It pleases me to speak to you all in the passive voice about Oaxaca.

One wonders how much it is that the rules of grammar play with one’s moods. In Espanol, it’s all about “me gusta” instead of “I like” or even “I love.” There is “te amo,” but you save that for the important moments with the one you are with. Hence, in Espanol it is hard to express one’s deep love in a polite manner when you are as ignorant in the language as I am. That said, I hope my friends in Mexico understand my proper love despite my own ignorance regarding the best translation.

In thought, I like the passive voice of “it pleases me.” Intelligent things can be best said by me when it is said so indirectly. And I needn’t say it between the lines. Okay. It may be still be need said between the lines!

That said, my remarks to all of my friends in Mexico and elsewhere are based upon spending another wonderful week in Oaxaca amongst artists. I mean artists in the fine arts sense (though not entirely). They were painters primarily—and representational painters to boot. That is, I spent a wonderful time amongst these artistic painters, but I had nothing to say due to the language barrier of the passive voice, but also due to the fact I don’t get art—let alone Oaxacan art.

The joke, however, is that art—let alone Oaxacan art—doesn’t get me. My Spanish lexicon is more than decent than it seems, so maybe the confusion was a question of art and not me. Who are the artists who, in their images, know what I don’t? Apparently the Oaaqueno artists speak a language I can’t translate.

So in my Spanglish, I had a wonderful time eating and drinking in Oaxaca with good people. Oaxaca is a pueblo with no obnoxious people screaming when they get drunk. Rather, on the zocalo with thousands of people, children run free because everyone knows it’s safe—despite the fact that you yourself may be drinking mezscal.

I don’t want to romanticize this scenario, but the part about children running around free is true. That’s a good and beautiful thing.

But in Oaxaca, I hung out with artists—so I should show their art here on Postmodern Conservative. Each artist’s story is so idiosyncratic that I could spend paragraphs of text giving context to their art. But I don’t know how to speak of art anyway! So I will just show it.

Maestro Shinzaburo Takeda , and Rolando Rojas , and   Vicente Mesinas are some of the artists I met and know. My good friend— Mayuko Ono Gray (from Texas)—also shows her art in Oaxaca. While I have seen Francisco Toledo on the street, I have never met him. But if you go to Oaxaca you need to go to the IAGO (Instituto de Artes Grafica de Oaxaca) which is funded for the public by Toledo. In this beautifully quiet place you can find sweet solitude in perfect Oaxacan weather. IAGO has a library and garden, and you can sip a good coffee (while trying to read Gadamer in Spanish!)

Yes, after hanging out in Toledo’s library with Platon and Hegel, I realized that there is a dearth of classic American writers translated in Spanish for Mexico. While Latin America loves Whitman, Twain, and Faulkner (how do these writers translate into Spanish?), they don’t read Jefferson, the Federalist Papers, or Lincoln—let alone Tocqueville. I’ve been reading Simon Bolivar in translation, and I think he is one that even Paul Rahe could include as a hero of modern republicanism.

That said I hung out with these artists in Oaxaca, and it was a very fine thing. I don’t know what to say more than this other than the fact that artists are a weird, if brilliant, breed.

Also, there is a great breakfast to be had at La Merced market. I forwarded a photo of it to to Rod Dreher’s blog.

I alos want to remind our readers of the great Los Lobos album, “La Pistola y el Corazon” and the song La Guacamaya . Perfecto!

 

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Articles by John Presnall

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