Some years ago I studied French at Lincoln and had to pass an interview. I had been warned that the questions would be political and prepared my answers. I will not repeat the paragraph that I recited, I'll just say I passed without any problems.
Years pass and we forget these things, that story was buried deep in my brain until a few days ago when a friend called me and told me his own adventures in studying English.
It turns out that no one told him he would have an interview, much less about the political slant. So he sits down calmly with the professor who would test him.
“Good afternoon. Can you tell me the names of the Five Heros?”
“Ummmmmm… it’s. I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
The interviewer frowned and looked down.
“Can you tell me the main points of the Battle of Ideas?”
“No, I don’t know.”
“What does the media war against Cuba consist of?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean.”
The professor glanced around, saw that the environment was “clean” and said:
“Son, is there anything political that you know?”
“Yes, but not what you are asking me about.”
“Look, you can’t enroll, go home, study hard, and come back.”
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.