dilluns, 17 d’agost de 2020

Partidaris de la revolució

 

 

Vaig acceptar la invitació a sopar de la família Planes (els Caliquenyos). La dona l’havia vista a París, i vam simpatitzar malgrat l’or i la pedregada que carregava al coll, als dits i a les orelles. Em va agradar una certa naturalitat en l’exhibició de la seva riquesa i la manca absoluta d’esnobisme en el seu parlar. També m’impressionà favorablement la seva generositat amb famílies de presos i perseguits, sentiment que deu costar-li més car que les sortides de compres cada dissabte.
Em van rebre amb els braços oberts en la mansió que tenen a Pedralbes. Jo no els havia imaginat, aquell luxe i aquella ostentació. Tenen, fins i tot, un murcià d’armilla blanca que obre la porta amb una reverència i un esguard extàtic. M’havien ofert el cotxe però hi vaig pujar a peu, des de la plaça Calvo Sotelo. Així vaig poder veure l’extensió de la propietat dels Planes, que, naturalment, a Barcelona ningú coneixia amb el sobrenom de can Caliquenyo.
A taula hi van presentar bolets a la planxa, lluç gelé, vedella pannée, amanida d’aguacate importat directament de Cuba (socialista), vins de Bulgària (socialista) i altres de millors, però no socialistes.
No vam menjar gaire, perquè el Planes té la tensió alta i la senyora la té massa baixa; els dos nois arribaren tard i van demanar al cuiner un parell d’ous ferrats amb bacon, que vol dir cansalada. Els vins només eren decoratius, que l’aigua mineral és la beguda autoritzada a la família pels tres metges que la curen o la descuren. Els nois, amb els ous ferrats, volgueren vi de Valdepeñas. Jo vaig atipar-me de bolets i prou.
Ah, però van parlar molt. El tema de la conversa fóreu vós, pare, de qui el Caliquenyo ha fet un heroi que, ensems, li serveix per proclamar el seu “ideal proletari”, que vós, el seu mestre, li vau inculcar fins al moll dels ossos.
Parlant de vós, naturalment, era obligat parlar de Txecoslovàquia. Vaig començar a tremolar quan els senyors Planes, ell i ella, van mostrar-se ferotgement antiintervenció, queixant-se que els “russos hagin traït el nostre ideal de justícia i llibertat” amb procediments idèntics als dels bèsties americans.
Els nois, naturalment, pensen a la inversa. Ells són cheguevaristes acèrrims, partidaris de la revolució sense treva ni compromís; d’obrir Vietnams en tots els continents i de fotre llenya a l’imperialisme sigui on sigui, com sigui i en tot moment. Per ells, Dubcek és un “liberal-sentimental-revisionista” que, objectivament, feia el joc dels bandarres de la RAF i del sionisme internacional. Això del “sionisme” és una veritable obsessió dels nois Planes, fins al punt que en cert moment de la discussió hom tenia la impressió que rebutjaven sang jueva en llurs venes. D’ells dos, el petit és el més enrabiat, i, sabent la meva trajectòria política, va “impugnar-la”, acusant-nos d’haver averganyat la revolució espanyola. Això d’averganyar ho va dir tres o quatre vegades, exhibint la seva catalanitat, cosa que el seu germà, anticatalanista, li va retreure com una desviació burgesa nodrida per l’Òmnium Cultural.
Vaig presenciar les incidències d’aquell “conflicte generacional” verbal entre Caliquenyos i Caliquenyets sense dir més que sis o set generalitats, desmoralitzada en trobar “aliats” entre els vells i “adversaris” entre els joves. La dona, al capdavall la més lúcida, va copsar el meu silenci preocupat i volgué girar full. Però ella, pobra, ja no és ningú en la seva família. Per certs detalls recollits durant la vetllada, vaig comprendre que la veritable mestressa de la casa és una cambrera andalusa d’uns quaranta anys, enèrgica i graciosa, que, evidentment, té encisada tota la família.
Els nois van ajornar la polèmica amb el pare i, simbòlicament, amb mi, invitant-me a prosseguir-la demà. De passada, van demanar mil peles al Caliquenyo precisant que les volien “de carn i os”, i no en xec.
Un cop els xicots al carrer, els pares van fer pinya per defensar-los, lloar-los als meus ulls com a estudiants brillants i revolucionaris de “nissaga”. Em volgueren ensenyar la cambra de l’hereu, folrada de posters del Che, d’Ho Chi Minh, de Fidel i d’un guerriller d’Al Fatha; van treure llibres dels prestatges per mostrar-me títols d’obres de Marx, de Fannon i de Deutcher; van regirar calaixos per treure’n “propaganda subversiva” i a la discoteca dels nois vaig comprovar que tenien Raimon, Paco i Dylan, entre altres artistes protest-song.
El matrimoni Planes em volia donar la impressió que ells són els “de sempre”; que la fortuna assolida amb l’especulació de terrenys no els ha podrit ni els ha fet oblidar llur origen proletari, i si es veuen obligats a llogar un murcià per obrir la porta, i dos més per endegar el jardí, i un altre per netejar la piscina, i tres per a la cuina, i un per al volant del Mercedes, i dos per fer els llits, i un parell més per a la calefacció central, tot això són “obligacions”, “esclavituds” que ells suporten resignats però íntegres. Al balcó, davant les mil lluminàries de Barcelona, em van confiar un secret: “Els meus empleats –digué el Caliquenyo– són, gairebé tots, obrers despatxats per comunistes. Aquí tenen refugi i pa; tenen llibertat per pensar el que vulguin”. I madame Caliquenyo, amb els ulls humits clavats en el seu home, afegí: “Ja saps que el Pep no oblidarà mai que sa mare va fer moltes bugades per criar-lo”.

