Reading: Pieces of Shadow by Jaime Sabines

Today I found a poem by the Mexican poet Jaime Sabines (1926-1999) in a translation by W.S. Merwin. According to Octavio Paz he was one of the greatest. The original Spanish poem can be found here.

I don’t know it for certain, but I imagine
that a man and a woman
fall in love one day,
little by little they come to be alone,
something in each heart tells them that they are alone,
alone on the earth they enter each other,
they go filling each other.

It all happens in silence. The way
light happens in the eye.
Love unites bodies.
They go on filling each other with silence.

One day they wake up, over their arms.
Then they think they know the whole thing,
They see themselves naked and they know the whole thing.

(I’m not sure about this. I imagine it.)

The first strophe sounds fresh, yet mysterious. Did they come to be alone (‘se van quedando solos’) after they fell in love, realizing that they have to act on their love? And acting they do: they penetrate each other (not just the man penetrating the woman, but reciprocal) and then ‘go filling’ each other. In Spanish it says ‘se van matando’. ‘Matarse’ also means to exhaust oneself, if I’m not mistaken. The ‘filling’ is a creative find but I had to read it thrice before realizing that other meaning: filling as if filling an animal.

So far, it’s a pretty standard description of ferocious love. But it all happens in silence, like the way light happens in the eye. I imagine mute lovemaking. After the superfluous ‘love unites bodies’ the poet repeats the filling. This time, the Spanish original also uses ‘llenarse’. The act of lovemaking must be repeated, lest the silence and the spell of love be broken.

Then they wake up ‘sobre brazos’. Perhaps they have slept on their arms so they have become numb? So they can enact a distance to their naked bodies and ‘know the whole thing’. The added phrase, repeating the opening line, frames the poem quite brilliantly. The I is not a voyeur, but perhaps the other way around: The couple who knows the whole thing also knows that they are imagined by the poet.

Reading: Pieces of Shadow by Jaime Sabines was originally published on Meandering home

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June 12. Meet Sergio, the guard.

The morning and me, we have a very short meeting. She decides to leave after half an hour. It’s almost noon. Let’s have breakfast! And then off to the historical center to walk around and take photographs. That center is not big and quite orderly structured; it’s a good idea to explore it on foot. I notice that Parliament, Cathedral and Ruins are very close to each other and imagine they constitute three pillars of Mexico: democracy, religion, and history. It’s too hot to dig in that deeper. The Mexicans know what constitutes them better anyway.

At night, I enter the Centro Cultural de España, where a big guy checks my pockets. That can happen. They are afraid of aggressive angry men carrying a machete under their suits, hidden away behind their neckties. He makes me empty all my pockets and I do it
Oh, how embarrassing. No pal, I am embarrsssing YOU. Cause that’s how embarrassment works.

The 3D photos in the Centro Cultural make me think about eternal life. Those persons, long dead of course, that appear in the black-and-white pictures blend together to suggest a three dimensional image of a scene, they seem so alive, I mean, it is as if they are really walking there in that crowd, or sitting on that rock. I find it a-m-a-z-i-n-g but my treshold of amazement is very low.

I feel this peculiar type of happiness sitting there on that dusty chair, behind the flower curtain in the guard’s chamber. I’m part of a Play and the Play intensifies life. I laugh. Ssst, be quiet and close the curtain, make sure nobody sees you here, the guard whispers. He is not supposed to hide gringos in his little dark shed, gringos that are a little hopeless because they cannot enter the apartment where they are living due to a broken doorbell, gringos walking up and down the street afraid of being harassed in this dangerous neighbourhood of Mexico DF, gringos punching the metal door anxiously with both fists waking up all the dogs, gringos explaining their awkward situation to the patrouilling police officers that ignore him, gringos yelling and complaining and moaning and shouting and throwing little stones at the first lit window and – what happened? I came back from the party in the Centro Cultural de España – they had put a DJ and loud equipment in the top floor of the building and people danced wildly – at about 1:30am and tried the door but with no avail. So I walked around looking for a public phone that takes coins. The one I find has a coin jammed in it and I start looking for a metal pin or something to remove it with brute force. I don’t find anything. There is a party going on but it seems to be ending and won’t beam me into the safe light of the wee hours. So I speak to the guard behind the blue fence with the thick bars, and he accepts me after a short interrogation. I tell him it’s dangerous to sleep on these streets and asks him if he could just let me sit on his chair for four hours. What’s your job? – I’m a translator. Which languages do you speak? – Dutch, English, German. – Can you repeat your request in Dutch? – Het is gevaarlijk om hier op straat te slapen kan ik niet bij jou zitten. And now in English (our conversation is conduced in Spanish; I’m about as fluent as peanut butter now but we understand each other well)? Okay, pass. I walk through the gate, cross the parking space with the fancy cars and enter his round little chamber.
And so I end up on that chair in the tiny place where the guard of one of the richer people’s buildings was doing his time every night when I didn’t drive his taxi or see his 11 and 1 1/2 year old daughters. Right next to the chair was the sink, right behind it the toilet. I stayed there from 2 till 6am, and we watched the movie “Sin City” on my computer. Sergio is a typical middle-aged multiple job lower class Mexican man. He asks me:
“Do you have pictures on your computer?”
And I show him some photos I took in Portugal. He asks me:
“Do you have pictures of girls in bikinis?”
And I show him some of Ivan’s Argentinian beauties. He asks me:
“Do you have pictures of girls without bikinis?”
And I say no. We change the subject.
“So you’re writing a book?”
-“Yes, more or less”
“You’re going to mention this loco night you spend with the Mexican guard?”
-“Sure I will. Write me down your name and I’ll mention you.”
And here I mention him, Sergio the honest loyal guard.

