Friday, July 6

Octavio Paz on turning others into Nobody

I ask permission to Octavio Paz to use this excerpt in a different context. In his book "The Labyrinth of Solitude" Paz is talking about Mexico.
When I first read this excerpt it made me realize of some relations I had in my life and it was a revelation for me. It helped me understand serious issues about me.
I hope that it produces the same effect for those who are turned into Nobody and feel they belong nowhere.
As a human rights advocate Octavio Paz would be happy.

"We dissimulate in order to deceive ourselves, and turn transparent and phantasmal. But that is not the end of it: we also pretend that our fellow-man does not exist. This is not to say that we deliberately ignore or discount him. Our dissimulation here is a great deal more radical: we change him from somebody into nobody, into nothingness. And this nothingness takes on its own individuality, with a recognizable face and figure, and suddenly becomes Nobody.

Don No One, who is Nobody's Spanish father, is able, well fed, well respected; he has a bank account, and speaks in a loud, self-assured voice. Don No One fills the world with his empty, garrulous presence. He is everywhere, and has friends everywhere. He is a banker, an ambassador, a businessman. He can be seen in all the salons, and is honored in Jamaica and Stockholm and London. He either holds office or wields influence and his manner of not-being is aggressive and conceited. On the other hand, Nobody is quiet, timid, and resigned. He is also intelligent and sensitive. He always smiles. He always waits. When he wants to say something, he meets a wall of silence; when he greets someone, he meets a cold shoulder; when he pleads or weeps or cries out, his gestures and cries are lost in the emptiness created by Don No One's interminable chatter.
Nobody is afraid not to exist: he vacillates, attempting now and then to become Somebody. Finally, in the midst of his useless gestures, he disappears into the limbo from which he emerged.

It would be a mistake to believe that others prevent him from existing. They simply dissimulate his existence and behave as if he did not exist. They nullify him, cancel him out, turn him to nothingness. It is futile for Nobody to talk, to publish books, to paint pictures, to stand on his head. Nobody is the blankness in our looks, the pauses in our conversations, the reserve in our silences. He is the name we always and inevitably forget, the eternal absentee, the guest we never invite, the emptiness we can never fill. He is an omission, and yet he is forever present. He is our secret, our crime, and our remorse. Thus the person who creates Nobody, by denying Somebody's existence, is also changed into Nobody. And if we are all Nobody, then none of us exists." (emphasis added)

I hope that if you read it and can relate you realize that you were turned into nobody, or nothingness, only in the eyes of others but you are one and they cannot take that from you: you are their secret, their crime and remorse.
You are their agonizing conscience without which they cannot exist.


animus mundi said...

A very good blog, thank you. And a very good post, thank you again.

Ana said...

Thank you very much Animus!
It means a lot.