Saturday, January 21, 2012

(ENG) Chapter 7 Horacio Kalibang

Para los lectores de español:
Si desea leer el texto original "Horacio Kalibang o los autómatas" por Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg  en español, puede descargar el archivo PDF, haga clic en "ciencia ficción" en la página principal.  

Note to English speaking readers: this is the final installment of Horacio Kalibang o Los Automatas.  To read this from the start go to:

Some time later, the house of the burgomeister Hipknock was full of people, to celebrate a grand day of family.

The now captain Hermann Blagerdorff was joining his destinies to those of the señorita Luisa Hipknock.

It was very natural.

They had read Werther and loved each other.

When two young Germans or any other nationality are in love, even if they have read Werther or not, get married or don’t get married: only, yes, it should be noted that: when getting married, they never wonder if they are automata or not.

"Everyone has come, except Fritz. Where could Fritz be?" asked the burgomeister, making a gesture of displeasure.

When they sat around the table, Hipknock, still standing, said in a solemn tone:

"My friends! Permit me a question: Among you, is anyone an automata? Tell me, please."

They all looked at each other: some because they did not know what an automaton was, others because they knew all too much.

"And Fritz? Why has Fritz not come?"

No one knew.

Horacio Kalibang entered with the desserts, and gave the burgomeister a letter from Fritz.

It read as follows:

"My dear cousin, burgomeister Hipknock.
Hermann has anticipated me in the heart of Luisa -no matter- I have her automaton, who will love me perpetually, with neither change or replacement, because my love will be indelibly etched in the sincerest responses from her springs. May they be happy in their vows, those will be my wishes. I have accompanied you as an automaton during the night (on which), meeting in your home, we celebrated the birthday of Luisa; as automaton I have gone with you, the next day, to the party of Oscar Baum. Oscar Baum is I, do not be frightened, cousin. You already know that Horacio Kalibang is also an automaton. When Luisa has children, that human machine will teach them, with special methods, all that that they must know. I send Horacio Kalibang for her: a wedding gift. Although in human form, Kalibang is a book. He is the only being who can be trusted.  I am old, noble, and rich enough, for you to consider me powerful. You have been witness. I have the world in my hands, because I control it with my automata.

When, submerged into the tornado of politics, you find any person who is beyond what reason and conscience dictate to every honest can exclaim: it is an automaton!

When, submerged in the great battles of thought, your scientific opponent calls in his own support, the mysteries of the faith, you can is an automaton!

When you see a poet who paints for you what he does not feel, a speaker who flatters the people, a doctor who kills, a lawyer who lies, a warrior who flees, a patriot who cheats, an enlightened fanatic, and a sage who can say about each one of them: "It is an automaton!". Yes, Hipknock, yes, I have filled the world with the products of my factory.

Remember often, Oscar Baum, or if you like, your cousin Fritz. Persist in your ideas, they are the light of the future!

An embrace to all.

Upon reading this letter, tears streamed down the cheeks of the burgomeister. When his daughter Luisa, now the wife of Blagerdorff, said goodbye, he said these words in her ear:

"You will be happy, my daughter, because there is something great and noble that watches over you. You will have children if you obey, like everyone else, the organic automatism, I will be the most happy of grandfathers, since I am the most unfortunate of cousins. And when I have a grandchild, who will be my glory and my delight, I will know to tell him, and if I die, be certain to tell this to him: "My child, before spreading the aromas that flow from your heart, examine with care that it is not an automaton who holds the cup that receives them."

The reader will touch the other springs.

Monday, January 16, 2012

(ENG) Chapter 6: Horacio Kalibang

Para los lectores de español:
Si desea leer el texto original "Horacio Kalibang o los autómatas" por Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg  en español, puede descargar el archivo PDF, haga clic en "ciencia ficción" en la página principal. 


"A very good day, cousin" I said upon seeing Hipknock in his dining room, moments after. "What event motivates this call?"

"What event? Read this letter."

And handing me Baum's letter, I read it, pleasantly surprised, as my cousin had predicted: first, for the announcement of work so great, as to be the fabrication of a brain, and second, because I knew well that Horacio Kalibang was but an automaton. It was not possible to explain to myself, by the way, how this had happened to pass unnoticed by my cousin.

After lunch we talked long about the last discoveries of the physiologists, and we arrived to the following conclusion:  If Oscar Baum, in the opinion of many people, has undertaken a folly, for a few, it is not possible to deny that the probablities of success are in his favor.

