Zaragoza (EFE).- Manuel Vilas defends that when writers do not understand something they write a book. And in him there was a dimension of love that escaped him, but now, after writing ‘We’, he has managed to understand: “In love there must be pleasure”.
With his recent 2023 Nadal Award and with the arrival in bookstores of his new novel, which he signs with Destino, the Aragonese author claims in an interview with Efe on his way through Zaragoza the passion in love, even with the passage of time.
Question: These days we were hearing that winning a Goya doesn’t change life that much. And a literary award like Nadal?
Answer: In literature, the Nadal Prize is very important; Yes, it usually changes the life of a writer. I also came from being a finalist of the Planet and many years in this profession. In any case, it helps to keep going; It is an important endorsement.
Q.- ‘Nosotros’ is already in bookstores, in which you explore eternal love with the relationship between Irene and Marce. Is your story a utopia?
A.- I wanted to propose to the reader the possibility that a love of such magnitude existed: a love of twenty years like the one narrated there, where there has been passion, eroticism, loyalty, understanding, joy… Twenty years of wonderful love It seems to be impossible, however, that it is impossible is sad because that means that love stories are doomed to have a temporality, from six months to three years… That was the seed idea of the novel and then I began to develop Irene’s character, who began to fascinate me.
“The claim of love can be a rebellion”
Q.- Is this fervent love a form of rebellion in times of liquid love?
R.- I think so, it is a rebellion. The demand for love today can be rebellious, because there is something that happens in passionate love -and this is a passionate love story-, and that is that the “crazy lover” only lives for his love, it has no dimension social. He doesn’t work, he doesn’t have a job or benefit: he dedicates himself to spending all day watching and thinking about his love. And that has a dissolving component, almost punk, they look like punks!
Q.- In this novel you address grief again, through the protagonist, Irene, who has just lost her husband.
A.- Yes, but what happens is that she leads a reckless duel, she is a sexual adventurer. The novel describes a ‘road movie’ in which she has sexual relations with men and women, and she invents a liturgy where through orgasm she reaches to see her husband. This is very strong, what she does is a way of grieving at least with a disturbing originality.
In the end, he does realize one thing with which I agree, which is that there must be pleasure in love. I have discovered this by writing this novel, that is, for myself. Writers, sometimes when we don’t understand something, we write a book. For me, there was a dimension of love that escaped me and I think that is the reason why I have written this novel.
Q.- And what have you discovered?
A.- I am convinced that if there is no pleasure in a love relationship it will never be complete. But in the public conversation about love we accept a series of fundamental components. For example, loyalty is a fully accepted dimension of love, that is, two people who love each other have to be loyal; the complicity; life in the plural; being two against the ferocity of the world; building a life together… These are values that everyone accepts as inherent to the feeling of love, but all that without pleasure will limp, something will be missing. And pleasure is a dimension of love that sometimes people still say: “Well, it’s at the beginning and then no.” Because?
Q.- You have named the orgasm, with which Irene is able to connect with her beloved, already deceased. The French refer to this moment as ‘la petite mort’…
“In an orgasm there is much beauty”
R.- It is a good way to call the orgasm. Because we have trivialized it a lot because of pornography and the trade around sex. We have frivolized something as important as that philosophical dimension of the orgasm and it is terrible, because it is one of the abysses of the human condition. It should be protected because there is a lot of beauty there, there is a lot of mystery and it should not have that sordid part, which sometimes makes people uncomfortable and makes them not want to talk about the orgasm, because it has been trivialized. Hopefully this novel vindicates the metaphysical and philosophical part of the orgasm a bit.
Q.- Love and death, are these your two big themes?
A.- In the novel they are the two fundamental components: love and death. It is what we human beings do: we are born and when you can remember, at fifteen or sixteen, any human being realizes that they are going to have to build a us, a kind of roaming from I to us? No? Most human beings invest their lives in building a partner, a family, a group of friends… You have to get out of the self and go towards a us: that is love. And then the other fundamental theme is death. For this reason, Irene at the end says: “From the me to the us and from the us we return to the me.” Because the process of death is a return to the self. And this is the existential adventure of any human being.
“Beauty is a political right”
Q.- In your literature, a watch can mean much more than a mechanism that we wear on our wrists…
R.- I have given that to her (the protagonist)! I am crazy about watches, I see them in the windows and they drive me crazy, but I don’t buy any because they are very expensive (she laughs). But they also have a philosophical dimension. What does a watch do? It measures time, but that’s a social convention. We have designed the materiality of time through clocks. And she, Irene, says it, nine in the morning in a Cartier is not the same as in a Casio. There is a coincidence with Shakira, but the novel is written before the lyrics (laughs). In the book there is also a whole philosophy of beautiful objects, such as furniture, automobiles or colognes that serve a little to protect us from ferocity and ugliness. Luxury not as frivolity, but as beauty.
Q.- Is beauty important to you?
A.- For me it is everything… For me it is everything. I have come to say that beauty is a political right, because you can eat, have a roof and a job; It’s important, but there must be some beauty in the lives of human beings, otherwise why eat, why have a roof and why have a job, right?