June 12. Meet Sergio, the guard.

The morning and me, we have a very short meeting. She decides to leave after half an hour. It’s almost noon. Let’s have breakfast! And then off to the historical center to walk around and take photographs. That center is not big and quite orderly structured; it’s a good idea to explore it on foot. I notice that Parliament, Cathedral and Ruins are very close to each other and imagine they constitute three pillars of Mexico: democracy, religion, and history. It’s too hot to dig in that deeper. The Mexicans know what constitutes them better anyway.

At night, I enter the Centro Cultural de España, where a big guy checks my pockets. That can happen. They are afraid of aggressive angry men carrying a machete under their suits, hidden away behind their neckties. He makes me empty all my pockets and I do it
Oh, how embarrassing. No pal, I am embarrsssing YOU. Cause that’s how embarrassment works.

Cultural Center in Mexico City

The 3D photos in the Centro Cultural make me think about eternal life. Those persons, long dead of course, that appear in the black-and-white pictures blend together to suggest a three dimensional image of a scene, they seem so alive, I mean, it is as if they are really walking there in that crowd, or sitting on that rock. I find it a-m-a-z-i-n-g but my treshold of amazement is very low.

I feel this peculiar type of happiness sitting there on that dusty chair, behind the flower curtain in the guard’s chamber. I’m part of a Play and the Play intensifies life. I laugh. Ssst, be quiet and close the curtain, make sure nobody sees you here, the guard whispers. He is not supposed to hide gringos in his little dark shed, gringos that are a little hopeless because they cannot enter the apartment where they are living due to a broken doorbell, gringos walking up and down the street afraid of being harassed in this dangerous neighbourhood of Mexico DF, gringos punching the metal door anxiously with both fists waking up all the dogs, gringos explaining their awkward situation to the patrouilling police officers that ignore him, gringos yelling and complaining and moaning and shouting and throwing little stones at the first lit window and – what happened? I came back from the party in the Centro Cultural de España – they had put a DJ and loud equipment in the top floor of the building and people danced wildly – at about 1:30am and tried the door but with no avail. So I walked around looking for a public phone that takes coins. The one I find has a coin jammed in it and I start looking for a metal pin or something to remove it with brute force. I don’t find anything. There is a party going on but it seems to be ending and won’t beam me into the safe light of the wee hours. So I speak to the guard behind the blue fence with the thick bars, and he accepts me after a short interrogation. I tell him it’s dangerous to sleep on these streets and asks him if he could just let me sit on his chair for four hours. What’s your job? – I’m a translator. Which languages do you speak? – Dutch, English, German. – Can you repeat your request in Dutch? – Het is gevaarlijk om hier op straat te slapen kan ik niet bij jou zitten. And now in English (our conversation is conduced in Spanish; I’m about as fluent as peanut butter now but we understand each other well)? Okay, pass. I walk through the gate, cross the parking space with the fancy cars and enter his round little chamber.
And so I end up on that chair in the tiny place where the guard of one of the richer people’s buildings was doing his time every night when I didn’t drive his taxi or see his 11 and 1 1/2 year old daughters. Right next to the chair was the sink, right behind it the toilet. I stayed there from 2 till 6am, and we watched the movie “Sin City” on my computer. Sergio is a typical middle-aged multiple job lower class Mexican man. He asks me:
“Do you have pictures on your computer?”
And I show him some photos I took in Portugal. He asks me:
“Do you have pictures of girls in bikinis?”
And I show him some of Ivan’s Argentinian beauties. He asks me:
“Do you have pictures of girls without bikinis?”
And I say no. We change the subject.
“So you’re writing a book?”
-“Yes, more or less”
“You’re going to mention this loco night you spend with the Mexican guard?”
-“Sure I will. Write me down your name and I’ll mention you.”
And here I mention him, Sergio the honest loyal guard.

