Fernando Aranguiz published his amazing novel Aniversario in the original Spanish in 2010. Beginning with the story of the author’s early experiences in the humanist movement in Chile in the 1970s, the novel goes on to develop an intricate saga of human evolution in the 21st century, interwoven with a moving tale of profound true love. The Master Game communicates a joyful and optimistic intuition about the ultimately positive direction of the human race.
When looking back on the events that shaped one’s life, it is often thought that the only way to make an otherwise dull and uneventful life more interesting is to look from a nostalgic and romantic point of view. I have no idea if this is my case, but I have read enough to know that this is usually what happens with autobiographical fiction.
I have tried my best to avoid such traps and write about the events in the way I perceived them, not necessarily in the way they occurred.
By admitting this I am making an open statement that everything written in this book is presented in exactly the way I intend it. It is not accurate, it is not impartial and it does not pretend to be objective. It is, however, a faithful reflection of the way it was recorded in a journal about those extraordinary days in which the one who wrote it came in contact with the Humanist Movement.
For all who read these pages and find themselves described as characters, this is no coincidence, although I make no claim to have accurately described the way those characters were in “real life.” I can only apologize for that, and say again that everything written here is based on what was written in the journal. I want to write these stories from that perspective.
My most profound motivation for writing about these events, events that may not interest a large number of people, is to attempt to remedy a situation I always felt was unfair and difficult to deal with.
When I was asked about the Movement for the first time by someone in need of it, I was totally unable to present any coherent picture of what it was all about. I repeated sentences disconnected from each other. I emphasized things that were absolutely unimportant. What I said did not make much sense at all, and I got the impression that it was very hard to explain the Movement. Basically I thought I failed to communicate the essential aspects of these works, and I did not feel very good about myself.
It took many years for me to comprehend that presenting these ideas coherently does not guarantee that the other person will accept them. Quite the contrary, most coherent ideas exposed over the centuries still remain rejected or misunderstood.
The acceptance or rejection of any system of ideas is directly linked to the state of mind and particular moment of process of the individual who encounters them. As a matter of fact when the Movement was introduced to me for the first time, I simply rejected it without a second thought. I was not ready for it.
It seems that almost all ideas can be appealing at certain times, totally repugnant at other times, and neutral in still other moments. We tend to think of ourselves as very objective people, but in reality this is only an aspiration, and as such it is a good one because it makes us strive to be more objective and fair. It does not hurt at all to see that many of our beliefs are simply that: beliefs, aspirations, ideals. They push us and move us in those directions and without them we would be very miserable or very cynical.
When we “believe” in something or in someone, it is because we have created an internal space in which we accept that something or someone. That aperture that we consciously create is at the basis of our understanding of ideas, concepts, theories, behaviors and especially other human beings.
To “believe” is a risky business because you may be disappointed, rejected or used. But again, nothing can truly be understood without an experience of it, even though the experience might be a difficult one.
I don’t expect to completely remedy my inability to communicate the ideas of the Movement. I’ve learned that it “takes two to tango,” or in movement terms, it is a matter of reciprocity and not simply of the coherence or incoherence of the ideas. I do hope to at least generate empathy for the situations, emotions, thoughts and beliefs described here.
This book deals with all of those in a very messy and non-linear way. There is no attempt to make anything palatable. It is only one more expression of the soul.
I felt immensely identified with the following words:
“When a person comes to the realization that schizophrenic individualism is a dead end… when they openly communicate what they are thinking and what they are doing to everyone they know without the ridiculous fear of not being understood… when they approach others not as some anonymous mass but with a real interest in each person…
When they encourage teamwork in both the interchange of ideas and the realization of common projects…
When they clearly demonstrate the need to spread this task of rebuilding the social fabric that others have destroyed…
When they feel that even the most ‘unimportant’ person is of greater human quality than some heartless individual whom circumstance has elevated to what is, for now, the pinnacle of success…
When all this happens, it is because within this person destiny has once again begun to speak, the destiny that has moved entire peoples along their best evolutionary path, the destiny that has been so many times distorted and so many times forgotten, but is always re-encountered in the twists and turns of history.
Today we can glimpse not only a new sensibility and a new mode of action but also a new moral attitude and a new tactical approach to facing life.”
– from the Archives of the XXI Century. Letters to my friends.
Silo stopped living in his physical body on September 16, 2010 around 11 PM, Punta de Vacas time. I do not have the words to express my gratitude, respect and admiration for his being and his Work. I spent two sleepless nights thinking about what his presence had meant in my life and the lives of so many people I know and love.
I can’t say his departure was a surprise, but I need to say that it was an unexpected shock. A very welcome alteration because it erupted at a crucial personal and historical moment and will undoubtedly have immediate positive implications, from what my intuition tells me. I never imagined that death could bring so much life and luminosity.
This “novel” was written 12 years ago and I believe that it is finally time to make it public. Not because it is very interesting or well written. On the contrary, the original version that was published in Spanish in 2010 was pretty much my first draft. Since then I have rewritten the book in English, reproducing the original story to the best of my ability; the only editing was done by a friend to correct my stylistic and grammatical errors. What is important about the book is the attempt to reflect a small portion of the teachings of that extraordinary human being who appeared in my life in a surprising and unexpected way.
Since I do not have any other way of thanking him, I would like to dedicate these pages to the memory of Silo and to all those who have found in his words and actions the encouragement, the wisdom, the depth, and the force of his magnificent teachings.