Roberto Bolano, “Amulet”

“And Remedios Varo, who is standing with her back to a picture, a picture covered up with an old skirt (but that old skirt, it occurs to me, must have belonged to a giant), says that she has given up smoking, that her lungs are delicate now, and although she doesn’t look like she has bad lungs, or has even seen anything bad in her life, I know she has seen many bad things, the ascension of the devil, the unstoppable procession of termites climbing the Tree of Life, the conflict between the enlightenment and the Shadow of the Empire or the Kingdom of Order, which are all proper names for the irrational stain that is bent on turning us into beasts or robots, and which has been fighting against the Enlightenment since the beginning of time (a conjecture of mine, which the official representatives of the Enlightenment would no doubt reject), I know that she has seen things that very few women know they have seen, and now she is seeing her own death, which is set to occur in less than twelve months’ time, and I know there is someone else in her house who smokes and does not want to be discovered by me, which makes me think that whoever it is, it must be someone I know.”


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