Apunte sobre la enfermedad

“La pitonisa de Prevorst”, 1892, óleo por Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max

Dice el novelista español Luis Mateo Díez que “la literatura convierte sin remedio cualquier enfermedad en una enfermedad del alma”, paralelismo por el que todo dolor corporal adquiere una dimensión en la mente; sin embargo, no es la enfermedad del alma, tan difundida en nuestra época (al menos como motor de las patologías), la que atañe a este texto; antes bien, se trata del padecimiento físico como casa a la que el enfermo se habitúa.

Si buceáramos en historiales clínicos, en libros como La Biblia, el Quijote, toda la obra de Dostoievski y, bajo esta noción, la de los escritores en general, observaríamos que la mayoría comparte una naturaleza anímica apartada de lo que puede ser considerado como normal o deseable por la psiquiatría. La enfermedad del alma es tan antigua y omnipresente que sería redundante enlistar sus apariciones; la literatura en sí misma es patológica. No así las historias del dolor de la carne.

Al respecto, es asombroso un grupo de relieves de Monte Albán, Los danzantes, ya que, sin duda, trazan no tanto un grupo de bailarines como uno de enfermos en busca de alivio, a modo de peregrinaje; registro de escenas sin precedente entre las culturas mesoamericanas cuyos motivos exactos aún se desconocen con certeza. No obstante, la sugestión de estas figuras grotescas demostraría una tesis del médico y escritor Arnoldo Kraus: “Para quien padece, sus enfermedades y sus historias son parte imprescindible de su existencia”.

Expresado de otro modo: “La enfermedad es un antídoto contra el olvido”, encrucijada de incidentes, matriz de historias; el sufrimiento como motor indeleble para la literatura. Fue Roland Barthes quien habló de su cuerpo a nivel histórico; primero por su lectura de La montaña mágica, novela de Thomas Mann donde se narra la tuberculosis; luego, porque años más tarde la padeció; finalmente, cuando décadas después las quimioterapias le curaron y la enfermedad perdió su halo mítico.

Durante ese gran intervalo, Barthes sintió inequívocamente que lo que transcurría era la vida misma. Para Antón Chéjov y Somerset Maugham, médicos y escritores, la enfermedad y la literatura conforman un binomio de sístole y diástole como el de los latidos del músculo cardíaco: morada y alimento, paz e insomnio, dolor y cura; su planteamiento evoca la tragedia Filoctetes, de Sófocles, quizá la obra literaria más antigua de Occidente que se haya escrito sobre el tema.

Filoctetes es un héroe que viaja a la guerra de Troya. Mordido por una serpiente, sufre el abandono de su ejército en una isla desierta a causa de la misteriosa y fétida enfermedad que la mordedura le provoca; sin embargo, el desgraciado también es el poseedor de un arco mágico que nunca falla, regalo de un dios, necesario para la toma de la ciudad asiática. Esta obra antigua (que inicia cuando Odiseo vuelve por Filoctetes) trasluce que aunado a la enfermedad se desarrolla un conocimiento que sólo el dolor perfecciona.

Ese mismo conocimiento que narra Tolstói veinticuatro siglos después en La muerte de Iván Illich, libro sobre un personaje agónico al que ya nadie respeta ni presta atención; sea porque la vida ha cambiado o por lo que Baudelaire decía: que sentimos placer al comprobar nuestra fortaleza frente a la debilidad de los otros. Y es que a diferencia de las pestes (esos males masivos), la enfermedad impone un claustro a la persona: siempre he sentido admiración por Robert Louis Stevenson y Juan García Ponce, escritores que hicieron del padecimiento una casa y del dolor una punzante alegría, desde la que narraron el paso de los días y las noches sucesivas, las generaciones… las estrellas.

OAG / TRIPODOLOGÍA FELINA

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