Archive for 20 agosto 2014

Tony Judt´s take on “modesty” (an extract from Tony Judt´s “Ill fares the land”) // Opinión de Tony Judt sobre “la modestia” (extracto del libro de Tony Judt “Algo va mal”)

“ (Modesty)…. a political quality whose virtues are overestimated. We need to apologize a little less for past shortcomings and speak more assertively of achievements. That these were always incomplete should not trouble us. If we have learned nothing else from the 20th century , we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequences.

Incremental improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances are the best that we can hope for, and probably all we should seek”


“( La modestia)… una cualidad política cuyas virtudes se sobreestiman. Debemos disculparnos menos por nuestras carencias en el pasado y hablar con más convicción de nuestros logros. Que éstos siempre hayan sido incompletos no debería preocuparnos. Si del siglo XX hemos sido capaces de aprender algo, deberíamos al menos haber comprendido que cuánto más perfecta es una respuesta, tanto más terroríficas son sus consecuencias.

Mejoras graduales en relación a circunstancias no satisfactorias son lo mejor que debemos esperar y, probablemente, lo único a lo que debamos aspirar.”


Love at the grocer´s

One of the things Mary most enjoyed was to pay a visit to the grocer´s on market days. She was no longer the sexy girl that out of a religious fit had once aspired to beguile Jesus Christ down the cross and taken the veil for a few days in her early youth just to realise that her dubious charms were far from being those of Mary of Magdala and she was pretty conscious as well that the green pastures along which she loved to jog in her more mature years were a thing of the past because together with her marriage and former family home , the neatly mown lawns of the gated community she used to live in were not available any more since she broke with Pete Rodríguez, her  violent husband , and moved to the concrete neighborhood where her new lodging was located and a grass blade hardly to be seen. But it brought a comforting effect upon her soul to relish at the sight and eventually buy some of the fresh and organic produce that, delivered directly from  the countryside, showed itself at her disposal in the grocery stall across her new house.

Broke as she was after having been laid off from the bankruptcy court she worked for in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, her life and livelihood in general were not at their best. However, if she happened to find some dollars in her purse, Mary would give herself a treat and gulp down her throat one of the cucumbers that the handsome grocer used to pitch from his counter on market days.

She was just feeding her eyes on the green merchandise  while walking nonchalantly along the grocer´s stand and bending over, at times, to look closer at the edible ítems that stood before her , when she finally decided and said in what it wasn´t meant to be a dubious manner:

“Good morning, Mr. grocer, i´d like the cucumber you´re holding in your hand. It looks fresh, nutritive, invigorating… The cucumber, I mean, not your manly hand…”

Blushing at Mary´s comment and pointing at the cucumber he was duly holding in his hand the grocer replied:

“I appreciate your taste, madam, but i´m afraid that this cucumber is  somewhat out of season. I ´m just trying to plant it on someone for business sake. It´s actually my heart what really keeps on beating with the force of a youngster, its longing for love keeps my life from withering”

“The love for your wife, I guess” Mary said

“Not quite, madam, my dear wife passed away long ago. I´ve been mourning her unconsolably until the moment you showed up and asked me for the cucumber i´m touting and holding in my hand”

Hair and fear


He came across that picture early that afternoon. He was lolling on the deep red velvet sofa of his parent´s living room watching tv, just wasting his time. He turned his head for a moment and there he saw it, in an old- style silver frame, standing on top of a deep red satin upholstered Chippendale table. The Chippendale table had been there for years, together with the velvet sofa he was lolling on, right in the middle of his parent´s living room , its upholstery matching the pleats of the thick felt draperies that kept the sunbeams from entering the room, but until then it hadn´t attracted his attention at all, to his eyes that picture had amounted all the while  to nothing but another piece of an overdone set of furniture.

The picture showed his father and him. His father appears smiling and he, wearing an expression of complaint on his face. The photo was taken long ago during some Christmas holiday´s that he and his family had spent in some seashore beach resort in the Atlantic. Given that in his hometown it should have been raining at the time of the year when the photo was taken and given all the amusements that were available for them, kids, in that seashore beach resort he should rather have been smiling at the camera as his father was. Instead, he´s making a grimace that expresses grievance as if he were complaining at the vain effort to shake off his father´s embrace. Actually, if one looks closer at the picture, it is not an embrace but rather his father´s hands encroaching upon his hair what is going on at the moment of the shooting. His father, moreover, isn´t exactly stroking his hair, his  hands are aiming, stroke upon stroke, at straighten it out, at “taming” his dear son´s hair, as he used to say back in those days, so that the hair remained properly combed back like the hair of some of the movie stars his father was so  fond of.

It would certainly be an exaggeration to state that that expression of complaint on his face stood for any risk-taking worth the name, hard to trace any shadow of  heroism at the twisted corners of the kid´s mouth. However, as he looked at the picture for the last time while he sat up in the sofa and walked up to the tv set to turn it off, he couldn´t help feeling a vague sense of pride taking hold of himself, as if at the time when the photo was shot, he were already fighting a war he was barely conscious of.