Vintage Catholic Culture

9 06 2009


I spent my weekend chatting a lot with Mr. G (AG’s father). Unlike me, and much like my own father, Mr. G. is a man of practical skill and sensibility. From a black sharecropping family in southern Louisiana, he worked his way up to being an important petrochemical engineer with an international company that all of you would recognize. In spite of this, he can still regale us with tails from the countryside, and having visited his family in rural Opelousas, I can very well know where he is coming from.

A much different story was when I woke up Monday morning and read an essay by the Catholic writer Anthony Esolen (linked by Daniel Mitsui’s blog) about the complete absence of culture in our modern America. As is the case with many things I read by such authors, I feel their pain. After all, what average American would want to read half the stuff I post here? If anything, more Americans would read people gripe about not having a culture than read an essay about ballet, poetry, or iconography (I don’t write to be popular. Seriously.) At the same time, however, I find the whole idea of “city slickers” being nostalgic for peasant life, of reading a few verses of Dante before they bring in the harvest, to be really, really quaint. Maybe these people aren’t used to waking up at the crack of dawn because that rooster won’t shut up, going out in the fields and dipping your hands in some ice cold fruits or vegetables. Maybe they don’t know what it means to sleep eight to a room, or to have hands bloodied at the end of the day from being cut by the “fruits of the earth”. But my parents know, and AG’s father knows, and to some extent, I know. It was an edifying experience, but not necessarily one I want my children to have.
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9 06 2009

me jode confesarlo
pero la vida es también un bandoneón
hay quien sostiene que lo toca dios
pero yo estoy seguro que es troilo
ya que dios apenas toca el arpa
y mal

fuere quien fuere lo cierto es
que nos estira en un solo ademán purísimo
y luego nos reduce de a poco a casi nada
y claro nos arranca confesiones
quejas que son clamores
vértebras de alegría
esperanzas que vuelven
como los hijos pródigos
y sobre todo como los estribillos

me jode confesarlo
porque lo cierto es que hoy en día
quieren ser tango
la natural tendencia
es a ser rumba o mambo o chachachá
o merengue o bolero o tal vez casino
en último caso valsecito o milonga
pasodoble jamás
pero cuando dios o pichuco o quien sea
toma entre sus manos la vida bandoneón
y le sugiere que llore o regocije
uno siente el tremendo decoro de ser tango
y se deja cantar y ni se acuerda
que allá espera
el estuche.

-Mario Benedetti
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