The Game of Secrets

Albrecht Dürer. Melencolia I circa 1514. The National Gallery, Rosenwald Collection.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

Man dwells on secrets, inhabits in secrets. Sometime during the last century the great German philosopher Peter Sloterdyk referred to man as a “discoverer of horizons”. Homo Erectus developed the extraordinary sense of anticipation as soon as he could observe, watch from a distance, managed to create a skill that would define his own nature. Man had an advantage over other predators and competitors. Anticipation brings about another skill namely that of disguise. However, the sense of anticipation as it evolves, transforms, gains in depth creates also or better said, establishes a meaning of time, man began to consider movement towards or direction becomes not only a physical point but a more complex initial experience of “what-is-to-come”. Anticipation generates expectation. Seeing and seeking for the unexpected not in the meaning of self-preservation which might surely manifests as a primordial instinct but in the form of planning. We are at the onset, to use the sadly forgotten language of the great French thinker, Pierre Theilard de Chardin s.i., “ascension of consciousness begins”, mankind’s relationships with the invisible – that which is not yet – starts its complicated walking together, companionship of man’s long journey into the unknown. Reviling that which is not yet carries also the first experiences of that-which-is-unknown in the form the unconcealment of newly acquired forms of knowledge, consciousness begins its constant and permanent relation with the unveiling of the new and at the same time set up the creation of disguise and secrets. The process of acquisition of secrets or in a more pregnant sense, the creation of secretes places man at the core of the leaving constantly with the invisible, that which is hidden and most remain hidden, secrets spring into the ontological level as a form or way to deal with the invisible as unknown, undiscovered and totally different.

Secrets and symbols are ontologically enfettered. Entrenched from the very same origin. When man uttered the first secret or felt the need and drive to hide, when the invisible became real and hard, present and menacing, secrets emerged. The need to hide is the ontological manifestation of an irruption into the realm of the unknown. Man not only watches, observes also develops the sense of an existential threat that comes from the darkness of the unexplained and that lurks from all angels of everydayness and engenders constant menaces to the very existence to mere being-in-the-world. Is a fundamental terror that which triggers and jump-start the domain of secrets, the need to secrecy. Symbols become the language of the hidden and invisible. Secrets cannot be shared totally and openly because they loose their condition as such, secrets cannot be public, can be partially so and shared within certain codes and private languages exclusively known to those who shared the secrets of its meanings and form a certain common link, that of the holders of the secrets and latter on, the ones that can read through the symbolic configuration of that which is kept and is revealed to the very few keepers of the keys to interpret and read that which remains concealed. Enter the game of secrets.

The recent or not so, notion or idea of play we can find from van Hattinberg, Bergler, Piaget and others, deals principally with the manner and meanings of child play, when Freud addressed the subject he left some remarkable stories recounting his research and observations which he considered to be extremely difficult, let us mention the case of the Little Hans, as an example, there’s ample and extensive psychoanalithical literature regarding the way children play and the outcome of frustration and guilt. Ludopathy. An onto-existential analysis of play and game grounds its origins on a different idea, something very different the notion of passive suffering transformed actively into aggression or rebellion of sorts. Freud’s consideration of loss that we can find on children playing, can be found on one of his most relevant publication referring to the intricate construction that leads from loss to angst and with this a very particular experience with what we called “uncanny” or “sinister” even, translating into English the German word, used also as the title of his famous publication: Das Unheimliche” (1919). The French version of the German word is very intriguing as an effort to grasp its real and deeper meaning, inquietant, that has a remarkable story if we only consider the special relationship between Freud and the Princess Mary Bonaparte who translates into French Freud’s essay and was published under the title L’Inquiétante Étrangeté. Freud considered play as a very significative act not only as an act caught between pleasure and displeasure that also carries the condition of that appears and disappers generation or displaying the angst of return. That which comes back is what causes the intense angst in other words or to use Freuds own terminology – not always properly understood and so difficult to translate – Verdrängung – what lies repressed or dormant takes primary stage once again as the Unheimliche, the uncanny and inquiétant, memory of course is fundamental in this enormously complex process of recovering and suppressing, after all what is unpleasant and painful hurts and causes profound damage, becomes Unheimliche and it can be brought back because it once was very close, intimately close, Heimlich, meaning familiar and close, Heim carries the meaning of “home” too, at least as the root of the word. Repressing doesn’t mean forgetting so therefore the familiarity of the original experience remains ever present. Freud in the quoted work from 1919 invoked the two very well known tales fromE.T.A. Hoffman to illustrate the transit from pleasure to Verdrängung or the suppressed events that trigger the painful original act that engender the so called trauma. Both tales, Der Sandman and Die Elixire des Teufels, exemplify a vast and incredible deep experience of hurt and profound sorrow. Children stories that speak about horror, punishment and specially a radical horrific being in a world of threats and dark menaces that can harm and destroy.

From grieving and severe distress a world of original traumatic events resurfaces in the form of the uncanny, Unheimliche and playing becomes a form of hidden and maintaining secretes that if we follow pshycoanalitical thinking, so starts the process of healing the suffering and reliving the dreadful angst. Eugen Fink wrote an essay about play that gives another horizon to understand and comprehend the meaning of play on his very little known work Oases des Glücks from 1957, has a fascinating subtitle, namely Gedanken zu einer Ontologie des Spiels. Play seen as Spiel, the German word, is considered by Fink as an existential phenomenon essential to the Dasein and posses a masked condition that demands a discovery, almost like building a difficult jigsaw, puzzle, that in its deciphering requires a delicate unveiling of all its masks, is like an art of different levels of polysemic meanings. Two elements here are essential for approaching the existential meaning of play, the mask and the masking firstly, was hidden and remains in the domain of the unknown as the original human experience of the invisible. When play meets secrets the unravelling of all the intricate complexities of human existence begins a very unique a peculiar game. We stated above that man dwells in secrets moreover, devotes his very existence to constructing, building secrets of many different natures at manifold levels. Human interaction appears to be rooted on the ability to establish a wall of secretes before openness and trustworthy and loyal franc interaction might or can be secured. Distrust as a form of self-preservation, self-protection from threat coming from the inevitability of being-in-the-world. What lies underneath this masking as a game of secrets can be found precisely on fear and angst. Vulnerability. The eminence of being hurt by the other, others or by a given state-of-affairs produces the wall building of masking. A second element is the design of jigsaws or puzzles as bricks or components of the wall. Walls need a material to be built, requires the concreteness of a given structure, puzzles are created bit by bit, as masked by pseudo real components, gaming becomes thus entrenched in secrets. That is the nature of the secrecy of secrets. Constant playing and deciphering, dealing with pseudo real elements, masking to cover what remains concealed, the never ending game of secrets is deployed. Jackson Lamb as the ultimate spy and keeper of secrets, unglamorous as such, totally anti-Bond, with a completely neglected physical appearance even hinting to an unpleasant personal hygiene, however posses an extraordinary talent, an incredible mind, capable of playing the game of secrets as a genuine master. Master-spies are the professional gamers, consummated players of the game of secrets and are the keepers of keys to decipher jigsaws, codes and many forms of masking because they are also creators or consummated deceivers. Russians – also masters of these games – have a fascinating word that encompasses multiple levels of meaning, maskirovaмаскировка), probably originated from the game of chess – Russians are notoriously great chess players, we know about so many great champions and masters that battle legendary figures as José Raúl Capablanca y Graupera, the great Cuban master, Bobby Fisher, the extraordinary American master and others, the list is inexhaustible not only with Russian players but so many other nationalities -, maskirova has been developed and applied to the Art of War, translating its meaning is no easy task, once again we are in the middle of a polysemic real. On Lamb’s case it is the art of deceiving the deceiver, anticipation as we quoted above, on the last episode of Slow Horses, when the game is revealed what emerges from the the game of secrets, takes the manifestation of the remarkable skill that Lamb posses to anticipate the deceiver, unmask the maskirova and become one with it and this way consummate the check mate. The extraordinary level at which the game of secrets is played in world of international security and even, politics, nowadays is frankly very scary, however it couldn’t be played without a given disposition existentially present on the very existence of man, what perhaps is the more terrifying moment of the game is none other that is also played at the level of personal and intimate relations. Overcoming the game of secrets is fundamentally for a healed and friendly, open and transparent relationship amongst human persons. An enormous challenge looms in the horizon in order to enter the realm of the light.

Although these are remarks and a broad paint of the in depth complete analysis of the phenomena we call here “game of secrets” the linkage of the process of masking and unmasking, the need to hide and deceive for whatever causes or grounds, most be address following what Derrida called once “the steps of the wolf”; the transit from Homo Erectus as an observer or watcher of horizons to the builder of walls of secrets demands a very careful process of successive steps, therefore if we move accordingly to the wolf, loup to use Jacques Derrida’s wording, we come across different meanings of the word being one precisely mask as a disguise, hiding and concealing. We most also retain Fink’s affirmation that play is a fundamental phenomena of existence and to conclude we refer to the transit of the notion of play to the level where suffering and pleasure dives us into the abyss of personal experiences as the domain where light and darkness, hope and despair collide. The pleasure of play becomes entangled with the reality of suffering and suppression by loving the other we also grant, the other, the power to inflict pain and hurt. The famous engraving from Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I, chosen to start this text, has been interpreted and studied extensively by important art historians and employed even by writers and novelists more recently, Dan Brown – The Lost Symbol – turned it into part of a plot and his main character, symbolist Robert Langdon, comes up with an elaborate decoding of the symbols on the engraving. Melencolia is the ideal work of art to envision a many-faceted construct around secrets, masks, play and their respective opposites, after all secrets always demand deciphering and unconcealment and Dürer’s engraving not only portraits all of these but also, crucially, points out to a keeper of secrets, essential actor of the game of secrets.

THE UNANSWERED PRAYERS: The collapse of empires and the emergence of the Anti-Narcissus.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

Thomas Cole, “The Course of Empire”, 1833-36. Oil on canvas, The New-York Historical Society. The Savage State (1834); The Arcadian or Pastoral State (1834); The Consummation of Empire (1836; Destruction and Desolation (1836).

Thomas Cole’s extraordinary work of art recounts the story of the birth and downfall of Empires from the twilight to their demise. Much has been written regarding the matter of the emergence and destruction of empires, probably no other historical event had the worldwide attention as the collapse of the Roman Empire and the enormous consequences than the slow and painful disintegration of Rome and the subsequent total transformation carrie on during centuries after its astonishing dissolution, however unique it might seem is by no means an isolated historical and sole case. Others have gone trough similar catastrophic circumstances. The subject is full of complexities and when addressing causes and degradation we might find ourselves into rather deep and very long discussion. Empires do not collapse suddenly on the contrary its lengthy process of disintegration emerges from a multitude of reasons and is rarely linked to a one historical figure but on the contrary, many actors partake on the painstaking decadence and final collapse. Recent events, the passing of the late Queen Elizabeth II and other much lesser publicised events, have caught the eye of public world opinion, the impressive ceremonies and protocol followed with exemplary meticulosity and observance of all the symbolic elements, many attesting to the care and respect for the late Monarch, the remarkable Royal Protocol carried out with the utmost perfection, one is tempted to stress, carefully planned and executed, bares a meaning that transcends the person and embodies the Monarchy, The Crown – as has been labeled in one notorious series by a major streaming outlet – and others names perhaps not so adequate, for example, The Firm or The Company. The temptation that springs from such extraordinary events might be none other than to consider we are witnessing the end of the once named British Empire at least the winds of change, extreme change probably, might be lurking somehow on The Crown and the transformation from subjects into citizens slowly emerges from the silent condition of a long postponement which could or not, be unavoidable.

The great wars fought on Europe at the beginning until the middle of the last Century, horrible wars of immense destruction of millions of lives, countries, systems brought down historical Empires collapse, one can easily rethink or bring into consideration, after the First World War ended, both the German-Prussian Empire case to be and the Austro-Hungarian Empire practically fell into ruins. Vienna, the centre of the Habsburg Dynasty crashed both internally and externally. Causes for the downfall are numerous and several important studies have been published regarding this so sensitive subject for so many suffered the impact and destruction that First World War brought to millions of persons. Recently a German production named Die Kaiserin, just the first season has been shown but they are announcements that a second season has been completed and will be released sometime next year. Die Kaiserin tells the story of Sissi, Kaiserin Elisabeth and her romance and future marriage to Kaiser Franz Joseph however it also hints at the events that are about to unravel and many of the tragic figures surrounding and were also main protagonists of the manifold tragic events involving the Hapsburg dynasty, even the Maximilian part comes to play signalling yet at another tragic figure and his lifelong attempts to become Emperor, wish that was later to be granted only to bring about the absurd and the catastrophic Mexican “expedition”, not to mention the madness engulfing such an adventurous proposition and wretched Empire dreams and phantasies. Following probably the Mexican example, the Latin America countries were historically more prone towards creating Republics under constitutional frameworks nor Kingdoms or Empires although we should recall that regrettable cases in said Mexico and Brazil, under the Braganza family, failed to materialise being finally dissolved in 1822 when Brazil proclaimed its Independence. One last word which maybe can even be a quote for something very particular: whilst watching and following with great interest and even curiosity, the German series portraying the Hapsburgs comes into mind the fact that at the Vienna Court so called “Hoch Deutsch”, wasn’t the language of choice, the wonderful musicality of the Viennese accent is missing and even the necessary touch of Winerisch or if one prefers to call it “Viennese German” was indeed generally spoken so, therefore, it is to be expected that the characters employ this beautiful language and not to forget that Sissy spoke Bayerish which is very close to Wiennerisch. Personally this is of the utmost important in order to maintain historical accuracy, the issue of the “dialects” in the German speaking world, is of crucial importance and has a lot to do with national identities, same can be said amongst the Swiss that called Hoch Deutsch as “Scriftlich Deutsch”, meaning the written language, used everywhere in the German Cantons in Switzerland although Swiss Deutsch and all its variants are spoken mainly in the Swiss Confederation.

