Archive for January, 2014

« Maria Teresa Tortolero-Rivero »

January 21, 2014
Different stages of her life

Different stages of her life

Not long ago, I shared with you the genealogy of my paternal ancestors, originating in the Canary Islands, which for six generations, dated as far back to the early eighteenth century. Unfortunately, I could not do such an extensive genealogical study on the ascendency of my maternal ancestors, but I wanted to share with you all that I’ve learned through biographical memories from my mother

Very little is known about my maternal great-grandparents, Elogio Tortolero and Paula Ojeda, except their being owners of a large estate in the south of the State of Carabobo Venezuela circa the nineteenth century.Subsequently, my grandparents, Rafael Tortolero (born in 1893) and Marcolina Rivero (born in 1898), possessed extensive lands which they worked as cane growers and coffee farmers in the mountains, known as the “Fundo of (ass of) Jorge” [taken after the name of my great-great-grand father], even though, they were known officially as “Banco Largo,” near the village of Bejuma in a beautiful region of Venezuela. Since colonial times, it was known that my mother’s family was of Sephardi Spanish origin, from the Toledo region; but I have yet to compile the required documentation for a proper genealogy.  Maria Teresa, as my mother had been baptized, was born near Bejuma in 1927 at a large house, which she used to describe as having seven bedrooms. Since she was a child she wrote poems inspired by her surroundings as well as the love she received from her parents. Unfortunately, at age 11 she lost her mother owing to eclampsia from a failed sixth pregnancy at age 39, and the following year, she also lost her father from pneumonia at age 46.  As a result, between 1938-46, she attended boarding school at the Colegio de Lourdes in Valencia as ordained by her spiritual guide, “in locus parentis”, Father Francisco Martínez. At age eighteen, she completed her education as a school hygienist and secretarial accountant. The following year she contracted civil marriage to a Russian emigre, but the marriage was not consummated because he had unaccountably disappeared with all of her savings. A year later or so, she sought out consultation from a lawyer, who eventually married her and became my father. They met while he was a labor union representative for the same Central Tacarigua Sugar Company near lake Valencia where my mother had started working at age 20.

At age 24, she married my father, and after eight pregnancies, only five children survived, of whom I am the second. For eight years, between the ages of 49 to 57, she was involved in a hard-fought divorce with my father. After being married to a lawyer for 27 years, she returned to school so that she could obtain a law degree at age 64 in 1991, specializing in the field of child welfare. In 1998 she stops working as an attorney and dedicates herself fulltime to her grandchildren. In her late 60’s and early 70’s she made a concerted effort to build a corpus of her poetry. In 1999, she and I had a chance to travel in Europe for a month when she was seventy-two. The following year, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, although, in 2004, she was still well enough to enjoy meeting for the first time my partner David here in New York. She was really impressed by him and my mother-in-law Eva Lowenberger. Later in 2011, my mother dies of related advanced stages of the Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 84 years. Ever since I could remember, in addition to writing poetry, my mother delved in metaphysics and various esoteric subjects, which I believed had preserved her enthusiasm for life. She told me that she had begun to read Jiddu Krishnamurti in her twenties, and I remembered that she used to speak of him with great admiration since I was a teenager. She loved all the arts, and she liked that we were interested in them. Her encouragement led me to become an artist since early childhood. To conclude this narrative, I would like to read a hand-written notation originally in Spanish, which I received from her five years before her death:

“Wings In Flight”

Keep up the pace of your escape

in step with your fate

Your way is far and wide

and if at the first try you slide

O birdie so wounded

raise your eyes towards heaven

fear not any longer your destiny

for fleeing is a coward’s way

when it’s love that’s divine.


What is a good sense?

January 19, 2014

One of the best phrases that can be used to define the concept of “a good sense” is certainly “the ability to judge and act with wisdom(1),” but we could also say that it is the result of a logical, albeit elaborate reasoning.

September 21, 2010 by Luca Speranza at

Contrary to a good sense, a common sense often times condones the most farfetched ideas as if they were acceptable norms or rules of behavior. And so it is that ordinary men and women with a common sense seem nonchalantly to hold views resulting from a purely stereotypical nature. It may seem tempting to agree with such a habit which would reinforce a judgement bias as well as a sense of separateness. Thus, people would relate to each other as if they were images or the result of a collective phenomenon, rather than as they really are individually.

Although reductive, these preconceptions of preference may also seem practical if they would contain differences between civilizations and cultures in order to establish boundaries. Consequently, conditioned by such beliefs, ordinary men and women will hardly restrain themselves from a myriad preconceived notions rather than looking for qualities in people as they really are individually. And so, they would prefer to attach themselves onto a system derived from forms of inequality.

With the mere comparison between any Latin and any Anglo-Saxon civilization, one implies(14) and manifests such differences as if they were isolated worlds, i.e. for example, Italians are like ‘that’ while Americans are otherwise. The human condition is hence transformed into classifications that are dependent upon physical aspects or historical attainments. Thereby, we reason the systematization of superficially external qualities such as what would be Hellenized, Latinized, Anglicized, Slavicized, Africanized, Sanskritized or Brahmanized, Sinologized, Pacificized or even Aboriginalized, o Indigenized, etc., etc. … Fundamentally, we are speaking in terms of a type of reactionary and traditionalist sectarianism—banal and insular–instead of a common ground beyond linguistic and cultural differences: A common basis of interdependence, not on the ground of habits, appearances or absolutism, but in fact the product of a mind open to examination, inasmuch our reality has no true resting place.

Ricardo Morin 11/11/13

Ricardo Morin 11/11/13

Prayers to a Tyrant

January 14, 2014

Thank heavens! It will be enough if our determination to overcome great obstacles is possible, without letting us be intimidated by the huge challenge that lies ahead. God willing! It can be that our misery may be drowned by the courage to observe it as it is. Let it not be ignored! It seems that in meeting our fears, perhaps fear itself has weakened our resolve, if it were not for an order that has to prevail, notwithstanding any ignominy.

God, let it not be said that, at any time, we have surrendered into servitude. A tyrant can not prevail as long as he does not do what he wants, while rotting in his decay. As far as we know, one’s defeat can only be the result of one’s own blindness. May God help you and hold you to annul the cruelty of your own heart. Let’s keep it among ourselves! Do not be ashamed that we support your repentance. It is just a pity that you do not realize your life is cruel, and that you do not have the interest, passion, intensity, flame, to find an order to it all.

Let it be known that we are all responsible: You are just a reflection of our collective feebleness. I say this, so that you may understand. Can we accept any responsibility if we sink into our own barbarity, our somnolence? No one can be dissociated from this possibility, without the courage of facing oneself. Every day and every moment, we lose our identity as human beings owing to our indifference. Let it not be so! Is it possible that we have hated you? It should be enough for us to wish to proffer the compassion that you have denied us.

Before it is too late, we urge you: All one can do is to see the total disorder that is inside and outside of oneself. Observe it! One could see this disorder all at once, and it may be the only thing that matters, that is to say: to observe all instantly without contradiction. When one sees the danger of disorder, there is instant action, which is the total negation of all the culture that has led to it, which is within oneself. It is easy for it to be true. Well, it shall be true, unless you sink into the lethargy of indolence.

New York City, 01/14/2014

Ricardo Morin, Yale University, MFA ’83

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