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Video about a book not to be missed.
Zerozerozero by Roberto Saviano.
About how cocaine and its market have invaded our lives.
Each and everyone of us.
Very powerful book.

Ladies and gentlemen. I give you Kris Kuksi. He’s an amazing artist, he does some outlandishly beautiful stuff and that’s what made me curious about him. Even though I’m not an editor with some shiny glossy magazine or some fancy art buyer or some museum director, he agreed to be interviewed by me, Ms Nobody with her weird blog. Just for fun. Just for the sake of it. I pondered what kind of questions I could ask someone whose art I know but whom I never met in real life. While I was pondering, he actually encouraged me to send him deep, psychological questions. That’s what I did. I did not beat around the bush. I asked him some questions I have in mind when someone convinces me this thoroughly with his art. But questions you hardly dare to ask.
This man’s seriously a full-blood artist, but also a very real and authentic person, with a great sense of humour. You should not miss out on him. He is amazing, very much so. On top of it, he doesn’t believe in gurus and doesn’t take himself too seriously which is good. I bet Kris totally and thoroughly enjoys whatever he’s doing. So, what else can I say?

Enjoy. And Kris, thanks again for the wonderful interview! I might come back for a second time if you let me! 😉

What means art to you?

KK: Art is much like love, you just can’t explain it in words. It is an act of love I feel that art can be whether it comes from pure ego, so at least and expression of vanity could be art. But how I dare not define art!

Could you live without it?

KK: It would not be the happiest of lives, but if I could build castles instead I may then settle for partially fulfilled.

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What is more important for you? What you create, what you think you create or what you believe that people feel when they see your art?

KK: I think people see the world as it is in terms of the negative and irrational side to humanity, and I think my works are a miniature theatric version of that idea. Which gets to why this is important for me to do as a person living on this planet. Entertain others with my art but without the preachy bullshit!

Do you love or do you hate critics? Or don’t you care?

KK: Don’t care much but I don’t trust them. Critics have their own vices to deal with which is probably why they are critics. Two kinds of people I am suspicious of, critics of any form and motivational speakers.

Do you believe in life after death?

KK: Not sure by what perspective, meaning are we still thinking minds once we die or are we mere multiples of carbon atoms that are released through decomposition to only fuse with other matter. I suspect the brain is built for death as an evolutionary progression to ease the pain and discomfort of the body shutting down. Chemicals released in the brain alter our senses to experience an orgasmic like sensation all the while skewing perception of time at that moment of death we are not aware of when we expire. Much like falling asleep I suppose-ha!

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What does your art show from your personality?

KK: Seriousness but dark humor at the same time. Detail oriented and complex, but calm and controlled as well. But a bit of heightened emotions now and then.

Does it show anything at all that you would like to hide?

KK: Making art is a therapy. Growing up I had to deal with oppressive religious environment which lead me to some really messed up perceptions I had about myself. Guilt in any form were the issues I had to face. But then I realized religion just works that way to get people to feel lousy about themselves and give money so they can have some temporary fulfillment while judging others based on their idealogical bullshit.

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Does art make you immortal?

KK: As long as your art survives your death.

If you had three wishes from a fairy, what would you choose?

KK: To be a few inches taller, to rid the planet of any form of jazz fusion music, and the ability to teleport.

Where would you love to live for a year or two?

KK: Romania, just for the scenery and castles, (though I have never been there)

Any favorite place in this world?

KK: I like Prague, and I enjoy Europe altogether. But I’m sure I have yet to fins my favorite for sure. Maybe it would be on a deserted island.

At home or outdoors? Which one is your preferred place to be?

KK: Inside during the day, outside during the night. (I’m not a vampire but I’m open to omst things)

Is your art your manifestation of existence? Or do you also live life as a normal person?

KK: I’m pretty normal on the outside, and my home, wife, and children are all within the spectrum of socially acceptable standards, but the more you get to know me the more abstract my mind is. I’m sure I am a mad man, just highly regulated.

Can you be an artist and at the same time a realist?

KK: Sure, and that is called being good at art and also having the ability figuring up your taxes. Or at least make enough art to sell enough art to pay enough in taxes, and further more pay an accountant to prepare your yearly taxes. Everything else about reality is just fine!

If your house was on fire, what would you run to save (except of course your loved ones which goes without saying)?

KK: I would grab some sticks and sharpen the ends and roast hot dogs and marshmallows with my wife and kids and enjoy the collapse of our home knowing our insurance will treat us just fine. But I may run in real quick to grab my beloved hundred plus year old wooden leg I keep for good luck.

Do you believe in the act of creation?

KK: Creation as in God? intelligent design? Eh, doesn’t matter really, what matters is how you treat others. Treat people well, and you create wholeness.

What means death to you?

KK: My money goes to my wife and kids.

Have you written a will?

KK: Kinda, just not certain on who gets the wooden leg when I’m dead.

What do you prefer – love and death, love and life or love and moments of life and death?

KK: I’ll add the option of just sex and death with love sprinkled on top.

Can you look at other people’s art without thinking how you would express yourself in it?

KK: Yes I do, but that is ego showing up and I hate that guy called ego.

Who are your favorite contemporary living authors? Please name a few.

KK: Cormac Mccarthy, Samuel R. Delany, and David Sedaris.

Which are your favorite movies? Please name a few.

KK: I like Stanley Kubrick films, but Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson is once I really admire. However, The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson is my current favorite.

Do you have a motto in life that has brought you through a dark patch?

KK: Never give up, don’t follow gurus of any form, and don’t listen to other peoples bullshit!

Any comments you might want to add yourself about this interview? Any suggestions for unasked questions?

KK: I was an unintentional birth. My father denied I was his. I never meet or spoke to him until his deathbed in Humansville Missouri. I have extremely fast thumbs.I’m a guitar virtuoso.I can name all the US presidents. I hate celery!

Playing truant or an absence explained

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I have left this blog for a while because my life has been quite a rollercoaster ever since the end of November last year. I won a literature prize, my first ever literary competition I should say. The category that I won in: Catalan poetry. No, I am not native in Catalan.

My life ever since has been a trip. I mean this totally and utterly and really.

 

The week I had planned to relax and disconnect, at the beginning of December, turned out more exciting and more beyond my dreams than I had ever imagined. Why was that then? Ok, let me paint you the picture. Someone from the Ibiza City Council rang me up to tell me that I had won the first prize in Poetry in Catalan of the Ciutat d’Eivissa. It was actually Lisa Sansano herself who rang me up, the local regidora cultural. I actually could not believe it, and I think my heart just stopped there and then. I asked the nice lady twice if she was sure I was the right one she was calling. It simply was too much at the time. I remember I was standing there like a fucking statue, in a gay bookshop, Antinous, by the way a very good bookshop in case you were wondering. And the truth is, looking back on it now, it somehow all makes so much sense to me. Thank you so much to Josep and Maria, as they were the true and only witnesses of a huge step in my life. I made the transition from (feeling like a ) nobody to (feeling like ) a real writer. At least, I felt that way. Like, at last, someone said, ok, you’re good enough. It was weird. It was actually quite a physical moment. I was mesmerized, hypnotized, I let out a cry, and Josep was kind enough to ask me what had happened as I seemed to be the only customer around. At the end of the day, it was a bit of a shock and I usually do not behave like that.

Well, in the end, I spend the whole afternoon or two hours there. After the phone call, I explained what had happened to Josep and Maria. Then I rang my husband to tell him. He could not believe it either. Thanks for that vote of confidence, sweetie! 😉 No, just kidding! I mean it was weird. Of course, that’s the dream that every writer has. That one day, someone will tell you “wow, well done!” Go on. Tell us a bit more. And that is what happened that day.

I felt deeply touched, totally emotionalized, and truly enlightened. I was shaking inside but with happiness and bliss, sincerely. My heart leapt, but my mind could not take it in that easily and that quickly. I chatted with my friends till late, I made a post on facebook, I wrote online messages, chatted again, just to show my gratitude and express my emotions that were truly all over the place, overflowing as it were.

Of course, I also thought of my dad, who had died four months before. There was a bitter aftertaste right there. I would have wanted it so much for him to see me like this.

That night I wandered around through Barcelona and I ended up in some little bar, since I was there all by myself and it had a very weird feel to it. It was so unreal. I told a waiter what had happened to me and he said, I should write him down my name which I did and he was joking that one day I would be famous and then he might tell it everyone that I had come to their bar and so on. It just felt strange, basically. I missed my home, my people, I did not have anyone to wrap my arms around them and start crying with joy, a thing I should have wanted to do.

Well, one day later, I de-virtualized a facebook friend of mine, who has become a real friend with a real face and we shared a very real and authentic laughter and enjoyed each other’s company for some hours, until I wandered again the streets of Barcelona in search of so many things I wanted to see.

