Kloaka & Los Subterráneos: El instinto de vivir. Roger Santiváñez. Lima: Pesopluma. 2021. 288 pages.
What’s in the gaze? An attempt to place what is rooted, among the mist, in a state of language that allows, in some way, to tell. What you look at is an instant, the composition of an endless chain of moments that, going forward, constitute a singular version of the story. The past is also looked at in this manner: its narration implies a form of interference with the future because the act of remembering activates, at the same time, the act of creating. A movement in two directions whose border is flexible, open to exchange, to the displacement of signs through which one tries to tell the experience in a different time. This pendular movement makes up the gravitational center of this book, recalled and written by Peruvian poet Roger Santiváñez.
Around this center we can see the passage of a generation of writers marked by violence, political rot, and social hopelessness, who chose to respond from the core of these conditions by becoming radical militants in a state of anarchy. The Movimiento Kloaka (Sewer Movement, MK)—active between 1982 and 1984 in several regions of Peru—was the space in which this response materialized. Santiváñez puts together a polyphonic archive that amplifies the landscape around MK and shows a process that, with neither belonging nor property, happens organically and intersects with the most vital postulates of the Western poetic tradition. Between these pages, dozens of testimonies look at the MK as a place of questioning, experimentation, and incorporation of heterogeneities, at the precise moment when the neoliberal machine built bridges with literary production and, irrevocably, combined the act of language with the reproduction of capital.
The Lima narrated in these lines sounds like underground rock, like high speed on the asphalt, like multiple languages boiling their delirium on the edge of reality. Only in this way could such a voice prevail in the midst of war’s rumble. Divided into several sections (Pre-face; Kloaka, Los Subtes, Los Ochenta: fragmentos de un espejo roto; Subte: el sonido de la utopía; Around; and Anexos Kloakensis), this book allows us to move through different temporal spaces and artistic initiatives that set the temperature of the time. Thus, it hurls out a notion: that the language of resistance—as a peripheral place for its voice is built—is emerging from the interaction between literary genres, from their relationship with music, their erosion of visual support, their absorption into other languages, their incorporation of difference into a place which must be continuously dynamited so that the unforeseen (that which is necessary in the creative universe) can happen.
Roger Santiváñez thus opens a route for looking at that moment of crisis and change in forms of writing in different sectors of Peru. He does so through an exercise of recognition of the collective efforts around art, in order to ratify that in times of crisis every line of individuality is torn, as in the case of MK, in favor of unveiling a path unknown up until that moment. There is also in this work an attempt at comparative dialogue, by tossing these materials as an invisible question into other geographical and social spaces, plagued by the violence and radicality of the globalizing machine in different areas of the continent. This is an example of the possibility of dialogue that takes place among artistic, poetic, and musical activity, and the most recent changes in the social structure of our countries. This is where history has passed, certifying the victory of one against another, the silence of one before another, where the possibility of a nonconformist reading is born, built on the rails of those who have burned their bodies in favor of the voice.