August is an especially hard month, along with all the little things you have to deal with the whole year—the national news on TV, finding toilet paper, underwear, a strip of metrobamate, the daily dose of multivitamins, etc.—you have to endure 36 degree heat while having a cold.
But at times, in those moments of crushing tedium something lights up the television screen. I’m sitting at the computer and suddenly recognize the well-known delirious voice that I almost never have the pleasure of hearing. Despite being super edited I can feel that the one who makes me split my sides laughing could not have been done away with: the incoherence.
In three minutes el Comandante speaks of global warming, then he mentions a submarine and for some strange mental connection resumes his last reflection: “The Empire and the robots,” (a tribute to Isaac Asimov), and afterwards concludes that the Marti-inspired Bolivarian republic has always been under oppression, and that this can be demonstrated mathematically (at this point Ciro exclaimed, “WHAT did he say?!”).
According to the presenter of this short excerpt, Fidel Castro spoke for three hours before a small audience of students. The only thing I can’t understand is how no one started laughing out loud at some point; perhaps it was because at this stage the audience is quite small, lest anyone lack the patience for it and start nodding off and, embarrassed, has to stumble out (if he gives them a chance).
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.