Manhattan Island Notebook

Néstor Sánchez

Artwork by Ifada Nisa

to Carlos Sánchez


Monday the 5th

The intimate, excessively intimate, eloquence of a year that ends in constant oscillation between understanding and penumbra. Appearing on this island, wandering even its gangrenes, is like granting it verisimilitude: sometimes it too closely resembles a metaphor for the degradation of all humanity; other times, a perfect museum of what should never, under any circumstances, be done.

The purchase of this notebook represented, in a way, acquiescence to the need for a channel, a point of support for some kind of internal preservation undeduced at first glance. For now no fixed objective, except that henceforth I will write, for the first time, with my left hand.

Wednesday the 7th

In bursts I think I understand again that every authentic undertaking would seem to demand absolute unprotection. But then the tendency to perceive the avatar as mystery is aggravated, its so-called language codified. Today under the first snow there unexpectedly recrudesced the issue of being born (its diametricality) as a conflict with no return, and I promised myself a diary entry. To a certain extent I think I disregarded its urgency because of that other conflict, the inevitability of death, and perhaps also because in some way (only out of the instinct of preservation?) I was grateful to my bones. Especially when one recalls the unconscious protagonists who reproduce their fatality (a small child called forth to mitigate their stupor and their nonsense), the simple fact of having been born becomes an issue of delirious connotations. Given that the small child will become an adult and, above all, that he will see himself obligated to assume consciousness (hence the hidden resentment), one should handle the hostage with care.

Linden ablutions, a pure-blood Mohammedan might prescribe.

Saturday the 10th
The encumbrance of writing left-handed would seem to return the body back to five, to an almost unbroken perception of that other circumstantial inability. In only a few lines (frailty, almost absurdity) it alluded indisputably to the initial wonder that has happily not been lost. The sentence, meanwhile, proves difficult, the words betray themselves, there surges a sort of tension, ineffective and uncompromising. A good start. A good start as long as one does not forget the agreement.

At night

Straight lines prove more difficult than letters.

I think therefore philosophicity scandalizes me yet again. In any event, the term consciousness was invoked only when it became necessary to refer to a precise phenomenon. Consciousness of oneself, of other people, of the world: might it not become, in long and intrigued moments, more of a condemnation?

First irruption of an interrogative; best keep it in its bandolier.

Now the snow partly covers a general ugliness that, in some rounded circumstances, insinuates itself as suffering.


Sunday the 11th

The truth is that it’s impossible to find a spot (not even a table in a corner) without immediately observing some well-established form of pathology. A pathology that puts itself on display, demanding coryphaeus. I add a few lines, because once again I am urged to leave: usury and egoism, I emphasize two implacable factors that, when regularly analyzed, are constantly visible up every sleeve or in every chamber. Each man is in his own way an island (fortified, aggressive) without the slightest possibility of an affective exchange with the exterior, without margin for improvement.

Overlook, slink away, commands without objection.

Wednesday the 14th

The bridges’ never-ending caravan that fills the city every morning; the raving caravan that empties it every afternoon with two headlights, into the mellifluous lightning bolts of the television. Five days of four-wheeled crowd flux and reflux, whose sole purpose, not entirely explicit, is to consume petroleum on an enormous scale. The planet, a fatality in itself, must, at its age, be purged of the black liquid. It follows another story line; so do Mom and Dad.

And the sun a star, and two hundred fifty billion stars (suns) in this galaxy alone, pointed at the moon.

I have added the left leg; now it’s the one that steps onto and off the curb. Will attention now tend to circulate at a different frequency?

Sunday the 18th

The militant homosexuality that relentlessly impels ostentation at such a great scale that it seems to proliferate standards denouncing the most ungodly of perditions. They probably imagine an irresponsible, distracted God, the results of whose negligence they must constantly display. In this case, the cult of depravity that completely dominates American life calls for the highest tribute to the aforementioned general ugliness. Not a single element is missing that might prevent the afflictive session from attaining disproportion. Strange, effusive spectacle of naïve childishness (greater naïveté than that of sex itself?), eager to incarnate perdition, the irremissible fault. To betray the inscrutable principles of yin and yang must represent, one might very well suppose, a pang of guilt too tragic and too intense; hence the denunciation.

