La Caida by Virgilio Piñera

This series was created in response to the work of  Virgilio Piñera,  a gay writer, censored in Cuba for much of his career in the mid-20th century. Piñera was and remains an under-recognized, but literarily significant absurdist/existentialist playwright, poet and fiction writer.

He was preoccupied with the theme of frigidity/coldness, which appeared in many forms in his writing, though above all in the tone of his work, linguistically, thematically and emotionally. The story which inspired my own art this last winter is called, “La caída” or “The Fall”. It is a detailed and (actually) humorous account of two mountain-climbers as they fall off the side of a mountain. Neither man seems especially fearful, but both are quite concerned that their most precious body parts should arrive on the plain below “not even a bit dusty.” One climber is devout on protecting his beautiful blue eyes, the other his handsome beard, “the gray of Gothic stained-glass” (what else?). As the climbers fall, bound face-to-face by their own safety line, they wordlessly agree to shield the eyes/beard of the other. Meanwhile, they begin shedding body parts on the “tooth-like” rocks of the cliff-side. Nonetheless, our protagonist–the blue-eyed fella–continues his narration, even after losing his legs, parts of his throat and finally his head.

I read this story just after a breakup of the sort that introduced the word “heinous” into my vocabulary. Because of this experience, I saw the story through the crystal clear lenses of disillusioned cynicism, reading it as a direct metaphor for romantic relationship. This thematic focus making it one of many pieces in the obra de Virgilio that explore the ugly and mutually destructive face of human interaction.

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