[Reigian Studies.] [On behalf of the baroness.]


Reig's version of "Purchasing a Neurosis"

During the Summer of 1995 Carles Reig translated, as a little homage and in celebration of Pep Albanell’s coming fiftieth birthday, this story: “Purchase a Neurosis and Attain a State of Bliss” (from a book of stories published in 1970 under the same title.) The main reason Reig chose this story was probably because one of the characters in it is himself. The barely disguised Gier (for Reig) brings a disturbing presence to the several goings on, and what he says springs directly from Reig’s letters to Albanell at the time. Albanell was in thrall to Reig during those first years when both of them started writing - he used Reig’s texts verbatim in “The Barcelonaut” [1976] (chunks and chunks lifted directly from R’s different plays and books of poems) and in some pieces of his early books - for instance the story “Usual Anguish” from the book “Racing Animal” [1983] was extracted from a chapter in the first novel Reig ever finished, a book of “memories of his youth” [“Doubting Student, Brave Whore, Cowardly Pimp,” 1969] later scraped...

Both the “impossible poem” about freedom for Catalonia and the recurrent topic about the necessity for the whole nation’s suicide (inspired by Mishima’s heroic action) come straight out of Reig’s contemporaneous works and letters.

[The puzzling disgust at Henry Miller’s writings is Albanell’s own. Contrariwise, Reig was an eager reader of Miller - not in translation - and here’s the rub - for Albanell must have gotten at Miller through some fascistic “interpreter” defiling away in the pseudoliterary (steeped in the prevalent obscurantist church-blighted francoism of the time) magazines to which he had access.]

Purchase a neurosis and attain a state of bliss

There was under one of the cantilevered tiles on the high wall of the terrace a nest of wasps. The tyke Imma was afraid of the wasps fluttering over our heads. I was no less afraid, but nothing would make me acknowledge such a fear, for I was a man. Also, actually I was more cowed by the dazzling and cruel sun that tossed in pitiless exactitude the shade under which we took shelter. The noon was unraveling, strained among the roofs, as we, bathed in sweat, heard the noises, deafened, remote, from the street below. She, Imma, was whining. “Me I wanna, me I wanna play at dads and moms…!” And this was said while she pressed hard to her cheeks the rubber baby she’d recently gotten for her saint day. I would have preferred saying to her that the game for us to play now at was hunting down the wasps, catch us some, carefully remove their sting, trying hard not to take their tummies with the yanking, and then tame ’em with a needle and a twig. But the heat was too shattering. The sun was corralling the shade against the wall and we had even to draw back our legs in order to remain inside the dark zone.

Fresh in my memory the high act of self-murder perpetrated by the warrior-writer-Japanese-samurai, I had told Fela: “Listen, we also have to devise some type of grandiose, magnificent and showy act of suicide so that we can bring it to fruition.” She had let go of my hand and had looked at me with mocking eyes. From the twisted crease of her lips I had been expecting her to say something like: “Come on, don’t be so daft!” But she just laughed a little, as if with half her mouth only.

She said: “I’m going.” I’m going, she says. And then I’ve heard the last bang of the door echoing from wall to wall. The bed was unmade, with a sheet hanging down to the floor, the whole layout offering the typical image that messed beds with their sheets dangling are likely to offer of desolation and abandonment. With a dress thrown about in a ball, the music on the transistor, the noise from the cars busy on the street below…

Be it as it may, I agreed to her game. With her you couldn’t argue: you contradicted her and she started complaining, puling and pouting. Maybe the dad could be a big game hunter, bagging himself plenty of tigers or dinosaurs, which afterwards maybe we’d eat in neat cold cuts, sitting in the shade. “Ok, but let’s not frighten baby, for you know that he’s afraid of wasps, even with their sting removed.” And then, come Sunday, what about going to see the bullfighters? “Ok, but baby won’t look, for he dislikes bullfighting, and feels great sorrow for the suffering of the poor crickets.” The wasps kept buzzing, even the sun itself seemed to whirr. I took out the matchbox to see if the cricket was still alive. Inside a hole in the wall, I kept the stinging onion, with the needles-pikes-swords stuck on it so that “they would gain in rage.”

