Alberto Ruy Sánchez: 2016 National Book Festival

>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, CD.>>Luis Clemens: I want
to than you all so much for attending the Book Fair here and
for joining us in the conversation with Alberto Ruy Sánchez. We’ll be chatting about his Poetics
of Wonder, Passage to Mogador, am I pronouncing that right?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Yes, Mogador.>>Luis Clemens: Close
enough, Mogador.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Mogador.>>Luis Clemens: OK,
he says it better, and The Secret Gardens of Mogador. Both of which have been translated
by a professor from the University of Louisville Rhonda Dahl Buchanan. And for those of you who as yet
aren’t familiar with his writing and with his life story
I should tell you a bit about him just a brief bio. Born in Mexico City, attended
the University of Paris. His first novel Los Nombres
Del Aire, the Names of the Air, very first novel was awarded the
very prestigious Mexican literary award the Premio Xavier
Villaurrutia. More books follow. Many books, how many books?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Twenty-six.>>Luis Clemens: Jesus. When do you sleep?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Well, one of my most recent books is
called In Praise of Insomnia.>>Luis Clemens: That’s a
wonderful title, thanks. Then now you know the secret. In addition to his work as a writer
I want to point out something that for those of you who
have spent time in Mexico or haven’t had the pleasure
of doing so yet, Alberto and Margarita De Orellana
is the historian, a noted historian and
wife and husband.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
And dance as well.>>Luis Clemens: And dances as well. You learned to dance in order to
stay married you were talking about.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Yes,
yes to save my marriage. Because he’s from Cuban
origin he understands.>>Luis Clemens: If
not it wouldn’t work. And I want to tell you about
the magazine the publication that they coedit which is
called Artes de México. It is a truly fantastic publication. It is a publication that
covers the thousands of years of art produced in Mexico. It is a publication that thinks of
art very broadly ranging from, say, mass of the Mayan culture,
Olmec statues to the mass of the luchadores, the wrestlers. It is an exceptional
publication if you ever come across it I urge you to pick it up. I very much want this conversation
as you can tell already I hope to be a conversation, na pratica, among all of us not just
those of us here on stage. And I want to urge
you, don’t be shy. I’m not. Please interrupt. Feel free to interrupt
in either English or Spanish however the
spirit may move you, no need to wait for the end. Please. You know, I was telling
Alberto that I have two daughters, one who just turned 13 and
another who is about to turn 8. And somewhere in the last
year I gave up on trying to keep dinner table
conversations on track. And I realize, A, it was
pointless it was a losing battle and there was no point in
getting angry, and two, it’s too much fun now that they are
older to not just follow the streams of conversation, the
digressions wherever they go so I hope we’ll do that. With all that said
let’s welcome Alberto. [ Applause ]>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Thank you so much. Thank you, Luis.>>Luis Clemens: So we were
just discussing the pronouncing of Mogador. Tell us what is Mogador?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Well
first of all let me thank you for preparing this
interview and everything.>>Luis Clemens: Sure.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Thank
all the audience for being here. I know that everyone has
seven chairs so that it can– we prepare that for you
so that you can climb and make a nap it would become soon. Don’t worry. And of course I want to thank the
Library of Congress for inviting me and especially Mexican
Cultural Institute. Thanks to them I’m here
and I’m really very, very proud of being invited by them. And well Mogador, Mogador is– you know the fascinating
thing about this city that is that it existed before
Morocco existed. It was a base of definitions. So it is one of the places
where writing was invented.>>Luis Clemens: So
let’s situate it. We are where?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
It’s the North of Africa on the Atlantic side.>>Luis Clemens: OK.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And it’s a
place where the richness was purple, the purple color produced
by an animal name anthrax that you don’t kill but you milk it. It’s a little animal. And in Mexico we have model as the
same that is used in the textiles to have these velvet purple color. So, there is like many, many
links between Mexico and Mogador that begin it seems the really,
really the beginning of Mogador. There is, first, the color and there
is many stories many, many stories.>>Luis Clemens: So, do
you travel to Morocco?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Oh yes.>>Luis Clemens: How
the connection start?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Well, you know–>>Luis Clemens: How
did the obsession start?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Well,
you know, the story is very long but it began with me getting
