La Antesala del InfiernoMonday, July 02, 2018
La Antesala del Infierno is the Spanish title for William Wyler’s 1951 film Detective Story with Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker.
That Spanish film title is beyond drama as it means the outside parlour or entrance to hell.
In my 75 years of existence I have never been exposed to extreme evil. The closest was about 15 years ago when Jorge, the man behind the bar at the Marble Arch, told me in Spanish that two men behind me had been the ones who had killed someone the day before. They were bikers.
But in retrospect I met up with evil in 1966 in Buenos Aires. I had a very short communication with a young and extremely handsome officer in the Argentine Navy. He barely gave me the time of day as I was a lowly conscript. I wrote about it here.
These days of extreme political polarization I try to keep out of arguments particularly in social media. I try to keep my political leanings hidden even if I do tell a few of my friends that Rosemary and I are fans of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
In mid-September I am having a joint opening at the Galería Vermeer in Buenos Aires with Argentine artist Nora Patrich. I have known her since 1999 and in most of those years I have done my best (well not always!) to not press her extreme left button so near to her heart. She says of herself,”Soy una militante.”
A militant is a strong sounding word especially when uttered by an Argentine. It would be uttered by someone who is a fervent admirer of Ernesto “Che”Guevara. It would be a fervent admirer of General Domingo Perón and his wife Evita. It would be a fervent accuser of the CIA as the bane of the world and ample proof that the United States interferes in the internal affairs of most countries.
Patrich is a militant because she lost her husband to a military death squad while she was a young mother of two.
I have nothing to match that experience. My beds have been comfortable and warm. I have never experienced hunger or ill treatment.
While filing negatives, some marked in an envelope as Argentina-Buenos Aires -2013- Sept/Oct, I spotted this lovely black and white shot of an attractive doorway.
Without much thinking if I were to show it to Patrich she just might utter that awful expression “la antesala del infierno”.
That door was the entrance to the medical treatment building of the Argentine Navy’s Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada.
During my two years in the Argentine Navy in the mid 60s I was frequently sent to ESMA to deliver documents. It was a lovely place painted clean white. The sailor guards wore nicely starched uniforms. I was not to know until many years later of people who disappeared there and of pregnant women whose children were born were given to military officers who were childless. Torture was the routine of the day.
I find it amazing that my friend Patrich can smile and show an enthusiasm for life when she has been subject to the kind of evil that I never faced.
I have another friend Lenore Riegel in New York who is married to noted novelist Jerome Charyn. In a recent tweet she wrote that the activities of her country make her doubt that the US Military will not be a bulwark of democracy because of Trump’s shenanigans in avoiding the advice of his generals.
I think that Patrich and even I could give her an indication that the military is almost never ever the bulwark of democracy but quite the contrary.