Grave solución de continuidad
Hoy he dado con la página dedicada a la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Zaragoza, en la Gran Enciclopedia Aragonesa Online. Es divertida la fe que les tiene el redactor a los Catedráticos y sólo a los Catedráticos. Y me ha llamado la atención este párrafo sobre los años 30 y 40:
Énfasis mío.... porque desde luego el autor pasa de puntillas por el tema de la grave solución de continuidad. Y la "reseña histórica" de la página de la propia Facultad de Filosofía y Letras es aún más discreta.
Menos eufemismos sobre esas misteriosas Soluciones aparecen en esta entrevista de Carlos Castilla del Pino con Arcadi Espada, donde habla de sus memorias de la época de la guerra y el franquismo, y describe lo que me imagino fue un fenómeno parecido por toda España:
P. Sigue ahí la calle de San Roque donde mataron a sus tíos.
R. Fíjese que a mí lo que más me ha traumatizado de la guerra civil es el descubrimiento de que en el ser humano que tienes a tu lado, de pronto emergen las más brutales y crueles tendencias. Menos mal que mi padre estaba muerto... Porque ver a amigos de mi padre, hombres de la edad de mi padre, que de pronto se convertían en asesinos directos o comprensivos con los que asesinaban, ver que esa especie humana de pronto... Eso me ha conferido un gran escepticismo sobre el hombre. Las memorias me han servido para establecer un cierto orden. Pero consuelo... Nada de consuelo. Es verdad que mucha gente se ha identificado con lo que explico; que he recibido un enorme volumen de cartas. Pero ése es un consuelo sobrevenido.
En la época del franquismo hubo muchos docentes represaliados. Aparte de los muchísimos asesinados directamente (sospechosos ya no sólo por simpatizar con las izquierdas, sino muchas veces tan sólo por ser maestros, o cultos) muchos otros perdieron su puesto, y muchos fueron desplazados a lugares remotos o inconvenientes. Mi padre que estudió Magisterio en Huesca dice que eso le sirvió para tener excelentes profesores que en circunstancias normales hubieran debido estar en cátedras menos pirenaicas.
Yo me pregunto cuántos, y quiénes, fueron los expedientados y "desaparecidos" en cada sitio—por ejemplo en la Universidad de Zaragoza, ya que en ella estamos. Tanto hablar de memoria histórica, costaría poco dedicar una página web a la memoria de quienes perdieron su trabajo, o su vida, ya no digo por defender nada, que seguramente ni oportunidad tendrían... sino por estar donde estaban, o por ser quienes eran, o por ser sus enemigos quienes eran. Supongo que muchos irían a parar al instituto anatómico forense, ese que ahora es una ludoteca, y en el certificado de defunción les anotarían como causa de la muerte "traumatismo craneal", que es como los supervivientes profesionales llamaban al tiro en la nuca.
Más dolería saber quiénes fueron los que accedieron entonces a las plazas "desocupadas". Me parece que eso los principales interesados preferirán no recordarlo mucho. La desmemoria activa aún tiene mucho recorrido en España, y nos reímos de Garzón pidiendo el certificado de defunción de Franco... igual más vale cerciorarse.
Cuando ya no haya ocasión de conocer estas historias, entonces correrán los investigadores a escribirlas. Es más seguro mantener una distancia segura, que estas indagaciones las carga el diablo. Y no llegarán los represaliados a tener una placa conmemorativa en su universidad; todo lo más una nota a pie de página en alguna tesis de historia.
A falta de historia, nos contentaremos con los mundos alternativos de la ficción—el capítulo 4 de Barra Siniestra, de Nabokov, donde se narra la Junta de Gobierno extraoficial que tiene lugar en la Universidad justo tras el golpe de estado del dictador Paduk.
Old Azureus's manner of welcoming people was a silent rhapsody. Ecstatically beaming, slowly, tenderly, he would take your hand between his soft palms, hold it thus as if it were a long sought treasure or a sparrow all fluff and heart, in moist silence, peering at you the while with his beaming wringkles rather thatn with his eyes, and then, very slowly, the silvery smile would start to dissolve, the tender old hands would gradually release their hold, a blank expression replace the fervent light of his pale fragile face, and he would leave you as if he had made a mistake, as if after all you were not the loved one — the loved one whom, the next moment, he would espy in another corner, and again the smile would dawn, again the hands would enfold the sparrow, again it would all dissolve.
Some twenty prominent representatives of the University, some of them Dr Alexander's recent passengers, were standing or sitting in the spacious, more or less glittering drawing-room (not all the lamps were lit under the green cumuli and cherubs of its ceiling) and perhaps half a dozen more co-existed in the adjacent mussikisha [music-room], for the old gentleman was a mediocre harpist à ses heures and liked to fix up trios, with himself as the hypotenuse, or have some very great musician do things to the piano, after which the very small and not over-abundant sandwiches and some triangled bouchées, which, he fondly believed, had a special charm of their own due to their shape, were passed around by two maids and his unmarried daughter, who smelt vaguely of eau de Cologne and distinctly of sweat. Tonight, in lieu of these dainties, there were tea and hard biscuits; and a tortoiseshell cat (stroked alternately by the Professor of Chemistry, and Hedron, the Mathematician) lay on the dark-shining Bechstein. At the dry-leaf touch of Gleeman's electric hand, the cat rose like boiling milk and proceeded to purr intensely; but the little medievalist was absent-minded and wandered away. Economics, Divinity, and Modern History stood talking near one of the heavily draped windows. A thin but virulent draught was perceptible in spite of the drapery. Dr. Alexander had sat down at a small table, had carefully removed to its north-western corner the articles upon it (a glass ashtray, a porcelain donkey with paniers for matches, a box made to mimic a book) and was going through a list of names, crossing out some of them by means of an incredibly sharp pencil. The President hovered over him in a mixed state of curiosity and concern. Now and then Dr. Alexander would stop to ponder, his unoccupied hand cautiously stroking the sleek fair hair at the back of his head.
