LITERATURE [short texts]

Dream perhaps not dreamt

Oriol Espinal

magazine collaboration / 2009

With a book in my hand, I go out onto the balcony of my house early in the morning. I notice that a layer of burning magma covers the sky and a blanket of ash covers the street. Without asking myself any questions, I open the book. All its pages are blank except the last one, where I read the following:

(The scene takes place in a large arcaded square in the centre of which the smouldering remains of a bonfire are piled up. The objects that have not succumbed to the flames are no more than fragments of vinyl records, sheets of books, videotapes, faded photographs, etc. Around the stinking heap, three men are having a conversation. Their names: Walter Benjamin, Fernando Prats and Oriol Espinal.)

WB: Immer Radikal, niemals Konsequent!

FP: My friend Espinal, be my traditore for once.

OE: Without wishing to inaccurately convey the essential content of such a declaration of principles, I would say that Immer means always, and niemals means never.

WB: I see that you have taken Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers very seriously.

OE: It's one of my favourite books.

WB: Right choice. By the way, and returning to my little phrase in German, did you know that the manager who gave the order to set fire to the pyre, boasted the same thing, albeit taking the precaution of inverting the adverbs?

OE: And in passing, wouldn't he proclaim that cultural works should be liberated from their status as cultural objects?

WB: Yes, and the paradox of it all is that so many cultures have burned in the defence of the cultural...

OE: It is also paradoxical that what the fire has destroyed is not only nothing, but that the soul that resided in this useless debris now resembles the idea of God: it is everywhere and nowhere. It flows like running water...

FP: Perhaps, and giving the paradox a new twist, circumventing the inquisitors and feeding the source code cracking machines to the...?

WB: Paul Valéry wrote in La conquête l'ubiquité that “comme l’eau, comme le gaz, comme le courant électrique viennent de loin dans nos demeures répondre à nos besoins moyennant un effort quasi nul, ainsi serons-nous alimentés d’images visuelles ou auditives, naissant et s’évanouissant au moindre geste, presque à un signe”.

FP: Was it necessary to say it in French?

WB: As much as asking in Spanish if Octavio Paz has already written that “things die so that names live”.

OE: Or if one day he will write that the fixity of words resides only in lead tablets or paper books.

FP: Will we ever stop being fucked by so many fetishes, whether or not they are anointed with aura?

OE: I'm afraid that those who need to defend them as glamorous and profitable cash boxes will be somewhat reluctant.

WB: What has become of the class struggle?

FP: In the city where I earn my living, Marx is little more than the name of a square.

WB: What about me? What has become of me?

OE: Your mortal remains ended up in the mass grave of Portbou, and your symbolic tomb, in Portbou itself, has become a place of worship for a few... who are many.

WB: You don't say! And what about my soul?

FP: There are those who believe it has been transmuted into an angel.

WB: Ubiquitous?

OE: Who knows.