César Aira: The Musical Brain and Artforum

Life is like a book of short works by César Aira; you never know what you’re gonna get. But do try one and surprise yourself. Besides, who can resist book covers such as these? And how cool is that lenticular?

I have now accepted that a César Aira title is a blind date with a story or an essay. There might be some straightforward titles, but they are still no indication as to where his imagination will take you. How could I have known that A Brick Wall would be musings about cinema and childhood memories, or that the most musical one would not be the title story, or that Artforum isn’t exactly about art, or that my favorite line would come from one of the stories that didn’t appeal to me so much?

But then again, he writes in Athena Magazine, “Wasn’t that the definition of literature: the world turned upside down?”

The favorite line: “Elegance is a form of energy.”

The titles I recommend from The Musical Brain, and in this particular order: Picasso, In the Cafe, Poverty, and Acts of Charity.

As for Artforum, I don’t think any other author could be more eloquent about the maniacal acquisition of the printed word, a.k.a book-hoarding:

“One can say that they are only material objects, that other things bring true happiness. But would that be true? There always has to be something material, even love needs something to touch. And in my proceeds of that joyful day, the material was so entwined with the spiritual that it transcended itself, without ceasing to be material…they were paper and ink, and they were also ideas and reveries. They reproduced the dialectic of art itself… material made spirit is the luxurious border where reality communicates with utopia.”

You’re welcome!

4 thoughts on “César Aira: The Musical Brain and Artforum”

  1. Wonderful review, Mira! Loved what you said about how César Aira’s stories and essays defy our expectations. Loved all the quotes you shared. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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