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Get well soon!

5 April 2010

One of the great things about Latin American culture is that intellectuals and writers are taken seriously.  When Carlos Monsiváis went into intensive therapy for a breathing problem, it was national news.  As is the very good news that he is on the way to recovery.

Someone once said that if there was a Nobel Prize for Readers, Monsiváis would be the hands-down winner.  Erudite and ironic, the septugenian writer belies his gentle image as an eccentric ivory-towered intellectual living with a houseful of books and cats. He reads everything and has something to say about what he reads, but regularly ventures forth (until his recent illness) to hang with the punkers and skaters and emos and Zapatistas reporting with wit and irony on the endurance and changeability of Mexican culture and thought.

His immense curiosity and boundless energy in his explorations of Mexican folk-ways led him to collect… well, everything.  Algabría, a wonderfully impossible to define magazine (sort of a “Readers’ Digest” for intellectuals and linguists) — in a recent article on the Collyer brothers (reclusive New Yorkers killed in 1949 when they were buried under piles of stuff they’d collected in 1949) in a sidebar about obsessive-compulsive collectors, coined a new disease: “Monsiváis’ Disorder” — defined as

… while not pathological, is marked by a drive to accumulate all manner of accessories, whether artensanías, oil paintings, miniatures, models, sculptures, photographs, furniture, books, et centera, to the point where it doesn’t fit in your house, and  just becomes part of a museum collection.

The Museo del Estanquillo being the collection in question.

As with most Latin intellectuals, he is of course, from the left end of the political spectrum, an important figure in any major political event.  At demonstrations, if Monsiváis is front and center (as he often is), attention must be paid.  And has been.

The author of more than fifty books, Monsivaís is a television personality — something you don’t find authors becoming elsewhere.  One of Mexico City’s most recognizable residents, he is well-liked and well-respected not as a celebrity, but as a regular guy who has his breakfast at the Sandborn’s around the corner from his house, is an appreciated customer at weekend tianguis and who has been spotted in Metro stations handing out free books to passengers — bothered by statistics showing Mexicans read few books, he took it on himself to do something to correct the situation, convincing his fellow authors, and the Federal District, to try and change that.

We need him back and on his feet.  Get well, Carlos.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Omar Garcia permalink
    28 April 2010 12:02 pm

    Ojala que se recupere el buen Monsi. Es todo un ejemplo.

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