Of the fourteen series in which the enormous archive “Enrique Lihn papers 1941-1988” is organized, in the Special Collections of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California, the one dedicated to Lihn’s correspondence takes up considerable space. In total, eight boxes of letters exchanged, over the course of forty years in the profession of poetry, with correspondents across the cultural spectrum, critical and political. We offer here a sample of this epistolary production: the letter that Enrique Lihn sent to Héctor Libertella, the author of Nueva escritura en Latinoamérica (1977), then located in Mexico City.
Wednesday 29. 82
Dear Héctor: I received your letter yesterday and I misplaced it, seemingly between Marcel Duhaut (my mother’s house) and my own residence –I prefer to receive correspondence oedipally: I am almost never in my own “home” and I live more than alone, little less than abandoned by the other kingdom of emissary mothers, a couple of times a week– it’s all a bit depressing, of course. I celebrate, then, your decision to become a patriarch and I hope that it will last you all that can last what lasts. At 53 years old I am a sad mixture of bachelor and womanizer; in order not to break the mold too much, I “fell in lust” with a young girl my daughter’s age, and in the process everything has happened to me, from armed or unarmed assault in my house or in the street, going on trips (to N. York) cut short, up to ad hoc poetic overproduction (with which I am not entirely unhappy, there are salvageable things there, I’ll review them). The only vices I’ve been able to abandon are alcohol and cigarettes, the causes of two moments in which I’ve believed that I heard the voice of Death in an “upa chalupa” (heart attack in Barcelona, Tuesday the 13th, January of 81, it’s listed in my agenda). Apart from that I am bene ma non tanto. That’s because of an obstinacy made of stone (forbidden to write in the caves). I’m trying –I don’t know why– to get a magazine; but the authorization could take months. I can’t publish books in Chile either, and there are manipulators engrained in the newspapers and magazines who close the entrance to those without a platform. Dissent is a bureaucratic machine, in turn, that you can’t get into without a license in hand. Literature does not exist. For all of these reasons I am responding to your editorial invitation with the following projects. A) The set of lectures that we gave as a group in 1977 as an homage to Lezama Lima and about him, in the Goethe Institut, turned into articles or essays. The authors are Adriana Valdés, Carmen Foxley, Cristián Huneeus, and me. This could be the Chilean contribution to an independent collection –not Cuban nor Cubanophilic or Fidelophic– about the topic. I can send you the articles soon. B) A collection of my articles, some of them published in Vuelta, and prologues, notes, and C) a book that I thought of in the United States with the title Pompier on sale. In Spanish it would be called Pompier, ejemplo (paradigma) del Arte de la Palabra or whatever. This is the book that, obviously, interests me the most. Something that combines fiction and theory, of E.L. and about E.L. An extension of La orquesta [referring to the novel La orquesta de cristal, 1976] and of A. de la P. [referring to the novel El arte de la palabra, 1980] that includes what has been written about those texts and pages of Pompier and his friends. I am enclosing Robert Hozven’s presentation –author of El estructuralismo francés, authentic disciple of Barthes, current professor at the Catholic University of Washington– from the M.L.A. in December of 81 in New York. Missing from the version I’m sending you, the fiction part of the essay (letter to Pompier from a character of his lineage). Included is your text about Orquesta and the one you are preparing about the talking machine; I would translate the article by George Yúdice (it’s in Derechos de Autor) immediately. I have a text from Oscar Hahn, the poet, “Los efectos de realidad en un cuento de Enrique Lihn,” and “El arte de la palabra, la subversión del relato,” by Juan Carlos Lertora (Skidmore College); the effect of art itself in an autobiography by Cristián Huneeus, a couple of memorable reviews. In my mind these materials would alternate with a couple of fragments from el arte de la Palabra and Orquesta [sic], part of the collection of Pompier’s letters from recent years (Cartas salvadas, New York, in collaboration with Pedro Lastra), a study about some of Pompier’s sonnets and notes in Buenos Aires, 1976, a couple of open letters from Pompier himself about cultural topics in the country of blackouts; the annotation that appears in A. de la P. and the lecture about my novels with which Derechos de Autor begins, plus a review or self-review that hasn’t been published. The book could have a prologue bound by Pompier or etc [sic]. Also a chapter of Conversaciones con Enrique Lihn by Pedro Lastra, a book published by the University of Veracruz in 1980. Making a book of real essays that are read as a novel, like part of an event or something like that. What do you think? Interlocking sophistication, sophistry, and vulgarity, all eggs in the same basket. Two or three of these projects could be compatible and others could arise from the General Assembly of the Reciprocal Hype Society, something we planned in the little cafés of Palermo. If you all were in Baires I would have already made a third trip there, but Mexico is inaccessible with a Chilean passport; hopefully, then, in N. York, which “has its moments,” and within the next few months, not postponed indefinitely. Give my love to Tamara, I am filled with excitement for her book, a hug from
© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (990050)
Translated by Adrian Demopulos