 

Testament a Praga, Tomàs i Teresa Pàmies.

dijous, 23 de juliol de 2020

The ritual of abandon

They sat alone, but not unique, for they all seemed to have been born brothers. Time and exposure made their clothes alike, wine and air gave them the same eroded skin. The crust of dirt, the swollen noses, the stale tears in the eyes, all gave them the same appearance. Having refused to follow the procession of the streets, they sought the river which lulled them. Wine and water. Every day, in front of the river, they re-enacted the ritual of abandon. Against the knots of rebellion, wine and the river, against the cutting iron of loneliness, wine and water washing away everything in a rhythm of blurred silences.
They threw the newspapers into the river and this was their prayer: to be carried, lifted, borne down, without feeling the hard bone of pain in man, lodged in his skeleton, but only the pulse of flowing blood. No shocks, no violence, no awakening.
While the tramps slept, the fishermen in a trance pretended to be capturing fish, and stood there hypnotized for hours. The river communicated with them through the bamboo rods of their fishing tackle, transmitting its vibration. Hunger and time were forgotten. The perpetual waltz of lights and shadows emptied one of all memories and terrors. Fishermen, tramps, filled by the brilliance of the river as by an anesthetic which permitted only the pulse to beat, emptied of memories as in dancing.

dissabte, 16 de maig de 2020

Show it to me



They were laughing. One nurse was saying: 'When I had my first child I was all ripped to pieces. I had to be sewn up again, and then I had another, and had to be sewn up, and then I had another...'
The other nurse said: 'Mine passed like an envelope through a letter box. But afterwards the bag would not come out. The bag would not come out. Out. Out...' Why did they keep repeating themselves. And the lamps turning. And the steps of the doctor very fast, very fast.
'She can't labor any more, at six months nature does not help. She should have another injection.'
I felt the needle thrust. The lamps were still. The ice and the blue that was all around came into my veins. My heart beat wildly. The nurses talked: 'Now that baby of Mrs L. last week, who would have thought she was too small, a big woman like that, a big woman like that...' The words kept turning, as on disk. They talked, they talked, they talked...
Please hold my legs! Please hold my legs! Please hold my legs! PLEASE HOLD MY LEGS! I am ready again. By throwing my head back I can see the clock. I have been struggling for hours. It would be better to die. Why I am alive and struggling so desperately? I could not remember why I should want to live. I could not remember anything. Everything was blood and pain. I have to push. I have to push. That is a black fixed point in eternity. At the end of a long dark tunnel. I have to push. A voice saying: 'Push! Push! Push!' A knee on my stomach and the marble of my legs crushing me and the head so large and I have to push.

diumenge, 26 d’abril de 2020

Jump on board




Kids are rock stars now.
The kids are rock stars now.

Ruling the world, you got to be smart.
Package it like Christmas with a chocolate star.

Jump on board, have a ride,
If you're lucky, you'll be hooked for your whole life.

Are you living for the team?
Go on, show them if you're ready, if you're keen.

Kids are rock stars now.
The kids are rock stars now.

The masses, the masses
Numbing the chances.

Pink roller coaster crack.
They won't be ever looking back.

Jump on board, have a ride,
If you're lucky, you'll be hooked for your whole life.

Faster thrills, faster chills
We are so hungry, we'll be buried in our bills.
Are you living for the team?
Go on show them if you ready, if you keen.

