The traveler sees what he sees,
the tourist sees what he has come to see.
g. k. chesterton, the temple of silence and other stories (1929)
Julio Cortázar, the Brussels- born Argentine author of Hopscotch
a novel, structured as a mandala, which you can enter from mul-
tiple doors—has a little-known gem of a story that might explain
what moved him to leave home for Paris, where he lived the rest
of his life. The story is called “The Band.” The story is set in 1947
and dedicated to the French surrealist René Crevel. Lucio Medina,
a film aficionado, tells Cortázar, the author and narrator, the hu-
morous plot. Years before he leaves Argentina, forever giving up
his career and possessions, he goes to the Grand Opera Theater
to see a film by Anatole Litvak announced in the local paper. He
changes his schedule to fit in an early per formance. He arrives,
buys a ticket, and enters the theater. Nobody has bothered to tell
him that the show has been canceled. Instead of the movie, he gets
a band of ridiculous teenagers: Banda de Alpargatas, a group of
Perón- sympathizing cheerleaders.
Medina can’t believe his eyes and ears and for a while he thinks
he has landed in the wrong theater. He sits quietly in the audience,
e p I l o g u e
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