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Excerpts from the Works of Eduardo Galeano Ventanas, Tejidos, Abrazos (Windows, Weavings, Embraces) Eduardo Galeano The following selection is taken from three books by Eduardo Galeano: The Book ofEmbraces,WalkingWords, and Upside Down:A Primer for the Looking-GlassWorld. Thepieces represent the author'sfragmentary, aphoristic style and cover a range ofthemes common in all ofGaleano's work. The excerptsfrom The Book of Embraces are accompanied by images created by Galeano that were included with the original text. The excerptsfrom Walking Words were originally used as breaks between fantastic, mythological stories gleaned from indigenous American peoples. The excerpts from Upside Down are taken from boxed inserts that interrupt longer, more polemical essays on the world at the end of the twentieth century. Patrick Madden, Editor Window on the Word/1 StoryteUers, storysingers, only spin their tales while the snow faUs. That's the way it's done. The Indians ofNorthAmerica are very careful about this matter of stories. They say that while stories are being told, plants don't pay attention to growing and birds forget to feed their young.3 Celebration of the Human Voice/2 Their hands were tied or handcuffed, yet their fingers danced, flew, drew words. The prisoners were hooded, but leaning back, they could see a bit, just a bit, down below. Although it was forbidden to speak, they spoke with their hands. Pinio Ungerfeld taught me the finger alphabet, which he had learned in prison without a teacher: "Some of us had bad handwriting," he told me. "Others were masters of calligraphy. " 196 Excerpts from the Works of Eduardo Galeano197 The Uruguayan dictatorship wanted everyone to stand alone, everyone to be no one: in prisons and barracks, and throughout the country, communication was a crime. Some prisoners spent more than ten years buried in solitary ceUs the size of coffins, hearing nothing but clanging bars or footsteps in the corridors. Fernández Huidobro and Mauricio Rosencof, thus condemned, survived because they could talk to each other by tapping on the waU. In that way they told ofdreams and memories, faUings in and out oflove; they discussed, embraced, fought; they shared beliefs and beauties, doubts and guilts, and those questions that have no answer. When it is genuine, when it is born ofthe need to speak, no one can stop the human voice. When denied a mouth, it speaks with the hands or the eyes, or the pores, or anything at aU. Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated or forgiven by others.1 A Child's World You have to be very careful when you cross the street, Colombian teacher Gustavo Wilches explained to a group of children. "Even though the light is green, never cross without lookingfirst one way, then the other." Wilches told the children that once he was knocked down by a car in the middle ofthe street. His face darkened as he recalled the disaster that nearly cost him his life. The children asked: "What kind ofcar was it?" "Did it have air conditioning?""A sunroof?"'"Did it havefog lights?""How big was the motor?"2 The Function of the Reader/2 It was half a century since the death of CésarVallejo, and there were celebrations . In Spain,JulioVêlez organized lectures, seminars, memorial publications and an exhibition offering images ofthe poet, his land, his time and his people. But then JulioVêlez met José Manuel Castañón, and aU homage seemed insignificant. José Manuel Castañón had been a captain in the Spanish War. Fighting for Franco, he had lost a hand and won various medals. One night, shortly after the war, the captain accidentaUy came upon a banned book. He took a look, he read one line, he read another, and he could no longer tear himselfaway. Captain Castañón, hero ofthe victorious 198Fourth Genre army, sat up aU night, captivated, reading and rereading CésarVaUejo, poet of the defeated. Next morning he resigned from the army and refused to take a single peseta more from the Franco government. Later, they put him in jail, and he went into exile.1 Window on the Word/2...


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pp. 196-205
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