This is the website of Jonathan Pritchard-Barrett, a copywriter and content manager. Here I’m gradually posting various things I’ve written. In a while I might add a blog too.
What’s all this ‘Ecstatic Gaucho’ business then?
This particular gaucho is found in the Jorge Luis Borges story The South (El Sur, in Spanish) which itself is in the short story collection Fictions (Ficciones). Borges thought the story was ‘perhaps’ his best, and it is certainly a good place to start for anyone unfamiliar with his really exceptional writing. You can read a version here.
The South tells the story of an Argentinian library administrator, Juan Dahlmann, who gets ill and on recovering takes the train to visit the dilapidated family farm in the vast empty south of the country. Alighting at a small rural station, he is challenged to a knife fight by some local toughs. As he is unarmed, a wizened old local – the ecstatic gaucho, in fact – throws him a knife. He picks it up, knowing that this action means he – a weedy book lover – has accepted the challenge and will most probably die in the fight; this fact does not perturb Dahlmann however. In fact, the opposite is the case.
“They went out and if Dahlmann was without hope, he was also without fear. As he crossed the threshold, he felt that to die in a knife fight, under the open sky, and going forward to the attack, would have been a liberation, a joy, and a festive occasion, on the first night in the sanitarium, when they stuck him with the needle. He felt that if he had been able to choose, then, or to dream his death, this would have been the death he would have chosen or dreamt.”
I suppose, those three sentences struck some sort of a cord. Not of course that I am planning on walking out to my doom any time soon, or even considering getting into a knife fight. It’s just that I like the paragraph as a motto for the living, for life.
What is the gaucho so happy about then?
He’s not happy, he’s ecstatic. The two are different. Borges describes him as being small, desiccated and insignificant to the point of being absent from the world. The gaucho like a sage – in but not of the world.
Borges also describes the gaucho as being a “cipher of the South (his [Dahlmann’s] South)”. So, what is the South, or at least Dahlmann’s notions of it? It is the place where his ancestors lived and came to stand for romantic ideals of courage and romantic death. But most importantly he is an agent of fate – the man that gives Dahlmann the dagger that ensures his end.
Why did I buy this domain name?
Well, it was 16 years ago and I liked it. I hope that is clear.