|Rosemary - Mexico City -1968
I remember back when I did not know what a computer virus was. It was 1994. I first learned it by my then friend William Gibson. He also told me that he liked Apple computers because they used ikons. I had no idea what he meant. He also told me in those early days of the internet when my email was [email protected] that there was something called Altavista and that it was a search engine. By then I was using my Rosemary’s office IBC Thinkpad (remember them?)
Now in this century I could not possibly think of reading in bed without Google access with my phone. I can look up obscure words immediately.
I also use Google when I want to mate (combine a photo or photos of mine with some poem or article or book by an author that I like. I have used Google to find over 75 Emily Dickinson poems that fit my photographs by simply putting fall, Emily Dickinson or death, Emily Dickinson.
I have a friend, Ian Bateson who likes to use a certain word and expression that he knows annoys me. This is, “Alex you are reiterating yourself." That hit home today when I spotted two photographs I took of Rosemary in 1968. In one she is with an hour glass and in the other I added a very large alarm clock.
I went to Google and put reloj, Jorge Luís Borges. I sort of
knew what I would find. It was his lovely poem on an hour glass called El reloj de arena. But I was most surprised when the second Goggle hit was this::
What to do? I have decided to link that original blog and add
something new. I have re-scanned the two negatives so they will look better.
But I will also include here an essay I know all about by Julio Cortázar. One
part is the preamble and the other is the actual instructions on how to wind a
watch. Both are below in Spanish and in English. Cortázar had a very dry and unusual sense of humour. He wrote several of these odd little essays. Two are are blogs of mine. One is on how to go up stairs and the other how to go up stairs backwards.
Some who may have gotten this far might object that a wrist watch has nothing to do with an hour glass or a gigantic alarm clock. Any excuse to put up pictures of my Rosemary is enough justification for me.
Preámbulo a las instrucciones para dar cuerda al reloj. Julio Cortázar
Preamble to the instructions for winding the watch.
Piensa en esto: cuando te regalan un reloj te regalan un pequeño infierno florido, una cadena de rosas, un calabozo de aire. No te dan solamente el reloj, que los cumplas muy felices y sí esperamos que te dure porque es de buena marca, suizo con áncora de rubíes; no te regalan solamente ese menudo picapedrero que te atarás a la muñeca y pasearás contigo.
Think about this: when someone gives you a watch as a gift, they give you a flowery little hell, a chain made of roses, a prison cell made of air. They do not give you just a watch, may you have a happy birthday and, yes, we hope it lasts you because it’s a good brand, Swiss with a ruby clasp; they do not give you just that minute piece of stonework that you will tie to your wrist and carry around with you.
Te regalan -no lo saben, lo terrible es que no lo saben-, te regalan un nuevo pedazo frágil y precario de ti mismo, algo que es tuyo pero no es tu cuerpo, que hay que atar a tu cuerpo con su correa como un bracito desesperado colgándose de tu muñeca. Te regalan la necesidad de darle cuerda todos los días, la obligación de darle cuerda para que siga siendo un reloj; te regalan la obsesión de atender a la hora exacta en las vitrinas de las joyerías, en el anuncio por la radio, en el servicio telefónico.
They give you – they don’t know it, the terrible thing is that they don’t know it – they give you a fragile and precarious new piece of yourself, something that is yours but is not your body, that you have to tie to your body with your strap like a hopeless little arm hanging itself from your wrist. They give you the need to wind it every day, the obligation to wind it so that it keeps on being a watch; they give you an obsessive need to pay attention to the exact hour in the shop windows of jewelers, in the commercial on the radio, in the phone service.
Te regalan el miedo de perderlo, de que te lo roben, de que se te caiga al suelo y se te rompa. Te regalan su marca, y la seguridad de que es una marca mejor que las otras, te regalan la tendencia de comparar tu reloj con los demás relojes. No te regalan un reloj, tú eres el regalado, a ti te ofrecen para el cumpleaños del reloj.
The give you the fear that you might lose it, that it might be stolen from you, that it might fall to the floor and break. They give you its brand, and the certainty that it is a better brand than the others, they give you the tendency to compare your watch with other watches. They don’t give you a watch, you are the one given as a gift, they offer you yourself for the watch’s birthday.
Instructions on how to wind a watch - Julio Cortázar (in Spanish and English)
Instrucciones para dar cuerda al reloj
Allá al fondo está la muerte, pero no tenga miedo. Sujete el reloj con una mano, tome con dos dedos la llave de la cuerda, remóntela suavemente. Ahora se abre otro plazo, los árboles despliegan sus hojas, las barcas corren regatas, el tiempo como un abanico se va llenando de sí mismo y de él brotan el aire, las brisas de la tierra, la sombra de una mujer, el perfume del pan.
¿Qué más quiere, qué más quiere? Átelo pronto a su muñeca, déjelo latir en libertad, imítelo anhelante. El miedo herrumbra las áncoras, cada cosa que pudo alcanzarse y fue olvidada va corroyendo las venas del reloj, gangrenando la fría sangre de sus rubíes. Y allá en el fondo está la muerte si no corremos y llegamos antes y comprendemos que ya no importa.
There at the corner is death, but do not be afraid. Put on the watch with one hand, with two fingers go to the winding knob, turn it gently. Now there is a different stage, trees display their leaves, ships run in regattas, time like a fan fills itself with its being and from it air emerges, the earth’s breezes, the shadow of a woman, the perfume of bread.
What more do you want, what more do you want? Fasten it immediately to your wrist, give it liberty to tick, imitate it with longing. Fear rusts the anchors, everything that was found was forgotten and has corroded the watch’s veins, gangrene sets in on the cold blood of the rubies. And there at the end is death if we do not run and arrive and understand it is no longer important.