RIDING MISTER ROJAS, originally uploaded by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
In art, like in politics, the speeches of epigones, now free of the original guilt of the Messiah, start attempting a liberal rereading of the revolutionary scripture and end up being pure fascism. The Cuban intellectual Fernando Rojas, beyond his high governmental charge (every now and then the rumor that he will replace Abel Prieto circulates with horror in the Cuban literary camp), has no reason to be the exception.
Half a century after an adjustment in incidental accounts, Rojas relaunches Fidel Castro’s Words to the Intellectuals from 1961, to the future. He does not want to let the archeologists be the ones who exhume the fossil violence of the document. To interpret is to sanitize. And Rojas bets on ideologizing what was such a concrete act: to put the gun over a desk at the Biblioteca Nacional, the National Library.
It’s about, of course, an attempted coup against Cuban culture. A process of terminal “red”-ization. And hopefully that maneuver will be successful, beyond his scientific demagogy and his republican cadence of Stalinist party in power. Because the full health of any culture is only attained under the obscene boot of a despot. Because without censure there is no moral resistance that might yield limited creativity (cue the developing world’s yawns for our aesthetic exile). Because the future depends on equal parts victim and torturer, where right now Fernando Rojas incarnates that second role (leading role and not at all supporting) with historic chivalry.
So then, the next decade promises to be both gray and luminous in Rojas’s perspective. There will be debates of an anti-dogmatic style about the big mistakes of the Revolution’s past. The bureaucracy will be bureaucratically memorialized for the one-thousandth nine-hundredth fifty-ninth time. There will be rescue rectifications, even for the non-revolutionary writers who don’t get to be incorrigibly reactionary (I myself might be saved on a little plank there). The rage of Cabrera Infante and Reinaldo Arenas will be bleached, like the iniquitous irony of Virgilio Piñera and the atrocious cunning of Lezama were, in their moment, bleached as well. The barbarism of Lydia Cabrera will be folklorized and the stridencies of Celia Cruz will be obligatory. In the meantime, the market will continue being a medieval tool in the mummified hands of the State: the illusion always immersed inside the institution. It’s the theory of the ripe carrot versus the tyranny of an olive green whip.
Applause, close ovation: that’s how the Cuban press transcribed the translation of Fidel Castro’s calligraphers. And Fernando Rojas should’ve finished off like that Granma’s grammar in his last speech. He should not have felt pity for that coda that no one in Cuba, except me, will concede him. In fact, applause and closed ovation is the least that the monolithic ideal that betrays him from paragraph to paragraph deserves, the ones that suppurate an anti-intellectual disdain that would be better articulated, in terms of author, in one of those novels about the loneliness of a dictator previously sadistic and now senile.
Fernando Rojas magnanimously pardons his new captive children’s lives (little happy men that are panic-stricken by him or flirt with him, but definitely children lost in the forest, that sooner or later, will be corrected by the political Peter Pans who care for them). There is no way to avoid his good intentions when brandishing a paved paper like it’s the sole Law. Our Rojaspierre in the ministry knows that the illiteracy of the Cuban audience is in direct proportion to their high educational level. Everyone wants to create, ergo it will then be very easy to make them believe first. And later we will agree on heroes and tombs, as well as grants and voyages, but always complicitly between companions, because out there and in here citizens are sharpening their knives, that never-as-useful than today unscrupulous and insatiable counterrevolution.
Nonetheless, in spite of the enlightened effort of Rojas, clucking out of context “inside the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing,” forwarding the phrase without reading the rest of that primitive speech, exaggerating its character of cultural apartheid and nullifying the semantic subtleties of socialism, maybe it has been the luck of a minimal vengeance, inconsistently transgenerational, almost an anonymous tweet that doesn’t remember what user it came out of, a discontinued vanishing line before the megalomaniac monologue of decades and decades of the Maximum Leader in his tribunal grandstand. It seems that each one has the bad date he deserves.
Translated by: Joanne Gomez
July 6 2011