I think the political posters and billboards have long since crossed the line of semantic absurdity. But this latest adjective, “mighty,” [pujante] has left me with my mouth hanging open. The first time I saw one of these banners (they’re now hanging all over 23rd Street), and read “mighty,” I imagined a woman laboring to give birth with tremendous pain and, since then, every time I read the little word I can’t get the idea out of my head. The worst is when I read the complete phrase, “The Mighty Revolution.” I can’t even begin to explain the disagreeable image that forms in my brain, where there’s no longer a woman in labor, but poor exhausted Cuba, incessantly pushing to give birth to this enormous revolution that won't leave her womb once and for all.
I wonder, who are the people who are making the signs and how much are they paying them? At times, I can make myself believe that they’re doing it deliberately, that those fetuses of metaphor are so that we will read between the lines, so that we will laugh to ourselves and know that they, the designers and publishers of the Mighty (from now on I’ll call it that), are only doing their job because that is how they earn their beans.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.