Alma en las palabras
Capotian interview with Aurora Revólver
Translated by Emma Edwards
In 1972, Truman Capote published an original text that came to be the autobiography he never wrote. The title “Autorretrato (Self-portrait)” (in Los perros ladran, Anagram, 1999), and he interviews himself with cunning and brilliance. Those questions that serve to proclaim their frustrations, desires, and customs, now, extracted for the most part, from the following “entrevista capotiana,” with which we will know the other face, that of life, of Aurora Revólver.
If you have to live in only one place, of which you could not leave, where would you choose? That idea gives me a lot of anxiety, but I guess if I had to choose it would be a very big house in a town in Andalusia, with a burrito and pool if I could.
Do you prefer animals over people? Lately I have been talking with many cats but I think I still prefer some people.
Are you cruel? I want to think not but I guess that the ego and the unconscious end up generating cruelty.
Do you have a lot of friends? Yes, in fact I’m amazed to have so many great people that I love and who love me. That is the hell.
What qualities do you look for in your friends? Vitality and tenderness.
Do your friends usually disappoint you? No, they usually surprise me well.
Are you a sincere person? I try now but I have been a big liar.
How do you prefer to occupy your free time? Chatting with people and making collages.
What scares you the most? Death and darkness.
What shocks you, if there is anything scandalous? Intolerance, racism, violence.
If you had not decided to be a writer, to lead a creative life, what would you have done? To be a librarian or truck driver.
Do you practice physical exercise? I am the person who does the least physical exercise in the world, although now I am
reconnecting with my body, well in reality connecting because I have never been connected.
Do you know how to cook? Until recently nothing. Now more or less yes, and I make potage that shocks you.
If Reader’s Digest commissioned you to write one of those articles about “an unforgettable character” who would you choose? Paquera from Jerez.
What is, in any language, the word filled with the most hope? The word tenderness.
And the most dangerous? The word I.
Have you ever wanted to kill someone? Yes.
What are your political tendencies? Liberty.
If you could be anything else, what would you like to be? Rapper or lawyer.
What are your major vices? Smoking, biting my nails and eating breakfast in bars, and ego.
And your virtues? Creative capacity, tenderness, and passion.
Imagine that you’re drowning. What images, inside the classic scheme, would pass through your head? Something that I felt guilty about in life, a sardine sandwich my Aunt Manoli has made, my friend Iván and I drunk, my friend Cynthia drawing and the final shot of Chris Marker’s Jetée.
In 1972, Truman Capote published an original text that became the autobiography he never wrote. The title “Self-portrait” (in The Dogs Bark, Anagram, 1999), in it he interviewed himself with cunning and brilliance. Those questions that served to proclaim their frustrations, desires, and customs, now, extracted for the most part, form the following “Capotian interview,” with which we will know the other face, that of life, of Carolina Sánchez.
If you had to live in just one place, without the ability to leave, where would you choose? I would choose to live in a small house in the Andes Mountains, in a place like Iguaque, in Colombia, where you can walk and visit the moor and the river. The problem is that I would die of hunger because they don’t cultivate anything.
Do you prefer animals over people? It depends on the circumstance. I like cats, dogs, birds, fish, weird colorful insects. The relationships between humans and other forms of life intrigue me, like the animal, the vegetable, the mountains, the territories.
Are you cruel? No. At times my humor is a little dark.
Do you have many friends? Yes. Even though my routine is very lonely. They are in general people that I’ve worked or studied with. And the type of friends who with I have very special connections, they are those that I have met traveling or those that I’ve traveled with.
What qualities do you look for in friends? That they like to talk, we have to have some common interests…
Do your friends usually disappoint you? No, the other way around.
Are you a sincere person? I would like to be more. For me sincerity is something difficult to measure.
How do you prefer to occupy your free time? I like to walk, go to the movies, travel, drink and chat over coffee. To read. Also it depends on who I’m passing the time with. At first sometimes I just meet with someone and then we find something to do.
What scares you the most? The violence in my country, Colombia. Every form of irreparable hurt that happens daily: assassins from social and civil leader, forced displacement, gender violence, the exploitation of nature and territories through mining and exporting monocultures. Racism, classism, and xenophobia scare me. Those problems don’t only happen in Colombia and require a brake.
What shocks you, if there is anything that does? I searched the etymology of scandal and I found that “the word scandal came from the Latin word scandălum, at first it meant pitfall, the rocks that barely emerge in the sea and that cause ships to be rerouted and shipwrecked.
If you hadn’t decided to be a writer and taken on the creative life, what would you have done? Well, I think that it has always been difficult to dedícate yourself to only writing, especially living from the writing. That’s why in general you always have to work on other things as well. I have worked in literary and academic editing, in cultural management. Also I am a researcher and I’m working on a Latin American studies program. I consider all of these activities to also be creative. I don’t well know where the limit is between the creative and non is…
Do you practice physical exercise? I like to ride bikes and do yoga.
Do you know how to cook? Yes.
If Reader’s Digest wanted to commission an “Unforgettable Character” article, who would you choose? My grandfather or my grandmother. Both are very sensible people, knowledgeable and fun that teach me a lot. Additionally they’re great readers.
What is, in any language, the word filled with the most hope? I can’t decide between care and community. Something between them.
And the most dangerous? To force.
