Knowing How To Travel
30 March 2013
Hello V, I guess you are travelling towards the Cuervo homeland; maybe right now, while I'm writing, you are held by the patience of the engines, right there where many people believe divinity is. But what there is, at least on the inner side of the window, is the mass-produced food, the noises from dinner when the lights are turned off, the screaming from children who aren't used to the plane's rhetoric, and the small TVs showing previously taped Hollywood products. The first thing I wanted to say to you is that all of us in the film crew are waiting for you with great joy. All the beautiful moments in my life were collective achievements, never individual. Lisandro rented a garage to house the film's office and I liked that, because just like there's garage rock (during my scholarship in Iowa City I saw endless garage bands in a downtown basement), now we are going to create a new concept which is garage film, an intense and punk cinema set in a state of questioning and never answering. And you aren't the only one up above: Argentina, spearheaded by Messi, is about to play in La Paz shortly, one of the grounds most feared by national teams. Remember how Maradona swallowed 6 [goals] with Messi in the field. I was in La Paz when I was 21, when I travelled for two years through Latin America trying to imitate Che, but without anyone dying. I was in Villazón and in Oruro and in La Paz I slept on the street, on El Prado [tr. note: El Prado is La Paz's main street], a place that's similar to our 9 de Julio [tr. note: Avenida 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires is the widest avenue in the world]. Since I didn't have a dime and the hoop earrings I used to make and sell had been stolen, I decided to panhandle on the street and people were awesome, gave me money, invited me to their tasty breakfasts of cow's head with boiling stock. After you knock one of those back at six in the morning, you won't sleep for the rest of your life. I'm writing you this and I feel the taste of that broth in my mouth, even though more than 35 years have passed. Also in La Paz, I met a comic strip artist on the street who invited me to eat fried chicken and paid for two nights in a hotel for me until he returned to his town up in the mountains. Since I was climbing little by little, [over] two years, from country to country - I walked from La Quiaca to Villazón - I didn't suffer from soroche or altitude sickness. But I saw a German bleeding from the ears and and a Belgian who couldn't leave his hotel without oxygen. Not long ago I was in Quito for an international poetry festival and the first thing I said was that I came to Quito because I wanted to show that you can read poetry at high altitude. Everybody laughed. But in the afternoon, my feet felt as heavy as if I were carrying a Cantoná [tr. note: Eric Cantona, player for the French national soccer team.] in each shoe and my head was a blender. Farewell youth, you were fantastic, but now I'm not up to being at altitude. I'll watch the match and comment on it with you. I cannot wait to give you a hug, Cuervo.
I'm here; I got in last night. Thank you for your lovely words of welcome! I loved your description of what it's like flying in an airplane. Since I grew up travelling a lot, flying is almost like being at home for me, and a plane is like my second mother. I always liked airports and everything that goes along with getting ready for a trip - even now, when everything has changed so much because of the new security that we have after the terrorist attack in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. I continue to enjoy watching people from everywhere walking through the terminals, waiting, looking for their gates - each person with their own destination, their dreams, their belongings, their preoccupations. And being in the sky during those hours when you feel as though you've escaped from linear time always seemed like an opportunity for reflection to me. Of course the sight of the Río de La Plata and of Buenos Aires from the little window also brings a smile to my face. I always get excited at coming back. In the taxi, I got into a conversation about Pizzi, Ramón Díaz, Madelón, Bianchi, Riquelme, Pekermann, Caruso Lombardi, Falcioni, about Lavezzi's good time, about Messi as captain, Palermo as coach, The Return to Boedo, the national team, Mourinho, Higuaín, Di María, the dollar, the President, Macri, the Grupo Clarín, the Malvinas and I don't know what else. As if I'd never left.
You'll remember that in one of our recent chats we talked about Beckett, and specifically about his play Endgame. I just saw on TV that they're staging it in the Teatro San Martín. The actors are Alfredo Alcón, Joaquín Furriel, Graciela Araujo y Roberto Castro. If you want to, we can see it before we get involved in filming with Lisandro in Río Negro.
And we have to watch together the Sunday match against Newells, if we can. With your old man, Anita, Guadalupe, Lisandro... Maybe with the film's Danish women (I already have the CASLA t-shirts for them - we have to inoculate them from the word go against any approach from Bosteros and Gallinas that the tourist always suffers.) Well, we'll talk later and we'll see what we do. Until then, I´m sending you a big hug.
Viggo, I saw a version of Endgame with Alcón in the role of the blind father and his crony was a great actor called Roca. That was many years ago, and that version was great; I liked it because it was concise. Of course we can go and see this one, too. Right now, as I was telling you, I'm writing plays non-stop. I already have four; I show them to a woman friend I admire very much who is also a director and playwright. Her name is Romina Paula and she does shit to them and I go back to bite the same bone again and again. I go on and on searching for the strange voice. I think that throughout his life a writer gains a skill and he [then] has to work against his skill. To be a real man one has to lose the human form; to write for the theatre one has to get out of the theatre. I, for now, am outside the theatre, like fifteen blocks away. We'll see. I was leafing through the Bukowski book you found on the street and gave to me. Now that the cult of Bukowski has passed, it can be read with a different perspective, as I guess will also happen with Bolaño. I always liked Bukowski's novels: Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye, etc. Ghandi said: "I like Christ, but I don't like Christians because they are not like him." Something similar happens to me with Bukowski. I like his prose, quarried out of Hemingway, but not the replicants who came out, nor the bukowski-ism, that thing about being cursed for the sake of being cursed. It's preferable to be a poet who is blessed. This book you gave me, Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame, has what's for me his best poem. It's called "The Twins." I'll transcribe it: [tr. note: Fabián transcribed the poem in Spanish; here it is in the original English]:
he hinted at times that I was a bastard and I told him to listen
to Brahms, and I told him to learn to paint and drink and not be
dominated by women and dollars
but he screamed at me For Christ's Sake remember your mother,
remember your country,
you'll kill us all!...