in love with a woman, so.>>Luis Clemens: Isn’t that
how most stories start.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And
so this woman went to France. And so I went after her. And we were there as very poor
students and the first winter that something terrible
that happens, you know, that there could be wars
and there could be– but winter is something that gets into the spirit and
the body of people. And they forget how to smile. So we needed some sun for many, many months you don’t have
not a little bit of sun. So we decided to travel to
the cheapest place to go. And we discover something invented
by the French technology of tourism and it’s called to
travel in fourth class. And they invented that for the
equivalent of the wood box, the Moroccan wood box that go work
in Morocco and they spend some of their savings in a better travel but it is still the
basement of the ships. So we travel in the
basement of a ship to from the South of
France to Tangier. And there many things happen,
one of them was that we discover that we had so many things in
common with Morocco that getting into the market in Tangier was
like getting into our crafts market in Mexico that many of the
ways of talking with the body, body language, was similar
many, many, many things.>>Luis Clemens: So let me recap. So, it sounds like you traveled in
the equivalent of steerage along with Moroccan immigrants and you
were surprised to find yourself with these connections back home. You mentioned the experience
of being at the crafts market. You talked a lot in your book
about music in the South. Could you tell me about
that connection?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Well,
you know that there is a link between the [foreign language]
that comes from India travel through Europe and gets to
Spain to the South of Spain. And the South of Spain is linked to
Mexico in a way that is unavoidable. So when you go to Morocco you
can hear much of the music, the ancient music of the South,
of the Arabic South of Spain that in Spain the groups
played as classical music. But the same, exactly the same
music, the same score is play by Moroccan musicians
as popular in music. And, you know, in the popular
in music in Morocco when they like something they interrupt it. They applaud or they say, “Wow.” But when my first book
was translated into Arabic they made a party and
they invited a Spanish orchestra and a Moroccan orchestra and
they play different things and then they play the
same score in their ways and at the end they play together. And it was wonderful. It was really beautiful. And so all my work has been about
making links between the South of Spain, what we have of
the South of Spain and Mexico and even through the language. But the Music, the music of the
language, the taste of the language, the taste of words, the music of words is very much
linked to the Arabic word. You know that the best historian
of the Spanish is Antonio Alatorre. He wrote a book called
Mil y Un Años, 1001 years of the Spanish language. And he made an account of 4000
words that we have in Spanish that are almost the same in Arabic.>>Luis Clemens: Including, aceite?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Azeite for example is Arabic,
aceite is Spanish.>>Luis Clemens: Aceite is oil.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And so we– When we are talking Spanish
we are using Arabic words. And so is the music for example
when in France to make the sound of a hota they use the K, Kh. We don’t need that we have the hota. And we have many, many
words for example in Spain they swim in piscinas. We swim in albercas
which is the Arabic word. We have the on the buildings
these are the creation that is called [foreign
language] which mean laces. And in Spain they lost that word and
they only use the word esgrafiado which is from Latin origin and
doesn’t mean the same at all. So we have like a richness from the
Arabic Moorish world that was lost in Spain and we have it in Mexico.>>Luis Clemens: So let’s try and
capture a little bit of the passage of your encounters and sense
in Morocco in the passage. We discuss Alberto will
be the first in Spanish and then I’ll read the
translation in English.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: OK.>>Luis Clemens: And, I don’t know if you speak Spanish,
we’ll find out.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: They were
teaching me how to say I am Alberto.>>Luis Clemens: Say it. [ Foreign Language ]>>Luis Clemens: They say that music
in Mogador is a natural extension of the skin of its inhabitants,
past and present, of their echoes in this world of their
harmonious and discord notes of their percussive outburst and
fuse of their longing for the sun when it goes into hiding and also
of their joy when the moon rises. In Mogador, skin has an
ancient name that means drum. It is said that many centuries ago
before corpse was buried they would make a drum with its skin. This would explain why the
very ancient houses are filled with beloved little drums
hanging on their walls. People respect and cherish them
and take them down to touch them as a way of remembering
their diseased loved ones. And they often place them exactly
where the trade winds enter the city from the sea with a mighty force that shakes the drums producing very