Have you ever wanted to kill someone? No.
What are your political tendencies? I believe in the power of the citizens and the social movements to defend access and basic rights like to education, health care, just working conditions, the city in the territories, and nature. In Latin America, these minimal precarious rights have been for Neoliberal politicians and Capitalists and are a privilege for few. In particular, I consider that the feminist movements, indigenous and Afro wisdoms have a lot to teach us about the good life, the care and cohabitation in/with the territories. And also I think that education permits us to perceive the world from other perspectives and that enriches our decisions and ethical positions.
If you could be anything else, what would you like to be? I would like to be a tree, or water.
What are your major vices? Work, eagerness, coffee, desserts.
And your virtues? Work, curiosity, enthusiasm. Typical of a Sagittarius, my sister would say.
Imagine if you were drowning. What images, inside the traditional way of thinking, what images would go through your head? My sisters, my mom, my family. My childhood home next to a wetland and a forest where I grew up in Bogotá.
In 1972, Truman Capote published an original text that turned out to be the autobiography he never wrote. The title “Self-portrait” (in The Dogs Bark, Anagram, 1999), in it he interviewed himself with cunning and brilliance. Those questions that served to proclaim their frustrations, desires, and customs, now, most of them extracted, form the following “Capotian interview,” with which we will know the other face, that of life, of Nicolás Linares.
If you could only live in one place, without the ability to leave, which would you choose? I would like a forest that I hope would have it all. Water, mountains, and animals. Like in a fable.
Do you prefer animals or people? Obviously the animals.
Are you cruel? I don’t consider myself a cruel person. However, I can be sharp and stiff.
Do you have a lot of friends? Life has taught me that I have met many people and little friends. But with certainty in my heart, those I have, I care for them, I grow and trust in their friendship.
What qualities do you looks for in your friends? Honesty, solidarity, affection, support, and good humor.
Do your friends usually disappoint you? Whenever I have been disappointed in someone, over time I realize that the deception had been my responsibility. I work daily to strengthen my self-confidence.
Are you a sincere person? I’m not sure. But I would like to be. Mainly, I try not to lie and I am constantly in check that my feeling, my thinking, my acting and my saying, my word, agree. Be in harmony. It's a loop, I'm going to live in it as Silvio says.
How do you prefer to occupy your free time? I am a father of a family. “Free time” is a few hours at the end of the day. Very scarce, not a complaint. I meditate, I make crafts that I really like, I see one or another movie.
What scares you the most? In general I don’t consider myself scared of much. But I feel anxious and sad to see the unconsciousness and disconnection that we as a humanity have with our home, planet, mother. It’s disconcerting because life should be organized around survival and not around destruction, as it does today.
What shocks you, if there is anything that does? Ignorance. Today it is not a lack of access, it is laziness and apathy. But the information is here and the overwhelming majority don’t want to know anything. They don’t want to see. The truth terrifies them to the point of wanting to be sedated from the culture of banality. The masses have surrendered.
If you had decided not to be a writer, to lead a creative life, what would you have done? I think instinct would have led me to work in the field of biology. But it's also very likely that, at one time in my life, I've already left it behind. I would have finished rewriting and I'm not sure I could have found, without the philosophical direction, as a compass and the map that the words gave me to find my way.
Do you practice physical exercise? I walk when I can. I camp on the mountain if the weather lets me and I have a seven-year-old son who demands at least a mile to scooter every day. I loved riding skates, skateboarding, and playing soccer, but a knee injury forced me to retire early.
Do you know how to cook? The pandemic has taught me to be resourceful in the kitchen. My partner would say yes, I believe.
If Reader’s Digest commissioned you to write one of those articles about “an unforgettable character,” who would you choose? I would take the opportunity to talk about Manuel Quintín Lame. Indigenous Colombian, social leader and revolutionary that lived a childhood full of poverty and deficiencies but done from necessity and gallantry. Tireless and valiant for the rights of his own, justice and freedom.
What is, in any language, the word filled with the most hope? Oneiric. The possibilities are infinite.
And the most dangerous? Guilty. As if whoever pronounced it wasn’t.
Have you ever wanted to kill someone? Yes, but the anger is harsh and that’s it. I believe it’s a part of maturing. To be able to grow one has to come to understand that, if they want to be accepted, they have to accept. The tolerance is difficult, but necessary. The idea is that, in this world, every world fits. In this order of ideas…the dead don’t have room. More clearly, death is not a punishment. It’s a liberation.
What are your political tendencies? I don’t believe in political systems. I feel a lot of admiration for the way of social organization in which my American ancestors lived their lives. The tendency to which I am affiliated is the contemplation of the mother, the organization of life based on what we call the “Law of Origin,” to organize the reflection of the cosmos.
If you could be anything else, what would you be? I am multiple things. I change diapers, I grow vegetables, paint walls, make backpacks, and start bonfires. I don’t change. I am open to learn more things to do and be.
What are some of your major vices? I don’t consider myself a vicious person. I enjoy a lot of things, but they don’t get in the way of my life or create problems beyond the conflicts of normalcy.
And your virtues? I have always tried unsuccessfully to organize myself. I have gotten better. Virtue is not to renounce your intent.
Imagine you were drowning, what do you imagine, inside the classic scheme, would pass through your head? Surely my entire childhood. My father, my mother, my family.