The perspective of the elephants

/ 4 November, 2014

Some verses by Brecht have been on my head for days. Yes, Bertolt Brecht, the German and communist poet. I know that putting together these words, communist and poet, it might be a sign of bad taste, but what can I do, it is Bertolt Brecht who pulled my ears and constantly comes to my mind.

I do not know why I remembered him during a recent afternoon when I was bored outside the Miramar Trade Center, while watching ¨Perspectiva, ¨an Altay gray piece by Jorge Luis Santana, dated 2012. It was then that I remembered the verses by the communist poet –forgive my recidivism, I swear it’s not bitterness-, emerged from a poem entitled ¨El gobierno como artista¨ (The government as an artist).

I like, and maybe it can be noticed, to play with words, innocent amusement that should not arouse free suspicions, as the words, pure sound, are that and nothing more. The fact is that I renamed the poem, to see if it resisted the reversal when becoming in ¨The artist as a government. ¨ Note, in my favor, the mitigation that at that time I had nothing, absolutely nothing to do and was bored, I already said it.

So I started walking in the wrong direction, and I suddenly found myself in front with the herd of JEFF elephants that interrupts the flow of people right there, at a few yards from Santana. By then I did not stop repeating: there is much invested in the construction of palaces and stadiums. That, and no other, is the beginning of Brecht’s poem, which pontificates already in midst of the second stanza: Igual que el artista, / el gobierno dispone de toda clase de fuerzas sobrenaturales. / Sin que se le cuente nada, / él lo sabe todo. No tuvo que aprender / lo que hoy sabe hacer. No ha / aprendido nada. Su formación / es más bien deficiente, sin embargo es capaz, / por arte de magia, de intervenir en todo, de decidirlo todo / aún aquello que no entiende. (Like the artist/ the government have all sorts of supernatural forces. / Without being told / he knows everything. He did not have to learn / what he now knows to do. He has not / learned nothing. His training / is rather poor, but he is capable / by magic, to intervene in everything, to decide everything / even what he does not understand.

There is no need to be so smart to notice that Brecht is judging the government, yes, but also artists. In fact, he has the same opinion on both. The glove he throws, slaps the face of the two of them.

It ‘s true: governments, when they can but also when they cannot, build stadiums and palaces and in the worst case, when they should not. It’s something also common at times in many artists: the desire to raise colossal, gigantic, expensive and costly structures, which most of them they never pay out of pocket; just like governments, of course.

At some point in the project, an intention weighs about the work: it might be anything but it has to be “nice”, the finish must be perfect, unbeatable. I swear I’m not thinking right now in Perspectiva, or in its neighbor elephants. I could be thinking, for example, I confess, in those winged hearts, so red and glowing by Esterio Segura, and I hope he won’t take this to heart.

I think works like that decorate, sometimes happily, a stretch of Avenue, a corner of the city. People passing take pictures of them, as country people did anciently before the Capitol, and then returned home, as equal as they left them. For a moment, someone perhaps wondered what those elephants were doing there, that giant periscope. That one makes the difference.

Then I go back to Brecht, who wrote verses under the worst government and even from that perspective, he launched over the creators his irony, more or less veiled. The poet that caused the largest theatrical revolution from Aristotle perhaps expected too much. His pain, his anger, his rage was such that he lashed out without thinking against the wrong person. It was his right; I am not anyone to take it off.

But, but, but what if I he was just a bit right? What if Brecht’s boldness, his finger pointing, to touch a defectively healed wound that takes too much time waiting? I do not know, to say something else, I would first think about it.

Ernesto Pérez Castillo

Ernesto Pérez Castillo

La Habana, 1968. Escritor. Premio de Novela de la UNEAC por Haciendo las cosas mal (2008). Ha publicado los libros de cuentos Bajo la bandera rosa (2009), Filosofía barata (2006) y las novelas Medio millón de tuercas (2010) y El ruido de las largas distancias (2011).



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