Author Archives: John Yargo

On Earth Is He Doing Here?

The Seven Madmen

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Jorge Luis Borges writes in “The Argentine Writer and Tradition,”

For many years, in books now happily forgotten, I tried to copy down the flavor, the essence of the outlying suburbs of Buenos Aires. Of course, I abounded in local words; I did not omit such words as cuchilleros, milonga, tapia and others, and thus I wrote those forgettable and forgotten books. Then, about a year ago, I wrote a story called “Death and the Compass,” which is a kind of nightmare, a nightmare in which there are elements of Buenos Aires, deformed by the horror of the nightmare. […] There I think of the Paseo Colón and call it rue de Toulon; I think of the country houses of Adrogue and call them Triste-leRoy; when this story was published, my friends told me that at last they had found in what I wrote the flavor of the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Precisely because I had not set out to find that flavor, because I had abandoned myself to a dream, I was able to accomplish, after so many years, what I had previously sought in vain.

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Born of Identification

Wreck and Order

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In a 2007 essay in Tricycle, Hannah Tennant-Moore wrote about the Buddha’s “Reflections on Repulsiveness.” In the “Reflections,” the Buddha advises his followers to ruminate on the very corporeality of our bodies, down to the “swollen, blue, and festering” bodies in a cemetery. This, Tennant-Moore points out, makes us “aware of all the intricate processes and parts that make up our bodies” so that “we are less likely to identify the overall image as ‘me.’ Disdain for our bodies is, in fact, born out of detachment, not identification.”

That unforgiving process of examining intimately the bare self—dismembered, grotesque, and alien—is dramatized in Tennant-Moore’s strong first novel, Wreck and Order. What, the title asks, is being wrecked and ordered? The contradictory, messy self of a young high-school dropout in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. Continue reading

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