Pegamequemegusta is currently laptopless. Our cave suffered the splashy seaweed-bespattered vengeance of Poseidon as a cruel wave did rise up and douse our 15” portal on what is admittedly an even crueller world. With no means of sending our usual hourly crank-filled missives of hate to the Académie francaise, we have decided to channel our energies elsewhere, like a recidivist melon-thief who after a crack on the head from a falling crate of said fruit, finds himself mysteriously exiled in an arid, melon-less land. As is stated in the unfortunately as yet unapproved revamp of the municipal charter ‘Sanity must be maintained AT ALL COSTS!’ Therefore we will keep this journal until our beloved flomper is returned.
Day one – morning
Street dogs vie for position in a veritable maelstrom of stale, dead hair and vivacious, opportunistic bourgeois fleas as they seek to lick the salt from our tear-stained face. Pegamequemegusta lies in the gutter cursing an Evita mural with its whining contemptible slogan Pan y trabajo. Surely if the masses are going to mobilise they should either demand free bread or work. For gainful employment should, when the appropriate laws are upheld, provide enough for the purchasing of one’s own bread. No, this wretched multitude doesn’t really want to work. They’d sell their soul to Lenin quicker than you could say che boludo. And indeed, what about the breadmakers? Blessed be they, said not our Lord? And blessed be their accounts, we add. For it is a truth universally ignored that despite having trained as a carpenter, the foot-washing, donkey-mounting temple-rocker of Nazareth did indeed drive his poor father’s business into the ground, the illiterate scamp.
Day one – afternoon
Pegamequemegusta’s attempt to put a brave face on the matter has only led to an unwarranted upbraiding at the hands of a Native American tourist. It is becoming ever clearer just how much we depended on that laptop. Telly we had already learned to live without, though we were nonetheless pained when, after we left it in the street for the cartoneros, we saw a dog relieve himself on it. It deserved better.
The absence of music, on the other hand, is too much to bear. The cave echoes with the shrill bleatings of a thousand neglecterinos begging for attention like Tibetan chislers following government cutbacks to Aosdána’s SOCRATES program. The cave floor asks indignantly if we aren’t ashamed. Our comb splutters and chokes out a pitter-patter, plip-plop of fleghmy tears as it points to a Superbowlish run of Xs carved into the wall with its own teeth marking the months and years since it last made the attempt to our snowy scalp. From the WC emerges a medley of hellish screams and chilling whimpering that recall the sodomisation of Robert Palnt by the entire bottled 2007 Languedoc-Rousillon vendange. Sitting sternly in the corner, however, is the most fearsome foe of all, they who alone – apart from shop assistants, obviously – inflict upon pegamequemegusta a paralysing panic of Otamendian proportions: pen and paper. Taking advantage of our confusion, they have managed to creep out from under their protective shroud and now fix us with a cutting gaze, and smirk with redoubled disgust: how long’s it been, pegame?
We run out onto the rocky promontory but immediately curse as we realise we can’t convey our despair to trouserless strangers on twitter. Something has to be done.
Day two – dawn
Last night there was, shall we say, some unpleasantness. Pegamequemegusta is now barred from all parrillas, pool halls and public transport in the province. The wags in the print media, with whom we have sadly had to reacquaint ourselves since our surfing was cut short by the surf, spoke of ‘una noche de terror’ and splashed our photo on the front page.
It had all started off innocuously enough. Shorn of the means to reach out and stroke internet sprites, we placed ourselves on a bench near a bus stop on the Plaza Colón hoping to meet some real people. Our prime target: old ladies. Pegamequemegusta gets on well with the old dears, thanks in no small part to what Time magazine once described as ‘a seemingly endless repertoire of cat anecdotes’.
Bouyed by the success, then, of our first, tentative reaching out to humanity, we decided to engage some younger females. A difficult enterprise for even the crutchless in this world, or so we’re oft to eavesdrop at Plummet Point, a mix of charm, cunning and caution was resolved upon. We soon spotted a strapping creature waddling along Colón. She strode as if her ankles had been strapped together and she was trying to kick her feet free with jerking thrusts, first right then left. Her arms she did not employ in her attempts to free herself from this imaginary bondage, however. They but hung heavily by her ample sides as if weighed down by invisible bags of flour. Viable prey, we whispered from the darkness of the doorway of an abandoned ferretería, she must be engaged.
