Current Affairs

A Necrology for Pedro Lemebel

See the recent New Yorker obituary for more on Pedro Lemebel:


photoFucking AIDS fucking cancer of the larynx, fucking dictatorship, and fucking facade of democracy, fucking macho mafia that they keep on calling a political party, fucking censorship, fucking couples, and fucking ruptures, fucking Pedro and fucking Pancho, fucking television, fucking alternative movements, fucking socialism, fucking colonial church, fucking NGOs, fucking multinational pharmaceuticals, fucking neoliberal post- dictatorship party, fucking map of the southern cone, fucking cultural consensus, fucking tourism, fucking tolerance, fucking art biennials, and fucking museum of homosexuality. Fucking you and fucking me. Fuck your body that lost. And fuck your soul that will never lose. Fuck the minority crowd confronting one armed man. Fuck the Mares and fuck the Mapocho river. Fuck the days we spent together in Santiago, fuck the nights in Valparaiso, fuck your kisses and fuck your tongue. We were watching the Pacific and I cited Deleuze: “The ocean is like cinema, an image in movement,” and you told me “don’t pretend to be an intellectual, little man. The only image in movement is love.” You raised me and from you I emerged like a son, of the hundreds you had, invented by your voice. You are my mother and I cry for you as one cries for a transvestite mother. With a dose of testosterone and a scream. You are my mother and I cry for you as one cries for an indigenous and communist mother. With a hammer and sickle drawn on the skin of your face. You are my shaman mother and I cry for you as one cries for ayahuasca. I go out into the streets of New York and I hug a radioactive tree and ask for forgiveness for not having come to see you – because of the fear of memories of torture, because of the fear of confronting dogs that are starving to death, and the mines of Antofagasta. Diamonds are eternal and so are bombs. AIDS speaks English and says “Darling, I must die” and it doesn’t hurt you. And cancer doesn’t speak. You die in silence like a cheap Barbie that is South American, proletariat, and a faggot. You are Incorruptible, like a trans-andean goddess. And they will yank us from history in those books that you will no longer write. But not your voice. And they will be born again, a thousand boys with a broken wing and a thousand girls that will carry your name. Pedro Lemebel. A thousand times, in a thousand tongues.


Paul B. Preciado


The original text by Preciado, which is written in Spanish, plays with the gender performativity found within language. In English this performativity is obscured by the word “Fuck” which is neutral and can be applied to both masculine and feminine nouns. In the Spanish version masculine nouns are prefixed by “Puto” a word that can be translated as both Fuck and Faggot, while feminine nouns are prefixed by “Puta”, which translates as both Fuck and Whore. This dual entendre is especially active in the necrology’s auto ethnographic details, and reiterates the author’s trans*masculine gender performativity, just as it emphasizes Lemebel’s trans*feminine gender performativity. Lissette Olivares

4 replies on “A Necrology for Pedro Lemebel”

[…] Paul B. Preciado Puto sida, puto cáncer de laringe, puta dictadura y puta fachada de democracia, puta mafia machista a la que siguen llamando partido, puta censura, putas parejas y putas rupturas, puto Pedro y puto Pancho, puta televisión, putos movimientos alternativos, puto socialismo, puta Iglesia colonial, putas ONGs, putas multinacionales farmacéuticas, puta farra neoliberal post-dictatura, puto mapa del Cono Sur, puto consenso cultural, puto turismo, puta tolerancia, putas bienales de arte y puto museo de la homosexualidad. Puta tú y puto yo. Puto tu cuerpo que ha perdido. Y puta tu alma que no perderá nunca. Puta la multitud minoritaria frente a un solo hombre armado. Putas las yeguas y puto el río Mapocho. Putos los días que pasamos juntos en Santiago, putas las noches de Valparaíso, putos tus besos y puta tu lengua. Mirábamos al Pacífico y yo citaba a Deleuze: «El mar es como el cine, una imagen en movimiento». Tú me decías: «No te hagas el intelectual, machito. La única imagen en movimiento es el amor». Tú me criaste y de ti salí como un hijo, de los cientos que tuviste, inventado por tu voz. Tú eres mi madre y te lloro como se llora a una madre travesti. Con una dosis de testosterona y un grito. Tú eres mi madre y te lloro como se llora a una madre comunista e indígena. Con una hoz y un martillo dibujados sobre la piel de la cara. Tú eres mi madre chamana y te lloro como se llora a la ayahuasca. Salgo a las calles de Nueva York y me abrazo a un árbol radiactivo mientras te pido perdón por no haber venido a verte. Por el miedo a la memoria de la tortura, por el miedo a los perros muertos de hambre y a las minas de Antofagasta. Los diamantes son eternos y las bombas también. El sida habla inglés. Dices «Darling, I must die» y no te duele.Y el cáncer no habla. Te mueres silenciosa como una barbie cutre, sudaca, proletaria y marica. Incorrupta eres, como una diosa trans-andina. Y nos arrancarán de la historia los libros que ya no escribirás. Pero no tu voz. Y nacerán otra vez mil niños con la alita rota y mil niñas que llevarán tu nombre. Pedro Lemebel. Mil veces, en mil lenguas. (français; english) […]

This is a wonderful translation and translators note, I have recently started reading Preciado, mostly in Spanish (attempting French) and was wondering if more of the smaller recent articles were finding their way into English, very glad this one did! I have not yet read the books but one thing I wondered after listening to interviews and reading was if the wordplay/nuances were being carried over into English and I am happy to see such care taken in this one, especially for such an important tribute.

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