Vienna aside from being one of the most beautiful cities not only in continental Europe but all over the world, has a unique history too. Vienna witnessed during the times of the Empire a magnificent resurgence. Architecturally it is a wonderfully designed city, the buildings and the style as well as the blend between different conceptions, from Art Deco to the period of the Secession where great artists, architects of great vision produce a long lasting and highly influential movement, great names such as Klimt, Kurzweil or even Mucha, together with Moser, Hoffman Olbrich and Otto Wagner, to name some of the most important founders of the movement, -which somehow survived the devastating winds of War and the calamitous consequences of the Anschluss – still keeps alive even nowadays the spirit, the vast views of the whole period that was also filled with great musicians, composers and philosopher, like a Renaissance period in its pregnant meaning, Vienna was a centre of cultural and intellectual life as well of course, a steemed and regarded scientifically and philosophical core and seat that convey the utmost respect, suffice to quote the names of Sigmund Freud and Ludwig Wittgenstein whose body of work and remarkable contributions shaped and transformed the world. After the wars and Austria became a Federal Republic, leaving under the spell of Alt-Wien a certain nostalgic culture engulfed the country, not only Vienna. The dissolution of the Empire and its dramatic events leading to its unsettling demise maybe the assassination of the Arch-Duque in Sarajevo and the Mayerling tragedy, this are well known facts and have been studied and extensively written about, however there are some other factors that lead to Empire downfall that demand another perspective or newer angles and horizons to consider. The nostalgic culture is rooted and very deeply on a transformation and meaning of the person and the whole culture including, specially, the political landscape. Wars destroy and more over, alter and transform. Whether modernisation in the form actualisation, coming into times, substitutes the Old system and ways, remains open. Change does not mean improvement.

Blood lines, lineages, ancestry or probably the most disturbing of all the ideas, to support monarchies or empires that comes to mind immediately, is the so called “divine origin of kings”, invoking the name of a deity to ground rights to succession founded dinasties not only in Europe but in other countries as well. One of the main objects of rejection by the French Revolution was precisely that of hereditary power trough roots on a divine mandate, kings rule in the name of the Almighty sometimes they are or had been seen as the worldly presence of a deity, case of the Japanese Empire and this was precisely what MacArthur faced when lying the ground for the famous Tokyo Trails. The persona of the Emperor – Hirohito – could not be touched and in a gesture of transcendental importance, Hirohito bowed to a long standing peace and friendship and embraced the responsibility for the acts of war committed under his command. The God-Emperor became human cementing the soil for a new extraordinary change, that of a modern and exemplary country. Imperial and Royal Families are educated and formed in the German sense of Bildung, to become a very special kind of individual, strictly prescribed rules and protocols to be followed closely and under the watchful eyes of those responsible to keep the tradition, always present creating thus, a very particular and different persona, unique individuals with personalities and characters so vastly separated from the other members of a given society and culture. So called “royals” behave differently and become aliens to the common people. Sometimes completely incomprehensible, to the regular individual who happens to be a subject to the strangest cadre of persons that seat at the top of the pyramid. Enter narcissism.

Narcissus story is so well know it does not need any recounting. Our current world seems to be dominated by certain individuals with narcissistic personalities. Something that needs more public scrutiny and even more carefully analysis. Politicians seem to be at the total mercy of the Narcissus plague, Royals and Imperial families with clear exceptions, take it for granted, is part of the job description and a self-entitlement comes with destiny and inheritance. However, there is an almost unknown or only a selected few remain aware of its existence: the Anti-Narcissus. The Talmud tells the story according to a baraita, that Shimon HaTzaddik, Kohen Gadol and a High Priest of the Second Temple, tells the story of a “man from the South”, no name given, described as having “beautiful eyes and a fine countenance, and his locks were arranged in curls.” During the conversation Shimon HaTzaddik asks “the man of the South”, why is he seeking to became a nazirit and thus being forced to destroy his hair, as is mandated at the end of his term. The reply is absolutely astonishing: he recounts being a shepherd on his father’s in his home town, on a certain opportunity he went to draw water from the spring and looked at his reflection in the water. Suddenly an evil inclination took hold and sought to drive him from the world. He replies by calling the inclination “Empty one!” and reacted in dramatic terms, “For what reason are you proud in a world that is not yours, as your end is to be maggots and worms when you die…” and in a very strong and committed fashion asserts and swears by “The Temple service” to become a nazarite and shave his head, cut his hair off, for the sake of Heaven. The story is told in different Tractates, Nedarim 9b-10a; Nazir 4b; Tosefta Nezirut 4, 7 and even on Numbers Rabbah 10 to quote just some of the many sources where the story of what we call the Anti-Narcissus comes into account. In these case we have known due to many historical facts that Greek both as a language and culture, where extensively spread in the times of the Hellenistic period. Suffice to recall the extraordinary events around the so called, Letter of Aristeas to Philocrates, in spite being consider pseudepigraphical relates how the Septuagint came to be written and refers to the Library of Alexandria and how the text was translated as seventy two interpreters where sent to Alexandria at the request of Ptolomy II Philadelphus (281-246 BC) to translate the Books of the Jewish Law into greek, something in urgent demand specially to the very large and important Jewish community leaving in Alexandria and where in need of a greek translation. Whether the story is myth or fiction attest to the fact of the usage of Greek and the knowledge of the Greek religion and culture so the Narcissus myth was of common knowledge amongst the highly educated Priests and others. Imposing a limit to self-admiration and adulation in the name of a divinity is a remarkable and ethical response to hedonism and departure from more profound commitments. These are mere remarks on what should be addressed with deeper seriousness and careful considerations and analysis, the current world and state of affairs are crying for words and observance of values grounded on compassion and generosity, acceptance and openness to the otherness of the other. Understanding and constant, truthful exchanges should pose the self-entered world and expansion of the Narcissus malady. Readdressing the Anti-Narcissus seems to be an interesting path to a better understanding and coexistence a pending assignment for a larger and influential, powerful, sector of mankind specially for those who carry the potential of influence and decision making.


Roberto Palomo-Silva

Castillo de la boca en que la puente lengua es levantada.
Fuera el mundo. Mi último canto para ti que oyes hablar cuando la lengua calla.

Miguel Angel Asturias: Loas a Santa Maria del Rosario, 1941. Declamado, por el propio Asturias, en el Diario del Aire, para conmemorar el 50 Aniversario de la festividad de Octubre, de la entonces Parroquia, de Santo Domingo y publicado, por primera vez, en el extinto Diario del Aire, ante expresa petición del mismo Asturias.

Recientemente publicado, bajo el muy sugerente titulo de “Era bello y malo como Satán…”, parte de la colección Nueva Academia, Serie Periferia, en Guatemala en el corriente año, 2022, Mario Antonio Sandoval, el distinguido y muy reconocido periodista guatemalteco, catedrático universitario, Miembro de la Academia Guatemalteca de la Lengua correspondiente a la Real Academia Española y durante muchos años, su Director, columnista de Prensa Libre, con quién esta unido, por historia y descendencia, su columna Catalejo, ha sido una constante, en el periodismo independiente guatemalteco. La obra es francamente fascinante, para los que entendemos al lenguaje, como “la Casa del Ser”, ver florecer a través de esa cuidadosa y magníficamente ordenada, casi taxonómicamente clasificada, bien cabe acá, la expresión taxonómica, puesto, que es como una detallada clasificación de nombres, Asturias, entre tantas cosas, era un gran creador de nombres, la manera de presentar el texto y su arquitectura formal, nos lleva pausada y sistemáticamente, a través del lenguaje de Asturias, no sólo por esas extraordinarias formas sistemáticas, de nombrar lo innombrable, el mundo mágico de los demonios y los dioses, sino también y esencialmente, el nombramiento, en tanto que nombrar aquello, que nos es insondable, mistérico y quizás incomprensible, los nombres nos acercan al origen de lo que es.

Aunque no contiene un indice temático oportunamente agrega a cada párrafo reproducido, con número de página referida a la edición correspondiente, ofrece un glosario de términos acuñados, sea por Asturias o de uso extenso, en el habla popular guatemalteca. Resulta pues, posible afirmar, por ende, que la misma está dividida, en 7 grandes partes, unos anexos adicionales, así como las referencia y fuentes. La división, sigue los títulos de algunas de las más importantes obras de Asturias, así tenemos pues, que el primer apartado o capitulo, es el El señor Presidente; Hombres de Maíz, es el siguiente; Leyendas de Guatemala, el tercero; Mulata de Tal, el cuarto; Viernes de Dolores, el quinto; el sexto, El Espejo de Lida Sal y como un magnifico agregado, incluye una Tertulia Asturiana, en la que recoge una especie de entrevistas, con dos grandes escritores guatemaltecos, uno recientemente fallecido, Mario Roberto Morales y el otro Mario Alberto Carrera, ambos referencias fundamentales, reconocidos, por su talento y contribuciones importantísimas, a la academia, el periodismo independiente, y, principalmente, a la literatura guatemalteca, los dos a su manera, notables conocedores, de la obra de Asturias. Queda una importante mención, a la poesía y la dramaturgia, de Asturias, destaca Mario Antonio Sandoval, el trabajo de la gran intelectual guatemalteca y Académica, Lucrecia Méndez de Penedo, sobre el teatro de Asturias dónde la cuestión del lenguaje es un reto por enfrentar, valga esta mención, para reiterar la importancia, del estudio de su obra, y, quizás lo esencial no es otra cosa sino su lectura, en solitario, en grupo a viva voz, como práctica ritual, de un poder vernos, desde esa mirada de la palabra y el habla inagotable, que Asturias nos legara.

El señor Presidente es un texto tal vez, construido y escrito, para ser leído, voz alta casi como declamando, muchísimo se ha escrito y dicho, sobre esta extraordinaria y obra única, en la gran tradición, de la literatura guatemalteca y latinoamericana. La literatura sobre la misma es realmente enorme, al final del libro hay un apéndice, podríamos usar ese termino, con grandes licencias, en el que recoge el autor, algunas opiniones y comentarios vertidos, en general, sobre Asturias y su obra, así como otros mas específicos, de importantes escritores, críticos y otros más, entre las citas reproducidas, sobre El señor Presidente, son muy conocidos; Asturias, no es el único gran escritor, que en tanto gran poeta, escribe y crea una prosa poética sencillamente extraordinaria, Mario Antonio Sandoval lo llama “orfebre”, es decir el cuidadoso y meticuloso artesano – en el antiguo sentido de la palabra -, que moldea su materia, el lenguaje, en este caso, en una autentica creación de obra de arte. Mientras los “ferrocarriles de gritos”, recorrían esas calles de una ciudad, que se había hecho “pequeña para su congoja”. Demonios y ángeles, seres infernales, desesperanza y sobre todo, muy por encima de todo, un sufrimiento enorme, contaminado, por la podredumbre real y material, de la condición humana misma y ensombrecido, hasta pintarlo de obscuridad completa, la sombra del poder absoluto, se paseaba cuasi invisible, por una mundo de dolor y angustia, invadido, por todas partes y narrado, por el orfebre-mago, de la palabra y del lenguaje, bajo esa notable metáfora dolorosamente real, del dictador-tirano, que hemos visto reproducirse, bajo muchas mutaciones y formas, a lo largo de la dramática historia latinoamericana. Asturias lo desnuda, aunque se resiste a ponerle nombre y apellido, con la fuerza de la belleza creadora, del escritor-poeta, de la palabra trabajada, urdida, bajo el esfuerzo de alfarero del lenguaje. Allí yace pues el poder de su capacidad de nombrar lo innombrable.

Hombre de Maíz. Aunque el elemento político nunca está ausente de la obra de Asturias, después de los años, el asombro ante el lenguaje ha prevalecido, sobre las consideración de tipo ideológico o incluso, la visión, de la función del escritor y de la literatura, en general. No es el único caso donde esa prevalencia supera ampliamente a las particulares visiones personales, del autor, no siempre es el caso, la distancia contribuye a superarla y la cercanía a mantenerla. Hay casos donde la veleidad y la incongruencia resultan paradójicamente inaceptables, hay más de uno e incluso de muy reputados y laureados autores. No que Asturias esté exento de contradicciones muchas de ellas, meramente humanas, francamente humanas, a pesar de ello el lenguaje siempre ha prevalecido y lo continuará haciendo. Hombres de Maíz es una obra con un contenido político muy fuerte, con unos reclamos nos atreveríamos a decir, humanos totalmente humanos, denuncias justas plenamente justas, nuestra tarea es principalmente el lenguaje, ese gran lenguaje, el cual es mejor dejarlo hablar. En torno a la cuestión política, no entramos en ello. Recojamos algunos de eso ejemplos, casi tomados al azar, del uso y creación de ese lenguaje extraordinariamente único e irrepetible, que nos da Mario Antonio Sandoval, “la tierra …es semilla que cae de la estrellas…”, donde los hombres y los demonios, dioses y fantasmas, caminan por este”… mundo muerto que da el silencio…” y por debajo del “…el brillo de la luna convertida en ríos navegables de miel blanca, a lo largo de laderas desnudas.”. Y es que bien lo dice Asturias “…la tristeza es como la ceniza de la alegría…” y “…la realidad era más sueño que el sueño…”, en un mundo cargado por el “… peso y soledad de plomo.”

Leyendas de Guatemala, tal vez una de las más hermosas obras de Asturias, donde el esplendor del lenguaje alcanza unos niveles inigualables y totalmente poético, la narración poética se convierte en dominante y la creación de todo tipo de imágenes, llevada a magnificas alturas. Guatemala esa tierra “…de paisajes dormidos…”, llena de leyendas y poblada por habitantes, que coexisten y conviven con “…fantasmas que son palabras de la eternidad…”, donde “…el tiempo es viejo de las horas viejas…” y las antiguas leyendas, que el mismo Asturias dice “me las contaba mi madre”, deambulan en silencio y disimulo, repetidas, susurradas, en los oídos, de los niños, compañeras de viaje y de secretos, desde la Leyenda del Volcán, del Cadejo, la Tatuana, el Sombrerón, del Tesoro del Lugar Florido, de los Brujos de la Tormenta Tropical, hasta Cuculcán, “la serpiente-envuelta-en-Plumas”, como Asturias la nombra en y desde ese lugar “…más allá de los peces el mar se quedo solo.”