Jump on board, have a ride,
If we're lucky you'll be hooked for your whole life.


dissabte, 25 d’abril de 2020

El capellà trabucaire

Tenia les orelles ratades pel fred i els penellons, talment com rosegades per les rates. Era llepafils i estava un xic delicadot, però sabia tractar-se bé amb les seves sopes i l'ou per beure o el rovell d'ou amb vi ranci a l'hora dels àpats frugals. Altrament, també sabia fer honor al tall fort. Cada any solia matar un cabrit que ell mateix havia criat. Llavors invitava els nebots (almenys alguns), però no els donava tall, sinó sang passada per la paella, segons ha assegurat algun dels afortunats comensals. També feia ratafia de diverses categories segons la recepta observada per la bona gent entesa del país. Un dia, un cosí meu, fill del meu padrí, l'oncle Pep, li féu un servei i ell volgué obsequiar-lo amb una copeta de ratafia. «De quina li dono?», li preguntà la majordona. «De la dels forasters», replicà l'oncle profeta. La dels forasters, naturalment, era la de baixa categoria, de segon o tercer filtratge. La de primer filtratge se la guardava per a ell o per als hostes de compromís, perquè la caritat ben entesa comença per un mateix.
Aquesta caritat encarada cap a les pròpies coses el feia estar a l'aguait, sobretot quan alguns dels seus innombrables nebots penetràvem pels seus dominis. Sabia exactament les magranes, les peres o les maduixes que tenia a l'hort o al jardí. Quan veia algun nebot que havia passat per allí, acostumava a dir en to de reny: «Aquí hi havia unes maduixes... Ja les heu picades!». La seva cara era austera, amb pell de color de tabac i de contrabandista.

dimecres, 22 d’abril de 2020

Una cuchara de madera

Era Kalínych el hombre más alegre y más dulce del mundo; no cesaba de canturrear, miraba despreocupado a todos lados, gangueaba algo al hablar, y al sonreír guiñaba sus claros y azules ojos, acariciándose con frecuencia la barba rala en forma de cuña. Andaba sin prisa, pero a grandes zancadas, apoyándose ligeramente en un largo y fino bastón. No me dirigió la palabra en todo el día y me sirvió sin servilismo; pero a su señor le atendía como a un niño. Cuando el insoportable calor del mediodía nos obligó a buscar cobijo, nos llevó a su colmenar, en la espesura del bosque. Kalínych nos abrió su isba, adornada con manojos de secas y aromáticas hierbas, y nos acomodó en el recién cortado heno; él, por su parte, se cubrió la cabeza con una especie de saco con una redecilla, cogió un cuchillo, un tarro y un tizón y se encaminó al colmenar a cortar un panal para nosotros. Tomamos la transparente y tibia miel con agua de manantial y nos quedamos dormidos, arrullados por el monótono zumbido de las abejas y el gárrulo susurro del follaje.
Una ligera ráfaga de viento me despertó... Abrí los ojos y vi a Kalínych, que, sentado en el umbral de la entreabierta puerta, estaba tallando con el cuchillo una cuchara de madera.


Iván Turguénev, Memorias de un cazador.

diumenge, 19 d’abril de 2020

Ensimismamiento colectivo


Trabajan allí mucho, es verdad, pero vocean más que trabajan, valen, sí, pero sería un negocio redondo comprarles por lo que valen y venderles por lo que creen que valen. En la ciudad de Barcelona se cree uno a veces en un vastísimo arrabal de Tarascón, y se cree oír en catalán, lengua tan hermana de la lengua provenzal, el grito de combate de los buenos tarasconeses: fem du brut, es decir, hagamos ruido.
La especial megalomanía colectiva o social de que está enferma Barcelona les lleva a la obligada consecuencia de la megalomanía, a un delirio de persecuciones también colectivo y social. Y así hablan de odio a Cataluña, y se empeñan en ver a buena parte de los restantes españoles una ojeriza hacia ellos, hacia los catalanes más bien los barceloneses –estimándolo acaso hijo de envidia–. Y tal odio no existe. No existe el odio a Cataluña, ni a Barcelona, ni existe la envidia tampoco. Lo que hay es que los españoles de las demás regiones han estado constantemente ponderando y exaltando la laboriosidad e industriosidad de los catalanes –son los demás españoles los que han hecho el dicho de: «los catalanes de las piedras sacan panes»– y con esto les han recalentado y excitado esa nativa vanidad que con tanta fuerza arraiga y crece bajo el sol del Mediterráneo. Y esa vanidad, esa petulante jactancia y jactanciosa petulancia que se masca en el aire de Barcelona, hace que las gentes sencillas y modestas –el castellano, a vuelta de otros defectos, es sencillo y modesto hasta en su altivez–, al encontrarse en aquel ambiente de agresiva petulancia, se sientan heridas y molestas.