Tuesday the 20th

To deprive oneself in a careless moment of crossing one’s legs is to encounter an overwhelming irrepressible urge that has betrayed itself ever since I sat down; it would seem unlikely the number of times that the mechanical temptation tends to repeat itself, entirely free of anything, however minimal, that might resolve or at least mildly take part in the demand.

I add, because my former self walked several hours sideways: again no one, in no order, in no order. No one for a brief encounter, for an adequate productive sign. But I begin to understand (inhospitable early morning towards deserted streets) that it’s not about melancholy or the contempt of the epicenter. Loyal to the sideways self I hardly regretted not yearning.

Wednesday the 21st

For now pretty good just a few black men with a lumpen attitude (mockery of the swearword lumpen) without authentic accessories: concentrated focus, a cadence to the motility, stealth, Invisible Man behavior. Soon I’ll go to Harlem; I’ll sleep in Harlem.

Understandable that the left is irritated and the toes seem numb; but it should not know, in the meanwhile, what the right one does, how it leans, if it rests, if it grows independent.

Starting today I include not crossing my legs, no exceptions, for an indefinite length of time; observed in others one discovers in oneself this rending automatism, like gesticulation.

Central Park exoticizes in psychiatric display.

Friday the 23rd

I knew it even before taking a seat and opening this notebook. I knew that there was no more appropriate phrase, as a synthesis of unmovable configuration, than the one heard in Paris under circumstances today more memorable than ever. In passing I take the opportunity to emphasize it, for it has become the most difficult part: money replaces consciousness.

Speaking of, for a few minutes, aspiring with greater constancy to a balance that, once established, has its own (generally imbalanced) interrogatives, I once again imagined that they could be balanced out in a disadmittance of their contrasts. Why one interrogative denies the other instead of sober coexistence and balancing each other out.

Sunday the 25th

I reread the entry from Wednesday the 14th and I must intensify my caution, avoid following the enveloping reflection of great compasses. On the contrary, I would need to sharpen my rigor, resisting more frequently the complaint.

Fine with the stepping up onto the curb left leg first; already I am able to add (because of the sudden indication of the day before yesterday) that the body only turns towards that flank.

I emphasized complaint because of the old Battle occasionally Royal. Complaint is negativity that shutters shuttering, I knew it and I am certain of it; it is not confessing oneself inaccessible to the difficulties—as big as they may seem—of an unknown in the unknown. Complaint, on whatever level, means deprecating oneself before learning resignation. And the most uncomfortable resignation always involves comfort, security, self-pacification. Complaint is a hysterical, intemperate, and stupid woman who takes the lead only to consecrate monthly allowances, evening walks, and electric ovens.

Monday the 26th

In the afternoon

Acquisitive obsession in unabashed recrudescence plus little pine boughs that resemble tiny trees, one by one, with empty eyes, feet all over, by the millions. In such exaggerated circumstances, even the human types must dissolve. Everything astray. There they called it la berreta, trashy. Le royaume du barratin. In unison, as if in agreement: almost criminal pillaging, perpetual usury, fraudulence.

The two black women in Central Station, early yesterday afternoon, both serene, attentive: did they acknowledge some sort of remote birth-shame complicity?

Thursday the 29th

Too intense a cold after so much snow; prefer not to lament.

I recite in the signifying resonance: And if an idiot laughs it’s because of the Tao.

Very little by little I went along so to speak captivated, above all when I walked through the nights. Most of the fruit stands (open twenty-four hours) belong to the Chinese. Counterimage of authentic bastions. The behavior of man and woman is lumpen, with the only difference, I think, that instead of relying on cleverness they seem to rely on naïveté. Inspired delicacy, the right word, though always in distacco, in the consecration of difference. Among themselves, apt modesty as a rule of penitence.

Given the activity they chose, nothing more apt than that other phrase of phrases they seem to so essentially deserve: never the fruit of action.

One smokes (and lights up) using only the left hand.


