9. I parted company with Ejo Takata in the middle of a Zen meditation session. When I tried to slip away he came at me brandishing a wooden stick, the one he used on the students who asked to be hit. What he would do was hold out the stick; the students would say yes or no, and if the response was affirmative, he'd let them have a couple of whacks, and the sound would echo in the dim room hazy with incense. 10. On this occasion, however, he didn't ask me first. His attack was precipitate and stentorian. I was sitting next to a girl, near the door, and Ejo was at the back of the room. I thought he had his eyes shut and wouldn't hear me leaving. But the bastard heard and threw himself at me shouting the Zen equivalent of banzai. 11. My father was a heavyweight amateur boxing champion. His unchallenged reign was restricted to southern Chile. I never liked boxing, but had been taught since I was a kid; there was always a pair of boxing gloves in the house, whether in Chile or in Mexico. 12. When Master Ejo Takata threw himself at me shouting, he probably didn't mean to do me any harm, or expect me to defend myself automatically. Normally when he whacked his followers with that stick it was to dissipate their nervous tension. But I wasn't suffering from nervous tension; I just wanted to get out of there once and for all. 13. If you're being attacked, you defend yourself; it's only natural, especially when you're seventeen, especially in Mexico City.
Read the whole thing here.
Takata, by the way, is not a creation of fiction. A Japanese Zen master, he wandered into Mexico City in the 1970s. Jodorowsky apprenticed under Takata during this period, an experience which the filmmaker, actor, tarot reader, author, puppeteer, all-around modern-day prophet describes in loving prose in his fascinating book, "El maestro y las magas." If you're at all interested in the subterranean cultural history of Mexico City, the book, not yet available in English, is essential reading. ... Now, I wonder how Roberto would respond to this pseudo-attack of today. Probably by launching another quixotic quest for a 'true' answer ... ?
We're in the midst of a Bolaño boom. Check out this NPR feature on Bolaño's expansive posthumous popularity in English translation. (That's my voice reading the opening lines of "The Savage Detectives.") For a look at "2666," listen to John Powers here.