Porfías del error, soledades Rolando Prats
 

Reproduzco aquí, en orden cronológico inverso y en su forma y lengua originales (salvo en el caso de IV, que he abreviado) doce “mensajes” o “entradas” (posts) aparecidos en Facebook, tanto en mi página personal como en la de Patrias. Actos y Letras, entre el 20 de octubre de 2016  y hoy 2 de enero de 2017, período correspondiente al volumen III de Patrias. 

 

 

I


Granmas
 

There was a time in Cuba, not so long ago and not so short or ephemeral, when an unprecedented explosion and blossoming of talent, and freedom and experimentation in arts, music, and letters perfectly met and matched political legitimacy and consensus, and historical optimism not only in the viability but also the inexorability of the national project. It will take mountains of political talent and will, intellectual honesty and personal generosity, to re-articulate such state of the national spirit away from and against the existential and moral no-outlet of peripheral, underdeveloped, U.S.-dependent Capitalism increasingly creeping into the national soul. Such political talent and will and such intellectual honesty and personal generosity cannot spring from my generation, the one born in and around 1959 and the one ever best placed in the mid-to-late 1980’s and early-to-mid 90s to start taking the baton, but which lost its way in a mess of political impatience, immaturity and ineptitude to sort through the inevitable and justified resistance to its confusing, unconvincing, unwarranted ascent. This generation has been largely corrupted by either precariousness or complacency, and with very few exceptions, if any, their leading voices outside of Cuba (where they allegedly have absolute freedom to express themselves) are all utterly and shamelessly opposed to the national project launched by the Revolution. The newest generations do not have the necessary emotional connection with the revolutionary past, but their hunger for greater freedom and political protagonism is far from having been lost yet to the mercenary agenda of the so-called Cuban diaspora. May the mistakes made, on all sides, in the 1980s and 1990s not be repeated.

 

 

II
 

Intelligence is a gift. Intellectual honesty is a duty. No suffering caused by an injustice, whether accidental or arbitrary, can justify becoming a mercenary of hatred and falsehood at the service of an agenda exclusively driven by the desire for vindication, retribution and revenge. Beliefs and opinions based on the coincidence, or lack thereof, between your personal interests and the system or the cause that satisfies such interests, or otherwise does not fulfill them, are a matter of convenience, not conviction. You will not succeed.

 

 

III
 

Pensar es, también, saber dejar ir el inmerecido premio de los juegos y las asociaciones fáciles, las coincidencias pueriles, las falsas equivalencias, las simetrías forzadas, la ramplona cábala del azar. Pensar es imantar fragmentos, no en el campo semántico de premisas convenientes y conclusiones preconcebidas, sino en el campo magnético en que se tocan el peso real de cada esquirla y la gravitación moral de lo verdadero. Pensar es mantenerse a distancia de sí mismo, alejarse de sí mismo, tratar de observarse desde la misma distancia que observamos las cosas y a los demás; pensar, llegado el caso, es renunciar a sí mismo. Ustedes, los simpáticos, los ocurrentes, los agudos, los que están de regreso de toda ilusión sin haber nunca llegado a la verdad, ustedes, los que cada vez que abren la boca ya saben de la golosina que van a recibir a cambio, ustedes, ventrílocuos incapaces de flotar callados en el vacío de la inconvicción, ustedes ¿se mirarán alguna vez en el espejo, allí donde nadie escucha o mira, y sentirán horror de la orfandad de esa imagen que no se les parece?
 

(Composición fotográfica inspirada en la obra "La historia me absolverá", exhibida en la exposición "Las horas perdidas", inaugurada el 23 de diciembre de 2016 en Artista x Artista, programa de residencias artísticas del Estudio Carlos Garaicoa, La Habana, Cuba).

 

 

IV
 

This whole anti-Trump movement and sentiment would be something politically groundbreaking if it led some place beyond mere electoral politics. What has to be attacked is not the effect (Trump's electoral victory within the rules of the game), but the system that allows for such a game to deliver a Trump to the White House (or a Hillary Clinton or, for that matter, a Barack Obama, who is not exactly a poor black man; he is not even a black man proper). A game strictly based on buying everything: from ads to votes. And yet gestures or gimmicks such as trying to gather enough signatures to get Colin Powell urge electors to block Trump presidency are self-defeating and a PR disaster: those behind these tactics, whether they are aware of it or not or whether they care about it or not, give on the one hand the impression that they are trying to change the rules of the game they lost or that, by staying half-way between open revolt and technicalities, they are trying at the same time to avoid being perceived either as outlaws or as sore losers (...)