Saturday the 31st

Downtown smells a bit like second-rate mafia protection, and often sounds like coarse, sectarian Italian, until there unexpectedly resurges the Beast of the Transparent Gaze, Maker of the Americas. In parallel, the semi-snob bombasticity of a semi-subterranean semi-culture. A plague in bad taste. The so-called plastic arts in the hands of the mentally deficient, etcetera.

On the other side, through dumpsters and detritus, a whole neighborhood of shadowy walls in a holocaust of pointless, fruitless alcoholism.

They are already fireworking, moving on to next year. Rock music more than ever revealing its own pharmacopoeia of stimulants, the great lack of reciprocities that hits you in the face on every corner, in every square, in every church.

And after four in the morning everything covered in an unthinkable deluge of waste. No condemnation, for the return is difficult.



Tuesday the 3rd

Chinatown did me good; I conjure-conquered up an overcoat (the buttons need to be tightened, left-handed), and A Separate Reality. Don Juan Matus a providential presence; his impeccable warrior among the absolute best of this century. Once again the temptation of illuminated conduct in an uncompromising marginality.

As for spending all of yesterday afternoon reading it by the Hudson, in the sunshine, nothing more suitable than what memory imposes, at intermission: and I breathed a little of the incorruptible air.

Apparently, in any event, he loses his breath (the Yaqui breath) only on heartfelt paths.

Thursday the 5th

Especially in order to reread it: to remain undefeated by the inverted efficacy of the scabrous agenda. To control in every way possible the scandalous insistence on description, and suffer almost enraged the perverse stimulations of every order. To so often leave hanging the stabilized cruelty of the many things that can no longer even be tempered. One is a disconcerted witness that must, literally, cure oneself of terror. And not integrate a justification.

At night

Starting tomorrow, permanently avoid the habit of sticking hands in pockets; I suspect that it establishes a sort of interior posture that might convocate certain poorly-known behaviors. Almost two ways of being and appearing, almost two opposite ways of receiving impressions.

Could a greater mass of iniquities ever be imagined than those perpetrated daily by the mishmash of advertising, to be digested every square meter, immediately dissuading and disastrously subjugating one’s resolve?

Friday the 6th

As poor Cesare used to say, in those years of premonitory shame: this death that accompanies us from morning to night, restless, sleepless, like an old regret or a ridiculous vice. Juan Matus testifies (or rather protests): treat death as an adviser. The emphasis must mean something like gratitude.

Almost twenty years, in me, between the two of them.

And at this point of singular circumstance (I thought it over a lot last night, with recrudescent fidelity), an endless array of already questioned inner voice suspicions, very difficult to share with anyone. When I heard that there were paths completely cleared of condescension, I did not feel the same kind of despair. If the sin consists in missing the mark, then the fear of that sin almost exceeds the fear of always and forever missing something, always and forever.

The rest is transforming energy, energy that is completely unknown and that reimplants the tumescent quid: And if one must earn it? Of course, right then an enormous sign: Hunting is Not Prohibited; Hunting Hunters is Permitted.

Sunday the 8th

The motility of the average American (fire-branded by artificial ingredients and sports of unlimited violence and cruelty) has lost all trace of sensitivity. Essentially vulgar and foul-mouthed, it reflects the pressure of the selfish frenzy that signifies community life here. Does sex, at its lowest animal level, participate in annihilating their emotions?

For the same reason, an observation of the vast majority confirms that they have not the smallest premonition of stable associations, of their simplest concerns. Their gloomy, plotting ruminations immediately spread. They have completely abandoned any interest in their fellow man.

Tuesday the 10th

The bookstores, with their stingy enlightenment, are a disgrace: metric tons of printed paper that only serves to atrophy the collective discernment. Quantity instead of quality; the as if. Smell of acidic ink, hollow books, weightless; not even relative care taken with the edition so as to somewhat mitigate the epidemic. And in every store the ominous, fatal evidence of a psyche that self-generates and gains in complicity.

Meanwhile mass media incite an immediate urge to howl.

Thursday the 12th

Starting now the left flank does everything, including shaving. But during every concrete activity, one must maintain constant awareness (balanced if possible) of the right hand at least. For the moment, the fingers of that hand should rest lightly against the palm, until the break. Regarding curbs, the same applies when crossing the street.

