This post is the first of four about A Sors, a project by Julio César Morales and Max La Rivière-Hedrick, with Norma Listman for the Warhol Initiative.
We could see a crowd gathered ahead on the road. Pickups and cars had pulled over in haste, partially blocking traffic. Something was wrong.
It’s a Saturday in Bodega, California, and my father and I are taking a lazy walk after lunch. There’s no wind. The air is clean, a touch of sea salt and eucalyptus. Based on the shadows, it must be around two in the afternoon.
As we make our approach, it remains unclear what is happening, but I can feel massive thumping coming from the earth. The odors shift. I sense fear. No one speaks. Someone hurries past in the opposite direction, weaving between vehicles. More thumps.
My father and I arrive at the center of the commotion. Laying there is a majestic stag, broken like a mechanical toy on its side: key turning, going through the motions, but not going anywhere. The enormous mass of animal is breathtaking. The fur around its neck is regal, its musculature arresting, its eyes alien, eerie. We are all entranced.
I don’t notice my father disappear. I just notice him return. He walks past me and right up to the stag. He kneels amid its antlers and hoofs. He draws a knife. And then the deer is dead.
Is this the same man who had never struck me as a child? Is this the same man who is vigilantly anti-war? Anti-gun? Anti-violence? He killed the deer as if he’d practiced for the event. In fact, though, he’d simply seen what needed to be done, and then done it.
Years later, I was caring for my father at his home in Bodega. His heart was failing, turning him blue, eyes flat grey. A thought — “I could simply stop giving him oxygen” — sent my mind spiraling: Is this the humane choice? Would I be a murderer? Why do I feel guilty just having considered this?
Consideration was itself the issue. My father’s lesson had not yet set in. The very act of thinking signaled that the time to act had passed. I proceeded to give him the oxygen.
A Sors is a project about knowing what needs to happen, and having the strength to do it. Julio and I are excited to explore this idea in the legend of Emperor Maximilian I of México and his intimate relationship with his imperial chef, a Hungarian named Tudos.
Continue reading post two here.