Since I have this magic gift of getting lost fairly easily, that is exactly what I did the next day. I have no sense whatsoever where I am in a new town or new surroundings. I am blind to cities, I am very poor at three dimensional thinking, I guess. In rural areas this never happens to me, but in cities, forget it. I am so easily lost, it is truly and utterly ridiculous. Probably a three year old would find its way home better than me. This is why I did not meet another facebook friend of mine whom I should I have met that day. I was simply not able to find the address in time. I had misread the information, having a very hard time to find that street, which was actually wrong. What can I say? One address, but eight to ten kilometers later and aching heels and a crushed self esteem thanks to real poor urban behavior, I did arrive at the address, but so late that everyone had already gone. It was a sad moment. Well. Shit happens.

The day after that, I again met someone from facebook whom I also de-virtualized but this time things were made easy for me since we met at a museum and that way, I would not get lost again. We had a wonderful time. And the freaky part was that during that museum visit I had two newspapers from Ibiza call me and ask for an interview. I gave both interviews over the mobile while in the Museo de Catalunya, and later on we went up to the terrace and shot some beautiful pictures of the sunset. It was too beautiful!

The remaining days I spent running around in Barcelona, meeting people and playing the tourist, and trying to digest what actually had happened. I felt freaked out, but utterly happy and sort of calm.

When I came home, I rang up the people who I had to call, I prepared myself for the upcoming big day when I received the prize and I also gave an interview on the radio which I posted here as well, which again to me was a first time thing to happen. And the interview went online in Catalan.

One day after this big day came another big day, my birthday, which was quiet and nice. One day after that, I got a surprise party from my man which was super.

One day before Christmas, I had my first talk with my publisher, so that was pretty cool and pretty fast as well. I guess we will have some fun talking about the book and how things are going to be.

So In a matter of two weeks and a half, my whole life had quite turned upside down. It was beyond my imagination.
Then of course, Xmas came and with it, all the chaos, stress and seeking for a quiet corner where to sit, have a chat with friends or even trying to read a book. I did. Now, I am nearly back to normal apart from tons of things that got postponed and got delayed etc. Right now, I am scheduling my aims for 2014, and believe me, there are many aims that I have.

Among them, is stop doubting myself.

Or let’s put it another way: Start to actually believe in myself. Admit that dreams can come true.

P.S. On second thoughts, I will take a time out from Facebook because it is seriously getting on my nerves. If you want to stay in touch, write me an email, ring me up, send me a postcard, send me a homing pigeon, try telepathy, whatever. I don’t care as long as it is not face-fucking-book. Sorry, yes, I am bloody well angry with someone. You can bloody well tell. Are you a psychic? 😉

Yesterday was the 20th of November, the day of Franco’s death 38 years ago. But his spirit seems to be more alive than ever.

Wanna know why?

– The so-called llei de mordassa (a law that is intended to silence or to gag people by impairing their civil rights) is implemented right now and will be valid from Jan 1st, 2014. It includes all sorts of prohibitions and incredible restrictions, overriding, ignoring and silencing people and mainly taking away good parts of their basic human and civil rights (right to assembly, freedom of speech etc). Of course, aimed at those who are not comfortable with the government or the PP party. Tough luck for those who don’t think that PP is currently handling this whole power business too well.

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Speaking of physics, this is a straight ride into an escalation circle. Government took notice that the people are tired of them, and (il )logically they are maxing it up to the hilt.

I’m basically totally amazed, astounded, dumbfounded that this is possible. It feels weird. It does not feel as if I’m living in a country where the democratic tradition has really got a strong hold, where the hell are suddenly all my civil rights? If I am not allowed to (for example) go peacefully to a demonstration where I’d express my wish for change. Only those demonstrations are permitted that previously have been authorised by the government. Hmmmm… Well, makes you think somehow.

Another point is the unrestricted power of policemen. Why can’t I even video an event that may be precisely vital because maybe a policeman might use innecessarily violence or even abuse his power? If I as a civil person am thus not allowed to film such an event without committing a severe infringement of this law, well, how free am I then???

– When I look at what the government is playing at, I get goose pimples, simple as that.

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Will I seriously question myself and others, will I continue being “brave” and still be taking chances with Spanish law enforcement??? Honestly, as much as I am free and autonomous in thinking, but I am not crazy. I am sure that this pushing back the limits needs to stop immediately and for good. Right now, there is such an incredible and eery atmosphere. The air is thick with fear. People shut up, no, wait, let me rephrase that, they clam up, like oysters do. In the event of danger, they do this click and they’re gone. This is somehow really frightening. I cannot make head or tails of this. It’s like the rabbit and the snake.

– WERT is trying to go allrounds with his LOMCE law which again reminds of the good old Franco times when the only language was Spanish, and thus it was assured that the guardia civil could listen to each and every conversation and make sure that the dictatorship was in no way harmed. This is so insane. Why cannot anybody stop this man who is intending to bring back religion into classrooms and kicking Catalan in terms of a school subject ‘out of the classroom.

– Ok, that Bauza was not the first to promote civil rights was clear from what I observed the past few months, but isn’t it weird that now, 38 years after Franco’s death, a law is being introduced that actually reminds you so much of a dictatorship that Spiegel Online, the German political magazine just found it necessary to issue an article about the new impending law that the PP pushes forward and how it will affect people.

40 años

– You need to be deaf and blind not to read the signs, there is a remarkable shift to the far right in Spain, and don’t fool yourself into thinking that Spain was still as free as it might have seemed to be about say, ten years ago. It is sad but when you think about the connection of PP, the Catholic Church and (not so secret) funding of the OPUS DEI project, then it isn’t too far-fetched to say that Franco’s spirit is still very much around and his die-hard fan-club is very active to make sure they will keep the upper hand, or at least, can carry out his testament, so to say. His heirs and his heiresses are on stand-by, trying to settle the accounts.

Up until now, the whole joke about Franco being back was kind of funny, as long as it wasn’t so eerily true. Now, things are getting somewhat out of tune. The joke, however, will be on us. On us, the people who live in Spain, who did not vote PP, who don’t like the LOMCE, who would like education to be imparted in Catalan, and so on and so forth. The joke will be on those and who basically do not agree with what the government is doing. Why is everybody watching??? I don’t really get this. Seriously. This is no chapter of history that ought to be repeated.

On November 9 to November 10, 1938, in an incident known as “Kristallnacht”, Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, also called the “Night of Broken Glass,” some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. German Jews had been subjected to repressive policies since 1933, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) became chancellor of Germany. However, prior to Kristallnacht, these Nazi policies had been primarily nonviolent. After Kristallnacht, conditions for German Jews grew increasingly worse. During World War II (1939-45), Hitler and the Nazis implemented their “Final Solution” to the “Jewish problem,” and carried out the systematic murder of some 6 million European Jews in what came to be known as the Holocaust.

Let’s never forget that this was the beginning of the aggressive and violent atmosphere that tantamounted to Nazi Germany.

As a child and teenager, I always shuddered thinking of this night for being what it was. As an adult, I get goose pimples and I would wish that never ever we will be faced with such insane enforcement of an individual’s delusion that made a nation become murders of so many Jewish people, communist, homosexuals, introducing delusional terms for the definition of culture and censured all culture and all types of art.

What happens if we have censure in a country?
Basically, it stifles all fluid intelligence or makes people go somewhere else. This basically happened in Nazi Germany and very quickly for that matter, and in a historically enormous dimension. I don’t want to name all the artists who had to leave Germany for the sake of their families and of their own sake, but whoever is interested will find the right source who these people were and where they went.

The reason why I decided to make a commemorative blog entry today was basically because in Spain, where I’m currently living, we have a problem with censorship. And this is something that keeps giving me the creeps. I foolishly thought that this was a thing of the past.

Having said that, I would wish that more people became aware of the fact that Kristallnacht and the way people and society as a whole reacted, was one of the many mosaic pieces of tendencies and unfortunate constellations that made Nazi Germany possible. This does not in any way say that this could ever be explained on a rational basis. However, it is important not to forget about recent history. Neither about Franco, nor about Hitler, nor Stalin, nor any other person of that calibre.

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The less inclined we are to actually get up and do something about a situation which we know is wrong, the less chances we have to stop an unfortunate event in time for it to get worse and spread like a fungus. There always will be a moment where we become guilty in a historic dimension if we decide to look away. If you know about something which you know is wrong, and needs to be changed, it is your ethical and personal challenge to make it known. Don’t be afraid to let others be participant in what you see, and let others help you.

We are one people, whatever creed, whatever nation, whatever language.
And if mankind finally got around to understand that we are on a damn sick road here, there would be a way out of this huge mess we created.

However what we need are people who are attentive, and assertive enough to point out the flaws, and the errors of the system. If these whistleblowers are being put into prison and chased like criminals, while the real criminals get voted, and re-voted, while so many other things are turning our society upside down that it is hard to keep up and not end up confused.

