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What a marvelous pursuit

By Joel Brouwer


Today I come to the end of my hitch as a Harrieteer. My thanks to all at the Poetry Foundation for this opportunity, and to all of you for the lively conversations. I leave you with this short prose/poem by Julio Cortazar. I’ve always loved it, but only recently came to understand that it’s really about blogging.


What a wonderful pursuit: cut the leg off a spider, put it in an envelope, write on it Minister of Foreign Affairs, add the address, run downstairs, and drop the letter into the mailbox at the corner.

What a wonderful pursuit: walk down the boulevard Arago counting the trees, and every five chestnut trees stand for a moment on one leg and wait for someone to look, then give a short, tight yell, spin like a top, arms wide, very like the cakuy bird who laments in the trees of northern Argentina.

What a wonderful pursuit: go into a café and ask for sugar, again for sugar, three or four times for sugar, continue with great concentration constructing a mountain of sugar, center of the table, while indignation swells along the counters and beneath the white aprons, and then spit, softly, right in the middle of the mountain, and watch the descent of the small glacier of saliva, hear the roar of broken rocks which accompanies it, arising from the contracted throats of five local customers and the boss, an honest man when he feels like it.

What a marvelous pursuit: take the bus, get off in front of the Ministry, hack your way through quickly using an official-looking envelope with heavy seals, leave the last secretary behind, and then seriously and without flinching enter the great office with mirrors, exactly at the moment that an usher in a blue uniform is delivering a letter to the Minister, watch him slit the envelope with a letter opener of historic origin, insert two fingers delicately and come out with the spider’s leg an stand there looking at it, then imitate a fly’s buzzing and watch how the Minister grows pale, he wants to get rid of the leg but he can’t, he’s trapped by the leg, turn your back and leave whistling, announce down the corridors that the Minister is resigning, and you realize that the next day enemy troops are entering the city and everything will go to hell, and it’ll be a Thursday of an odd-numbered month in a leap year.

— Julio Cortázar, from Cronopios y Famas, translated by Paul Blackburn

Comments (3)

  • On September 30, 2009 at 7:50 am Margo Berdeshevsky wrote:

    A marvelous pursuit is daring, of which you’ve shown more than a little bit in your blogging here, Joel. A little courage. A few leaps. Some daring in subjects, even when it goes to hell.

    Thanks for being here,
    all best,

  • On September 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm albertine wrote:

    “ask for sugar, again for sugar, three or four times for sugar,” — that’s blogging indeed.

    Thanks, Joel!

  • On October 1, 2009 at 6:56 pm Terreson wrote:

    Sorry to see the end of your stay. Your blogs have grit.


Posted in Uncategorized on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 by Joel Brouwer.