Mulata de Tal o tal vez, la deconstrucción de un mito y el nacimiento, del antiguo mito re-inventado por un Asturias magistral, quien deambula de Fausto y Mefistófeles al Brujo Bragueta y Yumi, donde hace nacer a la Mulata – al nombrarla simplemente así, la universaliza o sea la mitifica – enanos y demonios, se confunden en un carnaval de palabras encantadas, surge así Tierrapaulita, tal vez el ancestro de Macando o su pre-figura, cuasi sagrada, una especie de nuevo Xibalbá, más real que soñado, lugar de encuentro y surgimiento, de lenguajes ancestrales y nuevas lenguas. La más compleja de las novelas de Asturias, llena de un torrente surreal de palabras y magias, casi cotidianas, donde “…la mulata vestida de risa interminable..” y “…Yumi, alquitrán de tiniebla, negrura interior que se hecha a borbotea…” constituyen un mundo de engaños y mentiras, lo real es aún más terriblemente real a través de la palabra creadora, bautismal, mezcla de lo viejo y lo nuevo y retorno de lo más profundamente antiguo, la lucha con el mal, tomando otras formas, nombradas de nuevo, con un lenguaje reorganizador de las viejas historias, por las que caminan los pueblos y los hombres, “…parte de la noche que no dormía…”, visión apocalíptica, de un lugar, el cual desparece “…se lo tragaron las sombras de la noche…”, escenario de una nueva versión, de la más antigua de las guerras, deconstruida por el lenguaje alucinante de un Asturias magistralmente poético, esa lucha de los tres mundos encontrados, condenados al conflicto sin final y que el sacerdote cuasi emisario del occidente, entra en una guerra, que como baile o sea rítmica “…genera…el encuentro del silencio pintado de luceros…”. Mulata de Tal nos habla de un mundo nuevo, que nace de esa lucha, tan vieja como los tiempos perdidos, y, que la magia del lenguaje de Asturias, nos acerca, nos la pone enfrente, delante de una mirada, frágil y elusiva, esforzándose en comprender todo aquello tan profundamente incomprensible.

Viernes de Dolores o los tiempos del silencio. Aparentemente se trata de la última novela, que Asturias escribiera, alrededor de los setentas, situada en los principios, de los años veintes, del Siglos pasado, en la Guatemala de la Huelga de Dolores. Muchos de sus personajes son reales y los nombra a casi todos, con sendos “nombres-apodos”, incluso el de Gran Moyas, con el cual se le conoció al mismo Asturias, aparece, dentro de la obra, como Chirimoyas, que devendría en Moyas y luego el Gran Moyas. Los textos escogidos por Mario Antonio Sandoval, hablan de los silencios y del gran silencio, son y están impregnados, de la fatalidad del tiempo, de la decadencia, que acompaña al envejecimiento y el transcurrir de lo inexorable. “Dentro, el silencio sin silencio…”, “Solo se oía el silencio. La mudez del silencio…” y afuera se escuchaba “…el silencio con su murmullo de hojas.”, es ese caminar del tiempo-silencio, hacia su retorno imposible o la repetición de una circularidad sin fin, por eso casi al final nos dice al hablar de ese terrible silencio, “…que amontonó entre el cielo y la tierra durante los días grandes…”. Las metáforas y demás símiles, son ahora, referencia al transcurso e irreversible viaje, de la decadencia, su comparación de las marcas o manchas del mármol, sus vetas, al llamarlas “…!el vomito de los siglos!…” se nota ya esa fuerte carga de amargura profunda o de desilusión, que los especialistas y conocedores de su obra, nos han aclarado certeramente. El lenguaje de la historia de la obra, que brevemente intentamos identificar, tiene acá una carga semántica diferente, los años de dolores, son también el pesado tiempo transcurrido.

Y llegamos al Espejo de Lida Sal, con sus títulos de nombres mágicos-surreales, su lenguaje una continuación, del torrente, catarata, de imágenes y símbolos, magia revuelta y mezclada, con esa pseudo realidad evasiva e incomprensible, abierta al reto de la interpretación. Los nombres, Juanetes el encadenado, Juan Girador, Quincajú, Leyenda de las tablillas que cantan, Leyenda de la mascara de cristal, Leyenda de la campana difunta y la Leyenda de matachines, donde nos dice que “…pesaba menos que el humo, menos que el agua, menos, que el aire, menos que el sueno…” o sea pura etereidad, humo, agua, aire y sueño.


ENTRE LA IMAGEN Y LA REVELACIÓN: Otras formas de ver lo no evidente.

“From here on: light – created, concealed, contained, in the covenant, entering the rose, emitting seed into Her.” The Zohar, 1:1a.

Las diez Sefirot, The Zohar, Edicion Pritzker. Stanford University Press, Stanford University, 2004. Vol. I.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

El misticismo judío tiene unos orígenes antiquísimos, emerge desde los textos mismos de la Torah y otras fuentes adicionales, su extensa tradición ocupa siglos enteros, dentro de la experiencia judía, de la presencia divina.   El célebre pasaje del Profeta Ezequiel, especialmente 10: 1 y siguientes,  cuyas visiones inspiraron una importantísima corriente mística, Merkabah, a partir de la interpretación, de un texto hermético y alegórico, cargado de claves, símbolos y secretos, en ese particular y enigmático lenguaje del Profeta, que aparece acá  tal vez no exclusivamente como el que habla por otro, sino como un visionario, en el sentido de aquel a quien se le permite ver lo que otros no pueden, el que puede ver, a través de la niebla, y, en ese particular ver y lo que llega a mirar, observar, es la manifestación de algo que pareciera un Trono, la palabra del hebreo bíblico es muy especial, עֲלֵיהֶם , la cual podría verterse como Trono aunque el mismo texto habla de una apariencia y similitud, con un Trono.  La otra cuestión fascinante es la referencia a una orden dirigida a un “hombre vestido de lino”, entendemos dicha referencia debería contener un mandato a un “sacerdote”, quien solamente  podía vestir o  portar prendas sin mezcla de tejidos, lana y lino, están terminantemente prohibidos, de allí pues, el Profeta está delante de un dialogo/orden dirigido a un “hombre vestido de lino”, asumimos tendría esa condición, un alto sacerdote, quien aparentemente posee la virtud de comunicarse con el Creador mismo y recibe a su vez, un mandato, de una naturaleza muy especial, se trata de infligir un castigo sumamente severo, un castigo que implica el uso del fuego divino, en este caso, brasas de fuego, una formula repetida no solamente en los libros proféticos, sino incluso aparece en la tradición neotestamentaria, vertida como αντρακας πυρος, ánthrakas purós, que en  el contexto por ejemplo, de Romanos 12:20, tiene el sentido de castigo terrible. Es fascinante ver cómo ambas tradiciones están originariamente vinculadas, no son extrañas y mantienen  una especie de continuidad esencial,  entre el judaísmo y el cristianismo.

En el citado texto también se habla de una especie de nube, acompañada o más bien, precedida, por una claridad luminosa, la fuerza de la luz misma, que emana de la fuente de todas las formas de luz. La nube, la voz y la luz recuerdan la experiencia de Moisés en Sinaí, quien entra en la nube  (anan,  עָנַן) ) y permanece adentro de ella, por cuarenta días, como nos relata el Libro de los Nombres o Éxodo como fue vertido al griego en la traducción de la Septuaginta.  La palabra nube tal vez es insuficiente, para darnos un sentido pleno, del vocablo original semita, tanto en el arameo o en hebreo antiguos, la palabra se repite muchísimas veces, a lo largo de los textos centrales de la Torah;  posteriormente, en el Medioevo, otras tradiciones místicas, narrarán ese encuentro, con términos diferentes, aunque en ambas, se lee la experiencia de la divinidad, en el mundo, incluso un dialogo directo, entre personas y su Creador, la llamada experiencia terrenal del alma humana, en su encuentro con la divinidad, no es extraño a esto, el mismo San Juan de la Cruz, quien habla de esa fuente de luz, como la fuente de toda la luminosidad, “Su claridad nunca es escurecida./ y sé que toda  luz della es venida / aunque es de noche.”, tal y como lo cantan las “Canciones del alma que conoce a Dios”.  

De la nube podemos también transitar por las sombras.  Las sombras ocupan un lugar muy especial, en las experiencias místicas o encuentro con las fuentes de luz o incluso de obscuridad.  Las Rabinos del Talmud nos relatan en diversas ocasiones, encuentros con demonios, seres muy peculiares, capaces de provocar graves daños, a lo largo del Talmud se puede encontrar toda una muy extensa caracterización, de las peculiares y muy particulares capacidades, de estos seres, que, de alguna forma, deambulan y coexisten, con los seres humanos.  Una  de  las maneras de reconocerlos, es la ausencia de proyección de una doble sombra, la sombra de la sombra, en el Tratado Yevamot, 122:10, se relata la experiencia de la sombra doble, del demonio denominado Yonatan, Rab Hanina narra una conversación, que sostuvo con Yonatan, los demonios pueden cobrar forma humana, en el citado texto Rab Hanina al relatar la conversación, refiere los términos, que el propio Yonatan le trasmitió, pueden proyectar sombra sin embargo, no tienen sombra de la sombra y, claramente el contexto es uno muy diferente, trata más bien, de los matrimonios, la realidad de la sombra de la sombra, nos habla de una fuerza, que habita en su propia sombra, en penumbra y obscuridad, en la ausencia de luminosidad.  Vale traer a cuenta la célebre expresión recogida, en Hamlet, Acto 2, escena 2, 280, donde Rosencraz le dice a Hamlet, en ese extraordinario dialogo, sobre sueños y ambiciones, allí el dictum, la substancia misma de la ambición, no es sino la sombra de un sueño y un sueño no es otra cosa,   que una sombra afirma Hamlet y Rosencraz le reitera, que la condición etérea y liviana de la ambición, la hace no ser otra cosa, que la sombra de una sombra y Hamlet sentencia al concluir el dialogo, recordando que los monarcas y los supuestos héroes, no son sino los mendigos de la sombra.  Entre mendigos, pseudo héroes y monarcas o nuestros malos y corruptos gobernantes, devotos de la ambición carente de límites y control,  persiguen sombras de sombras, lo cual los acerca al mal mismo, caminan en compañía de esos personajes, como Yonatan, que son definidos por su propia sombra, o sea, en realidad por su falta total de claridad y transparencia, habitan en las penumbras y la semiobscuridad, donde deambulan, en ese domino de las sombras. 

Cuando se toca el tema del misticismo judío se torna casi impensable no referirse al Zohar, sin embargo, no es nuestra intención principal, ni comentar o menos abordarlo, en nuestro contexto, referido fundamentalmente al encuentro entre la fotografía de Mario Permuth y el misticismo.  De la Merkabah al Zohar hay una muy fluida – aunque primordialmente oculta – continuidad.  Cuando Gershon Scholem publicara en los años 40 del Siglo recién pasado, su famosa obra sobre el misticismo y la polémica se desencadenara, alrededor del tipo de arameo, en el que el Zohar está escrito, Sefer ha-Zohar o más conocido, bajo la poderosa formula, Libro del Esplendor, los autores involucrados y la tradición invocada obliga a recordar ilustres nombres, Cordovero, Nachmánides, de León, Luria, entre otros más, y, resulta fundamental, recordar a Rashbi, discípulo del gran Rabino  Akiva, ya que a Rashbi, algunos le han atribuido la autoría del Zohar, desde los tiempos palestinos, durante el dominio del Imperio Romano; es curioso siempre recordar, que Palestina, en realidad era el lugar donde habitaban los judíos, nombre impuesto por los romanos mismos, el Emperador Adriano, lo empleó después de la rebelión de Bar Kohba,  para referirse al Reino de Judea y el resto de lo que fuera el Reino de Israel, es bien sabido el enorme sufrimiento y destrucción, que se derivara del fracaso, de la rebelión y sus gravísimas consecuencias. Scholem afirmaba, que en realidad el Zohar había sido escrito, por Moisés de León, en el siglo trece; empero, sin intentar soslayar la enorme autoridad de Sholem, ciertos estudios más recientes, apuntan a una conservación de una tradición secreta y oral, sostenida, durante siglos. Las incongruencias morfo-sintácticas identificadas, por  Scholem han sido recientemente revisadas, apuntando más hacia una forma reiterada y sostenida, de uso de ese tipo de arameo, identificado, en otros textos herméticos aún más antiguos y provenientes, incluso del periodo tannaítico y palestino.  No hay duda que el Zohar es la fuente principal, de literatura mística judía, sin descartar una importante cantidad, de otros textos, que están incluso íntimamente vinculados al tema, no sólo dentro de la tradición gnóstica, sino apócrifa también. 

Cuando alrededor del año 2003, Mario Permuth publicara su extraordinario libro, el Árbol del Saber, acuñando conceptualmente el término “revelación simétrica”, en el contexto de una serie de fotografías-imágenes, el arte de Mario Permuth va más allá de la presentación de imágenes, coleccionadas o seleccionadas, bajo un cierto orden y criterio, si bien es cierto define la “revelación simétrica” como una invitación a ver o tal vez mejor, en palabras de sus hijos, ambos extraordinarios artistas, Jaime e Igal.  Revelación Simétrica es una “fórmula visual”, en la que imágenes simétricas se “cuajan y unen”, revelando así una nueva, nos dice Igal Permuth, dándole una definición teórica a la propuesta concepción ; Jaime por su parte, nos habla de una búsqueda casi personal, en la que las imágenes “extraordinarias e insospechadas”, penetran en la oscura y tal vez secreta raíz de las cosas, generando desde ese trabajo casi artesanal, nuevas imágenes, que nos hablan desde un futuro al cual se logra llegar mediante la creación de nuevas simetrías, existentes en las cosas mismas, que se revelan en esas combinaciones simétricas, casi matemáticas, que permanecen sin ser vistas, en la naturaleza y todo lo que nos rodea.  Ver como descubrimiento, ver como penetración, en lo visiblemente invisible.  

