OKTUBRE, the Montage of an Era or “Rock as All Cries”

Receipt: August 11, 2020

Acceptance: May 14, 2021

OKTUBRE/Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricotas

Carolina Bello, 2018 Estuario, Montevideo, 144 pp.

Pumps back and forth.
It may be, it is unreal.

Patricio Rey y Sus Redonditos de Ricota

Noise is a weapon and music is,
in its origins, realization, domestication,
the ritualization of the use of this weapon
in a mock ritual homicide.
Jacques Attali (1995: 40).

Affectivity makes us play with the syllables that -in a sort of juggling- leads us to elaborate other -sometimes strange- new names that do not always manage to establish themselves in the crowd or last through time, but they -without stopping in their fleetingness- pretend to embrace an object of love. In the novel oktubre by Carolina Bello, this is the band Los Redó or Los Redondos, as Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota (1976-2001) is popularly known, one of the most iconic bands of the "Argentine national rock",1 that has unveiled journalism and the social sciences2 inasmuch as it sculpted a cultural phenomenon that has been the axis of an important process of subjectivation among its followers, (self-)ascribed as ricoteros. Before the covidThe "ricoteras masses" summoned about one hundred thousand people, who made these "pilgrimages" to attend the ".pogo world's greatest"-which alone is capable of unleashing el Indio,3 The band's vocalist- and that hardly generates indifference to anyone who is aware of its existence, either for its recriminations about violence, for the affective waste of those who sing and dance to their songs or for its high level of attendance.

Winner of the 2020 National Literature Award in Uruguay,4 oktubre is a tribute not only to this album but also to mythology ricotta5. Its multiple references show the precise and delicate research on which the plot elaborated by Bello is based; one of them was to turn an iconic and imaginary character from the band into a literary character: Olga Sudorova, name that el Indio used to shout at his concerts. Thus, the author consolidates a new analytical and aesthetic triad by bringing together the homonymous album by Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota (1986) with the Soviet film by Eisenstein and Aleksandrov (1928), whose relationship she explores through an epistolary exchange between Hernán and Olga, the main characters.

Image 1. Oktubre album cover
Image 2. Poster of the film Oktubre

With letters and cassettes traveling from Buenos Aires to Pripyat between 1985 and 1986, the two young men travel to each other's home while passionately interpreting the cryptic lyrics of the Indio. Between Hernán's Rioplatense and Olga's nibbled Spanish -due to her mother, an Argentinean who had migrated to Ukraine before she was born-, an intimate language of their own blossoms, an interstice where they can embrace each other until their bones grow cold, without completely escaping the political events in which their lives are framed and traversed. Bello opens a door to the circumstances of which Hernán and Olga are children: an Argentina imploded by the recent "return to democracy" and a weakened Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the midst of the pain of Chernobyl.6

"The dog, who now looks at the sky like the blind, does not even intuit that in a few months he will become a savage, sniffing for remains, lost among abandoned streets and schools, following the trail of broken tiles on hospital floors, among nature that will die and be reborn capriciously, alone, altered" (p. 11) is one of the passages in which Bello narrates the horror that drags Olga's life. The explosion of that nuclear plant has a preponderant place in OKTUBREin which the future appears, in a recurrent way, from a present that still cannot glimpse what the Chernobyl signifier will be. This catastrophe is part of the political landscape where the Argentine rock scene of the mid-eighties is reconstructed: "There is a guy who speaks before they start playing. He says monologues like a poet and the audience hallucinates, there are people dancing, and they hand out buñuelos -fried dough biscuits- among the audience!" (p. 14).

Image 3. Disk on display at the official X-Ray Audio Project site

Cassettes and handwritten letters, technologies that are becoming less and less common and with a temporal distance that could prove to be an eternal delay for the "digital natives", who perhaps -even- never saw or even knew about gramophones or those X-ray plates on which music was clandestinely recorded and played in the ussr. This "invention that looked like magic, but was science" (p. 67) made it possible to transgress the prohibition7 the Party issued on the consumption of Western music. Its creators, who are also characters in the novel, were condemned to the Gulag, and without knowing it, they would become the authors of those "The Gulag".images of pain and damage overlaid with the sounds of pleasure, fragile photographs of the interiors of Soviet citizens inscribed with the music they secretly loved".8(The X-Ray Audio Project, 2019) and, above all, of an undoubted cultural object.

This craftsmanship could be located in the modern era, which - according to Jacques Attali's typology9- would correspond to the phase of repetition. Bello's own characters suggest that this industry of repetition - to which the under has tended to oppose, discomfort or, at least, not go unnoticed - could be "La Bestia Pop", a song by the band and another of its mythological beings, such as the one that inhabits its own name, Patricio Rey, but that's another story.

