"L'esperança se'ns ha donat en favor dels qui no en tenen". W. Benjamin

23 de desembre de 2010

Torna Nadal

L'arbre desvetlla sons i el vent escriu 
ratlles de llum damunt la pell de l'aigua. 
Tot és misteri i claredat extrema. 

Torna Nadal i torna la pregunta.

¿Proclamarem la pau amb les paraules
mentre amb el gest afavorim la guerra?

Miquel Martí i Pol

Bones festes a tothom!

19 de desembre de 2010

El poder de perdonar

Clint Eastwood: qui ho havia de dir a l'època dels spaguetti westerns? Anys després de fer el salt a director i gràcies a la productora Malpaso, aquest personalíssim autor ens segueix oferint obres inoblidables per la humanitat dels seus relats. Després de la profunditat intimista de Mystic River, la catarsi històrica de Cartes des d'Iwo Jima i la perspectiva serena i humorística amb què, a Gran Torino, revisa els seus estereotípics papers de pistoler-justicier de western, jo vaig pensar que Eastwood se'ns acomiadava en el punt àlgid del seu geni i el seu talent. Realment vaig pensar que Gran Torino era el comiat. Gràcies a Déu que em vaig equivocar. Invictus, la seva última obra, és un grandíssim treball que ens apropa a la realitat de la Sudàfrica de després de l'apartheid, amb tots els esforços que el país en massa va haver de fer per superar les barreres i les divisions entre les víctimes i els botxins del passat. En aquest procés, va ser bàsica la tasca de Nelson Mandela (brillantment interpretat en el film per Morgan Freeman), president de la nova Sudàfrica. Tanmateix, tot això és el rerefons, que se'ns posa sobre la taula a propòsit d'un fet aparentment molt més irrellevant que les grans idees i les grans conviccions: el campionat del món de rugby celebrat a Sudàfrica l'any 1995. 

Sí, Invictus es podria incloure en ple dret en aquest petit gènere que és el cinema esportiu. Perquè el fil conductor de l'obra és la participació d'un club sudafricà més aviat humil en aquest campionat. Però els Springboks no són sols un club sudafricà de rugby, sinó que representen, per a un gran sector de la població, el símbol de la dominació blanca i el record de les injustícies passades. Davant d'aquesta situació, Mandela opta per no humiliar la població blanca sinó canviar aquesta connotació simbòlica i donar a l'equip de rugby una nova significació, la d'una Sudàfrica unida. La figura del capità de l'equip, que en la pel·lícula encarna Matt Damon, moguda per la inspiradora presència de Mandela, serà un element clau per a la superació, a nivell esportiu, de tot l'equip. Relatada des d'un mosaic de personatges, perspectives, anècdotes i detalls molt diversos, aquesta pel·lícula es transforma en un emotiu relat sobre una superació esportiva que es torna reflex i metàfora del pas endavant de superació que fa tot un país. I és que això no és possible, segons Mandela, sense la capacitat de perdonar.

William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

10 de desembre de 2010

An authentic dragon

Once upon a time there was a golden apple tree in an enchanted garden. It had been the nuptial present from Gea, goddess of the earth, to Hera to mark her marriage with the king of the gods. The tree was guarded by a fierce dragon which was gifted with immortality and by the Hesperides, the three nymphs of twilight. And as usual in this cases, someone suddenly turns up, the hero, who must defy the guardian so as to get the precious treasure: the golden apples from the tree in the garden of the Hesperides. 

Why should it be necessary, then, to place the garden in the remotest part of the world, and to put such a scary guardian in it, if it weren't with the aim of leading the hero there? This is how things go... especially when the hero finds himself bounded with an oath of loyalty to his jealous, mortal cousin, who charges him with one task after another, without a rest. This is the role, since ancestral times, of the mean, evil-intentioned king, who intends to avoid the recongnition of the hero in his simple appearance. As usual in fairytales, when the hero is charged with a task, this one must be impossible to accomplish: it's the only way for the hero to accomplish it so as finally he can be given the recognition he had been denied in the beginning. 

No need to tell, of course, that finally the hero gets on very well in this job. He has no difficulty getting the dragon and the Hesperides off to sleep and picking up the apples on his own. Unsuccessful guardians are always punished, and these ones are no exception. The story ends with the dragon sent up to the heavens in the shape of a constellation and the Hesperides turned into trees. 

Maybe the most remarkable thing is that the garden of the Hesperides, far from the remotest part of the world, is placed in Barcelona and, as in the story, is guarded by a menacing dragon. The garden of the Hesperides, with its well-known dragon gate, is part of the alterations in Güell's state carried out by Antoni Gaudí from 1883 to 1887. Artistically, they belong to the beginnings of its author, and prove to be one of the first examples in Gaudí's works of the use of trencadís (1) in architectonic decoration, as we can see in the coach house, stables and gatekeeper's lodge at both sides of the gate. As a distinctive element we can find the brick vault. 

But what I wanted to talk about in particular is the dragon: this impressive sculpture which guards the entrance to the former park (nowadays belonging to the precincts of the Faculty of Law of the University of Barcelona). Wrought in iron in Vallet i Piquer's workshops in 1885, it threatens the visitor with its open mouth and with this aggressive expression in its eyes: it seems exactly the way in which a dragon should keep watch. By then Antoni Gaudí had got in touch with Eusebi Güell through Güell's father-in-law, the marquis of Comillas, for whom Gaudí had built the summer holiday house known as "El Capricho", near Santander. It is not casual that the marquis of Comillas was also patron of the Renaixença (2) poet Jacint Verdaguer, who had fantasized about the origins of Spain and Christopher Columbus's journey in the epic poem L'Atlàntida (Atlantis). In this poem we can reread the tale of the garden of the Hesperides, here placed in the mythic island of Atlantis, and how this tale drives Columbus to set off on his expedition. 

I guess these kinds of things have a lot to do with rich people and the age they live in. There's no doubt, however, that if there's an authentic dragon in the history of Catalan art, this is the one among all the others. 

(1) trencadís: broken tiles forming geometrical-shaped mosaics. 

(2) Renaixença: 19th-Century Catalan cultural movement similar to European Romanticism, which in Catalonia involved the renaissance of Catalan language and culture, and had also relevant political implications related to the enhancement of Catalan nationalism. 

3 de desembre de 2010


Una de les cançons més colpidores, crec, de la història del pop. Igual que Bloody Sunday d'U2, Zombie de Cranberries és un lament davant la tragèdia del terrorisme de l'IRA i un cant a la pau que adquireix dimensions universals.