June 9. Myriad Intentionality.

The Theory of myriad intentionality. I wrote about this earlier; here I want to be a little bit more precise. But only a little bit. This is not supposed to be a philosophical tractatus and I am not supposed to be a genius to write one. So, then, what is the definition of intentionality? It is definitely some thought: we don’t ascribe it to other animals precisely because we assume they don’t think. Intentionality means we are headed somewhere: it is a thought about the future. But not just any thought about the future will do. We can have phantasies about future civilizations, the end of the world, international sport events in which we don’t participate without having an intention. What we need of course, is active participation in a future event. So, when we think about some event in the future, say walking the beautiful neighbor’s dog, in a way that we imagine our active participation in it, does this always mean we have the intention to, in this case, walk the dog? What if we were just dreaming about doing it? So a final criteria seems to be needed: the belief that our participation in the future event is real. Thus we arrive at:

I. A thought about a future event with active participation and the belief that this is real.

…and of course raised some new questions, as real philosophers should. First of all, what is an event? Any occurence, any movement of atoms so you might? No. The belief that a future event is real implies that it must be something like what we preconceive as an event. And this set of occurences is easily defined: anything that can happen can be described with action verbs. When, and only when, we can formulate an action-verbial expression for it, we are talking about an event. Other occurences cannot be events. Still, that definition seems to be too wide: we describe hot lava streams and water falls, the movement of butterflies and elephants with action verbs, but we can never actively participate in it. Still, I make the case that they are events. Here is why. In case of a delirium, we could believe for example that we can pull like gravity itself. We can develop the intention to pull other objects within our “atmosphere”. Those intentions perfectly comply with (I). So intentions can be directed towards physically impossible events. Also, intentions need not to be exact. Without a where, when, how, and why it is still possible to have the intention to kill the president. The only requirement is a “that”.

II. An event is any occurence that we can describe in terms of action verbs.

…now the notion of belief still has to be clarified. We believe that something is going to happen, for example that we will have lunch in one hour. I have no time to dig much deeper here, so let’s resort to ontology. When we belief that an event is going to happen we treat it like a different ontological category than its alternatives.

III. A belief that a certain event E is going to happen exists when and only when we treat it like a different ontological category than all its alternatives.

These are the preliminaries. I’m sure they can be questioned and I encourage you to do that. Once we have a notion of intentionality, we have to ask how we organize more than one intentionality, since our goal here is to establish a distinction between ‘normal’ intentional behavior and ‘myriad’ intentional behavior. Now it’s straightforward to say that we organize intentions chronologically and causally. We tie them together to chains as you might. A simple daily task like
1. go out
2. take a bus
3. buy groceries
4. cook
5. still appetite
is governed by intentions derived from (5) alone. Is there another way? Yes, of course. We could dream, try to follow multiple ‘chains’ at once, intertwine them. There has to be a relation, but one that prevents all intentions to be deducted from one überintention. Total randomness doesn’t work here because that would result in a multiple personality. What we are after is a single personality with a wider intentional structure.
1. go out
2. enjoy the weather
3. buy groceries
Here the events not all causally connected and hence cannot be derived from (3). Still, they are intentions a single person can combine in his thoughts by means of a more abstract overall intention: that of bodily joy. Now the myriad intentionality knows about this and tries to avoid it – yes, that is its dogma. So the myriad intentionalist tries to avoid the possibility of that abstract overall intention. He is not able to do that: that’s his tragic nature, but he is able to postpone it, to stretch the web of intentions as much as possible as it were.
1. go out
2. give to a beggar
3. eat a delicious lunch
4. do a self-invented dance in the park
5. buy groceries
6. feed half of it to the ducks
This ‘chain’ of events is harder to organize in advance. Yet this is what the myriad intentionalist tries to do. Here’s his paradox: in order to broaden the horizon of our intentional behavior he invents a bunch of intentions and then ties them together as tight as possible. This ability to structure them in advance can be trained. The myriad intentionalist invents logical connections between his actions in order to prevent his mind from subsuming them under one abstract imperative. For example:
1. go out
i1. follows from 7 –> imagination of other people’s hunger
2. give money to a beggar
i2. follows from i1 –> reminder of your own hunger
3. eat a delicious lunch
i3. follows from i2 –> the discrepancy i1-i2 spark a crazy act
4. do a self-invented dance in the park
i4. follows from i3 –> discharge leads back to normality
5. buy groceries
i5. follows from i4 –> the discrepancy i3-i4 spark another crazy act
6. feed half of it to the ducks
i6. follows from i5 –> discharge leads back to original intention
7. go home and still appetite

Exercise. Think of random actions (like I want to go to Cuba, I want to scuba dive, I want to climb the Everest, I want to marry in Indonesia). Do free association to find out which series you produce and what relationing principles you use.

