The Conventional Bio Sheet
I was born in Arequipa, Peru, but spent most of my early childhood and school years in Lima, the capital city.
Right after high school, I traveled to the United States to make use of a full scholarship granted by Loyola University in Chicago. I was only 16 years old. Having earned a BA in Sociology with minors in Philosophy and Theology, I next traveled to Paris where I studied French for a few months before moving on to do post-graduate work in Communications at the University of Louvain, this time with a scholarship granted by the Belgian government.
In 1969 I returned to South America with Linda Cherbonneau from Massachussets whom I had met while she was doing her her Junior year abroad, also at the university of Louvain. We were married, and during the next 20 years I helped her raise three kids, while I worked in the design and implementation of projects for the social and economic development of very poor urban and rural communities, first in Peru and, later on, in the five countries that comprise the Andean region.
Towards the end of this period we were living in Montevideo, Uruguay, and I was working for an regional organization implementing projects in fifteen different countries.The geopolitics affecting Latin America had changed drastically during the decade of the 80's, and a strong wave of right wing repression was gradually making impossible the type of human rights and social and economic development work I had done all along. Field workers in whose training I had participated and whose salaries I had helped fund, were being harassed and sometimes persecuted. Torture and murder were far too commonly used to prevent even the most timid attempts to bring about some semblance of justice and protection to the chronically dispossessed.
The unrelenting pressures of my job and the constant travel it required took a heavy toll on me and my family, and in 1990 my marriage fell apart and I experienced a serious health crisis. I quit my job and left for the U.S taking permanent residence in Ithaca, New York after two years of personal reconstruction spent in New York City and the Catskills. I have spent the last 25 years in this area writing and making and exhibiting art, most of them in the kind company of Kim Schrag with whom I share interest in art and writing that reflect the human condition.
The Real Scoop
I am you with a different name and a superficially different story, and I would like to suggest that if we are going to relate with each other, we ought to start by identifying, and then rejecting the distance that an overly tight identification with subjective biographical recollections would impose on our nascent friendship.
In other words, if we are to truly connect with each other as human beings, we must first question the sense of separation that an exaggerated cultural and psychological identity typically generates. We will share some biographical information, but instead of emphasizing the distinctive superficialities that could make each one of us feel unique, and therefore distant from one another, we will draw our attention to the immensely more important similarities that makes us, not just alike, but fundamentally one and the same.
We will talk about how our bodies are essentially the same, and ponder together the fact that we share (along with everyone else) the same existential dependency on the Earth's biosphere and its unfathomable cosmic matrix. We will share the feeling of great intimacy that comes from realizing that we transit the same biological life cycle that ends in the same unavoidable death. We will marvel at the fact that the entire experience of the species is inscribed deep in a brain that is far more common than it is personal, and together we will feel the sorrow of knowing that this universal mental legacy is almost completely obscured by the enormous importance generally granted to the tribal (cultural) and psychological (biographical) differences from which most particular human organisms derive an overwrought sense of personal identity and self-serving independence.
When you read my little personal story above, you gained some sense of what makes us different, and this sense of difference probably determined as well a mechanical reaction of like or dislike. I would probably have a similar reaction if it was me reading a similar presentation of your own story. But if we were to meet face to face, I am quite sure that after a while our dialogue would transcend these differences and their attendant reactions to make evident that we are not all that different from one another. Neither one of us is a stranger to ambition, fear, hatred, frustration, pain, pleasure, and joy; we have both suffered and inflicted hurt it on others; and are equally anxious about the ravages of old age and the enigma of death.
If honest and caring enough, we would proceed to discover that no brand of secular success, religious faith, or therapeutic method can deliver us from the facts of our shared humanity. Soon enough, the particular stories and seemingly different attributes of two individuals would dissolve in the warm embrace of two human beings who have somehow discovered they are fundamentally one, and not just with each other, but with life itself.
The most important part of this profound encounter is the realization that without this radical independence from the false protection of tribally and personally issued security blankets one remains blind to the most fundamental truth, and therefore prone to conflict and sorrow, as well as an active contributor to the increasingly apparent suicidal tendency of the species as a whole.
If humanity is in crisis it is because most everyone is still insisting in being who they think they are, namely, separate individuals forever seeking to gain superior status in this life or in an imaginary next. This crisis is set to continue, unless particular individuals like you and I manage to free themselves fro the cultural traditions and personal projection that create division and conflict while pretending to gradually generate social progress and personal development. Egotism and tribalism take on the many forms that self-deception and ideological brainwashing are able to generate. These cultural and personal forms are constantly multiplying and modifying themselves, but they are obviously incapable of transcending themselves. A clear perception of the nature and danger of this situation points to the need of an entirely different manner of being human.
The ancient tribalism and self-centeredness that has conditioned the human mind is artificial, not natural, and it is becoming increasingly dysfunctional and dangerous. Because each one of us thinks and acts out of this mental programming, we are directly responsible for putting an end to it. All the writing and all the art that you may come in contact with in this site is meant to highlight, not just the possibility, but the necessity of going beyond the barriers that separate us from one another and alienates our entire species from the mystery of life —the very source and core of our cosmic presence.