18 June 2009

First Infrarealist Manifesto, English

Update: Since its first publication in 2009, this translation has undergone several minor changes.  To those who have reproduced this text elsewhere on the Internet, I recommend updating it to reflect these changes. (5 April, 2013)

Inspired by Roberto Bolaño's novel The Savage Detectives, and disappointed that I couldn't find one pre-existing, I have attempted a translation of the First Infrarealist Manifesto into English. The original can be found here.

See also an interview with Mario Santiago Papasquiaro, co-founder of Infrarealism.

infrarealism, infrarrealismo, roberto bolaño, mario santiago papasquiaro


first infrarealist manifesto

“It is four light-hours to the end of the solar system; to the nearest star, four light-years. A disproportionate ocean of void. But are we really sure that it is only a void? We only know that in this space there are no bright stars; if they existed, would they be visible? And if there existed bodies neither bright nor dark? Could it not happen on the celestial maps, just as on those of the earth, that the star-cities are indicated and the star-villages omitted?”

-Soviet science fiction writers scratched their faces at midnight.

-The infrasuns (Drummond would say the happy proletarian boys).

-Peguero and Boris alone in a lower class room predicting the miracle behind the door.

-Free Money


Who has traversed the city and for music has only had the whistles of his fellows, his own words of amazement and rage?

The handsome type who didn’t know

that a girl’s orgasm is clitoral

(Look, it’s not only in the museums that there’s shit) (A process of individual museification) (Certainly all that has been mentioned, revealed) (Fear of discovering) (Fear of the imbalances not foreseen).


Our next of kin:

the snipers, the lone plainsmen who devastate the Chinese cafes of Latin America, the butchers in supermarkets, in their tremendous individual-collective dilemma; the impotence of action and investigation (on the individual level or clouded in aesthetic contradictions) of the poetic act.


Tiny bright stars eternally winking at us from a place in the universe called The labyrinths.

-Dancing-Club of misery.

-Pepito Tequila sobbing his love for Lisa Underground.

-He sucks it, you suck it, we suck it. [In Spanish as in English, the verb can be used literally or informally in a derogatory sense.]

-And Horror


Curtains of water, cement, or tin separate a cultural mechanism, which serves as both the conscience and the asshole of the ruling class, from a living cultural event, scrubbed clean, in constant death and birth, ignorant of most of history and the fine arts (quotidian creator of its own insane istory and its amazing fyne artz), body that suddenly tests new sensations on itself, product of an epoch in which we approach at 200 kmph the toilet or the revolution.
“New forms, rare forms”, as old Bertolt said, half curious and half smiling.


Sensations don’t arise out of nothing (obviousness of obviousnesses), but from a conditioned reality, in a thousand ways, as a constant flow.

-Complex reality makes us seasick!

So, it is possible that in part this is a birth and in part we are in the front row for the death throes. Forms of life and forms of death pass by the retina daily. Their collision constantly gives rise to infrarealist forms: THE EYE OF TRANSITION


Put the whole city in the insane asylum. Sweet sister, howling tanks, hermaphrodite songs, diamond deserts, we only live once and every day the visions are bulkier and more slippery. Sweet sister, lifts to Monte Albán. Tighten your belts because the corpses have been watered. A scene of subtraction.


And the good bourgeois culture? And academia and the incendiaries? And the vanguards and the rearguards? And certain conceptions of love, good scenery, the precise and multinational Colt?

Like I told Saint-Just in a dream I had once: Even the heads of aristocrats can’t use us as weapons.


-A good part of the world is being born and another good part dying, and we all know that we all have to live or we all have to die: in this there is no middle road.

Chirico says: thought must move away from all that which is called logic and good sense, must move away from all human problems, in such a way that things appear under a new aspect, as if illuminated by a constellation appearing for the first time. The infrarealists say: We are going to fill our heads with all human problems, such that things begin to move inside themselves, an extraordinary vision of man.

-The Constellation of the Beautiful Bird.

-The infrarealists propose indigenousness to the world: a crazy and timid Indian.

-A new lyricism, which is starting to rise Latin America, supports itself in ways that never fail to amaze us. The way in to matter is ultimately the way in to adventure: the poem is a journey and the poet is a hero revealing heroes. Tenderness like an exercise in speed. Breathing and heat. The shotgun experience, structures that are devouring themselves, crazy contradictions.

If the poet is mixed up, the reader will have to mix himself up.

“erotic books without spelling



The 99 open flowers like a smashed-open head

The massacre, the new concentration camps

The White underground rivers, the violet winds

These are hard times for poetry, some say, drinking tea, listening to music in their apartments, talking (listening) to the old masters. These are difficult times for man, we say, turning to the barricades after a full day’s work of shit and tear gas, discovering / creating music even in our apartments, largely overlooking cemeteries-that-spread, where they [sic] despairingly drink a cup of tea or get drunk on pure rage or the inertia of old masters.

