Terror to silence

Por: Alejo Carpentier

The signatures of these two Cuban writers, Alejo Carpentier and Héctor Zumbado, return to our pages. Despite the differences in styles, and the time in which they were written, it is very easy to perceive that both texts are still in full force and effect. Noise remains a constant presence in our city and, given the examples, in fact, it gets worse. These gazes, distant from each other (even benevolent, even before a today that in some areas surpasses them) acquire new value, when they are linked in the validity that our scandalous present brings to them. May they contribute at least a grain of sand in the already essential fight against the rude fight that leads to such bulla-generating social indisciplines.

Today there is a human race that I do not understand: that of those who read, study, learn the contents of a book, with a radio device next to it, imposing on its spirit the most absurd unfolding. They jump from print to spoken letter, alternatively, without finishing tending to either. Or they get a visit with the receiver on. They are the same ones that, when going to the beach, are accompanied by the radio all the way. And once by the sea, they run to the first syncophone, to the first box of making noise, to hear the successes of the day through the speakers of the amplifiers. They don’t care that anyone has fled town to find some calm, quiet. They impose their mambos, their guarachas, their boleros,1 on the entire coast. When they are already thrown out of public places, for the late hours, they return home, lie down and smoke one more cigarette, read a few more pages of novel with the headboard duly lit, to capture the latest broadcasts of the night. And when these are over, there are still those who seek the tuning of foreign stations.
I do not believe that this perpetual stun, that mental unfolding, that terror to silence, will greatly enrich, spiritually, modern man. Or is it that because he’s alone with himself, that man is afraid to meet?

April 30, 1952.

1 I wish it were so, Don Alejo. Now they impose only their reggaetons. (Reaction Note).

Taken from Alejo Carpentier: Letter and Solfa. Variations (9), Havana, Editorial Cuban Letters, 2004.

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