On artistic creation                                                    (By Modesto Roldán)


I can write for seven hours without pause. Time goes by so quickly that I feel the black of night darken the windows, especially in winter.

   The first hour’s writing is hard, but not difficult. I mean that I may have momentary lapses of reflection and pause. But then it’s over.  My writing flows in a dense torrent. The moment arrives when I forget my own action and come to believe that it is some other person inside of me who is doing the writing, so that Rimbaud’s “car je suis autre” becomes a material reality. During these seven hours of writing, my body feels neither cold nor warmth. I do not even feel thirst. I drink no water and I feel no need to relieve my bladder. That is why I suffer from prostate problems. I usually need to go every hour or so, but when I write my prostate gland does not exist. Nothing exists, not even the desire to eat, and if the telephone rings I do not answer, simply because I do not hear it.

    Please, don’t mind if I say no more about this collusion between the psychological and the somatic. I am not an expert on the matter, and I fear I may say the wrong thing.    

     Psychoanalytical conclusions do not convince me.

     Perhaps we should turn to Reich or Grodeck. Only they have approached the phenomenon in detail. 

    But this is a digression. What I wish to express is how enthralling the act of writing can be.

    Others have glimpsed it, like Dostoyevsky, who touches on it in White Nights, but I will not insist on this point because he says nothing explicit. 

    Perhaps it cannot be explained. In any event, I can assure that it is so in my case. Seven hours straight without a break. Seven hours of inner peace and solemn, external quiet from which you awake with a start, looking back as on something in which neither yourself nor your stiff and aching body, the victim of the laws of entropy, have had any part. You can account for the passing of the hours only by looking at the clock as you end a mechanical task performed while your body, your organism, was kept completely out of action or held frozen in time, except as experienced by your characters.

    When it is all over and the necessary time has passed for you to return to reality, you re-read your manuscript, and it is as if it were not your own. You did not write this. You examine it with a certain coldness and distance, and you say to yourself that it is passable, without meaning to boast, and you have been gripped. That at least you will admit.                    

     Then you admire the person who wrote these things. This is not conceit on your part, because you are not so stupid as to lose your objectivity.  It is only then that you take a step back and look at yourself, seeking equanimity, and you tell yourself that what you have just read is not bad, that it could be placed beside other fine texts you hold in your memory, which brought you enjoyment and pleasure at the beauty of literature when you first read them, reminding you of the inexplicable sublimity of Gabriel Miró, of the Archpriest Juan Ruiz, Sollers, Beckett, Umbral, Manrique and so on in the long and wonderful list that is the noble creation of that paradoxical and surprising simio sapiens who is your neighbour.     

   I say, “Writing is like Life itself,” and immediately Borges replies, “Writing is not LIKE Life, literature IS life itself.”  

   I am astonished, and it is only after a deep submersion within myself that I can answer the old ghost. Perhaps he is right. “It may be a palliative for Life, but it does not supplant life.” Borges, obstinate man, insists, “It neither supplants nor mitigates. It IS.

    “If you say so,” I reply.

    It is not only Borges who talks, but also the ghost of Roger Caillois, who takes notes from the shadows.  Amazing! 

    Writing is indeed an intricate labyrinth. Once you start, you can’t stop.  

    You go on writing even in your sleep.  I have composed marvellous texts in my sleep. I have myself admired and praised the beauty of these writings of mine even to the point where I woke up determined to set them down on paper. I keep a notebook and a pen on my bedside table. I have sometimes written several pages in this way before going back to sleep.

    The next day, I read them carefully after breakfast. !“This is terrible! How could anyone think up such nonsense?” I rail, tearing up the handwritten pages.   

    The truth is there can be no writing without the reins of a cool and distant reason.

     There is nothing more childish and silly than the exquisite corpses that the surrealists made.

     We are lucky that we cannot paint in our sleep. As Dalí said, and I agree, “The difference between a lunatic and myself is that I am not crazy.” 

     We should not belittle dreams, but they must be thought through in strict reason and filtered according to the laws of logic. Creativity and fantasy are not the same thing as a dream.

      I believe it is absolutely necessary to stay wide awake.

      The same is true of my painting.

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