Instructions on How to Cry

“Putting the reasons for crying aside for the moment, we might concentrate on the correct way to cry, which, be it understood, means a weeping that doesn’t turn into a big commotion nor proves an affront to the smile with its parallel and dull similarity. The average, everyday weeping consists of a general contraction of the face and a spasmodic sound accompanied by tears and mucus, this last toward the end, since the cry ends at the point when one energetically blows one’s nose.

In order to cry, steer the imagination toward yourself, and it this proves impossible owing to having contacted the habit of believing in the exterior world, think of a duck covered with ants or of those gulfs in the Strait of Magellan into which no one sails ever.

Coming to the weeping itself, cover the face decorously, using both hands, palms inward. Children are to cry with the sleeve of the dress or shirt pressed against the face, preferably in a corner of the room. Average duration of the cry, three minutes. — Julio Cortázar, Cronopios and Famas.

(“Anyone who doesn’t read Cortazar is doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who has never tasted peaches. He would quietly become sadder… and, probably, little by little, he would lose his hair.” — Pablo Neruda.)


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