By Judith Pedroza
Fifty-seven minutes ago, Gabriel García Márquez died. Five or six hours ago from today, I felt an anxiety, the one that made me look through my books in Spanish. I took a walk through references to find where the ideas that I cross with Art and culture come from. Among the books browsed, Heriberto Yépez translation of a lecture presented at the University of Chicago in 1926 by José Vasconcelos (writer, philosopher and founder of the public university program in Mexico) creator of the famous phrase that accompanies the shield of my Mexican University, UNAM, " Through my race, the spirit will speak" a phrase I feel strange mentioning in this text because in Mexico I would have never thought of such a reference, but because of my personal exile in Chicago, I bring in an indirect reference, and I also add " The Cosmic Race " or "the unity of complementarity diversities rather than confrontation" (Da Jandra:13:2010). According to Heriberto Yépez, the Cosmic Race was dedicated to Latin American readers and he noted that Vasconcelos would refer to U.S. diversity as "Another Cosmic race".
I prepare a text -“The Text” - the one that won´t have my voice. Instead, it will have the voice of an acute Anglo-Saxon tone, as James Elkins says, the language of History; The language that in my intent to succeed in America, trips and is misunderstood, filled with binary senses. The language that I use sounds like a claim, a sham, pronouncing its bass tones that sometimes manifest so sharply. I look at my listeners, moving their lips as a gesture to try to understand. Even so, English tones are full of experiences.
The task, in finding the beauty between the difference, between that space where nothing seems to exist, where otherness leaves something in the middle among the misunderstanding and the new meaning, between the desire to say and the silence that interprets the sound, between the space of a seat. Between the space of two languages that cannot talk about the same, there is the place where I find liberation, between what cannot be said, and what is said. The difference, like a liberating act of beauty, creates another language -far from the mother's house, or books- the one that requires more development before jumping to the next screen. Giusseppe Patela says, in his essay Resistance As (Art of) Difference " A strategic idea of beauty, thought of as an experience of opposites and challenge." The challenge of standing in the difference itself, where there is a third opportunity that emerges. The difference I also imagine as the vigil of Borges, the opportunity to be between awake and asleep. I imagine the dream as a state of beauty that is in the middle. It may be this third state, where no expected experiences happen, that links the night to fullness.
Interlude - temporary amusement or source of entertainment that contrasts with what goes before or after:
Today when I dream in English, I want to dream that I'm awake and in class, where I wrote a line with the present experiences, where I speak the German of Tina, the English of Michael, and the Spanish of Carlos, and I move my hands with the grace of Joseph. I want to dream, dream that you respond in Mediterranean and Latin words from a place in Imperia, telling me about the many walks that I missed.
Beauty as the third experience between sleep and vigil may be the transformation to the absolute absence of pain.
Beauty is when two friends share in each other the acuteness and detail I see in each one and make me part of every distant moment of thought.
The images make me share wanderings in full markets, full of daisies, sunflowers and tuberose, the ride in the subway with flowers, on a Thursday farewell before the trip. They remember you with a glass of "mezcal de amores," mezcal of love, and they ask when you can go for a walk with them.
I want to think of the first time I had an encounter with history, walking at the age of seven, accompanying my grandmother to the market through Popotla, one of the oldest parts of Mexico City, which houses the "Tree of the sad Night, an [ahuehuete] from [āhuēhuētl] - the Moctezuma Cypres, which means "Old water tree" or "Tree that never ages." This is the tree where the leader of the Spanish conquest, Hernán Cortés, cried in June of 1520 in defeat of the Mexica people. My grandmother introduced me to this fallen trunk, which at that time represented more than 464 years of life. She made me touch it, because it is known that the trees like to be touched. Touching them will tell you the full history and all the weeping lived through defeated nights. She told me this is where the braiding of my hair came from. Braids were the root of the mixture of Mexican races, the crossings of pain, but also joy, and once again, in the middle is where we keep history and cultural difference. This trunk resists the idea of death. It stays strong, predicting life for more than five centuries, holding on to the desire to live in time. Some historians say that the Spaniards arrived in Mexico happy to meet the new lands and Mexican cultures – a people also divided by the Mexica civilization. The history twisted, when the Spaniards found all the gold that the Mexica people had, they decided to attack. But in this first battle, the Spaniards lost and the tears of the Spanish leader remain in the trunk of this tree.
Prelude - the introductory part of a poem or other literary work:
Another thought plays back. The first time art made sense to me. I was walking between Champs-Elysees and George Eliott in the city, escaping from home for the first time, making my first trip to the nearby neighborhood. On that corner, the first and short-lived Museum of Contemporary Art was established. I had never heard the word “contemporary” before. I entered the museum. I was ten years old and nobody asked me anything, and the best part - it was free. I walked into the museum as you would walk into your home. The first art piece I saw and I would never forget from the art collective SEMEFO, was called “Study of dead body clothing”, five pieces of clothing from young people that were killed in accidents and pulled from the morgue. I encountered these pieces of clothing and smelt the blood from the unknown. This was my first art experience that taught me the existence of other ways and how to use language to name problems, to address them. From there that corner turned into my favorite corner in Mexico City that I visit every time I can. Today there is nothing special about this corner, but it is rich in my memory.
I want to think about my first art experiences that occurred in the daily life of Mexico City - determined by contrasts and tensions without a purist approach to history, beauty, literature, art, or philosophy. The idea of art and culture becomes a pretext, an appropriate license to say what cannot be said in the everyday life. The space between the contrasts and tensions is a hybrid of fiction and reality, the two are mixed, a state of constant vigilance that crosses the city in long periods, where there are places of language transformation, where when the tension of class or race rises in the middle of an argument or a fight, can turn, in seconds into humor. Yoshua Okon mentioned that, “The humor is actually a very sophisticated way of communication and is also a very sophisticated way of coping with the many harsh and violent aspects of everyday life.” Cynicism is not the same as humor, cynicism aims to disarm and disable any event. Humor reinvents and motivates the relationship of opposites. Cynicism voids, humor activates and catalyzes. The construction of identity is developed in these interludes, in halves, at crossroads, in the possibility. So, humor is a serious thing.
Intermezzo - a similar piece performed independently: the fall
I want to think about the different times I fell down in Mexico. Falling is almost impossible. There are few spaces to fall. Just as you feel your foot trip, your knees weaken, your arms in the air, just as you’re almost on the ground, right when your face is about to touch the floor, different arms and unknown hands are there to never let you fall or to lift you up and tell you immediately - “Its over." They never ask, "Are you okay?” They always say, “Its over.” The beauty of the language makes you move from floor to posture, from trance to immediate equilibrium.
"Its over" is the sentence that means "continuity.” Seeing someone fall activates an immediate motion, presto momentum. If one falls, we all fall. We can´t. We all are practicing the present and the present does not stop to wait for us.