Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Andalusia and Mexico

Below is a speech given last week at the international book fair in Guadalajara, Mexico by the Spanish philosopher Adolfo Sánches Vazquez entitled "Andalusia and Mexico."

We run it here because it fits perfectly with the highwayscribery pledge to meld politics, poetry and prose; for its focus on Andalusia in the Spanish Civil War (setting of the novel "Vedette"), and because we are linked to Mexico both through common interest and work.

To begin, let me express my deepest and heartfelt gratitude to the Andalusian government, and in particular, the Minister of Culture, Rosa Torres, for the high honor she bestows upon me by distinguishing, in her own words, my “personal and professional trajectory.”

On this occasion I would like to make the following observations: that trajectory developed in its totality in Mexico, during the unveiling of a long exile and the years that followed it. Within that long arc I should note that it was in Andalusia, specifically in Málaga, were my early vocations flowered. The first was literary and which translated into a book of poems (“El Pulso Ardiendo”) “The Burning Pulse” and the found of the review “Sur.” All of this was encouraged by my great friend, el gran poeta, Emilio Prados, who founded the review “Litoral”, with cohorts of the Generation of ’27, and made Málaga the capital of Spanish poetry. The second vocation, rooted in the convulsive Málaga of the ’30s, was politics, which found its voice through my active militancy in the Comunist Youth and after, when they joined the Young Socialists to form the Unified Young Socialists. In the same vein, I should highlight the fact that the long path of my work as a professor was always marked by the values of liberty, justice and social equality and a personal ideology that was humanist and, particularly, socialist. An ideology that inspired me from the earliest days of my youth to the present.

Andalusia is not only directly tied to my life, my poetry and philosophical efforts, but is tied to it in a substantial and constant way, because in Andalusia not only was I born physically, but also spiritually, forged in her earth, the malagueña especially, where the previously cited values impregnated the whole trajectory honored here today.

It was, definitely, in Andalusia where I absorbed thse values in reaction to the reality laid out before my young eyes. It was the Andalusia of peasants farmworkers who worked from sol a sol, seasonally, for one peseta a day while the landowners of usually large estates, led a dissipated life thanks to the exploitation they exercised, in the company of generals and aristocrats, and of those who promoted the legend of the happy tambourine Andalusia. Counter to this vision was an exploited and miserable Andalusia of the farmworkers and miners who expressed their terrible situation in the bitter moanings of Cante Jondo and, at times, their rare and healthy joy found within that music: in her bulerías. In that Andalusia torn by such bitter contrast I was born, again, spiritually; that is to say, I made mine the humanist and socialist ideology that has inspired and enriched my entire literary and philosophical body of work; ideology that, in spite of its perversion and even negation during a long period in countries proclaiming socialism, I have maintained both as a part of my thoughts and actions.

In that rebel Andalusia of workers battles and peasant agitations I lived just 21 years, until seven months into the war, unleashed by the most reactionary social and political classes, Málaga fell and I found myself forced to abandon her in the tragic exodus along the coastal road to Almería, and in this way, leave Andalusian soil for 35 years.

I had the good fortune, as did thousands of republicans, to settle down after the war at the hospitality, as generous as it was disinterested, extended to us by the President of Mexico, Lázaro Cárdenas. And it was here where I launched the career today honored by the Andalusian government, which dignifies and represents the idea of la Andalucía demócrata and autonomous of today, the one I first knew and later dreamed of during so many years of exile.

I should note now, as I do every time I have a chance to, that the fruits of my teaching career over 50 years, and the 30 books published on philosophy, political theory, Marxism, and the philosophy of praxis – as with the work of countless other exiles – would not have been possible without this hospitality, given that the alternative awaiting us in our home country was prison or death.

I should also express, as I have on other occasions, that this body of work would have been impossible without the presence of an institution offering us the opportunity to realize that work and to which we tried to correspond, even if in a partial way, to the unforgettable shelter that Mexico offered us. That institution is the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in which the conditions of liberty of thought and its material support and spiritual nutrition allowed me to unburden myself intellectually, humanely.

For me, this honor is the source of great satisfactions. One of them is that it should be celebrated within the confines of an international book fair quite so prestigious as that in Guadalajara, precisely when Andalusia, as a special invitee, can demonstrate her grandness both traditional and modern.

Another cause for pleasure is that this act of honor takes place here, in the Paraninfo of the University of Guadalajara, with which I am joined through my years as a resident professor and which presented me with an honorable doctorate two years ago. And enormous satisfaction is produced within me to count upon the participation of my friends and colleagues: Federico Alvarez, María Dolores Gutiérrez Navas, Javier Muguerza, Ambrosio Velasco y Luis Villoro.

And so I put an end to my reiterations of emotion and gratitude to the ministry of culture for this act recognizing my personal and intellectual trajectory and my triple condition as andaluz, exile, and militant from a house of humanist, libertariann, and socialist ideals, to which I’ve tried to remain loyal from my days of youth in Málaga to the present.

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