Como es bien sabido, Mario Permuth al hablar de “revelación simétrica” hablaba de una emergencia visual, que llegaría a las manifestaciones ópticas, de un orden existente, nada evidente, el cual se abre ante la mirada, el ver del lógos, en el sentido originario griego, el ver de verdad, también del que habla el gran filosofo ítalo-guatemalteco, el Dr. Antonio Gallo, en su extensa obra filosófica, un auténtico legado histórico, para Guatemala también.  La también extensa obra de Mario Permuth, nos ha regalado, como continuidad y congruencia, una nueva serie de imágenes, reunidas, bajo el sugerente título, el Tercer Ojo, donde ya la mística se incluye en la simetría y en el orden de lo creado.  Descubrir la presencia del Creador en lo creado, en su obra, ha sido un desiderátum, de las reconocidas visiones, deparadas por la tradición Judeo-Cristiana.  Se trata de un camino muy complejo, con una historia muchas veces trágica y dramática, donde la ignorancia ha atropellado, sin limitaciones, la búsqueda de la sabiduría, el camino del lógos al saber.  Si tomamos o formamos, una selección de diez – el numero acá no es arbitrario – la más importante de las  sefirot es Malchut– imágenes del reciente inventario producido, por el trabajo de Mario Permuth, con el fin de practicar un ejercicio, si se quiere de meditación, tal, aunque no solamente, cabalista, que nos permitiera asociar o vincular, esas imágenes, con los nombres de las diez emanaciones, conocidas como Sefirot, por el Zohar. Hay una indulgencia, como condición de iluminación, que es necesario introducir, las imágenes que Mario Permuth crea contienen figuras humanas, analogías cabalísticas, según una de las más reconocidas tradiciones, en el cabalismo, y, dado que la representación, de la figura humana es problemática, en la concepción central del judaísmo;  sin embargo, lo que se busca acá, es la presencia de la iluminación.  La experiencia de lo divino en la tierra.  Es un sendero sumamente intrincado, en un intento de comparación, podemos asumir, que las imágenes creadas por Mario Permuth son una especia de anticipación o invitación a buscar y ver, no constituyen o aspiran a substituir o reemplazar los diagramas, que representan las sefirot, ni cada imagen corresponde strictu sensu a cada sefira, esa no es la intención.  Lo que, si es una relación muy directa, es la noción de luminosidad, las imágenes son necesariamente luz, las sefirot son vehículos de luz, transmiten iluminación, de un dominio divino a un mundo totalmente humano.  Las imágenes derivadas, en tanto metáforas si se quiere o meras insinuaciones, de la evolución de la revelación simétrica, en tanto una técnica y una manera, de acercarnos a lo fundamental o, dicho de otra forma, nos invitan a un encuentro con la luz misma, repetimos: la experiencia de lo divino en el mundo.

Años atrás Mario Permuth creo una muestra con imágenes, que parecían demonios escondidos, dentro de árboles o en la tierra misma, semi enterrados o disimulando su asechar constante y amenazantes, expectantes del comportamiento humano y de las muestras de debilidad y flaquezas. Difíciles de reconocer y menos aún de nombrar, hay una vieja idea que al nombrar o pronunciar el nombre del demonio desaparecería inmediatamente, alejándose a su propia obscuridad. Esos demonios me hacían pensar, en el descenso a Xibalbá y, en un determinado momento, pensamos, en recurrir a un esfuerzo de nombrarlos, la forma más poética existente, de los nombres de los habitantes de Xibalbá, la encontrábamos en la famosa traducción del francés, de Georges Raynaud, que Miguel Ángel Asturias y J.M. González de Mendoza, del 1927, hicieran del Libro del Consejo, como llamaron al texto del Popol Vuh; la cual contiene bajo enormes licencias poética, una lista de nombres francamente impresionante, así intentamos ponerle nombres a esas figuras demoniacas-emergentes, desde el fondo de la naturaleza misma. Ambiciosa tarea, la cual demandaría aún mayores licencias. Si nos arriesgáramos a seleccionar, diez imágenes, siguiendo la osadía de nombrar las imágenes-demonios, con los de Xibalbá; aplicando el mismo procedimiento a esta colección excepcional, contenidas bajo el sugerente titulo de El Tercer Ojo, intentando establecer una relación de cada imagen, probablemente como meras analogías, con una determinada sefira, las cuales bien podrían ser incorporadas a un nuevo diagrama de las Sefirot, tendríamos una aspiración terriblemente audaz; sin embargo, tal vez, posible, si pensamos, en que el asunto principal es el de las emanaciones de luminosidad, los niveles de acercamiento a la fuente de la luz, pasarían por el establecimiento, de la Tres Triadas, luego, y, con mucha prudencia, abrir la mirada – eso del Tercer Ojo viene muy a cuenta – y penetrar más allá de la niebla y ubicarse, en la presencia de la luminosidad misma. Ahora resultará más evidente, el paso de la revelación, de las formas simétricas a las manifestaciones de cada sefira correspondientes, con ciertas imágenes, estamos así, nuevamente, ante el enorme reto, de adscribir los nombres a las sugerentes imágenes creadas, por Mario Permuth, a través de una autentica experiencia mística, donde la palabra cede, ante el poder luminoso de la imagen y lo que representa; arribamos al misterio del trabajo notable, de Mario Permuth. En la gran tradición cabalística existe un viejo principio, el cual alude a ciertas personas o sus medios y facultades, para asistir a otros a ver la luz, sea vía la participación o difusión, de sabiduría misma o en este caso, al contribuir decididamente a que muchos puedan llegar a la presencia, de esa luminosidad, es el camino de la enseñanza, algo así como el permanente principio del compartir la sabiduría judía, sin restricciones o limitaciones y de esta manera, entre otras, recibir la luz, en este caso, estamos delante, de las simetrías y, en la cercanía de la iluminación, es la invitación, que su obra y creación, nos invitan a caminar. Acerquémonos, desde estos horizontes a las imagen de la futura muestra, para iniciar la ceremonia del ver más allá de las sombras y penetrar en la luminosidad.

On decontextualisation and the Guild of the Nay Sayers.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

Ferdinand Bol, Die Vorsteher der Amsterdamer Weinhändlergilde, 1659, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen – Alte Pinakothek München.

Guilds are linked to power. Probably the origin of trade as a means of organised exchanges to generate wealth and success lies on the establishment and growth of different guilds. In medieval times they flourished and produced significant amounts of wealth, this has been extensively studied and researched and volumes have been written, telling the stories of their origins and eventual downfalls. Treading States such as the Hanseatic League, just to mentioned one – and it is not the only case -, were very successful whilst organising this fascinating forms of self protection and promotion of economical interests either of merchants and even more, craftsmen as well as others alike and with wealth and riches came also, power. However, the road of the League and its demise is a very well know history, sadly as it might seem guilds survived and mutated into more powerful organization and its double fold identity, trade and politics namely, blossomed into newer versions, Chambers or even some social clubs either/or secret societies, take this with a glimpse, because it could be the other way around. Here the idea of the guilds serves as a metaphor, in the sense not of an allegory, but more like paradigms transforming into models or even, into organised entities, regulated via different alternatives or mechanisms such as bylaws or constitutions, suffice to say that the famous Book of the Eparch dates from the Byzantine times – published under the reign of Emperor Leo VI, around 886-911 CE – and stablished rules and regulation for guilders or traders, amongst others, notably perfumers, spicers, wax candlers amongst others, so therefore the task is as old as time or not metaphorically, the effort to clearly regulate and protect traders, guilders, continues since Constantinople to the current and powerful Chambers of Trade and Commerce in contemporary times. The idea of a Guild of Nay Sayers may be puzzling but serves its purpose as an introduction of the metaphor: there is not, obviously, such a Guild at least not organised and regulated but guides us to the thread of the utterance of the No. The phenomena of the No is barely beginning to be studied and its usage nowadays comes mainly from critical studies and cultural movements. From its humble beginnings the list of merchants and traders, guilders, contained in the Book is frankly very modest if we watch carefully the colossal transformation that has taken place, in our current world even International Organisations, the WTO, in this case, regulate and norm inter state trade, in reality all trade between nations and men. The millennia passed since Constantinople’s attempt to govern and protect trade. Gigantic states control all forms of trade and also immense corporation – some even larger than most world states – compete at all levels for profits and markets. The individual, the human persona, the small dreamer is caught between this incomprehensible reality that totally transcends peoples and human beings. Let us go back to the No.

First page of the Book of the Eprach, Τὸ ἐπαρχικὸν βιβλίον.

There is a well known recurrence, practiced since the interpretation of Sacred Texts started, decontextualisation, during the times of the Rabbis of the Talmud rules were stablished to settle disputes or arguments, sources were employed or invoked to create the correct reading of a text, sometimes contained on Baraithos or other sources, even interpreting or arguing around subjects on the Gemara or other texts, were regular subjects of analysis and various fascinating disputes, the Rabbis crafted hermeneutical rules applied to further readings and even more, formal applications, of a large array of matters that the Talmud addresses. The extraordinary length of the wisdom and knowledge in the Talmud is so carefully developed and such task cannot be fully completed without a method of thinking and analysis and there’s a highly sophisticated one built step by step by the Rabbis. Something similar can be said about other religions and their readings of Sacred Text and the theologies developed by all the Religions of the Book and others even older than judo-cristhianity; generated systems of wisdom and knowledge too, schools of interpretations, different visions and more methods were crafted let us think that the way from the early times of talmudic interpretation, Aristotelian-scholasticism, demythologising and even to the current political Christology, different readings of the Sacred Text were practiced by scholars, theologians and the authority of the Churches themselves, Dogma is being born and official interpretations as well as canonic texts to be consecrated as unquestionable. Kerigma and Mythos. Controversies can be found constantly and endlessly on almost all matters. The secret story of decontextualisation is slowly taking form. Countless of examples can be sited to prove this argument, recently we choose to quote, a very famous television series, on one of the mayor streaming services, a typical case takes place and we witnessed with total astonishment, when some self-called prophet invokes a Jeremiah versicle, complete and notoriously out of context, decontextualising the words and the verse, in favour of a personal reading and totally wrong interpretation, the quote comes from verse 6:1 from Yirmiyahu (Jeremaih) more exactly verses 4 and 5, when quoting only 5 and isolating it and reading as G’d anointing of any prophet or in this particular case, had spoken exclusively to him, it’s best if we allow the text to speak by itself: “5 When I had not yet formed you in the womb, I knew you, and when you had not yet emerged from the womb, I had appointed you; a prophet to the nations I made you.”, however if the verse is totally decontextualised it becomes a sorts of mandate to a certain person that is self-chosen – like in the present case – to become a prophet, whilst totally and completely ignoring the previous verse in which, in the whole context, can unequivocally be understood that G’d is actually addressing Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah, once again by allowing the text to speak by itself: “4 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying:” and continuous onto the above quoted verse 5, what we have here is one of so many examples of this decontextualisation quasi-analysis that uses texts to force a certain reading or interpretation that might support an individual position. Let us not forget that for centuries translation and sometimes very poor translations, have been extensively employed leading not only to false readings and miss-interpretations but as in the case mentioned, deliberate and false “preachings” of sacred texts and also generating theological interpretations, that in many cases conducted to enormous tragedies and even dramatic turn of events. Wars have been fought in the name of false teachings by pseudo prophets and deformed invocations of sacred texts.

The essence of decontextualisation is the No or the No is the essence of decontextualisation. Phenomenological language may or may not sound nowadays kind of outdated, specially in a world dominated by so-called “critical thinking” we prefer the old naming, “critical theory” (Kritische Theorie) or an even better concept-word, Kulturtheorie, much in the sense of an other seemingly outdated language namely that of the “sociology of knowledge” and Walter Benjamin’s notion of Theory of Culture. Excessive critique stablished a form of nay-saying, hypercriticism leads inevitably to the endlessness of permanent arguing and constant confrontation of ideas. Unsolved controversies maintain the dominance of the nay-saying. Although as quoted above, a phenomenology of the No or a phenomenological study of nay-saying probably will be criticised from the mere proposal with the most colourful arguments, specifically as a westernised conception and other not so agreeable and kind terminology. However the idea of opposition and nay-saying, takes many forms, there’s a well know syndrome extensively documented and studied by clinical psychiatry, oppositional defiant disorder or ODD, whilst this is a medical condition treated accordingly, carries the characteristics or symptoms of aggression either/or verbal or physical and constant lying, this behaviour can even continuous in adulthood and throughout. We see and experience all its forms in everyday life and in all levels of existence. Nonetheless the nay-saying as a phenomena is much more than behavioural is an existential limit situation that is manifested as an expression of a pathological malady in a culture impregnated with violence and negation. Nay-saying is in its core destruction. Denying the other of its essential value of affirmation in positivity. Permanent, constant opposition for the mere affirmation of negativity is cruel and a very radical form of the obstruction of truth. I don’t like what you affirm therefore you are not and with that comes the capacity to think, to asseverate, so thus the fully being of the other is completely nullified. Nay-saying in its systematic quasi irrational form of denying everything pertaining to the other is an individual and cultural radical and devastating sickness.

