This text is part of an essay by Marcelo Villena Alvarado that originally appeared inÂ Escrituras Americanas, published by the philosophy department of the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la EducaciÃ³n in Chile.
What should one doÂ whenÂ theÂ timeÂ comesÂ toÂ look atÂ theÂ pen strokes ofÂ the drawings of Jaime Saenz, the circular strokesÂ andÂ dizzy loops?Â How can oneÂ understand them as a series of shifts from skulls to self-portraits?
1) One mustÂ look at theÂ â€œSkull of manâ€ amidstÂ divinations and epiphanies, and see the circular strokesÂ and dizzy loopsÂ in the spiral formed by cranium,Â eyes, cheeks and other features.
2) One must touchÂ and follow these unique markingsÂ on a sheet of paper, screen or wall, follow themÂ with the eyeÂ while also followingÂ chance and circumstance, serendipity, tastes, days of the year, rains, tremorsÂ and earthquakes.
3) One must touch theÂ â€œSkull of a ladyâ€ and see how the body is inscribed there (not just thought, as Heidegger would have liked), pen in hand in the fissure, in the trace of eyes and nose.
4) One must speak with a young lady worried about her lack of grandeur.
5) One must look again at the drop thatÂ onceÂ fellÂ on a sheet and left a trace, look at it remembering drawingÂ is a combination ofÂ lines and smudges; one must see that on the skulls the spiral becomesÂ a smudge, or descends precisely there where the drawing gives off a scent.
6) Between theÂ â€œSkull of a globeâ€, theÂ â€œSkull in loveâ€, and the skull with a flourish one must recognize the signature of Jaime Saenz; one must appreciate the circular stroke in his initials (the J, the S), that in the drawing becomeÂ aÂ single thing, the same line opening in a spiral. And one must verify that there the circular stroke unfolds, moves away, and descends three times.
7) One must do many things, and at the same time do nothing: look at the drawings for hours, lose track of time,Â take a turnÂ starting at the corner of Santa Cruz and JimÃ©nez streets, descending Santa Cruz to Lanza street, veering left on Evaristo Valle, climbing toward Churubamba, resting on AmÃ©rica avenue on the way to the convent of Recoleta.
8) One must look at the self-portraits of Jaime Saenz and see that on 28 November 1962, he went from drawingÂ â€œout of idiocyâ€Â as aÂ â€œstupid way of passing timeâ€Â to drawingÂ â€œin preparation for writingâ€. In the image of the self-portrait the circular stroke and dizzy loop plunge toward the smudge, the blot, writing.
9) One must look at the profile once silhouetted on the blank surface of the wall, now flooded in deeper and deeper darkness,Â and remember Pliny and the myth of the origin of painting, drawing, writing: the myth that tells usÂ how form emergedÂ while cut off from its material of origin, the well-known anecdote of the young person whoÂ â€œoutlinedÂ the shadow of the face of a loverâ€.
Marcelo Villena AlvaradoÂ wrote his doctoral thesis on Roland Barthes under the supervision of Julia Kristeva. He is the author ofÂ â€˜las tentaciones de san ricardoâ€™, seven essays on Bolivian narrative.