More attention to the legs, so that they are not so desperate to cross. Upon sitting down, the emphasis should fall on the right angle of the knees, relaxation and, in particular, the precise contact between feet and earth.

In the afternoon

Because the hand’s endurance loses at the very least its tension, one must attend to improving, word by word, its calligraphy. An element, moreover, intuited as primordial: while writing, the tongue remains pressed against the palate. The same goes for the soles of the feet, etcetera.

I must make note on a separate sheet of paper of all the elements of the left flank that already complete a general task, and maintain this daily practice until leaving the island.

In the future one might consider alternating flanks, although the fairest thing to do would be to repulse any sign of haste. No tumult.

Signs of fragility of understanding, as when consciously confronting yesterday the subject under study despite doubts, doubts that confirm or dissolve one another. This sudden shift of focus within self-preserving continuity: even the protagonist seems to switch roles. And then to reclaim oneself after ten or twenty blocks, almost unhurt, but grown sadder in that new abrupt shift in focus.


Tuesday the 17th

I went to Harlem; I slept in Harlem.

The familiar fable of white rejection was just a front, like everything else here it tends to lose authenticity. The rejection is considerable but the lifestyle (most especially the net sum of atrocities) is the same.

Impossible, of course, not to think about jazz: it’s been replaced by electric brutality with surround sound. It’s all about fomenting fanatic daze with the beat of a weightlifter, at least. And so, as in the case of the whites, one ululates in aesthetic unredemption.

Concerning marginality (that is to say, a code of conduct in a state of danger), the foreseen tended to confirm itself: the only ones capable of self-attention, of coherent continuity. As if trained to one day access another plane of being.

I protected myself for a while in the (frozen, Central Park) nature, thinking about New Orleans and the negro spiritual, in that religiosity after slavery, in the aristocracy of service that from time to time insinuates itself in some exceptions, most of all in women, most of all when they smile from so far away.

Saturday the 21st

Dense circulation of police cars, every second, even in almost inaccessible places. Formidable and usually gigantic priests of the omnipresent god Dollar mentioned in every conversation, in every pretense of a conversation.

They also detain, it seems: drug trafficking, prostitution, professional transvestism, some thefts, permanent crime, impiety.

I conquered a pair of wool gloves.


Thursday the 4th

A silence was necessary; meanwhile the left hand drew. During all these days of almost impassible wanderings trying to perfect the task of the flank, the idea of the planet and its relegated primacy imposed themselves upon me like never before (especially when the multitude rules the grand avenues). I revived, and prolonged in part, the kind of certainty experimented in the north of Italy regarding the inexplicable tendency of the human psyche to appropriate that which does not belong to it (fringes of the planet, above all) in order to establish intransigent borders that will in turn contain new borders of appropriative intransigence. In any case one remains a very transitory inhabitant of an earth that incomprehensibly revolves in an incomprehensible space, rather than of a country, or a city, or a county, or a little garden with awnings.

An old argument is reborn intact and dismantles like no other the atrophy of the whole ridiculous ensemble.

At night

I followed in the thread: because of blind egoism, two great calamities constantly impose themselves upon whoever dissents: ecological devastation (a predatory ability to contaminate and destroy nature as well as every ocean, every sea, every river, every valley); demographic growth on a scale of collective dementia (before becoming responsible every inexperienced girl hopelessly procreates). Both these chaotic tendencies inevitably lead to the third calamitous signifier of a stifling history in its apogee: war (or half-wars), new devastation. The incredible demographic growth (horizontality; idiotism of purpose) recalls the note of December 7th, although it requires one to suffer the circumstances even lower down the bloodthirsty rabbit hutch. One is born, so to speak, as a cause of the effect of constipating beer in a boy with mental problems.

Saturday the 6th

Cracked cement devours the soles of the feet, insults the legs. The passerby doesn’t matter, only the machine matters, and the business of duration at the expense of any other more or less human concern.

Everything here is fanatical, extremely loyal to the worst. In every activity the same thing happens: grandiloquence, brutality, disdain of rhythm, the unconscious sovereignty of violence as the only condition of success. As a side effect, militant bad taste becomes, in due time, aggression.

