Ay, Prieto…!

28 11 2010

Ay, Prieto…!, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.


28 11 2010


27 11 2010




If the sun refused to shine, I don’t mind, I don’t mind…

If the mountains fell in the sea, Let it be, it ain’t me…

Got our own world to live through…

Open Letter to the World (Excepting Abel Prieto, Cuban Minister of Culture) / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

26 11 2010

Last week I participated in an exceptional experience. For two days I spoke on camera for the fictionalized documentary Trocadero 162, Bajos, by director Tomas Piard, about the last years of Jose Lezama Lima: his final ostracism when the doors on the island were closed to him; his resistance to the Cuban vacuum, until he died in August 1976; the black hole that still today swallows his writing, not only among the lay public but also among academics on the island (for the Cuban diaspora Lezama a rare fossil, but at least educational programs are appearing).

I shared the movie set with a history student and a young professor from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, both from the University of Havana. I spoke on tape with two people who relished, face to face, the friendship, resignation, laughter, and ultimately the orphanhood of the late Lezama Lima: that unfinished poet of Oppiano Licario and the narrator of the unpublished Fragments of His Iman; that shadow so Piñera-like that he swam in his sleep, both fists clenched (Virgilio vomited his fear, but Lezama Lima swallowed his).

This most recent production by Tomas Piard is now being edited at the Faculty of the Art of Media Studies, and will debut on Sunday, 19 December 2010, Lezama Lima’s hundredth birthday. I engaged in and we engaged in critical discussions during hours and hours of shooting. The producer did not pay us for our effort. And now, suddenly, I am perplexed to learn that not one of the scenes of Trocadero 162, Bajos will feature my face or my voice. The Cuban State erases again, for political prudery, the insignificant and magnificent traces of Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo (like a King Midas, everything I touch melts into horror).

Someone, working in secret from the highest level in the Ministry of Culture, has made the most disrespectful decision: not a single frame shall escape from the censoring scissors of the despot’s accomplices, as our nomenklatura of lies spits its sterility on the unpeaceful memory of Jose Lezama Lima. We repeat the crime of butchering Cuban writers. Today is still yesterday. We stigmatize as a form of occupational therapy. The universe changes but the censors do not change: they remain employed thanks to this infantilism of the left that invents enemies to survive. If this happens with such self-assurance in November of 2010, I don’t even want to imagine in what kind of “bed of roses” Lezama Lima died in the seventies of the last century.

I don’t know if, in a country that is more of a country, someone would have to resign for such an atrocity (I, at least, do not resign my task of continuing to be one of those in my generation to push the boundaries of prose). I don’t know whether to nail a proclamation on the door of each ministry, or to give these new Pavons — our Cuban Torquemadas — the stylistic benefit of my forgiveness. My heart aches as an orphaned child of Tomas Piard, a good and universal Cuban whom the provincial brutes mock since he began his career as an amateur director. I regret that 2011 already promises not just another Five Grey Years, but Fifty Black Years. I am happy only for the transparency of this grotesque gesture with which the powers-that-be put in black-and-white their utter disdain for everything with the least whiff of intellect (State Security demonstrates to the entire world their complete stupidity).

They know full well that no Tom, Dick or Harry — and much less a winner of the National Literature Prize — will protest (Lezama himself did not protest). All vice-ministers are well aware that this shameful bullying will scare away my supporters, through mere instinct for self-preservation (every reader for himself). They assume I’ll end up more lonesome than a suicide, as this is the formula of “triumphant hatred” in the socialist system: With all and for the mediocrity of all (except Abel Prieto, Minister of Culture whom I exempt from reading this open letter to the world: his position allows him to manage the budgets of blame, but never the pride of culture).

Faced with the challenge of beauty and truth, our pre-posthumous country prefers to pass while its gatekeepers still don’t dare to shift even a millimeter. To be born here becomes an unspeakable fiasco. Me, I don’t know how to say it: Revolution.

For my part, I no longer expect anything, not even absence. Cuba will be free. I never was.

“Censorship doesn’t exist,“ says Juan Carlos Baglietto

25 11 2010


Sadly today my insomniac experience has been different

Censorship in Cuba does not exist as an institution

It is enough that MINCULT exists, my love

What a prosaic paradise we Cubans had the good fortune to draw lots for!