Furthermore, if we are to consider a phenomenology of the nay-saying we should first practice a sort of eidetic reduction in Husserl’s early sense, there is a noema of the No and a nous of the No. Both sides are essential to the understanding of the phenomena of the No because it presents itself with an image but also carries a meaning. The eidos of the No is much more than a mere appearance or a simply image, goes far beyond the mere shape, outline or aspect that shapes a construction, its transcendental eidetic condition leads to the intentionality of the meaning-intent, namely the nullification. The nüllus. The necessary reconstruction of its philological origins and the transformation of the vocable, stablished a fascinating history of its phenomenological constitution as an eidetic figure. Let us simply remember that nüllus brings about nüllificätio, annullätio and nüllificämen, the list grows even larger and longer if we go to all the variants, versions and forms it takes in many others so-called latin languages or Romance languages. The No as nüllus denies, nullifies, annuls or as mentioned above, destroys and generates aggression and violence. Is in its essence is a repudiation of the consensus-building or any sort of agreement or understanding. The paralysing effects of the Nüllus as No produces a renunciation of a common approach to reaching a resolution to a controversy. Entrenchment is the noematic characteristic of its eidetic image. Splitting apart and maintaining the distance built by the process of nullification takes the condition of renunciation. Total lack of a possibility of any sort of consensus-building feeds the entrenchment and separation as a direct result of the nullification. The complexity of the process is such that it requires a very thorough and careful, detailed phenomenological description to arrive and open the hermeneutical level of comprehension, the experience of the Nüllus as generalised it might be, carries a darker cover that impedes and hinders its grasping as a destructive and nihilistic condition.

There is however one aspect that cannot be stressed enough whilst addressing the problematic condition of the Nüllus, all the current and future phenomenological or existential analysis of the Nay phenomena, should be carefully separated from the “right to say no” associated with many important movements occurring in the socio-cultural framework of aggression and abuse, even more the sacredness of the “right to say no” is a completely and not related topic with what we are here attempting to bring forward, the deeper and highly complex nature of the destructive Nay-saying, an ontological and axiological construct rooted and grounded at the essence of the human existence. The task merely underlined, presented in our quest for a more profound comprehension of a phenomena seldom studied outside the psychiatric and psychological domains, here lies the reason why we initiated this argumentation with the metaphor of the Guild, evidently there’s not a Guild of Nay-Sayers, at least as an organised collective body of individuals, nonetheless the extension of the nay-saying is so vast that seems rather paradoxical the lack or absence of large literature on this important subject of study. as an existential analytical standpoint, most likely it will be very difficult not to include the nay-saying as a permanent and constant act, since the theory of the phycological acts in sine of the Fifth Logical Investigation, no longer is employed or referred to as a means to study of any kind of phenomenological acts of the consciousness, as Husserl did with the famous study on the mannequin. The challenge remains thus open, methodologically and theoretically, on how such a study or analysis can be or should be conducted. Considering its fundamental importance the phenomena of the nay-saying as a repeated pattern and the renunciation, resignation via nullification, generated by its seemingly constant reiteration, demands the raising of the proper questions. To conclude and not to close this brief sketch or initial drawing of a very important phenomena, that affects individuals and even groups or entire collective communities, needs to be considered with the utmost seriousness and strict approach, both theoretically and methodologically, the nullification of the nay-saying silently and constantly harms and inflicts pain and hurt on sufferers of all nature of this destructive and deep damaging mysterious phenomena. Decontextualisation and nay-saying have for centuries harmed the correct understanding and hampered the ability to unconcealed truth and wisdom. Leaving in half-truths and blatant lies about fundamental realities or being forced to accept masquerades or worst, historically proven lies as cornerstones of everyday lives, carries a heavy burden of twisting lives and consciousness of a vast array of human persons that at all times have also a sacred right to the truth and the accurate states of affairs and factual realities. Nüll as nay-saying trough decontextualisation is a deliberate deformation and concealment of the truth.

Las Neo-teocracias y la Política Exterior.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

SACRE DE L’EMPEREUR NAPOLÉON ET COURONNEMENT DE L’IMPÉRATRICE JOSÉPHINE, Jacques-Louis David. Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of Empress Josephine in Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris, December 2, 1804, by Jacques-Louis David and Georges Rouget, 1805-1807. Louvre, Paris.

En la famosa obra de David/Rouget, de la coronación o auto-coronación, tal vez mejor dicho, de Napoleón en la histórica Catedral de Notre de Dame, en París, bajo la presencia y observación ceremonial y ritual, de todos aquellos, que de una u otra forma fueron figuras relevantes del bonapartismo, Cambacérès y Lebrun; Talleyrand y Eugène de Beauharnais, para citar algunos, además de los hermanos de Napoleón y la mismísima Josephine, coronada Emperatriz a su vez. El cuadro ha sido objeto de muchísimos análisis y comentarios, para efectos de nuestro interés analítico, baste destacar dos cosas sumamente importantes, en primer lugar lo obvio, la auto-coronación, en tanto símbolo de la separación, Estado Iglesia, el Sumo Pontífice, de ese momento, Pio VII, Napoleón se proclama Emperador y, sin embargo, no le permite al Papa imponerle la Corona Imperial, con lo cual evidencia la Independencia o autonomía, del poder político del poder espiritual y religioso, del catolicismo romano, reafirmando una forma de poder totalmente humano y terrenal, al menos en las materias, del dominio terrenal, si se quisiera o prefiriese emplear dicho lenguaje. No obstante, buscando un poco, en la Teoría de las Esferas, es imposible ignorar, la Corona Imperial, con la presencia del Globus Cruciger, la figura simbólica tradicional, del poder real o imperial, sobre el orbe y el mundo entero, en nombre de la cristiandad, la cual incluso se puede claramente reconocer en la mismísima Tiara Papal. Desde el célebre análisis del mural de Torre Annunziata, Nunziata en el dialecto napolitano, la idea de la esfera o del globo, domina la extensa reflexión y construcción de la Teoría de las Esferas o simplemente Esferología, como la formulara Peter Sloterdyk, en los tres conocidos volúmenes de Sphären. El Globus Cruciger, sobre la cabeza de la figura del poder imperial, real o incluso religioso, el caso del Sumo Pontífice, nos lleva a una serie de análisis simbólicos, que no son nuestra intención traer cuenta, más aún la necesaria y casi inevitable alusión a la Merkabah (מרכבה) y sus complejos senderos de estudio, desbordan y rebasan los límites de nuestra intención, que no es otra más, que el establecimiento ab initio, de la simbología napoleónica – tema de por si también, complicado – como introducción a un fenómeno muy antiguo y a su vez, muy reciente, el retorno bajo nuevas formas, en algunos casos, en otros es idéntico a sus orígenes, de la vinculación, del poder y su expresión actual, vía las tendencias Neo-teocráticas, imperantes y operantes, de maneras nada sutiles, dentro de las formas de hacer política y, más cercana a los objetivos de este corto análisis, que es la conducción de la política exterior.

La cuestión de la laicidad del Estado y las libertades religiosas, que surgen tal vez con el bonapartismo, para unos, para otros, una nada simpática experiencia histórica, todo lo contrario, las guerras napoleónicas devastaron el continente europeo, generaron fracciones y divisiones, unas no evidentes y semi-ocultas, las otras no tanto, se podría quizás ver a Napoleon, como un gran globalizador, en términos mas metafóricos, que reales, o más bien es cuestión del asunto de las tiranías opresoras, invasoras y destructoras. La laicidad, de clara inspiración europea, se fue imponiendo a lo largo del Continente americano, principalmente desde las guerras de Independencia y no fue un fenómeno o movimiento avasallante, enfrentó oposición y lucha férrea, guerras internas y grandes tragedias. Desde el México de Juarez hasta la Argentina y el Uruguay, el nacimiento del constitucionalismo latinoamericano, venía acompañado, del principio de la separación del Estado y la Iglesia. Los viejos conflictos, entre las Logias Masónicas y la Iglesia Católica subyacen a lo largo y lo ancho, de la historia política y jurídica del constitucionalismo y la política latinoamericanas. Sin entrar a reconstruir una historia ampliamente relatada y documentada, con unas consecuencias claras y sumamente adversas, esa sorda lucha, en unos casos, peleada abierta y militarmente inclusive, empaño y desvió los caminos y rutas constitucionales latinoamericanas, impactando todos los niveles de la vida ciudadana y política. Exilios, conjuras, incautaciones, expropiación de bienes e inclusos crímenes políticos y hasta magnicidios, de crueles y siniestras consecuencias, marcaron el sendero de las poblaciones latinoamericanas, en búsqueda de construir sociedades modernas y pujantes, justas y prósperas. Los grandes historiadores latinoamericanos han documentado extensamente ésta enorme tragedia. Sin embargo, volvamos a la esfera, al Globus Cruciger y su significación, en la construcción de un poder global y omnímodo.

Aunque la idea del análisis del globalismo alrededor de la idea de la esfera, como símbolo total de la imagen de la perfección, una idea griega en realidad, en la esfera no había ni principio ni fin, todo está incluido dentro de la esfericidad, de la misma. La presencia de la esfera a lo largo de tantísimos siglos, en diferentes e incluso circunstancias evidentemente, sin relación alguna, en la más mínima forma, eventos, ceremonias o por demás, actos y hechos, totalmente dispares, tránsitos temporales completamente alejados, aunque en algunos casos, la presencia continuado de la presencia, de la esfera, de manera completamente deliberada, se podría decir, como si fuera un deliberado símbolo del poder global y terrenal, bajo la cruz, lo cual es y fue un constructo teorético y concreto, en su plena dureza de realidad, la idea del Sacro Imperio Romano-Germánico, bajo la concepción de un orbe unificado y en torno a la cristiandad, no es para nada mera casualidad. Evitando esa tentación, aunque muy atrayente, los fenómenos posteriores derivados del uso extenso, de una simbología deliberada, cargada de contenidos y mensajes, algunos herméticos y secretos, otros transparentes y sin ningún tipo de disimulos o confusiones intencionales. La esfera del poder esta allí y sigue estándolo, como forma de dominio imperial, religioso, sabiduría oculta, alianzas de grupos ocultos o tantas otras formas de pensarla y concretarla. Hay un factor del uso de esta simbología, que es sumamente problemático, hacerla caer, en la mano o cabeza, de un individuo, seleccionado, por razones nada evidentes, sea vía descendencias, líneas de sangre, linajes de otros tipos, como suelen serlo hoy día prevalentemente, económico-politicos, formados y consolidados, en dinastías ligadas al destino de pueblos, naciones o cuestionables sentidos de inevitabilidad o privilegios basados, en argumentos débiles sustentados, en tradiciones o prácticas supuestamente inmutables, no son ya más suficientes, para enarbolar la esfera del poder. El legado napoleónico, de ninguna manera totalmente extinto, vivo y vigente todavía, en instituciones jurídicas y otras formas, compite, con los viejos enemigos de siempre, esas otras formas de poder, que llevaron al Emperador de los franceses al exilio y posteriormente a su desaparición física. Auto erigirse en poseedor de los secretos de la esfera del poder y de manera publica y ostensible, relegar a un segundo lugar a los poderes dueños originales de la esfera del poder, antiguos conservadores y preservadores de secretos, solamente reservados, para aquellos cuantos, que conocen y manejan los códigos antiquísimos, de las lecturas, capaces de descifrar, la antigua sabiduría contenida, en la esfera misma. No es delirio y de ninguna manera, fantasías llenas de exaltada imaginación, las razones ocultas son sencillamente, las más poderosas y determinantes y Napoleon supo y vivió personalmente, esas consecuencias. Alumbraba una nueva realidad, no necesariamente distinta, que llevo en desbocada carrera a la locura y la insanía, de las guerras y de la destrucción.

Esa antigua batalla, de alguna manera aún librándose, entre el anticlericalismo y el laicismo, marcó una muy larga etapa de las realidades occidentales, no está totalmente ausente, ha sufrido una transmutación y la presencia e introducción de nuevos factores, modificó dramáticamente las posiciones clásicas, la segunda mitad del pasado siglo vio surgir construcciones intelectuales y teoréticas, las cuales no sólo, reformaron los paradigmas, en tanto que modelos fijos, desplazando el énfasis a otras y distintas, mas radicales incluso, posiciones y las viejas confrontaciones, drásticamente transformadas, vieron unas nuevas formas de enfrentamientos, los antiguos enemigos no lo eran más, aunque los campos seguían enfrentados, las herramientas y los instrumentos de lucha, eran muy distintos. Algunos de los añejos conservadores mutaron en revolucionarios – incluso armados y violentos -, invocaron profundas renovaciones y visiones teológicas actualizadas, deviniendo en vanguardias y lo sempiternamente conservado y visto, como inmovible, inmutable, cambio radicalmente. Incluso la centenaria “teología del amor” paso a ser “teología de la espada”, curiosamente los textos sagrados, fundamentan las dos versiones, la de la caridad y la entrega y la de la fuego y la espada. Del compromiso con y por los pobres se llego a la lucha por la liberación de los desposeídos, explotados y ultrajados, por las vías armadas y violentas, nuevamente por la espada, si ese fuera el caso y lo fue en mas de una ocasión. La sorpresa y el asombro generado por esa demanda y compromiso se tradujo, en abandono, migraron los otrora lideres y guardianes, hacia una expresión y confesión, basada en el individuo y su relación directa y personal, sin mediaciones, con el Creador. Creció así y de manera acelerada, una confesión rival de la dominante, una que había nacido de la Reforma, en la vieja Europa, que se revelaba al designio único Papal y Romano. La Reforma, con su luchas internas, no solamente vía disputas teológicas, también vio blandirse la espada y en más de una ocasión, se recurrió al uso de la misma, para imponer creencias y principios de una fe supuestamente renovada, la cual lentamente se fue alejando de la tradicional visión romana, una separación muy particular, donde una practica esencialmente comunitaria, donde la fe se vivía y practicaba, en comunidad, lentamente fue cediendo a una especia de centralismo individual, construido incluso, en mayores rigidez, con menor espacio, para las hermenéutica e interpretaciones teológicamente arriesgadas, donde el imperio del texto era y sigue siendo absoluto. Los espacios de disidencias se fueron cerrando y la lectura fija y repetitiva, de textos traducidos, se convirtió en la regla suprema y única. Tenia ésta visión, muchos espacios de comodidad, para quienes tenían miedo de perder su identidad privilegiada. Así los viejos enemigos se convirtieron en aliados y los antiguos aliados tornaron, en enemigos. No había mucho espacio para la laicidad y las libertades religiosas, aunque se predicaran y se defendieran, en textos jurídicamente sagrados también, las retóricas eran vacías y meramente proselitistas. Las Neo-teocracias se consolidaban lenta e inexorablemente. La moral del lucro no solamente fomentaba, alentaba y permitía el enriquecimiento, hasta justificaba la acumulación, de riquezas y posesiones – claro con los pagos y contribuciones del caso, vía diezmos u otros caminos -, invadió literalmente la política, bajo mandatos, de inspiración divina, inició su lento camino y proceso de establecimiento y expansión, de una presencia renovada, más impetuosa – actuando bajo un dictum divino, ordenado directamente por el mismísimo Creador – y su férreo puño empezó a cerrarse alrededor de la política misma. Sus actores dicen tener una comunicación directa y son receptores, de esos mandatos divinos, a los que obedecen, sin ninguna duda, convirtiéndolos, en una nueva legión de profetas ungidos, destinados a cumplir los designios sagrados revelados exclusivamente a todos aquellos, que están facultados a escuchar y ejecutar. Un no tan silencioso asombro invade a quienes observan y se debaten, para comprender cómo semejante renovación se ha impuesto, por muchas partes del mundo. Los llamados Ministros de Culto, en el lenguaje del constitucionalismo latinoamericano, gobiernan, ganan elecciones, incluso, administran justicia, su presencia es completa y absoluta.

