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Translating the thoughts about the killings – 2666 Diaries, IV

2666 Diaries, IV

The Part about the Crimes

Yes, this time, I took my time to translate my buddy’s thoughts from Filipino or Taglish to English. Quite an effort since I do not wish to sound like I’m translating the inputs literally. Like “Wala lang,” a phrase that literally means “Nothing much.” Actually, that cannot even pass as a literal translation if we adhere to the strict literal sense because “lang” seems to be an exclusive Filipino thing.

Anyway, I’m just going to note again that these thoughts are from The Misanthropologist.

Day 7:

We read all about the women who were abducted, raped, strangled, staked, and thrown everywhere. The descriptions are delivered matter-of-factly, much like a police report. Well, these are mostly police reports, and autopsy reports, and such reports.

And since there are police reports, there are also inspectors. We are introduced to a number of them, but I remember mostly Juan de Dios Martinez. He seems to be the most capable and levelheaded among them, the inspectors and police men. But despite this, he can’t crack the cases assigned to him yet.

The cases, which are not only about the killings, include one about a church desecrator, which is more of a side story, unless this desecrator is somehow related to the more serious crimes. I’m quoting someone when I say that, I think it’s the police chief who said that.

There is another side story about a young bodyguard who turned to be a real police thanks to the fearless execution of his duty. Actually, there are a lot of side stories. The descriptions of the crimes are all side stories, some to be endured, some to be relished.

I sometimes think that these relaying of the crimes is saturating this part. We get the point: the murders appear random, they are violent, they are crawling at a significant number. Is this the intention of the author, to make us flinch at each page?

There are some crimes which I find less interesting than the background. Like the murder of one woman where the body is found by an El Salvadorean, who was imprisoned and released a broken man. He then wandered around, lost in that city, and he died. That’s me cutting the short story shorter.

And then there’s also the family of the eleven-year old victim. A picture of a squalid, striving family. Very poignant. And there’s something really terrible about young girls being raped.

And there is, too, the case of the American. Not really striking, but it sort of left me hanging because that’s where I stopped reading last night.

Day 8:

I don’t think the writer is trying to shock the readers with the crimes. Probably he’s trying to say that murder can be as mundane as taking a stroll in the park if people who are supposed to investigate the crimes aren’t really fit for it.

The appearance of Florita Almada is such a delight! It’s a nice break from the reportage of the crimes. Florita, or La Santa, has a beautiful background. Beautiful not because she’s a princess but because it is thought-provoking. Besides, it’s hard not to be drawn to a character who reads a lot and who is somehow nerdy and who has a tendency to be incoherent.

Florita, I should say, is officially my favorite 2666 character. Anyway, the novel wouldn’t revolve around her, so let’s get back. Where is the novel leading to? I only have a vague feeling of what this is all about.

Is it about justice, which is only that, a lofty ideal that is forever out of reach? Is it about the slumbering society, who needs a hundred crimes to wake up and do something? Is it about the fear of women, as pointed out earlier?

Day 9:

Cause of death: Strangulation. Vaginally and anally raped. No source of identification. Multiple stab wounds. Hair is shoulder level. Wearing gray sweatshirt, black leggings, and white tennis shoes.

At least at this part, there is development as far as the crimes are concerned. Epifanio does his best to solve one of the cases assigned to him. He ended up with the arrest of a computer store owner, Klaus Haas, but even if this man is in prison, the murders go on.

Haas may have a history of sexual assaults, but I don’t think he has anything to do with the murders on a large scale. Really, I don’t know what to think of.

I was told by a college colleague that one of the safest places here on earth is the prison. That is, if you are not an inmate. I think it is better to assume that nowhere is safe. There’s always the danger of the AC exploding right in front of my face while typing these words.

Maybe that’s not being unsafe. It’s being unlucky. Haas must have been unlucky to get tangled in this murder business. But I don’t think he’s unlucky at all. Being able to call a press conference while you are at jail is not bad. It’s annoying if you imagine that happening in real life, but if we only consider luck here, it’s not bad at all.

