Issue - March 2009



March 2009

Editorial

Inside this edition: Sara Vinci give us an interview with Ramon Rocha Monroy; Christina Moore climbs the Bibliobus proposal in an article; Rebecca Wearmouth gives an view about 'An Inconvenient Truth' movie; the Bolivian Scare Crow by Arnold Brouwer; and finally Walter Sanchez tell us about Graphic historyread more...

March 2009

Ramon Rocha Monroy

writes every day for Cochabamba’s newspaper, Los Tiempos, using the pseudonym “Ojo de Vidrio”. He has written many novels, especially about Bolivia’s past, using a combination of historical fact and his own creativity.

Sara Vinci
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Milano Italy

Cocha-banner: You are also known as Ojo de vidrio (glass eye). What does this name mean?

Ramón Rocha Monroy: Originally it was the name of my column in Los Tiempos where every day I expressed a different perception of reality, as though through a lens. Eventually it became the signature for most of my work. Ojo de vidrio is a play on the idea of watching; there are always a lot of things you do not notice every day and the glass of a lens helps you not to miss the details that comprise daily life.

CB: In novels such as “La Casilla vacía”, “Potosí 1600” and “¡Qué solo se quedan los muertos!” you celebrate the nation’s past by investigating some of the most important people who made Bolivia’s history. In what way does memory influence the present?

RRM: The memory is composed of fragments which are difficult to connect, and seeking out these pieces is melancholy work. Constructing the past is like making a parody. What would the people who lived in Potosí in the 1600s think about my book? They would probably feel angry because I always introduce something very individual in my novels. I like to mix real elements with fiction. In Potosí, for example, I depict two characters, Dolorosa and Gostosa, who are fictitious Portuguese prostitutes, but are linked with a tradition of Potosí from which the Calle de las Portugueses is derived; in the novel, they are singing a contemporary song. The present and the past, the reality and the creation are linked to each other.

CB: In the blog La Republica de Harmonia you imagine a society where love and nourishment are valued the most. How can these two elements work together for the joy of mankind?

RRM: Every kind of Utopia is a deliverance from the constrictions of rationality; it is a dream of liberation through following instincts. There was a utopist who formulated a model where love and nourishment are the only priorities: Charles Fourier. These values are so essential that they should not be left to the whims of the people. Love and healthy nutrition are needed to achieve wellbeing and collaborate to the construction of a harmonious society. For example, this author imagined the wars of the future as wars of cooks. Now it is easier to create utopias; with virtual reality we can play with our appearance and make ourselves into a perfect-looking human being. Flying men and women populate my Republic of Harmony. I have imagined the evolution of the human body with all its consequences on society and the environment, such as new architecture, new food and different customs. These ideas are dreams that I like to share with readers who may be far away, through my blogs.

RRM: In my opinion virtual technologies are the greatest example of communism. These societies imagined and realized through the internet have neither owners nor proprietors; they are free from economic and political powers. Through my blogs I communicate with people that I would never have thought to speak with. When I think of how far reaching I can be it is like the realization of a utopia of communication. But book writing remains: the use of virtual technologies must ultimately serve writing and reading. Future generations will use more advanced technologies, blogs will have more images and everything will be more suggestive. Going backwards now would be impossible; we can not give up on these forms of communication now.

CB: In your work you frequently use a sense of irony. Tell me about this technique.

RRM: Irony is another source of release but it is a source that we use rarely. We have a deficit of love and caresses; we do not caress each other and we avoid taking care of each other. The more “democratic” sense is the view that if you experience what you desire through reading, you move towards it in reality. We also have a deficit of humor because we take things too seriously. Life, after all, is not such a serious matter.

CB: You said in a recent article that Bolivia lacks a strong literary identification. What do you think about the contemporary cultural situation?

RRM: We are a complete country. We do not have a one single language only, but a big accumulation of languages and cultures. One is included in the other. We are like a province where the predominant language is Spanish, but we also have Quecha and Aymara, which besides being languages are singular cultures, and it is difficult to raise a communication between them. However this is also limited by our own originality and strength.

CB: Your last book “¡Qué solo se quedan los muertos!” is a novel about the life of Antonio José de Sucre, the hero of Ayacucho. What are you working on now?

RRM: I do not have time to write a novel now. I am dedicating myself to shorter texts. I am also working as script writer; films represent another type of poetry, the poetry of images. Playing with words can lead to the loss of meaning, but with cinema you do not lose a single image. Another idea may be to write a biography; people frequently suggest this to me as they think it would come naturally to me.

Because the children are our future

From the modest description I had received, I expected to find a tiny taxi-trufi with a handful of books. Instead I was greeted by a charming and shiny ex-micro-trufi, already converted and ready for its new life as a Bibliobús. Hanging on the outside of the door are rows of plastic wallets, displaying an inviting selection of colourful books to entice book-lovers (and even those that feel ambivalent) inside for more.

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