Sin embargo, es en el ámbito de la política exterior e incluso de la diplomacia misma y sus prácticas, que su presencia y participación se ha hecho cada vez más notoria, especialmente en Estados cuyas dirigencias y lideres, son no solamente Ministros de Culto, sino más aún, figuras religiosas, dentro de sus propias comunidades. Hay una constante y permanente, fluida incluso, interacción, entre lideres políticos, gobernantes y prominentes figuras religiosas, Rabinos, Pastores, Obispos y otros más, tanto a nivel nacional, como internacional, en un esfuerzo por alcanzar acuerdos o, sin mayores disimulos, impulsar agendas, sea por la vía de la influencia, del poder o por medios mas amistosos, constantemente se recurre a este tipo de formas de ejercer dominio. Así podemos apreciar, que los debates actuales, sobre los límites de las soberanías nacionales, las interferencias extranjeras, vía diversas maneras, cooperación o seguridad, tal vez las más ostensible, la administración de justicia y la persecución de las organizaciones criminales, que operan internacionalmente, lavado de activos y tantos otros extremadamente sensibles, están profundamente impregnados, por visiones y concepciones, que muchas veces inclusivo entran en conflicto, con normas y principios del Derecho Internacional. Cuando el principio de la no intervención y no injerencia es invocado, por un Estado que se ve amenazado, por las políticas más agresivas de otro más poderoso, se generan confrontaciones, de consecuencias inclusive desagradables y hasta peligrosas, nuevamente y de forma reiterada, se recurre a lobbys formales o informales, profesionales o sencillamente, buenos oficios, para exponer puntos y buscar cambiar políticas o posiciones, en favor de otras agendas, fuertemente ligadas a grupos de interés ligados a grupos religiosos, de distintas confesiones, que operan interna y externamente. De allí que veamos una naciente conformación neo-teocrática, en el ejercicio del poder publico e inclusive, en las políticas mismas formuladas, por gobiernos en pleno ejercicio. La anhelada separación Iglesia/Estado tiene hoy limites muy tenues y plagados, de claroscuros. Tal vez históricamente, nunca ha sido real, antes más discreta – aunque hay momentos, en los cuales ha salido incluso a hacer la guerra y hay muchos ejemplos de esto -, durante algunos momentos y en otros sencillamente abierta e inequívocamente militante.

Una reflexión final puede ser de alguna utilidad, hemos apostado de manera casi universal, por el multilateralismo y sus instituciones, una cuidadosa arquitectura de Tratados y otros instrumentos internacionales, establecimientos de Cortes con jurisdicción universal – aunque esto es aún una aspiración, la Corte Penal no ha alcanzado todavía la universalidad deseada, grandes potencias se resisten a adherirse al Estatuto de Roma y ser Estados partes – y, penosamente, vemos que esos grandes esfuerzas, vía una larga serie de Organismos, Organizaciones y demás formulas empleadas, la debilidad del Sistema se profundiza. Hay muchísimas causas y razones, que podrían explicar los fracasos y debilidades internas y externas del Sistema, el asunto de la membresía del Consejo de Seguridad permanece en un infructuoso debate, los tamaños de las economías, genera una enorme disparidad, en una membresía, claramente política y demasiado sumida, en unos tiempos superados, mantener la exclusividad, basados en acuerdos logrados al final de las grandes guerras del Siglo pasado, no reflejan una realidad mundial, que reclama una renovación y modificaciones necesarias, los cinco miembros permanentes, con ese complicado “derecho al veto”, excluyen economías mucho mayores, que algunos de sus miembros permanentes, Japón y y Alemania, con economías muchísimo mas grandes, esperan y promueven, con poco éxito, una modificación de las presentes condiciones; Japón y Alemania juntos, por recurrir a un muy obvio ejemplo, tienen economías, las cuales juntas suman más de 10 trillones de dólares, India no sólo tiene una economía mayor también, que algunos de los miembros permanentes y su derecho a veto, es uno de los mayores contribuyentes al Sistema. No es necesario y no cabe aquí, extenderse en estos temas; sin embargo, son de utilidad suma, para ver con claridad la necesidad urgente, de emprender esas reformas, nada fáciles de consensuar y tal vez el Deus ex machina, vigente en los nuevos modelos Neo-teocráticos, implemente formulas diferentes, para rescatar las visiones, hoy muy perdidas, de eso viejos y permanente ideales, de paz, seguridad, prosperidad y generosidad humana, que podrían sustentar y preservar una humanidad permeada y a la merced de fuerzas obscuras y siniestras deshumanizantes.

The Makers of Peace. On men and war.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

The Peacemakers, 1868 by George Peter Alexander Healy. The White House Historical Association, White House Collection.

The recent events unfolding literally in-front of our very own eyes, due to the war coverage of the major American and others, news outlets, either/or privately or even State owned television networks and other means of mass communication, turned humanity as such – this is a world wide event – into an spectator of unimaginable destruction, bestiality and barbarity, seen and followed by millions even billions of viewers from every nation of the world. Horror, atrocities and all the worst of mankind comes out in war in the name of some abstract concepts and on grounds of political ambitions of individuals, becoming tyrants or inhumane monsters of destruction and bringers of pain and hurt to countless human beings, children, defenceless pregnant human, the elderly, whom we have witness with utmost amazement and a very deep anger, coming from impotence and total dismay. How to stop a war when both parties are drawn into a deepening abyss of destruction, annihilation and different forms of hate? The behaviour and acts of States attacking another State a neighbouring country, fully recognised as such by the international community and all its legal instruments, the general framework so painfully built to leave in peace and harmony and eve more, in the view of Customary International Law, is clearly punishable according to International Consensual Law and International General Law when flagrant violations are being witnessed by the world at large. Individuals capable of such atrocities pursuing inhumane goals as total destruction of cities its hospitals and schools, housing students and sick persons seeking treatment or women with children, like the case of a pregnant women being carried out in a stretcher by merciful hands, a doctor struggle and fought intensely to save the both of them, sadly they died. The husband and other family member came quietly to retrieve the bodies as of now the names remain unknown. We honour the memories of the fallen ones. We read at loud the names of the victims, we celebrate their memories and we do it not only as an act of kindness and generosity but for duty and admiration too. We build memorials and monuments, light candles pursue with the utmost conviction to respect their memories and in the name of their suffering, claim for justice, unambiguous justice. Names are written on walls so they shall never be forgotten. We call “for never more”, “never more”, nonetheless it keeps happening.

And then to the question, if mankind has historically wedged war for a very large series of reasons, the hope that Europe after the catastrophe of the las two great wars and others fought in other continents and parts of the world, where also horrendous acts of inhumanity were committed and exterminations of other populations were sought and executed, the pace makers stablished and international system of legally binding – a vast majority – instruments to protect and safeguard humanity from its very dark side, the one that looks for wars and seeks after the unleashing of the deadly horseman that carries the name of war, Ezekiel calls it “sword” and the most famous one or at least, the more notorious is the second horseman of the Apocalypse, who rides a red horse and its named as “war” and maintains the Ezekiel reference of the “carrier of the sword”. The wild and evil beasts that room the earth and the wielding of the sword as an ultimate act of punishment, probably this idea of the punishment of God or the Trial of God tells the story of how intricate and complex man’s relationship with war and its sprouting and transformation in this manifold horrible entity that even seems to have taken a life and a form for itself. Enter the United Nations. The plural form or “We”, meaning the peoples of the United Nations the so-called “survivors of the scourge of war”, designed and built a system in which the human persons could leave in peace and ruled by fulfilling and abiding to the obligations from Treaties and other sources of International Law, enabling all peoples of the world to coexist in respect and dignity within the framework of the absence of the wielding of the sword. We are very far from achieving such goals. We struggle with the sword and our world institutions stablished and ultimately created, to stop the destructive power of the second horsemen and the wild and evil beasts, seem to be overwhelmed and incapables of producing the outcomes outlined by the hopes and ideals of the visionaries, the peace makers, contained in the “charter of dreams”.

The recent ruling issue by the International Court of Justice, on the 16 of March, indicating Provisional Measures comes as an extraordinary effort by the World’s most prestigious international tribunal, on an effort to stop the war, in its Order that carries binding effects, the Court orders to the Russian Federation, “…immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine…”; a second Measure that expressly ascertains to prevent any “furtherance” of military operations and of regular and irregular forces or individual under his direct command and support; both Measures were adopted by 13 votes in favour and 2 against, being thus, the Russian and Chinese votes, issued by two distinguished and highly regard Jurists, Justices Gevorgian from the Russian Federation and current Vice-president of the Court and Justice Xue of China, who appended as well as Justice Gevorgian, declarations to the Order by the Court; on a third Measure, indicated by the Court, was unanimously indicated: “Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.” The construction of the said Measures is grounded on the the Court’s extensive jurisprudence as well as other sources of International Consensual Law , the Court declared jurisdiction and adjudicated the Case submitted by Ukraine and challenged by the Russian Federation, questioning the jurisdiction of the Court whilst invoking the article IX of the UN Convention on the Presentation and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted under UN Resolution 260 A (III) from 1948 and its entry into force on 1951. Both the Russian Federation and China challenged the jurisdiction of the Court on a matter not covered under the Convention. The intricate legal discussion is of a very high level – like the Court historically has constantly maintained – however, the Prima Facie decision undertaken by the Court is founded not on the scope of the Convention which clearly doesn’t regulates the use of force between States nor recognition of statehood. Nonetheless, the Court very carefully threads the argument of eventual irreparable harm – which seems to be abundantly clear is taking place, the atrocities committed are blatant and flagrant – and the irreparable prejudice might create conditions – in fact on the ground is happening as well – beyond repair, maybe it would be opportune to remember the so called Higgins Rule – we are here referencing the great British internationalist Dame Rosalind Higgins former President of the Court too – that the Court when an application is submitted “the Court ought to accept pro term the facts as alleged by the Applicant to be true” and thus adjudicate and consider the merits of the Case on a further stage. The prima face test. Finally, the Court agreed unanimously on a third Measure – the Court has the power to indicate the requested Measures or others that might deem necessary, which is the present case – to which Justices Gevorgian and Xue added their respective affirmative votes: ” Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.”. Remembering one of the more important principles that the Theory of Controversies, all controversies grow in depth if remain unsolved, this is clearly the case and we continuo to see the horrors of war as it inflicts indescribable pain and hurt to civilian population, the elderly, women and children, innocent lives are being severed and damage, in the language of Court, irreparable harm is committed constantly true the aggression conducted by the invading army of the Russian Federation, sadly and with a very heavy heart we acknowledged that the indicated Measures and the Order of the Court, in spite being binding, remains largely unfulfilled and the Russian Federation – in complete disobedience of the Order and breaching Humanitarian International Law – continuous it war of aggression against a neighbouring State and member of the United Nations with total violence and Europe suffers in its own territory another war, echoes from a not so distant past, when the “winds of war” blew savagely throughout the whole Continent, crimes are committed on a daily basis and certain tyrannic pseudo leaders of peoples cynical actions of destruction and terror inflicting inhumane suffering to a population largely victimised and deprived of the minimum dignity and respect demanded as persons by all the instruments of International Law that both States are parties to.

There’s clearly something beyond the realm of law. Human lives, human persons, individual existences are being not only terrorised but damaged beyond repair, we call that irreparable harm. Intervention in the form of military intervention to safeguard peoples or populations from tyranny and abuse has been claimed and used for centuries nonetheless in this case isn’t a very sound argument. Initiating a war of aggression on the basis of protection or to use International Law’s own terminology, the question of the “legality on the use of force” remains an elusive matter but to use this argument to commit the acts that we have been witnessing, although the famous formula coined under the “responsibility to protect” or as is known R2T, a so called “emerging norm” that doesn’t carry yet the binding condition but rather a political weight, can only by invoked if all peaceful means to solve any controversies had been fully an duly exhausted. Diplomacy as the sole mean to peace most remain at the core of all conflicts and controversies. However let us not forget that the Measures Indicated by the Court are binding to both parties so the war of aggression initiated by the leaders of the Russian Federation – it is always important to distinguished between peoples and their leaders, sometimes as is the present case, they are not necesarely liked minded – arguing that genocide is being conducted and crimes are being committed against the Russian population in Ukraine seems rather cynical to say the least. Once again we most bear in mind at all times that Ius in bellum and Ius ad bellum most be distinguished and are not to be confused with one another. The disrespect for Humanitarian International Law in the conflict is largely appalling and the breach and disobedience, the total lack of comply, the disobedience or transgression of binding instruments of International Consensual Law and Customary International Law governing this matter, the fall into forms of barbarism and brutality, cannot remain ignored nor fall into deafness and silence.

