Miguel Serrano and Lost Friends

Miguel Serrano and Lost Friends


Last interview with the famous Chilean writer.  From the cycle “Witnesses of the Barrio”

Interview with Armando Roa

Wednesday August 9, 2006.


Translated by Oregoncoug


[Taken from Cuarto de revelado, Number 3, March 2009)




“I have come to realise that my generation, with all its impossibilities, is an extraordinary generation, having glimpsed something new and terrible, though never achieved, though a failure and disappearing without glory or memories, and has been a prophetic generation.  With our aspirations and visions that guide those who come after and realise them, and yet  those who realise them can not, on the other hand, know everything we have known and seen.”


Miguel Serrano


-{Armando Roa]:  Don Miguel, tell us about the generation of ’38.

-[Miguel Serrano]:  The generation of ’38, a generation that is quite tragic.  Dramatic, because of its components, so that few could realise themselves or their work; Hector Barreto, for example, was killed very young…


Once with Barreto going to a bar that was right on the corner of Alameda and Lastarria.  We were going to have some beers until they would throw us out at one or two o’clock in the morning, at closing time…


I lived at number 31 Lira.  A street where I still live even though the house is no longer there.  A street on which I have never stopped living.  The house at 31 Lira was there until a tramp came in at night, made a fire in the living room and burned the house down.  Some time later, a friend in those years called me and said:  “Miguel, I have a present for you.  Meet me…”  He brought me the address plaque with the number.  Now I carry that plaque to wherever I go, in fact it’s actually placed on the door of my current apartment.


– What more can you tell us about that ghostly poet who was Barreto?

-Well, we would walk with Barreto past here, and those rails of Lira street were the most beautiful rails in the world.  Those rails went on and on and nobody knows where they are going.  Barreto said they went to the City of the Caesars.  Each of us would walk on a rail, until we reached my house; Barreto looked at me and said he knew where the City was and also said that if I wanted he would take me there.  Then, we reached a place where he stopped and said to me:  “I can’t go any further; there is an invisible line.  You can not see it, I can, but if I go beyond it I’ll never be able to come back, and you won’t be able to come over it either…”  But what is certain is that one night he crossed that line and I never saw him again anymore…  One day I’ll cross it myself, and we will meet again.


-There are also two other interesting tragic figures:  Jaime Rayo and Omar Caceres…

-Yes, Jaime Rayo committed suicide.  And Omar Caceres came one night to see us, and told us in a very special voice:  “Forgive me for the time I missed, dear comrades.”  Then he recited a marvellous poem to us, “Uninhabited Blue”:


“And now, remembering my former self, the places I’ve lived

and that still hold my sacred thoughts,

I understand the meaning, the prayer with which all strange loneliness

Surprises us

No more than an experience left behind by human sadness.

Or, rather, the light that breaks its own security

/its consecutive atmosphere,

to feel like, on returning, all its being explodes into a large numeral.

And knows it “still” exists, that it “still” encourages and impoverishes its footsteps on earth

But is there absorbed, equal, directionless, equal, directionless,

Alone like a mountain then saying the word.”


After that night we saw him no more.  He disappeared, until one day he was found dead on the banks of the Mapocho River, murdered.


I also remember a night with Omar Caceres in the Miss Universe bar, a bar on St. James Street.  I remember I went out and started walking along Tocornal, out there in the middle of the street where there is a mysterious entrance into a passageway, into an inner city.  I remember I thought that through this ghostly street, a street that still exists, exactly the same as then, going through into a landscape of cobblestones and ancient houses.  I remember that was the night when a window suddenly opened and a precious woman gazing at the sky then, with a strange look, said to me:  “It is raining…”  Then I said to her:  “Yes, my child, it is raining  and I am getting drenched…unless you let me in…”  (laughter).


Then she invited me to the back of the house, to see a little courtyard that had a beautiful Virgin.  She approached me and said:  “See they have taken some very special stones away from you that you had…if you find them, give them to me.”


Not long ago we went with you [addressing Armando Roa] and Cristian Warnken, and I recall we went to the back of the patio and a lady again asked me the same thing:  that she intended to take back those stones.


-Speaking about the streets of Santiago, in a passage of your Memoirs you say:

“All Santiago was a paradise, but we who lived there did not know it.  Paradise only exists after one loses it, before then she does not exist.  The mountain, pure, snow-covered, rising like a gigantic sheer wall, visible at every hour, every day and even at night, as if light itself.  I have only seen something comparable in Austria.  Those of us who were born in Santiago can never get used to any other region of Chile.”


-Don Miguel, what do you think happened to this Santiago?

-Neruda said Santiago was the city that had the most sky in the world, because the houses were never more than two stories.  Those marvellous houses of the Avenue Brazil, San Isidro, where the Cathedral is located, or the Cumming itself:  the landscape has changed so much.  In fact, these same streets are also quite interesting; for here, in Victoria Subercaseux, was where there lived the extraordinary woman Nilda Nunez del Prado, a stupendous woman.  One day I met her in a crafts exhibition, wearing a necklace that said “Queen of Sheba.”  Suddenly, she took the necklace and said:  “Although I shall wear it tonight, it will be yours; it is made of Inca amethysts, and I give it to you because a woman, in a dream, said to me:  Give it to him.”


So, as I say, this area and these streets are very important; Mount Santa Lucia, without going any further, is one of four breasts (“Huan mollu” in Mapudungun).  This is where Don Pedro de Valdivia came, the Mapocho River going on both sides around this wall of rock.  This crag was a Tupahue or Abode of God and with San Cristobal received the energies from mount El Plomo, the highest peak in the Cordillera, which, in turn, receives the energies of the stars and especially Venus.  Mount Santa Lucia or Huelen (meaning “sorrow”) takes these energies from the stars and distributes them in this valley; those mysterious energies from another world is what Don Pedro de Valdivia saw, and that is why he founded Santiago here.  Therefore this neighborhood must remain.


