Bad Handwriting in La Joven Cuba (18)

To Harold for his work on intellectuals.

The intellectuals, understood well beyond artistic creation, have been isolated from early on and isolated they remain, as I see it. I would like to dwell on the artistic intelligentsia for the weight, the social influence involved, and because the innate condition of the artist is criticism, at the end of the day, to be critics is the reality of their work (the quotation is yours).

The famous phrase “words to the intellectuals” — the title of Fidel’s 1961 speech — put a straitjacket on intellectual creation. That and later experiences: The ostracism of important creators like Lezama and Piñera, parametración and the UMAP camps, the powerful alias Leopoldo Avila from the magazine “Olive Green,” the frictions with the artist movement in the eighties.

Still more recently in an unusual episode known as “the little war of the emails,” was the government’s decision to terminate that feverish exchange that went off the rails to take up questions of cultural policy. I’m sure that examples in film and other manifestations escape me.

In Cuba, the art is subsidized by the state, so that the artist feels protected, and this imposes a subjective commitment, but a commitment to the end, not to bite the hand that feeds you. On the other hand, the artist who leaves that position is seen as a traitor or “confused.” Independent artistic projects are viewed with suspicion a priori, often their creators have taken the path of exile, others abjure their projects and in other cases become harmless, having been assimilated by the official culture.

All this creates a reflection. Many embrace art without compromise, an art uncritical and “pretty,” politically correct.

That the politicians don’t use think tanks, talk of divorce and suspicion, besides the incompetence it brings to fill positions based on political loyalty rather than ability.

The artist and intellectual are viewed with reservation by the functionaries because most do not understand them; belittling them is the way to hide one’s ignorance.

October 19 2011

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