Monday, January 16, 2012


I've gone about as far as I can in my search for the Nineteenth Century, and here in southern Bolivia where shops are filled with 16 speed Oster blenders and see-through nylon panties and a hundred varieties of Chinese radios and toys that cause moments of psychic storms, I come as close as possible in my time to that lost time I long for-- to a place where a band of haggard men play old beaten brass

horns to the beat of cracked drums as they return from a funeral, previously solemn, now up-beat, the Twentieth Century all around them in their mourning, resignation tempered with belief in the good of eternity. The small group of men carrying a make-shift shrine of plastic flowers and a doll like Jesus half hidden in a polyester blanket, these men trudge up the street in old plastic sandals and ragged cotton jeans, slowly, slowly, to the annoyance of the family caught behind them on a narrow stone lane, the father tapping impatiently on the steering wheel of his shiny silver-grey Hummer, plump and clean well-dressed children in the back seat gawking at the men in procession ahead.

Electricity obliterates any illusion I might hope to wish for that this is the last vestige of the Nineteenth Century. The metal frames holding up the plastic tarp roof of a sidewalk vendor selling medicinal herbs and witchcraft charms from a stack of boxes printed in China defeats my hopes. But pregnancy gives my spirits a lift in this time, a scene of vitality the Nineteenth Century lacked, pregnancy being a delight and a fulfillment today that was a potential death sentence then, now a promise of good, a curse to others in the Modern world of the Twenty-first Century so many Modernists claim to despise, the latter ignorantly longing for a time closer to that of the hunter-gatherer era of starvation, rampant disease, total ignorance of the night, and the love of the darkness of the mind that is pre-Modernity.

In this land of relative simplicity of work, family, and death I startled those in the courtyard of my hotel when, leaving the shower, I suddenly crouched stark naked behind a stone column, reaching pointlessly for my non-existent pistol, trying to point it at the sound of distant fire-crackers exploding harmlessly elsewhere. This is not the Nineteenth Century. This is not the war. As much as my despised fellows in other lands I fall far short of living in the age of my time.

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