I spend the day walking around in the beautiful town of San Christobal, taking pictures, having a good cup of coffee at the beautiful central square. Yesterday night, due to all my nonsense, I almost got lost. I just failed to find the door of my hostel and kept walking for about an hour, examining all the streets in the vicinity of the central square. I asked a few people and reconstructed my earlier walk. Nobody seemed to know about that hostel. Was it dissolved in time or something? I couldn’t believe that. When I insisted, they said “wait a minute, the people next door do lodging”. It turned out to be my hostel! The hosteling sign was taken off the street, and the heavy door tightly locked – nothing reminded of a hostel. I knocked the door and it was opened (very biblical) by the lady I’d seen that afternoon. The anxiety about the disguised hostel entrance escaped my lips only as a dim comment that didn’t pass the counter, I forgave (very biblical) and I went to bed.

At night, in the bus to Mexico City, I speak to a kind lady and dream about myriad intentionality (very unbiblical).

June 9. Myriad Intentionality.

The Theory of myriad intentionality. I wrote about this earlier; here I want to be a little bit more precise. But only a little bit. This is not supposed to be a philosophical tractatus and I am not supposed to be a genius to write one. So, then, what is the definition of intentionality? It is definitely some thought: we don’t ascribe it to other animals precisely because we assume they don’t think. Intentionality means we are headed somewhere: it is a thought about the future. But not just any thought about the future will do. We can have phantasies about future civilizations, the end of the world, international sport events in which we don’t participate without having an intention. What we need of course, is active participation in a future event. So, when we think about some event in the future, say walking the beautiful neighbor’s dog, in a way that we imagine our active participation in it, does this always mean we have the intention to, in this case, walk the dog? What if we were just dreaming about doing it? So a final criteria seems to be needed: the belief that our participation in the future event is real. Thus we arrive at:

I. A thought about a future event with active participation and the belief that this is real.

…and of course raised some new questions, as real philosophers should. First of all, what is an event? Any occurence, any movement of atoms so you might? No. The belief that a future event is real implies that it must be something like what we preconceive as an event. And this set of occurences is easily defined: anything that can happen can be described with action verbs. When, and only when, we can formulate an action-verbial expression for it, we are talking about an event. Other occurences cannot be events. Still, that definition seems to be too wide: we describe hot lava streams and water falls, the movement of butterflies and elephants with action verbs, but we can never actively participate in it. Still, I make the case that they are events. Here is why. In case of a delirium, we could believe for example that we can pull like gravity itself. We can develop the intention to pull other objects within our “atmosphere”. Those intentions perfectly comply with (I). So intentions can be directed towards physically impossible events. Also, intentions need not to be exact. Without a where, when, how, and why it is still possible to have the intention to kill the president. The only requirement is a “that”.

II. An event is any occurence that we can describe in terms of action verbs.

…now the notion of belief still has to be clarified. We believe that something is going to happen, for example that we will have lunch in one hour. I have no time to dig much deeper here, so let’s resort to ontology. When we belief that an event is going to happen we treat it like a different ontological category than its alternatives.

III. A belief that a certain event E is going to happen exists when and only when we treat it like a different ontological category than all its alternatives.

