"Es bleibt wie etwas Unerforschliches und Geheimnisreiches in der Dunkelheit zurück"

A freshman at my school passed away last night, and everyone has been in a weird mood about it all day. I keep getting e-mails in my inbox from the president, dean of faculty, student body president. There are suggestions to have a book where people can write about their memories about the student in question or how they were affected by the experience. All throughout the day, I am disconcertingly and consistently thinking about how appropriately this all relates to the theme in my thesis about death as an appropriate moment to try to make “sense” of an experience, to find out the meaning of something, to make an effort to try to understand.

My entire thesis is essentially based on the implications of the final passage from Onetti’s “Un Sueño Realizado” (A Dream Come True). The story is essentially a subtle retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale– I’m too tired to explain why right now in a proper or coherent manner that does the story justice, but here’s some bare bones plot summary, in order to provide some context for the final passage: a woman comes to a retired theatre director (the story’s narrator) and asks him to stage a production a dream she once had. The dream is simple: a car goes by, a man crosses a street and drinks a beer poured by a girl with a pitcher, recrosses the street and pats the woman on the head, who has been lying on the sidewalk this entire time, as if she were a little girl. Her explanation for why she wants to stage the dream, as explained by Blanes (the actor) to the director, is not because the dream possesses some kind of deeper meaning for her, but simply “because while she was sleeping and dreaming about all of that, she was happy–but happy isn’t the word, something else. So she wants to see it over again.” The dream is reproduced onstage successfully; however, the moment in which Blanes pats the woman on the head is when they discover the woman is dead. Punched in the ribs by a raging Blanes, the director closes the story with the following ‘realization’:

“I was left by myself, doubled over by the blow, and while Blanes went back and forth on the stage, drunk, half-crazy, and the girl with the pitcher of beer and the man with the car bent over the dead woman, I understood what it was all about, what the woman had been searching for, what Blanes had drunkenly been trying to find out the night before on stage and seemed to be searching for even now, walking back and forth with the haste of a madman: I understood it all clearly, as if it were one of those things that one learns once and for all as a child, something that words can never explain.”

That’s my thesis, right there. Fairy tales. Stories. Death. Truth. Understanding. Ritual. Meaning. Knowledge. And at the end of it all, what Wilhelm Grimm called the Unerforschtes, the unexplorable that is at the origin and center of every story, significantly and emphatically different from the unexplored: “like something unexplored and mysterious that remained hidden in the darkness.”

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Filed under centers, death, Onetti, Rio Plata, thesis

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