Abstract 10 minute Memoir Exercise

People, Piazza san Marco, Venice Italy.jpg
The Alley into Piazza San Marco. Ilford 400, 18mm wide-angle lens, aperture of f/11, Minolta SRT-202 (field notes say I metered off the overcast sky, recomposed and took the exposure)  (All images have been hand developed in my bathtub)

Nobody really knows, or most rarely care to ask, about the peculiar circumstances of my being or coming into existence, or my history for that matter.  Birth was the simplest part.  I didn’t become a real person until much later in life

In all honesty, with strangers and friends alike, I choose to keep most of my life a private matter, and most of my conversations border on the trivial, absurd and perfunctory. Every post on social media to me means nothing, the novelty has worn thin, and the less serious my contributions to the internet zeitgeist the better.  I actually have learned how to say nothing by saying a lot.  It is an art form to master, the full engagement of a dialog while uttering replies that perplex and make uncomfortable the common person, that is.

I choose to keep my histories, as cathartic and beautiful as they are, completely to myself.  These are little beautiful gifts that I allow myself: those small thoughts and memories that flicker in and out of ones mind; an old friend; a woman I cared for; a walk on the beach combing for sea shells; the glint in the eye of someone who laughed at my joke; a brief and momentary glimpse of wisdom that may have crossed my complex mind–that complicated anima that at sometimes seems to be illuminated by fire.  Those are all things that I choose not to share.  I would rather not speak any truth on any matter given the vacuous expanse that the words would be throttled into, like a tumbling washing-machine rattling away on full blast, unbalanced and rickety.  It seems as if my words always come too late or lack potency in a world where others seek a sense of instant gratification in the minutia of their day-to-day.

I come from a large Argentine town, born at the cusp of the ’82 war–an ugly, and gorgeous town (or so it was and is to me now), it meandered along the banks el rio Mendoza, slumping and stretching along its banks from the pre cordillera to the grape vines, children and old men taunting each other over bocce games on its parks and streets, boys collecting old bleached and burnt rib bones from ancient asados to bring home to the family dog, streets interlaced with odds and ends; spices from Peru, feathers from Ecuador, wool from Bolivia, songs and chants; magic being spoken from the pulpit of the fierce political leaders during la vendimia, to the enchantment being sung from the cockatoo in the bamboo birdcage hung in the shop window of the cobbler who would fix my alpargatas made from canvas and old tire treads.  The town will exist in me, the color of Rivadavia, a sandy loamy brown, immune to time, earthquake, unrest, upheaval, disaster, until my bell chimes and passes the world over, every hour upon every hour as I part company with my frenzies, pleasures, and miseries.

However I came to be in the United States, among the odd and unconventional details of that arrangement that I still cannot grasp, I ended up having been raised in two places.  In being torn, in duality, I found peace.  I am generation 1.5.  I learned English before my parents.  I translated their documents, read legal papers at 10 years old, wrote their correspondence, read to them, signed their leases, taught them English by reading the bible side by side with the Larrousse Spanish Dictionary.  My friends were the Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia, National Geographic Magazine, Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence, and a blazing imagination that does not understand or apply logic. To me logic is simply the answer of point A to point B, but in imagination one can find the call of the deep universe and be brave enough to pick up the handset and answer.

I cut my teeth bitterly on the streets of Rivadavia half the year, and came back each and every semester to utter solitude and a sanitized system of pedagogy that taught submissiveness to the school bully, fed us soggy tater-tots and boxed pizzas, while scoring my future on a culturally biased series of exams catering only to the whiteness in me, each year gaining momentum, finally culminating in the big prize that would set us up for success or drunken freshman failure at a fine and expensive University.  I chose to read on my own, to devour books, to fall for Madame Bovary before any other, and learn the intricacies of human interaction from the cold, stout, and stern world of Hemingway, and to fall in love with the crazy in me alongside Thompson and Robbins.  However much I loathed the educational system I found power in language.  Language has the ability to destroy walls, to build up puzzling, knotty and ornate works of humanity, and to level more than any man-made weapon.

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”-George Orwell, (Politics and the English Language)

In these formative years of auto didactic education and an almost monastic seclusion and dedication to study and writing, I began to become aware of certain inequities troubling our shared space and I began to think.  In reality I was born a person at round 18 years old.  I began to care deeply for others on a level of an almost unendurable sensitivity.  However acutely one may feel engrossed in the understanding and pneuma of another person it is difficult for people of a highly empathetic nature to not want the safety of a thousand meters distance between a loved one.  Especially an empathetic person as odd in my passions as I seem to be.  However odd, I managed to find myself surrounded by a drôle and extraordinarily whimsical group of friends that always had a dangerous taste for adventure and always smirked at me with a wicked and impish disposition.  I found no company in them for a dialog on the classics, or movements in music, art, or anything that mattered, however if there was a matter to resolve over a girl at bar, and a pair of thrown fists were needed, then I had a solid and sordid crew.  I have the broken teeth, scars, and cracked ribs to prove it.  In a way, I find order and clarity in the most convoluted of circumstances.

I’m sure that everybody on Earth has an issue deep in their paunched underbellies about their upbringing, regrets and remorse about past opportunities and mistakes, and maybe resentment towards a familial; but in all honesty I could honestly say that I raised myself alone.  I hold no grudge or ill will towards my parents, they are deeply in love with each other and live only for every moment together.  However, that being said, I am the product of my own design, which now that I have said that, and if you know me, can explain a multitude.  Off the beat of a metrical 5/4, an odd and heavy beat, I learned my own way of dancing through the sidewalks of cities as well as the hedges of meadows and deep dark frightening forests, singing my own strange music, wet under foreboding thunderstorms, and stifled and dry throated on the hottest of summer days.  The music has always been a strange cadence that I find alluring and elusive even though its mine.

In all reality for a man like me.  I am using the word “man” since that is the only world I have known.  I must clarify, I have only known the particular events that could affect a white South American Male, and the innate and unfair privileges that being “me” entails in all of my surreal and uncommon breadth and scope.  I would have to say that the worst part of being a man like me, of my attitudes, intellect and convictions, is not defining my life by success or failures, or wants and desires, but the nostalgia of a life I have already lived through the words on a page of another, and the past lives that I pick up every night before bed, and flip page by page into another world; and the worst part about that is not being able to share that 200 page life with someone else.  There is no sense of ownership, self-determination in a world of that does not belong to you. The only intimacy comes from a turn of anadiplosis, symploce, or polysyndenton that only you can identify with.


Abstract 10 minute Memoir Exercise

2 thoughts on “Abstract 10 minute Memoir Exercise

  1. Billy Hamilton says:

    Very well written from what I could understand, your vocabulary is vast. I was intrigued, it was an interesting read.


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