Two Steps and the Horizon
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
18 March 2015
I´m sending you a picture they took of us in the office of your editor friend, when we were reading the latest installment of Tiki-Tiki together. It looks as if we were studying very serious texts, or the news of a major disaster. You are already realizing the horrific consequences of the news, and I have my doubts with respect to the veracity of what we are reading.
This picture is great! Last night Pitu paid tribute to me because I turn fifty on April 7th and yesterday he scored a goal from a distance of 50 metres. Did you see it?
Pitu Barrientos celebrating his great goal
Yes! And I have already watched the replay of that great goal twenty times on the laptop with my friend Leo. The Pincharratas [tr. note: Estudiantes de la Plata's nickname] couldn't believe it. Right now San Lorenzo is sheer madness or is driving us mad. Everything is there, and nothing happens. Nothing is there, and often everything happens. As José Martí said, "what each time requires is what must be done each time." But human beings are not always so wise, we don't live our present, we do not consistently understand which is the easiest and most effective way. From play to play, pass to pass, with the eye on the whole pitch, breathing quietly - that´s quite difficult, right? If panic gets hold of you, it immobilizes you and makes you blind.
Speaking of the fight against panic, I'm reading a book that has to do with that. You who admire Roberto Bolaño's work so much, I'm sure you know his novel Monsieur Pain. I hadn't read it until now. It begins nicely, surreal. It won't stop raining in Paris, and the main character gets increasingly entangled in the cobwebs of his paranoia and the weight of accumulated doubts. The novel is a night flight that unsettles me and makes me anxious.
It has occasional flashes that remind me of the poetic side of Cormac McCarthy that emerges from time to time from his concise language with enigmatic little twists. "I felt observed to the point of pain, a pain that made me feel unnatural," says Bolaño's protagonist toward the beginning of this novel. And the thing goes on, increasingly getting worse, proving the character, who ends up being the prey of everyone and his own fears, right. His thoughts are interrupted by other thoughts of his that are interrupted by other thoughts of his until he's left sleepless and crushed. I don't know what was happening to Bolaño at that time. Do you know about this novel, Fabián, and its writing process?
He wrote it in 1981-82 and it was originally published in 1984 with the title La Senda de los elefantes [The Path of the Elephants] after winning the Félix Urabayen Prize from the Toledo City Council and in 1999, Anagrama published it with a new title. I don't know the reason for the change. Bolaño tries to explain it, more or less, in his prologue for the new edition, but I didn't understand it at all. He's also said that the plot of his novel is "indecipherable." What is clear is that it has to do with the last days in the life of the Peruvian poet César Vallejo in 1938, and the protagonist, Monsieur Pain, gets permission to try to save his life with "mesmerism," using some kind of body magnetism to cure him of chronic and supposedly very dangerous hiccups. Supposedly he will keep trying to save him from the mysterious general illness that the writer suffers, but Pain is never given permission to see him again. The French doctors in the hospital hate him and despise him as if he were a quack - and maybe he is. There also are some Spanish guys, spies from the fascist side, who follow the protagonist and who bribe him, trying to prevent him from continuing to help Vallejo. What I find in this novel is the fear of loneliness, the impossibility of connecting, of communicating with other human beings in a world of shadows and dreams. Now with the slow slipping into the mud of dementia, with the unpredictable turns between lucidity and insanity that I am witnessing in the lives of my parents and others, this unusual Bolaño story seems to me to be a kind of inquiry into the process of mental decay. On reading the novel, I also feel that the writer has experienced the terror of feeling himself as a character in his own story, perhaps a little like Franz Kafka with Metamorphosis - a character trapped, watched, with no apparent way out. An unsolved mystery.
Hello Viggo, an infernal heat here. I haven't read this novel by Bolaño but I like the other title it had better, The Elephants' Path. Now you've made me want to read it. I've just spent three weeks alone with Anita and Rita, since Guada left for the set where they were shooting the film of her book, Pozo de aire [tr. note: Well of Air]. She took baby Julián with her, and the production hired an assistant to look after the child. So I was the protagonist of a series I watched on TV when I was very little: "Papá Corazón." They were the vicissitudes of a father who had to raise his only daughter. I truly had a great time. My relationship with my daughter is becoming more fulfilling and inexhaustible. When I woke up, I would get her breakfast, bathe and change her to go to school, and four hours later I would fetch her.
