White-out history.

El febrer de 1948 el dirigent comunista Klement Gottwald va sortir al balcó d'un palau barroc de Praga per adreçar-se als centenars de ciutadans txecs que omplien la plaça de la Ciutat Vella. Aquella havia de ser una gran fita en la història de Bohèmia. Un d'aquells moments fatídics que ocorren una o dues vegades cada mil·lenni. Gottwald estava envoltat pels seus camarades i just al seu costat hi havia Clementis. La neu planava en l'aire, feia fred i Gottwald anava amb el cap descobert. Clementis, tot sol·lícit, es va treure la gorra de pell i la va posar al cap de Gottwald. 

La secció de propaganda va reproduir en centenars de milers d'exemplars la fotografia del balcó des del qual Gottwald, amb una gorra de pell al cap i envoltat de camarades, s'adreça al poble. En aquell balcó va començar la història de la Bohemia comunista. Aquella fotografia, la coneixien tots els nens d'haver-la vista en els cartells, en els Ilibres de text i en els museus. 

Quatre anys més tard Clementis va ser acusat de traició i penjat. La secció de propaganda el va esborrar immediatament de la història i, naturalment, de totes les fotografies. Des d'aleshores Gottwald està tot sol al balcó. En el lloc on havia estat Clementis hi ha només el mur buit del palau. De Clementis tan sols ha quedat la gorra de pell al cap de Gottwald. 


At the end of my life, may my sons wear many hats.

The son of the late philosopher-mystic Perelmann, who was writing a biography of his father, used to say at our weekly brown-bag colloquiums that he wore two hats: that of Perelmann’s son and that of his biographer. We assumed that this was just a figure of speech until a graduate student who happened to be renting an apartment across the street from him told us that he really wore two physical hats: the son-of-Perelmann hat was a Boston Red Sox cap, and the biographer-of-Perelmann hat was a brown fedora. Some evenings he wore the Red Sox cap, some evenings he wore the brown fedora, and some evenings he went back and forth, more or less rapidly, between the cap and the fedora.

Word circulated, and before long the chair of the department knocked on Perelmann’s son’s office door. The chair urged him to take some time off, please, for his own sake.

“Bill,” Perelmann’s son said, with a knowing smile. “Is this about the hats?”

The chair admitted that he was concerned.

“Bill,” Perelmann’s son said again, touching the chair’s wrist. “Don’t worry about me. I’m not going crazy, at least not yet! The hats serve a purely functional purpose.”

It looked silly, he knew, but the hats helped him keep separate his two conflicting roles—first as a son still grieving for his father, second as a scholar trying to understand, to historicize, and, yes, to critique, as dispassionately as possible, his father’s ideas. Before hitting upon the two-hat system, he’d lived in a state of perpetual self-reproach: when he thought of Perelmann in the way that a son thinks of his father, the scholar in him condemned his lack of objectivity, and when he thought of Perelmann in the way that a scholar thinks of his subject the son in him condemned his lack of loyalty.

The hats put an end to all that.

When he pulled on the old Red Sox cap, its snug fit and familiar smell had a Proustian effect. He was returned to the grandstands of Fenway Park, beside his father. He was suffused with compassion and pity, with respect, love, and acceptance—for his father’s flaws no less than for his virtues. He wanted to annihilate his father’s academic detractors and slaughter those who would attempt to understand him as a product of his milieu. Such was the effect of the Red Sox cap. But under the weight of the brown fedora, beneath its sober brim, he could put aside his childish devotion and scrutinize his father’s thought with the skepticism required of an intellectual historian. He investigated the genealogy of his father’s ideas, examined their internal consistency, considered their presuppositions and limitations.

“Bill, I admit it’s a strange system!” Perelmann’s son said, laughing. “That what happens in our heads should be so affected by what happens on top of our heads. But, for me, this does seem to be the case.” He shrugged. “It helps me proceed. I do not question it.”

The department chair went away intensely impressed, even moved. Word went around that Perelmann’s son was not crazy but brilliant.

At our next brown-bag colloquium, Perelmann’s son claimed to wear “four hats.” He was Perelmann’s son, Perelmann’s biographer, Perelmann’s philosophical interlocutor, and Perelmann’s estate executor.

