|Ramón Xirau 1994 - Lucinda Irrustia - oil on canvas|
|Homero Aridjis, 17 October 2023 - Lomas Barrilaco, CDMX|
El 1 de marzo de 1985, 100 artistas e intelectuales se unieron en una declaración pública con el objetivo de generar conciencia en la población respecto a la severidad de los problemas del medio ambiente en la Ciudad de México y para presionar al gobierno y a la sociedad para solucionarlos.
On March 1, 1985 100 artists, intellectuals got together in a public declaration with the purpose to generate an awareness to the population of Mexico of the seriousness and severity of the environmental problems in Mexico City and to press the government and society to take action.
They say that coincidence is more often than not.
In 1962 I was attending an American university in Mexico City called Mexico City College. One of my teachers was so good I took all his philosophy courses for two years. His name was Ramón Xirau. With his father Joaquín Palau Xirau, a philosopher, they emigrated to Mexico because of Franco’s regime. One day, when father and son were in deep thought they did no hear the tram coming. Ramón Xirau’s father was run over and died.
inherit something of his father. In class we would attempt to light his
cigarette and we had to stop him from lighting the filter end. For examinations he would give us 10 questions in a week's advance. The day of the exam one of us would fish out two or three numbers from a hat.
In was in February 1985 when Xirau was leaving his house that he realized the atmospheric pollution was so bad that he could not breathe. He called his friend poet and novelist Homero Aridjis. They decided they had to do something. They started the Group of 100 and their first action was to convince the powers that be in Mexico City to have cars circulate on days for even number plates and on other days for odd number plates.
Because Aridjis and I are friends (at least 30 years) he told me the story about Xirau not being able to breathe. In his poetic way, Aridjis told me, “You Canadians did not know where your Monarch Butterflies went to for the winter. We knew where they went to, my hometown of Contepec, Michoacán. We did not know where they came from." Aridjis and the Group persuaded the President of Mexico to stop logging the oyamel (fur) trees on which those Canadian Monarchs wintered. From there they went to whales and turtles.
one hour chat about my author photographs at the XXIII Book Fair at the
Mexico City Zócalo, the 1000 people in my audience did not know the story on how
the Group of 100 had started and many asked me what it was like to have been
taught by Ramón Xirau. They were impressed and told me how lucky I had been.
It was difficult for me to explain that with my Rosemary gone almost three years ago, I am suffering not only an obvious loneliness, as we were married for 52 years, but also an existential angst that is the product of having had such a good philosophy teacher.
I am at loss with the concept that I do not have to do anything on any given day except feed the cats, myself and garden a tad. With our evenings becoming dark by 6, I find myself on the bed with Niño and Niña reading the books in Spanish I brought from Mexico City. The idea of a photographic legacy is diminishing by the day and I even wonder of what use it is to fill my mind with wonderful facts and ideas from these Mexican books as I will soon meet my oblivion.
I just wish I could somehow meet up with Ramón Xirau (he died in 2017). I know that this gentle man with his gentle smile would somehow put me at ease.