Maybe, this is another foolish thought of mine but I do believe that at least we would have the means to get out of this one, using and implementing the basics that are innate to the human being: curiosity, creativity, and also a good portion of sane criticism.

Don’t believe everything at face value. If you switch on the tele tonight, please think about Spain, and the way that censorship got the better of them. This is 21st century. We cannot allow this.

We live in an age where information and the communication media play an immense role. What I find unfathomable is that nevertheless the way how to use all these wonderful ways to communicate has not really been internalized by a great number of people.

Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that we get served all information we would necessarily need. Make an effort to read, and browse all the information that is accessable for you. Inform yourself. Not just once. Each day and every day!

Oh yes, and if in doubt, if you are wondering if you are critical enough, you are not. That is for sure. Read, read, read, but most of all: Noam Chomsky and all the critical writers you can lay your hands on! Be a critical person. Ask rather than accept facts and statistics as being god given.

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Let’s suppose the strike is still on.
Oh hang on, it is.
Ok.

Let’s suppose the teachers have a symbol for their protest.
Oh hang on, they have.
Ok.

Let’s make one last tentative assumption.
Let’s suppose that the government does not want the teachers to show their will to keep up the strike.
Well, by now, you all know the answer.

This is exactly what happens.
Bauzzà would like his opponents to be gagged.

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And this is the bad sign that gave Bauzà such a headache he had to penalize it.
This is the enllaçats lace, or, sorry, your honour, this is the corpus delicti.

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So, you may ask
What is the point of having such a law?

Would it surprise you if I told you that this law has been introduced and is about to be passed by Bauzà’s government with the clear intention to criminalize teachers and everyone who associates themselves with the language debate and decides for the anti-government, oh, sorry, I should say, the wrong side? 😉
I know. My bad.

Would it furthermore surprise you if I told you that it is nothing more than a gesture of power play?
With this law, it has been made perfectly clear. Whoever is in favour of the Enllaçats is against the government and basically this someone will have a hard time around, as much as our Mini Napoleón can influence it.

Let’s call his bluff!!!

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Please, Senyor Bauzà, did you have nothing better to do than to introduce such a superfluous law to let the last village idiot know that actually Bauzà is sucking up to Madrid’s power players, and Franquismo is back in fashion…

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What does this pretty law say then?

It is forbidden to put up the sign of “Enllaçats per la llengua” on any government (public) building. The silly thing is that the Enllaçats sign (which it’s aimed at) basically is the Catalan flag itself, tied as a lace. So, the law is nationalist and at the same time anti-nationalist. I know it is crazy. Not fun crazy, but rather identity problem crazy.

Yes, you heard me. It is forbidden, and if you are thinking in terms of being an outlaw, eager to put up an enllaçat flag and hence to break the law, well, think it over, since this law is not a cheap one to break. Any breech will be fined with up to 10,000€.

No, this is 2013, not 1937.

José Ramon, come on, dude, really???

I am not even sure if you can read this for yourself or if you have someone who needs to translate it for you. But surely there has to be another way to govern a community than by fear and anxiety and the muffling of opposing and dissident voices.

The government does not want to back down. In a seemingly macho attempt, they want to discipline people like they were some unruly youngsters who came home drugged or something. The whole thing has an eery, a very strange feel to it. Even though it is quite apparent and so hugely evident with 94% of all teachers participating in the strike, as well as thousands of citizens, they still don’t see the necessity that the government ought to think about negotiation soon unless they want to find themselves in the uncomfortable position of regretting it later on.

The government under Jose Ramon Bauzà actually managed to surprise me yet again with this perfectly absurd action. They indeed want to prohibit the use of the widely known symbol of the socalled “enllaçats”, the little lace made from a Catalan flag. It is being passed right now (the news is from today, November 5th, 2013) that from now on, this symbol may not be used on any public building (which schools certainly are). So basically, it is a brusque attempt to silence the teachers or anyone affiliated, to silence and scare them in their way to rebel against such an analphabet system that we are being presented with.

It is just sad. When I wrote my article about Plurilingualism I thought I had gone a bit over the top with the comparison with the Franco time, but as it seems, that was just the beginning.

I just cannot believe what is happening here right now.

Ànims! Enllaçada per sempre més!
No hem de rendir-nos mai!
Enllaçats per la llengua!

enllaçat

International Translators’ Day

Time to reset and start all over and reverse thinking.

Here some quotes on translation.

Translation is the art of failure.
(Umberto Eco)

True art selects and paraphrases but seldom gives a verbatim translation.
(Thomas Bailey Aldrich)

Fantastic writing in English is somehow disreputable, but fantastic writing in translation is the summit.
(Jonathan Lethem)

The original is unfaithful to the translation.
(Jorge Luis Borges)

I do not hesitate to read all good books in translations. What is really best in any book is translatable-any real insight or broad human sentiment.
(Ralp Waldo Emerson)

Language furnishes the best proof that a law accepted by a community is a thing that is tolerated and not a rule to which all freely consent.
(Ferdinand de Saussure)

Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied.
(Noam Chomsky)

There are very deep and restrictive principles that determine the nature of human language and are rooted in the specific character of the human mind.
(Noam Chomsky)

Apart from this, I would like to recommend an excellent article by Michelle Fram-Cohen “Reality, Language, Translation”
http://enlightenment.supersaturated.com/essays/text/michelleframcohen//possibilityoftranslation.html

Ok, let’s cut the chase. I get to the point right now. Medias in res.

In Spain, we have two major problems.

The two biggest internal affairs right now are as follows:

1.) There is the ongoing fight in the Spanish parliament about whether or not Catalonia should have a referendum for the possible Independence of Catalonia. This is one major concern right now. You cannot open the web, without being aware of tons of articles, or not, but as a foreigner you tend to get lost easily. So what’s up with that?

There are two sides, as always. The one side wants the referendum. The other one does not. The reason for why Catalonia should have their referendum is pretty clear. Two weeks after the 11th of September, which was the celebration for Independence Day, broadcasted around the globe a couple of hundreds of millions times with the historically long “Via Catalana” a human chain by hundreds of thousands of people, and above all, peaceful, without any type of violence. The other side, however, says no… Ok, so let’s ask why…

I could speculate and speculate but the main reason is and always has been the money… Barcelona and the Catalonian region have a functioning economy, much to the chagrin of the NO sayers in Madrid. USA Today even called Catalonia the milk cow that’s being milked every so often when the funds in Madrid are empty. The cow seems to be tired of being milked so often. Ok. This in itself may explain for the obvious NO from Madrid as they do need the money. But let’s go one step further, let’s ask an underlying question. Why is there so much hatred that goes with the whole question…? There is such an underlying hate element in the Spanish society that sometimes even frightens me.

Best example was this poor Valencian guy who was imprisoned for talking to the police (in a normal traffic control) in Catalan, one of two official languages of the Catalonian region. The thing is: He was neither drunk nor drugged. And yet, he was taken away, he was arrested and put before a judge: For speaking his mother tongue. No, we haven’t taken a time machine. This is not 1939. This is 2013. This has some strange taste to it. There are a lot of historic “ghosts”, evanescent moments of hatred and repression that still work the same way as 75 years ago. All this is embedded on a very emotional level. Luckily, the poor chap, got some media coverage and via change.org and with the help of the social networks, the man was freed and his prison sentence of six months for speaking to the police in Valencian was revoked. But does it need to get that far??? I mean, come on, really. The whole incident seemed so warped that I had to include it even though it seems like a slight affair.

We are faced with the dark side of history. Spain had a dictatorship up until 1975 and the violation of civil rights, the pain and suffering, the cruelties, the passion, the fear and the repression so many people had to deal with, it is still alive. It is still inside most families. Some of them remember who someone close to them was charged politically, was taken away, and imprisoned or even executed. Spain is a free country. It is democratic. Is it?

Yes. On the whole it is. Spain is even liberal when you think of places like Marbella or Ibiza… But then again, is this actually the real Spain, or is it just what people think Spain is??? So what do I know??? You might argue, but you are not even Spanish, or have a Catalonian husband or whatever, but I see what I see. And each day, I get a better impression about what happens. Ever since I started to learn Catalan and finally prick up my ears.

The thing is there will not be any kind of mutual understanding and a non-hatred fuelled relationship between Spain and Catalonia, unless Spain simply lets go and leaves Catalonians be who they are, and let them go their chosen way. It might not be what Madrid, what the Spanish royal family, or what Rajoy would want for Spain, but still, they have a right to decide. We live in a democratic state (at least that’s what they say), so let them have it their way. Let them please vote.

We in Europe have so many states with two, with three or even with four languages. Think Belgium, Switzerland, parts of Germany, think Sicily, think Crete, think Malta. The more attractive a region is, less chances you have of there being only spoken one language. Chances are that a couple of nations already tried to invade it, and chances are that this happened. I am sorry if this is a bit juvenile but I always think of Asterix and Obelix when I think about invasion.

