"Galloping on a tomato"

Source: Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro

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Fabián:

Dear Viggo, yesterday I couldn´t watch the match because at that time, I was taking my daughter Anita to see a very good puppet show. Afterwards, I dropped by Lisandro Alonso´s home and they were watching everything on the TV about the Olympics. Truth is, it´s difficult for me to connect to sports where San Lorenzo is not playing, and much more difficult to get hooked on the media saturation about how good and great it is to be Argentinian and how extraordinary it is to defend our national colours. You know when Juan Martín Del Potro won the final of the U.S. Open, arriving back in the country and setting foot in Tandil, the city where he was born, a fire truck went to pick him up, and drove him around on the roof of it through the whole city, while Delpo wept inconsolably. It sounded like too much to me. I remember that I thought at the time that it was going to be hard for Del Potro to get over those celebrations. And it was. I think that every time there's a match point in his favor, he thinks about that fire truck, and he blows it. Jaques Vaché's preface in the letter to André Breton that Cortázar put at the beginning of Rayuela says it very clearly: "Nothing kills a man more than to see himself as obligated to represent a country."

Del Potro in London
Del Potro in London.
© Unknown.
 
The things is that Lisandro was watching the race that Bolt won (that lasts seconds and attracts world attention) and later we changed channels and I caught a little of San Lorenzo vs. San Martín de San Juan. It was odd, both matches a few weeks apart , the previous one lived through great anguish, with San Lorenzo down for 55 minutes (like those people that are dead for a few seconds until the doctors resuscitate them) and with Romagnoli's lethal dribbling to keep CASLA in the first division. This one, instead, seemed to be initiating a new stage. The new players are not superstars and I like that better. And I would also like someone to think beyond a championship and to look for a predictable pattern of behaviour, of supporting youth divisions, of searching for the seed-bed, with players from the club. It would also be good if, in this new Tinellian phase, something of what that man brings would remain in the club when players are sold and not that the club only pay wages, serve as his display window and afterwards receive nothing in exchange, as happened with the last champion (Ramon's) that ended up in the last championship debacle. Paraphrasing Fidel Castro about Guevara, when someone asks me what kind of player I want for San Lorenzo, I tell them: They should be like Pipi.

Pipi's goal
Pipi's goal.
© Unknown.
 
That they´d come out of the youth divisions with the azulgrana passion, like Pipi; that they´d know that you always have to attack in the game, lyrically, in good or bad weather, like Pipi; with the conviction that there isn´t a player, coach or TV entertainer more important than the club, like Pipi does; we need to get two, three Romagnolis. And let the future speak for itself.

Viggo:

Hello Fabián.

A good thing that Leandro Atilio Romagnoli could remain to play another tournament as CASLA´s "10." Pity that Botinelli left, and that his transfer to River has become so complicated. What you mention about wages, that later the club can´t pay, that has been a problem for several players, even for Botti. He and other players who have complained about the chronic violation of their contracts are accused by many Cuervo supporters of being purely mercenary, of "not feeling the colours." I don´t think that´s the case in the situation of the great majority of CASLA players; tensions and misunderstandings are in part the outcome of the mercenary behaviour of investors that leave our club at an economic disadvantage when they do their business with the buying and selling of players. As I said in a previous post on this page, it's fine with me that the investors earn cash buying and selling players for San Lorenzo, but if they have access to so much cash and are true supporters, there are times when, it seems to me, they have to cover the debts linked to unfulfilled contracts if the club can't. If a player that you bought plays very well and his value goes up, you have to do everything possible to help the player remain with the club the following year although you lose an immediate opportunity to enrich yourself. I think it's unfair if the player is left looking like the villain in the film because he had to leave the club because he's not been paid the agreed upon salary for his professional work for a long time. It's possible that Tinelli will continue doing things with goodwill as seems to be the case at such a delicate moment for the club, helping attract good players and solving the serious problem of the debts that the club has.