-First the bullfight.

-Ok, but I’m not looking.

-You have to. If you don’t look, where’s the sport?

-No way.

-If you don’t look, that’s it; I’m also not playing at dads and moms.

-Ok, I’m looking.

And she would shut her eyes, while I would yank away the jumping legs of the bull-cricket so that it wouldn’t abscond.

-You are not being serious.

-Listen, Fela, I’m serious, ok?

-Oh, come on!

And then a lull, while inside the park the night was starting to let itself be felt. “I’m not talking garbage. I mean it.” And Fela laughing without really looking at me. Her eyes would glide, skid above my shoulders to rest someplace far away. Nobody has a right now to doubt my suffering then, going after her eyes, intent on fixing her gaze, and burrowing deep, trying to wake up her admiration. However, what rankled still more was the fact that not even the idea about the grandiose suicide had been my own. She’d provoke me: “No way you’d dare…” And I knew I wouldn’t; and yet here I was, saying: “No? Try me.” Obdurately maintaining the course. While searching for her hand, to hold it firmly, with the fortitude of a champion...

I get up from the chair and walk along the apartment, deserted, abandoned, useless now that it has quit existing per se. That same mess that previously used to be so welcoming now increases the empty desolation of the abode: books, clothes, the glasses, an unfinished puzzle, just half spelled out, the cigarettes, some fruit, my shoes shed this morning, tossed incuriously, fall where they may… “She’s gone, she’s gone…” I’m saying with each of my treads. Perplexed, robbed of all intent, with nothing to do next. I’m trying to make my mind veer toward that new book I should purchase, the new job I should be looking for, the way I should be learning how to ask for my salary to be boosted… I’m talking to the walls: “Why don’t we go to the movies, a western maybe?” And there’s that actor, Joho Colt, so tall, so blond, with his steely blue gaze, sardonically smiling at the bathroom mirror while with the tips of his fingers he fondles his pistol-toothpaste. From the bottom of the commode, filthy presages lazily float off to envelope the tense saloon...

The sounds of the trumpets were caroming back from the surface of the sun. Cornered, the cricket wouldn’t move. The baby wasn’t looking. That would mar it all. The whole thing had to gain in movement. The animal had to be tersely and dexterously spiked while on the move, gliding and escaping, dodging an unknown danger. From each of the tips of the pins dangled a cloudy drop of onion juice. Even without looking, while rocking her doll, Imma would tell me that the cricket had given up on its obstinacy, was now trying, wasn’t keeping still any longer, was thus game to be fought... So I would jump on my bum, as if riding a horse, as in the movies with Robin Hood in, with an exciting orchestra coming from my humming mouth playing on the background, bang, boom, tar-ah…, with my arm straightened out, with its murderous spike raised, and then it skidding, sliding from the elytra and breaking on the floor and its end jabbing my thumb: blood. Now one had to be courageous, make believe that one could endure, that one could swallow his rage, and his pain and his fear, and his urge to cry; give no importance to the wound, and even look askance at the girl as she would state: “You are bleeding,” for now the second spike would cleanly puncture the beast, would transfix it, wouldn’t stop until shattering on the floor. And yet the bull was strong and would still flee away to the four corners of the cardboard box, even with his back spiked with needles, and his head unsteady from the black-tipped pin stuck on his neck, and the thorn between the antennae…

