Monday, April 9, 2012

Dos Canziones

Dos Canziones
Dos Mas
In spite of my pagan tendencies, I engaged in my own unwitting observance of Lent and now, of Easter.  I cleansed, sacrificed, abstained, fasted and prayed – and now I am on the road to renewal and resurrection.  My ‘moveable feast’ travels its own circuitous path toward wherever it is I’m going.  I hope it’s somewhere good.

Hugo has been a teacher and friend for many years and continues to inspire me with his work and his way of being in the world.  I remember recognizing his unique art of living even in my teen brain; it probably says more about him than it says about me -- but I will accept a small amount of credit for having good taste, even as a high school student.

We spent some hours in his studio on the weekend – I practiced my new song and also made playlists that we sang to while we contemplated textures and colors and Hugo trained me in his print-making techniques.  These are the fruits of our most recent collaboration – and a simple representation of my weeks and months and years of exploration of the seasons of the heart.

Hugo and I watched from a restaurant window as local volunteers wearing robes of burlap walked barefoot and silent through the streets on Friday night.  They carried large platforms with maquettes of Christ and Mary upon their evenly-matched shoulders to commemorate the day that Christ was supposedly crucified.

I suppose we all wade through our own swill on the long and treacherous road to redemption, renewal, and ultimately release from this world – but to crucify a man for claiming to be the son of god seems a little extreme.  I don’t know much about the Bible, but I do know that we have a lot of conflicting testimony in this world – each of us living in our own version of reality within the parts of our minds we dare to engage.  Not to get too Cat Stevens or anything -- I am not converting nor abandoning my musical life -- but escaping this prison, this illusion of limitation and separateness, is, I think, the ultimate deliverance.

Hugo in his studio at La Casa de Espiritus Alegres

A holy meal by Hugo -- breaded tuna, fideo, salad of pineapple, cucumbers, fresh mint and avocado

Friday, April 6, 2012

Outside the Usual Spheres

I've given the same book away the last two times I've been in Colombia -- A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe.  I brought a fancy German compass this time so I could do some of the assignments (see my awesome circles above, which don't conform to any assignment) and left it with my friend Yos, who has one of the copies of the book.  This trip's copy went to Jaime Franco -- painter, philosopher, cinephile, rock climber -- and the stage mother I never had.  These renunciations don't mean I've given up my quest -- I'm just going about universal construction with a slightly different approach.

Jaime Franco and me in Jaime's studio - Bogotá

I brought another book with me that was a gift from someone I met on my last Colombian escapade in December -- biologist, son of Yos, cosmic traveler, cultivator of cocoa and my personal translator and friend, Simón.  I'd been introduced The Teachings of Don Juan in high school (I'm from Portland, after all) but found the accounted journeys into the nature of consciousness a little easier to relate to with a few more years of experience to boast.  
My week  on the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia was the perfect setting in which to reengage Mr. Castaneda and to ponder things like the difference between looking and seeing.  I'm not really one to skimp on exploring the nature of reality, but I find Latin America to provide a more hospitable setting for this type of inquest.  I've managed to find similarly inclined sorts of people and have found ways to communicate in various languages -- though I've also found that words are not only insufficient, but are ultimately kind of incidental once outside the confines of technology -- outside technology, where energetic, psychic and physical communication surpass anything that words could express.  I've thought a lot lately about how curious it is that two people can be experiencing the 'same' thing at the same time -- and yet with nothing more but words to communicate their experiences, each is left to make all sorts of assumptions about how close his experience is to the other's. Where what we call 'connection' exists is where each person's sphere of understanding, belief and experience overlaps with the other's, and there is a shared common space.  In geometry, this space is called the Vesica Pisces -- recently popularized by my friend David Regelin in his yoga stylings and teachings.

Matias, quite possibly one of the sweetest little biscuits whose company I've shared. . . an exotic Mexi-Colombian hybrid.

Yos and me

Santi and me in-between realities -- on the way to the airport to Bogotá

One of the many conversations I had with Jaime and my friend Lina in Bogotá -- and also in Suezca, where we went rock climbing and mountain biking -- was about how and why Latin Americans are so much more demonstrative and expressive of their feelings than North Americans and Europeans generally are.  I think part of why I go to Latin America so much is to soak up all the love and affection -- however fleeting it may ultimately be.  Jaime -- who is one of those people who remembers the most esoteric facts, dates, chronologies and other things I am terrible at remembering -- conceeded that the explanation for this divergence in behavior lies in our religious roots.  The Protestants broke away from the Catholic church in order to escape the hierarchy that characterized it -- they wanted a more direct, more individualistic connection with god.  Henry VIII also wanted a divorce so he could marry a new woman -- one who he ended up having killed, by the way, when she didn't produce a son for him.  Bastard. . . 

Anyway, the northerners/Protestants evolved in societies much more focused on individualism, much more 'vertical' in their orientation to god.  Meanwhile, the Catholics burned a lot of incense and maintained more of a 'horizontal' relationship both to each other and to god -- thus forming societies built around groups, families, hugging, etc.

Otto and Jamie, my aforementioned stage mother and climbing teacher, coached me through the climb of 'La Abeja,' which I made on the second try.  It was scary.  I also learned how to rapel.  Climbing involves a lot of trust -- much in the same way that getting on a motorcycle does, which I did recently in Bogotá with my friend Santiago.  I find myself consciously letting go when I do these kinds of things, resigned to the idea that my moment will come whenever it does -- and I just hope I don't survive in some sort of vegetal state.

Santi in the offices of Cisne/Rhyuela in Bogotá.  Production offices around the world are basically the same -- bikes, pool tables, espresso machines, tattoos, attitude.

I'm ending my late-winter/early spring 2012 journey with my friend Hugo here in Guanajuato, my home away from home. The inhabitants of Guanajuato and visitors from neighboring towns ooze through the streets like honey, taking their time and savoring the celebratory atmosphere -- buying tacos, small plastic toys, beaded jewels and other beautiful things in observance of Semana Santa, the week leading up to Easter.  I'm imitating them -- since that's what humans are so good at doing -- learning to slow down, look around a little, be less New Yorky and more Latin American, wear bigger earrings and eat more tortillas.  I'm moving outside my usual spheres, but also inhabiting the space created where two spheres overlap -- this space that is both empty and perfectly full, this space that is a portal to something new.

People who have been in my apartment might recognize this ghost print of the print in my living room -- Hugo turned it into an alter.

Taking advantage of the Iphone's reversible function