Translator’s note: MINCULT = Ministry of Culture


24 11 2010

Erik Satie für Zurik Sandrie

24 11 2010




24 11 2010

SILENCE ET SATIE from Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo on Vimeo.


23 11 2010


Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

When I was a biochemist, in cyanotic laboratories for imported carcinogenic reagents and the local air conditioning (much better than the caverns of the University of Havana, where all research is a joke to obtain scholarships abroad and stay there), among colleagues we were always more aware of Cuban literature than the world’s scientific journals, Zoé Valdés was the absolute best-seller, elbow to elbow with Reinaldo Arenas whom we read, unfortunately, posthumously.

But Zoé Valdés, moreover, survived. She was, in fact, the only living writing we knew in those years of very new authors with very good intentions but such bad anthologies. Zoé Valdés was irreverent irrefutable proof that there was a survival of Cuba in situ, her photos on the book jacket and her uncovered prose embodied a plus of courage and madness before our intranational experience of silences not so much sane as cowardly to the point of complicity.

I remember almost nothing of her early novels, those that we trafficked covered in pages from Granma of the nineties. I remember only the intensity. The magnificent tantrum. The grotesque passed by the pathetic and the pair a touch of the bad girl from her voracious naiveté. The political and the promiscuous, or course, running through it all like a tour de fuck. And also that little prudish word that the paraliterary police of the proletariat have tried to stigmatize: the vile thing (ignorant that the only vile thing has been our drab realism of little posts and conferences at the ministerial level).

Vile Valdés. What imbeciles. What a compliment.

Time has passed. Zoé Valdés, who erupted like a damn whirlwind, as the example and envy of the rest of the Cuban literary camp (the rest of the barren Cuban literary camp: rheumatic rhetoric of the Revolution), accused of being manipulative and lying by the intellectuals of respectable work and repudiable opinions, narrating Fidel like one obsessed (or, more risky yet, like a possessed girl is portrayed sitting with her legs scissored open), far beyond the weariness and the censorship, typing too many novels but each one a daughter of a riotous frenzy (at times hoarse), incorrect with balls, belligerent beast that can make certain paragraphs incandescent, chained in the streets of a country called Paris from where the Despotavana is the only impossible word, signing tomes and campaigns that will prick the lame ass of our highest authorities, “sow” (a word so Lezama-like, though no one suspected it today) as the call hears in more than one official office of Cuban culture, and what’s more, insatiable, undryable.

But she is also living the years of an exile in extremis which already begins to weigh on her work like a life sentence. But she is also a woman very alone in her war stories of best-sellerdom (every writing limit deserves the gift of this distancing).

Recently Cuba offered her another of its repugnance of repudiation, organized with the same script as in Banes and La Sorbona. The arrogance of those who consider themselves paradise on Earth has no measure nor control. And it is logical. Paradise like the concept it is, including God’s paradise. A terminal tyranny. A smiling socialization at the cannon. A blessing to pepe kettledrums. Since I was a boy the idea of paradise terrified me that my mother announced like in games after our respective deaths. My father already died in 2000. Hopefully he is not waiting for us there.

My solidarity with Zoé Valdés before this practice of intellectual stoning organized by those who do it “in solidarity with Cuba.” I’ve collided uselessly with her in the Cuban blogosphere, because in my debutant’s deliriums I think that in her rush to the tribune she has ended up attacking Cubans who serve with the same jargon of political paranoia used here by the Security organs. I don’t ask her pardon for these collisions, nor does she need a damn thing from me. Zoé shines like a dark diamond in this shadow that never will see I am me. But I say now that these outbursts will not repeat themselves.

I don’t want to know even one more post. I don’t need to know her to defend her against the fucking jiribillos who cause trouble (I lived one in the FIL of Guadalajara 2002 against Letras Libres magazine and I trembled that time at the gate and swore I would avenge the crime with my blog). A subterranean Zoé knows me better. That was the start of the Verbum, when the Barbarim of her books penetrated the end-of-century island, and, in the middle of our provincial illiteracy, her novels assembled in our name the radical puzzle of freedom.

Your health, Zoé. Vini, vidi, valdés.

Boring Habana Utopics

22 11 2010