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You might think that the people in Madrid may be the Romans trying to force the Catalans to give up their language and cultural identity. But Madrid and a couple of politic agitators just see it just the opposite way. They see the Catalans as the agitators, or the traitors of the Spanish crown. There are some ultra-right wing people who deliberately disturbed the celebration of the “Onze de setembre” (September 11th), the Catalonian Independence Day. Funnily enough, justice was very lenient here, and they got away with a ridiculously low amount of 300€ while they smashed up things, menaced people, were hooded, entered a government building and were clearly not there in a pacific mission.

 

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Justice is a funny thing. This is something that startles me. How on earth can they get away with that? And how can the politicians in Madrid believe that their behavior was tolerable when they behave like that, that one might call a screaming injustice. Justice must have had a pretty bad day to sentence one man to 6 months of prison for speaking his mother tongue, and for fining another for an act of sheer and utter violence & some slight terroristic tendencies with a slight slap on the wrist.

Ok, I now. I am guiri. I should shut up. What do I know anyway?

Being a foreigner in Spain, not knowing any Catalan, and just about able to speak a few sentences in Spanish, I came here to the island of Ibiza in 2007, in December. I was not aware of all these underlying conflicts when I first came here. I tried to find my way around this place. I was busy getting my kids into kindergarten and into school. I had to work. And I had to take care of the kids on my own, as my husband was still 1 and a half years in Germany while I already lived here. I was quite alone, kept to myself, but in a still quite male dominated society I was treated like a “soltera” and somehow, people suspected I was. I did not know what to think about it but I was too busy to care.

So many of my friends in Germany shook their heads in despair when they heard where I was going and they asked me “Why on earth are you going there?” (rough translation: this pool of sinners, of depravity, hedonism and sex, drugs and rock’n’roll). I just laughed it off. And hey, now, almost six years later, I still live here. I feel integrated. My husband came down to Spain one and half years later than us because it was more difficult than we thought. Exit personal history.

But one thing really still startles me, especially now that I understand Catalan and speak it fairly well. Why on earth, do my friends who dared me, who induced me, who told me to learn Catalan… Why do they now back down when we are talking about the Catalan Way, the question of Independence??? Why are they the ones I never see when there is some event for the Independence? Why don’t they react when I post something on facebook??? Even though in private, they are fervent defenders of their home, their island, the right to speak their language and their right to vote. What’s up with that?

On the 8th of September, Ibiza also had a small human chain. The press said that there were 300 people. I can safely say that there were little more than 160 people, maybe 200 in the end. So: What’s up with that?

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However, now we come to the second problem, or to the second internal affair, that Spain has to deal with.

2.) The plan and its implementation of the TIL – integrative trilingual language system. This is a brain child of Jose Ramon Bauzà who somehow now seems like a Little Napoleon as he tries to push forward with this seemingly progressive system. So what does the TIL include: Basically it means a reduction of the Catalan and a high increase of the English language, that instead of 50% Catalan and 50% Spanish, the children get their classes in 30% in Catalan, 30% in Spanish and 30% in English.

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Don’t get me wrong. I love English. And for me, it would probably be a piece of cake, but then again… Think about how well or in some cases how not so well the outcome might be. Do they have decent teachers, do they have decent funds to invest in this Project. No. E.g, the school of Sant Miquel (a small village in the north of Ibiza) had placed up a huge bed-throw at the Wall of their school advertising tyhat the Balearic government still owed them a sum of 19,000€. And that is only one school. How so? How are they going to pay for the extra teachers… ??? How are they going to pay for the extra tuition??? For the extra books??? Hahahaha… Ladies and gentlemen. This will be solved Ibiza style, or Mallorca style. That is so easy, if your name is Jose Ramon Bauzà. Basically the answer is you are not getting any of this. Yes, You heard me.

No extra teachers.

No tuition paid.

No funds for books.

No funds for even paying old debts that concerned parents, the school itself or the state.

How on earth can this be a good basis for such a Project that – if it were well planned and well put into practice – not such an idiot thing. However, we are faced with empty wallets, resigned teachers, teachers who fear being menaced by disciplinary punishments and so on. The spirit of the generalissimo is still very much present. That present that the press today showed that Madrid does not want to change the name of Franco because of linguistic reasons. It is scary to see the adoration of a dictator who would have thrived in the amount of fear and repression that is subconsciously planted in the souls of so many, many Spaniards, as well as Catalonians.

And even if the TIL had come out as a proper plan, it would still be an attack against the Catalan language.

Let’s talk about how well are the Balearic Government free to decide what they are doing. There are many, many jokes in the net and one can see on television who is in charge. It is clearly Bauzà himself. Getting rid of a third of his parliament and claiming it was to show respect and the need to cut costs, was a nice excuse to get rid of his opposing forces within his own party. Bauzà has a nice little streak of a mini dictator in him. He may look like an ageing model or a car salesperson but in fact he is very strategic in what he does. Plus he thrives in the power he was given.

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Back to topic. No… I don’t know either. It is scary and it is such a preposterous idea. I am a strong activist for any type of increment of language and literature in school. But the way this is done is just… so, so, excuse me, it is so wrong… We have heard about the proposed system change right before the summer break and even then teachers were saying no. Little did we know back then. Now it is the second week of school and the teachers are still on strike, twitter is full of hashtags that show the support they are getting from so many different places, from so many different people.

So, I hope you know now about what’s going on in Spain and more specifically on the Balearics.

Why did I mix these topics together and added some streaks of personal history to it, even though they only on the surface have something to do with each other?

I would think that there is a deep underlying structure. If Wert called for the fact “españolizar” hispanize the children of Catalonia, then this is actually quite fascistic if not downright fascist.

If speaking Valencian is a crime, and smashing up a government building and disturbing an official act (given you’re rightwing!!!) is a small thing easily forgiven and does fall under the jurisdiction.

If a TV show (on IB3, the local TV station of the Balearics, government funded… ) about the TIL only shows:

– a group of six, all men (not one woman!)

– the majority were lawyers and not education experts

– one teacher, whose forte certainly was not to speak in public

– and without a decent distribution of the time allowed for each side (the defenders of TIL had 7 minutes, the ones against it 2 minutes!!!)

There is slight feeling, that this whole program could have been government sponsored and PP-program aligned. It is just so wrong the way they do a supposedly political program on TV. It was just so previsible.

Personally, I could not believe that there was not one person who was rhetorically able to speak up and up for the challenge.

Conclusion:

In effect, I wrote this blog post here, mainly because I was getting tired of being asked all over the same questions.

What is the TIL?

Why are you so in favor of the Catalonian Independence?

Why are you so Pro-Catalan?

Why are you against the TIL?

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Mainly, I hope to have clarified this issue with the above text. I am a language lover, I do not think that TIL is actually oriented in real life and will promote “fracaso escolar” more than anything else.

My obvious tendency towards the Catalonian Independence derives from the fact that I among other subjects (I majored in languages), I studied history and I think that the free state of the Catalonian people is necessary. Historically it can easily be derived that Catalonia is a state. I could go deeper into history but this would go to far. Also from the point of view that being a repressed nation, the Catalonians deserve to decide for themselves. Psychologically it can be argued as well, when the amount of suffering has been big enough for them that their will for independence outweighs the fear of being defeated. The Catalonians need to try it, I feel also Catalonian, I am one of them, and I wish them, I wish us the best of luck, and I think that Spain would be wise to let them go. Unless they want to have a century long hate relationship with even worse cases of linguistic recriminations and also crimes in the name of the Spanish state which presides everything.

First of all, I know, Catalonia is different, but Ibiza is also different. We work so much with tourism on a daily basis that the idea of reinforcing English in the school system is not the worst idea, but again… The way this is done, is what makes it turn out to be a total disaster or a plan that should be planned and scheduled properly in order to be successful. Please do not implement TIL. It is not worth the trouble it will surely cause. And try to prevent it for the sake of your children!

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So, where do I tie the knot?

Language and culture is like two peas in a pod. They belong together. If you take away the language from a person, in the sense that you make it a crime to speak that language, you steal part of his culture and basically you victimize him.

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Invaders have often done this. The Romans did this. The Greeks did this. The Spaniards did this. No big deal. But this here is the 21st century. I wish for mankind to be as far evolved that they see that you cannot suppress culture and language for a long time. It will stir things up. It will make people rebel.

Those in charge in Madrid, and also our little Napoleon of the Balears, Ramon Bauzà, would be well advised if he saw that denying people to speak their own mother tongue is a crime. It is a direct reference to the military dictatorship of Franco. And to be honest, this in itself gives me the creeps.

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What gives me the creeps even more is that there was a report that they want to reprimand people who speak on facebook, twitter or any online media about things that could cause a public disorder. This is also a step away from a democratic system. Be warned. And be alert that Spain and also the Balearics do not move back in time. This would be fatal.