At two in the afternoon, the burgomeister, who was accompanied by me, entered the house of Oscar Baum.

"Is Señor Baum at home?"  he asked of a tall individual who came out to receive us.

"Do come in, Señor Burgomeister"

"This was not supposed to be the response" said Hipknock. "There are two of us."

"Cousin, you do not see that this is an automaton?  This response proves, at least, that you were that you were expected alone."

"Then I'm blind, because I could not recognize that."

Upon entering the salon, a blond-haired individual with blue glasses rose from a chair, from which he was sitting, and addressing the burgomeister, he extended his hand to him.

"The Señor Burgomeister Hipknock?" he asked.

"At your service. Is this Señor Baum with whom I have the honor of speaking?"

"The honor is mine, sir, I have taken the liberty of inviting you because, before launching my work to the world, I desire to know the impression that it causes on you."

"Terrible, Señor Baum, terrible! Horacio Kalibang has completely produced in me the illusion of a live man, and if it weren’t for a special circumstance, he would still guard his mystery.

"Horacio Kalibang is the most imperfect of all of them, but he draws much attention because he walks off the center of gravity."

"Only  because of that?"

Señor Baum kept silent.

His eyes made a revolution in their orbits, his lips pressed together, his arms fell inert, while one of his legs, I know not with what movement of the spring, detached from his body and fell on the ground.

The burgomeister jumped in his seat.

For my part, I burst into laughter. My cousin had not realized that he was conversing with an automaton. The truth is he is already somewhat short-sighted.

"Donnerweter" said a voice in the next room, as if the anger had torn from him an unkind expression and opening a door, the burgomeister saw in front of him another individual, identical to the one that had just been deformed. It approached my cousin and said to him:

"Pardon me, Señor Burgomeister, for this second liberty that I have taken to have myself represented as an automaton, but no doubt you will pardon me, because the excellence of the work, quickly built, is a guarantee of my respect for you.

"You are forgiven."

"The mechanical, Señor Burgomeister, is a science without limits, whose principles can be applied not only to the ordinary constructions and interpretation of the heavens, but also to all the intimate phenomena of the material brain."

"It is my opinion"

"What is the brain but a grand machine whose exquisite springs move themselves under impulses a thousand times changed? What is the soul but the set of these mechanical functions? The physical-chemical action of the stimulation of blood, the nervous transmission, and the idea in its imponderable and intangible character, are but various states of the same matter, one and simple in substance, immortal and eternally indifferent, obeying the fatality of its permutations, that produces an infusion, a mushroom, a reptile, a tree, a man, and finally a thought."

"All this is very good, Señor Baum, but I want to see your automata because it is getting late. I am a materialist, and your words do not cause in me either fear or novelty."

Señor Baum got up to his feet, and directing himself to the door, called the servant.

"Notify the machine operators that the Señor Burgomeister wants the demonstrations to begin”

A moment later one of the walls of the chamber  rose up as a curtain, and we saw, in front of us, a huge room, in which nothing lacked: easels, pianos, flutes, pistols, swords, books, etc.

Señor Baum returned to take his seat.

"Music! Dance!"

"Fritz! You are coming out yourself as an automata!” the burgomeister said to me.

I smiled because even if it were true, my cousin did not know what was happening.

And so it was. One of the automaton, with a violoncello in its left hand and a chair in the right, sat in the middle of the salon, but what was most pleasing to my cousin was that its face and its body were my own portrait.

The musician executed with mastery a precious introduction, after which, a pianist accompanied it, so that we could not but applaud.

A third automaton approached the piano, and turning a page from the book, continued the music, adding the song, and so beautiful was the the piece that they executed that my cousindid not know how to express his admiration to Señor Baum, who remained silent.

The musicians retired.

In their place appeared two beautiful girls, who, in suits of illusion and garlands of flowers, danced with such grace and freedom to, "The Awakening of the Fairies", that invisible musicians produced, that I was tempted to throw myself in the middle of them to accompany them. They retired.

"Duel!" said Señor Baum.

Two young gallants entered into the salon, by opposite doors, and after greeting each other, crossed their swords, and then stopped for a moment.

"It is your destiny to die in my hands."

"Not so, for the wound is not true in your sword."

"Have you called me a coward?"

"Coward? you must not change my words!"

"I have said and I repeat: the wrath chokes you, anger blinds you!"

"Defend your chest."