– I say, we began, saluting with one hand and sustaining our trousers with the other, I say, you have a most interesting gait!
We cocked our head to one side as we said this and smiled the most seductive smile we could muster whilst attempting to draw her attention from our toothless grin to our one good eye.
– Yes indeed, ma’am, quite the gait.
The honeyed embrace we were hoping for, however, failed to materialise. Flowers, light and concupiscence were conspicuous by their absence. We decided to change tack:
– Do you play bridge?
Her erstwhile dull, bovine eyes took on the flinty fire of the hunter. Disengage! Disengage! The melon-sized appendages that hung like pendulums from her trunk-like oven-movers began to swing slowly like background dancers in an impromptu musical number. In an ill-considered move, we had hidden our crutches in the doorway. Now as the fuming mass of womanhood bore down upon us to punish our impropriety, we scrambled to retrieve them. Too late. Blows began to rain down and we were forced to crawl pathetically to a nearby pool hall.
Pegamequemegusta doesn’t recall much of what happened afterwards. We reached out to some hardy men at the bar and tried to talk football with them. Yet despite the wealth of intrigue and brilliance that one little topic can contain in a land such as this, they responded with tired platitudes from yesteryear about how Messi doesn’t play as well for Argentina as he does for Barca and how they’d like to see the Boca-era Tevez again, as if he’d been lost in the Amazonian rainforest for the last seven years. Pegamequemegusta was not slow in letting them know the poverty of their opinions. What happened next we can but piece together from the accounts in the local rags, but we definitely refute the charge that we stole those pool cues. That ‘theft’ was but the desperate attempt of a poor wretch to make its way home.
Day two – morning
Still no computer. Crutchless, we plumbed the depths of our ingenuity as to how to head off to the library. Unfortunately, in the confusion of the previous day, we had forgotten to make our rounds by the local school. The nicotine-starved youths had exacted a messy revenge on the already lichen-(oh the lichen!)-besmattered stones outside our cave. Attempts at handstanding our way across the rocky ledge were torpedoed by a further hail of filth from the scurrilous boyos, whose reduced lung capacity made their gasping, sides-holding silhouettes against the morning sun seem a squad of soldiers suffering a gas onslaught. We managed to make our escape, nonetheless, by grabbing hold of a bearded, bird-watching student with a bicycle and instructing him to drag us universitywards.
Day two – afternoon
Pegamequemegusta has been converted. Despite the travails and humiliations to which we are subjected daily, we recognise there is indeed hope. Sadly, for so many of the hunchbacked, tiny-handed app-downloaders out there, there is a smug Trentonian faith in the supposed progress constituted by the internet’s facilitation of book previews and purchase pointers for a relative handful of first-worlders with the luxury of competitive currencies, valid credit cards and efficient postmen. Perhaps when our dear overlords finally turn us into machines the internet will finally be of an age to deliver decent service. For now, however, her only charms are those contributed by humourless, parrot-less pirates and google is but a bounty-free treasure map.
No, making the Word flesh may have been a necessity in an illiterate age, yet the printed word remains superior. Loath though we are to admit it, our keepers always having insisted Johannes Gensfleish zur Laden zum Gütenberg was a closet Protestant avant la lettre, the printing press insisted on the bloody-minded determination necessary to produce writing. Sure writing copies out by hand is more arduous, but by that logic the only real works would be carved on the lichen -(oh the lichen!)-steamed walls of your undies. Proselytisation is necessary, as any good Aztec will tell you.
