Excerpt: 'From the Observatory' by Julio Cortázar


From AGNI:

Professor Maurice Fontaine, of the French Academy of Sciences, thinks that the magnet of the fresh water that desperately attracts the elvers, obliging them to commit suicide in their millions in the sluicegates and nets so the rest can pass and arrive, originates in a reaction of their neuroendocrine system to the weight loss and dehydration that accompanies the metamorphosis from leptocephali into elvers. Lovely is the science, sweet the words that follow the course of the elvers and tell us their saga, lovely and sweet and hypnotic like the silvery terraces of Jaipur where an astronomer in his day wielded a vocabulary just as lovely and sweet to conjure the unnameable and pour it onto soothing parchments, inheritance for the species, school lesson, barbiturate for essential insomniacs, and comes the day when the elvers have entered into the deepest depths of their hydrographic copulation, planetary spermatozoa already inside the egg of the high pools, in the ponds where the rivers settle down and dream, and the winding phalluses of the vital night calm down, bed down, the black columns lose their lithe erection advancing and probing, the individuals are born of themselves, separate off from the common serpent, feel their own way and at their own risk along the dangerous edges of ponds, of life; the time begins, no one can know when, of the yellow eel, the youth of the species in its conquered territory, the finally friendly water compliantly encircling the bodies at rest there.

…Read more