In short, Los Redondos were a band underThis status did not prevent them from becoming a cultural phenomenon in the Río de la Plata, although different from that of Soda Stereo, a band led by Gustavo Cerati that toured international stages. As if it were a kind of Boca-River,10 this opposition11 unfounded and exacerbated by the media rather than by real disputes, is emphasized by Bello as characteristic of the local music scene at the time. This is also significant because Estuario, which published oktubre as part of the collection Discs12 -an affective mosaic of rioplatense rock- is one of the most important independent publishers in Uruguay.

What is a fact is that jazz and rock did not sound the same in Argentina.13 than in the United States or in the ussrThe music is not only reproduced by the technology of reproduction, but also by the social and cultural space of listening, recording and circulation of the music. For the Marxist Attali, all recording -regardless of the technology available- is a means of social control that encompasses a political objective (1995: 130), insofar as it makes possible the control and surveillance of noise. However, unlike what could happen in the mass production of large record labels, here we could think of it as a return to preservation,14 due to the state censorship suffered not only by Soviet music lovers but also by Argentineans during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983), which made rock an enemy to be censored.

Both the oktubre The Redondos, like Bello's, do not constitute partisan propaganda, as was the case with the Oktubre by Eisenstein and Aleksandrov (1928). However, this does not mean that politicization is excluded, nor that it is only present through references to Chernobyl. "October Fires," the first song on the album, seems - as the characters reflect - to crack that conception of politics as a task linked to a party or, at any rate, abashed only towards one. "Without a banner on my side".15 is not a chronicle of renunciation of politics as such but a proposal of another way of doing politics that, in turn, may evoke an "insurrectional homage to the oppressed, made from those dens that, undergroundunderground, underground, do but it's not exactly a trench" (Perros Sapiens, 2013: 77).

Is there a blochean flash16 in the reluctance to the banners? I would dare to answer that there is a tentative affirmation accompanied by a deep distrust that ends up leaning towards dystopia. The question is not a minor one, since the future is a whole subject for this pair of young people who, in some way, we could also think of as representative of the youth of the postpost-dictatorship and post-Chernobyl. Although, for what generation of young people has the future not been a problem?

While waiting and pausing between letters and songs sent by Olga and Hernán, Bello makes his own montage with the introduction of chords, photographs, journalistic notes and bits of tango and poetry (although, isn't tango another face of poetry?). As the pages turn, other rock greats such as Sumo, Bowie, Mayakovsky, Joy Division, Iggy, Velvet, Sad Lovers & Giants and Bill Halley and his kites appear. These snippets resemble an interpretation of the ricotero universe without definitive guidelines about it. Hernán's question "Do you remember that I once told you that people in the future could understand an era from songs by Los Redondos?" (p. 117) seems to tend a complicity between the characters and those who hold this piece in their hands, and remind us that the past -like the body, music and literature- is always an open archive. And as it says el Indio in "Todo un palo", a track from another album: "El futuro llegó hace rato".


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Aliano, Nicolás (2018). “El Indio fue un formador, un salvador para nosotros. Música, persona e individualización en el mundo popular. El caso de un fan de rock”. Cuadernos de Antropología Social, núm. 47, pp. 175-194.

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Eisenstein, Sergéi y Grigori Aleksándrov (dirs.) (1928). Oktubre [película]. Unión Soviética: Sovkino.

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Perros Sapiens (2013). Redondos. A quién le importa. Biografía política de Patricio Rey. Buenos Aires: Tinta Limón.

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Welschinger, Nicolás (2014). “Rollinga no, stone. La música como tecnología del yo en jóvenes mujeres de sectores populares en la Argentina”. Versión. Estudios de Comunicación y Política, núm. 33, pp. 59-69. Recuperado de https://versionojs.xoc.uam.mx/index.php/version/article/view/584, consultado el 11 de agosto de 2021.

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Maria Monica Sosa Vasquez is a Social Anthropologist graduated from the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (wow). Master's degree in Social Anthropology from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (flaccid), based in Argentina, with current fieldwork in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires on political affectivities around feminist soccer. She collaborates with the Laboratory of Applied Anthropology of the flaccid and the Electoral Observatory of Latin America (oblat) of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (fsoc-uba). She teaches as an assistant professor of Sistemas Socioculturales de América iiof Social Anthropology at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras (ffyl) of the uba. His research interests are in anthropological theory, political anthropology, and gender and ethnic studies. He published "Brazil: genealogy of a farce" (2019) in. Plural MagazineCulture, harassment and society: hegemonies and feminisms" (2020) in Encartes and "The machine of making readings: for an erotic against nature, psychoanalysis" in Feminist Debate (in press).


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