These are the preliminaries. I’m sure they can be questioned and I encourage you to do that. Once we have a notion of intentionality, we have to ask how we organize more than one intentionality, since our goal here is to establish a distinction between ‘normal’ intentional behavior and ‘myriad’ intentional behavior. Now it’s straightforward to say that we organize intentions chronologically and causally. We tie them together to chains as you might. A simple daily task like
1. go out
2. take a bus
3. buy groceries
4. cook
5. still appetite
is governed by intentions derived from (5) alone. Is there another way? Yes, of course. We could dream, try to follow multiple ‘chains’ at once, intertwine them. There has to be a relation, but one that prevents all intentions to be deducted from one überintention. Total randomness doesn’t work here because that would result in a multiple personality. What we are after is a single personality with a wider intentional structure.
1. go out
2. enjoy the weather
3. buy groceries
Here the events not all causally connected and hence cannot be derived from (3). Still, they are intentions a single person can combine in his thoughts by means of a more abstract overall intention: that of bodily joy. Now the myriad intentionality knows about this and tries to avoid it – yes, that is its dogma. So the myriad intentionalist tries to avoid the possibility of that abstract overall intention. He is not able to do that: that’s his tragic nature, but he is able to postpone it, to stretch the web of intentions as much as possible as it were.
1. go out
2. give to a beggar
3. eat a delicious lunch
4. do a self-invented dance in the park
5. buy groceries
6. feed half of it to the ducks
This ‘chain’ of events is harder to organize in advance. Yet this is what the myriad intentionalist tries to do. Here’s his paradox: in order to broaden the horizon of our intentional behavior he invents a bunch of intentions and then ties them together as tight as possible. This ability to structure them in advance can be trained. The myriad intentionalist invents logical connections between his actions in order to prevent his mind from subsuming them under one abstract imperative. For example:
1. go out
i1. follows from 7 –> imagination of other people’s hunger
2. give money to a beggar
i2. follows from i1 –> reminder of your own hunger
3. eat a delicious lunch
i3. follows from i2 –> the discrepancy i1-i2 spark a crazy act
4. do a self-invented dance in the park
i4. follows from i3 –> discharge leads back to normality
5. buy groceries
i5. follows from i4 –> the discrepancy i3-i4 spark another crazy act
6. feed half of it to the ducks
i6. follows from i5 –> discharge leads back to original intention
7. go home and still appetite

Exercise. Think of random actions (like I want to go to Cuba, I want to scuba dive, I want to climb the Everest, I want to marry in Indonesia). Do free association to find out which series you produce and what relationing principles you use.

I spend the day walking around in the beautiful town of San Christobal, taking pictures, having a good cup of coffee at the beautiful central square. Yesterday night, due to all my nonsense, I almost got lost. I just failed to find the door of my hostel and kept walking for about an hour, examining all the streets in the vicinity of the central square. I asked a few people and reconstructed my earlier walk. Nobody seemed to know about that hostel. Was it dissolved in time or something? I couldn’t believe that. When I insisted, they said “wait a minute, the people next door do lodging”. It turned out to be my hostel! The hosteling sign was taken off the street, and the heavy door tightly locked – nothing reminded of a hostel. I knocked the door and it was opened (very biblical) by the lady I’d seen that afternoon. The anxiety about the disguised hostel entrance escaped my lips only as a dim comment that didn’t pass the counter, I forgave (very biblical) and I went to bed.

At night, in the bus to Mexico City, I speak to a kind lady and dream about myriad intentionality (very unbiblical).

June 8. No mushrooms, friends.

In the morning I visit the temple complex of Palenque. It’s thirty minute walk down the asphalt road and I’m very sweaty when I enter the site, that lies on a hill. The temples here are amazing, at least on a par with Tikal. When I walk around, I have the feeling I’m in the thriving Mayan city some 1200 years ago. I was right yesterday: don’t need the mushrooms. Imagination flows like magic incense – all by itself. There is a tomb of a lady that you can enter (I mean the tomb), a large complex where you can pass through the interior below, and a high temple with a beautiful view of the Gran Plaza, where I will take a picture of a French woman while she jumps on her hands and flips over full-circle in front of the temples.

I go back to the same café as yesterday because I left the cable of my computer there, which is quite an essential part of my belongings. Fortunately they still have it. All kinds of scenarios play through my head. Why worry so much? Faith, faith, faith, and then a good cup of coffee – I jump on the bus to San Christobal…

… and on the bus I learn about this region of Mexico from an anthropology student called Biri. She is working with small communities. She will show me a cheap place to stay where I leave my backpack before we hang out at the mean Cathedral square. Yesterday night, I have suggested Myriam and Mario to meet me in front of the Cathedral. My expertise of Catholicism comes in handy at this point: I know that there is at most one cathedral in a city so I suggest do meet right in front of it. And if that’s not enough, I suggest him to stick a note to the front door of the cathedral in case I would be delayed so I could find them at their hostel. I don’t know if Mario is familiar with Luther, but I thought it is a cool idea. It doesn’t work out though. There‘s no note on the impressive 20-feet oak door but I meet the group of anthropology students dancing to the boiling rhythms of African drums. It’s a nice night on that main square, but I’m tired and go back to my hostel, thinking about some more nonsense I could write just to get the point across.