I move through my father's house (on which he owed $8000 after 20
years on the same job) and look at his dead shoes
the way his feet curled the leather, as if he was angrily planting roses,
and he was, and I look at his dead cigarette, his last cigarette
and the last bed he slept in that night, and I feel I should remake it
but I can't, for a father is always your master even when he's gone;
I guess these things have happened time and again but I can't help thinking
to die on the kitchen floor at 7 o'clock in the morning
while other people are frying eggs
is not so rough
unless it happens to you.
I go outside and pick an orange and peel back the bright skin;
things are still living: the grass is growing quite well,
the sun sends down its rays circled by a Russian satellite,
a dog barks senselessly somewhere, the neighbors peek behind the blinds.
I am a stranger here, and have been (I suppose) somewhat the rogue,
and I have no doubt he painted me quite well (the old boy and I
fought like mountain lions) and they say he left it all to some woman
in Duarte but I don't give a damn - she can have it; he was my old man
and he died
inside, I try on a light blue suit
much better than anything I have ever worn
and I flap the arms like a scarecrow in the wind
but it's no good:
I can't keep him alive
no matter how much we hated each other.
we looked exactly alike, we could have been twins
the old man and I: that's what they
said. he had his bulbs on the screen
ready for planting
while I was laying with a whore from 3rd street.
very well. grant us this moment: standing before a mirror
in my dead father's suit
Since I was flying, I missed the Argentina against Bolivia and Spain against France games, the two I wanted to see most of the many that were played yesterday with a view to 2014 World Cup. I just saw the highlights of those two matches on TV. The Spaniards and Argentines are almost certain of being in Brazil next year. They played rather well, and they had the luck needed in tense and difficult matches. The Bolivian and Spanish goalkeepers saved the day for their teams. Di María is a machine.
I'm still thinking about what flying means, travelling constantly as I do for my family (whom I've got everywhere), work and also, when I can, simply for the pleasure of seeing new places - and those known places that have changed. The French philosopher René Descartes said that "He who spends too much time travelling ends up being a stranger in his own land." Could be. Sometimes I don't know how to answer those who ask me where I'm from, where I feel more at home. Argentina, United States, Denmark...The truth is there are many places where I've made some space for myself, that I carry in my memory and in my heart. I think it's positive to be able to find a way to understand different people in places that initially seemed strange to me.
I grew up like that, flexible, able to adapt. I think in part I cling to CASLA because it is a fixed point for me, an ideal, a flame that never dies. Another good sentence on the subject (also from a Frenchman) is this one from Emile Zola: "Nothing develops the intelligence more than travel." I've learned many good things in my travels; I've seen how others do things, what they value and how they confront the challenges they meet in their lives. But there are times when I feel that there's something lacking in mine - maybe when I'm tired (and when San Lorenzo loses!). At those moments, I feel an emptiness, and that I'm going around a little lost in the world. When I think about it, I believe that sensation has to do with death or, more accurately, with the fear of death, the unknown, the inevitable, the impossibility of seeing everything, learning everything, remembering everything. Our days are numbered and our journeys, too. It's better to know that, it seems to me - to assume it. As Freud said, "Si vis vitam, para mortem
." ("If you want life, prepare yourself for death.
Speaking of journeys, exiles and death, did you see that the great Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés died? A genius and a great person. I'm sending you something elegant and moving that his good friend, Fernando Trueba, the Spanish director, wrote a few days ago - including the great quote from Valdés, "When I die, I don't want anyone crying. I want them to have a party and dance and get drunk."
And here are three Bebo videos: ("Cuban Lament," "Black Tears" and "Obsession" with Diego el Cigala singing):
Another coincidence: Tonight I was able to watch a film of Carl Dreyer's that we've talked about before, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) with Maria Falconetti's tremendous acting. I turned on the TV and they were showing it on Channel 7. Sometimes not being able to sleep has its rewards. Usually, there alone, you can see the world another way and it seems that at night you "understand" unprecedented connections. You end up half dead for work the next day, but odd ideas come to you. I thought about my mother, who was born the same year that this work of Dreyer's premiered in Paris. She's always loved the movies. In spite of being almost 85 years old and having lost many memories (I think they are there in her head, but she doesn't always remember the password to access them), she still remembers the titles of old films, the names of great actors. She never suggested that I try the job of actor, but she taught me a lot of things. During my childhood, she inspired me by taking me to see memorable works like Doctor Zhivago, Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, Nilsson's Martín Fierro, and so many others.
I think she would have been a good actress. She's always had a "spark" and a sense of humor; she loves to laugh - even now when the films in her head have been reduced to stray, hardly related photos. My old lady has the most beautiful smile in the world.
Well, speaking of actresses, I invited the one from our film, young Vilbjörk who will be my daughter in our story, and her mother, to watch the game with us and Lisandro this weekend if we finish the pre-production work. I gave them San Lorenzo t-shirts , the ones that say "Me verás volver" ["You'll see me return"], explaining that everybody in Argentina was going to go dressed like that on Sunday, that it was traditional Easter dress. Asado, mate, Ciclón game - there's no better introduction to the country. Let's see if the Vikings give us luck against Newell's, a very important game. La Lepra [tr. note: Newell's nickname, "Leprosy"] is strong now. I'm sure that it's going to be a tough game, but I have confidence in Pizzi and the team, that they are prepared to do important things in this tournament.
Last edited: 18 April 2014 15:57:06