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I seriously apologize that I could not post the homage to T.S. Eliot whose birthday it is today. But I will take the opportunity to thank you.

CK: Yeah, ok, it’s on.

SM: So now, everything is on the record now?

CK: Yes, everything… (laughs) Stop saying these silly jokes I don’t want to listen anymore.

SM: So, everything I say will go on the record now.

CK: No no, I will let you see the copy before it goes online and viral.

SM: Oh yeah? (laughs) So what I quite like is to change when I’m writing. I mean that’s a problem I guess. For trying to build a career, in literature. The thing is that … when I write for instance for science, which is what I enjoy the most, but then, when I’m done, I want to do something completely different. So I’m never gonna have a career … you know…

CK: …linear.

SM: Yeah, no, that’s not gonna work for me. I’m never gonna be a science writer. I’m going to write about science, then, I’m going to write children’s books, then… but I’m never gonna be a writer that writes for children. Cos next I’m gonna write a book about sex and violence. I’m always gonna write something different, then I change completely and that’s something that drives my agent mad. It’s very difficult to find an audience, to follow you through all of this, because it is so different.
But this is what I like, this is what I like most about writing. It is the freedom to do whatever I want.

CK: yeah, so you like to zigzag?

SM: Yes, I completely go from left to right. Then start over again.

CK: I think it’s the best you can do cause it shows that you have a very big variety of interests.

SM: Yes.

CK: Yes, I find that quite unique. Because there is a lot of people, you know, you speak with them and it turns out they are kind of one-sided.

SM: Usually, in most writers, you find something they like and they are good at and then they do it for life. That’s what works for most of the writers. If you write crime novels, you would write crime novels for all your life.

CK: Yes I know, and they do it in a kind of industrialized form.

SM: It’s true.

CK: They have one kind of recipe.

SM: and they repeat it over and over.

CK: plus it’s a bit like one size fits all. And then boom.

SM: It works across most genres. … It works for crime novels. It works and it works for them. Let’s take for instance Paul Auster who is an author I quite like a lot. But all his books, they’re all the same. Or take any writer who is successful, anybody that writes. Any writer that is successfull. Eventually, they all write the same things, over and over.

CK: So do you mean it’s a trap that most people fall into?

SM: Or willingly… I mean they enjoy it. Well I guess they enjoy the success in one area and they just stay there.

CK: I think it’s a sign that money corrupts. Isn’t it?

SM: Well, I don’t know if it’s money, fame or whatever it is really… I don’t know.

CK: Maybe it’s just that they found the one way to be successful, and they keep going that way.

SM: Maybe they think they are not better doing anything else? Or maybe, I mean, I think, most people have one view, one way… of doing things, and that’s they stick to. I would think that people would like to test and try out different things. Not only for literature but everything in life. You focus on what you’re good at. Whatever you’re good at. And stay that way. Maybe people would like to try out something… but most of them don’t. The fun thing – I mean for me – is exactly the opposite. What is good for me, though, is I can do that, I can say that cause I don’t have to pay my bills from my books.

CK: That’s nice. Yeah!

SM: That gives me complete freedom. If I had to put food on the table with my books, I would probably write whatever sells. But I am lucky that way that I pay my bills with my other job. So I can write whatever I feel like. So that’s my career plan when I write. Do whatever I want, whenever I want it. (laughs)

CK: So what about your past novel? What I found most intriguing was … I mean you started out doing – correct me if I’m wrong here – I think “Mugrons de Titani”… (rough translation: steely nipples or titanium nipples) was your first book that came out. And so that was kind of a tour de force really.

SM: It was a crazy thing, that was definitely something completely crazy. We never thought it was never going to be published. So, we really did that for fun. We thought nobody would ever see that. We were keeping it in line with what we thought was fun. We were enjoying it. So we thought let’s put all the references we like in it, let’s put it all into a book. And mix things like James Bond, Derek Jones and Star Wars, and everything.

CK: You had this fanzine going!?

SM: Yes, at the time, when I was writing, I met Sebastian. We met through a fanzine about science fiction basically.

CK: …which I found truly amazing. Cos I think fanzines, you know. The only fanzines I just knew about were punk or new wave fanzines, like for music and stuff. I didn’t even know that there were any science fiction fanzines.

SM: Oh yeah, here in Barcelona, there was actually a quite vibrant scene here, you know, in the early nineties. INTERNET KILLED THE FANZINES. It is quite obvious. It was much easier and cheaper to just post it, do it online. Back at the time, we were publishing it with our own money, trying to sell as many issues as posible, and then with the money we made from one issue, we would finance the next one.

CK: so it was a pure fun thing?

SM: Oh yeah, pure fun. We never thought we would make money from that. The first issue of the fanzine was very cheap. The second issue we put color in it, the next one we had better paper and so on… And eventually we got a nice looking fanzine. There were not that many that were doing science fiction in catalan at the time. And we managed to get a good group of people, actually they were quite interesting people with writers and illustrators.
We eventually had a good team, they were all doing very good jobs.

CK: What did you put it in there?

SM: It was a mix. It was a bit of everything. Articles, you know, opinions, illustrations, you know comics, we would have fiction. Anything. It was crazy. It included everything. A lot of humor! Basically humor and science fiction.

CK: So why did you stop?

SM: (Laughing) There was no money to go around. Eventually we went bankrupt. (laughing hard) It took a lot of effort to get it going. Eventually I went to the U.S.. And some people stayed here and they kept doing, it changed into something else. It was nice, bigger and better. But eventually they couldn’t manage it. It was too much money and time.

CK: Right. Let me ask you one question. Going away from Barcelona: Was it a decision that made your heart bleed that you had to leave the country?

SM: First of all, I was going to New York so it was good thing…

CK: So it was not bleeding too much. (laughing)

SM: It was a good thing for me. (laughs) No, it was good for me. I knew I had to eventually go. I thought it was a brief time, I thought it was a brief stay, a couple of years and it would be a great experience. That couple of years turned out to be for nine years eventually.

CK: So it was like a career move? You wanted to make. And it turned out to be a longer stay.

SM: Actually it was not something that I had wanted to do, but something I had to do. I had to do. Which is I was very happy here. So if I didn’t have to I probably would not have moved which would have been bad for me cause I loved being abroad… Being forced to move, to go away was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I managed to get all these experience in NYC. Which were great. And now in England.

CK: What does it feel like, being in New York? I mean the big Apple. Place of seduction. I mean there are so many different cultures around. IT is a bit like a melting pot.

SM: Yeah it is. Everything you read about NEW YORK is true. You feel quite literally like you are in the center of the world. Everything that happens, seems to happen around New York. When you read a newspaper here in Spain, you know exactly what’s happening in NY cause it. (…) People in NY, really, they ARE a bit arrogant. They definitely feel that it is the most important place in the world. So I had this feeling a couple of years, it was a very intense city. It is a very intense place to live. Very nice, definitely fun. But also fun, yeah, it was fun. For my job, it was really good. I learnt a lot. All along the east coast, from Boston to New York, there is this huge number of important research labs. I saw for example Nobel Laureates doing lectures every month. So I saw like ten or twelve Nobel Laureates. That’s an experience you DON’T usually get. So, the best people, you get to see them. So that for me was very interesting.

CK: And meanwhile you worked on the novel together with Sebastian. You sent the version back and forth.

SM: Back and forth. Through the internet. That was actually the beginnings of the email. That was 98. The internet really exploded in 95 or something. Since I was at university, I was using the internet earlier than everybody else, and that must have been 95 or something. Later on, the internet became so much bigger that everybody could use it. (…) So we started writing the novel the year before I was leaving. And then I had to leave, so I thought what’s going to happen now?

CK: Please let me know one thing… What makes you want to write a novel about a lesbian woman? I always wanted to know.

SM: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, that was Sebastian’s idea. For some reason, he read an advertisement somewhere in the internet or somewhere about a contest for the best short story – in English – about lesbians… a lesbian theme. It had to have a lesbian theme.

CK: Ok.

SM: For some reason he thought that we could go there and win!

CK: (cracking up laughing)

SM: which I think in retrospect was completely silly cos we did not know English and we had no idea about writing lesbian literature, obviously. So he said. Yeah, let’s write it! Yeah, it was completely misguided from the beginning I think. (laughs)

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CK: (laughing) It is really crazy!

SM: So he said let’s write this short story, and see what happens. So we wrote it, had a lot of fun. So then we said yeah let’s write another short story. And then we made the mistake by saying oh, yeah, let’s turn it into a novel.

CK: I don’t know where I read this… but I think I read somewhere on the internet that you said something about going to a lesbian sex shop and doing some quality research.

SM: Yeah, I sent my wife to do that!

CK: She must have appreciated that one.