"Ho! Hee! That in yours I sink my sword."

And disarming his adversary, with these words, he took the sword that had just fallen and cut off an ear.

"Enough! Enough!" exclaimed the burgomeister. "I can't permit this to continue. First blood!"
The automata stood up, and saluting us, withdrew arm in arm.

"Painting!" said Baum.

Two naked mannequins entered the studio.

One of them was carrying, in the hand, a color palette, brushes and [tiento? what is this painting tool? we don’t know the word in English -ss] and sitting at the easel which was ready, began to copy its companion, with all the precision of a consummate artist. Having finished the painting, it left the studio.

"If these are automata, it is necessary to confess that they are no different than us" said Hipknock.

"If the esteemed burgomeister will permit me" observed Baum, "I would like to reverse the proposition."

I will not tire my readers with the enumeration of the different pictures that were presented to us: battles, parliaments, academia, walks, dances, love scenes, mystical pictures. All were presented for our admiration, with the truly special tint, that only is of the great works of the masters.           

We were close to retiring.  The burgomeister, smiling with pleasure, more for finding a kind of confirmation to the theory of the unconsciousness of his friend Hartmann, than for that which he had witnessed,  said to Baum:

"But I observe, there was lacking a picture of family"

"If the Señor burgomeister would allow, his very own family would appear immediately.”

"As you like"

And giving a nod, the salon began to fill with automata that, sitting around the table, developed, before the static eyes of the burgomeister, the very same scene from the previous night with the same movements and the same words used in the discussion about Horacio, who a moment later entered, and pronounced the words that everyone had heard from him.

My cousin could not help but laugh out loud when seeing his own automaton make a gesture of horror, upon the entrance of Kalibang, and raising his glance to the automaton of Luisa, he said:

"But I observe, Señor Baum, that my daughter looks too much at Lieutenant Blagerdorff, my nephew. "

"The Señor burgomeister also will notice that his nephew pays with no counterfeit money".

"But that.."

"They would cease to be automatas, Señor burgomeister, if they altered a single pass."

The burgomeister stood, perhaps to show to Señor Baum his indignation, in a positive manner, when he began to run to the table, and climbing over it, he broke off one of the arms and threw it over the head of the automaton of the burgomeister, who, irritated by this audacity, pronounced these words:

"Donnerweter! Ich habe ihn jetzt gefunden!"
This is what we are going to record on a sheet of gold, if the fabricator of the automatas says the truth: the same words that had been said in the same way, when he received Oscar Baum's letter.

A terrible scene then took place and my cousin understood that it was useless to fight with those ferocious mannequins, he said to me:

"Fritz, we must leave, since we do not know how far it is possible for the ability of these fanatics can get. Here we remain, fighting each other in a grand battle. If they are the automata, or if we are, I do not know, but I assure you that they sing, they dance, they yell, they know, and they battle with such skill, that seems more natural than of springs.”

And then we were retreating, when an automaton, taller and stronger than the others, approached the table and yelled:

"Enough, señores! I am the strongest and I am right: if any of you denies this, I will break his skull, even though he is right.  I am not only the most automaton, I am all of humanity, and when humanity speaks with strength, Reason is the most despicable of childrens' toys."

That automaton was a beast...but if it was an automaton!

Calm reigned in the salon.

"Now, esteemed burgomeister Hipknock, do you have any doubts with respect to the ability of our conductor?" he asked.

"None, Señor, none."

"Do you have any questions to ask?"

"Oh, yes! Has it been long since these automata were made?"

"Much time!”

"And they are all here?"

"No there are a few thousand of them who are rolling around the world. When they run out of what you call the rope, and that which our conductor calls his ability, they will return to receive new strength, and then, Señor burgomeister, and then...good night."

My cousin and I looked at each other. It was logical.

Then..then..we retired, pleased by the wonders that we had witnessed, and terribly displeased with these thoughts:

"Could Fritz be an automaton?"  -said the burgomeister.

"Could the burgomeister be an automaton?" -said I.

Upon arriving at the home of the first, I bade him farewell.

"You will not join us to eat, Fritz?"

But I was already far away.

Note to readers: to continue reading, go here.

(ENG) Chapter 5 Horacio Kalibang

Para los lectores de español:
Si desea leer el texto original "Horacio Kalibang o los autómatas" por Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg  en español, puede descargar el archivo PDF, haga clic en "ciencia ficción" en la página principal. 