The following morning, the graduate student reported that two new hats, a black bowler and a purple yarmulke, had entered the rotation. From what he’d seen, he hypothesized that the bowler was the executor hat and the yarmulke was the interlocutor hat. Perelmann’s son had spent most of the early evening going calmly back and forth between the Red Sox cap and the bowler. At around eight o’clock, the yarmulke had gone on and stayed on until just after nine. From then until midnight, he’d frantically switched among the yarmulke, the Red Sox cap, and the brown fedora. He had ended the night with forty-five relatively relaxed minutes in the black bowler.

“I’m fine, Bill!” Perelmann’s son said, touching the chair’s wrist. “How can I summon memories of my father one minute and deal with his taxes the next? Impossible, unless I physically put on the bowler hat. One minute I’m recalling the sensation of being up on his shoulders, the next I’m attacking his peculiar interpretation of Kant? The purple yarmulke. Who taught him this idiosyncratic Kant, and when? Brown fedora.”

By the next colloquium, Perelmann’s son wore sixteen hats. He was Perelmann’s son, Perelmann’s biographer, Perelmann’s philosophical interlocutor, Perelmann’s estate executor, Perelmann’s publicist, Perelmann’s usurper, Perelmann’s housekeeper, Perelmann’s zealot, Perelmann’s annihilator, Perelmann’s designated philosophical heir, Perelmann’s defector, Perelmann’s librarian, Perelmann’s gene carrier, Perelmann’s foot soldier, Perelmann’s betrayer, and Perelmann’s doppelgänger. Twelve new hats joined the repertoire, including a beret, a bandanna, a small straw hat, and a sombrero.

Naturally, we were a little alarmed. Perelmann’s son’s evenings, the graduate student reported, were now mere blurs of hat transitions. Nothing stayed on his head for long. But reality, we assumed, would sooner or later impose a limit on his mania. There are only so many kinds of hats, just as there are only so many relations that can possibly obtain between a father and a son. In due course Perelmann’s son would run out of either hats or relations, we thought—probably hats—and thereafter he would return to reason.

But soon there were relations we had never considered, hats we’d never heard of. He was Perelmann’s old-Jewish-joke repository, Perelmann’s voice impersonator, Perelmann’s sweater wearer, the last living practitioner of Perelmann’s skiing technique, Perelmann’s surpasser, Perelmann’s victim. He wore an eighteenth-century tricorne, a deerstalker, a round Hasidic kolpik, an Afghan pakol with a peacock feather tucked into its folds.

By the end of the fall semester we knew something had to be done. The explosion of hats and relations had not abated. Left alone, we realized, Perelmann’s son would partition his relationship with his father ad infinitum, and for each infinitesimal slice of relationship he would purchase a hat. Ultimately, he would turn his relationship with his father—by nature, one simple thing—into something infinitely complex, and his hat collection would, correspondingly, grow without bound, and he would wind up destroying himself. His analytical tendency, along with the huge hat collection that resulted from it, would obliterate him.

So, one morning, in an attempt to save Perelmann’s son from himself, a group of graduate students and junior faculty members slipped, with the department chair’s blessing, into his apartment. (He was at a Perelmann conference.) We gathered all the hats and put them in garbage bags—a hundred and twenty-eight hats in twelve garbage bags—and got them out of there.

But in our hearts we must have known that we were treating the symptom, not the cause. Yesterday, according to our informant, Perelmann’s son spent all day and all night in a ten-gallon hat of thus far unknown paternal associations.

Adam Ehrlich Sachs, (2016) Two Hats - The New Yorker Feb 1, 2016


Reality generates data. Or is it the other way around?

