Anacronías / Antonio López Ortega


An implacable observer of Venezuelan reality – the Argentine writer Sergio Chejfec, who lived in Caracas for about ten years while editing the magazine Nueva Sociedad – used to tell me that our society, while seemingly modernized, thought of itself through a rural lens, as though it had no relationship to any new events. We have to recognize that in our speech, for instance, similes that have to do with flora and fauna are abundant, and we also have to remember that most Venezuelanisms, according to Ángel Rosenblat, originate in games and chance. The stamp of turning significant events into nature is so marked that even petroleum, perhaps the 20th century’s most influential milestone, rather than being seen as a rupture of the pastoral paradigm, is understood within the context of sowing it, that is, of returning it to the earth, as if a hundred years of extraction were not enough to speak to us of another reality.

This fixation could even be laughable if it didn’t mean, on the other hand, a true process of social immobilization. If everything is earth and its excretions, then cities, streets or aqueducts are third-rate solutions. Today’s urban impulse, of which the capital city is the best example, is non-existent. In this revived process of reconquering lands, even at the cost of invasions, the cities are abandoned: there is no one to theorize them, to reread them, to invest in their progress. A vegetal, heavy and preterite arcadia conquers the minds of our leaders while the cities rot. But the state of our cities is barely an example of what is actually an anti-modern thought that ends up opposing everything, instead of navigating these challenging times in order to opt for improvements and to correct excesses. And after so much excess, against any model, it ends up finding nothing.

Our civic images belong to the past, as though we had already lived them. And they belong to the past because that’s where we seemed to feel most comfortable, as if the uterus were enough shade rather than thinking of adolescence or adulthood. Seen from a psychotherapeutic angle, we prefer immaturity, inconsistency, instead of facing the challenges of later stages. Except that no responsibilities exist within immaturity, no life project, no vision for the future; nor is there any effort, tenacity or desire for improvement. Let the vegetal arcadia rule, we say to ourselves, with pastures moved by the wind and cows that graze with millenary chewing.

These ages of ours will have to be seen in a not too distant future as a true social reversal, as a fear of growth, as a rejection of the minimal modernizing impulse we harvested in previous decades. Under the narcotic spell of petroleum, betting as ever on a state economy, the sum of individual efforts evaporates without incurring in collective construction. We already know the brand: of a society that is its own prisoner, immobilized by its own lack, nostalgic for a lapsed imaginary, ignorant of the processes all modern societies set for themselves so as to be up to the task of global challenges, which translate every time into growth, as well as human development and environmental equilibrium.

To live in anachrony – that could be the slogan –, as though we were someone else’s dream, as if 25 million beings depended on the good or bad nights of a single dreamer.

{ Antonio López Ortega, El Nacional, 15 April 2008 }

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