We went on a few road trips in Chile, the “ABCD” Snowsells—as my mom had branded us on prayer cards printed in the tens of thousands, maybe you had one on your fridge. They were ambitious trips, designed to cover as much of Chile’s comically long and narrow shape as you could in a week. Since my brother and I were not being educated in Chile, we knew nothing of it. Road trips were my Dad’s remedy. I still can’t sing the national anthem—which Chilean school kids sing each morning standing beside their desk: but I have been inside a Chilean copper mine, a volcano, a Space Observatory, a fishing village, on the deck of a Chilean Navy warship, on the Pacific Ocean in a rowboat turning green, and also in the home of Pablo Neruda. Everyone knows about Neruda. His bad-ass house is pretty famous, and rightly so.
I knew nothing of Chile’s cultural contributions in other areas of endeavour until I started buying classical music on vinyl in thrift stores. I paid a dollar for this record, and it’s still one I play all the time. It’s how I start a lot of days, especially when it is raining. The Emperor Piano Concerto of Beethoven, with Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau. He’s like the Chilean Glenn Gould, maybe. Or maybe Gould is the Chilean Arrau? I have a lot of other things I was going to say about liminal identity and the fragmentation of the self, but social theory seems so trivial when Arrau is playing Beethoven; and that is why I play it over and over again.