Fifth Avenue and the tourism that finally arrives, finally looks, finally verifies: between grotesque buildings, a parade in cypher of a crowd convincing itself, already incapable of differentiation.

Just once for a moment in the atmosphere and suddenly this. Of course it turns out to be another scam of impossible reparations, as usual.

And in the zones of gangrene, only a few steps away, the amble of alcoholics and junkies in agony: nothing better than omission, so to speak, to once again be totally mistaken.

Sunday the 7th

It tended to urgently impose itself all night: why so incredible?

If I were summoned to present myself, let the record reflect, among other factors, the degrading uselessness of what we call culture, the waste that calls itself education.

Five primordial elements would, I believe, (in cases of self-composure) appear, like an overwhelming proof, so as to supposedly regenerate the dilemma. And I enumerate them for review, so as to not return to them later on:

I. Rescue from banality the knowledge of human types (to know oneself, to know another from his cosmic seal)

II. Active study of the unconscious, based on protagonic evidence.

III. The body, in its diverse and infinitely complex organization, should be able to rely on some objective tool for its early apprenticeship; Zen archery being the best example.

IV. At the same time, and always, the study of the cosmos, the universe. In other words: to study as a unit human types, the unconscious, the body-instrument, and the laws that govern, in turn, psychism, cosmos and universe.

V. Active ethos. Rigor without considerations of tolerance. Conduct as a daily prayer.

So yes, religion; so yes, the re-joining of self.

In this sense, despite some relatively positive cases, it seems to me that the practice of Christianity tends to be more of an emotional faith than a conscious one. Is this why it seems too comfortable, too complacent?

Somehow the most stable God (Go do) of consumerism becomes almost stupid in his patriarchal tolerance; he makes no mention of the impenetrable inner Shrovetide that permanently escapes him.

Tuesday the 9th

Just a quick to-do list for the left flank: establish in detail two different ways of walking, including longer steps and shorter steps, in the one case with loose fists, in the other with fingers extended (never in pockets). Switch every day, no exception whatsoever, at four in the afternoon.

And that never discredited procedure that challenges, among other things, the apparently inevitable topics of discernment that seem to impose themselves (and even to conspire against equilibrium), and that I also emphasize: to remember oneself, always and everywhere.

Thursday the 11th

To fuck, fucking; every thirty seconds, in every mouth, like dollar.

The Latin American is, in his way, on top of the world, dans le royaume, winning positions, motorizing himself. Millions imitate down to the last detail the whole range of American aberrations, all the while circulating that aggressive, guttural, deaf, and witless slang. Once again the compelling evidence, if one walks along the fine line: every housewife weighed down by the burden of shocked and unreturnable children, pushed to the verge of discord by such indecent invitations.

On this shameful planet, the affirmation is still incredible: absolutely nothing is easier than creating life. Nothing less than life.

Tuesday the 16th

My handwriting has considerably improved.

I found and read in one sitting Life is Real Only Then, When I Am, the third and last of the trilogy by George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (the other good dancer of this century). A diaphanous and overwhelming book: it seems to linger in suspense, out of reach, beginning with a strange ellipsis.

An apt and opportune time to recall that in Paris, someone who had the right to once told me: Gurdjieff completed a superhuman task. At the influx, recapitulating his comings to this island, responsible for a legion of people, he reiterated his notion of the Fourth Way as the dry way, the arid way par excellence. The bar where he used to write (and receive interested people from all over the world) no longer exists.

I add by association: the search for certainty does not mean that certainty is to be found right around the corner. Gurdjieff is permanently connected to the pressing obligation of confronting immense difficulties; when thinking about him, every personal effort is, sincere as it may seem, no more than a complacent game.

Moreover, and by the way, beauty forever in contrast with the lover of essence, that would undoubtedly require emphasis: when a man begins to work on himself, everything speaks to him.

Saturday the 20th

And if they gave you no Zen bow and arrow, energumen of great neglect in the kingdom of the obvious, at least you received a body that might contribute some news (insomuch as it was necessary) of delicacy and grace.

