The killer flies of luxor

Por Armando de Armas

Con la novela póstuma The killer flies of luxor, Penny-a-Page Press, Clearwater, 2023, el actor, pintor, cineasta, escultor, fotógrafo y ensayista Agustín Blazquez nos muestra la aventura vivencial de su alter ego por vía del mítico viaje del héroe, quien tiene que escapar de la dictadura cubana a comienzos de la década de 1960 y que, una vez arribado a EEUU como presunta tierra de promisión, se ve enfrentado a los mismos fantasmas de la censura que esperaba haber dejado atrás para siempre en su isla. De modo que la metafísica frase de los ateos Carlos Marx y Federico Engels de Un fantasma recorre Europa, al comienzo del Manifiesto comunista, la viene a constatar el protagonista en carne propia como multiplicidad fantasmal no ya en Europa sino en el mundo.

Agustin Blazquez was born in Cardenas, Cuba. He left the island on July 18, 1965, and lived in Montreal, Paris and Madrid before arriving in the U.S. in 1967. In the U.S. he acted in America’s Most Wanted as drug dealer in 1989, an later did the English voice-over of King Juan Carlos of Spain and Jordi Pujol, guitarist from Barcelona, for Maryland Public Television series, The Immigrants.

Cual ocurre en todo viaje iniciático, el héroe en The killer flies of luxor pasa por las más disímiles y duras pruebas con objeto de ascender a planos superiores de la existencia, usando así el arte en las diversas manifestaciones que domina en una suerte de ritualística para revivir el mito de las ancestrales eras, expresado como posibilidad presente.

Durante el transcurso de la trama, el autor nos lleva consigo en un viaje a Egipto, invitado por el Gobierno de ese país, pero también al angustioso viaje en que escapa de la isla cárcel y, tan importantes como estos dos, a un constante viajar al país de los sueños y las fantasías, por lo que estamos así no sólo ante una novela autobiográfica sino también onírica, y a un constante ir y venir entre el pasado y el presente. Una confusa madeja de transposiciones espaciotemporales que nos dejan una muy clara visión de quien fue como hombre y como artista Agustin Blazquez y un fiel retrato de la convulsa e ideologizada época que le tocó vivir.

La obra usa con eficacia recursos de las radio novelas, tan populares en la Cuba anterior al castrismo, junto con un derroche de ingenio al entremezclar escenas de la trama que narra con escenas del cine norteamericano más emblemático. Un conocimiento que se ofrece al lector atento sin pedantería y con un fino humor que por ratos puede ser macabro, sin dejar de ser acertado.

The killer flies of luxor es una obra realista y surrealista al mismo tiempo, con elementos de la crítica social y política, el thriller, la tesis y el serial de aventuras. Por otro lado, su lectura nos sumerge también en la intríngulis de discriminación, ninguneo, trampas y estafas con las que se vapulea al creador latino que intente insertarse en los grandes circuitos del mercado del arte norteamericano sin la prevención de presentarse disfrazado con un poncho, una quena, una pipa y un pullover adornado con el adusto rostro del Che Guevara.

No obstante, luego de una accidentada y exitosa exposición en Washington sobre tumbas y rostros del Egipto faraónico, el protagonista es invitado por el Gobierno del país del Sahara a un viaje a su territorio, donde a pesar de la desorganización y los desencuentros, a veces hilarantes, el artista y su arte son tratados con el respeto y el reconocimiento que hubiese esperado recibir en EEUU. En Egipto el héroe experimenta el clímax de su viaje iniciático-vivencial, ante el polvo del Sahara y la visión imponente de las pirámides, y entonces tiene la certeza extrasensorial de haber vivido durante existencias anteriores en el milenario Imperio del Nilo. De suerte que el leitmotiv del regreso victorioso del héroe a sus predios natales -tras vagar por el mundo en innombrables aventuras- se produce en la tierra de los faraones y no en Cuba.