-By the way, you want to build a statue park on Mount Santa Lucia.

-And it must be done.  I wanted to make statues, an art of memory put Nicolas Palacios there, bring Vicente Huidobro so he can rest in the church of his grandfather, Don Francisco de Encina, Barros Arana, your father [referring to the father of Armando Roa].  We have to put all those statues here and make this district a pedestrian neighborhood.


-Getting away from Santiago a little, you were responsible for one of the first monuments built in the world for Ezra Pound, in Medinacelli.

-And it is still there…  With that phrase…  When I knew Ezra Pound, he lived in solitude in Venice.  He had gone to live in a hotel.  One day it occurred to me to ask for him, but an attractive lady told me he no longer received anyone.  Then the hotel owner advised me to go to see the maecenas of Pound.  Well, I went to greet him in a castle that had been bombed and asked him if he could deliver a letter.  He took it, read it and said:  “No, you must deliver this letter yourself.”  He was talking on the phone, turned and told me to return the next day for tea.

So, the next day I met him.  We became friends, we spoke about the Cathars, but he spoke very little, everything was silence. From his window one could see the roofs of Venice.  When I came down, I said goodbye to his wife, who every day read the I-Ching and had translated Confucius, and she said she wanted take him to China to see if that would take him out of his silence via acupuncture.  I told her no, not to take him to China and not to allow him to receive acupuncture, because he was the one who did not want to speak.  And right away, I felt a few steps going down the stairs.  It was him.  He looked at me, took my two hands and said:  “Yes, it is.”

Then I returned two weeks later.  He was already very ill.  His wife took us to lunch and we went walking through the Plaza San Marcos with this tremendous poet, arm in arm, and  I thought perhaps people had no idea that through there was passing the greatest poet of our time.

The next day I went to his apartment to say goodbye.  I took both his hands and said:  “Courage, in seven hundred years we will return to lose.”  He took my hands and said:  “Stay true to the old dreams so that the world does not lose hope.”

Then when I made that monument for him on a rock of the Cantabrian Mountains the miners had carried there, I wrote in bronze these ultimate words:

A world of Gods


-Maria Gongora spoke of this Hispanic culture of resentment, and I read in your book “Neither By Land Nor By Sea,” regarding the character of the Chileans:  “The psychological climate that envelops Chile is dense and tragic.  An irresistable force pulls towards the abyss and prevents any higher value from standing out.  Aided by the atmosphere, quiet hostility and envy, the superior soul is pursued to its origin, putting obstacles and pitfalls along the way.  Everything aims to level out into moral misery and defeat.  What do you think of this straightforward analysis?

-This is probably because we are going deeper into the Kali Yuga, which is the end of time.  The climate is changing, now the force of gravity of the Earth is weakening and that means we are changing.  But, in spite of that, the Chilean always aspires to something more.  Before there were the Onas, the Selcnam, people who inhabited Antarctica and who, perhaps, still live there.  They averaged more than two meters tall.  The Patagonians, according to the Spanish, were giants.  These people came as a matter of fact from Antarctica, but stopped coming because the ray of white light that fell on the ice was lost.  I believe they still live there.  Mythology has a real basis and it is one of mystery from another world.

-But these changes affect the spiritual climate of the Chilean?

-Yes, I feel that, and I have always felt it and live according to that, and therefore the Chilean, and he alone in the world, can make himself from within.  What Jung called the “Absolute Man,” or what Nietzsche called the “Superman.”  But there is already no time, yet nevertheless we must go to the end and those who remain loyal to the old dreams are the only ones who will be able, perhaps, to return and have another opportunity.  For as the Greeks said, after Kali Yuga comes the Solar Age.

-Some time ago you said in an interview that modern man had lost contact with the Gods.  Don Miguel, how does one recover that contact:  praying, remembering them or, simply, asking for their presence?

-It is a very interesting question and difficult to answer.  I believe do not look for them.  The Gods are.  They are not aware of themselves, like the guardian angel is not aware of himself but of the child he watches over and cares for.  The Gods are conscious of us, not of themselves, but a moment may come, in the contact of men with them, when this causes them to draw down to the Earth and come here and, then, makes them to become aware of themselves.  This is like the magic Christianity that was lost; Jesus said:  “I and my Father are one person.”  Which is to say, this is Buddhism, merging oneself, fusion with God, the aspiration to merge with God.  Jesus said that, but when they crucified him he said to the thief:  “Do not be sad, because this night we shall be together at the right hand of my Father.”  He said this, not “Already merged or melted.”   This is what Jung had in mind when he told that, when he is about to die, there is a person, a being reclining with legs crossed meditating, and he is about to melt away, to merge, but then one struggles to keep his I.  Then, he returns to life and does not die.

Jung wanted to keep his I forever.  He wanted to merge his I with his self.  To reach the point of being an Absolute Man who is between the conscious and unconscious.  When that point is reached one acquires consciousness of oneself and already does not die, because they say after 43 hours the astral body becomes detached, the subtle body disappears and the second death arrives.  Then the physical body and the soul die, but if this union has occurred before, the soul does not die, on the contrary, the soul takes the physical body with it and thus realises resurrection.


This interview appeared in The Navigator, Second issue, 2007.

Open School of Literature of the University of Development


Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 6:47 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. One dark night in despair and sorrow, I walked up Mount Santa Lucia, even the stray dogs left me alone.

    Santiago is no longer a paradise, but it is my favorite city in South America.

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