"Do other people have moments of peace and quiet? I'd really like to know the answer to that question" -W. Benjamin
"You can't have peace in life by avoiding life" -V. Woolf
It's been a long time since I last received a letter so beautiful as yours, thus, I felt ought to send you a letter in the proper sense of the word, something that could contain in a certain manner the gesticulation typical of a person addressed in such a personal manner, when he reads such a letter. For a long time now, I haven't been writing properly, at best, I've written notes and of course letters, to the people who deserve my intimatemost affections. There's something paralyzing about the times, the deadly effects of the present, that when free from the past, presses against your chest like a knife, philosophers would call this "absolute time", or even better, "Jetztzeit"; perhaps it is in the mood of philosophy, or in its obligation at least, to live always in the present, do you remember Etienne Gilson? He used to say that a man of 70 years might have so much to tell about himself but that if he's been a philosopher his whole life, he realizes to his own astonishment, that he's got no past. I've spent nearly the whole year in a sort of procrastination or avoidance if you want to use the French philosophical jargon, trying not to confine myself to the constrictions of something as cruel as philosophy; this is to no avail... I remember now how a former teacher of mine used to say that in philosophy what really matters is the choice, that once you choose yourself for that, you're as good a philosopher as you can ever become, you can learn how to go through the material, write conferencies, give lectures, etc. but the choice is somewhat stable. Something like this happens to me often, my journeys through the world are more like sightseeing, like being spectator more than they're an actual settling down. My book doesn't advance much, nor does my thesis, but somehow I feel I'm reaching a point in which this becomes serious business and not just one another avoidance of life situations.
I'm delighted with what I hear about your stay in Berlin, I would think there can be no better choice of a place for art, at least for the kind of art that feels itself to be still growing and not yet ripe. There are these lessons about one's age and position in the world (not only personal but also from the perspective of world history as such) that can be easily learned in Berlin, and in the whole of Germany, but certainly Berlin is a great example, you see, in Berlin it's helpless to feel young, or at least in other cases, that one's being given a second chance, a second chance to live in the most extreme manner, so to say, free from boundaries. Berlin reminds people like you and me that in a way we're still in the very first childhood and that it is only now that life is beginning to fall into place at long last or for a first time; something that is impossible to feel in Bogota where somehow life just goes on too quickly and unmolested by the facts of the world, a place so young and old that you and me in it, are older rather than younger, and then you see the people around you, everything seems right in the world to them, nothing appears to have done to them injustice, at least not undeservingly, like the Christian saints would put it. It's so beautiful to feel one can still be carefree, which is this contradictory feeling I have in Europe all the time, of never feeling my age at all, being infinitely younger than I am, like a child, at the same time that glamorously older, as old as God, yet never in one's own shoes. Perhaps failing is something that has to do much with being young but that can be done at any age, you see, if I'm correct, I think this month is already 9 years since I first met you, and yet in spite of everything one's still allowed to fail in the exact same way. Heinrich Bluecher, the husband of Arendt, used to tell his philosophy student that there are only two things one needs to know about philosophy: That you can only succeed in this, but this also means, that this is the only thing in which you can fail, and the only thing in which you can fail.
Remember what Benjamin said about Kafka: That any acquaintance with his literary production makes you realize that he was a failure as a writer. There's no way in which one can not fail in producing art or thought, because irrespective of the cruelty of aesthetics, beauty is lagging behind always in life and to life, it's only observable in the moment when you no longer possess, that's why the "academic studies" of beauty are always in such an inferior position like those "studies of time", in the moment you're participating in beauty or in time, you can no longer study it, you are ought to lose it in order to become an observator. Perhaps the same applies to love, which is so completely intertwined with both beauty and time. The youth and beauty of Berlin has to do perhaps with this seamless sense of unpretentious beauty, of chaos, the art of awful things, so unlike the cathedrals and the beautiful pathways in the stone, sometimes while living in Berlin you begin to imagine that there's not one single tree in the world, and then suddenly, a forest, then you begin to imagine there's not one single building in the world, and then suddenly, a gate, history strikes again. It turns out that if you're going back to the Fourth Reich in March to begin anew your German courses, for the first time in a long time, we might be in the same country at the same time and perhaps once again, as it's always been, in the same frame of mind. The weather in Germany as you know is as punctual as the traffic, thus, you're not in for much of a surprise, but one thing is clear, it's a place for love, good and bad, a place for creation, good and bad, perhaps the whole world began from there, what do you know. I'm now as I often am, without a single moment of peace and quiet, going through the day as if trying to conquer one giant wave, and then another and when you're about to reach the peak of the chiaroscuro in the morning tide, there's yet another wave. I'm looking at this as a period in which I'm only studying life, as if such a thing could be studied, but more than that, I'm very afraid of writing, thus I'm confined to very short pieces at a time, usually writing anonymously for people who meant the world to me, even if just for some hours, this is one of the advantage of being young again, you live out of fragments, no longer counting the days and the hours, thinking that the years are not really flying sidewards.
It's a remedy against this mortal despair. To feel like life hasnt started yet, like it's all the time starting, and yet once again, over and over. I'm trying to find out what it means to live without fear, the concept is totally absurd to me perhaps only because it's nothing of a concept but something so absolutely simple and concrete that can't be grasped without a certain dose of the irrational. I'm glad to find out that you've found love, or better, that it's found you, and well, no better place you've chosen for yourself I think; as for me, I felt a turbulent tide of love in the past weeks since my arrival in Bogota with someone who for a change, happens to live in Germany, you would like him very much, soft spoken and talkative, sophisicated but not demonically intelligent, therefore manageable, not too glamorous and not ordinary altogether. But once again, like in my four or five instances of love, a total failure, perhaps the enamourement might not have to do so much with the person as it does with the impossibility, with the endless pleasure of an even higher hilltop. I however felt more alive than I did in previous years, suffocated by this warm air that grew faster than the air outside so that the chemical imbalance beings to asffixiate up to a point in which you begin to let go. I can't deny that I felt sorry about this but at the very least I'm able to write again. As you know well, Bogota chokes me, it's a deadly landscape for anything that has to do with me, I feel like I'm not given a single moment to stop, rest, think, consider, analyse, etc., and therefore my words and my deeds become erratic, dumb and completely lacking in horizons, I should learn my lesson at last and never come back, perhaps one day I'll be strong enough to do that. Boxes are not a bad metaphor for what it means to be here, always moving boxes, from one head to another, just right now my aunt passed by and told me I'm a fucking authistic child, and well, this is perhaps not a lie. As you know, I have a lot of boxes, spread through different continents, houses, men, etc. Like a friend of mine said to me in a metaphor not without the rudest irony: "You're like the Coco Chanel of homosexuals and intellectuals. Coco Chanel was a master, a master in everything, there was one only thing that could unnerve her and paralyze her, this thing was love".