Art’s Evil Eye: Bolaño’s “Maurico ‘The Eye’ Silva’

by on Nov.26, 2010

Apropos of Lucas’s comment on my Bolaño/Beuys/Nazi post below, I’d like to explain specifically how Bolaño’s short story ‘Mauricio ‘The Eye’ Silva’ figures into this theory of Art’s Evil Eye that I’m building around Bolaño’s work. I’ve written it all out in a lengthy essay (as I’ve mentioned before– I’m obsessed with this essay) in which this story plays an important role.

“Mauricio ‘The Eye’ Silva” is one of those Bolaño stories in which a narrator comes in contact with a figure who then delivers the story through a kind of ventriloquism or double speech, and then is destroyed either in the frame narrative or in the narrative itself. In this case that figure (as so often) is the title character; Mauricio ‘the Eye’ Silva is a photographer who relates to the narrator/interlocutor how he rescued two boys from an Indian brothel and fled with them to the countryside where he raised them as his children until they died in an epidemic.

In my essay, I show how ‘The Eye’ is doubly inscribed in this story as The Moon, often shown as drifting across the sky, emerging or disappearing into shadow, and casting a light-like gaze which becomes entangled in the tree; in this sense the double image of The Moon/Eye recalls the montaged image of Moon and Eye at the beginning of Chien Andalou. In that movie, the Eye is cut, collapses, issues the fluid that is the Art of the film; analogously teh Moon is cut by a string of clouds.

In Bolaño’s story, The Eye is Art, the place where the story comes from, to whom it returns, and where it finally issues in a relentless tide which, rather than concluding, capsizes the story, collapses and issues this uncontrollable gush of fluid [Art]:

“He wept for his dead children and all the other castrated boys, for his own lost youth, for those who were young no longer and those who died young, for those who fought for Salvador Allende and those who were too scared to fight. Unable to stop crying, he called his French friend […] And his friend said […] What’s that sound? Are you crying? And the Eye said, Yes, he couldn’t stop crying, he didn’t know what was happening to him, he had been crying for hours. His French friend told him to calm down. At this The Eye, still crying, laughed, said he would do that and hung up. But he went on crying, on and on.”

Like the cut Eye in Chien Andalou, this Eye leaks or issues a tide of Art which both entails and collapses the story. He is both the frame story and the substance that flows through that frame. In that sense, you could make a comparison to what Lucas talks about in his comments– the Savage Detectives (critics) and the Visceral REalists (the writers) collapse into each other in a fit of bodily fluids. But Mauricio ‘The Eye’ Silva’s issue of tears is continuous with Bolaño’s own relentless, generous, digressive, tic-marked, motif-driven, concentrated, populated, elegiac tide of writing in every length and genre.

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2 comments for this entry:
  1. Lucas

    Beautiful post. I’d say that the Eye’s violent interpellation into motherhood, which he himself identifies as such, is co-extensive with the excessive force of art (and is, also, art). If the queer mother is “the frame story and the substance that flows through that frame,” her queerness flows through her aberrant children.

    Being Andalusian and a bit of a drama queen, Garcia Lorca thought that Le Chien Andalou was about him. He wrote about the moon and children falling into wells all the time. He, too, died young and saw the rise, thought not the fall, of a dictatorship.

    I hope we get to read your essay soon!

  2. Joyelle McSweeney

    Yes, in the story there’s that vibration between ‘Mother’ and ‘Something’– The Eye clls is ‘Mother’ and the Narrator calls it ‘Something,’. I trace this ‘Something’ back to Bataille, when that narrator looks into the eye in the cunt and calls it ‘Something’. I argue that that is Art– Something. And then I trace it forward to Lalo Cura and his visions in the cunt and inside the ;eye’ of the hurricane (will post on that this week).