Saturday, June 27, 2009


The same year I was born in East L.A, Guillermo Gómez-Pena (unforseen technical difficulties, I can't figure out how to put the thing over the 'n') was born in Mexico City. We seem to be leading parallel lives. He is a performance artist, I am a science fiction writer. Our work deals with similar themes. When I read something of his to my wife, she inevitably says, "He sounds like you."

I highly recommend his books Warrior for Gringostroika and Dangerous Border Crossers, the website, and his performances -- even though these days my patience for fine art, art spaces, and performance art is rather thin. (Guess I’m just a Chichimec barbarian.) Guillermo and La Pocha Nostra always impress me.

When I come up with my visions of a future of globalization and human culture, it resembles their work. Maybe they should illustrate my books. If they want to make movies or fotonovelas based on my stuff, I’ll give them a good deal.

Recently an announcement for a solo-performance, "An Evening with Gómez-Pena: Spoken Word Brujo," appeared in my Inbox. Seeing that it contained an excerpt for the script, and it was current events, I read – and was amazed.
This wasn’t vague and incomprehensible ravings that we usually get from the arty crowd. This was a clarity that we rarely see, especially in this age when we’re constantly bombarded with half-baked opinions.

For example, like me, he’s "not so much" scared by our financial uncertainty. "My original homeland, Mexico, has been immersed in financial uncertainty for 500 years." It is hard to explain to people that Mexico always looks like it's falling apart. Like the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, it is a storm that has gone on for centuries. You need to think of it in a different way, a way that is hard for most Americans to accomplish.

I also see the current economic mess as difficult, but hell, I’ve been through worse times. I don’t spend my days cleaning toilets and pushing around vacuum cleaners anymore, but could if I had to. Turmoil has always been there. Get used to it.

He goes on to say that "artists have always had to live in ‘crisis’ and within our means." I can confirm that. Then he says that the advice we are all getting on how to survive this new crisis is "all too familiar to artists," and the way most of the human race lives.

A core effect of our current crisis is that the illusions of superiority and privilege that made life easier for some people are evaporating. Like the New York Times guy said, the world is flat. It’s gonna be some kind of brave new world. What shape these things to come will take is uncertain. The only thing we can really be certain about is uncertainty.

Gómez-Pena makes the modest proposal that we look to those who live in uncertainty – artists, the underprivileged majority of the human race – for survival tips. Sounds like good advice to me.

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