“Friends” is very popular. And also, it features the ex-girlfriend of Brad Pitt, who is very popular, too. So I decide to write my own episode of Friends. Enjoy:

Bloom and Marcel are standing in their living room, each on one side of the couch. They are about to leave the house, but something keeps them from doing so. Bloom scratches his head and says
“I think I forgot something.”
Marcel looks at him and shakes his characteristic head slowly.
-“Aren’t we all doomed to forget the most defining events of our lives? To forget the smell of beloved lips, to forget the unique nocturnal sharing of our deepest truths with the person we love most, to forget the look in the eyes of our mother, to forget the sound of the little birds looking for food on the windowsill in our lofty étage in de Rue de Capuccines, forgetting the taste of a fresh Madeleine in the Deux Maggots, crumbling on our tense lips with infinite serenity, to forget even the forgetting. Yes, aren’t we doomed to live our lives in a tragical, sad search of what is forever forgotten, in a maze with black walls we see glowing dimly only because we shine our foolish lights on them?”
“Hahahahahaha!” The laughing comes from the audience. Hey, that’s YOU!
Bloom scratches his head again.
-“Good point. We are here to unfold the story that we carry inside us, to unveil the inevitable truth that defines us but is bigger than ourselves. It is our meaningless task on earth. We will arrive at something, at some layer of meaning we can indulge in for a little while, ignorant of the emptyness. For how long? Ten years? Twenty years? And then we’ll meet our own emptiness again. It’s a relentless vacuum sucking everything with a purpose, an intention, a direction, a ‘dream’ as you would say, everything behind its odorless jaws”
“Hahahahahaha!” There you go again.
“What did you forget Bloom?”
-“Oh, just the keys of my car. I think I left them at Franz’s place.”
“Franz’s?”
-“Yes, we were there last night, don’t you remember?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Franz invited us to see some movies together. You were so drunk Bloom, just like every Irishman.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“I’m not Irish. My family is Irish. I’m Italian.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
They still stand each on one side of the couch facing each other.
“You were so drunk Bloom, believe me. I bet you don’t even remember what Franz looks like.”
-“But I do. Franz has dark hair. I think he is Jewish.”
“What does he do for a living?”
-“I think he is a clerk somewhere.”
“You remember that? How can that be? You were totally knocked out.”
-“I have no idea.”
“Let’s call him to come over and have a drink or something. You do need your car keys,too.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“You’re right. Without those keys I’m pretty much stuck here. And I don’t want to be stuck here next to this couch in this murky living room, believe me.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
Bloom calls Franz. Marcel is watching him. The swift and eager movement of his fingers over the keys of Bloom’s phone excites him. This is a moment that will remain alive in his thoughts for a very long time. Bloom’s fingers are typing Franz’s number on that little telephone. They seem to have a kind of magic that Marcel can’t resist. He sighs
“This is too beautiful! I could live for this beauty alone, Bloom.”
-“I could not.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“So what did Franz say?”
-“He says we’re welcome at his place to have some wine and talk. He’s having some kind of party.”
“Let’s do that! Who else will come?”
-“Virginia is for sure, Ernest might show up with a bottle, Samuel is delayed. The rest I don’t know.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Cool. Yes, let’s walk there.”
-“Walk?”
“Yes, you forgot your car keys. Already forgot about that?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
So Bloom and Marcel walk twenty-seven blocks to Franz’s place and knock on his door.

“Come in, come in, make yourselves comfortable, grab a chair, make some coffee. So, Bloom forgot his car keys again?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Yes… We don’t want to declare it to the police because the bureaucracy and the paperwork would take years.”
“At least. I know that since I’ve been through some of that myself.” Franz says.
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Good. Where could the keys of Bloom’s car be?”
“Maybe here, under the table, or here, in the closet, or – where have you been Bloom?”
-“Maybe in the…eh… bedroom.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“You can go have a look.”
Bloom and Marcel tiptoe into the dark bedroom and sees that someone’s sleeping there.
-“There’s a person in the bed.”
“O I forgot, it’s Virginia. Don’t mind her, she’s cool. Just look for the keys where you remember you’ve left them.”
-“I can’t remember a thing.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
Bloom pulls the sheets off Virginia and sees that she holds his car keys in her closed fist. She winks at him with an intimity Marcel would have written at least a thousand pages about if he would have noticed it.
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Should I wake her up?” he asks Marcel.
-“And I’ll make some coffee” Franz mutters in the background. Marcel looks at her small hands holding the keys and says
“Isn’t that beautiful? Life is so rewarding if you look at it this way.”
-“And if you don’t?”
“If you don’t look at it?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Yes.”
“Then… I don’t know. Who can know that anyway?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Take the keys”, says Bloom, “I’m going home. I’ve got some work to do.”
“Bloom takes the keys and drives back to his appartment. Marcel stays with Franz.
“This is such a boring day!” Marcel says to Franz.
“Hahahahahaha!”
Meanwhile, Virginia is waking up and tries to remember what happened the night before. She fails at that and sleeps for another hour. Marcel enters her room and asks her if everything is alright. Marcel is the friend she shares her most profound secrets with.
“Hi Marcel, I don’t know…”
-“You don’t know what?”
“I’m writing this script but I’m stuck.”
-“What kind of script is that?”
“It’s about two friends having a good time together, even though they are in love with the same woman.”
-“Are you the same woman?” Franz asks from the background. “And who wants some coffee?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“I am the same woman” Virginia says proudly.
-“And I am the same man” Franz laughs heartily, but we are not sure if he has understands everything.
“Hahahahahaha!”
“I’m just too tired. I’m going to sleep now.”
-“Your work is not yet finished!”
“I apologize for that. But tomorrow I will be the same woman too.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
Virginia goes to bed. Franz lays his hand on Marcel’s shoulder and says:
-“She’s gone to bed now. And soon the birds will come to eat off her windowsill.”
“That’s so beautiful. Birds on a windowsill. Birds! A windowsill! What else do we need in life? Isn’t all the beauty present in that little scene? What else do we need?”
-“I can’t think of anything.” says Franz but he thinks of Virginia. He rolls his eyes.
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Neither can I.”
-“That is good, then.”