I agree with you about the way in which the championship team of 2007 was being dismantled and sold. It was a complete shame. Let's see if Tinelli and his associates follow the good path and avoid another disaster like that. Dismantling championship teams, selling indispensable players is something typical not only of soccer in Argentina, but in other countries as well, and in other sports. In the U.S. that happens a lot in the clubs that are not as big and rich as the New York Yankees baseball team, for example, but at times also there are horrible and unnecessary auctions in the big clubs when things are going well if the investors are very mercenary. That's like unbridled capitalism and professional sports without scrupulous federation management. Besides, if the players have no way to protect themselves legally, if there isn't a trade union with teeth, they're always going to be the ones who suffer instead of the investors, - economically and especially in the media. It's possible that Botti was wrong in some things and has not been able to get along well with some of his colleagues, but I don't blame him for going to River. He has his good reasons and he has to earn a living. The team could work well without Botinelli, especially if San Lorenzo continues playing the attack fearlessly, but I think we are going to miss his experience and his bite in our defensive line-up. I'm grateful to him for the determination and the talent he brought us and I wish him luck wherever he plays or lives.

Old Times:  Botti celebrating with
Old Times: Botti celebrating with "Pocho" a goal ....
© Unknown.
 
Speaking of the Olympics, I´m currently in London rehearsing for the new film, an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith story, but I haven´t been able to see anything live. I tried to get tickets for the basketball match between Argentina and the US, but there weren´t any. Work doesn´t allow me much time off to go to see sporting events, and like you, I´m more interested in what´s happening with San Lorenzo. Like you and Lisandro, I saw Bolt´s victory in the 100 metres on TV and afterwards saw his crowning in the 200. Bolt is a physical phenomenon, with a very strong winner´s mentality.

What I don´t like are his constant gestures to attract media attention and fuck with his competitors psychologically right before the races. The nonsense by this "legendary" champion - as he calls himself - bores me, and distracts me from his true sporting achievements. I´ve also seen many other sports on TV, even things I would not normally watch. During the last two weeks, I´ve been in five different countries - US, Canada, Spain, Denmark, and England. Just as in Argentina, those five countries show their own, the sports that can bring them medals, and there´s always a lot of national anthems, a lot of flags. It doesn't seem necessarily bad to me to get excited about the possibilities and efforts of the athletes of one's country, but it's true that at times TV and newspaper journalists exaggerate a lot. In Denmark, they put on a whole lot of rowing, ping-pong, handball, trap shooting, badminton, sailing and a little bit of swimming - the events of the first week in which the Danish athletes were participating with some possibility of winning medals. At times, it can seem a little absurd that they put on so much ping-pong, so much shooting with shotguns and all kinds of strange little pistols, so many "weird" sports. For most viewers, I'm sure that it ends up being a little boring as entertainment. If you don't understand those sports and never played them, they can almost seem inappropriate for the Olympic Games. Of course, every country pays attention to what interests them, what makes them look good and feel a certain pride. The truth is that some sports don't seem to be at the level of those that run the marathons or do impressive stunts and the very complicated movements in gymnastics or from the springboards at the Olympic pool. A fat guy with glasses shooting at clay pigeons with a shotgun is a bit odd as an Olympic sport if you compare it with what Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps do, for example. There are sports that I don't know well and that could interest me if I watched them and/or played them frequently.

For me, it's very strange to see commentators get so excited about sailing or ping-pong, that they are thrilled to tears with those Olympic activities. I've never been particularly interested in ping-pong - not even when I was a child and President Nixon agreed that a North American team travel to China to compete against the best players of that country as a diplomatic gesture - but after seeing several games on the TV during the last week, I began to get a little interested by the psychology of the sport. Now it seems to me to be a game full of exciting moments, of tension, suffering and at times euphoria. Like soccer, like San Lorenzo.

Publicity photo of the Chinese Xu Shao Fa and the American Errol Resek during the Beijing tournament, 1971
Publicity photo of the Chinese Xu Shao Fa and the ....
© Unknown.
 
Sometimes, athletes are inspired by nationalism and the unconditional support of their compatriots and sometimes it's more than they can handle. What you said about Del Potro and the pressure that thinking that you are playing for an entire country brings seems right to me, and I like the quote from Vaché. Jacques Vaché was a crazy guy, one of the most beautiful among the pioneers of surrealism. It would have been fun to be able to hear the first conversations between him and Breton after Vache's admission to the hospital during the First World War. Champions of freedom of expression those two men, lovers of peace. He also would have been a great inspiration for the artists of that time and, for us, if Vaché had lived a much longer life and written other things. I'm sure you've read Cartas de guerra [War Letters], the messages sent by Vaché from the front that Breton published after the death of his friend in 1919. It's a short text but interesting in that it shows, among other things, the stupidity of wasting time and sanity with wars.

Jacques Vaché in the hospital with his war wounds, 1916
Jacques Vaché in the hospital with his war wounds....
© Unknown.
 