You’d say that she, Fela, was implying that she had plenty to choose from; guys galore. In the meantime, me clinging to the notion that the samurai-like suicide was as it were the icing on the cake, nothing in life to top it, indeed, it had to be, top of my life… (Stuck on it, in this idiotic corroding idea, since that day when that guy Gier had come up my street in order to visit, and, walking, I had met him outside. His beard, his long hairs, were now gone. He was dressed as any other fellow would. Just dragging along the sidewalk his usual pertinacious mania. “Already out of the nuthouse?” I asked. He didn’t smile, maybe he gave me the smidgeon of a grimace. He had something critical to say for my ears only. On the grooves of his forehead there it was, as if stenciled, the outline of the sword of the samurai with which the warrior-writer had stained with blood the walls of one of the military enclosures in the island of the sun. “We’ve got to contrive some type of magnificent, impressive, majestic suicide with the express aim of putting it into practice.” Taken aback, looking at him sideways, I tried to veer the conversation away toward new issues. But he persisted. We’ve got all to commit suicide, no other way to reclaim what has been taken from us. Let’s shout to the deaf ears of everyone that the first thing we demand - demand - is the return of what rightfully belongs to us: a land of our own, where we can act at will, sitting down and begging, gazing at the sky, spitting at the ants... We’ve got to devise a new and surprising way, one as yet untried, a staggering way to die by our own hand… “But that’s absurd,” I would counter then, with a careful voice, in a tone that was smooth and agreeable enough, once inside my home, deep in an armchair, seeping leisurely from a huge goblet of cognac. Gier had said: “No, I don’t drink,” and forthwith he’d placidly assent to each of my words… “Idealism, impotence, neurasthenia, repression; crazy, warlock…” Powerless, meanwhile, he was trying to make up some bizarre poem of his

“…ca… caaat… (come on!) allll….

“allo…, lllooonnnn (now!)

“catal…. catallllll

“llll… l… l… l… l… l…



“s ssssss… ssss… can’t

How emptily resounds now the apartment after each of my strides! At your back, shadows of phantoms that elude your side glances; and then there he is, Joho-Colt-Man-Gum, his boots wallowing of the spoor of toothpaste along the corridor, a puddle compressed and soft, chlorophyll, deadly wounded, him a presence, as though a packed embodiment of human brains. “You are drunk again.” “Drunkard.” “Druuunkaaard…” “Crazy creep.” The words turned into bullets, whistling, going after your hide, and shattering the crystals in the saloon, and the bottles, and burrowing inside the wood of the bar, and destroying the piano, while the flying doors swung hither and thither, the while pushed by the smoke inside and the dust outside. Hidden behind the doors, the bullet-words are watching you, they are after your hide, magically doubling their trajectories in order never to miss you. “Drink again and I’m ready to cheat on you.” How resounding the treads on the apartment, empty, hostile, useless, a farce, now that it has died despite the number of items of furniture it holds, and the smells that linger, and the spoors, the footsteps…

Play at dads and moms, play at dads and moms,” would now demand Imma, not caring a whit about the whirr of the sun that’d crash above the tiles, screeching as a nail on a blackboard, and deafening the eyes. “This instant!” While tightly embracing against her breast the rubber baby. “Ok, but first I’ve got to go hunt…” A pause. “Otherwise, what would we eat afterwards?” The baby was edgy, his patience worn out, fed up with bugs and fights, preparing to burst into a rage, cruel as the sun, as the heat, the sweat that soured the armpits… “Well…” “Now.” “Ok.” I would get up, ready to bag me a wasp or two; hesitating a bit before daring to cross the yellow line of the dangerous frontier, in the dangerous terrace, almost above the roofs. Imma and the baby now erupting, full of spite, giving full vent to their fury, kicking every which way, as if battling some foe. The shouts that would frighten even the sun. “Ok, I’m staying.” “Liar, you rotten liar!”

Guys galore, she must’ve thought, Fela, while at my side - her gaze remote, and relishing her words - her memories - plenty of guys - with me totally abstracted from her thoughts. Guys aplenty, all against me. As if I’m the last in line. Or the one but last, which is still much worse, without deserving another glance from Fela, at the park, while sitting so close together, too close... Me being so gray-toned, so little in prominence, so lacking in preponderance, in prepotency, in visibility, appraisement, admiration, valuation… Who’s going to take a second look at me, who’s going to waste a double take, another glance? Not she, not Fela, surely? No way, Fela, no way you’d waste another thought on me, a fellow so infinitesimal, and such a no-account, and...? Now, look here, I’d tell her, the grandiose suicide, that, that’d be like… Like what? What? What?