dissabte, 4 d’abril de 2020

Matinada d'abril del 2020


Ahir vaig anar tard al llit. És difícil dormir en aquests dies d'incertesa i poc exercici. Eren les dues de la matinada. Al pis de sota van començar a fer soroll i em vaig desvetllar. Són massa primes les parets que separen els apartaments del meu edifici, un bloc construït a la dècada dels seixanta, probablement a correcuita, per fer més caixa. Havien obert totes les finestres, remenaven calaixos i parlaven alt. Les veus de dues dones pujaven per la galeria. Les seves paraules trencaven el silenci com si fossin cops de martell. Vaig parar l'orella i vaig poder escoltar intermitentment dues converses telefòniques. La primera trucada va ser a l'hospital i l'altra, a la funerària. A la veïna, la seva mare, la van recollir dimarts per traslladar-la urgències. Recordo que vaig veure des del balcó l'ambulància aturada al carrer.
"Mi madre dejó pagados los gastos del entierro... Sí... Sabemos que no puede haber velatorio pero nos gustaría estar en el momento final, parar ver el nicho. Solo estaríamos las dos, mi hermana y yo."


Barcelona, abril del 2020, any del covid-19.

divendres, 28 de febrer de 2020

The chirping bugs of my childhood


The China of my youth was poor and undeveloped. I feel I was happier then. Now I live in a new era of prosperity and modernity, but I have a great sense of loss. I miss the croaking frogs and chirping bugs of my childhood. The wild flowers blooming in the field. In the past few decades I have built so many factories. Have I taken de peace away and destroyed the environment? I don't know if I'm a contributor or a sinner. But I only tink that way when I'm unhappy. The point of living is work. Don't you think so?


Cho Tak Wong, CEO of Fuyao Group. American Factory.

dilluns, 17 de febrer de 2020

Love your enemies!


I want to turn to the words of the ultimate original thinker, history’s greatest social entrepreneur, and as a Catholic, my personal Lord and Savior, Jesus. Here’s what he said, as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 5, verse 43-45: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Love your enemies! Now that is thinking differently. It changed the world starting 2,000 years ago, and it is as subversive and counterintuitive today as it was then. But the devil’s in the details. How do we do it in a country and world roiled by political hatred and differences that we can’t seem to bridge?
First, we need to make it personal. I remember when it became personal for me.
I give about 150 speeches a year and talk to all kinds of audiences: conservative, progressive, believers, atheists and everything in between. I was speaking one afternoon some years ago to a large group of politically conservative activists. Arriving early to the event, I looked at the program and realized I was the only non-politician on the program.
At first I thought, “This is a mistake.” But then I remembered that there are no mistakes —only opportunities— and started thinking about what I could say that would be completely different than the politicians. The crowd was really fired up; the politicians were getting huge amounts of applause. When it was my turn to speak, in the middle of my speech, here’s more or less what I said:
“My friends, you’ve heard a lot today that you’ve agreed with —and well you should. You’ve also heard a lot about the other side —political liberals— and how they are wrong. But I want to ask you to remember something: Political liberals are not stupid, and they’re not evil. They are simply Americans who disagree with you about public policy. And if you want to persuade them —which should be your goal— remember that no one has ever been insulted into agreement. You can only persuade with love.”
It was not an applause line.
After the speech, a woman in the audience came up to me, and she was clearly none too happy with my comments. “You’re wrong,” she told me. "Liberals are stupid and evil.”
At that moment, my thoughts went to … Seattle. That’s my hometown. While my own politics are conservative, Seattle is arguably the most politically liberal place in the United States. My father was a college professor; my mother was an artist. Professors and artists in Seattle … what do you think their politics were?
That lady after my speech wasn’t trying to hurt me. But when she said that liberals are stupid and evil, she was talking about my parents. I may have disagreed with my parents politically, but I can tell you they were neither stupid nor evil. They were good, Christian people, who raised me to follow Jesus. They also taught me to think for myself —which I did, at great inconvenience to them.
Political polarization was personal for me that day, and I want to be personal to you, too. So let me ask you a question: How many of you love someone with whom you disagree politically?
Are you comfortable hearing someone on your own side insult that person?
This reminds me of a lesson my father taught me, about moral courage. In a free society where you don’t fear being locked up for our opinions, true moral courage isn’t standing up to the people with whom you disagree. It’s standing up to the people with whom you agree —on behalf of those with whom you disagree. Are you strong enough to do that? That, I believe, is one way we can live up to Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies.