So many essential legal and judicial issues are at stake here. If the most important international Court ever created cannot stop the war and one party remains not only defiant but comminting atrocities without any sort of remorse, bombarding hospitals and schools, our hopes and dreams for an international accountability suffer a severe set back. We most be careful to draw the line and not extended the blame and shame to the Russian people, most of them probably do not know what exactly is happening on a neighbouring State which has been historically and emotionally linked to the Russian Empire and its culture and ways of life. So much can be told in this intricate subject, just to quote one of this extraordinary significant moments in history, serves as an example of the closeness of the bonds, many more and probably more relevant ones but probably it is best to recall when in 1945, the Yalta Conference was held, we all know that Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill sat together to reshape the world after the horrible war in Europe and some famous photos where taken and will forever be a part of history, as mentioned the Yalta Conference was also called the Crimea Conference and was held precisely in Crimea at the Livadia Palace and the Yusupov and Vorontsvov Palaces. The peace makers. In the very famous painting used as an introduction and inspiration perhaps to the current post, Lincoln sits with the Generals that conducted the Civil War on behalf of the North and seemingly ended it, we see seated in the after cabin of the Union steamer River Queen we find Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, President Abraham Lincoln, and Rear Adm. David D. Porter. The War Generals turned into peace makers and builders of new worlds. We have seen this transformation so many times in history, fierce enemies building peace, lasting peace between peoples and former rivals. Sometimes some of them have fallen to the haters of peace, many illustrious names can be named and should at all times be called out loud. However, the idea that war most be wedged to bring peace is not only a very dangerous one but also cannot be and never has been or will ever be, extent of the atrocities and horrors that war unleashes on human beings, human persons after all they are the centre and core of the meaning of a life leaved in peace.

The Big Three at the 1945 Yalta Conference.

Closer than we think more apart than we wish: on impossible encounters.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

El Dios del Fuego. Carlos Merida,1948.
Dagoberto Vásquez. Mona Lisa, 1988.

The ever present debate on the scope and limits of the idea of “the west” continuous to be alive and suffering trough different forms and accolades for the sole purpose of debating wether the limits of “the west” can be sufficiently stablished. “The West” is not a mere geographical concept we know that with enough and robust – to steal a term currently employed widely and coming from the epidemiologist language -, it’s use is falling into the category or semiotics of a “cultural jargon”, so therefore there is robust evidence regarding the conception of the limits and scoped of “the west”, the German language refers to “the west” with the term “Abenland, Abenlands“, if we could think back on Trakl’s great poetry and with a benevolent employment of the quasi sacred term, the west is the land of the night, although Australia, New Zealand and other so-called “western countries”, at least according to the United Nations terminology referring originally to the “western europeans and others” a group not entirely free of serious internal contradictions, Turkey is a member and some other countries that are clearly a part of western culture constitute other regional groups in spite of their history and obvious western origins, thus being the case of the Latin American countries – notoriously grounded and founded, constituted on western values – however they rather form their own regional group and not only due to political or geopolitical realities but probably and mainly so, because of conflictive views and historically complicated relations with their older cousins. The controversy and debate on the meaning of the term, West, is taking first stage nowadays, not only on political theatres but even on Academia – where it’s been revised, deconstructed from sometimes and now – specially when other emerging so-called new theories take central stage – a strong case can be made on the controversy surrounding the notion of “critical race theory”, amongst other principal leading conceptions – and art, art history is no stranger to this crucial controversy, ever expanding controversy.

The question of Latin America being or pertaining to the West has been debated since the origins and begins of the New World. Whilst the United States has been an unquestionable member or part of the western world, origins are likely the same, colonised by European powers and powers at war sometimes within themselves too. The Imperial Britain wagged all sort of wars against the Spanish Crown, not to forget the buccaneers and pirate constant attacks of Spanish vessels and ships all over the Atlantic Ocean as a new theatre of war. One of the central events that can be said, reshape, redefined Europe, took place between the Spanish Crown and the Crown of England, namely the Catalina de Aragon controversy – so called ‘divorce’, a forceful and even violent separation – that redefined European history, the already split and divergence between the emerging reformed countries and the Mediterranean Catholic Kingdoms. The story is so well know that doesn’t need another retelling or recounting facts remain and the clear outcome of a King’s wish turns into a disastrous series of events that conclude unraveling more dramatic and unforeseen consequences that brought about division and wars, heroism and conflicts over principles and belief and probably more significantly a different configuration of powers with grave and profound influence on the construction of the New World. The West cannot exist without the Judaeo-Christian conception of the world. Axiological systems coexisted although divided by theological interpretation of the Godspells and the stories narrated on the Book even more, the administration of Faith – a central topic of the bitter fight – becomes utterly significative. Rome rule on all matters is challenged on all aspects of life and the authority of the Pope and the Church as such, becomes not only the source of a harshly contested questioning but also disrupts and brings elements not before seen on European history. The long standing domination of the Pope and the Church on all matters of Faith became disputed and new formulas to be a real and truthful follower of the teachings of Jesus dethrone the ancient order and establish not only an incoming doctrine but transforms everyday practices for the common and not excluded too, nobility and royalty itself. As beheadings and fake trials, inquisitorial tribunals conducted questionable processes and condemnation of innocent people in many European kingdoms, ravaged everyday lives at all levels not excluding, as is well known, even Kings and Queens whose heads fell to the rage and hate of the imposing wills of new rulers and quasi prophets.

The New World struggled mightily with different issues, some were prevalent and horrendous, discrimination, servitude, abhor-able lack of recognitions of human condition – specially to what entails the infamous Inter Caetera Bull of 1493 issued by the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI – and wrights to enslave and own human beings, a colossal tragedy of immense consequences all over the world and specially in our own Continent. All done in the Name of King and the Glory of God. Exploitation and inhumane practices were enforced and stablished throughout the Continent, in the oceans the trafficking of persons, enslavement and cruelty beyond boundaries rampantly grew and shaped a macabre version of how colonisation and domination of the discovered lands and its inhabitants constructed an expansion of the West into the building of a vast domain, caught between the ancient world and its ancient ways and the unbeknown future slowly growing in the New World. Marvell and horror, monstrosity and heroism paired themselves and simultaneously gave birth to an extraordinary but very painful and hurtful new reality, impregnated with the wonders of the ancient world and its inherited maladies. Side by side nations were formed, wars were fought to liberate and generate newer forms of living and self ruling. Disparity and wealth, modernisation and change introduced distinct patterns of construction and destruction. Something new aggressively took hold of long and venerable traditions, ancient civilisations and cultures succumb to the power of the horse and the powder. Birth came to no surprise under extreme pain. Sometimes the pain of birth was also the pain of annihilation and even extinction although not all the entire old world fell to the path of iron and steel. Some of the older ways still are present, silently and maybe even discretely and others more vocal and demanding. The old ways learnt to speak the language of the new ways and in a blending of old-and-new, transformed its original pains and hurts into articulated and well thought modern demands and wrights. The phantoms of the past are nowadays the silenced cries for justice and equality. Voices are heard throughout the New World agin finally into a slowly establishing spirit of generosity and recognition, respect and living equally with the differences. It is happening – not at the pace and rhythm we wish or want – however slow and inadequate it might seem but is nonetheless showing the green sprouts of hope.

Both paintings that I have used for my present post, are from two extraordinary Guatemalan main and most respected artist, Carlos Merida and Dagoberto Vásquez, one is called El Dios del Fuego, The God of Fire and the other one Mona Lisa. Looking carefully it is very easy to recognise European painting techniques, trends more properly said, followers of certain dominant schools of expression, one can broadly said that abstractionism and cubism are to some extent, others as well, present and relevant on both paintings. Masterfully created, thought, conceived and crafted. The blending of European conceptions and Guatemalan hands, minds and souls. Guatemala as many other or all of the Latin American Countries are filled with wonderful artists, writers, poets as is practically world wide acknowledge. Some have created new languages and emerged as creators of the mixing of the Old with the New World. Ancient forms of expressions and the recounting of stories where texts and narratives, images over all, come together with new ways of expressions, new languages and creativity. The Old Europe meets the Old Latin America. In the Spanish language we often talk about “mestizaje” – not to be confused with the infamous term miscegenation, as the iconic 1967 Ruling of the Supreme Court stablished unequivocally and unanimously on the case between Loving versus Virginia – and I prefer to use the plural form because it has and encompasses, engulfs, multiple semantic layers, complex stadiums of meaning, highly complex. The encounter of the worlds either as a clash and a later coming into a lengthy transformation that emerges from destruction to creation, is not completed, continuous to be a moving and transforming, deconstructing process if you want to introduce such term, the new emerges slowly from the new and the old threatening menaces of the past lurk from the dark and have not vanished entirely. A Latin American Mona Lisa, such is Vásquez’s case, a historical symbol of beauty and exquisiteness, transformed into another form of expression as like small children sucking the thumb, treating to emerge and borne into a newly shaped imaginary and maintaining the rebellious spirit of the times, within the scope and limits of the old artistic language and using its symbology, the thumb calls as a well known symbol, the domains of the new beauty and exquisiteness translated or deconstructing the old ways but using its iconic styles and forms to utter the slow coming-into-life of the blended new forms. Throughout the whole Continent – and Canada and the United States as well – this constant shopping and re-shapping, constructing and deconstructing, blending as mestizaje constantly takes place, sometimes manifesting as free art, pure and sheer creation others, violently emerging out of fire and powder, pain and death.

Carlos Merida’s God of Fire, el Dios del Fuego, clearly uses a title and an iconography stemming from the Ancient Mayan Gods, Guatemala has a long an illustrious list of artists and painters that produce remarkable works of art bringing together both worlds. The old speaks out trough the languages of the cultural movements and conceptions deriving from the European great artistic traditions. If – and not only his name is essentially tied to this conceptualisation of artistic expressions – we select or single out one name, we can easily fall in the lack of attention, the artistic movement in Guatemala is very large and fruitful to extraordinary levels. Same can be extended to all of the artistic creation, literature and poetry also, the name of Humberto Akabal, comes out immediately and his body of work, written in both languages he mastered, represent an example of the old voices coming out aloud, in its original rhythm and tone, the notes of a profound and deep experience shines in the poetic-praying of the ancient languages. Once again we insist, this is an extended experience shared by all the nations of the Continent that once named once the New World. A unique and most individual manner to approach the encounter of the West and its transformation on a bi-facial expression, two sides of the emergence: the mystery of the meztisaje and the powerful response of the new reality, the westernisation of the new and the manifestation of the newly born reality on the blending of the nascent New World. However if this reflection on the nascent emerging realities of the blending of the ancient and old, paradoxically being both ancient worlds, that come to meet in the most extraordinary ways and sadly this emergence, comes trough the power of powder and death, pain and sacrifice, something truly extraordinary brings newer light to the lands of the night whilst it encounters in and older world a newer and fresher expression of the never-ending questions of the mystery of mankind.

On the return of the absurd a newer form of neoexistentialism. The pandemic and the pain of the soul.

Roberto Palomo-Silva

Salvador Dalí, The ghost of Vermeer van Delft which can be used as a table (Phenomenological theory of furniture nutrition), 1934. Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida.

On the Netflix series The Chair a marvellous conversation takes place between Sandra Oh, Ji-Yoon and the Dean of the Faculty, Paul Larson, played by David Morse, around a future Lecturer none other than David Duchovny as Himself, which Yi-Joon severely and vehemently challenges. Ji-Yoo comes to the surprise that Duchovny – a true reference is important to quote here – had been working on a Dissertation for his doctoral degree on Samuel Beckett’s body of work focusing primarily on the Novellas. The Dissertation has only been partially completed, namely the first chapter, hasn’t work anymore on it and intents to renew his research to finish the task. When the Dean and The Chair – just recently appointed/selected – clash on the choosing, the mentioned chapter is given to her so she will conduct an interview or hold a meeting with Duchovny afterwards. The meeting actually takes place, under bizarre circumstances, to say the least, the discussion finally occurs and views are aired and not precisely in the best of manners and ways. The argument raised by Ji-Yoon relates to an outdated approach or conceptions that won’t relate to the current student’s perceptions and preferences. The story leads to a series of arguments and awkward interactions constituting the core of a very funny/dramatic telling of a very complex reality and the constant movement on the intellectual and academic field where professor, researchers, students and, of course, administrators live and collide constantly on essential and almost allegoric cases of absurdity and dramatic episodes. Wether certain conception should be ruled out -frankly none should be cancelled, to use an expression widely employed nowadays- after all academia is the quintessential wold of freedom is grounded and sustained on the practice of unrestrictive freedom, formally at least, administration always have the last saying on the limits and boundaries of the excessive of true freedom. Politics and funding are the big deciders. Retirement, age of retirement, conditions, times, what is appropriate behaviour of an actually serving professor, how, where and when exercising certain pedagogical methods can be acceptable or not, above all, are at the end students clients of a business, a very lucrative one, by the way, thus being the alternative a more deeper and truer meaning of education, higher education in the current case, the old ideals of a forgotten paideia rooted in long term values and visions of the world and mankind, suddenly The Chair places us on the debate of the absurd, we come once again face to face with the question of wether life isn’t pregnant with the malady of absurdity, where meaning is almost impossible to be found.