Everyone knows that dragons don’t exist. But while this simplistic formulation may satisfy the layman, it does not suffice for the scientific mind. The School of Higher Neantical Nillity is in fact wholly unconcerned with what does exist. Indeed, the banality of existence has been so amply demonstrated, there is no need for us to discuss it any further here. The brilliant Cerebron, attacking the problem analytically, probability theory to this area and, in so doing, created the field of statistical draconics, which says that dragons are thermodynamically impossible only in the probabilistic sense, as are elves, fairies, gnomes, witches, pixies and the like. Using the general equation of improbability, the two constructors obtained the coefficients of pixation, elfinity, kobolding, etc. They found that for the spontaneous manifestation of an average dragon, one would have to wait a good sixteen quintoquadrillion heptillion years. In other words, the whole problem would have remained a mathematical curiosity had it not been for that famous tinkering passion of Trurl, who decided to examine the nonphenomenon empirically. First, as he was dealing with the highly improbable, he invented a probability amplifier and ran tests in his basement – then later at the Dracogenic Proving Grounds established and funded by the probability theory to this area and, in so doing, created the field of statistical draconics, which says that dragons are thermodynamically impossible only in the probabilistic sense, as are elves, fairies, gnomes, witches, pixies and the like. Using the general equation of improbability, the two constructors obtained the coefficients of pixation, elfinity, kobolding, etc. They found that for the spontaneous manifestation of an average dragon, one would have to wait a good sixteen quintoquadrillion heptillion years. In other words, the whole problem would have remained a mathematical curiosity had it not been for that famous tinkering passion of Trurl, who decided to examine the nonphenomenon empirically. First, as he was dealing with the highly improbable, he invented a probability amplifier and ran tests in his basement – then later at the Dracogenic Proving Grounds established and funded by the Academy. To this day those who (sadly enough) have no knowledge of the General Theory of Improbability ask why Trurl probabilized a dragon and not an elf or goblin. The answer is simply that dragons are more probable than elves or goblins to begin with. True, Trurl might have gone further with his amplifying experiments, had not the first been so discouraging – discouraging in that the materialized dragon tried to make a meal of him. Fortunately, Klapaucius was nearby and lowered the probability, and the monster vanished.

On shared dreams.

Las ciudades y el deseo. 5

Desde allí, al cabo de seis días y seis noches, el hombre llega a Zobeida, ciudad blanca, bien expuesta a la luna, con calles que giran sobre sí mismas como un ovillo. De su fundación se cuenta esto: hombres de naciones diversas tuvieron el mismo sueño, vieron una mujer que corría de noche por una ciudad desconocida, la vieron de espaldas, con el pelo largo, y estaba desnuda. Soñaron que la seguían. Al final, tras muchas vueltas, todos la perdieron. Después del sueño buscaron aquella ciudad; no la encontraron pero se encontraron entre sí; decidieron construir una ciudad como en el sueño. En la disposición de las calles cada uno repitió el recorrido de su persecución; en el punto donde había perdido las huellas de la fugitiva, cada uno ordenó los espacios y los muros de manera distinta que en el sueño, de modo que no pudiera escapársele más. 

Ésta fue la ciudad de Zobeida donde se establecieron esperando que una noche se repitiese aquella escena. Ninguno de ellos, ni en el sueño ni en la vigilia, vio nunca más a la mujer. Las calles de la ciudad eran las que recorrían todos los días para ir al trabajo, sin ninguna relación ya con la persecución soñada. Que por lo demás hacía tiempo que estaba olvidada. 

De otros países llegaron nuevos hombres que habían tenido un sueño como el de ellos y en la ciudad de Zobeida reconocían algo de las calles del sueño, y cambiaban de lugar galerías y escaleras para que se parecieran más al camino de la mujer seguida y para que en el punto donde había desaparecido no le quedara modo de escapar.

Los que habían llegado primero no entendían qué era lo que atraía a esa gente a Zobeida, a esa ciudad fea, a esa trampa.

Casual casualties.

The School

Well, we had all these children out planting trees, see, because we figured that ... that was part of their education, to see how, you know, the root systems ... and also the sense of responsibility, taking care of things, being individually responsible. You know what I mean. And the trees all died. They were orange trees. I don’t know why they died, they just died. Something wrong with the soil possibly or maybe the stuff we got from the nursery wasn’t the best. We complained about it. So we’ve got thirty kids there, each kid had his or her own little tree to plant and we’ve got these thirty dead trees. All these kids looking at these little brown sticks, it was depressing.

It wouldn’t have been so bad except that just a couple of weeks before the thing with the trees, the snakes all died. But I think that the snakes – well, the reason that the snakes kicked off was that ... you remember, the boiler was shut off for four days because of the strike, and that was explicable. It was something you could explain to the kids because of the strike. I mean, none of their parents would let them cross the picket line and they knew there was a strike going on and what it meant. So when things got started up again and we found the snakes they weren’t too disturbed.

With the herb gardens it was probably a case of overwatering, and at least now they know not to overwater. The children were very conscientious with the herb gardens and some of them probably ... you know, slipped them a little extra water when we weren’t looking. Or maybe ... well, I don’t like to think about sabotage, although it did occur to us. I mean, it was something that crossed our minds. We were thinking that way probably because before that the gerbils had died, and the white mice had died, and the salamander ... well, now they know not to carry them around in plastic bags.

Of course we expected the tropical fish to die, that was no surprise. Those numbers, you look at them crooked and they’re belly-up on the surface. But the lesson plan called for a tropical fish input at that point, there was nothing we could do, it happens every year, you just have to hurry past it.

