ContramanoMonday, April 23, 2018
Today I had lunch with Tim Bray, a guru on all things interent, digital, etc. I tried to convince him on my theory that our ability to associate is what makes humans different from other lifeforms on our planet. It was not to be and with a simple smile on his part we went to other things.
Yesterday I posted this blog (to fill a gap some months ago that was empty as Rosemary and I were in New York or in Mérida). In the same set of negatives I found the one you see here. I immediately associated the hand to Spanish mano.
In Mexico friends call each other by that word. “¿Cómo estás mano?” It seems that mano is simply short for hermano. Would this mean that Mexicans started the contemporary “bro” thing in the last century?
One way streets in Mexico are simply called tránsito. The word implies that traffic (tránsito from the verb transitar) goes only in one direction. In my Buenos Aires a different expression is used, contramano or against the direction of my hand.
Both Emily Dickinson and Julio Cortázar (and obviously others) have written about the human hand. I like this particular one by Cortázar (with an English translation byTamara Pearson) who many think may have influenced or inspired the TV program The Twilight Zone. The poem by Dickinson I have referenced before but here it is below, again.
Las Líneas de la Mano
Por Julio Cortázar
De una carta tirada sobre la mesa sale una línea que corre por la plancha de pino y baja por una pata. Basta mirar bien para descubrir que la línea continúa por el piso de parqué, remonta el muro, entra en una lámina que reproduce un cuadro de Boucher, dibuja la espalda de una mujer reclinada en un diván y por fin escapa de la habitación por el techo y desciende en la cadena del pararrayos hasta la calle. Ahí es difícil seguirla a causa del tránsito, pero con atención se la verá subir por la rueda del autobús estacionado en la esquina y que lleva al puerto. Allí baja por la media de nilón cristal de la pasajera más rubia, entra en el territorio hostil de las aduanas, rampa y repta y zigzaguea hasta el muelle mayor y allí (pero es difícil verla, sólo las ratas la siguen para trepar a bordo) sube al barco de turbinas sonoras, corre por las planchas de la cubierta de primera clase, salva con dificultad la escotilla mayor y en una cabina, donde un hombre triste bebe coñac y escucha la sirena de partida, remonta por la costura del pantalón, por el chaleco de punto, se desliza hacia el codo y con un último esfuerzo se guarece en la palma de la mano derecha, que en ese instante empieza a cerrarse sobre la culata de una pistola.
A hand’s lines – Julio Cortazar
Translated by Tamara Pearson
From a letter thrown on the table, a line extracts itself and runs along the pinewood then goes down a leg. If you look closely, you can see the line continue along the hardwood floor, climb the wall, enter a metal plate that is reproducing a painting by Boucher, trace the back of a woman reclining on a sofa, and finally escape the room by the roof and descend a chain of lightning rods to get to the street. It’s difficult to follow it because of the traffic, but if you focus, you’ll see it climbing the wheel of the bus parked on the corner that goes to the port. There it gets off the bus on the nylon stocking of the blondest passenger, passes through the hostile territory of customs, and crawls and zig zags to the wharf, and there (it’s difficult to see it, only the rats follow it to get on board) it gets on the boat with the loud turbines, runs along the first class deck, overcomes with difficulty the main porthole, and enters a cabin, where a sad man drinks cognac and listens to the farewell siren. It climbs the lining of his pants, then his vest, and slides along towards his elbow. Then with one last effort, it takes refuge in the man’s right hand palm, which in that instant starts to close on the butt of a handgun.
Part One: Life - Emily Dickinson
I TOOK my power in my hand
And went against the world;
’T was not so much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.
I aimed my pebble, but myself 5
Was all the one that fell.
Was it Goliath was too large,
Or only I too small?