The plunge and the eclipse

2021-12-15 @Blog

Voilà the Cathedral, my personally favourite ecclesiastic edifice I ever recall inspiring this many cycles of pensive observance. Full of Gothic marvels I lack the propensity to adequately transcribe, the spires condescend with episcopal puissance, the headless vikings await to sound the battle horns and perish into the abysmal embraces of Valhalla, the tiny arched apertures multiply along the lattice and give way to the obscurity of the cells, the studies, the libraries, and the bowers of strict obeisance. In a fulminating union of contrasts, the Samovars along the ledges, the stained glass symbolism, the Latin inscriptions, the rotund clock face, along with the illumined crosses culminate the geometrical extravaganza.

But at the adjoining plaza operates a falafel street stand I indulge in at every opportunity. I’m a sucker for quality falafel, especially when I find one in a Mexican city (among the traditional and the rather disagreeable options). Crazy to forego the traditional for the foreign? Crazy not to … Fresh pita bread, hummus, a huge pile of vegetables (this is key), a few pieces of crunchy falafel, some odd seasoning, the odder seeds to top that off, I’m in.

Next to that the used book stand grabs my attention, among which, as often the case, we find the mostly unremarkable cardboard box of 20-peso everythings, though I occasionally dig up an awkwardly translated classic worth a 20-second perusal. Such I even purchased El Cantar de los Nibelungos (Der Nibelungenlied) the other day, a modern literal translation “que no se trata de una versión poética”, que no pretende sino “despertar el interés de los estudiosos …”, etc, etc.

I respect an honest translator remark to the regard that yes, this isn’t Nibelungenlied, but a mere abstraction intended to acquaint the curious with the ancient.

The first stanza:

Muchas cosas maravillosas narran - las sagas de tiempos antiguos
De héroes loables - de gran temeridad,
De alegría y de fiestas - de llantos y lamentos,
De la lucha de héroes valientes - ahora encucharéis narrar maravillas.

The entire translation follows this format, line by line, translated in exactitude, alliteration clearly disregarded, but for the half-line delimiters that preserve a mild sense of the original cadence. The Germanic epic might stand a chance, were I stranded, literature-less, option-less, and, you know, priority-less.

Why did I even make the purchase? Sure, it cost less than a cheap coffee (it behooves me to explore alternate purchase references), but now the extra baggage forms part of the physical and mental inventory, sabotaging yet another rambling initially aimed at a topic on the verge of near neglect, the same neglect concerning the faded scraps of bullet lists long overdue to acquire some verbose function. And don’t get me started on the endless drafts, the disparate journal excerpts of clever aphorisms topped with a lot of synthetic grease. Maybe I should (and this has been suggested) just identify one sound phrase, or even a sentence fragment, and destine the remainder for the piles of the metaphysical junkyard?

Meanwhile, the coffee continuum has taken the plunge down the precipice of the local minimum, while the yerba mate asserts the eclipse. And this bitter yerba mate evokes pure bliss. According to the literature, in Europe, we find the poetry of flowers, while in the Americas, the poetry of mate: ‘El mate amargo significa indiferencia.’ I have one of my own: yerba mate serves as an excellent diarrhetic.

Questions, comments? Connect.