We Shouldn't Be
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie
9 May 2013
Nice the resurrection against Quilmes. Kalinski was so great! One of the most trustworthy we have. Pity we won´t have Mercier against Boca. Let´s see if Pipi plays more next week, if he can. And Buffarini, what a way to put the team back on their feet at the start of the second half! He´s a machine. Well, here it´s almost quatro e mezza della mattina [tr. note: In Italian, four thirty in the morning]. I´m going to sleep for a couple of hours, smiling. Big hug, Cuervo!
Dear Viggo Mortensen, yesterday evening I had an invitation for dinner at Pablo Braum´s home, a good friend, and it had been raining all day. I came out from work in the car and drove to Avenida Libertador, and it occurred to me to try to watch some of the match before going to Pablo´s. So I went into a café called Tabac, which is on the corner of Coronel Díaz and Libertador and I asked for a whiskey with a glass of water to watch the first half. The café is a small bar, quite lovely, that sometimes has Coco Basile and Mostaza Merlo as regulars. There were four waiters at the bar and scattered on my right a family with older men, a young couple and several women in their sixties who were eating a huge appetizer, very tasty: croissants, hot sandwiches, juices and champagne. I liked that large family, of different ages, enjoying a dinner on a cold rainy evening. In front of me, and under the TV where CASLA was doing warm-ups with their jackets on, there was another couple with a child. By their faces, I speculated that they were husband and wife and I tried to find the architectural line that produced the face of a 15 or 16 year old child who was sitting with them. After a while, another kid arrived and sat at that table. He looked like Neymar, the crack Brazilian player, if we took away from Neymar all the facial features that make him Brazilian. The kid arrived with an Adidas sweat jacket, in Barça´s short blue pants and sat down in front of the other boy who, no doubt, was the elder brother. This boy looked more like the mother. I think I was looking at all these things because I was drinking whiskey - the blond psychologist - and because I was alone. The whiskey took away the fear that San Lorenzo could lose. It's incredible how alcohol modifies life.
Tabac, Buenos Aires.
I also remembered Petete, a little friend from the neighbourhood who just like that moved from Boedo to another remote neighbourhood, in the province, following the destiny of his parents. Why did I remember him? Because when the match was starting, I thought that you were sitting on the empty chair next to me, but in another country, in another climate. I felt united to a friend by the passion of this red and blue shirt that I love so much. And I knew that wherever you were, you´d be watching the match, as I was doing, as we have done many times together. The first half went by, slowed down by the effect of whiskey in my head. It seemed to me that San Lorenzo wasn´t playing at the level the circumstances called for, that Quilmes was playing it as a real final. When the first half ended we were down by one-zero. I paid and went to dinner. During the whole night and during the light sleep of the early morning, I was wondering "Did we lose?" Very early today, I took Rita to run in the park with Anita who came with me, and when I saw the headline in the newspaper saying we had won, it changed my day. That´s how it is. It seems stupid that your mood could be so chained to azulgrana vicissitudes but when I read that we had turned the match around, an infinite joy that turned into willpower flooded my body. I told Anita, "Ciclón won, child!" And she said, "Yes, dad, they always win!" You watched the entire match. How was the second half?
I was and am completely with you in that café. You showed it to me in a perfect light. Here in Spain, the match started at 2:15 in the morning. I wanted, as usual, to watch it all, or at least as much as possible in spite of having to get up early, and still being sick. (The cold I caught leaving Buenos Aires turned into bronchitis and I´m just beginning to function more or less well.) The first half was terrible, I didn´t understand what had happened to the boys. After a quarter of an hour of a hard-fought but rather disorderly game at midfield, a rebound gift fell to Elizari and he scored the 1-0 for Quilmes. And right there San Lorenzo broke down. It seemed to me I was watching one of last year´s horrible matches in which the lack of will was taking over the team like a virus, a slow suicide. As you say so well, the southerners were playing with real intensity as was appropriate to the importance of the match while CASLA seemed to be playing a training match. Pizzi´s face said it all; the man was living a total nightmare. A little before half time, I washed some dishes and glasses that were left from dinner (always with an eye on the screen of my laptop,) took out the garbage and then opened a red wine. You were right, you and I were together, drinking alcohol at the same time and watching a Ciclón soccer match with growing discomfort. Past three in the morning, our guys began the second half still disconnected, strangely clumsy. I thought I should be taking care of myself a little and go to bed, but I couldn´t. "This is going to change," I thought. "This San Lorenzo can't end this way today. They will pick themselves up." And they did. Suddenly they turned the match around and they didn´t let go again. We were lucky when Goñi, Quilmes´left winger, had to leave the match a few minutes because his nose was bleeding. Buffarini was playing right on that side, and now he had more room to go up his right lane. But the goal by the guy from Córdoba was not by chance, and neither was the precise definition of Gonzalo Verón (first goal in the First [league] by the kid who came from Sportivo Italiano) with Correa´s beautiful assistance. The goals came from a collective effort. The defence, spearheaded by Mercier, became strong, covering everything. Piatti began to get his passes right, Correa was playing better and better. Navarro had had some good moments during the first half, but Kalinski´s appearance was key. Just when Romagnoli was about to replace Correa, Verón made his goal. Although this took some urgency out of the change, the addition of Pipi helped to give a certain solidity to the midfield from then on. He didn´t seem completely loose and at ease - I suppose because of the soaked and muddy field - but he made a couple of good passes and with Piatti, he was important in the final effort to protect the 2-1. Even so, with the players conscious of the importance of defending the result, I liked that the team never stopped looking for the chance to attack. This combination of young and ambitious players with more cool-headed veterans - very well directed by Pizzi - gives CASLA this balance. The Golden Kids are playing at the speed common to their years, but with moderation thanks to the good example of the coach and their more experienced teammates. The family exists. I think that this recovery was the most important thing that has happened to the team in this tournament. It earned them a lot of self-esteem and confidence. I hope that Migliore comes back soon. Ibáñez is playing very well, but the Loco deserves to be part of what´s going on.
