Homero Aridjis’s Female Angels

My friend poet and novelist Don Homero Aridjis has consistent obsessions. He believes that Mexico city no longer has four seasons or even a rainy season or a dry season. He notes that sometimes birds fall from the sky when they breathe the city’s toxic air. He is obsessed with angels and suns and equates or finds parallels between suns and human, animal and reptile irises. Don Homero believes in spirits and in ghosts particularly when he walks the center of Mexico City where the Templo Mayor, shares ground with the Catedral Metropolitana and with more contemporary buildings. It seems one might cross with the ghost of Moctezuma or a Zapatista soldier. Without too much persuading on his part I believe all that, too.

In 1910 dictator president Porfirio Díaz presided in the unveiling of El Ángel de la Independencia, officially known (very important!) as Monumento a la Independencia. Chilangos, the inhabitants of Mexico City call it El Ángel. The beautiful monument is on one of the glorietas (turnarounds) of the beautiful Paseo de la Reforma. The structure faces in the direction of la Catedral Metropolitana and the Templo Mayor at the city’s centre, el Zócalo. On July 28, 1957 I was not far from El Ángel and there was a massive earthquake. The angel came tumbling down (the great noise, nor the earthquake woke me up) and broke into several pieces. It was then that we all noted that El Ángel was a she. She had prominent breasts. The angel was soon restored and she is still called El Ángel even though we should know better as she is Winged Victory. Buried in the monument are:

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla: Chief instigator of the Revolution and “Father of the Nation”.

José María Morelos y Pavón: Skilled general and leader of the independence movement after Hidalgo’s execution.

Ignacio Allende: Lieutenant general of the insurgent army and later rebel leader.

Juan Aldama: A rebel captain and conspirator.

José Mariano Jiménez: Hidalgo’s lieutenant colonel.

Guadalupe Victoria: Commander of the insurgent army and first President of Mexico.

Vicente Guerrero: Insurgent general following the death of Morelos and second President of Mexico.

Nicolás Bravo: Commander of the rebel army and later President of Mexico on three occasions.

Mariano Matamoros: A priest who served as Morelos’ lieutenant general.

Andrés Quintana Roo: A prominent constitutionalist.

Leona Vicario: Active supporter of the rebel movement and wife of Andrés Quintana Roo.

Francisco Javier Mina (Xavier Mina): A Spanish officer who joined the rebel cause against the absolute monarchy of Ferdinand VII.

Pedro Moreno: Insurgente Víctor Rosales: Insurgente

I have no idea where Don Homero was living at the time or he noticed the breasts of the fallen angel. In 1995 he wrote a novel, ¿En quién piensas cuando haces el amor? (the novel has not been issued in English but that title would read What do you think about when you make love?). It is a remarkable (one of my favourites) novel about apocalyptic times in a Mexico City of the future (some would say the novel is firmly embedded in a hell of the present) and the protagonists are a set of gnomish twins and a set of female twins (one dead) and a woman, a theatrical lighting technician called Yo Sánchez whose mind wanders when she makes love but dances the tango exquisitely even the city is shaking in its last throws of destruction. The book has been in my mind for a couple of reasons. It was in Sanborn’s in December that I purchased the latest Arturo Pérez-Reverte novel, El Tango de la Guadia Vieja whose main protagonist is an on board luxury liner of the 50s taxi dancer who happens to dance the tango superbly. Pérez-Reverte’s description of his tango dancing made me want to remove the dust from my now retired tango dancing shoes but I would have to find a woman who matches Pérez-Reverte’s story or is as tall (and flat chested, a vivid description of her breasts is in Don Homero’s novel). Don Homero writing as Yo Sánchez sashays with one Baltazar in the tango club Salón Buenos Aires.

Later in a hotel, Hotel Madrid, our shy lighting woman is undressed by the gallant Baltazar and they make love. But she does not concentrate and Baltazar demands to know what she is thinking about as they make love and insists that she should be thinking about him. Yo is trying to find the spider near a spider web in the corner of the ceiling. He gets angry.

Atenazados mis brazos por sus manos impacientes, recordé que en el pasado algunas místicas encerradas en sus celdas habían pensado que fornicaban con un santo, y hasta con Dios, y de esos pensamients había nacido una criatura. También rememoré a las brujas que mediante conjuros se ayuntaban con criaturas maléficas y a veces parían monstruos. Entonces temí concebir la figura de mis pensamientos y decidí concentrarme en la imagen de un ángel. Pero de inmediato me di cuenta que no podía hacerlo, porque los ángeles no estaban sexuados. Finalmente, todos los machos, tantos los del espíritu como los de la carne, me parecieron desfloradotes, desgarradores, despanzurradotes, despeinadotes y desvalorizadotes, y no quise demorarme en ninguno, vivo, muerto, perteneciente al cine o a la ficción, arrodillado en la cama o fotografiando mujeres desnudas en un estudio pornográfico.

¿En quién piensas cuando haces el amor? Homero Aridjis Alfaguara 1995

My arms were tightly held by his impatient hands and I recalled that in the past, mystics locked up in their cells thought they might have been fornicating with a saint or with God Himself, and from those thoughts a baby had been born. I also remembered those witches who through spells mated with terrible creatures and sometimes bore monsters. It was then that I feared conceiving the very figure of my thoughts so I decided to think about an angel. But I immediately I realized that I could not as angels were sexless. Finally all males, not only those in spirit but those in the flesh, seemed to me to be deflowerers, grabbers, crushers, hair disarrangers and browbeaters and I did not want to delay myself in any of them, alive, or dead, belonging to the movies or fiction, kneeling on the bed or taking photographs of naked women in a pornographic studio.

¿En quién piensas cuando haces el amor? Homero Aridjis Alfaguara 1995

my translation

When I went to this passage a few hours ago I thought of Don Homero’s latest book of poetry Tiempo de ángeles — A time of angels (English/Spanish version by George McWhirter) and his glorious female angel!

La ángela dormida

Link to: Homero Aridjis’s Female Angels

Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.



Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:http://t.co/yf6BbOIQ alexwh@telus.net

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