I did all this with Rita, so she also enjoyed the outings because we went to the squares. I had to keep the two of them happy and that made me happy. There´s no doubt that the less you think of yourself, the more you are in a state of service to others, the happier you are. I saw Barrientos´ great goal with Anita sleeping by my side on the big bed, and with Rita sleeping next to it on the floor. I was not able to shout it as I would have liked, but I think I´m going to watch the clásico with Globo this Sunday and maybe Pitu will dedicate another goal to me, who knows? Today is my last day at the office where I've worked for 12 years; I´m saving photos, copying files. When I come out into the afternoon sun, a new life begins. Will you get me a part in some movie by Cronenberg?
Here's to your twelve years of work, brother, and the next new adventure. Let's see if we can invent another story to share and work together on, like happened with Lisandro and Jauja. There was the possibility of reading together for Poetry Week in Barcelona in May, but now I think the challenges of the international promotion of Jauja and Loin des hommes will take that possibility away for me. Maybe you will go and do it alone, but I would like to do it together. If not this time, I'm sure we can find another opportunity.
I finished the Bolaño book. You're right, the original title was better. There's a weird epilogue that keeps that title, The Elephants' Path. A little of what happened later to the novel's main characters is summarized there. For me, those added details don't clarify much of what the novel wanted to say. In the end, this book didn't seem as good to me as Bolaño's others. It's an exercise, a game of time and paranoia, an interesting puzzle, but it doesn't manage to be a great novel. It started off very well, like a good example of film noirfrom the 40's, with a lot of atmosphere and mystery, but it ended like one of those unpleasant ties that we've experienced with San Lorenzo when the team deserved much more. One minor thing that bothered me a bit - you already know how annoying I am about details of period and language - was that the Spanish characters, those spies or mafiosi that were going after Pain, used South American words like "mani" instead of "cacahuete" [tr. note: word for "peanut"]. Those things are not very important, but when I read something like that, or see it in a movie, it pulls me out of the story for a while. The best sequence in the novel is one in which the protagonist enters a theatre, followed by the Spaniards and the plot of the film is as assiduously followed as Monsieur Pain's dilemma. There's where we see the talented juggling of the writer. Another detail that made me laugh is that Pain cures Vallejo of the hiccups on April 7 - your birthday!
How nice that you can watch the Clásico! We'll talk during the match if you like, at least during halftime. I see that the Quemeros´ [tr. note: Huracán´s nickname] coach, Nestor Apuzzo, is busting balls with that stuff about Carrefour. It's fine with me. If these resentful cousins [of ours] didn't throw some verbal bomb this week, they´d have to be declared dead.
I saw an incredible match this week, the knockout round of the Champions [League] between Chelsea and Paris-Saint Germain. Like last year against Atlético de Madrid, and as also happened against Bayern München when Mourinho was Real Madrid's coach, the Portuguese screwed it up by playing not to lose, instead of attacking with all the enormous talent he has at his disposal. It doesn't always happen, but this time brave and beautiful soccer won. Although they played with ten for nearly 90 of the total 120 minutes of the game, Laurent Blanc´s guys never surrendered; they always sought to score.
Great goal by former Chelsea´s David Luiz
This time, Mou´s cynical approach blew up in his face because he couldn't keep the brilliant Parisian team from playing soccer. After the match, in a more or less subtle way, The Bitter One managed to put the blame on his players for not playing at the level that this match required instead of taking responsibility for his lousy conservative tactics. This coach has so much fear of losing that he doesn't dare to play. I find this very sad for the players and the Chelsea supporters.
Well, Champion Cuervo, tomorrow I will expect news from the Bajo Flores. Too bad that there won't be a visiting crowd for the Clásico. You lose so much without it in a match like this.
Last night I watched the match with Ariadna. I just got up. I´m waiting for your account of the atmosphere in the stadium. On my small screen, it looked spectacular, and the blue sky tinted red at sunset gave a beautiful background to the event. Before saying anything further about San Lorenzo's victory in their first neighbourhood Clásico in four years, condolences must be offered to the families of Pablo Giménez and Esteban Otero. Pablo fell 50 metres from the Bidegain grandstand and died. He fell on Esteban, who was admitted to a hospital in very serious condition. I don´t know how this happened, whether Pablo was pushed or he simply fell from a corner of the grandstand. I just learned about the tragedy. Esteban was coming out of the toilets holding the hand of his four year old son. It seems the child is alright, at least physically. Let's hope his father recovers soon. The happiness one feels at winning against an historical rival is overshadowed by the dead man and the one who was seriously injured. We celebrate these people with all due respect, dedicating this win to them, but knowing that this will be of little consolation to their loved ones. We pray for these Cuervos and their families.
