THIS TEXT WAS WRITTEN FOUR YEARS AGO
Almost fifty years ago, my maternal grandmother went missing. She got amnesia, walked out of the door and never came back. My mother spent her full 20s looking for her in mental asylums first, jails and then morgues. Upon giving up (even though she needed to believe in her own heroism), she found a body. We don’t and will ever know whether that is my grandmother or not. My story lacks the tragic component of the Argentine familiares de desaparecidos for I don’t have anyone to blame for her missing and my grandmother is not considered a hero. She is just missing. Days ago I suddenly realised why I have clung so much to my best friend Jenna and later my love Krishna when they suddenly vanished from my life without allowing me to contact them again. They unknowingly and unintentionally made me re-enact my family’s trauma. They are my own desaparecidos and I am still trying to make sense of their actions. I am still trying to find them! I am learning to live with the hole in my heart but that is all I am doing. I don’t love them anymore but as Joni Mitchel says: ‘I recall the illusion of them’.
My Own Private Laocoon
When my dad passed away, the nurses did not prepare his body. I got into the room and I saw his face. He looked like the Laocoon. Pure horror in front of the unknown was his inheritance to me. Earlier this year, in the peak of my depression and addiction I felt that death was coming like only a depressive person can feel it. There is a sense of hopelessness and gloom that does not go until one is cured. I am cured now. At that moment I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my dad’s face overlapping mine. God was talking to me in His amazing way. Am I believer? I don’t know. I guess I am. Like Joni Mitchel says: ‘I look at clouds from both sides, from up and down, still somehow are just cloud illusions I recall… I really don’t know clouds at all’
The Difference Between Homosexual and Gay
Earlier today, I had therapy and I read a letter to my dad that my psychoanalyst asked me to write as an exercise which I had delayed ever since. After my presentation at the Courtauld last week, it was time for me to write it. The result surprised me. It was a rather forgiving letter where I finally understand how difficult his fragmented life of glorious Olympic champion and clueless lazy alcoholic was. He did what he could as I am doing what I can. I do not even identify with my gayness. I am a homosexual by sexual preference that rejects submitting to the gay cultural canon of fun, superficiality, loneliness, drugs and, of course, an increasing rate of suicide. I saw the void and stepped backwards, hopefully, for good. That is topic for another article though. I am just trying to say that some of us do not have the luck to come from integrated families and we grow fragmented. If gay, we even leave our country of origin to be gay. The question is what to do with those fragments. My exes are all fragmented individuals who decided to put the pieces in a bag and live life like that. Steve has the TV and Krishna bought a dog. I almost died in the process but I am integrating the pieces nevertheless. I guess as Joni Mitchel says: ‘I look at love from both sides now. From give and take. They are love illusions what I recall because I really don’t know love at all’.
Days later a very close friend who was not so and got closed to me to profit from my weakness, tried to steal a painting from me. My world was upside down but I clung to life this time. I was already strong. At the same time the Courtauld was initiating an investigation against me without even processing the complaint initiated by me that had actually generated the situation that was considered relevant enough to investigate the victim. Circular? Yeah, I know. Sorry. Anyway…last week, I brought to my new supervisors attention an email that compromised the integrity of one of them. However, he was helping me as he could and I could not see that after one year of suffering institutional mistreatment. My other supervisor helped me realise that. How? She just looked into my eyes and when cornered by me, she got teary and said: ‘I don’t know who is right and who is wrong here anymore’. She conveyed weakness and honesty. I believed her. We connected. We didn’t know what we didn’t know but we happened to know something new and much more important… that we trusted each other and the conditions were ready to create knowledge of art.
Last friday, I presented my paper on Diego Velazquez’s Mars at the Torre de la Parada and it was moving to see how the audience and I connected in the identification of the issues with our own lives. Velazquez depicts Mars as defeated and exhausted. However, he injects in him a series of contradictions that make the image highly unstable in its own paralysis. Do you think this is a paradox? Well, that is exactly the point of Velazquez’s work or of Don Quixote, for God’s sake. Imagine Cervantes trying to publish Don Quixote in today’s editorial world where novels must end up in films and the characters must be coherent in such a way that if they cannot be defended in a board room they are considered as a waste of time and intelligence. The Academic world is highly responsible for this uber-secularisation of the appreciation of life and humanity and, in particular, I blame Michel Foucault by having anatomised everything in terms of power structures. So what about love? What about faith? What about what made Christ a crucified man? I know… religion as the opium of the masses. I still don’t want to die in horror to the unknown like my atheist father. I still want to leave a legacy in spite of my being a non-gay homosexual. I still did not want to vanish from Krishna’s succesor Konstantinos after we broke up. I decided to break the cycle. From the point of view of art, it is just not being explained to me by the galleries or by the Courtauld and, disillusioned I make my own mind and share it with you but, like Joni Mitchel says ‘something is lost and something is gained in living everyday. I look at life from both sides from win and lose and still some how life ilusions are what I recall because … I really don’t know life at all’.
I am a non practicising Catholic homosexual non-gay man and when Francis I resisted gay marriage I did not react in the name of principles but had a look into myself and I wonder whether we are all asking the right questions to the right people. Is that the Pope’s job? It is true, he gave communion to the Argentine torturers. What was he supposed to do while a bunch of crazy bastards that were secretly holding a dormant and, sometimes compliant country, as hostage? Slamming the door and get everybody killed? Is what Mrs Kirchner has done, the responsible or the childish thing to do?As I am writing this a Museum (Centro Cultural General San Martin) is being destroyed by…. teachers in my hometown Buenos Aires. Yes, you read it properly. Teachers destroying classrooms.
I realise that I have not referred to the fact that the Pope is Argentine. Is it relevant? I guess no. But what do I know about clouds, love or life. Krishna and Jenna are still missing and I am picking up the pieces of my self with the help of my friends and also with a little bit of faith. Francis I will need all the divine inspiration that he will be able to get and he will be an amazing Pope. Let’s try putting the negative aside and have some faith not only in God but also in the beauty of his creation, us!
Written by Rodrigo Canete