Letter to my Other one by Juan C. Tajes
My Other one,
I have the courage to decide to write to ourself to explain us. For many decades, too many, we have shared this painful and temporary sheath that we call Body. Let us then communicate through the annoying, shameful and indivisible abstraction: our ego. You are my ego and I am yours. Both traveling different paths, starting from the same origin. You know, as well as I do, that our ancestors believed they were the Chosen Ones, each family clan according to its uses and customs. They came to these distant shores at the Southern hemisphere, to found a new World for their descent. Their Own World. They bequeathed us the illusion that if we put the best of ourselves, we would be rewarded for the effort. Wrong. The Canaan that they has imagined had nothing to offer us, because it was already distributed, according to a strict hierarchy, among those who came before them to conquer it. This is how only a few descendants of those dreamers took root in the imagined Promised Land and inaugurated a line of eternal and disused conformists. The rest of us, those who inherited the vice of nonconformity, went to discover other Shangrila, other Xanadú, other Jerusalem, other El Dorado. Chimeras all of dissatisfaction. Later the old gods dialogued among themselves with words of wind and gestures of storm, with outrageous voices that no one understands anymore, in the hidden language of a lost and forgotten idiom. Only them, they know the secret message and know the answers to the riddles of the Sphinx.
You and I, my Other one, seek peace at the shores of rivers and seas, crossing bridges, landing on the edge of docks blurred by fog, and coasts whipped by winds, sheltered from the so-called phalaz of the Siren that, with an unpitched lyre , sings the shipwreck of our ship. In the night of the sea, their voice deceived us, took us away from homelands and love, with an old song that comes from a time without lighthouses.
Many times despair assails us and we cross over to an island that looms on the horizon. The Island is a founding myth. Island that saves us. Island that isolates us from the foreign, continental evil. There we re-discover the ideal brotherhood, and the lost family There we re-invented the mythical past that we always dreamed of, but never existed. There we are the ones we want to be, without ties or compromising realities.
Some times we take refuge in the mountains, where the solitary summit equals us and makes us similar to the primordial Gods. Grouped around the fire, as in the original cavern, in the shadow of our own shadows, our shape enlarged against the stone walls, like Giants of the past.
The mountain embodies the myth of the original group, the tribe, the clan, the gens.
But when the mountain it rises over the island, we feel doubly superior, we are removed from the original problem, born of obedience. If Abraham had ignored the command of the Angel who stopped his hand, and had struck the right blow, everything would have been different. No forgiveness in exchange for restrictions. Obedience, that supreme arrogance, is the mother of all vices. However, daring is refusing to obey, not because of not wanting, since from wanting comes willing, if not because not, for the very reason of no. The transgression is not an end in itself, it is an attitude, a path. Desire implies the desire for comfort, as a synonym for stability, and stability as a synonym for happiness, as a goal of peace, as an end in itself and not as part of a process. We let ourselves be determined by an absurd and unreal nostalgia for the past, which was never better than the present and which, surely, is worse than the future. Passive and nostalgic readers are the true enemies of literature.
We can choose whether or not to belong to a certain model of civilization. We are born in a certain cultural environment, but a civilization develops little by little between human beings with the same affinities. While we cannot, we must not, forget the past, just as we cannot abolish the memory of someone who is no longer there. But you and I, my Other one, coexist and share the same emotions as our most remote ancestor, the hominid, when he stood up on his hind legs, looked up, gazed up at the sky and made a sound expressing his astonishment. And a fellow man, repeated it like an echo. Perhaps it was a wake-up call to danger, and the others in his group understood it. At first they swayed in a routine movement, an attempt to take the first step. Then there was the snap of her front legs, as they hit each other, something like a kind of rhythm to mark the swing of the hind legs, now turned into legs, and the growl echoed in his glottis, almost like a melope. His first voice. The hominid was on its way to becoming human. This first common act was followed by the gesture, imitated by the group and enriched by other gestures, born of need and of understanding. Then there was the mark on the bark of a tree, a scratch on the ground or on a rock, to record his presence at the site. Each thing was designated with a different, repeatable sound, gesture and sign. The uncontrolled sound of the voice was articulated and the impulsive gesture was defined. The description of things and objects was followed by the description of places and elements, of the surrounding world. The repetition of the gesture and the sequence of the movement became a dance. The organized articulation of sound is the origin of the vowel, the consonant, the diphthong, the graphism. Symbols that are not necessary to understand in their entirety, but that it is necessary to decipher in order to understand each other. The recognizable mark of the word became writing. The graphic representation of the rhythm and the image, added to the miracle of the word, became poetry.
Upon discovering his own image in the mirror of the water, the hominid identified himself in it and recognized the other one as his similar. The likeness of the other instituted compassion, affinity, love, desire. But also difference, rivalry, rejection. On the other hand, you and I, my inseparable Other one, do not have the option of loving or rejecting each other, because that would be self-destructive. Otherness forces us to live in and with ourselves. I hardly dare to deny your existence and you can’t ignore me. For the purposes it is the same. For this letter to take effect we should admire each other. But not in excess. Whoever admires a lot, loses objectivity, mythologizes what is admired and finally ends up despising it, by dint of not being able to overcome it.
I’m not saying goodbye to you, but I’ll be waiting for you around the corner. Perhaps this way, crouched in the gloom, I can surprise you and defeat you. Or you me.
Your Other one.
Juan C. Tajes 1946 Uruguay/The Netherlands. Multidisciplinary artist, actor, drama teacher, communicator, former teacher of oratory art at the University of Sciences Poliques de Paris and of Intaerpretation at the Conservatory of Rotterdam. Since 1963 published regularly.Based in Holland since 1971, his poetry seeks a sound and an identity of his own, within a non-Spanish-speaking society. Nostalgia, desire, mismatches, memory and remoteness are recurrent themes in his poetics. Edited work: Poetry, Prosa, Theter, Essay. Publications in anthologies and individual editions . Collaborates with specialized magazines in France, Turkey, Romania, Bangladesh, India, Brasil, Mexico, Argentina, Germany and Holland. Last edited: Time for words (2017) The confines of the water (2020)
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