SM: Yeah, definitely. She went there with a friend. Had a lot of laughs. Obviously we could not go. Obviously we were not … you know. So yeah, no, we did not know anything about the theme.

CK: So now, Valentina appeared… I think she is actually quite a vital character. She is really kind of three dimensional. She is funny, she is sexually very much, umm, she is a twenty first century woman. I would think.

SM: Yeah, yeah, we tried to make a strong character, definitely, a good lead character.

CK: She actually gave an interview just recently…

SM: yeah, that was fun. You did a great job with that one.

CK: Thank you.

SM: That’s the kind of thing we wanted to do. A very good strong character. We wanted to put her in the middle of some craziest adventures and see what happens. The thing is we were writing it without worrying about it too much. And it was difficult. We were not planning anything. We were just writing. And that’s a bad idea. Especially when you write together with somebody else. You should always plan ahead. We learnt that the hard way. But eventually we managed to get something. We thought ok. Now we have this novel nobody would ever publish. It is impossible. Nobody would ever like it. It is too crazy. It does not follow any sort of rules. So it was clear we could not use it for the short story contest anymore. So we said, you know… there is this prize for erotic novels. Why don’t we, why don’t we try to submit it? Sebastian had this idea. And I told him, it is IMPOSSIBLE! For starters, it is not even erotic at all. I mean there are some erotic scenes, but there is nothing erotic about it at all. That was Sebastian’s idea. He said: Why not? So we tried it. It is a complete miracle. It happened. We were nobodies at the time. We didn’t know anybody. And we still won. It was a complete miracle. And it happened. You know. The doors opened. For both of us, it was the beginning.

CK: I think it is a very well conceived novel. To be honest I would wish for it to have a second part to find out.

SM: We joked about it. When we were doing it, actually, we planned to do a trilogy. So we actually had a second and a third part. But we never really… I guess That’s going back to the fact… that i always want to do something different. And not repeat myself you know.

CK: She could have matured, make a time leap.

SM: yeah, … We already had a story ready for the second volume which was fun too. It was something with humor and sex. Was like… you know… then we thought… “ah, maybe in the future”… Anyway, it was fun to do it at the time. We moved on. And I still write with Sebastian. We still do books. We just finished one. And we are writing another. Actually we are on two projects right now.

CK: So you are doing two projects with Sebastian right now? Can you talk about any of it?

SM: It is basically for teenagers. It is a story about a teenage girl. Actually pre-teen. Age: Ten, twelve, something like that. There is something different. It is almost like these books the one we read when we were young, the one that’s connected with Alfred Hitchcock, it’s called the Three Investigators which is very popular in Germany.

CK: Yeah, yeah.

SM: Or the seven secrets or the five ,… whatever. I think there is a group of children, I don’t think no-one doing these things anymore. So I think… It is a fun thing to do. Put some kids in the middle of some mystery or something. So that’s the first one, we just finished that one. And the second one which we wrote almost parallel is a similar concept. But it is more a science fiction environment. It’s about young kids doing research, mystery research… But with a ghost, things like that. Researchers. Paranormal mysteries.

CK: Ok, that’s your new project. Another novel which I quite liked was Ullals. It’s a very psychological and also, well it’s almost like a parallel universe. Cause you open up a door to a kind of dark universe. And you kind of explore what happens if … uh… if you are being subjected to things you don’t really want to experience.

    ATTENTION BIG SPOILER ALERT FOR ULLALS – IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK SCROLL DOWN TILL THE NEXT BOLD TEXT IN ORDER NOT TO RUIN THE THRILL

SM: Yeah. It was from the beginning the idea we wanted to make a thriller. So it’s not gonna have big explosions or big crimes and things like that… so it all happens in a small environment with only three or four characters in it. And everything that will happen, you don’t really know if it’s TRUE or not. The whole idea or the principle or the idea from the book was from the beginning was to … to not know, to NOT be sure if the more fantastic side of things were true or not. You can explain everything with logic and normal things, or you can explain it with the supernatural. You can explain it that these monsters in the forest that have powers. Or you can explain it with the boars in the wood and that’s it. We wanted to just play with them.
We wanted to play around with these characters, they are being subjected to strong stress, they are being locked up, they believed everything they tell them. We wanted to do it that way. We were never actually thinking we were writing a novel for teenagers. But we eventually won a prize for teenage fiction. We were thinking of a more general audience, obviously the characters were teenagers, but the idea was the same thing. We put characters in extreme situations, and see how they deal with that.

CK: So it was more like – how do I say this? – it sounds almost like a scientific experiment!?

SM: Oh yeah… It was really something like that. Just lock some people in a place and make them experience, put them to some extremes and see what happens to them.

CK: That sounds nice. (laughs)

SM: …and see what happens then. (laughs) It was based on a true story. It was again Sebastian who read something in the newspapers. There was a story about these kids locked up in a special place, a very similar situation. Obviously there were no killings or anything. But they were subjected to some… well I don’t want to call it torture, but it was some severe stress. Sebastian asked me do you want to do a story? He said this is great this is even better than fiction. It is real. I said, yes, let’s do it. But let’s add another dimension. Let’s have the guys locked up in a place. They can’t get out cos there’s some monsters outside. Yes, so that they cannot get out. Let’s compare the real monsters, the people who lock them, with those guys outside, with the fiction, the boar monsters. See how they deal with that. There could be whatever it is in the book. Let’s see how to deal with that. For us it was how to limit ourselves. Three kids, three adults, in only one scenario, only one place. See if that would work. I think it worked pretty well. It got eventually targeted as a teenage as a crossover fiction. I think it is definitely not the typical book that teenagers read, and I think that they shocked a lot of people. There was a lot of reviews, from blogs, you know teenagers write a lot of blogs. Most people said, it was fun, but it is not the kind of book that we normally read, which to me was a plus. But for them, it was shocking. There was no romance. There was no … The ending was too open for them.

CK: I think it was closed. I mean the guy is dead.

SM: That’s what I think too. Yes, it is an ending that allows you to … Well it is clear what happens to whom. I mean some things are not answered. But I think they are not important things. You wanna believe that there are monsters in the book. Well that’s fine. It Works if you believe the opposite.

CK: It also works if you… you know: How did he get the ticket…?

SM: So you have to assume he killed the other guy. It could also be … you could also assume that he is not dead, he is just badly beaten. The important point is: The guy that escapes … (there is a lot of spoilers here) cannot escape really. He eventually has to go back to the same prison, with his family, that’s the main story. That was a story how to escape, how to get out, more than anything else. For me in that sense it was a success. It was interesting. How it worked to write a story with a limited number of elements.

CK: Now I have a serious question: why did you kill your main character? (SM laughs) He was so likeable.

SM: Yeah, I know. We were trying to make a character that was not likeable at all, from the beginning. We tried to build an arrogant asshole basically. A spoiled brat.

CK: I don’t think so.

SM: As soon as you put him in the middle of that situation, he becomes likeable, because he is fighting for survival. He does not come across as being not likeable. It was not in our intention. Our intention was we wanted to make him even less of a classic hero.

CK: I understand you wanted to present an anti-hero… He comes across as arrogant, snotty. But that’s normal, that’s normal, he is just a normal teenager.

SM: Yeah, it is true. He eventually helps everybody to escape, and everything.

CK: He is a scared boy.

SM: Yes, That was the idea. Take someone who looks like an asshole… but eventually in a stress situation his true color show up. He is not at all as bad as he seemed he was. We did not know how to end it. The first ending was that he would escape and that’s it… Actually, it was my fault. I came up with a new, with a twisted ending. I got a twist here. This twist here makes it even more interesting.

CK: It was a very good, the ending… But to be honest, I felt so sorry for this guy. I thought, oh my God.

SM: Damn it, the poor guy. (showing mock empathy)

CK: I mean he had been through so much, he’s been beaten up, he’s been locked up, he’s been through so much shit … You know so why kill him?

SM: Yeah, I know. (laughs)

CK: That was going over the top. I would have liked him to help the girl escape. And then… she is also dead.

SM: I don’t like happy endings. Ever. So I think none of my novels have happy endings ever.

CK: You are perfect children’s books writer! (both laugh)

SM: I don’t know. I never come out with a happy ending. It is not always a sad ending. In the case of Ullals it is quite sad.
It is not what you would expect. I like it that way, I guess. When you write for children, on the other hand, we try to do more happy endings, come up with a more classical ending. But I guess it is more fun.

    END OF SPOILER ALERT ULLALS – SAFE TO READ FROM HERE ON

CK: I can totally understand that. From a writer’s point of view.

SM: You know, these endings… They are more powerful…

CK: As a writer, I mean sad endings they are more interesting, they give you more options to play with… You can torture your… that sounds really nasty… This is Kurt Vonnegut (and his views on story writing), I posted this once in a blog… you have to subject your main characters to so many things… don’t be nice to them, be really nasty.