The burgomeister had just gotten up.
The veil of uncertainty had disappeared from his face, which was already cheerful.
"Hum! He is skilled, the artist. Let’s see  what he is up to."
And at that moment, as if the circumstances came together to satisfy his curiosity, a servant entered in the room, bringing a letter.

Hipknock opened the envelope and read:

"Señor burgomeister Hipknock:
I have been established in this town, for the past two days, with the purpose of working more quietly than in Berlin. I take the liberty to invite you at two in the afternoon, to this house, Avenue X, where I hope you will honor me by seeing my work.

A manufacturor of automata for some years, the latest discoveries of Edison have hurt my national pride, stimulating me to direct my research to an ultimate direction: I am on the eve of making a brain that functions by itself.

Knowing, as I do, the philosophical ideas and wisdom of the esteemed burgomeister, I believed that there was no one better to give a judgement on some of my work.

I greet the esteemed burgomeister with the highest consideration.

Oscar Baum
Creator of automata."

"Hello, Señor Baum! So you were the stranger last night, eh? Very well, we will see your automata. And Kasper will have gotten away with it? And what will be my nephew the lieutenent say when he finds out?”

Directing himself to the servant, he told him:

"Run to Fritz's house and tell him I wait for him for lunch; and also add that it is necessary to come even if he is dying."

The servant left and the burgomeister was left alone, delivered to his reflections, which, by the way, were not very favorable, of either the spiritualists, or the clergy.

"Donnerweter!"  he said, repeating the words that he had heard from Baum the previous evening. "Ich habe ihn jetzt gefunden"  This is what we will record on a plate of gold, if the fabricator of the automatas speaks the truth.

Note to readers: to continue reading click here.

(ENG) La Lucha con Texto (DOS)

Any decision about translation reveals the subjectivity of the translators, and this text is no exception as we labor through it and struggle with which synonyms to use..although we have both read Victorian literature, there is always a moment where you wonder if you have used the right word, or are following the author's intentions. In addition, with Horacio Kalibang there are so many twists and turns in the plot that it is really important to get things right. (no spoilers!). I can't even imagine translating Borges.

One reoccuring theme is the use of "pariente" to be "relative". The burgomeister is identified as "primo""pariente" and "tio" (Cousin, relative, Uncle). "Uncle" only appears twice in the edition we are translating, "Cousin" is much more common. Yet it is still hard to tell the exact relationship between the narrator (Fritz) and the burgomeister Hipknock.

The language is very formal, so in some cases, we have used "Señor" but in cases where it is redundant, we have added "esteemed". I can provide some examples in this posting at a later time.

Ana has been a great help in working out the intricacies of verb tenses!! This text is very subtle, formal, and in many instances, the characters talk around things, not directly, so working out the verb tenses is a challenge.

-sam smiley

Sunday, January 8, 2012

(ENG) Chapter 4: Horacio Kalibang

Para los lectores de español:
Si desea leer el texto original "Horacio Kalibang o los autómatas" por Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg  en español, puede descargar el archivo PDF, haga clic en "ciencia ficción" en la página principal.

The night was dark and a fine drizzle stroked the face of the passers-by.

Down the street of X..two individuals were walking in the direction of the Plaza de Federico el Grande.

Behind them, at a sufficient distance to not lose them in his sight, a man of a certain age was heading to the same plaza. Anybody, seeing him, would have said that he was indifferent to the two who preceded him; but a physiognomist would have known, on his face, all the signs that revealed the observer in observation. His fixed eyes, partly veiled by the eyebrows, the tight lips, as if he believed that his research could escape from him in indiscreet words. his head slightly inclined and from time to time, a convulsive movement of the fingers, in the beard, that could not express anything but what there really was.

Suddenly he stopped, turning away to avoid being seen, when he observed that those who preceded him, had just stopped.  One of them pulled with caution the hat from the head of the other, and placed it in one of his pockets, and bringing both hands to the face of the second, seemed to get something small from it, and examining it with care, burst out into a curse, that shook the observer.

"Donnerweter", he exclaimed. "Ich habe ihn jetzt gefunden" (Thunder and Lightning! I already found it).

Then he took from his pocket another small object, and placing it in the collar of his docile companion, he made the movement that would have made the winding of a clock. Completing the operation, he saved the presumed key.

Let us call the one who cursed Oscar Baum, and let us keep, in secret, for a moment, the name of the other.

A few steps, they stopped again.

