An Article of Faith

Adam Blumenthal On:

An Article of Faith by Juan Villoro

Villoro has the wonderful ability to distil in just a few words human dilemmas that are far deeper and more complex than the anecdotes he describes, in this case that of the narrator boarding a plane for Mexico City. Trying to distract himself from his fear of flying, he observes his fellow passengers and tries to guess who they are from their appearance and behaviour. A man with a shaved head, gold chains and a Jesus tattoo attracts his attention. The man’s wife sits next to him and asks him a question. Why is she asking him? Suddenly he realizes that the woman has also judged him from his outward appearance. These interpretations, or judgements, lead to a mutual misunderstanding. However, the inability of people to understand each other isn’t just limited to the restricted space of an airplane cabin, but all of Mexico: “The earth… where people understood each other as little as the passengers in seats 12C and 12D.” The solution that the story offers for this misunderstanding is, in fact, an anti-solution: it isn’t about correcting the sketchy impressions one has of their travelling companion, or an explanation, or overcoming the misunderstanding, but

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