Listen you, Joho-Colt-Shit, “Things happen, ok? Happen or fail to happen, and that’s that,” another Henry Miller, diarrheic, steering a crooked path between franticness and silliness, taming worms, fleeing down a vast vaginal tunnel up to the brink of craziness, or else to the edge of paradise, saying that they either happen or fail to happen, and that that’s all there is to it. And then suddenly you fall, the bottom collapses, some day, with sweat filling your mouth with nausea, and the corners of your lips with disgusting tackiness, I say, you’re down and falling, as I was saying, falling into a deep unquiet uneasiness. Happen or fail to happen. But how to name, how don’t you try, you shitty lousy creep, how do you call now that dejection, the intense rage, such bewilderment, such choking anxieties as take hold of you unannounced, suddenly, some day, just like that, for no reason, no other reason but only because things happen or fail to happen and that’s that? Everything bathed in absurdity or not, still you should lift the forefinger of your right hand and angrily show me the cause and motivation of all your decadence and thus justify your lassitude. You are feeling something very akin to intimate treachery. A pain inside that comes not from fighting but from having already been defeated, nothing to do at all with your ruminating, or from the worms you are trying to imprison on paper, and on your fantasies and obsessions; there’s that pain at the side; or maybe that pain of the one, this somebody who is kept at the side, never at the center of the fight, even the fight that concerns you: the efforts undertaken in order to resuscitate your worms that died, and to find the culmination of your voice, to bring to victory precisely those worms that present to us a more dangerous menace. That rage you are feeling, that purple pain, that diaphanous, cold, massive, wounding disquiet - that’s the adventure. The adventure to hurt, to draw blood. To play at bleeding. Even if it only shines at the side, at the reverse of the page wriggling with worms. In spite of having been contrived by other men, cold and damned, lodged in your heart. Listen up, you, Joho-Colt-Repugnant.

“But that’s not playing at dads and moms. We have to have a son. And baby counts for naught. He’s already here, hasn’t come from us. Our son must be born of his mother: that’s me - and you are the dad. Mothers get sick and so they take them to hospital and the doctors see to it that they are healed. Once healed, then the baby can be born, for the fact is that mother and son were together, and he was as it were the disease, though not a so terrible disease as all that, not one of your bad diseases, but a good one, with a son to it. So we must make the baby be born, for he hasn’t been born yet, and he can’t be a son unless he’s born first. Therefore, come on, that’s the play, I’m the mom with the son disease, and now you aren’t the dad but the son doctor… Ok, both, the dad and the doctor, and the big game hunter and the bullfighter both too… Therefore, you are coming to heal me, and afterwards, bing-bang, there you are, we’ve got a son.” But how? Bing-bang? That can’t be it: so simple. It’s must be longer, but how…? “How what...? Don’t be silly! How you want it to be? It can only be by being, that’s how.”

Tear out her handbag, with a jerk, as she pretends she is off guard. Tear out her handbag and rummage inside. She was acting sort of harebrained just to make me jealous: just so I could see the little billet-doux with Johnny’s poem, and the blue and green plastic-string knotting, Pocky’s gift; and Flap’s key-holder in the shape of a heart, Lippy’s postcard from Paris, Enric’s signed photo, and who’s whosis, and whosis’ who, and this, and that and… She was acting sort of harebrained, on the park’s bench, while I was feverishly rummaging inside her purse, until I found her wallet, the sancta-sanctorum, the holy ark of secrets, and what should I do...? I’m peering in. Give back…! Let go…! Give back, I say…! And I relinquish, give it up, she pretending to be offended, in high dudgeon, and yet my fingers have closed upon a tiny object and she’s unawares that the relic’s now mine. I’ve got something that belongs to you, Fela, now I can really hex, jinx you. I’m holding tight to the object while you are idly talking, talking about nothing at all, just to bridge that emptiness that my silence has raised, only because I’ve decided thus to protect the purloined article.

