Sunday, April 02, 2006

Shakespeare, Mathausen, A farewell to arms

The Bard is due for another year celebration , come April 23rd. That’s “Book’s day” and Catalonia patron saint day, Saint George. TIME magazine’s last issue (March 27, 2006) brings Shakespeare once again to its cover. Shakespeare is indeed hot popular. Alas! an article by Gary Taylor, an editor, claims he is not the best English writer as compared with some other figures of English literature.

What made Shakespeare and Cervantes the most celebrated writers in English and Spanish languages probably has more to do with the advent/invent of printing and the diffusion their works got. It took 150 years for printing to develop fully and both writers enjoyed recognition in their days.

I’ve always compared the advent of the Internet with printing, as both represented a never-thought-before way of making knowledge available to the masses. It has been said that one year of the Internet as far as development and diffusion equals ten chronological years. So if it took 150 to produce major writers we should expect the most important developments in the web sometime around 2010 and 2011.

Last week Mr J. Figueras was admitted to our hospital with a back pain, currently under observation while some image studies are carried out.
Mr. Figueras is one of the members of the Spanish Republican Army defeated in the Civil War that went to France in exile just to be detained and deported to the Mathausen concentration camp by the Nazis in 1940. He survived, was liberated by the American army, returned to France where he lived for more than a decade, finally returning to Spain in the sixties.

He has a lot to talk about and is a pleasure to hear his clear and strong voice as he rambles through his ninety years of full life.

I remember meeting a frail old man in 1969 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Oklahoma City that was a veteran of the Spanish War, what in Spain is known “La Guerra de Cuba”, way back ¡n the last years of the XIX century. He confessed that he actually fought for the Spanish but nobody had asked him anything when he applied for the Veterans benefits…

Old soldiers never die… They fade away into the sunset.


Other soldiers seem to have decided to put their fight to rest. Last week the Euskadi ta Askatasuna organization announced a permanent cease fire that may mean the beginning of a lasting peace in the Basque Country and for Spain too.
Pundits, politicians and just about everybody had filled the pages of news journals and radio talk-shows with comments, analysis and opinions, so much so that is not worth to dig on the situation any further. The wisest position is still that of “wait and see”. The Basque violent nationalists are probably getting tired and the extensive police work both sides of the (Spanish-French) border has bore them down quite a lot.

Also important has been the aftermath of the Islamist terrorist attacks of late (NYC and Washington DC, Madrid and London) that have given political violence a very bad name, if ever had a good one, making more difficult to defend political options using un-discriminated violence.

(Footnote: Using the word “terror” to mean violence-against-politically- established-power is not new. In one of the places of the city of Zamora there is a large bronze statue of Viriatus, a Lusitan (Western Spanish) warrior that fought for his country independence against the Roman Republic invading legions in the 2nd Century BC. At the base of the monument a sign also in large bronze letters reads: “Viriatus, Terror Romanorum”. Terror of the Romans. A bona fide, full blooded terrorist indeed.)

One thing the Spanish should keep in mind, particularly the reluctantly uncompromising members of the government opposition Popular Party is that when you start peace talks, you just have to talk to your enemies. And find a common ground to agree upon. That may be tough and difficult, but there is no any other than your enemies to make amends with if you really want peace.

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