Like you, the result changed everything for me. I slept well and woke up happy. When my friend Léo came down having changed to go to his circus class for children, he had put on the Ciclón pants and t-shirt that we gave him in Boedo last year - and this without knowing that San Lorenzo had played last night. How the sun has shined today!
Last week was important for the status of Spanish soccer in Europe. The two great teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid, fell in the Champions [league] semi-finals. The same thing happened last year, but then it was a great surprise because they were the favourites. It has been obvious this year that these two teams, that had been beaten in their first leg matches in the semi-finals, were no longer that strong. For the first time, the final will be completely German, between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. I hope Dortmund wins in order to give a bigger challenge to Pep Guardiola, who will soon take the reins in control of Bayern, next year. José Mourinho, who already had me and many other Madrid sympathisers completely fed up, doesn´t stop in his Machiavellian campaign in the media. Everything coming out of his mouth is designed to strategically offend people and institutions that don´t pamper him, in order to justify his importance in soccer history and make clear his wish to coach again in England. Lately, he doesn´t miss a single chance to insult the captain Iker Casillas, the press or anyone resisting his megalomania. To me, the image of Casillas hugging his teammates - especially the second captain Sergio Ramos - after the hard defeat against Dortmund is the essence of what Real Madrid historically is for me. I think that Mourinho is capable of understanding the - in media terms - superficial value of such a gesture, but he neither can nor wants to understand its emotional source, its ethical value.
Dear Viggo: A few days ago, I was working and the cell phone rang and it was Guadalupe who told me, "Your old man is here at home." When I arrived, my old man was playing, barefooted, with Anita in her room. I remembered that great scene in The Godfather when Brando plays with his little nephew [sic] and he gets into a labyrinthian garden making the little kid run and he finally dies. But my old man didn't die that night. And not while I´m writing this either. He stayed at our house, we had dinner, we spoke little (I miss this a lot; he no longer talks as much) and I realised that, under the shirt he was wearing, a CASLA t-shirt that he must have been using to sleep in, was timidly peeking out. My eyes filled with tears and I couldn´t swallow while I was eating (You cannot cry and eat at the same time.) So I drank some water and pushed it down. Afterwards, while it started raining on the street, I took him home in the car. When we left, he said to me, "The 23 is running; don't bother because I can go on the bus." But I told him that the only way I wouldn't worry is if I took him to his doorstep. I thought, but didn't say, that I loved the prospect of driving through the dark city while it was raining, taking my old man home, in silence. While in the car, he asked me, "What is your daughter´s name?" "Ana," I said to him. "What´s your female dog's name?" "Rita," I said to him. "Are you married?" "Yes," I said to him. "I live with Guadalupe." Outside it was slowly raining and in the street there was a complete silence.
© Fabián Casas.
You killed me, brother. What you are telling me is so beautiful and moving. Give your dad a kiss, give a kiss to everybody. When I come back in a couple of weeks time to finish the shooting, I would like to see him with you, if you think it's all right. If he wants, we can go to the stadium.
