The roots of the myth is a monkey maybe I had seen it. Sitting there in the middle of a floating island drifting down the brown waters of the Parana, that long wild river in South America. I was standing on the shores of the Parana in the city of Parana in Argentina and I saw the monkey in its reddish brown fur, playing with some roots, undisturbed by the waters that surrounded him. I watched and watched smaller and bigger islands of grass and tiny bushes float down the river and then came the one with the monkey. Oh, I knew other animals lived on these tiny islands like snakes and rats but them I did not see. The monkey was mine. I had been looking at it lying on my bed back in teenage Holland, pleasantly hallucinating about the animal seated on the back of a sturdy horse looking down at the river leaning over towards the other horse that was drinking from the river as well. This was a reproduction of a painting by Memling, a Flemish painter, from long ago and I always wanted to know about the monkey. How did it happen to sit on the back of one of those big horses, horses that are now becoming extinct because we don’t use them anymore. Horses like Bruin, Brown on whose broad back I rode so often without a saddle in the woods and on the beaches of my early childhood when I was that little reddish brown monkey. Horses like the ones in the Italian battlefields painted by Ucello, horses that can safely gallop with you into your wildest dreams. In my bed I listened to Dylan and the Band and to Palestrina and Josquin’s church music and the monkey never turned around from the painting to look me in the eye. Until I saw it again now, this year in India in an old book about myths, in a dark shop. It sat on the horse looking at me with the other white horse beside it. I breathed dust and damp in the shop and drank tea while I listened to the man telling me about this monkey of wisdom and how he was part of an Indian myth. But he was also part of my myth, otherwise he wouldn’t have turned around for me after so many years. I saw the monkeys in the city and along the roads and I even sent a picture of one to another continent as a message of wisdom. I had arrived in a place where it was time for me to take over the myth and take the horses to the water.
The roots of the myth
Issue 17, Volume 2: Winter 2010-11