A Path I Did Not Take. 1970

When I was young I wanted not to be famous, per se, but to make something that resonated in people’s minds, like the aliquot string in a grand piano, something simple, yet original and true.

Something that told the truth about who we are, simple and direct, a kind of magical realist cosmology for children afraid of the dark.

I loved the designs from Ancient Mexico, collected by Jorge Enciso. They were beside me for nearly a year along with Intelligent Life in the Universe by Sagan and Schklovskii.

I still have them in the back of a cupboard, along with The Whole Earth Catalogue from 1970.

Things so powerful and true, so stripped down and bare, could not make money, so I must find a way of life that would enable me to do this work.

I picture myself in some Latin American city with dilapidated French Empire apartment buildings and  tall Spanish doors looking down cool, dark corridors to a sunlit inner courtyard.

The Old Man GodI rent, of course, all my life I rent. I can never be a proprietor.

I work for three hours in the early morning, then take coffee and medialunas at one of my favourite cafes, the Cafe Federal or the Hipopotamo.

On the high walls of my apartment are thick impasto paintings by a local artist friend, vaguely figurative, reminiscent of de Kooning.

I shutter my room in the December heat.

In the early afternoon, I walk to the offices of the newspaper I work for, translating English stuff and writing the film pages.

In the evening, I travel out to the suburbs where I tutor middle class children.The Rain God

Spending a lot of time alone, I become slightly superstitious, like the Roman tribunes or aediles, who were always putting decisions off because they said the augury was not quite right.

A local woman becomes my friend and seems to want to be with me. She says she wants to help me. I marry her, for anything else would be a disgrace in the eyes of her family.

She wants children and we have some. I am troubled for them. For there are times when the militares come, when the young are tortured or disappear.

At this point I become uncomfortable with my alternative life. The reverie dies.

Perhaps that’s why it never happened.

The Wind God

In fact, after doing shifts on a newspaper in North America, I was soon offered a permanent job and turned out to be a reliable, hardworking employee.

 

But I always kept my things from that time.