Amor, Tango, and another dimension of the amorous gaze

amorous-gazeI had started dancing Tango just a few months before the last time Carlos Fuentes visited Houston, at the Alley Theatre. He began by reading the very first chapter of his book “This I believe, and A to Z of a life.”  I was astonished, I was just one more of the hundreds of mexicans in the room, and most likely the only one who danced tango. Since I had just started my journey in tango, his word strike me in the heart, I felt like if he was taking only to me. Of course I know, he had the ability to make believe that the narrated experience is actually happening to us, like all literature masters.
I think this is a beautiful Tango anecdote, metaphor, and a lesson for our lives, and our dancing. Here is  a fragment of  “This I believe an A to Z of a life” by Carlos Fuentes.

“The gaze is the essential ticket of love. As the saying goes in Spanish, love enters through the eyes. And it is true: when we fall in love, we have eyes for no one but our beloved. One night while I was in Buenos Aires I discovered–not without a mixture of modesty, poignancy, and shame–yet another dimension of the amorous gaze: its absence. Our friend Luisa Valenzuela had taken my wife and me to a tango bar on the endless Avenida Rivadavia. It was a genuine dance hall–not oturist, no light shows, no paralyzing strobe lights. A popular neighborhood haunt, with its orchestra of piano, violin and bandoneon. Everyone sitting on chairs lined up around the perimeter of the wall, like at a family party. Couples of all ages and sizes. And a queen of the dance floor. A blind girl, in dark glasses and a flowered dress. The reincarnation of Delia Garcés, the fragile Argentine actress. She was the most sought after dancer in the place. Resting her white cane on her chair, she would get up to dance without seen but being seen. She was a marvelous dancer. She evoked the tango exactly as Santos Discépolo defined it: “a sad thought that is danced.” It was a lovely and strange kind of love that was danceable in both light and darkness. Half-darkness, yes.

In time, the crepúsculo interior or “interior twilight” of the Donato and Lenzi tango also teaches us that it is possible to love the imperfection of one’s beloved. Not despite the imperfection but because of it. Because some specific shortcoming, an identifiable defect, makes the person we love that much more adorable; not because it makes us feel superior–the Greeks, in fact, punished hubris as a tragic offense, not just against the gods, but against human limitations–but rather because of the very opposite, because it allows us to admit the things that we ourselves lack and, as such, compensate for with someone else. This is different from the form of love that can be defined as the will to love: an ambiguous condition that can wave along with the flags of solidarity, but can also show off the rags of self-interest, cunning, or that brand of friendship-out-of-convenience that Aristotle so aptly described. We would do well to distinguish very clearly between these two forms of love, because the first is an exercise in generosity while the second revolves around egotism.”    

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