We weren’t even supposed to have a puppy.

We weren’t even supposed to have one, it was just a puppy the Murdoch girl found under a Gristede’s truck one day and she was afraid the truck would run over it when the driver had finished making his delivery, so she stuck it in her knapsack and brought it to the school with her. So we had this puppy. As soon as I saw the puppy I thought, Oh Christ, I bet it will live for about two weeks and then... And that’s what it did. It wasn’t supposed to be in the classroom at all, there’s some kind of regulation about it, but you can’t tell them they can’t have a puppy when the puppy is already there, right in front of them, running around on the floor and yap yap yapping. They named it Edgar – that is, they named it after me. They had a lot of fun running after it and yelling, “Here, Edgar! Nice Edgar!” Then they’d laugh like hell. They enjoyed the ambiguity. I enjoyed it myself. I don’t mind being kidded. They made a little house for it in the supply closet and all that. I don’t know what it died of. Distemper, I guess. It probably hadn’t had any shots. I got it out of there before the kids got to school. I checked the supply closet each morning, routinely, because I knew what was going to happen. I gave it to the custodian.

And then there was this Korean orphan that the class adopted through the Help the Children program, all the kids brought in a quarter a month, that was the idea. It was an unfortunate thing, the kid’s name was Kim and maybe we adopted him too late or something. The cause of death was not stated in the letter we got, they suggested we adopt another child instead and sent us some interesting case histories, but we didn’t have the heart. The class took it pretty hard, they began (I think, nobody ever said anything to me directly) to feel that maybe there was something wrong with the school. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the school, particularly, I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. It was just a run of bad luck. We had an extraordinary number of parents passing away, for instance. There were I think two heart attacks and two suicides, one drowning, and four killed together in a car accident. One stroke. And we had the usual heavy mortality rate among the grandparents, or maybe it was heavier this year, it seemed so. And finally the tragedy.

The tragedy occurred when Matthew Wein and Tony Mavrogordo were playing over where they’re excavating for the new federal office building. There were all these big wooden beams stacked, you know, at the edge of the excavation. There’s a court case coming out of that, the parents are claiming that the beams were poorly stacked. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. It’s been a strange year. I forgot to mention Billy Brandt’s father who was knifed fatally when he grappled with a masked intruder in his home.

One day, we had a discussion in class. They asked me, where did they go? The trees, the salamander, the tropical fish, Edgar, the poppas and mommas, Matthew and Tony, where did they go? And I said, I don’t know, I don’t know. And they said, who knows? and I said, nobody knows. And they said, is death that which gives meaning to life? And I said no, life is that which gives meaning to life. Then they said, but isn’t death, considered as a fundamental datum, the means by which the taken-for-granted mundanity of the everyday may be transcended in the direction of – 
I said, yes, maybe. 
They said, we don’t like it. 
I said, that’s sound. 
They said, it’s a bloody shame! 
I said, it is. 
They said, will you make love now with Helen (our teaching assistant) so that we can see how it is done? We know you like Helen. 
I do like Helen but I said that I would not. 
We’ve heard so much about it, they said, but we’ve never seen it. 
I said I would be fired and that it was never, or almost never, done as a demonstration. Helen looked out the window. 
They said, please, please make love with Helen, we require an assertion of value, we are frightened.

I said that they shouldn’t be frightened (although I am often frightened) and that there was value everywhere. Helen came and embraced me. I kissed her a few times on the brow. We held each other. The children were excited. Then there was a knock on the door, I opened the door, and the new gerbil walked in. The children cheered wildly.

It's not paranoia if they're shooting bullets of niceness at you.

The cat had a party to attend, and went to the baboon to get herself groomed.

“What kind of party?” the baboon asked, and she massaged the cat’s neck in order to relax her, the way she did with all her customers. “Hope it’s not that harvest dance down on the riverbank. My sister went last year and said she’d never seen such rowdiness. Said a fight broke out between two possums, and one gal, the wife of one or the other, got pushed onto a stump and knocked out four teeth. And they were pretty ones too, none of this yellowness you find on most things that eat trash.”

The cat shuddered. “No,” she said. “This is just a little get-together, a few friends. That type of thing.”

“Will there be food?” the baboon asked.

“Something,” the cat sighed. “I just don’t know what.”

