La Inveterada Memòria

El racó d'Ari i Linus Fontrodona

2 de novembre de 2017
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Dickensian Times in Catalonia & An untold prayer to St Michael Archangel

These are absolutely Dickensian times for my country (and –if you let me tell it– also for me and my family).

— On Friday, October the 27th – 2017 at 15:27, the Independence of Catalunya, my homeland, was solemnly declared.

Today, four days later, my people and I are living in the República de Catalunya i Aran, which is, in itself, like a dream come true. For the sixth time since we lost our independence in 1714 (when the Crown of Aragon was defeated, invaded and submitted by the Bourbon King of Castile), we are a Republic, and for the third time, a truly independent one. But, truly?… Yes and no. Mostly not.

The Kingdom of Spain says “No” and it is illegally and forcibly taking –trying to take– direct rule over us after almost 40 years of relative –but decreasing– autonomy. Not a single sovereign state in the world has officially recognized us yet. No one, if any, will do it until we gain actual freedom and assure control over our finances, laws, police and territory. However, we have few chances to achieve this if we do not have some international recognition and support.

Thus, Catalonia today is a territory in dispute, apparently controlled by Spain, but which has an independent government apparently in exile; at least in part.

We are theoretically freer than we have been in three centuries, but in fact we live in a police state where each one of us may be arrested and jailed for many years just for our ideas, for having voted for independence or for obeying our legitimate government, voted by us just two years ago, with the explicit mandate of declaring our independence, just like they have finally done.

It is amazing that a democratically elected government is forced to move to exile. As much as it is not normal for citizens of a country to be assaulted and brutally beaten (1066 injured) when they want to vote.

Currently, one of the best known governments in exile in the whole world is the Tibetan government, established in Dharamsala, India, and now we begin to taste the same bitter doom. Fortunately, Spain has not at all the same power of China. Unfortunately, it has the same (perhaps worse) long-lasting ill will and deep, unalterable hatred against us as China has against Tibet.

Now, about Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a well-known novel by him, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. Many English-speaking people recall its first lines (and quite a few are even able to quote them by heart) since they are memorable indeed:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Now, just changing the verbal tense to present, these lines describe most perfectly (“in the superlative degree of comparison”) the current times here in Catalunya.

While revisiting the novel before writing this post, swiftly reading some fragments here and there, I have come across the following passage (which succinctly, but very exactly, records the principles of superiority held by the much hated and abusive Marquis St. Evrémonde) :

“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery […] will keep the dogs obedient to the whip.” (Book 2, Chapter 9)

Almost exactly the thoughts of Spanish authorities (if they do actually think) with regard to Catalan people. (I have written “almost exactly” only because they consider Catalans lower and lesser than dogs…)

As for my reference to Michael Archangel on the heading, I will not make any particular prayer to him explicit here. Just explain I am praying. Also, some representations of him have been in my mind all the time while I doubted about how to illustrate this post… In particular, there is a powerful Baroque statue of St Michael Archangel defeating Satan in a chapel at the Basílica de Santa Maria de la Mercè, in Barcelona:

Sant Miquel Arcàngel derrotant el Diable (Basílica de Santa Maria de la Mercè, Barcelona, República de Catalunya i Aran)

Very appropriate in this Dickensian season of darkness and of light – in this best of times and worst of times – when we are all going direct to Heaven and we were all going direct the other way – here in Catalunya…

As far as I can appreciate, this statue was manifestly inspired in Guido Reni‘s painting: St Michael Archangel (1636), showing St Michael trampling Satan; held in the Capuchin Church of Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome.)

[I love that the painting represents Michael with a seemingly, if tiny, girly breast and an entirely feminine face –in spite of his/her mostly masculine members and torso–, and that he/she wears skirt and sandals (in late-Roman military attire), so I identify a bit. (Hem, well… I do not look so young and pretty, and I am dark-haired; also, most fortunately, I am not at all as muscular.)]

St Michael Archangel (1636 – oil on canvas, 293 × 202 cm) – Capuchin Church of Santa Maria della Concezione, Rome, Italy

I pray to St Michael and all possible Seraphim, Thrones, Virtues, Dominations and other orders of Angels for protection and help against fascism –again (!) – … I pray that our destiny here in my beloved homeland does not become the same that our parents and grandparents and grand-grandparents and grand-grand-grandparents… and so on, had to endure. I pray for it with heart and soul.

— Aquest post ha estat previament publicat al meu blog a WordPress –

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