100 Years of Solitude, wars and heartbreak, were necessary to end Macondo. We have barely been locked up for a year, alone with ourselves and our closest fellows, and we already believe that this is the end of the world.
But is it really? Or is something old dying so that the new can be born?
If by world and life we mean walking out, going to restaurants, hugging friends in a bar, meeting in a theater or a cinema, working personally at the office and traveling, then yes this is the end of the world, at least until next summer, if vaccination and herd immunity work.
Massimo Desiato, one of my most remembered masters, taught me that one of the most curious things about capitalism is that you are as long as you consume. “Being for consumption, you are what you consume …”, that ruddy and brilliant Italian told us on those unforgettable and hot afternoons at the School of Philosophy of the Andrés Bello Catholic University, in Caracas.
From this point of view, it is understandable that many people feel that their Being has been diminished, since they can no longer go out to consume, since they cannot meet and show themselves in public, in the flesh, “being”, that is, consuming.
Ordering food through a delivery, buying at Amazon or Ali Baba, showing later the delicacies and the new cell phones through photos on Instagram or FB, is not enouhg. It’s like the difference between porn and real sex …
We feel that something is lost, something familiar to the meaning of politics in Athens, but not with an old-fashioned democracy, not agora and speakers, but a democracy of consumeris of the 21st century, a compulsive buyers one.
But Desiato insisted that consumerism was the best vaccine against communism, because it immunizes you against collectivization, makes you panic at the vision of shortages and queues in front of empty stores, and alerts you to its inevitable collateral pogroms and gulags. .
So, from a certain point of view of freedom, democracy and the fight against totalitarianism, consumerism is a secret and powerful weapon.
Because it is inserted into the genes of the people and makes them impermeable to the discourses of the left, whether atavistic and Bolshevik, or camouflaged and repressive through algorithms or behind the identity battles of a crystal generation.
But regardless of our right to consume in public: Weren’t we alone in the midst of the crowds that wandered desolate from mall to mall?
Perhaps we should have discovered earlier what Whitman said about himself: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Now, we have spent a year alone, unable to avoid the mirror every day. It is not a selfie. We cannot retouch it with filters.
Perhaps suddenly, in the midst of a painful epiphany, we have dared to ask to that image that we thought we were familiar with: Who are you?
If we can bear that image that the mirror gives us back, we will survive
If we see it before going to bed and are able to sleep in peace, we will survive pretty well.
And if we were able to see it with pleasure during 365 mornings, it is because that strange and new “something” was born, the “something” our sages envisioned and prophesied.
Escaping from the Romans, Simon Bar Yochai, the RASHBI, his son Eleazar, and 8 other disciples hid in a cave in Pequi’in for 10 years.
Various traditions tell us that they drank water from an underground river that fed the cave, that in front of the cave there was a carob tree that fed them, and that they buried themselves in the sand so as not to feel the worldly distractions of the body.
They did not need to go to the agora, or to the temple or to the market, the universe was within them, and in the tortuous interconnection between those memorable ten rabbis who composed the book of the Zohar.
Whitman and Bar Yochai are the two faces of the mirror of Being: inside and outside the same laws govern, the energies do not know of borders, nor of res extensa or res cogitans. We are all that at the same time, we are even the universe and God, as RAMBAM and Spinoza pointed out centuries ago.
So, if we didn’t stop Being because we have been locked up for a year, 99 years await us, not of loneliness, but of reunification.