We know, because we are all part of this reality, that we live in hectic times, which usually leave little room for reflection. However, it is still possible to take a moment in the midst of everyday chaos to learn something new. And if you put your mind to it, there are teachings everywhere. In the city of Buenos Aires, these lessons can even be on its walls. So I’m going to talk here about not just one, but two things that I learned from casually reading certain Buenos Aires walls.
First, I found an unknown inscription on top of a two-story building on Boedo Avenue, very close to the intersection with San Juan. There, on a neo-Renaissance style façade and above each of the three windows on the upper floor, a different word was read. In latin. Above the first opening it said “Labor”, “Omnia”, above the second and “Vincit”, above the third.
I could at this moment feign an erudition that I lack to reveal the meaning of these terms, but I prefer to stick to the truth and confess that I had not the slightest idea of what I had just read. To make matters worse, when I asked my wife, who graduated in literature, she did know what those words meant (which made a sentence) and it made me feel doubly ignorant. “Didn’t you have Latin in high school?” She told me first (the truth is, no, I didn’t). And, immediately, she told me: “The phrase means ‘Work can do everything or conquer everything’, and it corresponds to the book Georgicsby Virgil.”
In my case, I knew that Virgil was a Roman poet, who lived shortly before Christ (I googled this), who wrote The Aeneid and that, in fiction, he was the character who accompanied Dante Alighieri on his descent into hell in The Divine Comedy. But I had never heard that phrase of his in my life, which is a kind of exaltation of the virtues of work, and which over the years became the motto of countless institutions, flags and shields around the world.
While I was overcome by the bittersweet sensation of learning something new and of feeling, at the same time, an ignorant person, I could imagine that person who built the house on Boedo, surely an Italian immigrant, excited with the idea of capturing Virgilio’s phrase about his facade, as a non-negotiable rule for his life and that of his descendants.
And the other thing that the Buenos Aires walls taught me is a single little word, written modestly, along with other products for sale, in the front of a general store (yes, they still exist), on Manuela Pedraza street, in the neighborhood of Nunez.
In this case, the unknown term that I read with surprise while walking there is “hardware.” I immediately turned to the RAE to find out what that word was about and, as often happens, I was left on edge when I read: “Bundle business.”
Well, to cut the intrigue, if anyone had it, I must say that “hardware” is a “set of metal objects, generally of little value, such as scissors, thimbles, imitations of jewelry, etc.” In a word, metal trinkets, scrap, bric-a-brac, according to some of their synonyms.
The truth is that, beyond its meaning, the first thing I noticed is that hardware was a beautiful word, with a round, harmonious sound. Then, I discovered that he had once read it, although he didn’t remember it. And nothing less than in a monumental work of Argentine literature, the Adam Buenosayresof Leopoldo Marechal.
As it was, that word written as if passing by in a general store in Núñez, was part of the best of our letters. Marechal He used it to describe the monotony of his character Adam’s days: “Soundless days followed, which paraded like automatons in front of me, bringing in the morning and taking away at night their old and well-thumbed hardware.”
Definitely, it is not just anything that the walls of Buenos Aires teach us. Jewel, never junk.
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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