Locos: A Comedy of Gestures by Felipe Alfau

By Felipe Alfau

The interconnected stones that shape Felipe Alfau's novel Locos happen in a Madrid as unique because the Baghdad of the 1001 Arabian Nights and have unforgettable characters in rebellion opposed to their younger 'author' "For them", he complains, "reality is what fiction is to actual humans; they only like it and make for it opposed to ray nearly heroic opposition" Alfau's "comedy of gestures" -- a mercurial dreamscape of the eccentric, occasionally legal, habitues of Toledo's Cafe of the loopy -- was once written in English and primary released in 1936, favorably reviewed for The country through Mary McCarthy, as she recounts right here in her Afterword, then lengthy overlooked.

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Sample text

Page 22 Calvino's career are characterized by "an increasing tension between his aspirations for his fiction and the fear that the longed­for conversion of writing and action, praxis and poiesis, is mere sleight of hand" ("Italo Calvino: The Last Two Decades" 51).  There he wrote of the waning of any pretense he may have previously had of "interpreting and guiding a historical process" and the assertion of "a posture of systematic perplexity" (viii) that in his later years would subtend the projected construction of a grand design.

The original mark Qfwfq traces in the galactic void is designated a sign because it can be recognized as such "without risk of error" (42).  Through identity, reality is constructed and space is given shape: both are structured in relation to the subject.  The constitution of identity and consequently the ability to distinguish self from other (in this case Qfwfq from Ursula H'x and Fenimore) opens the door to the understanding that "space with something in it and empty space are not the same thing" (144).

Having established his subjectivity (I am, therefore I create space and time intellectually, therefore I write, as it were) he is empowered to perceive and then to construct a systematic knowledge of the external world.  He thus attributes to a sign he has made an objective quality that leads him to distinguish it from a second, more subjective sign (also of his hand), hypostatizing the first.  Once the sign exists outside or independently of the self, it can supposedly establish individual identity objectively, enabling him to then reverse the direction of his original concatenation of thoughts.

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