Modern Love

>> Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit and Devotion

I came across this book a little more than a month ago when one a volunteer at the Grand brought it in. Intrigued, I picked it up the next time I took a trip to the library.

Some of it I related to; parts of it I don't. Fascinating all the same. In fact, considering that each story is less than 10 pages long, it's perfect reading on the van.

By the time I finished, I don't think I had a favorite story, just some moments. Like the one in "DJ's Homeless Mommy" where Dan Savage writes about the people who choose to live on the streets:

I've heard people say that choosing to live on the streets is a kind of slow-motion suicide. Having known DJ's mother for six years now I'd say that's accurate.

I've never thought of it that way but I have had thoughts where I wish I could ditch it all and go roaming Europe with the gypsies. Thoughts completely inspired from gypsy quotes from D.E. Pohren's The Art of Flamenco:

That they have no ambition, that they refuse to work?!! And you consider these failings? Hombre, don't you realize that this "ambition" that you praise is the greatest motivating evil the world has known. One must have principles or ambition, as these two forces are instinctive enemies and are constantly at each other's throats. Woe on the man who has both, for he will have a raging turmoil inside his person. For ambition, in the modern sense of the world, is the desire to 'get ahead,' and it is a rare man who can 'get ahead' without sacrificing his integrity and his principles. And this other thing that you consider a fault: the refusal to work in some hated job that the payo takes merely to make money, or gain prestige, or 'get ahead,' or what have you. This rejection of work is the greatest of gypsy virtues! We refuse to prostitute our integrity in this way. We prefer to obey our natural instincts, although we may suffer more and work harder in obeying them than we would taking a soft payo job and washing away our lives. Besides, who has the superior intelligence; he who works unhappily within the system, or he who pursues his own interests and remains above the system...It is clear that the gypsies have outlived their age. God meant for us to live off the fat of the land, moving from place to place feeding on wild fruits and fowl and abundant animal life, never abusing as the payo does, never depleting our sources like fools, never causing the extinction of entire species of animals, never exploiting, but merely taking what we needed. But now, through a complex puzzle of cause and effect not even understood by the payo himself, all the lands have fences, the fruits and domestic animals owners, and the wild life is disappearing because of its exploitation by the so-called 'civilized' people. The gypsies should have been cut up for steaks along with the rest of the wild life, because we no longer belong. If we wish to follow our natural instincts, to pursue our way of life, to retain our integrity, we have no other resource but to steal our daily food and to camp on the property of others. The fool payo does not understand that we are the last of God's children, and they are merely slaves to a system which reduces their lives to insignificance. Their instincts are moved when we come into sight, they momentarily realize the purposelessness of their existence, and they are beset by envy and longing. But instead of joining us, they choose to hate us. We have always been a threat to their serenity, we have always made them see the absurdity of their lives, and they have chosen to drive us away, to banish us from their hands and their minds as one will banish a wrong from his conscience. We are the symbol of everything that they lack; integrity, individualism, freedom. They cannot permit the gypsy to be the constant reminder of the ball-less void of their lives, so they have humiliated us, attempted to break our spirit, banished us to city slums...they have truly sinned by denying God's children their intended existence.


One has but to think of the impertinence of the payo. They discover lands that have been inhabited for thousands of years by several civilizations, and they proudly plant their flag and they claim the land for their country. Not a thought is given to its present inhabitants, unless the 'discoverers' try to soothe their consciences during their plundering, murdering, and exploitation by deceiving themselves and the world into believing that they are committing their crimes in the names of Religion, the State, and Progress.

You are right. It is that mankind is consumed with greed, lust, and a doltish possessiveness. Why can they not leave the lands free, as God intended? How do they have the impudence to place a price on God's real estate? To me, all of civilization paints a bile-retching picture of the strong abusing the weak. Ambition, egoism, and violent stupidity invariably are triumphant over integrity, principles, and goodness!

Hombre, do you realize what it is to live with nature, to amble alongside this old cart in the sun and sleep under the stars, to have no ties and do exactly as I damn well please? When we desire entertainment we travel to gypsy reunions and fiestas, where there is always plenty of food, drink, and good times. When we need money we perform in town plazas and taverns--what we earn in a week of performing carries us over for a month or two. You see, I have no need for payo necessities or luxuries. I have no desire to own a house, or a car, or to go work everyday like a halfbrain. It seems to me that the payo works all of his life for things that he does not really want or need. He sits in a closed office dreaming of open fields and mountains and beaches, and when he finally is allowed a vacation he travels to a resort area milling with people and pushes his way around for two weeks and spends his savings. He lives in fear and anxiety of his employer, a possible depression or war, old age, and a thousand other things either completely beyond his control or not worth the effort. But we, in our simple existence, have everything that we need to be happy. I have a wonderful, talented family. If we feel like spending the summer on a beach, or in a mountain forest, we do so. We have friends and relatives in all parts of Spain. Of course, there are hardships--the rain and cold, occasional hunger--but the life of no one is perfect. En fin, as long as we are left alone, we can't ask for anything more.

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