A volcano is like a person’s mind: a mountain in which madness burns.
Jawbone (Mandíbula), translated by Sarah Booker
From that which is most intrinsic to the body, the battered body, the bleeding body, the abortive body, the aborted body. From violence. From silence, and from the resounding clatter that incites more fear than fictional silence. From the Andes with its misshapen mountains, its ever-threatening volcanoes, its endless páramo of warm cold, its orality composed of joys, misfortunes and earthly curses. From fear. From the creepypasta perpetuated in a reality just as rotten as the virtual realm, that, although we tell ourselves doesn’t exist, is much more real than the concept. The interstices of these two, three, four, a thousand shared worlds. This is how the mind works, Mónica tells me, moving indiscriminately through these spaces, from the macabre to the childish (for the childish can be absolutely macabre); or from humor to torture, both cornerstones of everyday life.
I know creatures are born and creatures die, and some are not even born, and because of that they cannot die. Girls understand this, we understand: we know the difference between an attack and biology. Death emerges from our bellies because blood is our inheritance.
For Mónica, as the interview in this dossier reveals, the motivation to write is never the story itself, but to experience the story and render it living, legible, digestible, communicable through the arrangement of language generated from poetic experience, and this experience, this poetry, is everywhere, and always, and not exclusive to the poem—that is a guise. When, in Historia de la leche, poetry materializes as two daughters and a mother, the scheme of a planned matricide becomes the vessel for the forced inheritance of milk and blood that always comes with pain, fear, and disgust. The poem, the short story, the novel are containers for the unspoken, for the poetics of the extraordinary and spontaneous, the meticulous and ordinary. In these specters are stories that arm themselves because they are stories of the everywoman, everywhere: pain, violence, and death.
As you take a breath
the future saturates your writing
Historia de la leche, translated by Kymm Coveney
Thus, in the habitable space of this work, categories are expendable, even lack a practical function. This has already been said, of course, but always when talking about Ojeda’s work—now as wide-ranging as three novels, La desfiguración Silva (2015), Nefando (2018), and Mandíbula (2020); a book of short stories, Las voladoras (2020); two poetry collections, El ciclo de las piedras (2015) and Historia de la leche (2019); and various reissues of these works—it is impossible not to emphasize the reading experience, and naturally, the reader’s experience. So that, beyond the mere praise expected from a dossier dedicated to the featured writer, this is a brief but steadfast response to the reading; a response from a reader and novice writer who finds in these texts a distortion of genre boundaries, of structure and themes, of the limitations inherent to the vital act of writing that, ultimately, draws hope from expression.
Bits of madness and sense exist in every entity that passes through these stories. There are the twins whose shared genesis pulls apart and at the same time draws together the divergences of their lives: one deaf and mute, the other obsessed with mutilating her mother’s hand and her sister’s tongue. To clarify, these are not conditions for their behavior, but the behaviors themselves. Roaming the underground punk scene of a tight-laced city, the twins are seen as they are: two madwomen, raised by a madwoman of a mother, unraveled in the dead of night, mind buckling under a relentless depression. The sense here is something more obvious. Mutilation is not some deranged desire, but the only way out in a world where mutilated elements have broken, have opened up wounds (one’s own and those of others), have bruised the hand; or, are outright useless, a waste of space, a creative possibility, an opportunity for the show: the tongue.
There are the roommates who code a gaming system that exposes (knowingly for some, for others, not so much) their innermost darkness to the dark universe itself, beginning as the deep web but then spreading far beyond the initial ambitions of the group. The expunged video game not only gives color and texture to the inherent madness of gloom, of the profane in a blinded reality, but threatens to reveal how ordinary, and therefore sensible, the normalization of childhood physical and sexual violence is; the prevalence of pedophilia on the web; the need to exact truth, fear, and confession from the most rotten depths of a person. Nefando is a satire that unsettles by making it all traceable, by making us uncomfortable until we accept that yes, it is all true, the past bears down with all the content of the internet combined and, like everything that sticks to its suspended spider legs, nothing is erased.
The páramo is the heart of the stone. Its creatures store all the pleasure and all the pain of this world
beneath their coats. I write: a deer gives birth to a fawn and discovers goodness.
There is the unfolding of the word. It emerges first from the white stones of the Hanan Pacha above, where an all-but-perfect girl has found the light. She has moved into those very stones, but in the key of death, pain, and despair. In the Ukhu Pacha below, the unexpected yet necessary, the inevitable, is in motion. It is the space where that irreversible anguish originates, where a mother clings to the cold foot of her all-but-perfect child, and where the father will scour the scriptures and journey to the heavens to quash the emptiness, the Ukhu void, the deepest reaches of the end, of nothingness, the absolute violence of death. Through the attentive act of writing this very story, Ojeda not only manages to share this tale of loss and dehumanizing ache, but also unfurls the written word as a means to turn it into both a stage and an understory. By widening the scope of the word and how it is written, Mónica, author and creator of realities, carves out a voice unrestricted by medium, themes, characters, actions, and the pure and forceful pain of living. A pain from which it makes more sense to write than anything else.