Some Mexican nugatoriness

Re this post at Transblawg: nugatorio is most rare in Spanish, but here’s some Ramón López Velarde (via Corde; poetry and bio):

Se me destina, en la casona, la sala de la derecha. Fantasmas, fantasmas, fantasmas. A las diez de la noche, logro escaparme. En un cielo turquí, el relámpago flagela edredones de nube. La ciudad jerezana me tienta con un mixto halaco de fósil y de miniatura. Divago por ella en un traspié ideal y no soy más que una bestia deshabitada que cruza por un pueblo ficticio. En el pavor de la guerra civil, los zorros llegaban a los atrios y a los jardines. Yo dejo de merodear, porque he despertado la suspicacia de un galán. Metido ya en el lecho, como en un sarcófago, el reloj del Santuario deja caer las doce. El trueno rueda y todo se vuelve nugatorio.

Or, quickly:

In the grand house I am assigned the room to the right. Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts. I manage to escape at ten at night. Lightning scourges clouds of eiderdown in an aniline sky. This Jerez town tempts me with a mixed halaco of fossil and miniature [win a prize! tell me what halaco means!]. Through it I wander in an abstract stumble, an uninhabited beast [cf Rafael Alberti’s later play, El hombre deshabitado, “The uninhabited man” (worth a gloss)], no more, crossing a fictitious town. In the civil war’s terror foxes arrived in the courtyards and gardens. I cease roaming because I have aroused a gallant’s suspicions. Already abed, as in a sarcophagus, the clock of the Sanctuary drops twelve [that’s what the man says, dammit]. The thunder rolls and all is nugatory.

The author is Mexican, so Jerez here is Jerez de García Salinas, not the delightful Jerez de la Frontera, and the civil war is their revolution. DRAE has nugatorio making a mockery of hope conceived or judgement passed, which I guess to be Judge (yes, he was) Velarde’s take on breakdown.


Gorgeous Gabs of Guadalajara points out that DRAE says of alaco (damn silent hs!):

  1. m. Am. Cen. Trasto, cosa inservible [junk, useless thing].
  2. m. Am. Cen. Harapo, guiñapo [rag].
  3. m. Am. Cen. Persona o animal de poco valer, flaco y escuálido [person or animal of little worth, weak and emaciated].

I think that means the settlement in question is tempting him with a patchwork (cf tejido mixto) of fossils and miniatures–I’d need to read more to check. Gabi herself seems to prefer the the definition of halaco to be found in this ContraPedia piece by Eduardo García Gaspar:

One of the parts of a good pizza.

The word halaco was used for the first time in 1950, after Ottaviano Candolezzi, the celebrated Bulgarian millionaire of the time, acquired the famous painting Eating in the atrium by Pascuale Pintalechio, better-known by the pseudonym Pincelinghi, a painter of the Renaissance in Kiskundorozsma, Hungary. The painting dates from 1888, the Renaissance having arrived somewhat behind schedule in that city.

One of dishes in the painting shows what to the eyes of modern man is without doubt a pizza at the moment at which one diner retires it from its plate. The most notable feature of the painting is the extremely long strip of cheese formed by removing a slice of pizza. According to the calculations of Michelantonio Candolini, the famous Japanese mathematician, this strip of cheese measures at least some six and a half metres with an approximate thickness of five centimetres at its thinnest point, given the plate’s position and that of the diner.

For his part, Vladimiro Schiciolini, one of our greatest art critics, specialised in the Late Renaissance in Kiskundorozsma, has praised the painting for the great sense of perspective added by the strip of cheese to the courtyard in which the meal is taking place. Specifically, Schiciolini wrote in the book The secret codes of forgotten perspective the following phrase: “Pincelingi’s gigantic painting, known as Eating in the atrium, has the quality of using the trick of the strip of cheese from such a careful angle that it facilitates the addition of absolute perspective of enormous depth to the atrium, since without the aforementioned strip, the most powerful element in the work, people would realise that painting is a heap of shit.”

Schiciolini’ subtle critique, far from causing a fall in the picture’s value, elevated its price considerably thanks to the intervention of an art dealer who took Schiciolini’s words and used them in several pamphlets, one of which came into the hands of the millionaire Candolezzi. The latter was unable to resist the temptation to buy the work in order to demonstrate to his cohort of sycophants its faults. During one meeting between Candolezzi and his acquaintances, he determined to create a name or new word for pizza cheese strip produced when a slice, on being removed, appears to refuse to leave the whole, remaining united to it by what inevitably reminds us of an umbilical cord.

Candolezzi contracted the services of one of New York’s most expensive publicity agencies, which for a sum approaching a million dollars proposed to baptise the strip with the generic term halacus. A name of certain Latin shades, congruent with its origins, as well as auditory connotations related to the verb to haul. Thanks to some very capable PR manoeuvres, Candolezzi made the new word popular and founded the company Halacus Pizza, the strength of whose marketing position was that its pizzas produced the greatest halacos, this being an original idea of one of the sycophants who surrounded Candolezzi.

In order to make large halacos possible, the cheese formula was altered using strange length-facilitating ingredients. Rumiano Schiciolini, brother of the critic mentioned above, and himself a food writer, tried the millionaire’s pizzas and wrote in his weekly column in the New Fork Times the following: “There can be no doubt that Pincelinghi’s painting inspired the creation of Halacus pizzas, because both painting and pizzas are a heap of shit.”

Following the failure of his business, Candolezzi sold the rights to the word to Benito González González, owner of a small chain of Mexican restaurants in Huacareta, Bolivia, who did not need to change the recipe of his quesadillas a la mexicana in order to produce long strips of cheese on their being bitten by those who eat them.

Maybe some Velarde experts would like to pitch in :-)

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