Las Aventuras en el Abismo Estrecho

Adventures on the Narrow Straights:
an analysis of the stretched abyss


Bad art

It was a kind of murder. Murder through materialisation, is that possible? Art school has materialised the concept of 'art' as a formulation for me, and as such, killed any notion of art in me. I get irritated about the fact that the artist feels his or her view on the matter is important, so important in fact, that it should rise above any other formulation to be considered 'art.' It used to be about taking this feeling I get sometimes and putting it into a form... not into style, or medium, or discourse, or copyright. It was just a way to silence the little voices, to put away that feeling of solitude, to formulate a coherent explanation for what was around me. But now, I can't do it anymore because it's too formulated. I feel the spark, I can sense that muse, that stirring inside that there is something there that's empty or full or something... but I don't know what to do with it because I keep trying to put it into some kind of context.
But I think there's a new twist to the matter, as I look at what I've made before. Despite my desolation with the useless idea that my ideas are better than anyone else's, there is something that I hope will grow to become a means to my own art, to making, to feeling that need again. It is time. It is the fleeting feeling, the quicksand. It is the fact that although I think my ideas are rubbish or that they will not stick out above the rest, they are there. Otherwise it's just like all the other thoughts running through my head, gone. And then I can't look back in disgust, because really, I can't really remember what it was that I thought back then. The years go by and I realise I want to fight with my past self, with the ideas I thought important before. I want to make 'bad' art. Because it's something for me to fight with - my own context, maybe?



The party was well set-up and it was quite clear why I was sitting in the artsy and multilingual corner of the table. Sitting among graduates of Harvard and Oxford does, however, intimidate me with my slightly less ivy league, oxbridge, clean-cut scholarly path. What it takes is that little fist inside you to hold your chin up, proud of what you've done. Because I am. Even though I am at a themed party where I completely misunderstood the 'theme'. I still do not really know what the actual intention was, but the dance floor was full of a mixture of childhood icons and playful takes on the theme.

But the point wasn't to analyse my possible mistaking of the corresponding attire; it was to note a memorable conversation I think I'll never forget. Speaking to a man dressed as a Stanford student (funny because he went to Yale and Oxford) is speaking to me about literature. Our common sense of respect for literature in the Spanish language leads to a civilised discussion of Latin American politics, of Neruda poetry, and finally he asks me "so who is your favourite author?"

My automatic response is, Jorge Luis Borges. He smiles and states "me too! What is your favourite piece?" Now this linearity blocks my brainwaves, and I am blank. I just said that Borges was my favourite author, and though my mind floods with images of mirrors and labyrinths, riddles and puns, I cannot think of any title except a silly little story I read in my Spanish literature class called Borges y yo - 'Borges and I,' a dualistic approach to his identity that really spoke to my seventeen-year-old self. There is no way I could mention that to this man clad in a university jumper. His smile gleams. I am intimidated. "Well, I...... hm, can't think of anything at the moment, more impressions really." I look away, ashamed to have spoken so surely, so passionately about something I guess I do not know.
"Well the piece I remember reading is from a class I took in university, it was called 'Borges y yo' - you might know it."
I look up, shocked. We had studied the same things, drawn the same conclusion. A love had developed for this Argentine author based on a ladder made of ice - or something that will melt away like that. A feeling I believe I often took while a student. You think you know everything, can quickly draw a conclusion and feel attracted to the slightly different, complex, and demanding level of his works because it shows just how committed you are to studying different, complex, and demanding pieces that no one else in your class liked. But on what base? I could not even remember what I had read, many years later when I continued to feel this attraction to Borges.

The man and I continued to speak about the interesting way we both do not remember titles but a feeling of admiration for the author. In a bit of a civilised manner. But this little void in the substance of our discussions definitely caused the dialogue to cease rather than flourish - was he also shocked by the truth that what we conclude in school is tiny compared to real life?

Needless to say, I have been reading Borges. His savvy wordplay and astute alliterations are ingrained to my memory, and paperbacks of his are on my bookshelf. I can truly admit, I like Borges. But I love García Márquez's magical realism - or do I?

That fist will still be there to hold my chin up next time.