When I hear an analysis that seeks to build bridges between the artist, his work and officialdom, recurring phrases like, “they misinterpreted me,” “they could not understand my message,” “I never wanted to give a political opinion,” are among those that turn my stomach, especially if they assume I should raise my hand and ask a question, give an opinion. The other day I went into a debate depressed: no real question, no real answer. At that moment someone said, “Imagine, they think I’m a worm,” and I said to myself, from this moment if I raise my hand and start to ask questions, for reasons inherent in my personality I will be forced to start saying, “ As a worm I would love to know if…’ But deep down I felt bad and wasn’t in the mood for jokes. I repented from the moment I discovered I wouldn’t raise my hand, I swear it wasn’t cowardice, it was disappointment.
With the passing of time the phrases change and adjust to a new way of understanding the world. When they are intransigent and exclusionary concepts but have not ceased to be valid, sometimes they soften the construction without losing the essence. For some days I’ve been turning over in my mind this incoherence: “Within the revolution everything, outside the revolution nothing”; from my perspective I feel a change which I might try to materialize in this way: “Inside art everything, outside art nothing.”
Perhaps a new government strategy has drawn a clear red line between us: Criticism from within Art (valid), criticism from outside Art (counterrevolutionary). I wouldn’t like this post to give offense to anyone, it’s only the opinion of one who criticizes from outside Art and without any intention to “make culture.”
The Cuban government has always utilized techniques gleaned from censorship, recently I saw the documentaries of Nicolás Guillén Landrián and thought they it would be too difficult for a foreigner to understand why they were censored in the sixties. Without denying its value and above all with total humility before “the criticism from within Art,” with this post I would just like to record that the red line was not put there by us but by them; sometimes, over the years, these details are forgotten.
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.