Yesterday the dirty sun against the dry and dirty snow during the long noon hour. And all this sudden horrification, as it were, of absences.

I permitted myself a sinuous rereading, in one go: now I believe I even admitted admitting myself, for a while, without vacillations or shortcuts; cold feet.

Because of the truthful I returned, almost in dignities.

It gets much harder to write on the lap.

Tuesday the 23rd

I undertook the foolish enterprise of beholding at least once the shuddering signified of the New York Times Sunday paper. First opprobria: its volume, it weight, its smell, its smudges. One cannot imagine transporting it even a few feet. The outlandish intrigue of every simulacrum, every lie. Rat usury. Just one example: everyone knows that fornication occurs on a massive scale, everybody up against everybody in frontal procedure, every Friday night, with the full package of stimulants available for twenty dollars; that is also here.

While the left hand draws (if and when one concentrates efforts on a tranquil decontraction), it is possible to verify a gradual, wobbly, triple equilibrium, requiring interior time and no associative leap: fingers resting on right palm; tongue against palate; relationship between balls of feet and floor (temperature, quality of floor). When the three points of contact can, in turn, contact one another, and the lines continue: does one begin to exist?

Every day reiterating the attempt, believing nothing.

Inadvisable to involve the breath, yet not sweeping the interrogative entirely away.

I find problematic the procedure of trusting in more than an intact and consequent requirement. Is the persuaded a prudence embarracked?

Friday the 26th

In the future I will achieve insistence towards a more enduring center of gravity, along the blocked path of admitting the inadmissible.

Glimpses of past fluctuations in mood still stand. However, the moment a risky yet stable physical support insinuates itself, there reappears intact the possibility of not identifying with them, the protective interior distacco. Observe rather than believe them. Deny them even the smallest amount of energy.

On various occasions, for the rest of the week, a certain intense, undefinable and almost external pressure, alluding perhaps to imminence.

That clochard who appeared to follow me for more than thirty blocks around midnight completed the tally of restlessness. Best not bang the noggin’ against the verification of the abyss as abyss, survey closed on account of communal tenacity.


Monday the 1st

Snow without respite for over a week now.

I reread the entry written the evening of February 5th, and I will adhere to those points whenever there reemerge questions of terrestrial mischances without rhyme or reason. However, for some reason I cannot quite deduce, human types impose themselves upon me like never before. I returned to psychoanalysis (the only profane ritual worthy of reverence in this century), and once again I was struck by the impunity with which it disregards this issue, in the feral and the orthodox schools alike. How could they not take it as as their only point of departure in the entire framework of concrete knowledge of the patient, prior to the discourse? Jung, one of the few exceptions, stupidly intellectualized it. It’s not even alluded to by sexology, or at least not in the irresolvable conflict of the human couple.

Accordingly, I told myself, it all melds into deaf men’s dialogues and bad literature. People talking about themselves, describing themselves, they never suspect that they’re almost alluding to the vulgar aspect of their unattenuated zodiacal condition. I like, I don’t like; I love, I hate; because I, because I: nothing more than illustrations of the ignorance of the human type.

This entire island, from one end to the other, seems an exemplary test tube of the horror of this situation. It must happen to me. The insane professional embalmers of Egypt at least trusted their astrologers to organize less pathetic marriages. They may even have managed to stop a Taurus from dedicating his life to music.

I corroborated it and I promised myself to make a note of it: only after perfecting this instrument of unparalleled evidence against every subjective blindness, might one speak of personality-essence, the innate and the acquired opprobrium, moving on to the criminality with which education and culture (that which is acquired) pulverize the essence (that which is relegated to disinterest).

Thursday the 4th

At night

Early this afternoon I found a wallet on the threshold of an immaculate fruit stand downtown: over three hundred dollars, plus a check that I won’t even try with. Again obliged to reason Providence. If an idiot laughs it’s because of Providence.

From within, a tall, very sober Chinaman glanced over in a flash and saw everything; he immediately set about forgetting it (was he reciting some axiom from the Classic of Changes?), while he polished with a yellow raglet, one by one, a certain strict pyramid of McIntosh apples. I had just picked it up left-handed, barely bending down, the never- anticipated double option; but it is also true, my dear Don Genaro, that even cheekbones take a while to calm down. I remained there, watching him, from a distance, until buying grapes at the register.

