Thursday, February 13, 2003


In Sergio Ramírez’ book of essays, “Mentiras verdaderas” (True Lies),
he talks about the most emblematic figure in the mythical zoo of Nicaragua:
el pajaro del dulce encanto (the bird of sweet charm, literally). This
bird is a creature of singular beauty, with a highly colored plumage that
takes one’s breath away when it appears (okay, Raven, when he or she
appears) winging along out of nowhere. Its sweet charm lies in the fact
that it cannot be grabbed hold of and held. It must always be admired from
a distance, because if someone grabs it, it immediately turns to excrement
in the person’s hand.

Raven was reading over my shoulder as usual last night, and when he got
to the line in which the operative word was “mierda”, he let out one of his
ear-splitting shrieks of joy. “Serves the bastard right!"

I asked him, expecting to be too deaf to hear his response, which bastard he
had in mind.

"Wasn’t it Benito Juárez who said ‘El respecto al derecho ajeno es la paz’
(Peace is respect for others’rights)?”

It had served Benito Juárez right?

“Of course not! He was a hero. He impounded the property of the Catholic
Church. They had to wait more than a century for Salinas to let them start
running their scams again.”

I saw where he had been the past couple of days, but I still wanted to know
if there was something less than the obvious lurking behind his rhetorical
question about Juárez. (With Raven, there usually is.)

Raven turned his head so that only one of his beady eyes was giving me the eye.
“Don’t you read the papers? The government of YOUR country is going to war
to get its hands on the planet’s oil. Besides the obvious similarity in the appearances
of oil and shit, hasn’t it occurred to you when those bastards grab for other people’s
stuff, everything turns to shit?!”

Raven crossed his feet with a feigned resignation that was vaguely reminiscent of
Jeanne Moreau sitting on a stool in a tavern in Brest in the Fassbinder film “Querelle”
and singing “You always kill the thing you love....”

I thought about grabbing him by the neck, but....

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