Friday, September 21, 2007

Review: The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto

The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto by Mario Vargas Llosa

Fucking brilliant. Here's some quotes:

On sex: "All human activity that does not contribute, even indirectly, to testicular and ovarian arousal, to the meeting of sperm and egg, is contemptible... as well as everything that distracts us from the truly essential purpose of human life, which, in my opinion, is to satisfy desires. I see no other reason for our being here, spinning like slow tops in a gratuitous universe."

On the nation: "'Nation', that ridiculous politico-administrative contrivance manufactured by statists greedy for power and intellectuals in search of a master, that is, a Maecenas, that is, a pair of prebendal tits to suck on - is a dangerous but effective excuse for the countless wars that have devastated the planet, for despotic impulses that have sanctified the domination of the weak by the strong, and for an egalitarian smoke screen whose noxious fumes, indifferent to human beings, clone them and impose on them, under the guise of something essential and irremediable, the most accidental of common denominators: one's place of birth."

On law: "How could I avoid being the most ingenious tangler or disentangler of juridicial arguments when I discovered in my first law class that so-called legality is, in great measure, an intricate jungle in which technicians of obfuscations, intrigues, formalisms, and casuistries would always come out ahead? And that the profession has nothing to do with truth and justice but deals exclusively with the fabrication of incontrovertible appearances, with sophistries and deceptions impossible to clarify."

And sex again: "It is also true that without their prohibitions, sins, and moral fulminations, desires - especially sexual desire - would not have achieved the refinement they have reached at certain times. Consequently - and this is not theoretical but practical - as the result of a modest personal survey of limited scope, I affirm that people make love much better in religious countries than in secular ones (better in Ireland than in England, in Poland than in Denmark), better in Catholic countries than in Protestant ones (better in Spain or Italy than in Germany or Sweden), and that women who have been educated in nuns' academies are a thousand times more imaginative, bold, and delicate than those who have studied at secular schools."

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