Yesterday night I didn’t sleep a wink. I was continuously visited by poems. In the end I had to sit up and write them down… here is one of them:
They were the last people in the earth
He found her in a cave ten days after the world ended
She was just a child and he watch her grow
for years In an empty world
Finally he took her one night under the reddening sky
They had three children in succession
who perished within days of being born
She killed him in his sleep the night after the last one died
And then she sat and wept
And watched the sun eat the world
Translated by my dear, dear Ania – thanks!!!
May someone forgive the soldier
who followed orders with his eyes closed.
May someone forgive the General, the Coronel,
the Admiral, the Lieutenant Captain.
May someone forgive the man
Who sat at his table each night,
after paying with his obedience for
his parcel of daily power.
– his impeccable hands, his white bread
his wife, his children. And the blood hidden
in the pocket of his uniform
or the glove compartment of a Ford Falcon.
May someone forgive the policeman, the informant,
the specialist in suffering
the doctor’s accomplice and the hooligan,
the driver of cars and trucks
that transported so many to places without names,
the pilot, the crew
that sowed graves of water in the night.
May God be the one to forgive them:
that ineffable God they claimed to believe in,
or the victims, if they so choose.
But not justice, not history.
May they not be forgiven by the memory
of people, and above all, may they never
receive the gentle blessing
of living in peace with themselves.
Victoria, BC. January 4th, 2017
The view from outside
Or The Alienation of Our Mourning
There is a lie, a deceit perpetrated on our minds by our culture of visual images; of movies and TV as narrators of our reality, which affects our expectations about loving, relating to each other, working together and even, finally, even grieving.
The paradigm of our modern and stylized idea of mourning assumes the visual/cinematographic form of a sequence of “best of” moments flowing seamlessly through our minds.
The act of remembering is aestheticized and depurated – and in the process globalized by this model. In turn, we are expected to respond to these images in correspondingly predictable ways.
Being the power of mass media what it is, I can only imagine that some of us feel by now that such is the “right” way to transit our very real feelings of loss.
Such imposition upon our nature would do great violence to our true selves – although forcing ourselves into artificialities such as this one is by no means an exclusive sin of our century – not just because it replaces and voids the functions of other senses, or because it establishes an internal time and a single threaded flow essentially unnatural, but because it infallibly leave “us” outside of our own memories: the viewer – or at most the camera.
What is essential about us, as we pair in any kind of intense relationship is the sense of immersion in it. Most disassociations, which from time to time would allows us to view events and images from our life from outside ourselves, are by definition pathological. But we have invented an aesthetic way to resolve its narrative in the visual language that we created for our shows of light and magic, and it’s very success – as that of most of our successes of the imagination – made it into a virus.
We have changed by means of similar processes for millennia, on the wings of oral traditions, theater, literature, opera… but there is the small issue of the accelerated rate and momentum that seem to leave more often than not, the human out of “human change” in the changes our ever speeding
technological development are begetting as of late.
Of course, we also change when we relate to others. We multiply into the persons we create with each of our relations. Some are very strong and have a solid and independent existence: such as the one that without prior consultation chooses the paint color for the living room, or a piece of décor, for a couple that has lived in deep consubstantiation for many years. Other beings so borne – most of them, in fact – are very faint – ghostly: just a shared joke or the memory of a shared experience; yet they do ride with us for a few floors on the elevator.
Is the loss of these persons which we miss most dearly in our Hollywood laced mode of mourning. The fact that we are not just missing the person that died or left us, but the persons we made with that other being, the daily begotten children of our spirits, among which we lived and grew together.
Post-Modernism Premature Post-Mortem
My readings as of late have convinced me of this: behind the post-modernist love of ambiguity lies the post-modernist fear of commitment.
It’s sad that so many talented writers, able to craft truly rounded characters and rich situations, capable of profound observations about the very nature of our relationship to the world, to memory, to our strange feelings about ourselves and each others, are so afraid of actually picking a branch of the forked road at the end of their books. I am not saying such needs to be inescapably the destiny of a story, but that the option should at least be on the table!
What began as a valiant challenge to the conformist practice of serving you, the reader, outcomes and resolutions all tied up in a bow and neatly presented on a platter, has devolved into a crutch; both an easy escape from the technical difficulties of achieving such prolix endings without lapsing into clichés, as well as a solution to the problem of having to decide, to commit to an outcome – a practice that brings decidedly dangerous consequences to the comfortable neutrality of a writer.
Realistic, raw and gritty depiction of sex, violence of mind or body and shocking ugliness of character and form, are welcomed tools in a po-mo writer’s toolbox. And since they are also good selling points nobody hesitates to use them. But committing to definite outcomes is becoming rare; this is because outcomes express opinions, which is why fables and parables don’t let you uncertain about their ending.
A committed resolution means offering an opinion, revealing yourself, alienating sectors of the audience that hold differing views. Exposing themselves to criticism while baring their true thoughts has never been easy for the children of the late 20th century.
Of course, life often offers unresolved situations. Science delves more and more in the realm of the relative, and absolute truth is increasingly considered as a concept of the past. But when 80% of the whodunits are answered “well, we just don’t know, don’t we now?” something is unambiguously out of whack.
You’d have to wonder what does all this says about moral ambiguity…
I love you more than you can ever imagine…
I am an orphan when you leave for work,
but a One-Dog Welcoming Wagon when you return
And when I see you,
darling: if I had a tail I’d wag it!