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“He was laughing at me, but I didn’t mind. In fact, I liked to see him laugh. Around that time he met a famous film and theatre director. A fellow Chilean. Sometimes he would talk to me about him, telling me how he’d approached him at the door to the theatre where one of the director’s plays about Heracleitus or some other pre-Socratic philosopher was being performed, a loose adaptation of the philosopher’s writings that caused quite a stir, Mexico being so straitlaced at the time, not because of anything in the play but because almost all the actors came onstage naked at some point. I was still in school at Porvenir, in the stench of Opus Dei, and I spent all my time studying and reading (I don’t think I’ve ever read so much since), and my only entertainment, my greatest pleasure, was going to his house. I would visit him regularly, but not too often because I didn’t want to be a bore or get in the way. I would come in the afternoon, or when it was already dark, and we would spend two or three hours talking, usually about literature, although he’d also tell me about his adventures with the director, it was clear he admired him greatly, I don’t know whether he liked the theatre, but he loved film, in fact now that I think about it, he didn’t read very much back then, I was the one who talked about books, and I really did read a lot, literature, philosophy, political essays, but he didn’t, he went to the movies and then every day or every third day, extremely often, really, he would go to the director’s house, and once when I told him he had to read more, he said he’d already read everything that mattered to him. Such arrogance! Sometimes he would say things like that, I mean sometimes he was like a spoiled child, but I forgave him everything, whatever he did seemed fine to me. One day he told me that he’d fought with the director. I asked him why and he didn’t want to tell me. Or rather, he said that it had to do with a difference in literary opinion and that was all. What I managed to get out of him was that the director had said Neruda was shit and that Nicanor Parra was the greatest poet of the Spanish language. Something like that. Of course I could hardly believe that two people would fight about something so unimportant. Where I come from, he said, people fight about things like that all the time. Well, I said, in Mexico people kill each other for no good reason at all, but certainly not educated people. Oh, the ideas I had then about culture. A while later, I went to visit the director, and right away he wanted to know how he was, what he was doing, why he never came to visit. I gave him the first answer that popped into my head, then we started to talk about other things. After that, I had two people to visit, the director and my friend, and suddenly I realized that my horizons were expanding imperceptibly and my life was being gradually enriched. Those were happy days. One afternoon, however, after the director asked about my friend again, he told me about their fight. The story he told me wasn’t much different from what my friend had told me. The fight had been about Neruda and Parra, about the validity of their respective poetic visions, and yet there was a new element to the story that the director told (and I knew he was telling me the truth): when he fought with my friend and my friend couldn’t come up with anything else to say in his desperate defense of Neruda, he started to cry. Right there in the director’s living room, like a ten-year-old, without trying to hide it, although he was seventeen and had been for a while. According to the director, it was the tears that had come between them, that were keeping my friend away, since he must be ashamed (according to the director) of his reaction to what was otherwise a completely trivial and circumstantial disagreement. Tell him to come visit me, the director said that afternoon when I left his house.”

If this does not have an effect on you you are useless.