SM: Yeah… Exactly… Make them suffer (laughs)

CK: For one thing… I think it was really, well, to be honest it felt really sad for him, and you know why?, cause this is a strange thing to say, I identified with him so much.

SM: Yes, sure. That’s the idea. You identify with him as much as you can. And then you feel the slap on your face when you know this guy’s not gonna survive. It makes it even (more) stronger. No I mean I agree. It depends. Not everybody would like the ending. But I think everybody would appreciate the shocking ending. That was sort of unexpected. It would be more expected, you know, the idea that he survived. I didn’t … We didn’t do it only for that. This is the exception from my other novels. Usually… the endings… are very… For me there is only one way to end a story. When I write something, that’s the end, I felt from the very beginning. That’s the way the story ends. In my head, it always ended like that. I cannot think of a different, of any better ending. This is the ending for that one. Period.

CK: This works for you.

SM: Yeah. Sometimes it is a bad ending. It truly depends on where the story is taking you.

CK: I read some of your short stories and I really liked them… And I think you are really a good short story writer and I wanted to know why you always slag off short stories? (SM laughs) Cos it’s really silly.

SM: I know it is. And everybody tells me that. Anyway. But I don’t know. I don’t enjoy reading or writing short stories that much as a novel. For me, short stories focus…. on the story so when you write a short story you are most focussed on what happens in the story. Whereas when you write a novel, it is what happens, and HOW it happens and How you develop the characters. There is more about the base, the rhytm and how you build the characters. It is a skill too, for sure. (…) But with a novel, you need some room to show your abilities, to use your tools. With a short story, you basically show how good you are at coming up with a story. You don’t have that much room… but with a novel you show your skills… With a novel it is about the how you develop all the things you can do… With a short story, You don’t have the room. There are some great short story writers. But you can be a mediocre writer, and still come up with a good short story.

CK: You are doing it again? Do you notice?

SM: Yes, I will always knock down the short story. And I will always do that. It masks the true… Well… The true ability … It simply does not show up in a short story.

CK: I don’t agree with you here.

SM: Nobody ever agress with me. Whenever I say it on the internet, everybody… attacks me.

CK: I do want to understand it. And I do understand it inasmuch you think that a way to show your“brilliance” – in quotation marks – you can go all the way.

SM: It is like that you need the space to do that, in that sense … The only way is with some room. In that sense I don’t like long novels either. Good novels are short. I think the ideal… length is I think something like 150 pages. That’s what … you really need to shine.

CK: Hey, … my novel is 150 pages. Thank you so much! (laughing)

SM: I mean yeah… 150 till 200 pages. That’s as much as… You can have a good story. You can show your abilities and everything… If you are going over 200 pages, you are probably adding things that are not necessary for the main story. (…) if you tell a story with different storylines, then of course, you can make it as long as you want … up to 1000 pages if you want. If you want to tell one story…

CK: I have to tell you one thing, I mean I studied letters… No, I am going to cut this… this is not going onto the official version… obviously… But I with books, I was a bad student, this is not going into the official version) I mean with any book that was beyond 350 pages, I would only read the contents, the beginning, the middle and the end of the chapters. And I was like an excellent student. (SM Laughs) Nobody ever found out.

SM: (laughs) … yes, cos in the middle there is the important stuff.

CK: I had this scheme going on. I didn’t like it to go through some 500 pages.

SM: I think what happens … You lose its rhythm. With long novels, you get distracted. I mean it is a personal thing. But there is so many people who love long novels… Still for me, the best way to show things… the best books … 150 – 250. Maximum.

CK: Before I forget it. What was the first reaction when you first read my novel as whole?

SM: I thought it was a nice, a good story. It is an interesting take. Interesting point of view. Interesting
group of characters. Whatever defects it had. I still think… what came through… it is not a very usual story (…) At least the first ending I read was not a very happy one either.

CK: I am prone to unhappy endings as well.

SM: It was unusual I would say, I would say. An original story. It is also short. Goes straight to the point. Definitely thought there was a value in that story.

CK: Thank you. Well, I try to get it published. Hopefully the book will eventually see the light of day. (…) But I’m also working on a different story right now. I have like a thousand projects going on. I have to focus… This is project a, project b, project c etc. I always tend to try to do things simultaneous. And it never works.

SM: It is very unusual. I have a little bit of an attention deficit … self diagnosed. So for me it is very difficult to work just on one project. I get up to four very easily. I almost need it…

CK: I can so totally understand.

SM: It is the way I work. The good thing is I have a lot of discipline. I can work on three or four different projects. Without wanting to throw one project out of the window. There is no rule to writing I guess.

CK: Does your family go mad with you?

SM: (Laughs) They are used to me I guess by now… It is quite difficult to keep me focussed on one project only. It is also good for my other job in the lab… You always have three or four different things going on (…) You don’t get bored with just doing one… You keep adding things and so on.

CK: What do you do? You have your peojects? Do you have a time schedule? How do you plan things? Now it is time for research… The next couple of things is writing.

SM: Yeah, I try to be very organised about it… You know normally.. When I start writing a story… It takes me years and years. Before I start writing the stories tend to be around for a long long time. Because you know I think a lot, a lot before I write. Until I find a way expressing it… That also goes for the books I do with Sebastian. The teenage book is in the making for ten years now. It is quite unusual I guess. I need to understand the characters.
I never write straight away. All of my books have been incubating for some ten to fifteen years. In the moment I start to write, I know exactly what I want to write. I know where the story goes.

CK: That is fascinating. I totally understand… I told you I had this fragment… There was one scene… I was truly flipping… It was almost an epiphany. Cos I knew I had this one scene and I thought I had totally forgotten all about it… It had been wiped off my screen. And it came back popping up again.

SM: Yes. It is a little bit like that. That’s how it happens. You think of a story, you forget about it. Then you start thinking about it again, you forget it again, it builds up again, you know you want to work on it. (…) There are some stories where I think I need to know more. This is gonna to be more complicated to explain. You know the thought, “I need to learn more. I need better skills. So I will leave that now, work on different stories now, and worry about that one later.”

CK: Ok, lets talk about skills. What do you think is worse… A good story badly written or a bad story well written?

SM: That’s a good question… Having a good story well written, it’s very difficult. I think that both have virtues I guess … You can have a poorly written book that is amazingly interesting, the story is so good that you don’t care even if they are poorly written. Or, you can have books that are so well written that you really don’t care about what’s going on. There are some very good writers. That you read the books and every page is like really good. It does not really matter what’s going on in the story. I enjoy both kinds of books. Obviously, the best you can find is the combination of both. They can both be good in the sense that you can have fun with both kinds of books… I don’t think necessarily… I mean I don’t think it ever gets in the way if you have a strong story. Not always you have great writers and great stories.

CK: Ok, I formulated it kind of provocatively.

SM: (…) Yes, there might be an average writer and the story is good, so it can still be very enjoyable. Not always you have the authors that matches both… For instance something very nicely written. And still: The book does not say anything. The skills are amazing. The book does not say anything. I find this phenomenon sometimes with the books by Don De Lillo. He is an amazing, a very good writer. But sometimes his books are just aweful. I mean they are nothing… in the sense that it is just him writing… that’s it.

CK: I haven’t read anything by him. You mean it is just fluff.

SM: There is sometimes, well, it is nothing. The story does not take you anywhere. Well it is sometimes just him writing, and that’s it. Well, there are on the other hand. Well, recently I also read something by John Banville which I enjoyed very much.

CK: Which one did you read?

SM: The sea.

CK: Oh, haven’t read that one.

SM: The story is not much happening in the book. There is not much in terms of a story, you could tell it in a few pages. But the way he writes it, the way he develops it, is great, is very enjoyable. There is almost nothing. Almost no story at all. But yet, it’s still a great book to read. It depends I mean. I don’t think it’s a rule. (…) It also depends on the reader. Some readers would enjoy one thing more than another. It has to be a Little bit of everything. It is very difficult to know what makes the perfect book. I mean you can recognize if a book is well written or not, and you can recognize if the story is good or not. But whether or not you enjoy the book, really depends on you. So, it is very difficult to say really this is a great book. You can like it or not. I guess there are some objective things and some VERY subjective things when you evaluate a book.

CK: What do you value when you read a book from a new writer? When you go like Wow, this is good!

SM: Oh yeah…I don’t know. That’s true. What is this IT thing?

CK: Is it dialogue? Crazy characters? A twist?

SM: I think it has to be unexpected. Well it does not necessarily have to be crazy.

CK: No, I meant crazy in a good sense, in terms of being unexpected. Unusual.

SM: Yes. Something that is unexpected. Something that you haven’t read in that style before. It takes you to a place that you were not expecting. I think that depends a lot on the shape of your mind at that time in your life. There are books that you read when you were young that made a difference, that marked you… They really influenced you. And still, and then you re-read them after some twenty years, today you might pick them up and you would wonder what it was.