By the way, there is a typically absurd quote from Breton that always makes me laugh: "The man who cannot visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot."

André Breton
André Breton.
© Unknown.
 
Fabián:

Dear Viggo: I don't know if in your childhood or adolescence you had a person who helped you to "mull things over." That is to say, those people who knew how to stop the ball and help you elaborate on a thought, to look a little further. I was lucky to have my seventh grade teacher in primary school. He was central to containing the cataract of questions and uncertainties that I had when I began to be an adolescent. That great final sentence that you put up and most of Breton's books that I read when I was 13 and 14 were lent to me by him. I remember Nadja, a sort of proto-novel by Breton that I haven't read again the same way you don't want to see your girlfriends from your teenage years so time can't laugh at your expense. But, beginning with the title, Nadja seems to me a disturbing novel. Anyway, I was talking to you about those people who help you get along because in these times of crisis, the same dynamics in the democratic game place you, like a turn signal, now in the government, now in the opposition, now in the opposition, now in the government; well, I got myself to read Baruch Spinoza so that he could help me control my ideas, to give them oxygen, velocity, intrepidity, to teach me, above all, to think against myself.

Baruch Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza.
© Unknown.
 
The books by Spinoza (who was excommunicated, persecuted to the extent of killing people in his environment who quoted him) continue to have an intense power. He is a radical author who doesn't allow you to get very comfortable: Why do people fight tooth and nail to continue being slaves instead of fighting for their freedom? Why are there always millionaires who rule while the people are starving to death? When does a man achieve total freedom? What is the substantial difference between the moral and the ethical?

Viggo:

Hello Cuervo.

So lovely, the memories about your teacher. The presence of at least one adult, beyond the parents of a child, who can inspire and be a guide to him in adolescence, is important. The compassion and generosity of adults ready to share their knowledge and experiences with young people unselfishly is worth gold. There are many boys and girls who don´t have that opportunity, that luck. Fortunately I too had a couple of good teachers who helped me explore the things that interested me, and to trust my own ideas. I will have to read Nadja, the book that your teacher gave you, again. I read it when I was 19, and I didn't understand any of it.

I don't know if you've ever been in Holland, but Spinoza's house, which is now a museum, is in Rijnsburg, near Leiden. Next to the door there's an inscription in Dutch that translates more or less as, "Oh, if men were wise/and also good/the world would be a paradise/but it is hell." Baruch Spinoza, as you say, was a guy who suffered a lot, but he also had his good friends and admirers. A man who had to make himself quite stubborn to defend his ideas. He was born in Amsterdam, one of the few places in Europe at that time where being Jewish did not bring the condemnation of daily persecution. His family was Sephardic, originating in Galicia and Portugal (where he'd been called Benedito instead of Baruch). Although he could study and express his ideas quite freely, when he took on Jewish religious orthodoxy, and then with other well-established religious norms, he was marginalized and incorrectly considered a dangerous atheist by many people. I read a little Spinoza when I was preparing the role of Sigmund Freud for Cronenberg's film - primarily because he was a Jewish philosopher whose ideas Freud knew. From that reading, I also learned, among other things, that although Spinoza was not an atheist like Freud, they agreed in thinking that an understanding of our passive emotions could help us to transform them into active emotions. His religious ideas, his concept of "God," resemble certain Eastern traditions, especially Vedanta Hinduism, although supposedly Spinoza had read nothing about that. Borges made references to Spinoza's ideas in some of his stories and poems, and the philosopher Wittgenstein was another heir and admirer of his thought.

Spinoza's house, in Rijnsburg
Spinoza's house, in Rijnsburg.
© Unknown.
 
Fabián:

Regarding what you said about Najda, I remember that T.S. Eliot once said that most of the poets and poetry that he liked best were those that he didn't understand, like, for example, Shakespeare. I kept looking at the photo of Spinoza's house. There is something about that guy that seems essential to me. He wrote radical books that keep their explosive power even today. I agree with him when he speaks about the immorality of wealth. It's necessary to have only what one needs and to know how to do without, to give. It's also interesting what he says about honor, which he considers an error because it also depends on the opinion of others. And you have to look after others, because you can't not do it, because it's what makes you happy. The more we think about others, the more we have an authentic life. The inauthentic life that Gilles Deleuze spoke of is the lack of experience, living for power, for performing, playing to the gallery.

Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze.
© Unknown.
 
Spinoza was religious because he believed in a God that was in nature; as a result, he was persecuted and excommunicated. Really he was persecuted for trying to liberate man from his stupid chains: pride, wealth, lying. Anyway, I was in Italy in July in a castle that was [part of] a fellowship for writers and Pietro, the owner, became a CASLA [supporter] and learned to sing our epic songs in Italian. He's from Florence but now he's asked me to send him a CASLA jacket, so I'm going to do it. One more Cuervo.

Viggo:

Thanks, Fabián! Very good news about Pietro, the new Cuervo supporter. We honor him for becoming a CASLA supporter by posting the emblem of his other team:

Florence emblem
Florence emblem.
© Unknown.
 
And as for Spinoza, I think we could also have made him a model supporter of CASLA for his qualities of honorable, humble behavior and [being a] worthy fighter. As you said, he was a very special guy, totally indifferent to the ephemeral charms of this world. A kind of contemplative saint, a Mahatma Gandhi of the 17th century.

You also mention Deleuze. As much as he was a Frenchman and an anarchist, I think that a man capable of writing the following warning about the societies of control would be an excellent president for our club.

It's easy to look for correspondence between types of society and types of machines, not because the machines are decisive, but because they are an expression of the social formations that have originated them and use them. The ancient societies of sovereignty operated with simple machines - levers, pulleys, clocks. The later disciplinary societies equipped themselves with power machines, with the passive risk of entropy and the active risk of sabotage. The control societies operate through a third kind of machine, informatic machines and computers whose passive risk is interference and whose active risks are piracy and inoculation with a virus. It´s not only a technological evolution; it´s a deep mutation of capitalism."

(Giles Deleuze)

You have to pay attention, be very careful with the information you read, hear, see. Media manipulation comes in from all sides, and especially through the Internet. It's more important than ever to ask questions, quietly ponder what you are learning, what the sometimes difficult to identify economic interests want us to think. The smoke and mirrors sellers have access to your screen.

I just read something about Breton that I found in the Mexican paper, El Economista. It seems like a weird place to read about the father of surrealism, but what Cecilia Kuhne published there on January 26th of this year is interesting. (I put up the link and also the whole piece.):

http://eleconomista.com.mx/entretenimiento/2012/01/25/breton-sus-palabras-sin-arrugas

Breton and his wrinkle-free words
To be opposed is a condition which, for those who are honest with their own spirit, exists from birth. It has nothing to do with a profession or with what you feel like doing. André Breton, for example, in keeping with his vocation for medicine, studied the teachings of Galen but he had already been seduced by poetry. And he did not encounter his favorite writers [in the realm of] aesthetic pleasure. Baudelaire and Mallarmé, those whose every verse he gladly devoured, were anti-establishment poets who were in full spiritual quest.

Later, he realized that they were destroying literary forms and advocating for new ones. And he did not like language, structure, anything that the world was proposing or imposing. Could it be that from his earliest childhood he thought that, "The man who cannot visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot"? There is no way of knowing. What is known is that André Breton was the creator of Surrealism - one of the most exquisite, well-crafted and influential avant-garde movements of the 20th century.

During the First World War, Breton worked in psychiatric hospitals, studied the works of Sigmund Freud and marvelled at the force of the unconscious and automatic writing. That new way in which words hid and revealed [meaning] fascinated him. For that reason, it's not strange that from 1916 on, André Breton approached new artistic movements. He first stood with Dadaism, in which he passionately believed.

Dada, which meant the babbling or first sound that a child makes, was immediately adopted as the name of the new style that was seeking to begin from zero, to shock, to break all boundaries and was declaring the creative act to be more transcendent than the product created.

Breton was convinced of the Dadaist postulates but he went a step further. To struggle with reality and give imagination its place, he invented Surrealism. Its name - in French, surréalisme - means "above reality" and it was the movement he would spearhead.

In every action or artistic creation he proposed following the dictates of thought without the intervention of reason and that everything should be alien to any aesthetic or moral concern. Surrealism would project the inner world with images taken as much from the real as from the oneiric and would transform life. Because the mind of man would have liberated itself from all the restrictions that enslaved it.

After having founded the magazine Littérature, in 1924 André Breton published the "First Surrealist Manifesto." In that long, specific and passionate text, Breton began to explain the origin and the motives of Surrealism with the following words: "So much faith is put in life, in life´s most precarious aspects, in real life, naturally, that faith ends up vanishing." Several pages later he would launch one of his sentences which have already become classics: "Beloved imagination, what I love most in you is that you never forgive."

