I could write clearly, I could write without so many nooks and crannies, without so many useless twists and turns. I could write telegraphically for the globe, symmetrically, in order to appease the languages that have submitted and kneeled to English. I’ll never write in English, with any luck I can say go home. I could write novels and great tomes full of rational stories and symbolic silences. I could write in the silence of Tao, with the sumptuousness of choosing the correct words and I could also keep the adjectives under my tongue. I could write with no tongue, like a host on CNN, bluntly and without accent. But my tongue is sharp and my vocal chords choose to sing, instead of educating. I could write in order to educate, to give knowledge, so that the babel that is my tongue might learn to sit, without uttering a word. I could write with my legs together, with cheeks firmly closed, with a Sufi push and an oriental economy of language. I could better language by sticking my corroded metaphors, my stinking desires and my confusing and gay head up my ass, without a sunshade or with my umbrella, in reverse, and I could do this in full daylight, so that globalisation could make me go worldwide, exportable, and translatable even in Aramaic, even if it sounds like a flowery fart. I could keep my ire and the plumed1 rage of my images to myself, feed the violence back into itself and sleep well, content with my cheesy stories. But that’s not my name. I invented a name for myself, one that sticks, and sounds like a gay-tango, rock-bolero or a transvestite-showgirl. I could be the chronicler of the high life and regret the hard to swallow nature of my writing. I could leave the riff-raff for the riff-raff and instead become an archaeologist of the Spanish language. But I didn’t come here to do that. The world is already full of writers that wear suits and ties and come equipped with flowery fountain-pens in their miserly breast-pockets. I didn’t come here to sing, ladies and gentleman; but I sing anyway. I don’t know how I got here, but here I am. And my language emerged like a stiletto, without words, like an extension of my hand, a growl or a cry. They sound like the cries of a cowardly woman, said the writers from the right wing soap opera. I came to writing without wanting it, I was going elsewhere. I wanted to be a singer, a trapeze artist, or an Indian-bird trilling at the sunset. But my tongue curled-up out of impotence, and instead of clarity or refined emotion, I produced a jungle of noise. I did not sing in the sweet sounds of rhyme, nor did I sing to the ear of transcendence in order to be at the right-hand of the gods of this neoliberal paradise. My father would ask himself, why do they pay you to write, when no one had ever payed him for his efforts. I learnt it by force. I learnt to write as a grown-up. Like Paquita la del Barrio2 says; writing was not easy for me. I wanted to sing, but was battered with grammar. Strike after strike, I learnt onomatopoeia, diaeresis, the art of composition, and the big breasted rules of orthography. But I forgot it all quickly, so many rules made me ill, like so many crosswords of written thought. I learnt out of hunger, out of necessity, out of the need to work, to become like a pimp. But I had started to become sad. I could have had nice handwriting and written like a well- educated person, with clear writing, clear like that of the water that runs in the rivers of the south. But the city was bad to me, the streets mistreated me, and sex spat on my sphincter. I say I could have, but I know that I couldn’t. I lacked rigor and was won over by drowsiness and the sordid appeal of the lies of love. And I believed like a fool, like a wilted dog I let myself be swindled by baroque allegories and word games that sounded so very beautiful. I could have been different, my teachers said, drooling all over their prophet-like hairs. Despite everything, I learnt, but sadness fell over me like a veil. I didn’t become a singer, I tell you, but music was the only spot of Technicolor in my unsettled biography. Here goes this pentagram, where the story danced to its own tragic rhythm. Whether you like it or not, here I press play and let loose this songbook of memories.
- Tener pluma: a Spanish language expression that refers to the gay nature of a person’s sexuality. It literally translates as ‘to be feathered’. Here Lemebel is referencing his own identification as gay. ↩
- The stage name of a popular Mexican singer of rancheras and other traditional Mexican and Latin American songs. Her lyrics are strongly feminist and ironic in their rejection of the stereotypes of masculinity. ↩