The killer flies of luxor es una novela testimonial que atrapara al lector con firme garra desde sus primeras páginas para así llevarlo sin remisión a un entretenido recorrido por buena parte de lo que fue la historia artística y política de la segunda mitad del siglo XX.     

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By Armando de Armas

With the posthumous novel «The Killer Flies of Luxor,» Penny-a-Page Press, Clearwater, 2023, the actor, painter, filmmaker, sculptor, photographer, and essayist Agustín Blazquez shows us the experiential adventure of his alter ego through the mythical hero’s journey. This journey involves escaping from the Cuban dictatorship in the early 1960s and, upon arriving in the United States as a presumed promised land, confronting the same ghosts of censorship that he hoped to have left behind forever on his island. Thus, the metaphysical phrase of the atheist duo Carlos Marx and Federico Engels, «A specter is haunting Europe,» at the beginning of the Communist Manifesto, is confirmed by the protagonist in the flesh, experiencing it not only in Europe but throughout the world.

Agustín Blazquez was born in Cárdenas, Cuba. He left the island on July 18, 1965, and lived in Montreal, Paris, and Madrid before arriving in the U.S. in 1967. In the U.S., he played the role of a drug dealer in the television series «America’s Most Wanted» in 1989. Later, he provided the English voice-over for King Juan Carlos of Spain and Jordi Pujol, a guitarist from Barcelona, in the Maryland Public Television series «The Immigrants.»

Just as in every initiatory journey, the hero in «The Killer Flies of Luxor» undergoes the most varied and challenging tests in order to ascend to higher planes of existence. In doing so, he employs art in its various forms, dominating them in a kind of ritualistic manner to revive the myth of ancient eras, expressed as a present possibility.

Throughout the course of the plot, the author takes us with him on a journey to Egypt, invited by the government of that country. However, equally significant are the harrowing trips in which he escapes from the prison island and the constant travels to the land of dreams and fantasies. Thus, we are not only faced with an autobiographical novel but also a dreamlike one, and a constant oscillation between the past and the present. A confusing web of space-time transpositions leaves us with a very clear vision of who Agustin Blazquez was as a man and as an artist, providing a faithful portrait of the tumultuous and ideologically charged era in which he lived.

The work effectively employs resources from radio dramas, which were popular in pre-Castro Cuba, along with a display of ingenuity by interweaving scenes from the narrative with scenes from iconic American cinema. This knowledge is presented to the attentive reader without pretentiousness and with a subtle humor that, at times, may be macabre but remains apt.

«The Killer Flies of Luxor» is a work that is both realistic and surrealistic, incorporating elements of social and political critique, thriller, thesis, and adventure serial. On the other hand, its reading also immerses us in the intricacies of discrimination, belittlement, traps, and scams that Latin creators face when attempting to integrate into the major circuits of the American art market. This occurs particularly when they fail to present themselves appropriately, avoiding stereotypes such as wearing a poncho, playing a quena, smoking a pipe, and donning a pullover adorned with the stern face of Che Guevara.

However, after a tumultuous and successful exhibition in Washington featuring tombs and faces of pharaonic Egypt, the protagonist is invited by the government of the Sahara region to a journey into their territory. Despite the disorganization and sometimes amusing miscommunications, the artist and his art are treated with the respect and recognition that he might have expected to receive in the United States. In Egypt, the hero experiences the climactic moment of his initiatory-experiential journey amid the Sahara dust and the imposing sight of the pyramids. It is at this point that he has an extrasensory certainty of having lived in previous existences in the millennia-old Nile Empire. Consequently, the leitmotif of the hero’s triumphant return to his native lands—after wandering the world in countless adventures—occurs in the land of the pharaohs and not in Cuba.

«The Killer Flies of Luxor» is a testimonial novel that captivates the reader with a firm grip from its early pages, leading them inexorably on an engaging journey through much of the artistic and political history of the second half of the 20th century.

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