The “Distant star” refers to Carlos Wieder, in the novel; his behaviors enable him to attract the attention of both the high and mighty as well as appealing to the interests of the common citizen. To the new government in power, they see an opportunity in him to convey through his poetic techniques the ‘good plans’ in store for the nation. To the noble men, he is a source of hope to unveil the new strategy through which to voice their displeasure and to the fellow poets; a comrade in a battle field. He is a star to be followed in search for a fortune. He interchanges names at every stage to evade the barriers set upon his way. This is significant for it makes it difficult to trace him at every stage of an outcry.
Certainly, evil things are taking place all over the country, and consequently the narrator relates the tales of poet-friends sent into exile. The reporter, at this time in Europe, remains well-versed of Carlos Wieder through correspondence he receives from his acquaintance Bibiano O'Ryan. (Koopmans)Wieder, in his duty as ombudsman linking government and community, has been asked to undertake something impressive to show the globe that the new leadership and avant-garde art were actually not at odds. In contrast, he prepares a two-pronged tribute to the government-sponsored massacre: verses in the atmosphere that show "... Death is friendship... Death is Chile... Death is responsibility... “(Roberto Bolaño) page 80, alongside an exhibition of pictures of mutilated bodies.
The narrator knows that since Wieder has served the same government, he being an insider a trusted ally has the potential to convey more trustable information; one to be trusted by more of the citizen and one that will also reveal the most significant information required not directly, but through the poetic approach. It is this fact that makes the state agencies hunt for the life of Wieder considering the damage he has caused after the exhibition. Wieder chooses to use the airspace or to administer his operation in the air because this is an open space for all to read and no obstruction of which ever source can stop its featuring. He intentionally avoids using paper and pen, for they can be confiscated by the mighty and therefore, not reaching the targeted audience (Roberto Bolaño).
We learn that Wieder was not willing to undertake the last task given to him as an ombudsman, in fact, the writer says, “Wieder travelled inside the cloud like Jonah inside the whale” (Roberto Bolaño) page 80. The audience in this case, including pilots has, perhaps, been forced by the government to stay put and watch their demonstration of commitment to public service to be presented by Wieder; a talented person who uses aircraft technology to deliver elusive poetic verses. This to the state would make their mission accomplished with no friction considering the public's perception of Wieder (Stockwell).
To the university students, this was a fantastic opportunity to voice their criticism of the evils done in their nation and was in full support of the satirical techniques being used by their friend who had grown to be tremendously influential. To the pilots it was a disappointment to their loyalty.
When Wieder does this work, he knows quite well the repercussions but for the sake of his countrymen, he decides to risk. It is the pending death he is referring to when he says Death is friendship; he implies the supposed relationship he has had with the regime, though, knowing it has gone sour for his criticism (Lodge). Death is Chile; refers to the responsibility bestowed upon him as a responsible citizen to criticize the evils and injustices within the system. Death is responsibility; refers to his performance for the mentioned tasked and capability to remain answerable to them. He expects the citizens to have the right of freely exercising their freedom including the freedom of association and speech instead of curtailing such privileges and forcing honorable citizens to go on exile upon trying to exercise such.
Koopmans, William T. "Joshua 24 as poetic narrative". London: Continuum International Publishing Group, , 1990.
Lodge, David. "After Bakhtin: essays on fiction and criticism" . New York: rRoutledge, , 1990.
Roberto Bolaño. "Distant star" . New York: New Directions Pub, 2004.
Stockwell, Peter. "Cognitive poetics: an introduction" . New York: Routledge,, 2002.