Why Ansky Papers?


  • That’s a pretty story,” said Afanasievna as she let go of Ansky’s genitals. “A pity I’m too old and have seen too much to believe it.”
  • It has nothing to do with belief,” said Ansky. “It has to do with understanding, and then changing.

 2666, Roberto Bolaño (Author), Natasha Wimmer (Translator), Picador, 2009


SYNTHESISAlbeit found by chance, the above passage contains a statement that could well summarise the purpose of this blog, the shape this project takes in its first stage: understanding and then changing.


The excerpt quoted above, and specifically its final part in the form of a statement, but as a hook, as bait, was what made me think of a name that was completely removed from the well-worn or distressing terms which have been considered to date to name the matter at hand (resilience, grok circle, holarchy, discernment, agile, transition, pattern, etc.).

In the summer of 2013 I was in that search, not in a focussed or exclusive way but certainly recurrently, jotting down random ideas on bits of paper, immersing myself in notes in old notebooks, underlined books, websites and conversations.

I also spent that summer reading 2666, a book that took up the best part of August for me. I remember its clear beginning, the slow decline in the endless anguish of the fourth section (The Part About the Crimes) and its bright ending. I also remember the author’s certain and resolute tone throughout the entire work.

And on page 895 (Spanish version of the book) was the paragraph quoted above, and re-reading it for the second or third time, trying out its sound, its meaning separated from the overall story, it suggested to me something as surprising as Ansky Papers, papers that actually appear in the book and whose author is the same as the one who ends with the celebrated statement; but why?

  • Because a priori, it is a name that says nothing and does not condition like any of the bombastic terms I tried to combine above.
  • Because the scene that inspired it, separated from the rest of the story, contains disturbing elements (Who are the characters? Which story does it refer to? Why does Afnasievna have her hand on Ansky’s genitals and then takes it away? etc. ) which convey a degree of tension to the reader and it also ends with Ansky’s sentence, giving meaning to the entire passage. And perhaps because in the end, we are only talking about understanding and changing.
  • Because after his untimely death, Bolaño has become a cult author. Including him here gives the blog a supposedly “cool air”, a wink within the wink, a very Bolaño-like game. Moreover, the ‘cult’ concept indicates loosely structured but strong relationships, diffuse but effective dynamics, and this is something which may also relate to what I am looking to address here.
  • Because the search, any search, is open. Searching as an attitude, even though you do not really know what you are going to find.

All right, but what is Ansky Papers?