Years of Indiscretion

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Johann Moritz Rugendas ~ Volcan Colima, Mexico ~ 1831

from An Episode In The Life Of A Landscape Painter

When we strike up a conversation, we are often trying to work out what our interlocutor is thinking. And it seems impossible to ascertain those thoughts except through a long series of inferences. What could be more closed off and mediated than someone else’s mental activity? And yet this activity is expressed in language, words resounding in the air, simply waiting to be heard. We come up against the words, and before we know it, we are already emerging on the other side, grappling with the thought of another mind. Mutatis mutandis, the same thing happens with a painter and the visible world. It was happening to Rugendas. What the world was saying was the world.

Cesar Aira