Thursday, August 30, 2012

Letter to Tundama

Dear Carlos,

It's been such a long time, I wonder where you are, what you do, who you are now. I've thought about you a lot in the past year. So great is my solitude these days, after a long year of isolation, in which my mind and my soul have grown up a lot, but yet not enough, and I feel that the pain, that pain from always, is still there, more alive than ever, but it now looks straight into my eyes and demands not consolation, but being listened to.

I still remember Hoffmansthal's poem that I translated for you once, because in May I included it in a letter that I sent to Canada, to a very dear friend, who never answered my letter. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by fear, fear about my own capabilities. In the last two years I've begun to make what they call in the world "a career". The writer, the journalist. With the recognition and honors due to this respectable profession, but yet all of that is external; inside me the only things I have for display are anxieties, insecurities and fears. Perhaps writing is nothing but freedom mixed with fright.

The Middle East follows me, follows me everywhere, and I let it follow me; more often than not I also let it bleed me out, without stopping for a moment to pick myself. On the other hand, I write it out, I keep writing it out, and I give it everything of me, hoping that one day it will love me, that it will love like its own lost son, but it never happens. As always, it welcomes me, steals my best years, and then spits me out. Sometimes I begin to think I've lived the wrong life, or a borrowed life, one that isn't mine, but perhaps it's a bit late to ask myself those questions.

I keep planning my escape, I keep planning going home, arriving at my true destination, but I wouldn't know where to go. Sometimes I think, and not without foundations, that such a place is nothing but people, some people, people I love with the craziness of the East, and time after time, I produce nothing but fear in people. Those who read me without knowing me, those I would like to come near to, they only see what they call "genius"; whereas those who know me stay behind, frightened, they prefer the silence, and wound me mortally, always after the same fashion, time after time. They do it without knowing, and I keep stumbling, walking wounded, looking for them, without ever finding them.

I've learnt something new: To see myself. All those years living in hiding, and with telescopes, looking always outside, with the hope of never being seen. But it's to no avail, to not see myself means also that no one can see me, except when the wound is too big to stop the flow of blood and then it's nothing but an exquisite corpse in his own feast, to which no one has been invited. And no one can participate, even if they would like to. I've finished my best work to date last Sunday, and I doubt I can survive it in my current form. I need an absolute transformation, one that includes only me.

How much I would like to see you, to visit you, to see that ancient lake you had told me about once; sadly I can't. I have other plans. I feel that as a writer I no longer have privacy of any kind, my whole life is an open book, a sort of library stocked with undecipherable ancient manuscripts that only produce curiosity, because there's no way to penetrate their content. When I write, I feel always watched; watched by other writers I've read, by distant and impossible friends, by ghosts I've never been able to bring to life even once. I'm but scarcely interested in readers; they're there, fulfill an aesthetic function, but they don't participate at all.

I wish I could write just for myself. But I'm not a solipsist, I need concrete images, moments in time, specific persons, otherwise I get lost, and to get lost in labyrynths of consciousness is a mere exercise in philosophy, very banal, and a degree of purity I find intolerable. I feel the pain of others, but I don't share it because one shouldn't be afraid, one shouldn't be afraid of suffering, of disappointment. It seems to me that whatever is truly human in love and friendship begins in disappointment, and it is only that experience what makes us realize we're not alone in this world. That there're others too.

I remember our last lunch, and the mountains from your bedroom's window. They're still there, keeping watch over us. Did you ever listen to the tangos I sent you? There's so little left of you in me, only a few letters, a little old, but the presence is present. It seems to me that memory is the great power, the great secret, because there's no such a thing as people we forget; they simply turn into gestures, in words of your own, in visions, and without knowing it, you never leave them behind. I remember well your farewell party, and that night at Sonia's. It reminds me of beauty, and I'm reminded not to remember.

I feel my profound contradictions: I'm not afraid of the world, as much as of the even minimal human nearness. I'm so courageous in my work, in the world; I never turn a blind eye to the horrors of war, of hatred, of tragedy, I let the world consume me so completely, without even blinking; at the same time that in personal matters everything hurts me, kills me. The simplest absence, the lack of warmth, the minimal distance make me tremble physically, I lose appetite and sleep. Perhaps it's a compensation for the courage to face the world in such degree of immediacy and without anything to protect me from it; I'm not even looking for any such protection.

Sometimes I cry, but just a little, just enough as to realize that what I feel is true. I feel that sentimentalism is aesthetically repugnant and I prefer laughter, boundless and crazy laughter, because it goes so much deeper than any pain ever could. Artist's laughter. Sometimes I feel my project is just too radical, and I simply can't live it, with all that empty air under my feet, with such insecurity, and that's why I hold onto others, I hold onto them with the only hope to stop surviving and finally live, even if only for brief moments. But maybe I've gone too far, maybe I can no longer hold to anything or anyone. Maybe that's really the limit, and the wisdom here is not to keep going further and further, but rather, to return, some day.


1 comment:

Sandra said...

Well, at least you have not lost the passion for yourself. Too much self-pity not to be vain.