I have lived the loss of memory and, little by little, the appearance of dementia up close with my mother during the last few years, and with other people before that. What I have learned, among other things, from the experience with my mother is that the time we have left to communicate with each other, using our words and conscious minds to understand one another with those who are beginning to mentally go away from us and their daily lives, infinitely increases its worth because it´s so precious. For my mother, words are almost completely extinguished, as if a curtain had fallen, and the faint connection that now exists is made of gestures, glances and silences full of mystery, with some cherished bright spots. All the senility cases are different, but what I have lived with her and with some others have points in common. Moments arise throughout the process of the disintegration of memories and the beginning of cycles of hallucination that are terrible. Some are very funny - and even the one who suffers the mental setbacks that are brought on by the metamorphosis of consciousness is sometimes capable of laughing at his own strange statements - but for me, deep down, a profound sadness always takes control, a growing shadow that can no longer be ignored. Maybe I lack enlightenment. For a long time now, my mother can´t speak more than two or three disjointed words to me before remaining more or less silent, looking attentively at me with her light-colored eyes. Lately I´ve cried a lot thinking about my mother. Looking into her eyes during the last two years, I've cried more than in my entire life, but it´s not always because of pain or sadness. Sometimes, many times, it's something cathartic. I cry, thankful for a breeze of understanding that passes between us, a deep fitting together that would be complicated for me to describe. Like that silence that you lived through in your car, beside your father, crossing the city on the rainy night. That kind of perspective can be brought to us by unconditional love, adoration, pure fear, the wonders of nature, the instants of revelation in our work and in our private lives. Other times, I've cried with joy when my mother has told me something completely absurd, impossibly incongruous. It has made me happy to know that I've been present at a given moment to imagine it with her, even laugh about the slip-up (and about death?) with her, and also to help her dispel or forget the hallucinations that seem to worry her most. What should be common and everyday, the use of a minimal part of our time and knowledge to connect with other people and animals quite openly, can seem unique, surprising to us. It´s true that it´s remarkable every time it happens, but this kind of bond should be normal between living beings. It happens so very seldom that we consider it particularly memorable, worthy of a special comment. Since last week, I've been reading bit by bit a book by Arthur Schopenhauer which consists of a series of observations about the best way for people to coexist with aging. In one of these meditations, gathered under the title of Senilia, he wrote that:
Between man and man, like a wide grave, selfishness is frequently found. If once in a while one really jumps over it to help the other it is as if a miracle had happened, which would reap amazement and applause." [Tr. note: this is translated directly from Spanish so the versions might be different in other languages]
Two or three years later, he also wrote something that, although it´s of little consolation, catches my attention because it sounds so true:
The terrible pains that each part of our body, each nerve is exposed to would not happen if we or that body were not something we should not be. (Nevertheless, those pains are useful to draw our attention to the wound and the necessary care to that part of the body.) This is a sentence that few will understand."
We all want to live, almost all of us. Almost all of us fight not to die. But is there someone who knows why we are alive?
Looking at my mother, 12/1958.
© Viggo Mortensen.
During the preparation and shooting of our film with Lisandro, I've thought a lot about my parents, my family, my "roots", about what is left for me. In our story, the father loses his daughter and realising that the love he feels for her is much more important than everything else in his life, he embarks on a search for her in the deep desert. He's learning that the search itself is the fundamental thing, is the lesson. Every moment of his resulting lonely exploration is actually his life, much more than the image he carries in his mind of the daughter he misses. "Dinesen" is increasingly finding himself while he is losing the thread of his own story, of his physical journey towards an apparently unattainable horizon. With all the junk and noises surrounding us, nowadays there´s more information reaching us from every side, from innumerable sources. Who or what is important to us? It´s very difficult to know which way we are going, if there´s something we must do besides paying attention from one moment to the next. I don´t know of another solution other than turning equipment off and being silent, as much as I can, more every day. Mark Twain´s [quote] is good, too.
When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
Dear Viggo: Just today, traveling to work on the subway, a boy standing next to me asked me what was I reading. I told him [it was] a book about people, biographies, those things. The book in question made me think about how people construct that which we call life. What is it that makes a life work and progress? I don't know. Nor do I know what makes people die. When I read what you are telling me about your mother, I realise that, sometimes, as Borges said, all men are only one. Because what you experience, the cathartic weeping, the weeping of sadness and joy, is also a great liberation for me. I think that the horror, at a certain boiling level, either turns into laughter or we go crazy. And every time I´m prey to indolence, laziness or mortal sadness, to think in what my dear ones, whom I adore, did - my parents, my godfather, my aunt who raised me - my friends that I admire and love for their force of will - you, Linchenti, Lisandro... makes me take a different stance on the street. That is to say, one owes it to them to rise to the occasion. A bit like the end of Calvino´s The Invisible Cities, that says that we must see who in the midst of hell is not hell and strengthen him, make him grow. That´s what it's about.
Last night Guada told me that, while she was falling asleep, Anita said "Today San Lorenzo won, daddy told me..."
Last edited: 18 April 2014 15:58:47