Oscar Baum said something in the ear of his companion, and his companion responded:

"A very good evening, ladies and gentlemen"

The observor, hidden, jumped in the darkness.

But what he had not noticed was the one who had just spoken carried his body leaning forward in such a fashion that anybody passing by his side, would have lent a hand or an arm to prevent him from falling, if they hadn’t known who he was.

A new movement of Baum extracted these other words:

"Thank you; as I have no weight, any position is the same to me.""

"Horacio Kalibang!" murmured the observer. "Horacio Kalibang, I know that you are not more than an automaton!"  And satisfied by that observation, he changed course and walked toward his house.

The burgomeister Hipknock returned, the victor.

He already knew who Horacio Kalibang was.

Note to readers: To continue with the story, go here.

(ENG) Chapter 3: Horacio Kalibang

Para los lectores de español:
Si desea leer el texto original "Horacio Kalibang o los autómatas" por Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg  en español, puede descargar el archivo PDF, haga clic en "ciencia ficción" en la página principal.

For the readers to appreciate the conduct of my cousin, Hipknock, it is necessary that they permit me to paint his moral portrait in two brushstrokes.

The burgomeister is one of those men who follows with all of his soul the progress of materialism in Germany. He does not believe in God, nor in the devil, he has been excommunicated until the fifth generation, and ensures nothing is lost or gained by his descendents from this gift. He is a heretic, damned, a scoundrel, stupid, ignorant, and all that irrational indignation that it is possible to suggest to his enemies, that such blasphemies send him from the shadows of incognito.

But all of us who are closer with the burgomeister know that he has an incomparable character...I insist, he has a character that is the same in the presence of the Emperor and the presence of his friends.

Incapable of any indignity, he does good in all forms, and ensures, I don't know for what reason, that his greatest achievement is to have so many enemies, indeed, that he doesn’t even know them by sight. But instead, his friends are numerous, and the most sincere, as they do not need anything from him, nor he from them. If he attacks, he does it an uncovered face,  because he is not a coward, and if ever he praises, he never does it with gainful intent.  What he has said once, he has said because such was his opinion, and if he modifies it, it is for the force of reason, not for a whim.

He does not aspire to high posts, because he doesn't know what he would do in them; he understands that in the struggle for life every voluntary sacrifice demands a double reward, and since he is happy and content with what he has, his limit is in this. He would never say to the people gathered what was not his opinion, and would have a true disgust in having to say of the people what he hadn't said to the people. In none of the ceremonies in which he has taken the floor, he has never turned away from the center that revolves around his desire for humanity. "Work without rest," he says "is the scourge of tyrants. Work, and then you will be free and happy".  And when a friend has asked his opinion about the government, he has not hesitated to answer: "People shape their government. There is no more divine right than the people; the people have, then, a government that they want or they deserve. Since Providence is a myth, it is not concerned about any people. All forms of government are good, when the rulers are not fools, but there are congregations that prefer such rulers for screens for their machinations."

He does not love demolition when he doesn't know what to build on the formed ruins, or when it will not improve the situation.

Therefore, he has not wanted to take part, ever, in propagating any religious matter. He is a materialist, by the fate of the reasons, but he does not believe there exist any atheist people, nor that it should or may exist. "The scientific societies" he says "have the right to be the reason."  The people should only be the sentiment. For the sentiment, there is God, for the sentiment, there is the immortal soul.

Hipknock appears in many of the lists of members of illustrious corporations in Europe and America, this proves that his enemies are wrong. The sages who from time to time pass through the town visit him with pleasure, because he is illustrious, and what is more,  he is relentless to resolve a doubt. He attacks it in a thousand ways, compresses it, he studies it, he squeezes it, and in this combat, that on many occasions has been a sad waste of time to others, the burgomeister always comes out victorious. He will never square the circle, not because it or isn’t squarable, but because he is persuaded that it would waste his time, which he could better dedicate to his official obligations, to his family, whom he loves, or his scientific tasks.

In his language, in the bosom of privacy, he usually bites, but never wounds, because he cares, and when he cares, he is frank. "Frankness," he said one day to his friend, the old marshall, "is the canyon of the soul."  It is possible to be a charlatan, without being frank, the same way it is possible that one can be silent and indiscreet, or a charlaton and discreet. To speak a lot is not necessarily to say anything.

This, in a few words, my cousin, the burgomeister. The reader can follow, logically, the whole development of those fundamental ideas, intimately linked to form his character.