“ ‘Course it’s hard,” the baboon said. “Everybody eating different things. You got one who likes leaves and another who can’t stand the sight of them. Folks have gotten so picky nowadays, I just lay out some peanuts and figure they either eat them or they don’t.”

“Now, I wouldn’t like a peanut,” the cat said. “Not at all.”

“Well, I guess you’d just have drinks, then. The trick is knowing when to stop.”

“That’s never been a problem for me,” the cat boasted. “I drink until I’m full, and then I push myself away from the table. Always have.”

“Well, you’ve got sense, then. Not like some of them around here.” The baboon picked a flea from the cat’s head and stuck it gingerly between her teeth. “Take this wedding I went to — last Saturday, I think it was. Couple of marsh rabbits got married — you probably heard about it.”

The cat nodded.

“Now, I like a church service, but this was one of those write-your-own-vows sorts of things. Neither of them had ever picked up a pen in their life, but all of a sudden they’re poets, right, like that’s all it takes — being in love.”

“My husband and I wrote our own vows,” the cat said defensively.

“Sure you did,” countered the baboon, “but you probably had something to say, not like these marsh rabbits, carrying on that their love was like a tender sapling or some damn thing. And all the while they had this squirrel off to the side, plucking at a harp, I think it was.”

“I had a harp player at my wedding,” the cat said, “and it was lovely.”

“I bet it was, but you probably hired a professional, someone who could really play. This squirrel, I don’t think she’d taken a lesson in her life. Just clawed at those strings, almost like she was mad at them.”

“Well, I’m sure she tried her best,” the cat said.

The baboon nodded and smiled, the way one must in the service industry. She’d planned to tell a story about a drunken marsh rabbit, the brother of the groom at last week’s wedding, but there was no point in it now, not with this client anyway. Whatever she said, the cat disagreed with, and unless she found a patch of common ground she was sure to lose her tip. “You know,” she said, cleaning a scab off the cat’s neck, “I hate dogs. Simply cannot stand them.”

“What makes you bring that up?” the cat asked.

“Just thinking,” the baboon said. “Some kind of spaniel mix walked in yesterday, asking for a shampoo, and I sent him packing, said, ‘I don’t care how much money you have, I’m not making conversation with anyone who licks his own ass.’ ” And the moment she said it, she realized her mistake.

“Now, what’s wrong with that?” the cat protested. “It’s good to have a clean anus. Why, I lick mine at least five times a day.”

“And I admire you for it,” the baboon said, “but you’re not a dog.”


“On a cat it’s . . . classy,” the baboon said. “There’s a grace to it, but a dog, you know the way they hunker over, legs going every which way.” “Well, yes,” the cat said. “I suppose you have a point.”

“Then they slobber and drool all over everything, and what they don’t get wet, they chew to pieces.”

“That they do.” The cat chuckled, and the baboon relaxed and searched her memory for a slanderous dog story. The collie, the German shepherd, the spaniel mix she claimed to have turned away: they were all good friends of hers, and faithful clients, but what would it hurt to pretend otherwise and cross that fine line between licking ass and simply kissing it?

What a mouth really says.

It really does seem to be a fact, I told myself, as my eyes wandered from lower lip to lower lip across the room, that all the less attractive traits of the human animal, arrogance, rapacity, gluttony, lasciviousness, and the rest of them, are clearly signalled in that little carapace of scarlet skin. But you have to know the code. The protuberant or bulging lower lip is supposed to signify sensuality. But this is only half true in men and wholly untrue in women. In women, it is the thin line you should look for, the narrow blade with the sharply delineated bottom edge. And in the nymphomaniac there is a tiny just visible crest of skin at the top centre of the lower lip.

Samantha, my hostess, had that.

Love is always bespoke.

When he met her and they liked each other a great deal, he heard things better, and in his eyes the lines of the physical world were sharper than before. He was smarter, he was more aware, and he thought of new things to do with his days. He considered activities which before had been vaguely intriguing but which now seemed urgent, and which must, he thought, be done with his new companion. He wanted to fly in lightweight contraptions with her. He had always been intrigued by gliders, parachutes, ultralights and hangliders, and now he felt that this would be a facet of their new life: that they would be a couple that flew around on weekends and on vacations, in small aircraft. They would learn the terminology. They would join clubs. They would have a trailer of some kind, or a large van, in which to hold their new machines and supple wings folded, and they would drive to new places to see from above. The kind of flying that interested him was close to the ground--less than a thousand feet above the Earth.

