sábado, 21 de julio de 2012

Literature everywhere (3) _The measuring of beauty

Yesterday, as I was coming back to Madrid, I entertained myself, as often do, by mulling over a few literary obsessions of mine. One being how to best express the nature of our time, how to find a Literature of Globalization, or less pompously how to benefit from its intricate nets in a way that attracts beauty.
Although I haven't been actively writing for a while, I´ve been experiencing Benidorm as the ultimate beacon of this elusive intutition, finding myself excited as I compare the obscene density that it yields with the tight weaving of my own prose.
So, as I searched mentally for the appropriate tone, and fiddled with variations I was reminded of a TED talk that I watched on YouTube a long time ago. I must admit that it's only a faint recollection, so I don't claim spot-on storytelling. It came to mind as I pondered how to measure beauty in literature -an impossibility, I know- but still managed to cling to a tangential absurdity. The more poetry that stems naturally, even uninvited, from exploiting relationships and contradictions the better the work.
I´ve just googled the talk to get the speaker's name right -Dan Barber, in case anyone wants to check it out, but fortunately I´ve resisted the temptation to play it.
If I remember correctly he talks passionately about fish farming. He first introduces what is falsely portrayed as sustainable breeding, which includes practices such as feeding the specimens "sustainable proteins" that turn out to be chicken pellets -30 % of their diet is in fact chicken. The facilities are incredibly polluting and even revert nearby ecosystems, so he falls out of love with intensive farming and marvels at how utilitarian propaganda has even taken us there.
Then he moves on to a new type of farming that he came upon in Spain of all places, somewhere along the Guadalquivir flooded shores. It is set on a former cattle ranch run by Argentinians who apparently spent loads of money first draining the property and later keeping the water at bay, distorting the inner workings of the land and massacring collateraly 90 percent of the bird population. Not surprisingly they weren´t able to turn a profit. After this nonsense the property falls into Spanish hands and thrives under the lead of a biologist with some experience on African soil. His name is Miguel, although Dan fails to produce his last name.
So this Miguel type explains how he allowed the water back in, naturally obtaining large wetlands. He carefully let fitoplancton develop and mature, and farmed fish extensively. The speaker claims that he has always hated fish skin and would always refuse it even if crisped appropriately, but this time around it tastes delicious. He learns that the skin is the ultimate protection any being has against its habitat and it acts as a sponge, soaking impurities away from the body. But on this soil, unfertilized, untreated, waterlogged with the passing flow from Río Guadalquivir, the scales turn so awkwardly sweet that he is eager to feast on them.
When Dan asks Miguel "How did you achieve this? You are not a farmer", the latter replies "I am only an expert on relationships." Not only this is incredibly inspiring for me as a writer, but the absurdity I called upon a few paragraphs above turns even more relevant when listening to how this already astonished fish lover, walking about the property, finds a flock of birds, mostly flamingos, feeding themselves freely. Miguel goes on about how they lose 20 % of their fish and eggs to these predators, smiling proudly as he points to their pink bellies. These birds, he says, travel by day 150 miles and fly back to their nests by night only to forage on my production. That's how I measure success and subsequently quality.
There are other preposterously good advantages to the system. There is no need to feed the fish, for starters, as it takes nourishment naturally from the trophic loop. So we are looking at a farm that doesn´t really farm but fosters relationships, and not only lets beauty out of the equillibrium but renews and purifies the water that comes through on its way to the Atlantic. However, it´s the pink carpet that covers the wetlands what conjures up the dimension of beauty that interests me, and I´ll have it on the back on my mind when I direct my wits to the warm impossible densities of Benidorm and the modern mythology of Globalization. 

martes, 17 de julio de 2012

Política e ilusión de realidad

"(...) En una época ávida por experimentar estados de conciencia alterados, fuera de lo corriente, tendemos a pasar por alto hasta qué punto nuestro estado mental ordinario es ya una conciencia profundamente mistificada -una conciencia aislada de un modo sorprendente de los hechos prácticos de la vida.
¿A qué obedece esto?
En primer lugar a la ignorancia. La mayor parte de la gente sólo es consciente de una pequeña parte de la diversidad de alternativas en los estilos de vida. Si queremos pasar del mito y la leyenda a la conciencia madura, tenemos que comparar toda la variedad de culturas pasadas y presentes. En segundo lugar al miedo. Ante sucesos como el envejecimiento y la muerte, la conciencia falsa puede ser la única defensa eficaz. Y finalmente al conflicto. En la vida social ordinaria algunas personas siempre controlan y explotan a otras. Estas desigualdades se presentan tan disfrazadas, mistificadas y falseadas como la vejez y la muerte.
La ignorancia , el miedo y el conflicto son los elementos básicos de la conciencia cotidiana. El arte y la política elaboran con estos elementos una construcción onírica colectiva cuya función es impedir que la gente comprenda qué es su vida social. Por consiguiente, la conciencia cotidiana no puede explicarse a sí misma. Su misma existencia depende de una capacidad desarrollada de negar los hechos que explican su existencia. (...)"

Vacas, cerdos, guerras y brujas, Marvin Harris.

lunes, 2 de julio de 2012

Literature everywhere (2)

Extracto de Rutas por la Costa de la Comunidad Valencia y Murcia en coche de El País Aguilar.

"(...) Quién iba a decirnos que la CN-332, donde a duras penas hay lugares para detenerse, en una recta intersalinera donde los coches circulan a toda velocidad, constituye un biotopo que ni pintado para las aves migratorias."