HORA ZERO precedes us

((Raise baboons and the hags will bite you)) [Sp: Cría zambos y te picarán los callos]

Still we are in the quaternary era. Are we still in the quaternary era?

Pepito Tequila kisses Lisa Underground’s phosphorescent nipples and watches her leave for a beach on which black pyramids sprout.


I repeat:

the poet is a hero revealing heroes, like the fallen red tree that announces the start of the forest.

-The attempts at a consistent ethic-aesthetic are paved with betrayals or pathetic survivals.

-And it is the individual who will be able to walk a thousand kilometers but eventually the road will eat him.

-Our ethic is Revolution, our aesthetic is Life: one-single-thing.


For the bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoisie life is a party. Every weekend they have one. The proletariat doesn’t have parties. Only rhythmic funerals. That is going to change. The exploited will have a grand party. Memory and guillotines. Sensing it, acting it certain nights, inventing edges and humid corners, is like caressing the acidic eyes of the new spirit.


Journey of the poem through the seasons of rioting: poetry producing poets producing poems producing poetry. Not an electric alley / the poet with arms separate from the body / the poem slowly displacing his Vision of his Revolution. The alley is a complex point. “We are going to invent in order to discover its contradiction, its invisible forms of refusing, until it is explained”. Journey of the act of writing through zones not at all favorable to the act of writing.

Rimbaud, come home!

Subverting the everyday reality of modern poetry. The confinements that lead a circular reality to the poem. A good reference: the madman Kurt Schwitters. Lanke trr gll, o, upa kupa arggg, runs the official line, phonetic investigators codifying the howl. The bridges of Noba Express are anti-codification: let him shout, let him shout (please don’t take out pencil or paper, don’t record him, shout with him if you want to participate), so let him shout, in order to see what face he makes when he finishes, what other incredible things we experience.

Our bridges to ignored stations. The poem interrelating reality and unreality.



What can I demand of current Latin American painting? What can I demand of the theatre?

More revealing and expressive is stopping in a demolished park because of the smog and seeing people crossing the avenues in groups (which contract and expand), when so many motorists, like the pedestrians, urgently approach their hovels, and it’s the hour when the murderers come out and the victims follow them.

What stories do the painters really tell me?

Interesting void, fixed form and color, at best the parody of movement. Canvases that will only serve as bright posters in the rooms of engineers and doctors who collect.

The painter is made comfortable in a society that is every day more “painter” than he is himself, and that is where he is found unarmed and registered as a clown.

If a painting by X is encountered in some street by Mara, this painting acquires the standing of an amusing and informative thing; [in] a sitting room it’s as decorative as the iron armchairs of the bourgeois / a question of the retina? / yes and no / but it would be better to find ( and unfortunately to systematize for a time) the explosive factor, class-conscious, one hundred percent concerned with work, in juxtaposition to the value of “work” that precedes it and conditions it.

-The painter abandons the studio and ANY status quo and fills his head with wonders / or sets out to play chess like Duchamp / A painting that shows how to paint it again / And a painting of poverty, free or cheap enough, unfinished, of participation, of questioning the participation, of unlimited physical and spiritual extension.

Latin America’s best painting is the one that has even unconscious levels, the game, the party, the experiment that gives us a real vision of what we are and reveals to us what we can do will be Latin America’s best painting is the one that we paint with greens and reds and blues on our faces, to recognize ourselves in the incessant creation of the tribe.


Try to abandon everything every day.

Architects, abandon the construction of stages inside and extend your hands (or clench them, depending on the place) toward this space outside. A wall and a ceiling become useful when they are not only used for sleeping or avoiding rain but when they establish, starting, for example, at the everyday act of sleep, conscious bridges between man and his creations, or the momentary impossibility of them.

For architecture and sculpture the infrarealists start from two points: the barricade and the bed.


The true imagination is the one that dynamites, elucidates, injects emerald microbes into other imaginations. In poetry and in what is, the way in to matter still has to be the way in to adventure. Creating the tools for everyday subversion. The subjective seasons of being human, with their beautiful trees, giant and obscene, like laboratories of experimentation. Establishing, seeing signs of parallel situations and as harrowing as a great scratch on the chest, on the face. Unending analogy of the face. There are so many of them that when newcomers appear we don’t even count, although we are creating them / looking into a mirror. Nights of torment. Perception is opened up by means of an ethic-aesthetic taken to the extreme.


Galaxies of love appear in the palms of our hands.

-Poets, let down your hair (if you have any)

-Burn your garbage and start to love until you get down to the priceless poems

-We don’t want synthetic paintings, but enormous synthetic sunsets

-Horses running 500 kilometers per hour

-Squirrles of fire jumping through trees of fire

-A bet to see who blinks first, between the nerve and the sleeping pill


The risk is always somewhere else. The true poet is the one who is always letting go of himself. Never too much time in the same place, like guerrillas, like UFOs, like the white eyes of prisoners in perpetual chains.


