Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan, taken during the Rotilla Festival of Electronic Music
I have never lost the desire to study, I have a certain illusion that studying will keep me young; clearly my body does not support my theory, but we manage. When I started this blog in 2008 I was taking a course in Social-Cultural Studies at the University of Havana, having decided to start over with the materials, assignments, and exams, a year earlier.
I liked studying at a distance, doing my homework alone at home even though the program was archaic; the Philosophy and Society course was really Marxism, the psychology ignored by Freud, and on the exams there were questions about the Battle of Ideas and the Five Heroes – in prison in the United States for spying – which were not of course included in the program. I managed to study jumping over obstacles, zigzagging, and being the queen of ambiguity in my answers.
But after a year I was tired, I lost interest: it wasn’t fun any more to hear the Philosophy professor say in the lectures that Marxism entered into a crisis because of “some tactical errors by Stalin,” nor to hear the Psychology professor using examples taken from Brazilian soap operas. I left, or one might say, as my mother did: I gave up.
I knew I would miss school, but I am optimistic. There is more time in life and I still dream of graduating in Philosophy from the University of Havana… when it recovers its autonomy. Meanwhile, at the home of Yoani Sanchez, Professor Vallin and Dagoberto Valdes offered a lecture that one never heard in the mediocre University Venue; maybe one day higher learning will regain its intellectual status.
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.