Now the reader will also understand why my cousin left the dining room in such a brusque manner. He was going to resolve a question. He was going.

Note to readers: to continue with the story, go here.

(ENG) Chapter 2: Horacio Kalibang

Para los lectores de español:
Si desea leer el texto original "Horacio Kalibang o los autómatas" por Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg  en español, puede descargar el archivo PDF, haga clic en "ciencia ficción" en la página principal.

Although there are ill-willed people who claim that my cousin and relative, the burgomeister Hipknock, carries this name due to the circumstances of one of his ancesters choking on a bone, in the time of Carlos V,  I argue that it is false, although I am not interested in demonstrating the opposite.

Luisa, the daughter of my cousin, is 15 years old today. She is a beautiful creature, “just like the most beautiful dolls made in Nuremburg”, my birth city. With this I have said everything. Her eyes of blue have the candor of unlimited innocence, her hair falls in golden curls to the side of her cheeks, pink with dawn, and fresh as a head of lettuce, and her lips, like cherries from the Black Forest, I do not know what memories they waken in the palate, to the extent that dampness shudders and slips down the angle to the right of the mouth.

Fifteen years! The most delicious age for a woman,
despite already having ripened this unconscious seed that we call the human heart, the head enjoys the most ethereal and divine emptiness.

Fifteen years! The age in which one thinks of nothing, failing to think of something else. And nevertheless, there is nothing to worry about after 20. Why? Unfathomable mysteries of the unconscious, that hardening of the bones.

Despite everything, the daughter of my cousin is not a mushroom. Her hands of cotton know how to make  muffins with syrup on the outside, and apple on the inside, so rich and so inviting, they honor the bone that was not swallowed by her father's ancester.

To celebrate his birthday, the burgomeister has gathered a crowd with a good appetite. He believes, like me, that the modern table has many tricks and little juice; that there is no wine like Rhine, and the ham is excellent when it is not bad quality. So, upon entering the dining room, I paused for a moment on the threshold, to observe the tableaux that the family and friends presented.

At the head of the table was seated my cousin, at his right, Luisa, dressed in white, with blue ties.  In the front of her, her cousin Hermann, who looked at her with all the ferocity of a lieutenant in love, with the consent of Marshall Vogelplatz, who was sitting next to Luisa, and wishing to commune with the lieutenant.

The marshal is a tremendous personage: His nose is the color and temperature of the setting sun, and in the belly, all the dimensions of a well educated elephant. He swallows like a palmiped and drinks like a whirlwind. Captain Hartz, the village pastor, Kasper (secretary of the burgomeister) and his wife, the schoolmaster, and the director of the nearby military encampment, with his wife, and in front of the owner of the house, his is the brilliant whole, gathered at the house of the burgomeister.

My seat has not been occupied, and I manage to not have anyone move from their seats, by quickly taking mine.

"Come on, Fritz" my cousin says to me, smiling with a mocking air. "Finally, eh? I believed you would keep  scratching miserably at the infamous cello, that gives you every appearance of a sentimental toad, when you sit at my side"

"It's understood, cousin, that you insist on hating music.”

"Stop the music, Fritz, the music does not mean anything. Look, this is the positive, the solid, that which can be well digested! And this! Pass me your cup, this is Liebfrauenmilch, the best Rhine label, the glory of Germany, glorifying our palates like the ones of the gods.

"Very good, indeed, but I see that I have interrupted an interesting conversation, perhaps, and I wouldn’t like to do that."

"Not so; it is one of the many preoccupations of my nephew."

"How so?"

"Just imagine, he is trying to convince me that a man can lose his center of gravity. Ha, Ha, Ha!"

"And why not? if he is placed, for example, at a location that neutralizes the attractions of the earth and the moon."

"Nor had I thought such a thing" interrupted the lieutenant Blagerdorff. "Do you know about Horacio Kalibang?"

"A character named very much like a figure from The Tempest by Shakespeare"

"This is going off on a tangent" observed the marshal, swallowing with ease an enormous bite. "Do you know about Horacio Kalibang, the man who has lost his center of gravity? Yes or no?"

"No, Señor Marshall, and neither do I expect to meet him."

"He is a prodigy of the fantasy of Hermann. Let's go! Cauliflower and meat!  You are an idiot, nephew!  Serve the marshall some wine. Luisa, my daughter, serve Mr. Marshall. Captain! Would you like to pass me this chicken,which  despite the action of the fire, jumps in the dish, as if it had also lost gravity? Fritz, drink, son, drink!"

