Photo: Leandro Feale taken from the series Objects and Portraits
Technology is becoming the most dangerous nonconformist on the Island: computers, flash memories and SIM cards are the new heroes on the State Security black list. To take out a camera in a place of conflict is becoming more difficult than shouting Down With Fidel on a bus. For the State, the Internet is not a means of communication at the service of the citizens, it is a weapon for “the counterrevolution.” We have come to a point where progress has become a risk to the status quo.
The good thing is that progress is inherent in society. As a friend said, “there is no one now who can stop it.” The cellphone ringtones passed around by Bluetooth are irresistible: El Comandante shouting, “Answer the phone for fuck’s sake!”, the music from the series Day and Night, the National Anthem, the chorus of the reggaeton song, “Si se va a formar que se forme,” recordings of the police. In short, humor and disrespect are a weapon to combat fear; and technology, the ability to laugh without looking behind you.
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.