My fifth entry in the self-portrait marathon
But really, is this the face of an artist? Who am I kidding? Not my wise friends the flies, who rub their forefeet together in a travesty of devotion. En boca cerrada no entran moscas — flies don’t enter a closed mouth, says the Mexican proverb. But when is my mouth ever really closed, except for the fraction of a second that the camera shutter is open? Let the saints train their tongues to lie still as stones & their eyes to gaze modestly at their navels. It’s sheer hypocrisy to praise the open tomb while preparing oneself for the sealed reliquary. And in any case, the crawling faithful prefer the glistening surfaces of breasts or buttocks, with those dark & inviting hollows in between.
“First of all as to the patient’s face,” says Hippocrates: “does it resemble or not the face of persons in good health, and especially does it resemble itself?” This is what I’m wondering, my faithful physicians, health care in this country being as moribund as it is. You can rub your hands together all you want — you won’t get a dime of insurance out of me! Do I look like a rich man to you? Does my face have the unnatural glow of those who frequent health clubs with mirrored walls or fly airplanes into skyscrapers?
What you call dyslexia, I call poetry: an affliction in which nothing resembles itself, ever. A great poet like Eugénio de Andrade exceeds himself at every turn. Esta noite preciso de outro verí£o sobre a boca crescendo nem que seja de rastros, he wrote — “This night I need another summer on my mouth, gathering, even at a crawl.”
Would you recognize your own face if you saw it coming toward you down the street, without the usual soundtrack running through your head? Would you welcome it as an end to exile, or would you get out the flyswatter & the can of Raid? “Mama get your hatchet,” begged the bluesman Furry Lewis, “kill the fly on your baby’s head.” Buddhahood, they say, can be hazardous to your health. Best to go meditate on a corpse.