A thought that bar the house or the philosophy of Havana

By Teresa Díaz Canals

La habana

Tony, who also expects…

“You can’t make monuments
more than in a world of gardeners…
Today the commemoration is uneven
and empty. But, for the Mother of God!,
who has seen commemorate or remember,
emptying his gun.”
José Lezama Lima
Successive or habaneras coordinates

José Lezama Lima – the poet who loved his city very intensely – was once asked what time he had needed to write his last book. Paradiso’s author replied, “the age I am.” I wish the celebration of this next anniversary of the founding of the Cuban capital would have counted, not with the preparation of a year or a little more, but with more than sixty. I certainly think that this wise gestation and an effective maintenance plan, would have prevented the collapse of many buildings and houses that today are nothing more than ruins, they speak of the death of part of our city, which is not only represented by what is seen by those who visit it, that is, by the astonished tourists, who surrender to the beauty of the recovered. This, of means, is praiseworthy, but Havana is not only the historic center; she is also this space that makes us suffer; it is the rubbish piled up in its corners, the thick sewer, the unpainted walls, the cigar capes dumped anywhere very naturally, because there is no mechanism of education, of order, proper cleaning; is the death depicted in tunnels; is violence overflowing with raucous music, in charanga bullanguera; is the preacher who no longer sells the harsh cold of childhood, but expensive avocados injected with chemicals; it’s the nostalgia of the phrase: today I’m looking forward to making a custard.
This tireless game of giving reasons for the facts, of “criticizing” what other optimists call “wonder”, is precisely because these episodes of lament, have fit within themselves the facts of love, of a love of the space in which you were born subjected to trial and explanation, because this place similar to a city fresh from war, deserves true justice, demands care, delicacy, cleanliness.
In the terrifying nineties of the last century, which today threaten to be republished in all their rawness, in a guagua, in front of a comment of mine that I considered clear, someone shouted to me, “If you don’t like it, get out of the country!” “And why do I have to go? “I answered him, “I was born in this city, it is those who have to leave the country, who every day make it an impossible place. I feel like talking.” That repulsive and condemnation of a stranger made me allude to that profound phrase of John Clement Zenea in his verses: “Because I wanted to / because I want to. / Because I’ve wanted to.” Poet judged by two opposing sides, then I had the honor for a few moments of touching his mirrors, those who fell with blood on the ground when he was shot, at that moment I thought of the words of St Paul: “When I feel weaker, it is that I am strong”.
Today I no longer replicate publicly and directly, when I listen to those who invent another reality drawn from the advantage of their positions and hierarchies, from those who pronounce vain sandngas in order to take advantage of the advantages provided by their lies, I only smile. I evoke that life that appeared possible one day and real for a moment and that became larva, because these prosperity projects failed to give the city the importance it has, because I do not observe horizons in future purposes, although I will not lose, until the last moment, the hope of rebirth, of true urban and moral renewal. In short, this is the philosophy of Havana, that of waiting, we are floor and stage, its allegiances are still standing. We have learned that also in the ruins, the present is stirred. “Smile is the most delicate thing about human expression,”1 so I would now rather smile than argue, just like Christ when questioned by Pilate: “What is truth?”; And he shut up and… Smiled.
Let us enjoy that Habanero dawn, that morning light and that of its twilights that constitute its play of lights, would be the answer to the affections of the hand that still reaches our city.

1 María Zambrano: “The Clown and Philosophy”, in Islas, Madrid, Editorial Verbum S.L., 2007, p. 170.

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