The Prophet
Of Literature
And the small voice said, Hey, Auxilio, what can you see?

The future, I replied. I can see what the future holds for the books of the twentieth century.

And can you make any prophecies, asked the voice, sounding curious, but not in the least ironic.

I don't know about prophecies as such, but I can make a prediction or two, I replied with a dreamer's syrupy voice.

Go on, go on, said the small voice, with unbridled enthusiasm.

I am in the women's bathroom in the faculty building and I can see the future, I said, in a soprano voice, as if I were being coy.

I know that, said the dream voice, I know that. You start making your prophecies and I'll note them down.

Voices, I said in a baritone voice, don't note things down, they don't even listen. Voices only speak.

You're wrong about that, but it doesn't matter, you say what you have to say, and try to say it loud and clear.

Then I took a deep breath, hesitated, let my mind go blank and finally said: These are my prophecies.

Vladimir Mayakovksy shall come back into fashion around the year 2150. James Joyce shall be reincarnated as a Chinese boy in the year 2124. Thomas Mann shall become an Ecuadorian pharmacist in the year 2101.

For Marcel Proust, a desperate and prolonged period of oblivion shall begin in the year 2033. Ezra Pound shall disappear from certain libraries in the year 2089. Vachel Lindsay shall appeal to the masses in the year 2101.

Cesar Vallejo shall be read underground in the year 2045. Jorge Luis Borges shall be read underground in the year 2045. Vicente Huidobro shall appeal to the masses in the year 2101.

Virginia Woolf shall be reincarnated as an Argentinean fiction writer in the year 2076. Louis Ferdinand Céline shall enter Purgatory in the year 2094. Paul Eluard shall appeal to the masses in the year 2101.

Metempsychosis. Poetry shall not disappear. Its non-power shall manifest itself in a different form.

Cesare Pavese shall become the patron saint of Seers and Lookers in the year 2034. Pier Paolo Pasolini shall become the patron saint of Escapees in the year 2100. Giorgio Bassani shall emerge from his tomb in the year 2167.

Oliverio Girondo shall come into his own as a children's writer in the year 2099. The complete works of Roberto Ark shall be adapted for the screen in 2102. The complete works ofAdolfo Bioy Casares shall be adapted for the screen in 2105.

Arno Schmidt shall rise from his ashes in the year 2085. Franz Kafka shall once again be read underground throughout Latin America in the year 2101. Witold Gombrowicz shall enjoy great prestige in the environs of the Rio de la Plata around the year 2098.

Paul Celan shall rise from his ashes in the year 2113. Andre Breton shall return through mirrors in the year 2071. Max Jacob shall cease to be read, that is to say his last reader shall die, in the year 2059.

Who shall read Jean-Pierre Duprey in the year 2059? Who shall read Gary Snyder? Who shall read Ilarie Voronca? These are the questions I ask myself.

Who shall read Gilberte Dallas? Who shall read Rodolfo Wilcock? Who shall read Alexandre Unik?

A statue of Nicanor Parra, however, shall stand in a Chilean square in the year 2059. A statue of Octavio Paz shall stand in a Mexican square in the year 2020. A rather small statue of Ernesto Cardenal shall stand in a Nicaraguan square in the year 2018.

But all statues tumble eventually, by divine intervention or the power of dynamite, like the statue of Heine. So let us not place too much trust in statues.

Carson McCullers, however, shall go on being read in the year 2100. Alejandra Pizarnik shall lose her last reader in the year 2100. Alfonsina Storni shall be reincarnated as a cat or a sea-lion, I can't tell which, in the year 2050.

The case ofAnton Chekhov shall be slightly different: he shall be reincarnated in the year 2003, in the year 2010, and then in the year 2014. He shall appear once more in the year 2081. And never again after that.

Alice Sheldon shall appeal to the masses in the year 2017. Alfonso Reyes shall be killed once and for all in the year 2058, but in fact it shall be Reyes who kills his killers. Marguerite Duras shall live in the nervous system of thousands of women in the year 2035.

And the little voice said, How strange, how strange, I haven't read some of those authors you mentioned.

Which ones? I asked.

Well, that Alice Sheldon, for example. I have no idea who she is. I laughed. I laughed for quite a while. What's so funny, asked the little voice. Having caught you out, you being so cultured and all, I answered.

--- From Amulet
Roberto Bolaño
Chris Andrews, Translator
©2006 New Directions
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