faint and rhythmic low pitch notes. For this reason the first
illusion wind of the evening which revives the drums of the
departed is called requiem wind.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: I’m
assuming that you choose that paragraph exactly
and that subject–>>Luis Clemens: Why you said that?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Because,
you know, it’s one of the– well of the whole book is about how
we’d call an affirmation of life. The whole book is about
the importance of erotism. But erotism is always
linked to death. And when the book has been
translated to several languages, on each language of course
the erotic part has a role but also the rituals of death,
the way you deal with that. So it’s like the cultural
element that is in the book that many people think
that I imagine things. Many people think that
there’s something like imagination, pure imagination. But in fact, everything that
I’m using is more the less ethnologically based not only
in Arabic or in my culture but in different cultures. And it goes from the music
to the mathematics implied in the structure of the book. But what the element that is
the more international the one that communicates the more is the
music of the words and the subject of the music in all
the books and dancing. And it’s amazing because– the death
it happens here, you and we just met and the Cuban connection,
OK, I would understand. But the same happen
in Vietnam for example when the book was translated
into Vietnamese. One way of communicating what
happens with the book is from music. And when I went to
Indonesia, the same happened. So it’s like if it was a project. It’s amazing. But of course when you go to Ubud
or in Bali, also the music is so important and for
example there was a Mexican, Cobarrubias who made the first
important book on the Bali culture and his main interest
was music also. So there is a link between
cultures like Mexico and cultures from other places in the world
and we got it from music.>>Luis Clemens: Let me interject
and see if there are any questions? Feel free just raise your
hand and speak aloud. No? Give it one more round. We’ll keep going then. OK. Or, did we– did
I cut someone off, no? All right. I am a journalist because if I
didn’t have deadlines I wouldn’t do anything, and because deadlines
remind me of my mortality.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: See. Which is rhythm too.>>Luis Clemens: Sure. Sure. And you speak in The Secret
Gardens there’s a garden of voices. Maybe let’s make in general about
The Secret Gardens of Mogador and the interaction
between the narrator and the protagonist woman
whose name is Hassiba.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Hassiba.>>Luis Clemens: And you
describe her name saying, resembling a light touch, laceration
at the beginning of the word that becomes labio almost suggesting
a kiss in its final two letters. How do you feel about that
translation by the way?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Hmm?>>Luis Clemens: How do you feel
about the translation in general?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Well, you know, I do believe that translations are
like a musician performing a score. So I wrote in score then in
Spanish has some music some meaning and the translation is the
performance of one musician and other will do it differently. I had several translations in
different languages and you can see that for example my first, my
French translator is a [inaudible]. He is really a genius. And in different languages
it happens differently. In English I have three
different translations and none of them is as the French one.>>Luis Clemens: OK.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
But it’s also the language that at the person. But, you know, sometimes
when a friend say, “God with this translator
and go to the other or.”>>Luis Clemens: Right.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: I do believe in the personal link
with the translator. So I prefer that this
person has a link with the work and cares about it. And if someday will be another way of translating it that
will happen or not.>>Luis Clemens: OK.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: But I
do believe very much, you know, in the magic of the power of
each one of my books to develop in the people a kind of
a friendship, not with me but with image they have of me.>>Luis Clemens: Sure.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And
but mainly with the books.>>Luis Clemens: The
communion of sorts.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Yes. There is something that happens with
those books that I cannot control and the translation is part of it,
the translation or illustrating. I didn’t tell you that it’s five
books, this which is a companion of the two you have and other three
is illustrated by calligrapher he’s like the Picasso of calligraphy
in the world, his Hassan Massoudy. He was very kind he gave me
the opportunity to use some of his calligraphies and he made
another even he made my name and everything. But when I published that
there was some woman who wanted to have those calligraphies
as tattoos because they wanted to continue inhabiting the books. So I began to receive through
internet a lot of photographs of sometimes in places you
