How to write about Horacio González

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By RICARDO FORSTER*

Gone, perhaps, the last of the great Argentine intellectuals

How to write, while sadness runs through the soul, about someone who made writing a sublime art. That transformed his Argentine passion into an intellectual adventure built from the intensity of a unique, labyrinthine, exuberant language and a beauty that challenges the readers' intelligence. How to write about someone who made teaching an experience capable of enthralling thousands of students. How to write about someone who gave the word “professor” a new meaning, bringing together, in his long and prolonged university journey, several generations of disciples who enjoyed his generosity.

How to write about someone who lived with an intensity and an overwhelming commitment the long crossing of a country always in a provisional state, of crisis and hope. How to write about someone who cultivated friendship as if it were a work of art, crossed by endless conversations, persistent and understanding listening, complicities capable of conjuring up to conceive a thousand projects for magazines, professorships, political spaces, counter-academic congresses.

How to write about someone who built his career accumulating entire libraries in his relentless reader's collection; about someone who made erudition a gesture of humility while leaving his enthusiastic readers breathless, trying to follow the trails of his research, which could cross very different geographies. How to write about someone who made Peronism the overflowing subject of his endless inquiries, who knew how to question it with unparalleled perspicacity and originality, while at the same time living it in the fullness and despair of political passion.

How to write about someone who never renounced copious language and writing – some would say “baroque”, believing that they diminished him – and who never underestimated the intelligence of his readers nor sought to remove their emancipatory dimension. How to write about someone who preferred anachronism to fads, who chose lost causes over legitimizing devices. How to write about someone who felt the tragedy of our time in his own skin and who was looking for the key that would allow him to decipher the mystery of our historical drift.

How to write about someone who built a unique, unclassifiable and impossible to imitate style because, he felt and expressed it, a style is the writer's body, his incarnation, his idiosyncrasy, his personality and his conception of the world. How to write about someone who arrived at the National Library, that of Groussac and Borges, and changed it forever, converting it into an axis of cultural life and a vital space in which the books, satisfied, felt themselves participants in a feast of readings, music, exhibitions, presentations, political debates, international symposiums on cinema, theater, poetry, philosophy, architecture, cities and any other theme and issue that fell on the radar of a tireless man when it came to making the building designed by Clorindo Testa the most splendid to let culture fly higher and higher.

How to write about someone who inhabited the bars of Buenos Aires, who made them an indelible place, a space to meet friends, for conversations garnished by the nocturnal serenity, converted, for him, into his place of reading and writing, in his own womb maternal.

How to write about Horacio González without dwelling on each of the seasons of his life, on each of the places he frequented, and on these spectrums – his friends, like Roberto Carri, David Viñas, León Rozitchner or Nicolás Casullo, just to mention a few – with whom he never stopped talking. Perhaps with Horacio, the last of those who constituted an intellectual, political and cultural world that dissipated. A world in which the passion for the revolution was intertwined with the search for the right word capable of giving a poem, novel or essay its power and splendor. A world in which the plebeian of a vigilante ideal could be found with the refined web of a reader of stature. A world that included his childhood and adolescence Villa Pueyrredón with his unforgettable Parisian lectures on “rhetoric and madness”, in which he elaborated a theory of Argentine culture.

How to write about someone who, as Mauricio Kartún wisely said, “is like lightning, in a brief moment it lights up a territory and, when it disappears, the image is inscribed within you”. That's what Horacio produces in those who listen to him. His speech spirals through a mess of ideas and images that continue to flow in whoever listens to him, even if the time for understanding is still delayed. A trail that persists, that is not erased, that makes us walk the path without being in a hurry to reach the destination. With Horacio, we follow the trails of a quest that never ends. Entering his books is a prodigious experience, an adventure in which you never return to the starting point. It's a happy diversion.

I see Horacio speaking in front of a large audience, looking at a distant point, letting himself be carried away by the undulation of his sentences, looking for the conclusion of a thought that warms up little by little and that ends up creating a unique and enigmatic climate, in which each one of those who are going through the adventure of listening to him feels that something of this prodigious intelligence touches and inspires him. With Horacio González, perhaps the last of the great Argentine intellectuals is gone. Someone who knew how to combine political passion, the thirst for emancipation and equality, the cultivation of friendship built as if it were a tower of babel in which all ideas and all languages ​​are pleasantly mixed, and the incorruptible master of noble causes destined to gallop without a certain destination or guarantee of success. With Horacio González an important part of our world is gone. Without his words, without his writing, the era becomes more obscure and indecipherable.

* Richard Forster is professor of philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Winter society: neoliberalism: between the paradojas of freedom, the subjectivity factory, neofascism and the digitalization of the world (Akal).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published in the newspaper Página12 .

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