Day 10:

I am so tired of reading about the crimes. It’s becoming a drag, like pulling a blanket cast out of the sea. I am no longer interested whatever it is that is behind the crimes. I just wish for this part to end.

I insist that all those descriptions about the crimes are unnecessary to the development of the novel’s core plot. Speaking of development, I don’t know whether the unresolved cases will have further development or they will just stagnate there, on the shelves. Cliffhangers, maybe?

As I try to connect this part with the previous ones, I wonder if there is anything solid to make it all cohesive. I am always waiting for characters from the previous parts to be mentioned, particularly Guadalupe, the reporter that Fate assisted and who was about to interview the prime suspect of the killings. But no, she was not mentioned, yet. Other reporters are mentioned though, but is that enough to link the two parts together? Is it even necessary to have a link?

Will Haas be able to redeem himself in such a rotten system, one that is filled with corruption and negligence? Everything is being lost, like blood samples, DNA results, and others. And if Haas were truly innocent, this would have sucked a lot. It is screaming injustice. But if he really were involved with the crimes, is justice really served?

Why, Haas is a perpetrator of injustice himself. Remember that the end does not justify the means? He is trying to investigate the matter by resorting to under the table tricks, like obtaining a cell phone while in prison. That is not allowed anywhere, right? I mean ideally? Really, I do not know what I am talking about.

Day 11:

I cannot fully express my joy and sense of achievement when I got to the last page of this part. It seemed to go on and on forever, and just as I predicted, it ended with no closure. There was a sense of development, but we are now moving to a different part, which hopefully will tie up all the loose ends.

We are introduced to the congresswoman Azucena. I didn’t really get what her role is in the near-end phase of this part. I thought she was the art writer’s lover. Until the last couple of pages, I realized that she wants the writer to follow-up the case of her missing best friend.

It could be that this art writer, Sergio, is that guy whom Guadalupe from Part 3 succeeded. In a novel like this, one can never be too sure.

And there are more investigations being started instead of being wrapped up. No, Guadalupe was not mentioned, and I don’t understand why I keep on expecting her to be a part of this. Anyway, the new investigations, particularly the one by Mary-Sue, are quite promising, but again, I feel that all efforts are doomed.

I think I understand now why the five parts of this novel were not published individually as the author requested on his last will. They can barely stand alone. Each novel, or part, will leave the reader gritting with both suspense and disappointment, which is both a good and bad thing. The first part is good enough. The second part is too short. The third part is a mix of the first too: quite good and quite short. The fourth is a mess.

And now, we are on the last part. I do not know what to expect anymore. Rather, I do not wish to set any expectations.