cannot show of tattoos of Mogador so there is like a legion of
woman who became Mogadorian. And, you know, an offer cannot
planify [phonetic] that. But the nicest thing and that
happened with [inaudible] border is that this final book
which is introduction of the book is made
of 81 paragraphs. It’s a mathematical formula
that explains the whole book. And so I couldn’t ask my friend 81
illustrations was really too much. So I went to method to learn how
to make calligraphies and I copied like A, B, C, D, E. So, the
first edition was like that. And then there was a woman who
translated the book into Italian. And she was not only happy making a
tattoo of one of the illustrations. She went to Mogador,
she became the pupil of a calligrapher a master
calligrapher and, you know, it’s not only learning a craft
it’s like in a spiritual initiation and she became a calligrapher
herself. And her initiation like
her graduation work was to illustrate the part of the book that was illustrated
by Hassan Massoudy. And here, in the English
edition, in this one, is the first time it’s published. So, in all my books–>>Luis Clemens: So these are first.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Yes. In all my books, when the
first one was published I began to receive letters and
the readers were involved. So, the last example
is really that one.>>Luis Clemens: So,
let’s just repeat to make sure we all caught this. There are tattoos of
calligraphies from the book that people are supporting in
interesting places which is for those of you who
have not yet read any of the work perfectly
appropriate that they should be in very private places because I
mentioned the description of Hassiba and there’s an awful lot of
love making in these books. I mean, again maybe that’s tied to the insomniac nature thing
you were referring to earlier but there’s an awful lot of– I’ve
never seen so many descriptions of female anatomy in one book and
so politely written I might add.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Well I tried to.>>Luis Clemens: You connect that
vision we were starting to talk about voices and gardens and
there is again this connection between Hassiba and sort of a garden
that is fertilizing on steroids and all these descriptions
of gardens one of which is a garden of voices.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
OK, we’re good. So–>>Luis Clemens: of the
crickets I referred to.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Let me
tell you about the whole cycle.>>Luis Clemens: Please.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: The
first volume is a research on woman’s desire it’s
called the Names of the Air. Why the Names of the Air? Because when you are in
love, even the air that comes through the window has a
name of the person you love. And that book is about a woman
who is in love with another woman and there is many people who
misunderstand the love of each other so like a chain of
misunderstandings. But it’s an exploration
of woman’s desire. The second one is about men’s
desire and the third one and it’s called In Lips of Water. And the third one is about
exploring the possibility of a couple making a
paradise, any kind of couple. So there is a woman, a character– well also that was written
when we already had children. And in our marriage we have two
children but we have them after more than 10 years of being together. So in pregnancy our eroticism
flourished and it was– that doesn’t happen
to all the people. So, I wanted to know why and I made
a research and I interview a lot of pregnant woman about her erotic
life while they were pregnant.>>Luis Clemens: What did
their husband say about that?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Well, I avoid the husbands. In that chapter I avoid the husbands but I ask the woman
about he husband. And, you know, there is
basically three categories. There is the woman who abandons– well first, most of the
men are afraid and escape. So, some of the woman–>>Luis Clemens: Terror is–>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Terrorized. Men, we are very, very coward
linking to our security to the pregnancy of woman. And many woman abandon eroticism
and they don’t think about it and. But there is a second category that
is very, very numerous of woman who have an intensity of their
erotic life and, you know, even the water has a different
taste for a pregnant woman. And those woman many times
have their first relation out of marriage in that time. And that’s amazing. That’s something that surprise me,
but that happens and I document it–>>Luis Clemens: I can see now
why you didn’t speak the husbands.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: So I had a
lot of stories that I couldn’t tell. And then there was
a third category–>>Luis Clemens: I can’t
wait to hear this one.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: —
of woman, very few of them, who decided to educate the husband. Many times was were woman who
really believe in the power of educating the husband. So, the main Hassiba is one of
those woman and her method is, well she’s the daughter
of a gardener, the gardener the only gardener in
Mogador and she thinks of garden as a meth of her paradise and to
challenge her husband and lover who is beginning not to hear
the desires in her body, she makes of him a
