July 14, 2008

Julio Cortázar, How to Wind a Watch

This post now resides on my other site 50 Watts:

1 comment:

  1. There's a Cortázar story called ''Las Fases de Severo'' ("Severo's Phases") which is about a combination wake / death watch of a very peculiar kind. Severo, the "dying" person (I put it in quotes because at no point in the story is death per se referred to) undergoes several "phases" in the course of an evening.

    In one of these, Severo sits up and assigns each person in the room a number, the implication being that the person who receives the number one will be the next to die.

    But the relevant part to the piece you posted is the next phase, the phase of the watches: Severo again speaks to each of the gathered onlookers, telling them that their watches are either fast or slow by a certain number of minutes, The actual number of minutes is arbitrary; the point is that if you have just received a low number in the previous phase and your watch is declared to be slow, this promises a postponement of one's death sentence by an undetermined length of time.