The Last Love Song of Pedro J. Lastarria, Alias “El Chorito”

South American in Gothic land,
This is my farewell song
Now that hospitals race through
Breakfasts and teatimes
With an insistence I can
Only attribute to death.
The thoroughly studied
Sunsets have ended,
The amusing games leading
Nowhere have ended. South American
In a land more hostile
Than hospitable, I’m getting ready
To go down the long
Unknown hallway
Where it’s said
Lost opportunities flourish.
My life was a succession
Of lost opportunities,
Reader of Catullus in Latin
I barely had the courage to pronounce
Sine qua non or Ad hoc
In the bitterest hour
Of my life. South American
In Gothic hospitals, what can I do
But remember the nice things
That once happened to me?
Childhood trips, the elegance
Of parents and grandparents, the generosity
Of my lost youth and with it
The lost youth of so many
Are now balm for my pain,
Are now the bloodless joke
Unleashed in these solitudes
That those Goths just don’t get
Or understand a different way.
I, too, was elegant and generous:
I learned to appreciate storms,
Cries of love in cabins
And the widows’ weeping,
But the experience is a hoax.
In the hospital I’m accompanied only by
My deliberate immaturity
And splendors glimpsed on another planet
Or in another life.
The parade of monsters
In which “El Chorito”
Has a leading role.
South American in no man’s
Land. I’m getting ready
To slip into the lake
Still as my eye
Where the adventures of
Pedro Javier Lastarria are refracted
From the incident ray
To the angle of incidence,
From sine of the angle
Of refraction
To the so-called constant
Index of refraction.
In brief: the bad things
Turned to good,
Into glorious apparitions,
Memory of failure
Turned into the memory
Of courage. A dream,
Maybe, but
A dream I’ve conquered
With a steady hand.
I hope no one has to follow my example
But that they might know
That they are Lastarria’s muscles
Opening this passage.
It’s Lastarria’s cortex,
The clashing of
Lastarria’s teeth, that light up
This black night of the soul,
Reduced, for my enjoyment
And reflection, to this corner
Of a shadowy room,
Like a feverish stone,
Like a desert detained
In my word.
South American in the land
Of shadows,
I who always was
A gentleman,
Am getting ready to attend
My own farewell flight.

— Roberto Bolaño, from My Life in the Tubes of Survival in The Unknown University, trans. Laura Healy. 

from One Piece At A Time / Go On Blues, 1976.

Ad Reinhardt, “A Portend of the Artist as a Yhung Mandala” in ARTnews, May 1956. Source.

Ad Reinhardt, “How to Look at Space” in PM, April 28, 1946. Source.

“The magical nature of images must be taken into account when decoding them. Thus it is wrong to look for ‘frozen events’ in images. Rather they replace events by states of things and translate them into scenes. The magical power of images lies in their superficial nature, and the dialectic inherent in them – the contradiction peculiar to them – must be seen in the light of this magic.”
— Vilém Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography.
“This space and time peculiar to the image is none other than the world of magic, a world in which everything is repeated and in which everything participates in a significant context. Such a world is structurally different from that of the linear world of history in which nothing is repeated and in which everything has causes and will have consequences. For example: in the historical world, sunrise is the cause of the cock’s crowing; in the magical one, sunrise signifies crowing and crowing signifies sunrise. The significance of images is magical.”
— Vilém Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography.

Paul Klee, Der Goldfisch, 1925. Source.

Paul Klee, Hauptwege und Nebenwege, 1929. Source.

“The dazzling presentation of modern abstract graphics continued all through the night, with Paul Klee giving way to Marc Chagall, and Chagall to Kandinsky, and Kandinsky to an artist whose style I did not recognize. There were literally tens of thousands of graphics by each master artist in turn… which caused a peculiar thought to enter my mind after two hours had passed. These great artists had never produced so many works; it was patently impossible for them to have done so. Of the Klees alone I had now seen more than fifty thousand, although admittedly they had gone so rapidly that I had not been able to glimpse any distinct details, but rather only the general impression of fluctuating balance points in the various pictures, changing proportions of dark and light colors, adroit black strokes of the brush that gave harmony to what would otherwise have been less than high art.”
— Philip K. Dick, Radio Free Albemuth.
“The exaggerated particolored square shimmered and altered at the direct center of my field of vision. It resembled a modern abstract painting; I could almost name the artist, but not quite. Rapidly, at the terrific rate of permutation which in the TV field they call flash-cutting, the frame of balanced, proportioned colors gave way to another frame, equally attractive. Within a few given seconds I had seen no less than twenty of them; as each frame, each abstract, appeared, it at once gave way to another. The overall effect was dazzling. Paul Klee, I said to myself excitedly. I am seeing a whole lot of Paul Klee prints—or, rather, the actual pictures themselves, an entire gallery display! It was, in many respects, the most wonderful and astonishing sight I had ever seen. Scared as I was, puzzled as I was to account for this, I made the decision to lie there and enjoy it. Certainly no such experience had ever come my way before; this was an extraordinary—in fact, unique—opportunity.”
— Philip K. Dick, Radio Free Albemuth.

from L’Amour, 1983. Link.

Christopher Williams, detail of Bouquet, for Bas Jan Ader and Christopher D’Arcangelo, 1991. Source.

“It was three days before Nashe was able to work again. For the first two days he slept, rousing himself only when Murks entered the trailer to deliver aspirin and tea and canned soup, and when he was sufficiently conscious to realize that those two days had been lost to him, he understood that sleep had not only been a physical necessity, it had been a moral imperative as well. The drama with the little boy had changed him, and if not for the hibernation that followed, those forty-eight hours in which he had temporarily vanished from himself, he might never have woken up into the man he had become. Sleep was a passage from one life into another, a small death in which the demons inside him had caught fire again, melting back into the flames they were born of. It wasn’t that they were gone, but they had no shape anymore, and in their formless ubiquity they had spread themselves through his entire body—invisible yet present, a part of him now in the same way that his blood and chromosomes were, a fire awash in the very fluids that kept him alive. He did not feel that he was any better or worse than he had been before, but he was no longer frightened. That was the crucial difference. He had rushed into the burning house and pulled himself out of the flames, and now that he had done it, the thought of doing it again no longer frightened him.”
— Paul Auster, The Music of Chance.
“Still, he kept going, relentlessly moving around the continent, feeling more and more at peace with himself as time rolled on. If there was any drawback, it was simply that it would have to end, that he could not go on living this life forever. At first, the money had seemed inexhaustible to him, but after he had been traveling for five or six months, more than half of it had been spent. Slowly but surely, the adventure was turning into a paradox. The money was responsible for his freedom, but each time he used it to buy another portion of that freedom, he was denying himself an equal portion of it as well. The money kept him going, but it was also an engine of loss, inexorably leading him back to the place where he had begun. By the middle of spring, Nashe finally understood that the problem could no longer be ignored. His future was precarious, and unless he made some decision about when to stop, he would barely have a future at all.”
— Paul Auster, The Music of Chance.

from Room to Live: Undilutable Slang Truth!, 1982.