Over the course of pages and pages, two more manifestos, essays, and poetry, Breton explained to the world the marvels of Surrealism because he was convinced, and wrote that "the marvellous is always beautiful, everything marvellous is beautiful, as a matter of fact, only that which is marvellous is beautiful." Nevertheless, as always, such passion became excessive; Breton became associated with the French Communist Party and expelled from the Surrealist group everyone who didn't support his idea of "journeying toward the Marxist Revolution" (among them Artaud and Dalí).

And in 1938, in his surrealist way, Breton ended up in Mexico. About that visit - which originally was the aim of this column - Fabienne Bradu wrote a marvellous (naturally) book called Andre Breton in México, which has just been reprinted. In it, the writer speaks of the poet's supporters and detractors, of the positive and negative reactions he provoked on Mexican soil, and of how the poet met Leon Trotsky and Diego Rivera. Art and Marxist orthodoxy met head on, and the three of them attempted to write "A Manifesto for Independent Revolutionary Art." But things didn't turn out as they'd planned. Surrealism, a doctrine which aspired to revolutionize reality by way of poetry, had committed a fundamental error. Because art and politics do not get along well, since they don't search for the same thing.

They both wanted to change the way things were, explains Bradu, but one did it through freedom and the other through power. And so, if everything were like that, there was nothing the imagination could do to save us.
-Cecilia Kühne, Jan. 2, 2012.

Fabián:

Viggo: A few hours after playing Belgrano in Córdoba, the rumor that's going around yet again (for the umpteenth time) is that Romagnoli might not be one of the eleven starters. No doubt Caruso prefers a defensive team, with more muscle and less brains, less talent and spirit. As for myself, when they tell me that Caruso has something, that because of that, he rescued San Lorenzo from the B [Division], I'll tell them, "Yes, he has and had something: Romagnoli." Because it was Pipi who carried the team on his shoulders and made that lethal dribbling so that Gigliotti could put in the headshot for the 3 to 2 against Newell's, and it was he too who attacked in a game that was already almost lost to leave Bueno open for the 3 to 1 against San Martín de San Juan and brought us out of the coma we were in, already packing things up to spend a season ascending. In an interview, Caruso said that if he'd had Messi, he'd have put him in in the second period. I don't think there's much more to say. Pipi wants to play and he's let the coach know it; his teammates want him to start, but it could be we are going to Córdoba with a miserly strategy. And now I ask, "Does the end justify the means?" and Spinoza would reply, "No, never". Because San Lorenzo can win playing in a miserly way (Italy has won world championships that way), but to what end? Romagnoli is mortal; in a few years, he's not going to play anymore. Why should we deprive ourselves of his talent and his spirit, things that our game doesn't have in abundance, just because of the fears of a coach who's driven by results? That is not, shall we say, the ontology of our team. Romagnoli is non-negotiable. I hope that the San Lorenzo supporters make that known to our coach.

Italy, 2006 World Champions
Italy, 2006 World Champions.
© Unknown.
 
Viggo:

Let´s hope that rumours don't quite reflect reality, because I don´t like it either when our coach doesn't put in Romagnoli as captain when this extraordinary and loyal San Lorenzo player is in good health and itching to play. If Caruso Lombardi doesn't line him up against Belgrano, it will be for some tactical reason, the same way he did against Instituto when San Lorenzo was risking the continuance [in the first division]. In the second match against Instituto, things worked for us because we had the winning margin from the first leg, but to me, it seemed risky and wrong not to put Pipi and other veterans in what was the last match of the tournament. Just like you, I don't like it at all that we play defensively and hope for a good counterattack. Pipi and the forwards we've got have shown themselves capable of going forward with valour and intelligence. The victory against San Martín had its nice moments in which our team knew how to take care of the ball and managed very good offensive moves. We deserved to win because many times we went after the goal, instead of staying at the back all the time and waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. I too like San Lorenzo to play gracefully and with courage, dying in battle, but I admit that sometimes we've won with a less colourful, more conservative, and sometimes cowardly approach. We'll see what happens and we'll talk about it after the match, if you like. I'm sending you a big hug.
Last edited: 12 November 2012 21:12:46
© Viggo Mortensen/Fabian Casas/Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro.