The Importance of Being Called an Idiot

Mario Vargas Llosa

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¿ Cómo definimos la idiotez ideológica? (Spanish)

The Importance of Being Called an Idiot


Jorge Majfud

 

A few days ago a gentleman recommended that I read a new book about idiocy.  I  believe it was called The Return of the Idiot, The Idiot Returns, or something like that.  I told him that I had read a similar book ten years ago, titled Manual for the Perfect Latinamerican Idiot.

“What did you think?” the man asked me narrowing his eyes, kind of scrutinizing my reaction, kind of measuring the time it took me to respond.  I always take a few seconds to respond.  I also like to observe the things around me, take a healthy distance, control the temptation to exercise my freedom and, kindly, go after the guy.

“What did I think?  Entertaining.  A famous writer who uses his fists against his colleagues as his principal dialectical weapon when he has them within reach, said that it was a book with a lot of humor, edifying… I would not say so much.  Entertaining is sufficient.  Clearly there are better books.”

“Yes, that was the father of one of the authors, the Nobel Vargas Llosa.”

“Mario, he is still called Mario.”

“Fine, but what did you think about the book?” he insisted anxiously.

Perhaps he was not so interested in my opinion as he was in his own.

“Someone asked me the same question ten years ago”, I recalled.  “I thought it deserved to be a best seller.”

“That’s what I said.  And it was, it was; in effect, it was a best seller.  You realized that pretty quick, like me.

“It wasn’t so difficult.  In the first place, it was written by experts on the topic.”

“Undoubtedly”, he interrupted, with contagious enthusiasm.

“Who better to write about idiocy, am I right?  Second, the authors are staunch defenders of the market, above all else.  I sell, I consume, therefore I am.  What other  merit could they have but to turn a book into a sales success?  If it were an excellent book with limited sales it would be a contradiction.  I suppose that for the publisher it’s also not a contradiction that they have sold so many books on the Idiot Continent, right?  In the intelligent and successful countries it did not have the same reception.”

For some reason the man in the red tie sensed some doubts on my part about the virtues of his favorite books.  That meant, for him, a declaration of war or something of the kind.  I made a friendly gesture to bid farewell, but he did not allow me to place my hand on his shoulder.

“You must be one of those who defend those idiotic ideas of which those books speak.  It is incredible that a cultured and educated man like yourself could uphold those stupidities.”

“Could it be that too much studying and researching cause damage?” I asked.

“No, studying doesn’t do damage, of course not.  The problem is that you are separated from reality, you don’t know what it is to live like a construction worker or business manager, like us.”

“Nonetheless, there are construction workers and business managers who think radically differently from you.  Might there not be another factor?  That is, for example, could it be that those who have ideas like yours are more intelligent?”

“Ah, yes, that must be…”

His euphoria had reached climax.  I was going to leave him with that little vanity, but I couldn’t contain myself.  I thought out loud:

“It’s quite strange.  The most intelligent people don’t need idiots like me to realize such obvious things, no?”

“Negative, sir. Negative.”

 

Translated by Bruce Campbell

 

 

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Un pensamiento en “The Importance of Being Called an Idiot

  1. Pingback: ¿Cómo definimos la idiotez ideológica y quiénes pueden hacerlo? « Escritos Críticos

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