The Apprenticeship Never Ends




" In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."
- Eric Hoffer

"A good critic is he who relates the adventures of his own soul among masterpieces."
- Anatole France

Sunday was a day of turning inward and introspection. Even today, Monday now in the early morning, I feel my eyes wandering, wanting to lose themselves in the old brick wall that encloses the garden of this English house. I want the flowers and the trees to think for me, to distract me and teach me where to look when the breeze makes them tremble. [I want] the red fox who approached the door of the kitchen last night and who stared at me to return, so I don't have to wonder about anything. I don't want big noises or movements. The hangover I have is not from alcohol, but from having stopped short, from having to begin from zero after what happened on Saturday. The first thing that happened hurt me much more and is going to hurt me much longer than the unbelievable San Lorenzo defeat against Bicho [tr. note: nickname for Argentinos Juniors]. The irreplaceable Kevin Power, friend to so many creative minds and expert guide to aesthetics died near his beloved cabin in the north of Spain. Poet, student, teacher, essayist, translator, editor and one of the greatest experts on contemporary art. Curator of brilliant expositions all over the world, always being a force for good, setting the good example, full of love for those who take risks. He brings out the best in everyone he knows. I'm going to continue speaking about my friend in the present tense; it seems best to me. I will continue looking at the world through his eyes somehow, because it comes to me naturally after having done it for so many years. "What will he think of this painting, this paragraph, this old song??" At this point, I don't know what more to say. We had pending projects and meetings. Now I can't talk with him about books, trees, drinking wine together, laughing together. Well, maybe I can, maybe I can. Later, with the passage of time, I hope I'll be able to better express what Kevin left me, what he will continue to inspire in me and in so many others. Now I find myself in this garden, listening to a fluttering of doves in the courtyard next door. Could the fox have returned?

© Unknown.
Kevin has a knowledge of modern poetry without equal. He once said:

"A poem is a political fact, in the same way that a strike or a revolt are poetic events, and that a work of art, in defining some new forms and a new language, simultaneously lends clarity and force to social evolution."

One of his favorite poets is the North American Robert Creeley. Kevin was reading this poet the day he got sick. Here are three Creeley poems, translated by Martin Abadia [tr. note: we have substituted the poems in the original English], so we can enjoy, albeit indirectly and by halves, a little of what Kevin appreciated and also conveyed as an artist and friend:

The Conspiracy

You send me your poems,
I'll send you mine.
Things tend to awaken
even through random communication.
Let us suddenly
proclaim spring. And jeer
at the others,
all the others.
I will send a picture too
if you will send me one of you.


En Famille

I wandered lonely as a cloud...
I'd seemingly lost the crowd
I'd come with, family - father, mother, sister and brothers -
fact of a common blood.

Now there was no one,
just my face in the mirror, coat on a single hook,
a bed I could make getting out of.
Where had they gone?

What was that vague determination
cut off the nurturing relation
with all the density, this given company -
what made one feel such desperation

to get away, get far from home, be gone from those
would know us even if they only saw our noses or our toes,
accept with joy our helplessness,
taking for granted it was part of us?

My friends, hands on each other's shoulders,
holding on, keeping the pledge
to be for one, for all, a securing center,
no matter up or down, or right or left -

to keep the faith, keep happy, keep together,
keep at it, so keep on
despite the fact of necessary drift.
Home might be still the happiest place on earth?

You won't get far by yourself.
It's dark out there.
There's a long way to go.
The dog knows.

It's him loves us most,
or seems to, in dark nights of the soul.
Keep a tight hold.
Steady, we're not lost.

Despite the sad vagaries,
anchored in love, placed in the circle,
young and old, a round -
love's fact of this bond.

One day one will look back
and think of them -
where they were, now gone -
remember it all.

Turning inside as if in a dream,
the twisting face I want to be my own,
the people loved and with me still,
I see their painful faith.

Grow, dears, then fly away!
But when the dark comes, then come home.
Light's in the window, heart stays true.
Call - and I'll come to you.

