Bij uitzondering, of bij wijze van oefening, schrijf ik dit keer in het Engels. Een taal waarin ik mij niet optimaal kan uitdrukken, maar omdat het mensen betreft die het Nederlands niet machtig zijn -I presume-, doe ik eens een poging.
Exactly three weeks ago I had the pleasure to join a meeting in a bookstore named 'Enclave de libros', in Calle relatores in Madrid. Were Norberto Chaves presented his book 'Ser posmoderno'. I ended up in this tiny but cozy bookstore by chance. Actually I was looking for information about Madrid in de late eighties because of my book about an Argentian immigrant that arrived here at that time. But I bought a totally different thing: poems written by the father of Marcela de San Felix, known as Lope de Vega, four centuries ago. I got a kind of lost in the enormous offer of various subjects and titles (what to think about a 'Naturism in the twenties' or 'Kroatian poetry?), seeking for my attention. A kind of 'google in real life' with the smell of fresh printing as a bonus. The owners of this paradise of paper were Italian, which made a conversation more easy for me. Maria invited me to join one of the meetings they organise, just in the back of the bookstore. Not having enough knowlegde of Spanish was no excuse, she said. When I had the courage to read poems of Lope de Vega, I centainly should join the meeting. Practicing Spanish was the only way to learn it.
'Seven a clock' in Spain has to be considered as an 'indication'. But than, finally, the writer and an audience of ten, fifteen men and women started to listen. After an introduction of Cristina Santa Marina, doctor in sociology and filosofy, Norberto Chaves himself took us on a journey from Hamlet to Italo Calvino to Nietzsche. He said that 'Ser posmoderno' was a book to discuss about and even if I did not read neither bought it, I'm eager to accept this kind of invititation. Actually, I already did - in Spanish- on that evening.
Norberto, you don't have a very optimistic view of the world, on mankind, and (lack of) values in this era. You told us humble that writing was something you 'had to do' in life, you could not nót doing it. And you received a shy laughter of the audience by telling us that the only reason to live was not wanting to die. The first thing you said is similar to my attitude to writing, I can not imagine not to write. At this very moment I should have been working. To fix kitchens and bathrooms to earn money to pay the rent. But I prefer to write. Having no boss or colleages, I'm not bothering nobody by doing so. But about the second claim: life as a state of being because of not wanting to die, that sounds pretty anxious to me.
In the book you make an assessment of an inability to answer to a changed, changing society. Especially regarding values. Speculation as a culture, the absolute price elasticity -nothing is worth anything, it only costs something, provisionally- , and the effects of this to politics an, in the end, the way people think. Without having read the book I take the opportunity to claim that value and price has always been a pretty elastic thing. With the difference that in 'modern' times most people thought is was not. Now we do know. And that could have advantages too.
I admit, speculating on what possibly could happen with the price of barrels of oil to the price of houses might have taken a flight forward, but could'nt it be just because of that, that people are searching for other ways of looking, of living their lifes and, in the end, of thinking. What is worth (to live for) without looking at the (provisionally) cost first? As it is not given for granted that our children has a better (financial) life than we have, if there's no promise that proliferate with your talents give you the freedom of more money to do (buy) what you want to do, than maybe it's time to do, to act different in this very moment. Speculating of what prices might could do is no garantee anymore.
And this different way of thinking is just what I saw around me in Madrid. Plenty of initiatives of creative young people that do not believe in fairy tales of economy and grow as an law of nature that we have to obey or believe in. Of course, one could oppose that it's just a small, intelectual part of the world. Or, more mean, these are children of parents with money to cover their back. But I doubt about that.
(continues at part 2)