By Cesar Aira

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Well, yes . . In a way, he was. The actor continued being the actor while he was playing the character; one could even say that he was more himself than ever, for he was practicing his profession and justifying his existence beyond the good life he led in Beverly Hills, with his divorces and adulteries and consumption of drugs. But a fundamental difference persisted, or better said, emerged. Though fundamental, it was impalpable, perhaps taken for granted with excessive levity. It was “impalpable” (a metaphor I apologized for using and that I would try to improve upon) because it could be perceived only in the stories and not in the beings that enact them — in the movement of the story itself, not in any one of its moments.

Knowing does not occupy much room: information about actors or singers does not take space away from Plato or Nietzsche. I’ve always distrusted those intellectuals who have never heard of the Rolling Stones. My friend and I saw eye to eye on this; just a few minutes earlier, he had talked knowledgeably about the “star system,” by way of example. Our actor did not travel directly there. He stopped off in Paris, where he met with his co-star and the producers, and together they gave a press conference to announce the project.

To a certain extent it was understandable, given the complexity of a movie production of that size. The night scene shot on the mountainside with a dead goat; the crew measuring the light levels, the angles; making sure the cameras were functioning; the various scenes being filmed discontinuously . . The actor, who’d completely forgotten about his watch, was focused on the action, on showing his own best angle . . Anyway, that’s what had happened, there was nothing more to say about it. To my surprise, my friend remained unconvinced.

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The Conversations by Cesar Aira


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