The wind blows through the shifting trees
outside the window, over the fields below.
Emblems of growth, of older, younger,
of towering size or all the vulnerable hope

as echoes in the image of these three
look out with such reflective pleasure,
so various and close. They stand there,
waiting to hear a music they will know.

I like the way you both look out at me.
Somehow it's sometimes hard to be a human.
Arms and legs get often in the way,
making oneself a bulky, awkward burden.

Tell me your happiness is simply true.
Tell me I can still learn to be like you.
Tell me the truth is what we do.
Tell me that care for one another is the clue.

We're here because there's nowhere else to go,
we've come in faith we learned as with all else.
Someone once told us and so it is we know.
No one is left outside such simple place.

No one's too late, no one can be too soon.
We comfort one another, making room.
We dream of heaven as a climbing stair.
We look at stars and wonder why and where.

Have we told you all you'd thought to know?
Is it really so quickly now the time to go?
Has anything happened you will not forget?
Is where you are enough for all to share?

Is wisdom just an empty word?
Is age a time one might finally well have missed?
Must humanness be its own reward?
Is happiness this?


The Immoral Proposition

If you never do anything for anyone else
you are spared the tragedy of human relationships.

If quietly and like another time
there is the passage of an unexpected thing:

to look at it is more
than it was. God knows

nothing is competent nothing is
all there is. The unsure

egoist is not
good for himself.

Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley.
© Unknown.

Hello, Viggo: I wrote to the Mondongos on Saturday to find out about Kevin, but they haven't answered me yet, I suppose because it was a holiday here and they all had taken off. I was hoping it wasn't true about Kevin, but unfortunately it is, from having read what you wrote. Guada took the laptop with her on Sunday and I couldn't check emails at home and I just did it now at work. I remember a whole day that I spent with Kevin, going from one place to another and eating lunch at the little CASLA shop in Palermo, that I like so much and where I think you went as well. The thing is that I got drunk and since he looked very much like my godfather - the person I loved most in the world - I began to hug and kiss him while I was crying and saying to him, "Godfather, godfather?" Kevin told me that later and he was dying of laughter. The quote that you transcribed about his concepts about poetry and politics is remarkable. I have a book of Kevin's about American poets that I always consult. It's true about not talking about friends in the past tense; they are perfectly present, although they've left human form. Borges always said that when William Morris died, Bernard Shaw said, "And now enough grieving for the man that we have lost with Morris. We can't lose a man like Morris except with our own death." The same could be said of Kevin, right?

Detail of Kevin Power portrait, by Mondongo
Detail of Kevin Power portrait, by Mondongo.
© Mondongo.
Viggo Mortensen

And... what to say about our dear Ciclón after the defeat at the hands of Agentinos JuniorsOn Saturday, the braggadocio worked out perfectly for "Mini Mou" who could leave Pedro Bidegain [tr. note: official name of the Gasometro stadium] with the satisfaction that comes with revenge, with the twisted smile of the embittered. As Pizzi said, CASLA never should have permitted the goals that El Bicho managed to put in, but at times, when a team lacks precision, the counterattack game of a lesser rival can defeat it. San Lorenzo played better during a good part of the match, controlling the ball and finding the collective harmony to which we've become accustomed lately, but made important mistakes. Thanks to the success of the physical game of the La Paternal players who knew how to take advantage of the infernally bad aim of the Cuervos, their coach could crown a week of bullshit pronouncements in the media with a 3-0 victory in our house.

© Unknown.
It's no big thing, but they have to swallow the bitter draft and right the ship. I hope the defeat will give Pizzi a way to motivate the team. The boys have to get tough immediately for the Copa Sudamericana match against River. Our players know, as any artist, however experienced and talented, knows, that the apprenticeship never ends.

© Unknown.
p.s.: Mauro Cetto defends and pulls things together very well for San Lorenzo, and Mini-Mou's jealous mouth can't change that reality. The player from Rosario [tr. note: Cetto] put it well regarding our club's former coach [tr. note: Ricardo Caruso Lombardi is the current coach of Argentinos Juniors and a former San Lorenzo coach], "San Lorenzo's reputation today is the opposite of yours." Thank goodness.
Last edited: 8 September 2013 13:15:19