new male sahara sath.>>Luis Clemens: And he has
an obligation to come forth–>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Challenge– yes, challenged to tell
a story of desire, tell– describe a secret garden
of Mogador every night if he wants to make love.>>Luis Clemens: And he gets
pretty creative I have to say.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: So, he
is threatened by her saying, “We will only make love if you
come every night with the garden.” And he said, “But there
is no more gardens than the one your father made.” She said, “Well a garden is
a place, a space something that the force of desire transform.” It could be a collection, it
could be a relation, it could be– but mainly it could be a garden. And she says, “But you cannot invent
the desire you are telling me about. You really need to bring me
desires that exist and you need to invent the way of telling them.” So when I wrote that I said,
“Wow, I need to do that. The challenge is against me not.” I cannot invent anything. So, she thinks that if he learns how
to read the desires in the world, he will become a better
lover especially if he learns and invents how to tell them. And I needed to do to
fulfill the same requirement, so I spend like five years
almost six years going everywhere in the world asking for
extravagancies of the people, you know, inquiring about woman’s
desire but also about places that the desire transforms so
that a couple could leave, could–>>Luis Clemens: So
give me some examples of the places that you mentioned.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: Yes, you
know, for example I was invited to the University of Kentucky
and there was a museum that have a collection of Henry
Moore, this British artist who inspired all his sculpture
on Mexican ancient Mayan. So I said, maybe this–
and it was put on a garden. So, maybe this garden
will be something that the protagonist tells
Hassiba he will like to make love. And I went and there was nothing
there was only a curator putting statues like in order or so. There was no passion there was not
any extravagant there was really no desire– did desire there. But I got inside the
museum and what did I find? I found that some American
millionaires were in their life collecting the little
cages that Chinese emperors used to collect crickets, grasshoppers. And every one of these little
cages, that is like bird cages, little small made of wood
of many, many materials. Every one of them is a work of art. And I was astonished by the
size and the beauty of– there was more than a hundred. And I said, “Well, you know, here there is the will
of– there is a desire.” And I imagine if these
collectors donated these to the museum they
surely donated the books that they collect linked
to this cages. So I went to the library and
I asked to see the collection and there was like, you know,
like 20 books on the subject. And many of the things that
you can think that I imagine when I tell the story they
are true, absolutely true. And for example there is, not
in China but in Japan, you know, Japan is take a lot of the
Chinese culture transforms and make it something different. But in Japan there is a kimono
with 12 levels and each one of that level they put a cricket
that is sensitive to the heath. So when the lover gets the hand
inside the kimono, if he is close to the where the cricket
is the cricket sings. Like when a Spanish will way,
“Caliente, Caliente, Caliente.”>>Luis Clemens: You know, you
just ruined a child’s game from me. Or maybe better, maybe but.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: So
every one of the chapters in the book tells a real desire
that I found somewhere in the world. Not–>>Luis Clemens: OK, but–>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
I just didn’t invent but I invented the
way of telling them. So for this garden of voices, I
mean, I imagine a homage to Burgas and the gardener is a blind man
who takes care of the grasshoppers and puts plants but only to
be eaten by the crickets. And the whole story is
told in that register and that imagined fantasy
register based on literal reality,
historical reality.>>Luis Clemens: Now you had to
go to Kentucky to learn about, and I thought I had turned
off my phone and I was going to tell people turn off
their phones, apologies.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
I can answer it.>>Luis Clemens: No. You know, it’s probably my wife so that wouldn’t–
that’s not a good idea. She doesn’t know where
you are and she does. But the interesting thing about
the Kentucky angle that I have to mention for people, a very
[inaudible] of transition there if you missed it, is that you are
something called a Kentucky Colonel is this true?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Oh, yes isn’t it amazing.>>Luis Clemens: I mean I
only know one Kentucky Colonel and you don’t look like him. How did this happen,
please tell us–>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Deep fried Kentucky?>>Luis Clemens: Exactly, exactly.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Well, you know, Kentucky is a very special state.>>Luis Clemens: Agreed.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And
they have these beautiful horses that look like very fragile and
they’re amazingly beautifully but–>>Luis Clemens: I can’t wait