 

 

V
 

Whether you like it or not, Donald Trump won the election. Nobody has claimed fraud. Nobody could, since he lost the popular vote. Others before him won elections by carrying the Electoral College while losing the popular vote: this has happened five times since 1824. None of those five elected Presidents were contested in their legitimate right to discharge the duties bestowed upon them by the electors. Now, if you consider that Donald Trump is either so unpalatable or so dangerous that he MUST be prevented from becoming the next President of the United States, that's legitimate too: I believe in revolutions, whether violent or not, as sources of right (fuente de derecho). But then be revolutionaries without calling yourselves liberal democrats, for democracy is a set of principles and values whose legitimacy stems from the very fact of respecting the explicit will of the majority whether you agree with it or not. Or otherwise do not lecture Cuba or any other country about democracy, for what these Colin Powell hopefuls (he of the Iraq smoke-free smoking gun fame) are proposing is simply a coup d'état by other means. Instead, you American liberals act like spoiled brats trying to get away by any means with your increasingly annoying and self-discrediting tantrum.

 

 

 

VI
 

Estas reflexiones de Humberto T. Fernández, Editor Adjunto de Patrias. Actos y Letras, me recuerdan algo sobre lo que no tengo ninguna "confusión": el peso, que nadie se puede sacudir, de los orígenes de clase. Quien nace burgués, lo mismo en la Cuba socialista, donde hasta la burguesía "revolucionaria" no podía ser sino precaria caricatura de lo que había sido o quería ser, que en cualquier otro lugar, burgués se queda. Lo vistan o no de seda. Orígenes de clase son destinos. Lo dice, y lo sabe muy bien, quien esto escribe, quien sigue y seguirá siendo siempre, allí donde cuenta, en el límite que separa tentación y abismo, aquel del solar del Cerro en que se crió y vivió sus primeros doce años en los años más duros del sueño (seis en un cuarto, sin baño ni cocina propios).

 

 

VII
 

Y todos estos artistas, escritores e intelectuales cubanos, de fuera y de dentro, pero sobre todo de abajo, de bien abajo, de donde ni el más rastrero de los reptiles se arrastra sin incomodo (sin comillas, estéticamente, algunos; entre comillas, moralmente, todos; entre comillas y hediendo de aquí al recontracóndito de sus almitas huérfanas), todos estos amanuenses de las fábulas de sus egos hinchados, que se formaron con la Revolución (sin ella muchos de ellos no hubiesen llegado ni a precaristas ni a rumberos), y que medraron durante años apoyándola (o pretendiendo apoyarla) y después medraron "disintiendo desde ella" y ahora medran desdiciéndola, pisoteándola, escupiéndola, negándola, ni siquiera renegando de ella, sino negándola, y que se salpican con el mismo lodo que tan cobardemente arrojan contra todo lo que les recuerde su propia pequeñez (porque tienen miedo, tienen miedo de seguir perdiendo y morirse perdiendo, y porque saben que van a perder, y por eso ni siquiera se cuidan de guardar las formas), todos estos enanos a la hora de lo grande, de participar de lo grande aunque fuese por la unción de la cercanía, la vecindad accidental o voluntaria, incluso desde el desacuerdo y la herida y el dolor, que no del silencio, porque el que calla otorga y el que otorga hoy ya se sabe a qué postor se rinde, oh becarios de la ambigüedad en la cerca (esos, los que se callan, son los peores), sino de lo grande y desde lo grande, ¿a quién le deben hasta el nombre con que hoy supuran su apostasía, su orfandad? Estos artistas y escritores e intelectuales y sus sacrosantos "derechos innatos" a medrar de una libertad (la de venderse por cualquier precio sin ni siquiera conocer su valor propio) de la que son esclavos.


 