June 8. No mushrooms, friends.

In the morning I visit the temple complex of Palenque. It’s thirty minute walk down the asphalt road and I’m very sweaty when I enter the site, that lies on a hill. The temples here are amazing, at least on a par with Tikal. When I walk around, I have the feeling I’m in the thriving Mayan city some 1200 years ago. I was right yesterday: don’t need the mushrooms. Imagination flows like magic incense – all by itself. There is a tomb of a lady that you can enter (I mean the tomb), a large complex where you can pass through the interior below, and a high temple with a beautiful view of the Gran Plaza, where I will take a picture of a French woman while she jumps on her hands and flips over full-circle in front of the temples.

I go back to the same café as yesterday because I left the cable of my computer there, which is quite an essential part of my belongings. Fortunately they still have it. All kinds of scenarios play through my head. Why worry so much? Faith, faith, faith, and then a good cup of coffee – I jump on the bus to San Christobal…

… and on the bus I learn about this region of Mexico from an anthropology student called Biri. She is working with small communities. She will show me a cheap place to stay where I leave my backpack before we hang out at the mean Cathedral square. Yesterday night, I have suggested Myriam and Mario to meet me in front of the Cathedral. My expertise of Catholicism comes in handy at this point: I know that there is at most one cathedral in a city so I suggest do meet right in front of it. And if that’s not enough, I suggest him to stick a note to the front door of the cathedral in case I would be delayed so I could find them at their hostel. I don’t know if Mario is familiar with Luther, but I thought it is a cool idea. It doesn’t work out though. There‘s no note on the impressive 20-feet oak door but I meet the group of anthropology students dancing to the boiling rhythms of African drums. It’s a nice night on that main square, but I’m tired and go back to my hostel, thinking about some more nonsense I could write just to get the point across.

“Friends” is very popular. And also, it features the ex-girlfriend of Brad Pitt, who is very popular, too. So I decide to write my own episode of Friends. Enjoy:

Bloom and Marcel are standing in their living room, each on one side of the couch. They are about to leave the house, but something keeps them from doing so. Bloom scratches his head and says
“I think I forgot something.”
Marcel looks at him and shakes his characteristic head slowly.
-“Aren’t we all doomed to forget the most defining events of our lives? To forget the smell of beloved lips, to forget the unique nocturnal sharing of our deepest truths with the person we love most, to forget the look in the eyes of our mother, to forget the sound of the little birds looking for food on the windowsill in our lofty étage in de Rue de Capuccines, forgetting the taste of a fresh Madeleine in the Deux Maggots, crumbling on our tense lips with infinite serenity, to forget even the forgetting. Yes, aren’t we doomed to live our lives in a tragical, sad search of what is forever forgotten, in a maze with black walls we see glowing dimly only because we shine our foolish lights on them?”
“Hahahahahaha!” The laughing comes from the audience. Hey, that’s YOU!
Bloom scratches his head again.
-“Good point. We are here to unfold the story that we carry inside us, to unveil the inevitable truth that defines us but is bigger than ourselves. It is our meaningless task on earth. We will arrive at something, at some layer of meaning we can indulge in for a little while, ignorant of the emptyness. For how long? Ten years? Twenty years? And then we’ll meet our own emptiness again. It’s a relentless vacuum sucking everything with a purpose, an intention, a direction, a ‘dream’ as you would say, everything behind its odorless jaws”
“Hahahahahaha!” There you go again.
“What did you forget Bloom?”
-“Oh, just the keys of my car. I think I left them at Franz’s place.”
“Franz’s?”
-“Yes, we were there last night, don’t you remember?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Franz invited us to see some movies together. You were so drunk Bloom, just like every Irishman.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“I’m not Irish. My family is Irish. I’m Italian.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
They still stand each on one side of the couch facing each other.
“You were so drunk Bloom, believe me. I bet you don’t even remember what Franz looks like.”
-“But I do. Franz has dark hair. I think he is Jewish.”
“What does he do for a living?”
-“I think he is a clerk somewhere.”
“You remember that? How can that be? You were totally knocked out.”
-“I have no idea.”
“Let’s call him to come over and have a drink or something. You do need your car keys,too.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“You’re right. Without those keys I’m pretty much stuck here. And I don’t want to be stuck here next to this couch in this murky living room, believe me.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
Bloom calls Franz. Marcel is watching him. The swift and eager movement of his fingers over the keys of Bloom’s phone excites him. This is a moment that will remain alive in his thoughts for a very long time. Bloom’s fingers are typing Franz’s number on that little telephone. They seem to have a kind of magic that Marcel can’t resist. He sighs
“This is too beautiful! I could live for this beauty alone, Bloom.”
-“I could not.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“So what did Franz say?”
-“He says we’re welcome at his place to have some wine and talk. He’s having some kind of party.”
“Let’s do that! Who else will come?”
-“Virginia is for sure, Ernest might show up with a bottle, Samuel is delayed. The rest I don’t know.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Cool. Yes, let’s walk there.”
-“Walk?”
“Yes, you forgot your car keys. Already forgot about that?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
So Bloom and Marcel walk twenty-seven blocks to Franz’s place and knock on his door.

“Come in, come in, make yourselves comfortable, grab a chair, make some coffee. So, Bloom forgot his car keys again?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Yes… We don’t want to declare it to the police because the bureaucracy and the paperwork would take years.”
“At least. I know that since I’ve been through some of that myself.” Franz says.
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Good. Where could the keys of Bloom’s car be?”
“Maybe here, under the table, or here, in the closet, or – where have you been Bloom?”
-“Maybe in the…eh… bedroom.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“You can go have a look.”
Bloom and Marcel tiptoe into the dark bedroom and sees that someone’s sleeping there.
-“There’s a person in the bed.”
“O I forgot, it’s Virginia. Don’t mind her, she’s cool. Just look for the keys where you remember you’ve left them.”
-“I can’t remember a thing.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
Bloom pulls the sheets off Virginia and sees that she holds his car keys in her closed fist. She winks at him with an intimity Marcel would have written at least a thousand pages about if he would have noticed it.
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Should I wake her up?” he asks Marcel.
-“And I’ll make some coffee” Franz mutters in the background. Marcel looks at her small hands holding the keys and says
“Isn’t that beautiful? Life is so rewarding if you look at it this way.”
-“And if you don’t?”
“If you don’t look at it?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Yes.”
“Then… I don’t know. Who can know that anyway?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
-“Take the keys”, says Bloom, “I’m going home. I’ve got some work to do.”
“Bloom takes the keys and drives back to his appartment. Marcel stays with Franz.
“This is such a boring day!” Marcel says to Franz.
“Hahahahahaha!”
Meanwhile, Virginia is waking up and tries to remember what happened the night before. She fails at that and sleeps for another hour. Marcel enters her room and asks her if everything is alright. Marcel is the friend she shares her most profound secrets with.
“Hi Marcel, I don’t know…”
-“You don’t know what?”
“I’m writing this script but I’m stuck.”
-“What kind of script is that?”
“It’s about two friends having a good time together, even though they are in love with the same woman.”
-“Are you the same woman?” Franz asks from the background. “And who wants some coffee?”
“Hahahahahaha!”
“I am the same woman” Virginia says proudly.
-“And I am the same man” Franz laughs heartily, but we are not sure if he has understands everything.
“Hahahahahaha!”
“I’m just too tired. I’m going to sleep now.”
-“Your work is not yet finished!”
“I apologize for that. But tomorrow I will be the same woman too.”
“Hahahahahaha!”
Virginia goes to bed. Franz lays his hand on Marcel’s shoulder and says:
-“She’s gone to bed now. And soon the birds will come to eat off her windowsill.”
“That’s so beautiful. Birds on a windowsill. Birds! A windowsill! What else do we need in life? Isn’t all the beauty present in that little scene? What else do we need?”
-“I can’t think of anything.” says Franz but he thinks of Virginia. He rolls his eyes.
“Hahahahahaha!”
“Neither can I.”
-“That is good, then.”