to see where this is going.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And there
is universities and to give honors, the universities make
the most weird things. Well, you know, they have
as a governor a wrestler.>>Luis Clemens: That’s right, yup.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: A
fighter of Lucha libre, you know, so you can expect anything. So when the university wants
to make an honor instead of giving you a PhD, an honorary
PhD they made you Kentucky Colonel.>>Luis Clemens: I’d
take Kentucky Colonel over an honorary degree any day
I think that’s a fine offer.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
But, you know, I receive– the first time I went I was honorary
citizen of Louisville and that was, well you can say this is the
biggest they gave me like the key of the city and everything. But they continue inviting me so the next time they
made me Kentucky Colonel. And so I say, well what
comes next I will– the formula– the secret formula. I’ll make a doggie fried chicken. The next time, I have
been there four times, and the next time I was appointed
as honorary captain of the Belle of Louisville which is the
oldest steam boat going in the affluence of the Mississippi. So, that I loved and I wanted
to dive it and they allowed me to drive it like for a
kilometer or something like that.>>Luis Clemens: That’s wonderful.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And the next
time I say, “Well, what comes next?” The next time they decided
that the 24th of October of that year was dedicated to me
it was Alberto Ruy Sánchez Day in Kentucky. So, you know its paradise.>>Luis Clemens: You know it’s
always wonderful and fascinating to learn some of the
back story to some of the most beautiful
passages of the book. I mean, that section to me
about the garden of the voices and the crickets and
the person who keeps it. It’s beautiful in so far as
references both the beginning and the end of the book and the
notion of voices becoming shadows and that sort of connection,
but I would not have tied it to Kentucky Colonels
or steam boat captains.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: And they
receive every year an invitation to go to the derby because all
Kentucky Colonels have breakfast with the Governor at the derby.>>Luis Clemens: Have you
place invited to that?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Oh no it’s quite far.>>Luis Clemens: OK, OK.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: My
horse didn’t run so far.>>Luis Clemens: So, in your
case Mogador is both a real place and imaginary place, right, in the
same way let’s say Yoko-Napa County or Macondo are real and
imaginary at the same time. Is that liberating or is
it more terrifying really that to bear that responsibility.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: You know,
I come from a generation who grow up reading writers who wrote about
their neighborhood in Mexico City, Jose Agustin, [inaudible]. And so even my generation
all my friends, [inaudible] or the others wrote about their
neighborhood and they had the idea that it was a realistic way of telling their–
what they were living. And I always found
that even when we were in the same street describing the
same things, it was imaginary. It was their neighborhood
and it was my neighborhood and that you are always
creating something. So, I think that the real essence
of a place is somewhere else. It’s not in the way of telling
things in a realistic way but in capturing the essence
of people of, you know, what people dreams about tells you
much more about the neighborhood than describing the
size of the sidewalk. Sometimes the sidewalk is
meaningful but not always.>>Luis Clemens: My brother-in-law, brother [inaudible] is a Mexican
artist and one of his works of art concerns Mexican
sidewalk just for the record. Are there questions?>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
Very good argues by the way.>>Luis Clemens: Yes,
yes, thank you. Are there questions that anyone
would like to interject with? OK, we’ll continue then. And feel free again to interrupt. Oh, wait there we go. Oh wait, we’ve got a
microphone heading your way.>>I just wanted to ask
whether you also looked at some literature written or some Arabic literature
whether you’re inspired by it, poetry in Arabic for
example from the time of– you know, medieval caliphate
and I want to just whether that was also an inspiration
for you because a lot of that poetry also deals
with gardens with desire and so I guess all the same topics
that are present in your work, so I was wondering whether the
literature was also an inspiration for you.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez: The
nice thing about the literature of the world is that
you learn that there is so many ways of telling things. So for example in the Arabic
tradition there is one Jaru that is called Adab and
it’s a mixture of Jarus. So, that was something
that really inspires me but not at the beginning. At the beginning for me, you
know, I come from a family and one of my cousins is here,
very close to you, Elsa, that is a family immigrated
from the North of Mexico from Sonora, from the desert. And as immigrated family
we have a lot of gatherings where the oldest first and
then every one tell stories. So, my grandmother was
