Saturday, September 21, 2013
No matter what you plan, there is almost always a better adventure awaiting you. Just around the corner.
For reasons that are not pertinent to our story, I ended up staying in a rather luxurious hotel room in San Miguel de Allende last night. Take a look at that photograph. We are not in Best Western territory here.
And if I could have conceivably been bored with my well-appointed accommodations, I could just step outside my door and enjoy the vista. The same view I could see from my rather plush bed. (For some reason, I thought I was in Moscow.)
OK. The view is just the top of the Parroquia. But those lights hold the magic to make this Prince Albert Memorial look-alike come off more as Sofía Vergara, and less as your eccentric Aunt Tillie.
I was staying in the Hotel de Guadalupe -- in the heart of town. Before my unplanned layover in town Friday evening, I had a liaison with the breast of a Mexican duck in the hotel restaurant. At least, I think the duck was Mexican. I didn't ask to see its passport.
What I do know is that it was prepared exactly the way I like my duck -- slightly north of rare. With little bits of crispiness.
Tied with a guava flan and a steamy cappuccino, it was a perfect meal to conjure up the best of dreams.
But don't call the works of René Magritte dream-like. He hated that description.
(In the writing biz, that is called a transition. When well-done, the topical sentence should lead seamlessly from the former thought to the new idea. The transition you were just subjected to is more akin to what my Favorite Doctor once said: "And now this ham-handed segue into your questionnaire. It won't do.")
I know that little tidbit of information about Magritte because I watched a documentary about his life (Magritte: An Attempt at the Impossible) twice yesterday. Why twice, you might ask. And I might answer: Because I forgot my camera the first time, and this little essay would be pointless without one of my shots.
This shot, for instance.
A digital representation of a photograph (taken by me) of a film frame showing a painting of a pipe. In other words, a digital image of a digital image of an image in a film of an image of a pipe.
The text on the screen (well, I guess in my photograph on your screen) helpfully tells us that it is not a pipe. Because with each layer of images, we still do not experience the object that has been re-imagined for us by several separate artists.
Magritte is one of those artists whose works we know far better than the man. I suspect most of us know his paintings, but would have trouble associating his name with his works. But he was, and is, one of the best-known of the Surrealist painters. Because of its simplicity and accessibility, his work has been featured on post cards, stamps, calendars, and all sorts of memorabilia -- without degrading its artistic sensibility.
His paintings force us, similar to Wittgenstein's philosophical inquiries concerning words and their meanings, to re-consider what the world around us means. "The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown."
While all of these Stuart Smalley thoughts were running through my head, the soundtrack was occasionally interrupted by the distinctive bangs of cohetes -- Mexican bottle rockets. Lots of them.
That could mean only one thing. Fiesta time!
And a big fiesta it is for San Miguel de Allende. The feast day of the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of this little burg, is fast approaching. And Friday was the grand opening for the celebrations.
I arrived just in time to see the androgynous image (there is that word again) of the saint being taken out for a stroll by the local faithful.
You will note that not every Mexican considers these events to be a solemn occasion. In fact, most of the spectators seemed to be unusually unmoved by the whole affair.
But there is more to this festival than an angel in a box. A lot of the noise I heard in the theater was from Indians from various tribes who are in town for their own celebration.
As long as I do not create other circumstances where I need to move into a hotel, I hope to have more news on that front in the next few days.