In the 18th century, Count Keyserling commissions Johann Sebastian Bach to compose a piece of music that will finally allow him to fall asleep. Bach, surpassing all expectations, creates an aria containing thirty variations that became known as the Goldberg Variations
, in honour of its first performer, put in charge of playing the piece night after night until the count fell asleep. With this story, Luis Sagasti opens a hypnotic tale full of counterpoints that, just like the Variations
, sets out to follow the turns of a melody so as to arrive at the final aria—where everything begins again. Like Goldberg repeating melodies over and over for the Count to rest, Sagasti narrates for us a thousand and one stories that take the reader from Bach to Gould, from Gould to the Beatles, from Sergeant Pepper to the music that was played in Nazi concentration camps, and from there to 4’33’’
by John Cage, to The Who and so on, ad infinitum.
But when do we end a story? When do we decide to sing the final lullaby? For Sagasti, undoubtedly, the cosmic order is a musical one.