He wanted to see things moving quickly below him, wanted to be able to wave to people below, to see wildebeest run and to count dolphins streaming away from shore. He hoped this was the kind of flying she'd want to do, too. He became so attached to the idea of this person and this flying and this life entwined that he was not sure what he would do if it did not become actual. It was odd, though, he thought, that while the notion of this flying was his, and he would be the driving force behind the carrying out of this plan, he needed another person, this new person in his world, to enable him to do it. He didn't want to do this flying alone; he would rather not do it than do it without her. But if he asked her to fly with him, and she expressed reservations, or was not inspired, would he stay with her? Could he? He deciders that he would not. If she does not drive in the van with the wings carefully folded, he will have to leave, smile and leave, and then he will look again. But when and if he finds another companion, he knows his plan will not be for flying. It will be another plan with another person, because if he goes flying close to the Earth it will be with her.

Death of culture, scientifically explained.

He had known all along, of course, that nothing but a theoretical engine or system ever runs at 100 percent efficiency; and about the theorem of Clausius, which states that the entropy of an isolated system always continually increases. It was not, however, until Gibbs and Boltzmann brought to this principle the methods of Statistical mechanics that the horrible significance of it all dawned on him: only then did he realize that the isolated system -galaxy, engine, human being, culture, whatever- must evolve spontaneously toward the Condition of the More Probable. He was forced, therefore, in the sad dying fall of middle age, to a radical reevaluation of everything he had learned up to then; all the cities and seasons and casual passions of his days had now to be looked at in a new and elusive light. He did not know if he was equal to the task. He was aware of the dangers of the reductive fallacy and, he hoped, strong enough not to drift into the graceful decadence of an enervated fatalism. His had always been a vigorous, Italian sort of pessimism: like Machiavelli, he allowed the forces of virtù and fortuna to be about fifty/fifty; but the equations now introduced a random factor which pushed the odds to some unutterable and indeterminate ratio which he found himself afraid to calculate.
Nevertheless (...) he found in entropy or the measure of disorganisation for a closed system an adequate metaphor to apply to certain phenomena in his own world. He saw, for example, the younger generation responding to Madison Avenue with the same spleen his own had once reserved for Wall Street: and in American ‘consumerism’ discovered a similar tendency from the least to the most probable, from differentiation to sameness, from ordered individuality to a kind of chaos. He found himself, in short, restating Gibbs’ prediction in social terms, and envisioned a heat death for his culture in which ideas, like heat energy, would no longer be transferred, since each point in it would ultimately have the same quantity of energy; and intellectual motion would, accordingly, cease.

The crowded club of the chosen ones.

Soy hija de una prestidigitadora y de un acróbata. Nací, y viví siempre, en el circo. Estoy casada con un domador de fieras. Tengo un don probablemente excepcional. Basta que alguien se acerque a mí, para que yo lea su pensamiento. Me resigno, sin embargo, a que mi actuación en el circo donde trabajo sea aún más modesta que la de los payasos: ellos, al fin y al cabo, pretenden provocar la risa. Yo, por mi parte, con falda corta y muy largas medias blancas, al compás de la música, ejecuto pasos de baile ante la indiferencia del público, mientras a mi alrededor jinetes, equilibristas o domadores se juegan la vida.

De chica fui vanidosa. Para mí no había halago comparable al de ser admirada por mi don. Pronto, demasiado pronto, sospeché que por ese mismo don la gente me rehuía, como si me temiera. Me dije: “Si no lo olvidan quedaré sola.” Oculté mi don; fue un secreto que no revelé a nadie, ni siquiera a mi marido.

De un tiempo a esta parte Gustav trabaja con un solo tigre. Hace poco nos enteramos de que un viejo domador, famoso entre la gente del gremio por tratar a las fieras como si fueran humanos, se jubilaba y vendía un tigre. Gustav fue a verlo y, tras mucho regateo, lo compró. La primera tarde en que Gustav ante el público trabajó con el tigre, yo bailaba en el centro de la pista. De pronto, sin proponérmelo, me puse a leer pensamientos. Cuando me acerqué a mi marido, toda lectura cesó; pero cuando me acerqué al tigre, cuál no sería mi sorpresa, leí fácilmente su pensamiento, que se dirigía a mi marido y ordenaba: “Dígame que salte”, “dígame que dé un zarpazo”, “dígame que ruja”. Obedeció mi marido y el tigre saltó, dio un zarpazo y rugió con ferocidad.


Adolfo Bioy Casares (1998) Una magia modesta