Spanish inquest I: a gaudy & quixotic unravelogue
After a week sort of back in NYC, here we are now back on the €uro, in Barcelona. A day after thanksgiving/mi cumpleaños.
On the plane here i read Don Quixote, in spanish.
I picked it up when we were in Madrid last year around this time & read the first 100 pages or so then to try to help me recover my spanish .. which i was getting terribly confused with italian. And now it's even worse.
Thing is i can still read & understand spanish, but when i open my mouth it comes out a jumble of italian, spanish, french, etc. I seem to be missing the gene to process the difference between secondary languages, on an output level. As if there's the mother tongue & all others get lumped together as foreign.
Not that reading Don Quixote helps, as it is written in somewhat antiquated spanish, especially when the man himself is talking in such a chivalrous tongue. The version I have is abridged down to 300 or so pages, so it's not so daunting (it just summarizes some of the sleeper chapters), and since i've read it in english (although a long, long time ago), i'm not totally lost.
And it's not the type of book you get lost in, or that has a linear progression to it. It's a good book to just pick up & read for the language, and the general gist, which is where the beauty of Don Quixote lays.
It only becomes increasingly stranger & self-referential if you think of the book Don Quixote as just another book like the ones he speaks of (which the convoluted narrator within a narrator does himself in the second half of DQ, when characters come into the picture that have read the first half of DQ)—that makes you lose your mind in recursion, that renders you unable to distinguish between reality & fiction.
Reality lately seems to be the inside of planes, which really fucks with your psychogeography, not to mention your circadian rhythm.
Our short trip back to NYC was our free repatriation, otherwise i probably would've just stayed on this side of the Atlantic. But we kind of squared away where we'll be living come January & j had shit to take care of.
Funny thing is j's future boss happened to be on our flight from JFK to Madrid & j officially signed her contract there right before we boarded the plane. So now it's official—she's in the tenure track at Columbia. Not that it ever wasn't official, or ever is anyway.
Back to being Don (which after all, is my middle name).
Maybe none of this is really real? The crazy cab driver that took us to the Bronx on the way to JFK because he didn't know what bridge to take? Maybe we really did miss our flight & everything since then is invented? And you the reader must be wondering what's lies & what's the truth?
What happens to that time when you fly east to west? Where an hour of sleep counts as a full night?
I had all but forgotten about the chapter where Don Quixote comes across the fortune-telling monkey.
Which is to say (at least by my interpretation):
From Madrid, we continued on to Barcelona. It's been a while (a decade or so) since we've been here, before i blogged or had a digital camera. Any memory i have seems very distant, almost like déjà vu. Maybe it was another life, i couldn't be sure.
We've been doing what you do here, rambling along the Ramblas, eating tapas. We're staying in Born, the old gothic quarter, or whatever this part of town is called. We went to Sagrada Familia but it was packed & there was a line wrapping around the block. Don't remember such insanity or even paying admission (at least not 16 euros) ten years ago. Most of it is still under construction, which is perhaps it's perpetual state of being, like Crazy Horse.
Saw some other Gaudí buildings from the outside, but they were also ridiculously expensive to go in. Mostly eating & drinking. Not big on Spanish food so not much to say about it. Last night we had tapas at a place called Ziryab, which was a bit different as it was sort of middle-eastern influenced. After we saw some Flamenco thing, which was actually pretty spectacular. If you stop to think how such rituals, forms of dance/music, come into being. I didn't have a camera but here's the same club (Tarantos) & group we saw.
Barcelona has a nice waterfront to run on. One day i ran south out to the industrial ship harbor. Another day i ran north along the beach front, until i saw a guy doing yoga naked on the beach & figured that was as far as i needed to go.
Then back to the airport & a plane back to Madrid, where we are now.