Current day living has created a unique experience for humanity as a whole. We can be certain to stress the fact that everybody is sharing this extraordinary events on all corners of the world: death has become again a collective experience not only an individual one. The Death-of-the-Other is were the meaning of our own death arises. Existential analytic of the Dasein which is the friendlier and more extensive use of the Heidegger concept introduced on Sein und Zeit – which is about to become 100 years young, as we approached 2027 the year of its publication or jubilee, am very curious what kind of celebration if any might take place – the so called ontological difference stablished the ontic-ontological differentiation between the Being that has and actually carries existence as Dasein and the other beings as such. Heidegger’s language is a precise construct of terms rooted literally on one an another. Since the beginning there’s a vast thinking on language and trough language as an “enabler” of thought. This reference leads us – and that is the reason of its inclusion here – to the post-war debate around existentialism following perhaps Sartre’s and other very important French thinkers and the German version of the Existenzphilosophie as used by Karl Jaspers for example and Heidegger’s own distancing from the term existentialism. Nonetheless, concepts and terms were commonly shared, absurd is one of them, regardless of the nature of the language of preference. We are deeply falling into absurdity. It never ceases to confront us from its obscure nauseating realm. Since the time when Antoine Roquentin went trough the quasi sweetness of the radical, extreme experience called “La nausée” and the world around him turned into a complete somber meaningless chaos, including the others. It sadly seems that we’re in the face of absurdity. The never ending pandemic, politicians loosing all values and spreading inaccuracies not say purely lies and exaggerations, scientist serving politicians and power individuals or worst, gigantic corporations acting cynically and egotistically. The individual existence is succumbing to what the existential analysis of the Dasein called “a public state of interpretation”, one of the “existenzialien” that constitutes inauthenticity. The nothingness lurks from the shadow of non-being.

We face an array of almost daily onslaught of doomsday scenarios. The news report constant misinformation, quasi scientifically studies or pseudo science broadcasting and announcing an apocalyptic outcome. From all fields of human knowledge absurdity emerges or simply crawls into the mainstream world of the never-ending series of lies and exaggerations. It is not as simply as that. Frankly is demonically complicated. Not only truth is constantly challenged, questioned and a certain and relaxed “relativity or relaxation” prays on common sense and reason. Scientist, respected and recognized , switch magically their crucial roles to become voices of politicians or serve even without any form of remorse, partisan interest. The times of the Ronquentin experience seem to stage a robust reappearance, reemerging from the silence of forgetfulness a new wave of nausiatic collapse onto the individual existence. Meaning dissolves into some sort of not so sweet downfall on a nausea experience. The great French writer and thinker Albert Camus gave us one of the most remarkable stories of the radical living trough absolut senselessness: Meursault the principal character of his famous novella, L’Étranger, translated — I am no totally convinced it’s an appropriate rendering of the French word- as The Outsider, described as an homme du midi, kills another person on the beach, under the spell of the blazing sun, which plays an enigmatic but jet fundamental although mysterious role on the assassination of another individual. Camus rejected – as did so many others – the labelling of existentialism however the presence of the absurd on the telling of the story, engulfs the book. The outsider is also a stranger, in German the word entfremdung has been extensively employed by philosophers, even more, social scientists and novelists as well. The root of the word entfremdung is fremden, it carries the sense of distance also, that gives the word, stranger and its experience, a sort of estrangement in English, which is the pregnant and original meaning of the situation that is here described. So being an outsider is also being on a situation of estrangement, distanced and detached , so similar to the condition that we seem to be enduring individually and collectively trough the current pestilence and the narratives surrounding our tragic separation from any form of meaningful living and existence.

An apocalyptic narrative not exclusively of a religious nature is taking hold on many aspects of our aesthetical, cultural and even to some extent, political domains, even espiritual levels can’t remain untouched by this dominating trend. It might seem awkward or even funny but it is not. Alien invasions, the amount of movies and series that deal with the dooms day narrative is staggering, surprisingly high. Many examples can be chosen randomly to signal or point out to the phenomena. The world is coming to end and civilisation and even mankind will go extinct or so drastically transformed that a new era will inevitably emerge from the destruction of everything we cherish and value as the core of our meaning. Even the self inflicted natural disasters will escalate to the extreme threatening the way we leave and more, menacing our livelihood and organised way of life. Wars of planetary scale and the threat by massive weapons of destruction — which by the way are still there, looming — thus being chemical, biological or some evil secret or unknown nature. The nuclear apocalypse seems to be taking a second row to other more catastrophic threats. Options are available and spread from the mere fantastical to the crude reality of climate change, the old principle, set up by the Enlightenment view of the world, “Man can and most control nature, dominate nature”, is questioned from all fields of knowledge. The Age of Enlightenment has ended. Not history, that is a very weak notion, humanity cannot have a meaning without history. Some postmodern conceptions calling for the “end of history” are simply wrong. Returning to the idea of the “end of times”, not necessarily grounded on religious beliefs or prophetical visions, however one most clearly state that they play a major role on many of the decision makers, politicians and others, that openly preached to those ideas, examples can come from many fields, it is a very powerful political tool, used and employed to influence the minds of many individuals that share such reliance or credence. The fear of punishment comes from within the origins of history itself. Guilt and punishment have walked together causing great pain and suffering amongst human beings. Somehow and probably due to the current dramatic situation, enduring trough this hazardous period of mankind will cost us a very big toll and a price that already is escalating in horrendous manners, lives are lost everyday to this battle and hope is elusive and scarce. An Age of Doom is sitting and establishing a tight grip on our most venerable expressions, from the arts to pop culture, sports, all ambits of human life are being treated and castigated by this not so invisible enemy and worst, the response given by those who should lead, leaves us lagging and captured by the idea or even, inevitability of total annihilation. We are watching with dismay and disbelief that another war in Europe might arouse during the times of the current great pestilence. We are being thrown into the abyss of absurdity. The unthinkable becomes plausible and at moments, almost inevitable.

Dali’s painting of the Ghost of Vermeer is not the only attempt to capture Vermeer’s mystery. Dali went to various exercises on re-creating another of Vermeer’s marvellous works, The Lacemaker, apparently it was asked to Dali to paint this special portrait to use a term rather loosely, that might described the painting, there are several of them, the one that is housed on Dali’s Foundation and another in New York, they are called interpretations. Authentic masterpieces and not to forget there’s one copy allegedly in the possession of a private collector. But the one reproduced here, housed at the Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg, in Florida tells another tale about surrealism and the dedication of a lifetime with one of the most intriguing painters of all times. Those who have had the opportunity to watch the Girl with the Earrings at The Mauritshuus in The Hague, will speak afterwards of an wonderful experience not only for the uniqueness of such an extraordinary work of Art, but the whole setting of the Huus. No secret that dutch revere their great masters and Vermeer ranks at the top of the extraordinary list they can so proudly pride to have. The mysteries of the lapis lazuli-blue that Vermeer created for his works carries a long history to be recanted here. One last reference to the Ghost, it seems very Dali to use the wording a “phenomenological interpretation of furniture” but nonetheless this is much more than one of Dali’s humorists attempts at attracting attention over a dear subject. Maybe at large, great art can take us out of the dark tunnel of absurdity and the sensation of the nausea. Hope might come in the form of the wondrous creations of humanity that transcend the everydayness of inauthenticity and lack of meaning, if there is such an exit at all and if someone knew, ironically, about ways to elude insanity and absurdity is none other than Salvador Dali.


Roberto Palomo-Silva

Luogo è in inferno detto Malebolge,
tutto di pietra di color ferrigno,
come la cerchia che dintorno il volge..

Inferno, Canto XVIII. La Divina Comedia, Dante Alighieri.

La apasionante lectura de la recientemente publicada obra de Maria del Rosario Molina, El señor de Malebolge y otros cuentos, Editorial C&M, Guatemala, Agosto del 2021; nos lleva por una magníficamente construida narración y más aún , por una autentica y profunda reflexión, sobre la naturaleza del mal. No es por casualidad la escogencia del titulo de la misma, el Malebolge es uno de las más tenebrosos lugares, en el octavo círculo, del infierno de Dante, quien incluso enumera – además de nombrar algunos de los personajes allí condenados – y lista detalladamente los pecados causantes, de tal condenación, desde usureros, hipócritas, fraudulentos, rufianes y seductores, entre otros se encuentran sumergidos en el bolge, una especie de foso concéntrico, donde yacen figuras históricamente reconocidas y otros meramente anónimos, sufriendo el interminable castigo de una eternidad de sufrimientos inenarrables.

La obra conserva una unidad estilística y temática, interna y formal. Narrada en un lenguaje simplemente extraordinario, Maria del Rosario nos muestra no sólo su dominio del lenguaje, sino su capacidad notable, de crear imágenes, de navegar el curso de las variaciones y giros no solamente poéticos, sino de profundidad conceptual. El cuento principal, “El señor de Malebolge”, el cual da nombre al libro, es el primero de una serie de siete cuentos, pueden leerse separados o como un conjunto, porque están internamente vinculados, son parte de la unidad narrativa del texto. “El segundo circulo”; “La tía Refugio”; “Micifuz”; “El secuestro”; “Química” y finalmente, “La Jacinta”, son los siete cuentos que lo conforman. Un viaje de un enorme placer lingüístico y de una lectura fluida y de una enorme elegancia, amarrados por el común denominador o mejor dicho, el hilo conductor de la visión del Infierno de Dante y complementado con un recurso narrativo muy particular, una combinación de surrealismo semi-macondiano y una literatura fantástica de terror. La oscilación, entre luces y obscuridad, que emerge desde la concepción y estructura del mismo, nos depara una arquitectura narrativa sumamente atrayente y casi intoxicante, que pareciera ser como una versión literaria de una sinfonía fantástica a la Berlioz, impregnada de magia y fantasía.

No vamos a reconstruir ni analizar cada uno de los cuentos, todos vinculados, como decimos arriba, por el hilo conductor, de Ariadna tal vez, buscando la luz y así lograr salir del laberinto o de los laberintos, en los que habitamos, deambulamos perdidos y ausentes, intentando encontrar sentido y significado a lo que hacemos o soñamos. Tal vez, un tanto desvinculado de los otros cuentos, el relato de Jacinta, tenga un valor particular, sobre todo después del intenso debate, que la celebración o rememoración o tal vez, sencillamente recordación, del Bicentenario desencadenó – ahora pareciera menguar, en su intensidad al menos, por ahora – y curiosamente, sirvió para ubicar ideológicamente a la Guatemala dividida, en su grupos, facciones y hasta trincheras, confrontadas, en una visión de lo que debió ser y nunca fue y lo que la realidad histórica – está muy maltratada la mayor parte de las veces, en estos debates sumamente curiosos y algunas posiciones francamente, insostenibles, al menos en los niveles históricos y teoréticos -, deparó y desencadenó a esa Guatemala emergente o naciente después de la destrucción, del mejor de los sueños y proyectos centroamericanos, una Confederación, que se debió mantener y no destruir, en nombre de unos pseudo principios, más personales y de intereses de grupos, personas mezquinas y como María del Rosario nos sugiere, habitantes del octavo círculo, donde muchos hipócritas, fraudulentos, seductores y más, están condenados a un eterno castigo y sufrimientos indescriptibles.

Claro es la mejor metáfora de los cuentos, es el encuentro de Isabella, con el señor de Malebolge, en un castillo casi en ruinas, lúgubre, siniestro y obscuro, donde es convocada, invitada casi se diría, después de cumplir un encargo, cargado de maledicencias y profundas maldades. Hurto de reliquias sagradas, sustracción de obras de arte valiosísimas y consagradas, para servicios religiosos o sea, funciones y tareas de un muy alto orden y significado. Traficar con crucifijos, pinturas o esculturas, destinadas a los altares, de observancia y de usos populares abiertos, para las asambleas o comunidades, delitos comunes, en el sentido de expandidos y frecuentes, como los de las extracciones y subastas de antiguas piezas de las grandes civilizaciones, que existieron y de alguna manera aun lo hacen, en Mesoamérica, con el fin de subastarlas, privada o públicamente, ser adquiridas, por coleccionistas privados y retenerlas, para placeres individuales, como pasa con tantas obras de arte, son perseguidos afortunadamente, con vigor y consciencia, por todos aquellos que defienden estos patrimonios, no de alguna persona o familia, sino de naciones, las cuales son al fin de cuentas, las ultrajadas y vejadas, por delincuentes y una usura desmedida, egoísta y diabólica. El señor de Malebolge recibe y castiga a Isabella y la envía a ese octavo círculo, del que Maria del Rosario nos relata a lo largo de su magnifica obra, donde de la mano de Dante – como un nuevo Virgilio – nos ubica, en una profunda reflexión del mal y su profunda obscuridad. Valiosa, muy valiosa obra, que nos narra y reflexiona, sobre ese terrible misterio, del mal, que pareciera habitar, por todas partes y del cual son testigos, ese curioso gato y un cuestión muy particular presentada casi como un inquietante cuestionamiento, existirá una genética del mal, porque parecieran existir familias enteras unidas y vinculadas, por ese espíritu de iniquidad, dónde las herencias se convierten en armas de destrucción y aniquilamiento, de sucesores y herederos, se podría decir, estamos ante el mal manifestando su poder destructor. A veces la reflexión, sobre los orígenes de ciertas fortunas, viene a cuenta, en estos tiempos de extraordinarias penurias. Si en el mal se pudiera encontrar los orígenes de la corrupción, probablemente Dante nos dejó un inventario y un camino, para reflexionar, con la mayor seriedad posible, sobre un fenómeno totalmente global, presente, en todas partes del mundo, ante el cual la incansable lucha librada, desde muchas esquinas del planeta, nos exigen un mayor compromiso y convicción, para su erradicación y castigo. Merece la presente obra de Maria del Rosario Molina una reflexión y análisis así como una lectura serena y dedicada.