VIII
 

Together with Marc Frank, most likely Jon Lee Anderson is about the other American or Western journalist or writer with both a more-than-decent level of knowledge of and on Cuba, supported by years of living there with their respective families, particularly in Frank’s case (“a resident foreign journalist” who married a Cuban nurse and has spent half of his life in Cuba), and a respectable level of empathy and objectivity, completely lacking in others with a certain decent empirical grasp of Cuban realities. Impossible to be objective about Cuba without a certain level of empathy, especially without a certain level of respect for truth, the whole complex and hard-to-swallow truth, not just the kind of selective, biased truth driven by either self-defeating personal resentment (a despicable behavior by all standards, and even more so if you are or, to be more precise, if you think of yourself as an “intellectual”) or coarse propaganda, the latter, it must be said, often a clumsy and yet justified reaction to the first. I was told in Havana that Jon Lee Anderson, whose “definite portrait” of Fidel Castro was announced two years ago by Penguin Press, could not board the plane that would have taken him from Panama to Havana in order to cover Fidel Castro’s extended public homage and funeral. Whether he was in Cuba or not, it is still amazing and annoying that such a fine reporter and writer could publish in The New Yorker an article on Fidel’s funeral containing 3 factual errors in just 1,161 words: 1) Santiago is not “the city nearest” to Fidel’s birthplace in Birán, but Holguín or Banes or Mayarí; even Bayamo or Palma Sariano are much closer, or simply closer; 2) The assault on Santiago’s Moncada army barracks was not carried by “a hundred and sixty-five young people” but by exactly 131; even including the 28 young revolutionaries whose task was to assault an army barrack in the city of Bayamo in synchrony with those assaulting the Moncada, the total figure would stand at 159 men and women; 3) There was no “flag-bedecked coffin, guarded by soldiers at the foot of the monument to José Martí” in Revolution Square in Havana: what Anderson calls, strangely, “well-wishers” instead of “mourners” (a neutral term, it must be said) walked by a portrait of Fidel Castro, not his actual ashes. (In fact there was no coffin or casket either there or elsewhere, because there was no corpse, but ashes in a wooden urn or box, which was placed in a hall at the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, and to which the public at large had no access) Why Anderson did not check his facts? Does anybody writing about Cuba check their facts? This is Jon Lee Anderson for The New Yorker , not some hack for El País or Le Monde. There is no bigger arrogance than complacent ignorance.

 

 

IX
 

Which is precisely one of the many Trojan Horses that have been making inroads into a supposedly "post-revolutionary" Cuba, this idea of diversity and multiculturalism as values in themselves, when in fact diversity and multiculturalism are not-so-subtle ways of "naturalizing" and "culturalizing" inequality and atomizing society to a point in which everybody becomes a diehard (and often a fanatic) of the tiniest (and most artificial) causes, from animal rights to veganism, all of them legitimate in themselves but utterly and totally incapable of explaining the world, sustain a global vision, let alone transform anything beyond their implicit narrow-mindedness. No need to agree with Mark Lilla, I disagree with his self-congratulatory political philosophy and his own (token?) celebration of self-replicating diversity as a value in itself within a particular culture, in America's case one that was diverse already at its birth as an independent country (Cuban heritage too, to say it in typically American academic parlance, indeed does include "diverse" components or influences, but none of them are to any significant extent Muslim or Shintoist or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist, to mention just a few identity commodities easily available in the Cuban "Let's-Be-Anything-But-What-We-So-Far-Have-Been" Supermarket so many are intent to build), but his "National politics is not about 'difference'. It is about commonality" is a point and a stance I would take any day of the year.

 

 

 

X
 

Sería miope leer a Michel Houellebecq como "escritor de derechas". Su crítica del statu quo, y, por tanto, de la llamada izquierda del statu quo, que no es izquierda sino comparsa, y no negación, del carnaval de lo existente vivido como natura, lo convierte, sí, en un "reaccionario" (como MH se califica a sí mismo), porque reaccionario es hoy, en tiempos de reacción, el que está en la minoría, como lo están hoy todos los críticos radicales del statu quo, incluida la izquierda revolucionaria, que no es de la que está hablando MH. Pues, señores aquejados de la enfermedad infantil del derechismo en el anticomunismo, ¿qué tienen de izquierda Le Monde o Libération o El País o The New York Times y toda esa morralla intelectual y política? Ninguno de esos periódicos apoya una sola causa o movimiento revolucionario en el mundo, ni uno solo, ninguno de sus periodistas o reporteros ponen por delante de sus carreras o su ego nada que sea o pueda ser justo por su posibilidad de diferencia (ahí van todos detrás del Pentágono y la CIA y sus filiales europeas a desestabilizar a Ucrania, fabricar primaveras árabes, crear de la nada un conflicto e invadir a Siria, manufacturar nauseabunda y oportunistamente como intelectual o escritor a cualquier cretino o diletante o mercenario o mercachifle del "exilio cubano" dispuesto a incorporarse al coro y la danza de las tonterías sobre Cuba, esa Cuba que, aunque fuese un desastre, ni siquiera es ese desastre que ellos pintan, pues ni en la llaga sobre la que ponen el dedo aciertan; tantas llagas sobre las que poner el dedo, y tanto dedo extraviado, ciego, sin la menor idea de dónde se mete). La frase clave del artículo, simplón y sin vuelo pero qué importa, es esta: "Para [MH], la clave está en el derrumbe de la izquierda". Si ahí está la clave, y lo está, entonces lo que MH echa de menos es precisamente una izquierda no derrumbada por el peso de sus propias contradicciones, incapacidades, desvíos, incoherencias, inconsecuencias, traiciones. También yo vería feliz la desaparición de Le Monde, El País, The New York Times, y toda esa morralla y sus sermones.

