Notes from a Mexican cafe – 1974

These are a few lines of notes I took during one of Negro’s typical informal chats this time in a Mexico City café in 1974. Every time over the years I’ve had occasion to recall this event two things strike me. Of course there is the richness and importance of the ideas he casually explained that day over the course of a few hours and numerous cups of coffee but leaving that aside there are other, no doubt secondary, elements that I find very suggestive.

On one hand, when it came to the formation of, and relation between, forms, impulses, etc he had already reached a well formulated theory of morphology, translation of the impulses, and so on. His public exposition of this still lay a year or two in the future. Sadly, our grasp of the importance of all this, was even further off. Many years later, in the 
5th transmission from Punta de Vacas, on April 2008 he explained that his insights into the translation of impulses developed out of testing for paranormal phenomena (that turned up negative results). I don’t know when they wrapped up those experiments but it must have been sometime before that meeting in 1974.

On the other hand there is another anecdote that comes to mind when I recall this fascinating talk in Mexico. There was a discordant interruption that took place in the midst of this exposition. A woman probably around my age or a little older came entered the restaurant in a flurry and aggressively inserted herself at our table. I was 20 and one of the younger ones at our table. Most were probably only a few years older than me, Silo himself was 36 and there was one or two even older than him. In that sense, i.e. that we were for the most part contemporaries, she fit right in. In that sense only, she stood out as too intense, her muscles were taught she was fidgeting with barely controlled energy. Then she started to interject, to comment and argue. I couldn’t speak the language but even without my translator’s assistance I had the feeling she wasn’t making sense, or at least any kind that even most native born, could grasp.

Silo leaned in and listened, apparently with great interest. I don’t recall anything of their conversation. It seems likely that it was not translated that Perhaps I never knew what was said. I have the impression of the rest of us shifting in our chairs and gazing around uncomfortably. I think someone would probably have asked her to leave or suggest that we all had to get going and reconvene later, except Silo seemed so intent on their one-sided “conversation”. After what seemed to be a very long time with him only nodding as she scolded or lectured him (so I remember it seeming to my ears). But after a while she got up and they parted with the kind of cordial embrace and kiss, which I learnt is, in those parts, typical of all comings and goings. He sat down, and watched her leave. Eventually he turned to us and said something like: “It is unfortunate but in such cases it is impossible to say much that is helpful since while they are in that state the other person will hear only what they want.” With that he returned to the subject at hand. After all these years I remember most of all is his unfeigned attention, and his compassionate but unsentimental attitude.

Symbol – centripetal, synthesis, abstracted from things
Eg. *From the curve comes the sun, the ball, the planet
(or) synthesis to the same form.

Allegory – e.g. justice (abstract idea) is made concrete as the balance that alludes to justice. It’s held by a blind figure to indicate that there is no fucking around with justice we go adding things (attributes) to explain justice. [The balance is held by a female (i.e. justice can be merciful) who is blindfolded (i.e. impartial) armed with a sword (i.e. there is no fucking around with justice) we go adding things (attributes) to explain justice. What is normally called symbol is allegory. The language of the Minor Poetics is allegorical not symbolic.