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Instructions On How to Climb a Staircase - by Julio Cortázar

No one will have failed to observe that frequently the floor bends in such a way that one part rises at a right angle to the plane formed by the floor and then the following section arranges itself parallel to the flatness, so as to provide a step to a new perpendicular, a process which is repeated in a spiral or in a broken line to highly variable elevations. Ducking down and placing the left hand on one of the vertical parts and right hand upon the the corresponding horizontal, one is in momentary possesion of a step or stair. Each one of these steps, formed as we have seen by two elements, is situated somewhat higher and further than the one prior, a principle which gives the idea of a staircase, while whatever other combination, producing perhaps more beautiful or picturesque shapes, would surely be incapable of translating one from the ground floor to the first floor.

You tackle a stairway face on, for if you try it backwards or sideways, it ends up being particularly uncomfortable. The natural stance consists of holding oneself upright, arms hanging easily at the sides, head erect but not so much so that the eyes no longer see the steps immediately above, while one tramps up, breathing lightly and with regularity. To climb a staircase one begins by lifting that part of the body located below and to the right, usually encased in leather or deerskin, and which, with a few exceptions, fits exactly on the stair. Said part set down on the first step (to abbreviate we shall call it “the foot”), one draws up the equivalent part on the left side (also called “foot” but not to be confused with “the foot” cited above), and lifting this other part to the level of “the foot,” makes it continue along until it is set in place on the second step, at which point the foot will rest, and “the foot” will rest on the first. (The first steps are always the most difficult, until you acquire the necessary coordination. The coincidence of names between the foot and “the foot” makes the explanation more difficult. Be especially careful not to raise, at the same time, the foot and “the foot.”)

Having arrived by this method at the second step, it's easy enough to repeat the movements alternately, until one reaches the top of the staircase. One gets off it easily, with a light tap of the heel to fix it in place, to make sure it will not move until one is ready to come down.

Instructions for crying. - Julio Cortazar


Leaving aside motives, let us focus on the correct way to cry, understanding by this -- crying -- that which does not include yelling, nor insults a smile with its parallel and awkward similarity. Normal and ordinary crying consists of a general contraction of the features and a spasmodic noise accompanied by tears and snot, these last at the end, since crying ends the moment in which one energetically blows one's nose. To cry, direct your imagination to yourself, and if this should be impossible -- through having been caught in the habit of believing in the exterior world -- think of a duck covered in ants or the narrow straits of Magellan into which nobody enters, ever. The crying having begun, you will decorously conceal your face using both hands with the palms facing in. Children will cry with their blazer sleeves against their faces, preferably in the corner of the room. Approximate duration of crying, three minutes.