November 17, 2000
Hope you're doing well. We've been here and there, there and here. Diego's going to Amsterdam in December. You probably already know. I honestly don't know how he does it, with all the traveling. After a while, I start to feel uncomfortable in my own skin if I go too long without touching base... home base, I mean. It'll be good to be stationary for a while.
It's over, it seems... the whole San Diego-Tijuana thing. Even if I never became completely at ease with the idea of traveling in and of itself, I somehow inadvertently became accustomed to being in Tijuana (mostly) and San Diego. The people that we met there, most of whom you had the chance to meet, became an intrinsic part of our lives. Strangely, the time that Diego and I would spend here in Mexico City, between visits, was so full with our experiences from Tijuana and San Diego, that they somehow came into the foreground, the backdrop of which became Mexico City. Despite the fact that I have yet to know the "real" Tijuana or the "real" San Diego, I really lived our time there. I think a lot had to do with the people that we met there, but also with the participants, or the "invited guests," if you will. Different guests sought out different things, and we moved accordingly. Some attempted to involve themselves more intimately with the region, provoking even slight discomfort; the type that brings about a questioning of oneself. Others remained more detached, which of course made for "easier" encounters with oneself.
Although I wasn't in Tijuana and San Diego for your visit, when I saw the video that you produced with Diego, I could almost place myself there. As if watching a video or looking at photos of one's home or family, from which one is distanced, I felt close to those faces, to the general feeling of the place, the environment. But then again, all things fade with time, don't they? Or do they really? Not entirely, I suppose. I think there may be a kind of paradox or irony involving memory, or in remembering. The things I carry with me from years ago are mostly negative experiences and bitter encounters. Not to say that I don't recall good or positive things, but the things that somehow still affect me more deeply, enough to relive the experience when remembering, are unpleasant. Actually, I don't know if this is altogether true, and perhaps if I really gave it more thought, I'd prove myself wrong. Does the same happen to you? I suppose that if one departs from the assumption that a rare occurrence occupies a more important space in one's memory simply because it is rare, then I can deduce that the negative experiences that I've lived are less in number than the positive. Or maybe it's not that at all. Maybe it's about something more convoluted and dark within myself: a need to feel pain. Perhaps it's human nature, or rather (though hopefully not exclusively) my nature, to have this constant source of pain in my life. Sometimes I believe this is true, that I actually need it, that it somehow makes me "feel" in a weird kind of way. But then again, at times I feel so overburdened by guilt or regret or just plain disagreeable memories, that they seem to outnumber all the other, more positive experiences. When this happens, I in turn become overwhelmed by this sense that all my present relationships with people are destined to turn irreversibly sour. The thought fills me with fear, true fear. To the point where I actually believe, if even for a split second, that the more deep and fond my connection is to someone at present, the more ill-fated this relationship will someday become. Like a kind of retribution, or a future price to pay for being truly happy at the present moment. Then the train of thought follows with the questioning of emotion, of shared emotions, and how much of all of this is a constructed phenomenon, something that one simply has to want in order for it to exist, and the moment one wishes for it to cease or change form, it does. Like falling in and out of love.
I don't know why I'm going on about this. My intention was to write a completely different letter to you. In fact, right now, below this very line on my computer screen, sit the first lines of a speedy initial draft of a letter, waiting to be deleted, and which now have no place in this rambling of mine. I don't know quite what I'm getting at, but I suppose it has something to do with the idea of being in one space and time (whether physically or in thought) and feeling it to be very real, and then being in another, very different space and time, and feeling it to be just as real as that previous one no longer is. I'm eager to move on to other activities, to do all the things that I've been postponing or that have been left pending over the last six months. But somehow, I question whether or not I've exhausted the potential of that previous experience, enough so to justify moving on.
I wonder how I'll remember the whole Tijuana-San Diego experience within a few months, within a few years. Right now, it seems strange that we won't be returning, that it'll be a while before we see Alberto, Yvette, Hayde, or Wendall again, that chances are slim that we'll see our Iraqi friends, Hortensia, The Silent Man, Theresa, Robert or Sophia again. When will we go back to Tijuana or San Diego? Who knows. I'm not sure that I would if I had the chance in the future, as much as it is all still quite a part of me. That same fear, perhaps? Maybe it would be best just to live with the positive memory of what it was, until it dwindles and finds a tiny spot next to the other "nice," neat, non-perturbing memories. Then again, I can't quite distance myself to the point where I can honestly leave it behind, that I can stifle the nagging possibility of going further with it, maybe somewhere different with it. I think both Alberto and Wendall will be coming to Mexico City at some point in the months to come. It will be interesting, to not say strange, to live that experience, I think. Surely, it will alter the memory I now have of them, and a new set of attributes will then conform that image.
