22 December 2011

The First Infrarealist Manifesto

“It’s four light hours to the confines of the solar system; to the closest star, four light years. An excessive ocean of emptiness. But are we really sure there’s only emptiness? We only know that there are no stars shining in that space. If they exist, would they be visible? And if there are bodies that are neither luminous nor dark? Couldn’t it be that on the celestial maps, the same as on those of Earth, the star-cities are indicated and the star-villages are omitted?”
— Soviet science fiction writers scratching their faces at midnight.
— The infrasuns (Drummond would say the happy proletarian fellows).
— Peguero and Boris alone in a lumpen room having premonitions of the wonder behind the door.
— Free money.

In 1976, when Roberto Bolaño was 23, 24 years old and living in Mexico, he drafted the first* manifesto of Movimiento Infrarrealista de Poesia, a poetry movement that inspired the visceral realism (or vicerealism) movement in The Savage Detectives. Along with other poets, Bolaño and Mario Santiago banded together to form and lead the infrarrealistas; their acknowledged stand-ins in the novel were Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima.

The manifesto was titled “Déjenlo Todo, Nuevamente” and could be found in original Spanish here.

Excerpts of the manifesto in English were quoted in many reviews of Bolaño’s books. The only complete English translations that I found online were in two sites:

Abandon Everything, Again
Give It All Up Again

The activities of the infrarrealistas in their heyday were described in the following links:

Bolaño in Mexico” by Carmen Boullosa
Interview with Mario Santiago
The Great Bolaño” (pdf) by Francisco Goldman
Interviewees” (Spanish links) by Jeremy
Review of Bolaño Infra in Caravana de recuerdos

* There’s another manifesto (“Por un arte de vitalidad sin límites”) written earlier in 1975 by José Vicente Anaya.


  1. The sentence "Un desmedido océano de vacío." seems interesting from a translating standpoint. Neither of the linked translations quite gets it. I am going to go with "Measureless ocean of void."

  2. Oh cool -- “erotic books full of misspellings” is a quote from Rimbaud.

  3. The variation is interesting, Jeremy. To preserve the internal rhymes I offer up, courting redundancy: "extreme chasm of abysm".

    The reference to Rimbaud is a nice touch!