"Thanks, cousin, I would not like to be like Horacio.."
"The Señor Kalibang!" interrupted one of the maids, entering into the room, frightened.

"Adelante! Adelante!" Come in, come in! exclaimed the burgomeister, getting to his feet, as we all were, and then dropping to a chair, as if a bullet had struck his lungs.

But that hadn't happened.

The personage who was presented in the scene was possibly 5 feet in height, or that is to say 1 meter 443 millimeters, and formed proportionally. His face was completely devoid of expression, and to see him one would say that he had just emerged from a mold at a mask factory. Not a single movement of the eyelids revealed the sensations that determined the change of light, or the variation of the images. His pupils didn’t move, they were like those portraits that are fixed to the front, causing dread in children who for the first time, see them.

They were the expression of the flat plane in relief.

"A very good evening, ladies and gentlemen" he said, looking simultaneously at everyone.

"Have a very excellent evening, Señor Kalibang"  babbled my cousin, the burgomeister, seeing the lips of the newcomer move in an identical manner to pronounce each one of the syllabus of those words; "Take your seat."

"Thank you; as I have no weight, any position is the same to me."

In that moment, there were only two faces that did not register the most profound terror; the lieutenant Blagerdorff, and that of Horacio Kalibang. The first shone with the light of victory; the second had been stamped by the eternal shadow of indifference. I do not count myself. Kalibang made a movement with the right arm, and instantly his body inclined in such a manner that the line of gravity fell half a meter away from his feet.

"Impossible!" exclaimed the burgomeister. "This is entirely outside the laws of physics!"

"Unless..." insinuated Kasper.

"What..what...unless you are such a fool as my nephew."


"Silence, Hermann" said Luisa, making a gesture that dominated the lieutenent.

"Unless.." repeated Kasper, "Señor Kalibang is hollow, or has feet of platinum."


"I think so, because having platinum at the specific weight of 21 can serve as a resistance to the body's gravity, in an inclination of this grade, causing the legs to have enough energy not to give."

"Do not say such a thing, Kasper..Señor Kalibang has declared, when we offered a seat, that because he lacks weight, any position is equal.”

"Ladies and Gentlemen, many good nights; you see I am not a myth"
And turning on one of his heels, Señor Kalibang retired, inclining in the same impossible manner.

The marshal had lost his appetite despite being his turn with the desserts, and the other guests as well, and except for Hermann and I, kept the most strange silence and stupid dread.

"Do you know what that is?" asked the lieutenant.

"Do I know it?  Of course! It is the most stupendous that can be seen; the most wondrous of all the phenomena: To lose gravity!"

I smiled.

"And what indifference to all opinions" said the burgomeister between his teeth.

"And what a look..!" added Luisa.

"It looked like an owl" said one.

"Two owls" insinuated another.

This prelude was not displeasing to me.  Like the birds who wake up each other, hidden by the leaves whispering at dawn, the owners of the house and their guests seemed to mutually encourage each other, after an instant of terror that had made a minute last as long as a century.

"I shall know who Horacio Kalibang is; meanwhile, Marshall, let’s finish what is almost over. Wine! Wine! Coffee! Hey, boys, do not sleep!"

  May the transparent wine sparkle in the cup
   May it spread the joy in torrents!

"Do you see, cousin, that there is no happiness without music? You yourself give the example"

"They are emotions, Fritz, emotions of another kind, that result in discordant notes. I do not know if you understand me, but you know that an excess of impressions must be transformed in some way. I sing, some laugh, others cry.."

"I tremble"

"I eat"

"I drink Rhine wine and love the music just because..goodness for its own sake ..the music for its own sake..What does the music mean? I don't know, it is not important for me to know. Wine sings and rejoices.”

"I look at Luisa.."

"But the lieutenant does not escape my glance."  added the marshall, his face flashing a burning twilight.

  The greater punishments,
   the deep groans,
   the grieving breasts,
   cured, fall silent, erased in wine.




"Horacio Kalibang! Another! Encore! The man who has lost his gravity..Hey! You are all fools!"

And taking the hat and the stick, the burgomeister left abruptly from the dining room.

One moment later, I left also, thinking that it is not necessary to be called Horacio Kalibang to lose gravity.

Note to readers: to continue with the story, go here.