She was ready to cheat on me, she had said, and yet she had not acted upon her promise because the chance had not cropped up, she said. Little you must have been looking for it. That’s what you don’t know, she said, how hard I’ve been at it. For the moment you’ve already missed an opportunity. Plenty of opportunities blowing my way, boyo, don’t you fret about me. Your opportunities, phantoms, vapid presences... Joho Colt, infallible cowboy, bad, tough guy, head hunter, tall, blond, nicely soothed by the small clicks of his pistol’s holster over his thigh, plus his checkered shirt, his boots treading firmly, his wide and powerful chest… Here’s where the hero is mirrored, his portrait, his hard and bitter moue… His mysterious face hermetically closed, keeping hidden some deep, inexpugnable secret, a drama that intimately gnaws at him. And yet he (everybody better look at him on the mirror,) his implacable eyes, his proud countenance, imbued in sobriety, he don’t budge a smidge, hard as rock. Only that now a cynical spark lights his otherwise extinguished eyes. And everybody’s shaking. Something’s bound to falter and give... On his lips a bitter smile slightly flickers. His eyelids come close together, his eyes have become a pair of slick slits. His face’s muscles tighten up. There’s an unnerving slowness in Lonesome Cuckold Joho Colt’s moves. That man is in a tormented fix. His sorrow makes him cruel, very cruel, terribly so. His body’s tense, about to unstring itself, ready to attack, ferocious. The moviegoers retain their collective breath. I’ll cheat on you. The apartment so empty. I’ve already cheated on you. And next I’ve skedaddled, puff, gone. The bullets haunting, hunting me, and again the raging impotence screaming from my most inner innards... Lonesome. The fist shooting out, fiercely, violently. The patrons in the saloon raising hell, as the image shatters, replicates in the fragments of the mirror. Crack. Oh! And again that pitiable rage, that impotence that comes from afar, from the emptiness, the street, the music in the transistor radio..., purchase, why don’t you, purchase that, I mean, that, and also, and so, and purchase, purchase..., and enter into a state of happiness and bliss…

Just buy this, come on, and be happy, ok? Shortly ago, I was telling her, one day without sun, we shall be happy. “We’ll be happy, we’ll marry and we’ll purchase a car.” Just by dint of being, that’s what. You were hiding the doll under your skirt, and then you were flat on your back, and me, the doctor, I’m peering from above, guessing the shape of the baby’s body under the dress. “Ma’am, your case isn’t at all a serious one; it ain’t cancer, you know? On the contrary, you’ll be so happy. You are having a son.” Imma’d answer, her back flat on the floor, her eyes coy: “Yes.” A rubber leg showing under the hem of her skirt. “Now comes the birth.” “But how?” “Just hold tight of the leg and pull.” Imma with both her hands taking hold of the doll’s body above her tummy while me, I was pulling it by the foot. “It’s gotta be difficult.” “Don’t let go while I’m pulling, then.” “You are pulling too strong!” “But we must; the stronger we pull the better, the boy has to come out strong, as strong as possible.” And so the doll was out up to its neck...

I was a strong fellow, a wasp hunter no less, and there are tough things that you must deal with toughly, and the suffering, and the insufferably dazzling sun crashing over the tiles of the terrace, I was pulling the foot as strongly as I could. Spurts on the mirror. Spurts of blood. A-riding it comes again, the rage across those little unstructured spaces fragmented on the floor. Fela was telling: They shall buy me that stuff which I so much desire, hey, what a thrill. She was happy while me, I was slowly unfastening my fist to discover Fela’s felicity: a little folding knife, shining, with a nice tempting razor blade. She, Fela, was saying: That they shall buy to her something so lovely, something she is so much in need of, a lot, no, listen, but really a true lot..., I was carefully unfolding the little knife, and with a finger making certain that it was sharp indeed, its edge really cutting edge... Just as a try I brought the blade near to the wrist as Fela was talking about such a happy novel, a romance depicted in contrived photos, with the hero the boss of a huge concern and the woman character a secretary, but they were so happy, so blissfully so, that, just as a try, it really ain’t such a great, magnificent way to die. Fela was talking, it’s difficult, but if you try, the coldness of the blade on my skin, just as in the novels with a happy end, you just press, press hard, with Imma crying, about to cry: Pull, and me pulling, pulling the leg and pressing, pressing hard, slicing with the razor, and I’m feeling a sharp smart on the aggravated skin; at last the pain, a tiny one, a huge one, but it’s hard, with the skin being so thick…