Nothing less: the vertigo of moods. In spite of everything, the continental pretext of making associations, maybe something in accordance with the fruit-vending gentleman and his meticulous actions: so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.

Saturday the 6th

I relapsed into sweet black French tobacco, I inserted myself into a comfy barbershop, and today, task in hand and half a step behind, I allow myself this coffee-shop table by the window: ancestral British breakfast, plastic flowers, the perfume of the waitress, completely vacant, not even the slightest attention or even nostalgia for presence, naturally wearing a very short miniskirt. Her parents must be from the suburbs (ten hours of television a day, statistics show), and she must study business administration, at least, given the university neighborhood, the moderate seriousness, and the glasses.

A commotion of directions I must temper, until the only chord is unmediated instinct.

Monday the 8th

Vandalism, above all among children and teenagers, is frequently referred to as a very serious national problem. Undoubtedly: visiting the university yesterday, the spectacle of total destructive efficacy was overwhelming, again the display of ugliness, but with the addition of the despicable vulgarity of (enormous, sumptuous) signs plastered on every wall, not to mention the reiterated emblems of homosexuals versed in the art of sadomasochism.

Like Tom Mix or his fiancee, more than two thirds of them put their feet on top of tables or chairs or armchairs of every kind, throw books, rip off their clothing, shout guturralities, tending to excel in the display of a disgusting awkwardness based on the merit of maximum brutality. The vile anti-lumpen, almost premeditated, like an antithesis.

The suspicion of imminent departure reimposed itself. Good material for observation, in these circumstances, the change of stride at every four in the afternoon. A potential spectrum flows so needed at just so.

Along the same lines, I believe I was waiting and it tended to fulfill itself with no indication of any repression: last night I softly sang part of a tango (hasn’t happened in almost three years) and preferred to let it keep repeating. The second Fiorentino (the most mature, the diaphanous) subjected to the left leg and the snows. I went along finding him, as it were, his serene profile, not remembering who wrote it:

Como un fantasma gris llegó el hastío (reflexive pause on the emphasis)
hasta tu corazón, que aún era mío (double self-critical pause)
y poco a poco te fue envolviendo (ontological pause)
y poco a poco te fuiste yendo . . .
Not one syllable more.

Faced with the neurotic, nymphomaniac inconstancy of the American woman, any slightly responsible tango singer would kill himself right there on the stage.

Tuesday the 9th

Why do more today, letter by letter, when almost everything anecdotal is at zero, and if upon revisiting memory, the only thing of interest lacks the slightest hint of intrinsic exorcisms, till one imposes: to find one’s place on the scale of Being (“being” capitalized, the first time?)

In the afternoon

Disconcerting, as before, though idiosyncrasy resonates again: he who is astonished feels a sort of attraction to a reality independent of himself. Pain, for its part, corrupts banality. Therefore, verticality or indigence.

Sunday the 14th

Once again the surreptitious favor of a notebook: three days with their nights to revise, to criticize before knowing where it leads. All this lurching back and forth makes it uncomfortable to write. Dark, sinister bridges of this well-pondered industrial civilization; and behind them, all the lights of the test tube. The ridicule and the lights. Unreal city, exclaimed the monk Eliot (or was it Yeats?). Extensive trajectory to California and a pending article about angelic nature. Most likely I’ll deboard in Los Angeles. At some point we’ll cross the Mississippi. There will be deserts, men in rigid hats and boots with diagonal heels and kicks at the door (the boys of the cows; entertainment for the horses), but also languid Indians, abounding in silence, perfectly conquered as they should be. In a way this celebrated bus is the Buenos Aires 110, let’s say, in lively colors, bearing me towards the matinee at the cinema on Avenue 25 de mayo. My future center of gravity will be in the flesh, in admitting the inadmissible, in the snow as in the sea, in understanding as in penumbra.

Every instant lost would be lost forever.

translated from the Spanish by Federico Barea and Casey Drosehn Gough