when she fled the dictatorship and settled in Madrid.
The queen of writing workshops, a disciple of Borges and a recognized author, publishes
Todo lo quecre
(Foam Pages), a story of life and observation intertwined with nature.
Nature: can it be read like a book?
It is a good textbook and a great manual of wisdom because it resists much more than we do.
A ginkgo has no age, but I do.
It has no end of life, it does not expire, it continues to reproduce and the only way to kill it is to kill it.
We have a wrong anthropocentrism that does not serve to think well.
The flies however live 20 days.
It says in his book.
I think they are resurrected (laughs).
They are eternal.
Does what you left behind still hurt you?
The loss of a country is an amputation, like the death of the parents.
I'm from Pampa and every time I see a straight line I get excited.
You also left behind your partner, a missing person that you describe as "shrouded by algae."
He was thrown from an airplane, yes.
In this book I advance towards a thought in which death is integrated into the landscape because nature metabolizes even our mistakes.
He was my partner and when I realized that they had thrown him into the river, into the Río de la Plata estuary, it was consoling.
For me it is a very familiar river and to think that many disappeared people sleep there is a way of integrating it with nature that repairs me in some way.
You came from Argentina and decided to give writing workshops when, as your editor says, there were only car workshops here.
I, like Don Juan, in castles and convents (laughs).
I have taught in prison, at the Círculo de Bellas Artes, at the university, in different countries, for me it has been a gift.
I do exactly what I like and I keep at it.
And who has surprised you the most?
Prisoners or college students?
It is the same.
If you arouse people's astonishment, literature sells itself because it is a great gift.
I have worked with gypsies who did not know how to read and we made poems with palms and in the same way I gave classes in very complex universities and you find the same thing, which is astonishment.
We are not that different.
And what did you find in jail?
A lot of pain, especially for women separated from their children.
Very good people.
Very eager to read, the same as in the Círculo de Bellas Artes or in the University of Vienna.
We all have our prison.
Can you learn to write?
You can not teach to be a writer.
Being a writer is an anomaly that everyone carries with it.
But to write, of course.
I can teach you to read and read to you.
That's where I get.
Beyond, it is a problem of each one.
Millás often says that when someone tells him that he wants to try being a writer, he replies: you don't tell a surgeon that.
Being a writer is not a good idea.
Like all destinations that have something magical, it is very complex.
It is not a decision to be taken lightly.
I don't push my students to be writers.
If they want to be, I accompany them, which is something else.
And is it really a decision to become a writer?
At some point, yes, you have to change your life for a non-profit activity that demands everything from you.
There are people who manage to live from it, but it is 1 per 1,000.
In general, you have to have a life that allows you to scholarship yourself to be able to write.
What else do you give up as a writer?
In free time.
I lack it.
Literature is a possessive lover without control.
It says that we remember before naming.
What do you remember?
I have an almost intrauterine memory, I remember myself looking at my feet or trying to walk.
I didn't have a happy childhood and I think you tend to remember a lot more than those with a happy childhood.
Much of my literature comes from that area, from a pre-verbal area.
Your mother had a motto: being able to be unhappy, why be happy.
I learned with her that there are people who like to be unhappy and you shouldn't go against it.
Is not my bussiness.
Exile taught me to enjoy being alive.
As long as I'm alive, I'll be happy.
It is a philosophical joy, I can be happy no matter what happens.
She was a disciple of Borges.
What did he teach you?
The most important thing: that someone like him can be very boring at important levels.
And to read bias.
Borges gave me English literature and he didn't play Shakespeare, Byron, which he took for granted, but De Quincey, Christopher Marlowe.
But I could recite half a class to you in Anglo-Saxon and how could you interrupt Borges!
We didn't adore him.
My generation was on the left and Borges on the right.
Much of my generation has not read him.
I don't agree with him but he writes like the gods.
It's good not to worship writers but to see them as people.
The myth doesn't help.
Do you have good writer friends?
The writers bore me many times.
I always tell my students: try not to meet them.
When you were young you felt old and today you are young.
Exile ages you.
We were young old men when we arrived with life destroyed and a very important contact with death, which is typical of old people.
We did not have youth, we were an annihilated generation.
And today I feel very close to young people: in precariousness, life, feminism, drugs, sexual madness.
Has Madrid welcomed you well?
No, the countries do not welcome.
One does not arrive at the airport and finds one with a paella in one hand and an omelette in the other to welcome you.
If you are a rich Arab, Madrid welcomes you.
But if you are an emigrant, Madrid does not welcome you.
I love this city and I hate it too.
Why do you hate her?
I live in Sol and I am watching the city devastate.
In my building there are no neighbors anymore, it's all Airbnb;
there are no shops anymore, they are all bars.
At night you can't sleep because the city has been ceded to drunks from all over the world.
That is why he flees when he can to Vera, in Cáceres, where one understands that he writes a little gem like
Todo lo quecre.