Indeed, in pamphlets, mimes and video installations over the years, pegamequemegusta has maintained that the edifice of literature is built not on divine inspiration or the whisperings of scantily-clad Muses but rather on the rather simple urge to avoid one’s nearest and dearest. Even though many writers stress their solitude, their position as outcasts (the word ‘margins’ now appears in 87% of all master’s theses), if you listen closely you will hear the clumping of furniture in the next room, a wife coughing crossly through the arras, children torturing each other in the hall, heavy-heeled upstairs neighbours tossing their freakish toenail clippings on the floor. Any writing or reading that goes on in the author’s study, be it a library or but the kitchen table, is a deliberate flight from the scene he would otherwise be drawn into. As it is, he has an excuse, a higher pursuit. Literature is merely an excuse to mumble back at the missus: be quiet, i’m too busy writing about how much I care for you, dear. If the author/reader were to achieve real solitude, the defence mechanism would be rendered redundant and with time there would be a gradual slackening in his productivity.
The internet, on the other hand, provides distractions of another kind. It saturates and dulls the brain, whether the content be akin to hemlock or birdsong. ‘Tis an opium den without the delights of debauchery.
The belief that greater access to numbers means the message will have more impact is greatly flawed. The internet is designed to distract, a book to draw you in. The usually claustrophobic air of the cloister, convent or municipal book mobile is positively Alpine compared with the wretched stench of loneliness that accompanies most blogs, not to mention podcasts recorded in the kind of dark, adolescent zones you wouldn’t enter without a priest and a thick pair of gloves.
Our epiphany, like a nightwatchman crooning love-songs to himself, came in the library. Some fine words by Roberto Arlt stung us to the quick, made us see the error of our dilettante ways, realise the real reason for our constipated output and recognise how misplaced our faith in new formats was. In the prologue to Los Lanzallamas, he writes:
When you have something to say you’ll write anywhere. On a scrap of paper or a in any hellish shithole. God or the devil are on your shoulder dictating ineffable words.
I’m proud to affirm that writing, for me, is a luxury. Unlike other writers, I have no fixed income, time or cushy state position. Making a living as a writer is a tough business. Especially if while you work you reflect on the fact that there are people out there for whom the strain of seeking out mere means of recreation is a burden.
Ay, pegamequemegusta hung its mottled head.
They say I write badly. That may be so. In any case, i’d have no problem pointing out numerous personages who write well and are only read by polite members of their own family.
In order to write with style certain comforts are necessary: money, a comfortable lifestyle. However, for the most part those who enjoy such privileges avoid the bothersome matter of literature. Or they take it on as a capital means of standing out in society salons. [….] Style requires time, and if I listened to the advice of my colleagues i’d succumb to the same fate as them: i’d write a book every ten years, then take ten years off for having taken ten years to write a hundred reasonably proficient pages.
This is the bloody-minded determination we spoke of earlier, the respectable side of solitude, the translucent Cortazoan fire that runs along the rue de la Huchette burning us sweetly til we scorched. It is not the only answer, not to be confused with Art or Soul or any of those foolish ideas, but it is most certainly a fine, timely, precise bit of roshamboing.
Day two – night
Pegamequemegusta feels reborn. Indeed, we have already produced several pages of notes towards a groundbreaking piece on the befuddlement Romance languages so often experience when confronted with compound nouns, and this despite occasional plate-chomping moments such as the coinage of the wonderful balompié, rejected so cruelly in favour of the crude calc ‘fútbol’.
The sky’s afternoon blue had been sucked down by a thirsty sea and the old couple were now settling into yet another evening of entropic black. As we made our way back to the cave, the very air seemed aquiver with the promise of the insubstantial truth we prize so; awash it was with meaningless but melodious words. An odious throwback to the Romantic or the punk aesthetic perhaps, but the click of another bottle cap spinning gratefully wallwards soon dulled those concerns. A note on the floor informed us the laptop had been fixed. Yet now was a time for violent writing, in Arlt’s words. We were now in a position to dish out relentless verbal one-twos that would leave e’en the eunuchs clutching their balls.
For there she was, our aubergine-fisted agressor, her spherical frame perfectly blocking out the rotund moon sailing skywards from her inky quay beneath the waves.
– You know, I really do like bridge.
– Do be quiet, i’m too busy writing about how much I care for you, dear.