Inside that book with a yellow cover everything was expressed so clearly that sometimes Florita Almada thought the author must have been a friend of Benito Juarez and that Benito Juarez had confided all his childhood experiences in the man’s ear. If such a thing were possible. If it were possible to convey what one feels when night falls and the stars come out and one is alone in the vastness, and life’s truths (night truths) begin to march past one by one, somehow swooning or as if the person out in the open were swooning or as if a strange sickness were circulating in the blood unnoticed. What are you doing, moon, up in the sky? asks the little shepherd in the poem. What are you doing, tell me, silent moon? Aren’t you tired of plying the eternal byways? The shepherd’s life is like your life. He rises at first light and moves his flock across the field. Then, weary, he rests at evening and hopes for nothing more. What good is the shepherd’s life to him or yours to you? Tell me, the shepherd muses, said Florita Almada in a transported voice, where is it heading, my brief wandering, your immortal journey? Man is born into pain, and being born itself means risking death, said the poem. And also: But why bring to light, why educate someone we’ll console for living later? And also: If life is misery, why do we endure it? And also: This, unblemished moon, is the mortal condition. But you’re not mortal, and what I say may matter little to you. And also, and on the contrary: You, eternal solitary wanderer, you who are so pensive, it may be you understand this life on earth, what our suffering and sighing is, what this death is, this last paling of the face, and leaving Earth behind, abandoning all familiar, loving company. And also: What does the endless air do, and that deep eternal blue? What does this enormous solitude portend? And what am I? And also: This is what I know and feel: that from the eternal motions, from my fragile being, others may derive some good or happiness. And also: But life for me is wrong. And also: Old, white haired, weak, barefoot, bearing an enormous burden, up mountain and down valley, over sharp rocks, across deep sands and bracken, through wind and storm, when it’s hot and later when it freezes, running on, running faster, crossing rivers, swamps, falling and rising and hurrying faster, no rest or relief, battered and bloody, at last coming to where the way and all effort has led: terrible, immense abyss into which, upon falling, all is forgotten. And also: This, O virgin moon, is human life. And also: O resting flock, who don’t, I think, know your own misery! How I envy you! Not just because you travel as if trouble free and soon forget each need, each hurt, each deathly fear, but more because you’re never bored. And also: When you lie in the shade, on the grass, you’re calm and happy, and you spend the great part of the year this way and feel no boredom. And also: I sit on the grass, too, in the shade, but an anxiousness invades my mind as if a thorn is pricking me. And also: Yet I desire nothing, and till now I have no reason for complaint. And at this point, after sighing deeply, Florita Almada would say that several conclusions could be drawn: (1) that the thoughts that seize a shepherd can easily gallop away with him because it’s human nature; (2) that facing boredom head-on was an act of bravery and Benito Juarez had done it and she had done it too and both had seen terrible things in the face of boredom, things she would rather not recall; (3) that the poem, now she remembered, was about an Asian shepherd, not a Mexican shepherd, but it made no difference, since shepherds are the same everywhere; (4) that if it was true that all effort led to a vast abyss, she had two recommendations to begin with, first, not to cheat people, and, second, to treat them properly.

Buddy Notes:

…The crimes in Part 4 are interesting – some very detailed, some mentioned just in passing. And the side stories are interesting too, especially the one about the Penitent…

…I think the author is trying to saturate the readers with his violent descriptions, trying to desensitize them…

…It’s strange because though there are lots of killings, they don’t seem to be done by the same guy or people. A lot of them are caused by domestic problems and a lot of the girls are killed by their boyfriends/husbands…

…I think it maybe have something to do with what the Asylum Director was saying about how Mexican Men have a fear of women…

…I am starting to notice that there are a lot of whores, pimps, and drug addicts in Santa Teresa, hehehe…

…I wish that instead of just listing down all the dead women, that the author would elaborate more on the events and kind of gel together the narration. For now, it’s still just a list of individual victims…

…As of yesterday’s readings, I counted 46 dead women…

…I was just curious because they mentioned in the earlier part of the book that hundreds of women died, and since Part 4 is really long, I was wondering if the author would actually list all 100 or 200+ incidents, hehehe…

…Well yeah, Mexico is classified as a 3rd world country (right?). I don’t know, but most of the deaths are whores, and there’s just too many whores for one town…

…I don’t think the sex trade is directly related to poverty, but poverty is a definite cause. I think whores and pimps are not prevalent in India, could be because of the caste system too and religion. Who knows, hahaha…

…After day 3 of The Part About the Crimes – body count so far = 76, hehehe…

…I actually like the layout of the this book because even though it’s thick and even though it has a lot of lines per page, it’s divided into chunks separated by the big dots. That’s why it seems to make it easier to read. I also feel that I can read this faster. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, hehehe…

…I think one of the things the author is doing is (exposing) and criticizing South American/Mexican culture – the prevalence of corruption, police brutality, drug-use, sex crimes, the general ideas of men towards women, etc…

…The prison in Santa Teresa doesn’t seem like a very safe place. LOL…

…I’m also waiting for a connection between the characters from Part about the Crimes with the characters from the previous parts, but I don’t think there were any, except that Haas was the guy that Guadalupe (?) from The Part About Fate interviewed in prison. But other than that, there doesn’t seem to be any connection…

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