Fusion and explosion of two shores: creation like audacious graffiti and opened by a crazy kid.

Nothing mechanical. The scales of of amazement. Someone, maybe Hieronymus Bosch, breaks the aquarium of love. Free money. Sweet sister. Libidinous visions like corpses. Little boys cutting the meat of kisses until December.


At two in the morning, after having been at Mara’s house, we listen (Mario Santiago and some of us) to laughter that came out of the penthouse of a 9 story building. They didn’t stop, they laughed and laughed while we slept below propped up in various phone booths. It was enough for the moment in that only Mario went on paying attention to to the laughter (the penthouse is a gay bar or something similar and Darío Galicia had told us that the police are always vigilant). We made telephone calls but the coins were made of water. The laughter continued. After we left that district Mario told me that really no one had been laughing, it was recorded laughter and upstairs there, in the penthouse, a small group, or perhaps a single homosexual, had been listening in silence to his records and had made us listen.

-The death of the swan, the last song of the swan, the last song of the black swan, ARE NOT in the Bolshoi but in the pain and the unbearable beauty of the streets.

-A rainbow that begins at a B movie and ends with a factory on strike.

-That amnesia never kisses us on the mouth. That it never kisses us.

-We dreamt of utopia and we wake up screaming.

-A poor lonely cowherd who goes back home, that is the wonder.


Making new sensations appear –Subverting the everyday




Roberto Bolaño, México, 1976


Unknown said...

I didn't realize you had such a grasp of Spanish (I assume that's the original language). I'll have to read it again a few times. Is there more context to this piece? What is Infrarealism from a technical standpoint?

Unknown said...

Also, clearly, I did not read your intro close enough.

rahmat haron said...

alo i'm from Malaysia. i only dicovered about infrarrealismo only recently, after reading Savage Detective. i can't read Spanish. i'm going to translate the manifesto into my language-Malay.

Tyler said...

This is a beautiful piece of writing in its own right, and Bolaño's energy and bravado are perfectly captured. It also fits in with the spirit of Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima (youth personified).

Unknown said...

I don't think it matters whether the translation is "correct" or not. I've looked everywhere for a translation of this manifesto and this is the only one I've found. It fits my expectations perfectly. Has the Savage Detectives caused anyone else to lose sleep?

natalia said...

hey, i read your translation an know spanish and english, wrote my thesis about bolaño. There is no other version in the web, i thought of asking if I can work with your translation as a ground and change few little details, i want a friend to read this manifiesto.

Unknown said...

If you do polish it up, can I get a copy when you're done? I don't know spanish at all and another person's input would be nice to see.

the curator said...

Natalia, feel free to use my translation however you want. I would also love to see your polished version, and if you put it on the internet somewhere I will add a link here. Also, if you notice any egregious mistakes in my version, I would be very grateful if you could let me know so I can fix them here.

George Asztalos said...

We have our own infrarealistic litherary site over here in Romania. and a manifesto as well. many things different or alike in the one of Bolano, whidout knowing he is one step ahead of us. I should be glad to translate this manifesto in romanian if it's alowed. even just for a glance you can take a look on our site over here:

Edgar said...

Sadly I must say that the infra page (www.infrarrealismo.com) is dead, several survivors of infrarrealism movement have cancelled our page which I managed several years.
At least our page gave to the world a great view and memories of our greatest movement here in Mexico.

the curator said...

George - Of course you can translate the manifesto into Romanian, but remember that my English version may have several mistakes, because my Spanish is not very good. I would also like to see the Romanian manifesto in English!

Edgar - Qué malo! But I think people will remember infrarrealismo for a long time. I saved the original manifesto, and I will post it on my blog if the link to your version stops working.

Teom said...

I've translated the manifesto into English as well. I used your version as a reference. You can read it at my Bolaño site:


R. Faustus-Monoxide said...

peers scattered across the dilapidated pier, I throw up my message in a hangover, burped stream undercurrent, to be taken for a bumpercar ride or to doggy paddle with the doomed? Looking between the lies, to lie with the lines of infrarealisms instigators, humbled pi neverending numb burr, eye scan for retinal recognition, ear stretches for the sounds that will reawaken the abused belly, there is a worm that must be split in two to continue the cycle; so this spider wannabe in snakeskin that won't budge is attempting to start an infrarealist/visceral realist/surrealist/whatever the fuck can magic still ooze out from colonized minds? poetry/spell magazine of obscure magma 'tude, and silly soggy sonnet here is me sending awkward love to those who also attempt to make poetry live!

Sydneyann said...

You can see my annotated version here: . Let me know what you think!

Eric George said...

Thank you for doing this!


Eric George said...

Thank you for this.

Petra McQueen said...

So happy to have found this. I have recently become obsessed with Bolano and am planning on doing my PhD on him (perhaps - let's see). Thanks so much for the translation.

Nils said...

This is garbage