Monthly Archives: December 2006

Nouvel an

Vicente Huidobro has New Year poems in both Spanish and French. I cannot find them now, however. Still, we can look at some very nice poems and theoretical texts at the Huidobro site hosted by the Universidad de Chile.

It is sunny today, and it could be sunny tomorrow, too. This bodes well for the year in which I will be in serious training for the Aconcagua climb. Everyone already knows I am going to sleep a lot this year, drink a lot of water, reduce my consumption of dead animals, increase my stock in tofu, green tea, miso, and vegetables, go to yoga more regularly, and climb a lot of stairs.

Also at the mundane level, I have decided to rehire my cleaning service, cut some time ago as an economy measure. But time not spent cleaning the house is time spent improving the garden and reorganizing files. This time, I need.

More fundamentally, however, I am going to emulate Moksha and stop apologizing for having agency. I am going to pay attention to what the Free Slave says about disentangling oneself from paradigms. I am going to visualize myself standing at the center of my own life and slightly above everything. As I did before Reeducation, I am going to simply deal.

In Reeducation, I learned that simply dealing was a form of denial (not feeling enough stress), a form of impulsiveness (being able to make a lucid decision and stick to it), and a form of coldness (being able to relax and maintain objectivity). I have since divined that Reeducation was not about increasing personal power and freedom, but about conformity. In particular, it was about conformity to regressive standards of femininity.

Trying to stand aside from oneself, trying to understand alien conceptions of how one should be, trying to defer to regressive and nonsensical standards, makes life very complicated. Things are much simpler if one remains blissfully apart from such paradigms.

Originally, I did not imagine that it was oppressive to be competent. That is something I learned in Reeducation. Having seriously considered the matter, I have decided that my original position was correct.

Axé.

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Traigo queso de vaca fresco

The contrast between where I am now and where I was yesterday is rather stark.

All of the following events have taken place within the past twenty-four hours.
None seem entirely modern.

I

As I wended my way up the steep, narrow cobblestone street to my hostel in Valparaíso, I saw an old man wending his way down. I thought he was just another passer-by, but he was a vendor from the central valley. “I have fresh cows’ milk cheese,” said he. The round, heavy cheese, and the burlap bag it came in, had that good country smell.

II

Today as I arrived in Atlanta, I saw Saddam Hussein hung on CNN.

III

In my own town, I had some difficulty getting home from the airport. All cabs were busy because it being the end of the month, people without cars were riding around in cabs to pay their bills in person.

A porter, however, informed me that if I spoke to the owners of the airport restaurant, they would have one of their family members drive me home for a small fee.

Axé.

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Valparaíso, el viento

I am in Valparaíso and it is wonderful. Everywhere else I have been in Chile has been interesting, and Valdivia has the best fish market I have ever seen, but Valparaíso ROCKS, and it is beautiful. Evidence of its ultra-hip culture can be observed here.

Later, I will translate this poem by Gonzalo Rojas, on Valparaíso.

PUERTO PERDIDO

Todo es estrecho y hondo
en este suelo ingrávido, las flores
crecen sobre cuchillos, boca abajo en la arena
puede oírse un volcán; cuando la lluvia
la moja, se despeja
la incógnita, aparece
una silla fantástica en el cielo,
y allí sentado el Dios de los relámpagos
como un monte de nieve envejecido.

Todo es estrecho y hondo, las personas
no dejan huellas porque el viento
las arroja a su norte y su vacío,
de manera
que de improviso
yo salgo a mi balcón y ya no veo a nadie,
no veo casas ni mujeres rubias,
han desaparecido los jardines,
todo es arena invulnerable, todo
era ilusión, no hubo
sobre esta orilla del planeta nadie
antes que el viento.

Entonces corro hasta las olas, me hundo
en su beso, los pájaros
hacen un sol encima de mi frente,
entonces tomo posesión del aire
y de las rocas temporales
en el nombre del viento, las estrellas azules,
Valparaíso, el viento.

Axé.

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Pleno sur

Back in Santiago, it is warm, fortunately. Southern Chile is prized and one can see why, but I must admit I prefer Mediterranean climates and larger towns. One striking feature of the south, however, is the number of locals wearing mountaineering gear and Vibram soles. This is not something I had seen elsewhere in the Andes. I am assuming it is also a feature of Andean Argentina, where I have still not been (the Aconcagua climb having been rescheduled for the medium term future, due to scheduling conflicts).

In the Chilean lake region, they are trying to sell little vacation houses, with 100% financing and a 24 year mortgage. “Sign up for the house in which you will feel free as a condor,” says the advertisement.

In the supermarket, people are madly shopping for Christmas Eve. I shopped madly also, buying, among other things, a carmenera wine purporting to have been vinted in Tierra del Fuego (I have some doubts on this). Groceries are not cheap, but cheese, avocados, and wine are less expensive than at home, and fish is fresher.

Axé.

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Friday Night Luxury

Today on this Patagonian isle it stopped raining long enough for a hike in the stunning national park, ending on a wild beach with grassy dunes.

I also discovered a very hip bar with wi-fi, of all things, and I am there now. This enables me to write, over a fast connection, on the very same computer I use at home. It is a rather surreal displacement. I am drinking espresso, but I may drink wine and eat fish. I could drink a pisco sour.

All of these options, in addition to wi-fi, a wood stove, and several non-rainy hours in the middle of the day, add up to extreme luxury. And partaking of these luxuries is, of course, a form of singing. The music in this bar is: alternative.

A note on my ever-shifting identity: people here, although they see me face to face, have as much trouble figuring out what I am as some of my more curious readers. In central Chile I was taken for a French person, an American with Chilean parents, a Chilean from a region unknown to my interlocutor, and a Colombian. On the coast, two people thought I was from Spain, and here in Patagonia, it is generally assumed that I am from Santiago. Do you see? Even in person, one has many selves, and who you are depends in part upon where you are. Proust also said that.

Axé.

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Solstice

Today it is raining in northern Patagonia, and I am drinking tea. One might think this is excellent posting weather, but it is not. Computer connections are slow, and people wait in line to use them.

This not being a travel weblog, I am not attempting to make any sort of general report. I will say, however, that the city of Santiago de Chile is in the twentieth century. It has two features I had not seen in some time:  functioning telephone booths, and movie theatres which are not multiplexes and that you walk into from city sidewalks. The day I arrived,  the day of Pinochet´s funeral, the monument to Salvador Allende was covered with flowers, poetry, and letters to loved ones killed by Pinochet and his denizens.  Some of these last are now being formally charged with human rights abuses.

On the other hand, the newspapers have printed many letters to the editor favoring Pinochet. My favorite one said that the fact that Pinochet´s detractors still don´t like him, thirty years after the coup, shows that they are full of hatred, and should have been  repressed.

I have never been as far south as northern Patagonia. As one might expect, it seems like the far north.  Today is the solstice, summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  I expect it to be fully dark just before 11 PM.  The Pacific coast here looks like the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, with inlets, islands, fishing boats, and fjords.

Axé.

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Toda tu vida sirve…

We watched the news last night and I saw an advertisement for an airline sponsored credit card that accumulates frequent flyer miles with every purchase. After explaining how the card works, the announcer sums things up: “Toda tu vida sirve para acumular millas y viajar gratis.” “Your entire life serves to accumulate mileage and travel for free.” Do I hear reification?

The poetry presentation went well, so we are singing. I am expanding my understanding of the cueca, which is a song and a dance. I do not have speakers on this computer, but it seems that we can hear famous cuecas on the site of the Cancionero tradicional.

Axé.

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