 

 

XI
 

No issue
 

Issues (Issues, issues, and more “issues”, such as “criminal justice” or “police brutality”, none of them bigger than their victims or usufructuaries), voters, white-collar vs. blue-collar, swing voters, suburban swing voters (suburban swing voters!), voters under 30, Latinos under 30 (Latinos under 30!), black voters, younger black and brown voters (sic) (Read again, “younger black and brown voters”!), degree-rich elites (sic), issue orientation, advertising, focus groups, senior operatives, campaign managers, campaign message, field-organizing gurus, Obama model of data-driven field organizing (Read that again too: “Obama model of data-driven field organizing”), print-by-number strategy, staffers, analytics, human intel from the ground (“intelligence” has become too a long word, it has no less than five syllables, and that’s unacceptable, so “human intel from the ground,” “humintel from the ground,” “humint from the ground”, you feel so cool and so much in control, so macho, when uttering such quick, powerful verbal jabs), political consultants, campaign tactics, ground game, organic zeal, targeting, advisers, demographic profiles, focus, micro-messaging (Read again once more: “micro-messaging”), thematic unity, digital savvy, a message that resonates (Is it a “message that resonates” a message that conveys any amount of truth and/or true promise, or is it simply “a message that resonates“ like in... an echo chamber?), real heartfelt messages (What about these?)… Welcome to the rhetoric, and the intellectual and spiritual desert, of electoral politics, of politics as business, of politics as marketing, of politics as advertising, of for-profit politics, of politics as packaging of big illusions (the illusion of a “change” nobody can conceptualize) and small promises (one small, tiny, super-convoluted change at a time, so that by the time the first small, tiny, super-convoluted change finally takes place, none of the other promised or desired changes are any longer possible), of politics as mere theater of the transfer of power among the guardians and beneficiaries of the status quo… Where is the totality of the human condition in all this (former blue-collar then turned white-collar then degree-rich younger black and brown Latino swing voters under 30), where is simply the totality, where is the encompassing vision, where is the wisdom, where is the knowledge (knowledge, not expertise), where is the inspiration, where is even a moment of metaphysical wonder or reverence or doubt, where is the tremor before the sacred, where is the sacred, where is the truth? And yet these are the digital savvy barbarians, the gurus of the “Obama model of data-driven field organizing,” that rule the world. 

 

 

 

XII
 

Conceptually, let's say, "philosophically" speaking, American politics and by extension all variances of "Western Liberal Democracy Politics" has been long reduced to a rather irrelevant, petty, cherry-picking, low-impact seesaw between only rhetorically or cosmetically different approaches to Capitalism management: from taxes to social rights (Why have we stopped using the expression "workers' rights"? Aren't we, the majority of us, just that, workers?), from acceptable (for the wealthy) levels of redistribution of wealth to acceptable (for the poorer) levels of reproduction and perpetuation of poverty and inequality. There is not a single big or dangerous or even risky idea anymore in American or European Politics, at least not in the center (the "extreme center" that has become mainstream politics), not a single desire beyond reality as it is, not a single utopian impulse, not a single moment of metaphysical or existential doubt about the long-term viability of the present condition, let alone a single moment of courage to envision a different and better world and fight for it. A more rational, efficient, meaningful and free world, of which Capitalism is the very negation. If you don't see Capitalism's structural irrationality, inefficiency and waste, then keep shopping, and stop reading this. Liberal politics is just policy dressed in generic slogans on liberty, prosperity, happiness. Plain, boring, simple (or complex but uninspiring), an existential no outlet. Therefore politicians need no more to be more than rhetorically-trained middle managers. "To produce a huge effect with tiny ideas, and to deceive mankind," Thomas Bernhard's words acquire a new light in this context. Stupidity and intelligence are no longer antonyms.

 

 

Coda
 

26*
 

De un 26 a otro, del de julio en que hubiese podido morir a los 26, de un balazo en la cabeza, al pie de los primeros muros, al de noviembre, hoy, en que su humanidad se acaba de dormir, por última vez, en ceniza, tras un último sueño abrasador. Así su vida. Ceniza ahora que fue brasa que fue antes sueño. Abrasándonos. Abrazándonos. Así su voz. Que no dejará de arder. Así su mirada. Que no dejaremos de oír. Así su última travesía, su próximo desembarco, su próximo pajar, rescoldo siempre a la espera de alguna chispa imposible, que no hay alegría de impío que pueda hacer naufragar.


*Publicado en nombre del Consejo Editorial de Patrias. Actos y Letras el 26 de noviembre de 2016.