CK: Sorry, I remember you were saying … something on the net about a juvenile book…something with “estany”… and so I read it because it was a nice size book, a small book. And the vocabulary was not too hard. So I read it, and it was really nice.

SM: At the present time, I haven’t really re-read that one. At the time when I read it was really good for me. I was in my early teens and it made a good impression on me. I don’t think that guy is an especially good or an excellent writer… He managed to get a story that touched me. It was a very good book in that sense. When I read it, it meant a lot me. It was a very appealing book in my age. At least to some of us. I think it is very difficult… There are some books where you think you would never like them and then when you read it you go like wow and you like them… So, it is very difficult what would make a book interesting for you, so that you would like it… It depends on a lot of factors. There are some astral conjunctions that makes it work.
(PAUSE)

SM: So the problem with books, is – and that’s why some people say it is impossible to say if a book is good or bad – is that there is a very subjective element whether you like it or not… But when you are criticizing a book, when you write a book review, you have to try to be objective. You have to value the good and bad things of the writting, point out its strong and its weak points, and then apart from that, you can say I liked it, I enjoyed it very much, or I did not like it. For example: It is poorly written, but it really touched me, so yeah I like it. That’s it. I think that’s fair. It does not have to be an excellently written book and a very clever story that’s the best book, not necessarily. Sometimes you enjoy other kinds of books. (PAUSE… typing)

CK: Has being a father changed your perspective… as an author?

SM: (laughs) Yeah, definitely. It forced me to read a lot of childrens’ books which made me realize what works and what not and it made me want to write more children’s books, which is what I am doing right now. Actually, when I wrote my first children’s book Tururut, that was before I even had a child. That was a challenge. Let’s try it. I did not know at all what kids were looking for. And it worked pretty well. Now I know more.

CK: I think it is amazing that you say this … because you know I love my kids to death, and I know I promised them to write a book one day… but to be honest, I am not much of a childrens’ writer.

SM: I don’t know. This is something. It just came up. There was a point when I felt I had to write for children or for teenagers… I grew up reading a lot of these books, that made a difference to me… And I read these books and they meant a lot to me. We wrote Ullals. And then Hipnòfobia. And they all landed in the crossover section without ever been written for kids. We never thought it was a teenager book. So then, I thought: Let’s tried to do a proper teenager book. Maybe, I was almost like pushed into the teenage fiction. And I am happy, it’s fun. When you think about it, writing children’s book. It is the appeal of doing things differently. You do things a little bit differently, to discover. Also… I think it adds some abilities to your arsenal of tools.

CK: Sounds quite martial.

SM: Yeah! (laughs) Learning to write I think. I mean. You have to have a plan or not, whatever. Is something that you have to make an effort. You write the best novel you can for instance. And then, you say, ok, this is as good as I can do right now. So if I want to do better than this, I have to do some exercises, I need to learn. I have to do some exercises. Let’s try different things.

CK: is there something you feel you need to learn, that you need to work on now, something ?

SM: Uh, yeah. For my next novel for adults, I have in my head…. I need to have three strong female characters. So far, all my female characters in my novels have been femme fatals. That’s the sort of a model I like. So, all my girls have been bad girls. Who always eventually betray the main character. The characters are well worked in my stories too but I want to write something different. I never wrote a female character in the long run that does anything else beyond the femme fatale. I need to train that.

CK: That is quite mono-dimensional.

SM: I never wrote a female character … I need to do some training. I try to get to a female side of my writing… try to get in touch with my feminine part of my character. Maybe make them somewhat stronger. Well, actually. They are actually strong. Maybe a different type of strong female character.

CK: In what way is Valentina a femme fatale?

SM: Maybe Valentina is the least femme fatale of those.

CK: I think she is a buddy.

SM: Valentina is very masculine in that sense, she is a classic hero. It could easily be a guy and it would work in the same sense.

CK: She reminded me very much of TANK GIRL. A comic I used to love.

SM: Tank girl is also… yes, actually. Tank girl is like a male character in a female shape.

CK: Actually, she is a bit.. a prototype… I don’t want to say lesbian… (SM laughs) but she goes into that direction.

SM: Yeah, in a way, Valentina goes into that direction… She has that sort of masculine template to start with. The few that show up in HIPNOFOBIA: there are very few girls in Hipno, but the few ones are all femme fatales and definitely in… in EL REI DEL MON… The girls in there are all femme fatales…

CK: In REI DEL MON it was really obvious… But that’s another one, I also think it was totally underrated. That’s another novel: I really liked it. I really liked it a lot.

SM: Thank you. Not really a lot of people even read it. So, yeah. I liked to do things a little bit different. I liked the idea of a main carácter, the female carácter, being so, well, so… femme fatale.

CK: Well maybe, it is a pattern you want to continue. If it is something you like. Why not? You don’t have to force yourself to have the good girl. Maybe that’s just boring. I like my characters to be a little bit bad …

SM: I agree with you. But I already had the femme fatale and I’m not going to repeat it one more time. The next character is going to be a bad character, but a little bit different. I was trying to develop more of that in that sense. Hipnofobia for instance for me was a playground to try out different approaches… I liked to write in the present tense. First or third person. So in Hipnofobia… I was trying to write all from the different perspectives: past, present, first, third person, explore different perspectives, … It was like a patchwork of different stories… It was defined to be a testing ground of things I want to do in the future… See how this works or not. Eventually, I managed to put it together in a novel. It started with “let me try out different things”. The bottom line of it is that …

CK: you always want to try out new things.

SM: … the bottom line is when i write I want to put myself in a situation that is not comfortable for me, so let’s try to do something that I’ve never done before, so that I have to force myself… For me, that’s the only way to learn. So I want to write as good as I can, I want to keep learning. I would not put myself in a situation where I repeat myself. That would not allow me to grow. I know that I still have a lot to learn as a writer. Let’s put me in a corner and see how I work there. That’s why I always force myself to do something I never done before. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But from all these experiences you learn. You come up a better writer.

CK: What would be the situation, say if we had a time machine? We put you in there, and you come out twenty years later. What would Salvador Macip say then, looking back on the past twenty years?

SM: Well, I hope that I can be proud of what I wrote and published and that I stayed true to my principles of trying to write books that are a little bit different. (…) There are going to be some good books, obviously some bad books. But hopefully they are going to be all different, interesting. You may like them or not, but still they’d all still have a value… He tried to do something different there. I hope in the next 20 years, I can keep on doing that. I am not really worried about making a lot of money, or anything. I am more interested in

CK: … developing your skills.

SM: yeah exactly… Being true to my target of becoming a better writer. Eventually write as good as I can, tell the best stories I can. If I am appreciated by ten people, fine, if there are one hundred people, it’s better, if it’s ten thousand, even better, but that’s not really what I am worried about now. I try to be the best writer I can and try to write the books that I consider to be good books, or well books that I would personally enjoy reading. But it does not necessarily mean that everybody else would. But at least people that would like the books I like would appreciate them. Hopefully they would enjoy that too…

CK: Alright. I have one question which always intrigues me. Which books are currently stacked up on your bedside table right now?

SM: I have a lot of books. I have due to my attention deficit I can’t just read one book… Well, there is Nicholson Baker for starters…

CK: Oh yeah, I know him. He wrote VOX.

SM: Yeah, vox is what he became famous for. Then there is “The fermata”. Very interesting. Very weird sex story. Very quirky, that’s why I like him. So that one. And then Bioko from Marc Pastor. Quite an interesting story.

CK: The same day you posted that picture of yourself on the beach, that very same day I was at Gilgamesh and I
actually bought myself a signed copy from Bioko. Wow! That was kind of spooky.

SM: Good. Very good. Slow beginning but then…

CK: What else?

SM: A book on death… The writer is someone who first wrote for the New Yorker. He wrote a few articles on death. He was dying from cancer… about death… I am just beginning it but it is quite powerful. Obviously, cos the guy is going through some extreme experiences. Then there is this book, I forgot the name, it is a guy from Jugoslavia that’s got the Nobel Prize. It’s been translated recently. It’s called “…” Don’t know. About some guy locked up in prison. In Turkey actually.

CK: Is it a political book?

SM: NO, basically it is about being locked up. It is this very strange prison. Basically it is about being locked up. Then I have some comic books next to it. It’s very complicated. I really like to read very different things. Here again, the same that applies. What goes for writing, goes for reading. I really want to read so many different things. It just bores me to read the same things over and over again.

We should really wrap up in five minutes.

CK: OK.

SM: Do you have any more pressing questions?

CK: No.

The interview was held on July 11th, 2013. The day it rained cats and dogs in Barcelona.
—–
CK: Thank you so much Salvador Macip! It has been so much fun doing the interview with you, and definitely so worthwhile. Pleasure!

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