Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On the Preservation of Memories

To maintain the condition of their memories, the famas proceed in the following manner: after having fastened the memory with webs and reminders, with every possible precaution, they wrap it from head to foot in a black sheet and stand it against the parlor wall with a little label which reads: "EXCURSION TO QUILMES" or "FRANK SINATRA".

Cronopios, on the other hand, disordered and tepid beings that they are, leave memories loose about the house. They set them down with happy shouts and walk carelessly among them, and when one passes through running they caress it mildly and tell it "Don't hurt yourself," and also "Be careful of the stairs." It is for this reason that the famas' houses are orderly and silent, while in those of the cronopios there is great uproar and doors slamming. Neighbors always complain about cronopios, and the famas shake their heads understandingly, and go and see if the tags are all in place.

Julio Cortázar, Cronopios and Famas, 1962.


  1. Wonderful! Your not-Googling has found a gem. :)

    And which are you?

    I think I'm a cronopio but always striving to be a fama (I hope I have the correct singular forms). I obviously feel that famas are somewhat superior and know where to find their memories when they need them. Though it can't be much fun to be a memory wrapped in a black sheet, so maybe I'm happy as I am, after all.

  2. What if we're too disorganized to be a "Cronopio"?

  3. I'm with Stephanie. I'd be a cronopio if I could manage it, but many of my memories have escaped forever.
    They're probably burning down the famas' house right now.
    What? Well what do you expect me to do about it? I already told you, they've escaped, free agents, revolutionaries, I have no control over them at all.

  4. I am definately a cronopio. I wish I could pronounce it so I can tell everyone.

  5. @A. - I never said I wasn't going to google. I said I was going to swear off Wikipedia. But that was a lie, too. Anyway, I didn't google either. What search term would I use??? Fama??? No, I just peruse blogs, sort of like your Wikipedia game, except I use people's bloglists. And there it was! I never heard of Julio, either. And, no, I'm not going to google him. :)

    @Jeff King - I was indeed a nice post. At least it was nice of the guy I stole it from. I wish I could remember the blog now.

    @Stephanie Barr - Hmmm. I thought they WERE the disorganized ones. Well, you'll just have to keep collecting memories until you get it right. :)

    @Adullamite - Truer word has never been spoken. :)

    @Soubriquet -
    “They’ll walk out to the bleachers and sit in shirtsleeves in the perfect evening, or they’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere in the grandstand or along one of the baselines - wherever they sat when they were children and cheered their heros. They’ll watch the game, and it will be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”
    —James Earl Jones, "Field of Dreams"

    @Sue - Me too! I mean I'm like the Cronopios. Worse, even. Shoeboxes worse. :)



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