diumenge, 16 de febrer de 2020

The great book of the universe


If mathematics is part of the universe that is independent of mind, then can be relatively certain that extraterrestrials will understand our mathematics. If they are an older civilization than our own, they may have read further in the great book of the universe, but we can rest easy in knowing that we are at least reading the same text. Yet if we abandon mathematical Platonism, we immediately find ourselves in more uncertain territory. If mathematics is a product of the embodied human mind, then it is perhaps more accurate to say that we are actively writing one version of the great book of the universe from a uniquely human perspective. Although an extrarrestrial is observing the same universe, their intepretation may be much different from our own if their experience as an embodied mind is sufficiently different. Advances in the cognitive and neurological sciences have revealed how the nature of our phyisical interface with the world –our body– affects our cognition. Thus, it is worth considering whether we can expect an extraterrestrial intelligence to share many physical characteristics with ourselves, which will help inform whether we can expect them to share a similar mathematics.
In some ways, it would be more disturbing to make contact with an intelligent extrarrestrial civilization populated by fleshy, mostly hairless hominids than a civilization of eight-eyed cephalopods, but this possibility is not entirely out of the question. Indeed, as the astrobiologist Charles Cockell has argued, empirical evidence suggests that certain features of life are deterministically driven by physical laws. Extrapollating from this, it is reasonable to believe that "at all levels of its structural hierarchy, alien life is likely to look strangely similar to the life we know on Earth" (Cockell 2018). Cockell's argument is analogous to the case made by Marvin Minsky that extraterrestrials are likely to think like us because they are a subject to the same basic physical constraints. It would be naïve, of course, to suggest that evolution is totally determined by the laws of physics given the significant and obvius role that chance plays in the trajectory of evolution. For example, research suggests that the probability of an asteroid impact resulting in global cooling, mass extinction, and the subsequent appearance of mammals was "quite low" 66 million years ago. It was sheer cosmic bad luck that an asteroid impacted the relatively small portion of the Earth's surface that was rich in hydrocarbons and sulfur that utimately choked the Earth with stratospheric soot and sulfate aerosols. In this case, the site of the asteroid impact changed the history of life on Earth in a way that could never be predicted by deterministic evolutionary laws (Kaiho and Oshima 2017).

divendres, 10 de gener de 2020

dimarts, 7 de gener de 2020

The 2019 Iceberg best movies



Golden Iceberg: Advise & Consent, directed by Otto Preminger.

Silver Iceberg: Once upon a time in Hollywood, directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Bronze Iceberg: The Square, directed by Ruben Östlund.
+.+.+

4th: Cold war, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski.

5th: Marriage story, directed by Noah Baumbach.

dilluns, 6 de gener de 2020

dijous, 2 de gener de 2020

Destination Unkown



"At last," she said, "we can have our martinis." She opened the wicker basket and poured the drinks into the silver goblets. "If you look at the gravestone," she said, "you'll see it's a bit unusual." It was a double gravestone bearing the names of Dr. William F. Aiken and his wife, Anna. "They were the parents of Conrad Aiken, the poet. Notice the dates."
Both Dr. and Mrs. Aiken had died on the same day: February 27, 1901.
"This is what happened," she said. "The Aikens were living on Oglethorpe Avenue in a big brick townhouse. Dr. Aiken had his offices on the ground floor, and the family lived on the two floors above. Conrad was eleven. One morning, Conrad awoke to the sounds of his parents quarreling in their bedroom down the hall. The quarreling subsided for a moment. Then Conrad heard his father counting, 'One! Two! Three!' There was a half-stifled scream and then a pistol shot. Then another count of three, another shot, and then a thud. Conrad ran barefoot across Oglethorpe Avenue to the police station where he announced, 'Papa has just shot Mama and then shot himself.' He led the officers to the house and up to his parents' bedroom on the top floor."
Miss Harty lifted her goblet in a silent toast to Dr. and Mrs. Aiken. Then she poured a few drops onto the ground.
"Believe it or not," she said, "one of the reasons he killed her was . . . parties. Aiken hinted at it in 'Strange Moonlight,' one of his short stories. In the story, the father complains to the mother that she's neglecting her family. He says, 'It's two parties every week, and sometimes three or four, that's excessive.' The story was autobiographical, of course. The Aikens were living well beyond their means at the time. Anna Aiken went out to parties practically every other night. She'd given six dinner parties in the month before her husband killed her.