Mirror spurts. Fela shutting up, with nobody listening. And me bent in two over my wrist, pressing the razor over a ludicrously small wound that hardly manages to bleed at all, painful, a suicidal act. Spurts of blood. Here’s the rage, Joho Colt riding back. Cuckolded. Tough and hardy man from the West. Kind of Fire Stone. That’s you, getting up, the inexistent mirror unable to mirror back the tears on your eyes, as you are solemnly kicking now the commode whose lid jumps, and your toes smart while the lid, crashing, breaks. Crack, another crack. The baby’s leg was stuck, wouldn’t yield, even with your pulling as hard as you could, while Imma, her body half bathed in sun, laid out, persevered, stuck out, wouldn’t surrender, still intent on defending her son.

Purchasing stuff. What’s to buy, tell me, Fela, for Imma wants to be happy too? With your fist in a tight ball, you turn and run into the shelves: shaving razor, bottle of cologne, toothbrush, glass, deodorant, shaving cream, shaving brush, lipstick, powder box, everything splattered on the floor. What are you doing? What’s all that? Her voice on edge, excited, afraid, curious, interested, horrified… Imma in tears, howling. Sobbing: What, what are you doing? Until the leg gave up and the body flew up toward the wasps. Both of us running now to reach the mutilated doll; even if she was there first, I pushed her away and took the baby’s head and forcefully yanked at it. Imma is all over my hairs, pulling hard, and scratching me all over, but the baby’s head was about to cease in holding tight to its dear attachment, Joho Colt, feeling such rage, she crying, they shall buy me something so nice, such a thrill for me, look, it’ll be…, sky blue, thus, like this, now, ah, yeah, such happiness… Especially now that one of my fingers had managed to pierce one of its eyes, and I had a better hold of the whole hog…

In the dining room the books, pushed too hard, finally collapse, fall away, down, like dominoes. The little knife’s blade had broken through the crease, and through it droplets of blood showed up. Instead, the other arm had been really easy to yank off. Now there’s a jar that breaks to smithereens, and making such an awful racket too; crack indeed, much as the blood forming a bloody rivulet along my hand, and Imma still at it, scratching my face. I was biting hard a rubber leg, my hand high in the air, with Fela running away, the canvas of a picture caving in at the tip of my shoe’s behest, the fingers digging past the glass eyes, she scratching me, me so afraid of the blood, death lurking, treading hard, crack, crick, crock, the teeth gnashing in rage, screams of rage, the fear, with me running behind, splash, splash, splash, the bottle of gin, the shop’s showing window, the breaking glass, gnash, ding, the cups, ah, dig into the glass, the wound, must cover it somehow, the fixture, hanging, swinging from the electric fixture, Fela, Imma, watch out, get away, the ceiling tumbling, a wasp, and you shouting: Oh, ah, a virgin, blood, why did you do it, you did it, I did it, the wasp buzzing about, me not wanting to, nobody to blame, the sun whirring, its whirr, its whirr, taking him by the hand, with the shout of the wasp, and coming agroof, to crash, ah, the wound, as murder, Fela, I think, by god, three days, and, one, two, freedom for Catalo…, free… dom, the baby, what, what are, what you…, no, cat..., alone..., iamb, more, and…grr&*$Hgr...


we are the continuators... emptying the boxes, and more

visits since July 2008