Do you fear living a moment intensely? I think everyone experiences things with different levels of intensity. Or maybe it just seems that way from the outside. Although there are people that seem more "even" in their contact with others, or more "even-headed," I should say. I sometimes envy that apparent attitude. I'd like to exhibit my "self" less, in that way. I sometimes feel like it's risky to show or share my involvement or investment in an "other," because it somehow creates expectations which I won't always be able to live up to. Or perhaps they're simply my own expectations of myself, in which case it would be even more twisted than it already sounds. It's very much what happens with my experience with Tijuana and San Diego. Is it wrong of me to shift my attention to other things or people, to not feel the same passion toward certain issues, people, or otherwise, as I did while I was there? Do I exist, still, in Tijuana, in San Diego? Did I ever? Am I in those places, those people, those moments, or are they in me? How much of what happened did so as I remember it now, even as I lived it then? Am I expected to continue being the same as when I was there, that one day, that one moment? Do Tijuana and San Diego expect to find me the same the next time I see them? Will I be disappointed if they're not the same? Are these questions even relevant outside of this letter I write to you and everything that it implies?
Dear Jeannine too,
Relevant, yes. Your writings and questions appear to me as relevant as everything that happened in the last six months. They stand alone though, as multi-connected events, but never the "same." I don't want to think that anything can ever be the same, not even memories or the second showing of a movie. Things can get damn close, but there is always this difference in space or in time, which is a very effective one.
"..it's only now that I've come to understand that there are no enemies or strangers, just a strange world."
This illustrates quite well the way our mind positions itself, trying to create perspective. I like this sentence especially because it's an actor saying it. A being from a fictive world talking about strangeness. It is the wet stuff in our heads that comes up with the idea of strange; it rains everything to > different. I think it is very arrogant of the mind to think that anything can be strange or rare, because it puts oneself out of our shared reality. It is the only thing we've got: Sharing reality. (Whatever this means) Desperately we want to feel loving, pain, ultimate physique, endorsement of living and so on. Somebody very close to me died 7 years ago (as you know); I felt so alive while trying to understand-to feel his death. Yes, I think you are right, that it is in the human nature to confront oneself with these oppositions, these negative events. (I don't necessarily see "negative" as bad, but as juxtaposition.) Looking for these mirrors to create reference and understanding, like living with a partner.The table I found to write you this response-letter from, has been left empty here in this Dim Sum joint (Amsterdam 10112000). As I look at them funny soft things, I want them to be not-strange; I want them to be me as I swallow them. (but maybe I shouldn't think too hard about it.) Mr. Shadow said, "..I don't create music, the music is coming through me.." I like that a lot: Coming through me. Like these dim sums, words and thoughts are passing through. Me, not being the beginning or end of anything; I'm just picking up signals here.
Time in that sense becomes merely >timecode<. Our brains get everything in delay anyway, as well as it takes time for light to travel through space- a single second or a billion years. Everything happens essentially just once and echoes on a longer or shorter amount of time. What matters, in my mind, is that stuff happens- what happens and how, but not really how long. More people will know about it of course, as something has more time to hang in there. But this chain-reaction is no more (no less) than an echo of entropy, which means it eventually will die out. People will forget about it; history fades. Not only history (red. a series of events chosen by few), but past time in general. Last year I was reading for a week in European newspapers on the first pages, about a US golfer who had died in his own aeroplane after a crash. One of those days there happened to be a small article at page number 8 about 5000 deaths as result of floods in the north-east of India. A very poor area, it said. It didn't appear again after that. I question myself: "What do I want to remember?"
As I remember my memories, they change, they get different meanings and become real events themselves. Rewriting these words onto a computer screen (Amsterdam 12112000) they are my re-memories by now, ready to travel as electrons (or light as you like) to become something for you when you'll read them tomorrow (Mexico-City 13112000). Very similar, very different. In the old days, they said, there was this person on a boat who took a sip of a glass of water and had thrown the rest of it in the sea. By now it has mingled in all waters. Every time we drink some water we are drinking some molecules of the water he had. Some people say it was Columbus, but I like to think about something different when I'm thirsty. Being in Tijuana and San Diego has been an eventful experience to me.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final installment of the Chronicles. We would love to hear your response to the Chronicles, you can email them to La Prensa at email@example.com, or visit the insite web site and post your comments there. The Rainbow Chronicles is a sponsored project of inSITE2000, a non-profit arts organization operating in both San Diego and Tijuana. For information on the project visit www.insite2000.org.)