Quique Fogwill, a great friend of mine, used to say that he was at the service of his children - he had many and of different ages. Today I can say the same. I made Anita her breakfast, I changed Julián´s nappies, I prepared him a bottle. I took Anita to school, I fetched her four hours later. In the afternoon I put Julián to bed. I took Rita out for a walk in the park. And all of that with the hoarse voice I was left with after yesterday´s match because after shouting the goals - especially the first one by Pipi - you can barely hear me. Just the same, all day today I was propelled by the joy of winning the Clásico. A match that CASLA began playing very well, on the attack but with ferocious rough spots in the defence. And Toranzo scored that big goal as if to spice up the match. At that moment, I thought that we were going to lose undeservedly again. But no, Pipi was playing, and he carried the team and played like you have to play in a Clásico. I went to the stadium with my friend César Francis - a member of the Cuervo Board of Directors - and with several of his friends - Marcos, Ian, a great Peruvian guy from the group who had an Azulgrana kippah [tr. note: also called a "yarmulke"]. Have a look at the photos that I'm sending shortly. It was an intense, very hot day and a somewhat cooler afternoon and evening.
Unfortunately, Argentine soccer is a killing machine and a young guy fell from the top of the grandstand with such bad luck that he landed on top of a young man who was coming out of one of the bathrooms with his four year old son. The little boy was unharmed and the man is still in serious condition. It's unbelievable. When we came out of the stadium, we had to take a detour because the body of the guy was on the ground, covered, and surrounded by police. I thought about that kid preparing to go to the Clásico in the morning, without knowing that it would be his last day on earth. What was he doing up there in that quaking mass? I asked myself that question all day. Anyway, in the series "South Park," there was a character who died in every episode while the others said, "They killed Kenny!" In Argentina, they kill Kenny every day.
I just read that they are speculating that the dead supporter, Pablo Giménez, could have committed suicide, that he took off his glasses before throwing himself and/or falling into space. I also found out that Esteban Otero, who was crushed by Giménez' fall, and his son had gone to see a San Lorenzo match for the first time. All of this contrasts very cruelly with the happiness that we Cuervos were feeling at winning against Huracán. One thing that has to be done, no matter what happens, is to construct a higher wall up there. A meter high is not enough. But, if someone wants to throw himself off - if that's how it was - it doesn't matter how high the wall is. But, to prevent accidental falls - if that's how it was - the wall has to be higher.
Like I say, I don't know what happened with Pablo, and I can't know what passed through his mind before falling. Nor do I want to speculate. I'm very saddened by what happened.
Image courtesy of Paloma and "Acción …
I'm so glad for Pipi. Great match by our legendary 10! How lucky you were, brother, being able to be present to see him play yesterday!
Congratulations CAPTAIN CUERVO!!!!!!!!!!
Laverni is a disaster as a referee, as bad as the Dutch Kuipers was in the recent match between Chelsea and PSG. Luckily he didn't screw the match up this time. Those from Huracán have reasons to be angry, but he also allowed the Quemeros [tr. note: Huracán´s nickname] deliver a lot of kicks without being charged with anything. Let´s see if the Cuervos have a good rest before the important match for the Cup this Wednesday in Brazil. The Morumbi [stadium] is a jungle where it will be difficult to defeat Säo Paulo, but Bauza has the team playing well now. I hope he gets Pipi in from the get-go. Please.
Right after winning the Clásico, 15/3/2015
In a much less interesting match, Real Madrid won without convincing anyone that they are ready for the coming Clásico against Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo has become more unbearable than ever, if possible. Completely selfish. He doesn't celebrate his teammates´ goals, doesn't defend and only thinks about his personal agenda, his duel against Messi. Meanwhile the Pulga [tr. note: the Flea, a.k.a. Messi] continues to assist, scoring goals, enduring kicks, defending all he can and organising his team´s attack. If one looked at the face of Ancelotti's number seven, it looked as if his team had lost instead of winning 2-0. This guy is a drag. The gave him the last Balon d´Or, and since then he does nothing but cry and make a fuss. If he were to play on Simeone´s team [tr. note: Atlético de Madrid coach], Cristiano Ronaldo would be on the bench every time he acted like a sissy. Utterly embarrassing. As a Real Madrid supporter I'm glad we have the Culés [tr. note: Barça´s nickname] within reach for the next weekend match in Camp Nou, but it worries me that Cristiano is in the starting line-up for the Spanish Clásico.
Look how lovely this article about Romagnoli is,
What Pipi always does is to go on, dribble and another, pass and another, centre and another, and from time to time a beauty of a goal like the one he scored against Huracán. What he never stops doing is looking at the future, studying the pitch, taking advantage of what the day and the opponent give you. That journey to utopia, towards the perfect match, is eternal, as Eduardo Galeano described it:
"Utopia is on the horizon. I walk two steps, she moves two steps away and the horizon runs ten steps further. Then what is utopia for? For that, it is for walking."
Last edited: 14 August 2015 08:54:12