a wonderful storyteller. So storytelling, when I wrote
for the first time something was because I wanted to
write something to read to my family, to tell to my family. Not only, you know, the
conversation in the dinner, really, for example the ritual do
you remember Elsa the ritual of giving gifts in
Christmas was a performance. One of the uncles came and he
invested stories when he saw who was giving to whom and he
invented the story about the people who was– who receive the gift and
this story was very imaginative and everybody wanted to guess and
then to guess what it was inside. So, when I went to Morocco
one of the things thing that impress me was a
wonderful amazing tradition of telling stories
in the public spaces. And, you know, there is a square in Marrakech called the
square [foreign language], which means the square of the dead. And there, there is a storytellers. And the storytellers are amazingly
alive and they have rituals and I– there is a lot of anthropologies
who study them. They have for example something that
I try to have on this books and I– when I was talking about the twos
and the readers and the people who writes me is that
they call it halqa. Halqa means the audience. The audience is that always
go surrounding one storyteller and this storyteller includes
what the audience tells them. And it becomes part of the story. And as what they tell becomes part
of the story is also the tradition. So, a lot of classics and
a lot of the literature that you can learn here in
the university but, you know, one of the nicest things I learned
on the street happen on the ship. On the ship, we went 36 hours
in the basement on that ship and there was more than a nightmare
there was a storm and really a storm that put everyone out of their body. Everybody was very,
very, very, very sick. And, you know, there was cries there
was the smell, everything was– it was so strong and
so hard that you felt that the storm didn’t began outside
that came to you but the storm began in your body and was the trebling
was really projecting towards the sky that it was in your stomach
that the storm was beginning. It was really something that you
began and the ship made like that. And you couldn’t sleep
of course you vanished. So we vanished. And we woke up 36 hour later
and there was a light who came to the basement and there was the
sound that said, well, you know, first class will go down first and
we hear, [footsteps] people running. And then second class and third
class and they were already down. And fourth class, that
was us, and nobody move. So, my wife and I we were in
the floor like that so we try to see there was no one there and
all the people was in the back of the room and there was
a man telling a story. It was a storyteller. And this storyteller
was a storyteller from the [foreign language] square. And he was I notice that he
was telling what we live the life before. He was telling about us. He was telling about a woman who
wrapped a baby with his shawl and the baby was like
planet around it. There was the story of very
religious people what do you do when you are very religious
and you are in a ship that seems to break down. You pray. So they put a
carpet and they prayed. But there was another group who
believed that the maker was not in that direction but they
pray in the other direction. So, like 15 minutes instead of praying they were
fighting each other. And then he was talking about
Mexicans who were very sick and very afraid of vomiting and,
you know, the Arabs were very open. And I notice that he was using
the structure of a classic of the literature called Das
Narrenschiff, The Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant, it’s
a 17th century, 1629 book. And I say that what
are classics for? What is the use of classics? Is not to have a good degree in
school, is not to know something to accumulate it, classics gives
you an order where there is chaos. We were leaving a chaos,
the chaos of storm, and so there was this man using
a classic to give an order and understand something having
a reading of when we leave. In that way I use everything
that I was having access to and I spend a lot of
time and I read a lot. But, you know, influences never jump
directly from one book to the other. You eat them and you sweat them. And influences are in your
books when they are sweat. For example, I have a huge
influence of Samuel Beckett because he’s a geometrical writer
but read in my book you cannot tell that that is, but it is
maybe my main influence. I have another influence
of Lezama Lima that you know very well is a Baroque
but it is for another reason. And so sometimes you can
see and you couldn’t see. So, the influence I have to go to
the origin of your word wrapping it up as I was ordered to do. I used classics but I
use them in that way, in a very alive way
of using classics.>>Luis Clemens: Well thank
you very much to all of you. I’m sure Alberto will hang
around for a few minutes, take a few additional
questions on the side but we’re being ordered
off the stage. So thank you very much to all
of you and thank you to Alberto.>>Alberto Ruy Sánchez:
No, thanks to you, Luis. Really, you were wonderful.>>Luis Clemens: That’s it.>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at

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