Aug 12, 2013

Argentina observations: Do you really want to live forever young?

As I looked out the window of a library with a book in a language I didn't understand. The thought dawned on me "WTF am I doing here?". I began pondering a question I hadn't really thought about before, Why was I still around Universities a decade removed from graduating?

4 Observations here might answer why:
'Greenberg' (2010)
ROGER: It's weird aging right, like WTF is going on?
IVAN: I know. Youth is wasted on the young.
ROGER: I'd go further. I'd go: 'Life is wasted on people.'

Watch the 'Birthday scene' here (44s)
The I.Sat Cable Channel
Based out of Buenos Aries, I.Sat is an awesome Cable Channel that plays all over South America. Largely curating Indie fare it was advertising screenings of 'Greenberg', 'Blue Valentine' and 'Somewhere' (2010) during my time there. I grew up on Kevin Smith but have matured to Richard Linklater slacker films. For some reason I've always enjoyed stories of characters in arrested development.

Expression and Comedy
Interestingly the night before the library epiphany I had been invigorated because I had hung around my first Comedians in South America. This was the type of thing I enjoyed doing back home in Sydney. Nerding to Comedy, enjoying Improv and being a satellite around thoughtful artists. I tend to seek independents and the unsung in my art. I was naturally around Universities as it was the hotbed for raw expression and novelty. The upstarts were more experimental and could foster their craft, not yet encumbered by the realities of making a living as an entertainer.

Standup Comedy at 'Dada Mini'. Cordoba, Argentina.
No entienden Español pero we got to hang with the comics afterwards
The local Stand Ups, Juan and Nelson played their characters as an odd couple duo 'La Revancha de los Necios' (The Revenge of the Fools). The taller Nelson was acerbic, commenting angrily on Religion and Politics. His offsider Juan was neurotic and spoke more metaphysically. We discussed girls and the delicate nature of joking about Argentinian sensitivities like the recent Dictatorship, still an open wound. They often referenced their influences, Estados Unidos comic legends Sam Kinison to Bill Burr

I found these Comedians through sheer luck. My Hostel had two French long-termers who attended the Universidad. I've been told a quarter of Cordoba's population were students, one of the highest concentrations in the world. I had assumed both were on exchange but I later found out that one was a traveler like myself. His Sister had lived in the hostel as a student the year previous, he essentially took her place adopting her friends once she left. As he wanted to improve his Spanish, he sat in on lectures, spoke to Professors and made connections despite not being a fee paying student. Everyone seemed cool with it. The Comedians were people he met in his Literature class.

Universities in South America
The Universities in South America have been quite Punk Rock.
In Chile, students occupied Education buildings all over the Country for 'La Toma'. Demanding "Free Education", University activity had been suspended for months as the Government has been at an impasse during this election year.

Interestingly while Argentina wasn't being occupied, the schools I've seen thus far have been adorned with all kinds of protest graffiti. I've thought to myself that South America could never expect to be like the "Grown up" West if their Universities didn't clean up and look professional. Now I realise its a metaphor, maybe "There is no there there".

"Living the dream, Freedom returns to life"
(lyrics from Argentinian band 'Las Pelotas')
Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Ciudad Universitaria de Córdoba

Source: La imprenta de los Pueblos (Prints from the People)
Its foolish to expect Latin America to look anything like the West even if its Political and Economic situation were to click together. It has a fundamentally different psyche, its renowned festivity and vibrancy will inform their destiny. Like all people they seek a base of stability and security but its way of life is for them to define.

'Blue Valentine' (2010)
DEAN: What does potential even mean?
What does that mean, Potential?
Potential for what? To turn it into what?

Watch the 'Somebody's Husband' scene (45s)
Traveling and "running away from Reality"
Being on the road gives you a funny perspective on life. On the one hand you have the tranquility to notice and ponder the things that really matter but you're also blissfully removed from the pressures of daily life. Not unlike a student gathering information for a world they'll soon inherit or a Comedian spending their days crafting observations. The perceived lack of labour is what unites them all, as well as their transience. School is suppose to be a passage, backpacking a phase, comedy a container for burning thoughts.
Then again everything is fleeting. Happiness. Life.

Sometimes tranquilo, other times not: Rafting in Mendoza, Argentina
Its a common expression that travel is removed from reality, as if reality was somehow synonymous with settling or convention. We alternate between being springs and sponges, on the road its largely soaking experience usually with more time to spend than money. For myself it becomes a time for creativity, pregnant with ideas after experiencing so much and living improvisationally.

VIDEO: Greenberg (2010) "Impressed by You" 
FLORENCE: I'm impressed by you.
GREENBERG: In what way?
FLORENCE: You seem really fine doing nothing. You don't feel the pressure to be successful.
(backtracking) I mean, by other people's standards.
Time doesn't have to be a spectrum from immature to enlightened, the needle could just be on that part of the record. To answer the question, I'm around Universities because the moment sometimes brings me there. There was no reason for me to feel ashamed like I did when I initially pondered the thought. I'm a curious person, I must just like being there.

Other posts on being a student and lost in time:
- Bonding and being an honorary student at the SpoHo of Cologne, Germany
- A month with Erasmus Brazilians in Porto, Portugal
- 'Blue Valentine' and when love run its course
- 'Let's Get Real' Episode 5 preview: Black Holes (South America)

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