The three figures you see here in their costumes, what are they, a threesome, an eternal triangle or an assemblage of those who eat and those to be eaten? Their story is dramatic, theatrical even, as they came together in Bolivia. One, two, three, figures yes, but just the two beings, spirits or whatever they are, the Devil and the Uncle, or the Tío as he is called in those realms which are his domain, a vast underground that is all the mines of the Andes region. In this underground world he was everywhere but as he said, the miners who lived and worked down there, needed the everywhere to be somewhere, and so made icons of him.
The devil should need no introduction, written off by people the devil himself calls Enlightenment propagandists – he’s an identity thief, a shape shifter, who is alive and well as can be seen, he says in the state of the world today. He is fond of a joke and his aim and his pleasure is shit-stirring, making trouble and misery wherever he can. In this he is not alone. Sometimes a nagging feeling that with the world too secular he is not enough of a celebrity these days, but a good feeling that this too is changing, that he is needed.
Not long ago he decided on a trip to the coca-growing areas of Bolivia, a Bolivia that had from his point of view been far too peaceful and increasingly pleasant for its people over a decade or more, and in which he had considerable financial interests. For this business holiday he had, for the sake of annoying the gentleman’s ghost, taken the persona of Doctor Sigmund Freud. It was irresistible he said when Freud was such an Enlightenment fellow, especially one who spent his life trying to repair it: neuroses could be cured. Irresistible too when Freud had also been a propagandist, a paid agent, for cocaine in its early days. To triple the joke he had, the castration complex in mind, made for himself a dressing gown from a cloth inscribed with a collection of vulvas and fringed by pewter piranhas. To enter his subconscious wrapped in cunts with teeth? Could anything match that?!
On the other two figures, the suit you see made from a cloth of penises was produced for the Tío, a gift for him from the miners in his domains along with regular supply of coca leaves, burning cigarettes, hard liquor and garlands they provide him with. You think this is too symmetrical, too neat – vaginas in the one cloth, penises in the other? Well I assure you that when they were designed the Devil and the Tío were not concerned with the other’s existence.
The third costume I will make no comment on at this stage, save to repeat, the Devil is a regular and promiscuous user of persona as and when they fitted both his personal interests, and the interest of shit-stirring.
The penis suit on a hanger inside the mine shaft where the Tío stood on a ledge, an offering from the miners ready for when it might be needed as if expecting such a time might arise. The mines were his, all of them, but at this time he was focused on Potosí, the mine where he might easily have lost all his strength over those hundreds of years the Spanish had come and taken out silver. Day and night. 24/7. He had heard it was the silver that had changed the world and not for the good which is how it had to be when the silver had been taken without his permission. But his strength, no, that he had not lost.
Oh, he heard things, the pickaxes, the dynamite and the cracks in the geo, the geological political world, he’d been hearing them for hundreds of years, fissures, repairs and blasts… whispers in the cracks, that had recently become a chorus of the one word. Lithium, lithium. The world wanted lithium, needed lithium for its headlights, its trucks, its mobile phones, its own whispers. Barely touched to date in the watery underground of his domains but now he foresaw his life, his presence was going to be mauled, his surrounds sucked out by machines made for sucking out. Hyper-suckers working 24/7.
No peace for the wicked, a call; from that pal of Pablo from the golden Medellin days; a problem with miners complaining about too much coca being exported, a strike on the cards, a small irritant, but could he deal with it up in Potosí? Intelligence says they worship some doll there, motherfucker calls himself Uncle, the Tío. Believes he owns the mines. He’s the one calling the shots, the pal said. A small irritant but right up doctor Sigmund’s street, down the mine and into the subconscious, and as for the Tío, he would go armed with the good doctor’s Totem and Taboo.
Dressed in his pussy suit he set off across bleak rock surfaces to the mine entrance. He was in his element moving easily in the totem, was sat on a ledge in the rock, a distorted thing with an unlit cigarette in his mouth and a ludicrously large phallus. All rather predictable. “What an ugly runt you are” he said. “Not even as a totem do you rate, in fact amigo, you do not count. Strikes? Miners’ rights, I don’t think so.” There was no reply, of course there was no reply, the thing was a thing for gullible people, no more or less. And yet, and yet the silence irritated him, respect demanded acknowledgement of his existence. He picked a piece of rock and threw it at the idol. Bullseye it struck the phallus that fell off on to the ground. He laughed out loud. Castration for real, he shouted. At the same moment the sound of cracks and breaks filled the cavern as the Tío burst out of his statuesque confinement.
“You,” the figure shouted, and it was then noticeable that he was wearing a suit of phalluses as if Doctor Freud had been expected, an unwelcome thought, but there was no time to pursue this thought for the figure, the Tío character had picked up the severed penis and was swinging it with violent intent. Freud would not be intimidated. Ah the resurrection, he sneered, what a cliché!
“Who gave you permission to enter my world?” the Tío roared so that the very rocks seemed to tremble. “I need authorization from you?!” Freud shouted back, “you neurotic, you personality disorder, you hysteric.” The figure kept coming forward his voice like thunder. “I know your game, you bogeyman of the missionaries, go back to whence you came, without them and their bible you’re nothing. You come here to steal the coca, and steal my lithium.”