16 Septembrie 2016 Lasă un comentariu
Over halfway through Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, Ulises Lima disappears. The character (modeled on Bolaño’s close friend, Mario Santiago) fortuitously ends up in a group of Mexican poets traveling to Nicaragua to show solidarity with the revolutionary Sandinista government. The trip’s leader worries that the anarchist Lima will fight with the otherwise Marxist-Leninist delegation, but between revolutionary tourism and getting drunk no one notices. At the end of the trip, Lima is nowhere to be found. At some point, he stumbled from the metaphorical blind alleys of radical politics into literal oblivion. The plane leaves without him.
Patrick Iber’s Neither Peace nor Freedom explains why a besieged revolutionary government would bother meeting with a delegation of foreign poets. The Cold War was, among other things, an intense intellectual and cultural dispute. Around the world, the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) claimed to represent the cause of autonomous cultural expression and democratic procedures against the onslaught of, what Harry Truman called, “the slave world.” The Soviet equivalent, the World Peace Congress, stood against the world-bestriding (and nuclear-weapon-using) United States. They sought, furtively or openly, to win the loyalty of artists and writers. Intellectuals, for their part, hoped that by choosing sides (or artfully negotiating them) they could realize the unique promise of the intelligentsia as a force in modern politics.