Journalists and politicians live in in fashion and in correction. The former for pleasure, the latter for necessity. Brotherhood and euphemism unite them.
To not call old people old they make up delirious expressions like tercera edad or corny ones like the abuelito. In the United States they call black people Afro-Americans; we use the term pueblo originario to not say a bad word.
The politically correct, as the incorrect, is a form of censure and often a form of stupidity.The latest in political correctness is ecofeminism. Because it’s not enough to be a feminist or an ecologist, animalist or advocate of any minority group. Now what’s trendy is integrating corrections.
Some months ago, Santiago hosted the festival Lollapalooza. Its organizers not only sold tickets to listen to music but also a good conscious. The organization of the concert had joined up with organizations that not only care for the environment but also the disabled and animal rights advocates, among other groups. Being blind was not an inconvenience for assisting Lollapalooza: there were guide dogs, facilities for wheelchair users; rubbish was noticeably well distributed. The retribution was immediate. For a number of hours you became a rocker, an ecologist, a protector of the animal kingdom and then your conscience could calmly go home.
Most of these good consciences hardly have a fundament. They only babble demands that, in general, seem to be fair. And some are, without a doubt. The difference with old feminism or ecology, is that they used to convince. The second sex was an extraordinary document of convincing. After Simone de Beavoir’s book no one could ignore women’s demands. Today there are no fundaments other than the slogan #MeToo.
The black girl who denounced Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York didn’t take too long. She immediately got to the police. What a contrast with the Hollywood girls with such delicate skin after so many years!
No doubt, both Strauss Kahn and Harvey Weinstein are guilty scoundrels and should be condemned, but the women should also learn a lesson: the accusation is done in situ.
If a big hand touches you up under the table in a restaurant the girl or woman should strike with whatever she has and go to the police. Just as the New York waitress did against the then director of the World Bank.
“Journalism has its reason of being in the dark. And politics doesn’t exist without opacity. However, here we are. We all believe or decide to believe that transparency is the light that will take us to a better society, and will make us better people”.
We used to think that sex mania was a thing of priests or ancient moralists. However, today not only do we condemn Woody Allen and Kevin Spacey for their conducts, but we want to go further. Not allowing one the right to direct a film, and not allowing the other to act. It is obvious that sexual preferences should be kept on a personal realm, as long as a crime hasn’t been committed. Proust got spasms of pleasure from poking rats with a needle. We can easily not share his taste, but it won’t stop us admiring his style and his novels.
The usual suspects is magnificently played out by Spacey, and his interpretation of Richard III on stage, directed by Sam Mendes was extraordinary. And what can we say about Woody Allen? “God is dead, signed Nietzsche”, wrote some joker on a door in a highway bar toilet. Under that someone wrote: “Nietzsche is dead, signed God”. Before that, Woody Allen commented: “God is dead, Nietzsche is dead, and I don’t feel very well”.
The aphorism, although a magnificent form of lowering the pedestal of the übermensch, is guilty of being naïve thinking that after death people will leave you alone. Because now it’s popular to judge the dead. Authors like Nietzsche and Kipling have suffered this, being accused of being racist and colonial, accusations also projected at works such as To kill a Mockingbird or Huckleberry Finn. John le Carré’s latest novel A Legacy of Spies, deals precisely with this; that judging the Cold War in light of today is pointless.
Where is the beginning, when did it all start, how did we come to adore transparency?
Journalism has its reason of being in the dark. And politics doesn’t exist without opacity. However, here we are. We all believe or decide to believe that transparency is the light that will take us to a better society, that will make us better people.
At some point in the 18th Century man decided that the best way to be was to be spontaneous, “one’s self”. Goethe and Rousseau expressed this. The consequence is that forms and mediations deteriorated. Any person or group believes to have the right to “their truth”, and to say it —as they say— “to your face”. None of this works well with reflexion or good taste.
It is clear that no well lived life resists transparency and sincerity. Leonard Cohen rode the elevator or the Chelsea Hotel in New York looking for Brigitte Bardot. Once in it he found Janis Joplin. According to him, she looked at him and said: “I like good looking men, but with you I’ll make an exception”. According to her, he asked her: “Are you looking for someone?” To which she replied: “I’m looking for Kris Kristofferson”. He would have said: “Miss, you’re in luck, I’m Kris Kristofferson”. Obviously, they ended up in her room.
In time, she said in an interview that both Jim Morrison and Leonard Cohen had been exceptionally disappointing experiences. While he, less discrete and more of an asshole, composed a song called Chelsea Hotel #2, in which he said: “I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel/ you were talking so brave and so sweet/ giving me head on the unmade bed/ while the limousines wait in the street”.
He also felt bad and apologized.
There is no doubt that he was sincerely an asshole only compared to what Elías Canetti said about Iris Murdoch; but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop admiring Canetti’s texts, Cohen’s songs and the unforgettable interpretations of Joplin. And no one, absolutely no one resists the light of truth and sincerity in the personal environment. Not least in that of sex.
I always remember Karl Kraus: “The devil is an optimist if he thinks he can make people worse than they already are”.