'What about Rufel?' (Political Science) asked the president. 'Could you not get him?'
'Not available,' replied Dr Alexander. 'Apparently arrested. For his own safety, I am told.'
'Let us hope so,' said old Azureus thoughtfully. 'Well, no matter. I suppose we may start.'
Edmund Beuret, rolling his big brown eyes, was telling a phlegmatic fat person (Drama) of the bizarre sight he had witnessed.
'Oh yes,' said Drama. 'Art students. I know all about it.'
'Ils ont du toupet pourtant,' said Beuret.
'Or merely obstinacy. When young people cling to tradition they do so with as much passion as the ripe man shows when demolishing it. They broke into the Klumba [Pigeon Hole — a well-known theatre] since all the dancing halls proved closed. Perseverance.'
'I hear that the Parlamint and the Zud [Court of Justice] are still burning,' said another Professor.
'You hear wrongly,' said Drama, 'because we are not talking of that, but of the sad case of History encroaching upon an annual ball. They found a provision of candles and danced on the stage,' he went on, turning again to Beuret, who stood with his stomach protruding and both hands thrust deep into his trouser pockets. 'Before an empty house. A picture which has a few nice shadows.'
'I think we may start,' said the President, coming up to them and then passing through Beuret like a moonbeam, to notify another group.
'Then it is admirable,' said Beuret, as he suddenly saw the thing in a different light. 'I do hope the pauvres gosses had some fun.'
'The police,' said Drama, 'dispersed them about an hour ago. But I presume it was exciting while it lasted.'
'I think we may start in a moment,' said the President confidently, as he drifted past them again. His smile gone long ago, his shoes faintly creaking, he slipped in between Yanovsky and the Latinist and noded yes to his daughter, who was showing him surreptitiously a bowl of apples through the door.
'I have heard from two sources (one was Beuret, the other Beuret's presumable informer),' said Yanovsky —and sank his voice so low that the Latinist had to bring down and lend him a white-fluffed ear.
'I have heard another version,' the Latinist said, slowly unbending. 'They were caught while attempting to cross the frontier. One of the Cabinet Ministers whose identity is not certain was executed on the spot, but (he subdued his voice as he named the former President of the State) . . . was brought back and imprisoned.'
'No, no,' said Yanovsky, 'not Me Nisters. He all alone. Like King Lear.'
'Yes, this will do nicely,' said Dr Azureus with sincere satisfaction to Dr Alexander who had shifted some of the chairs and had brought in a few more, so that by magic the room had assumed the necessary poise.
The cat slid down from the piano and slowly walked out, on the way brushing for one mad instant against the pencil-striped trouser leg of Gleeman who was busy peeling a dark-red Bervok apple.
Orlik, the Zoologist, stood with his back to the company as he intently examined at various levels and from various angles the spines of books on the shelves beyond the piano, now and then pulling out one which showed no title — and hurriedly putting it back: they were all zwiebacks, all in German —German poetry. He was bored and had a huge noisy family at home.
'I disagree with you there —with both of you,' the Professor of Modern History was saying. 'My client never repeats herself. At least not when people are all agog to see the repetition coming. In fact, it is only unconsciously that Clio can repeat herself. Because her memory is too short. As with so many phenomena of time, recurrent combinations are perceptible as such only when they cannot affect us any more — when they are imprisoned so to speak in the past, which is the past just because it is disinfected. To try to map our tomorrows with the help of data supplied by our yesterdays means ignoring the basic element of the future which is its complete non-existence. The giddy rush of the present into this vacuum is mistaken by us for a rational movement.'
'Pure Krugism,' murmured the Professor of Economics.
'To take an example' —continued the Historian without noticing the remark: 'no doubt we can single out occasions in the past that parallel our own period, when the snowball of an idea had been rolled by the red hands of schoolboys and got bigger and bigger until it became a snowman in a crumpled top hat set askew and with a broom perfunctorily affixed to his armpit — and then suddenly the bogey eyes blinked, the snow turned to flesh, the broom became a weapon and a full-fledged tyrant beheaded the boys. Oh, yes, a parliament or a senate has been upset before, and it is not the first time that an obscure and unlovable but marvellously obstinate man has gnawed his way into the bowels of a country. But to those who watch these events and would like to ward them, the past offers no clues, no modus vivendi —for the simple reason that it had none itself when toppling over the brink of the present into the vacuum it eventually filled.'
'If this be so,' said the Professor of Divinity, 'then we go back to the fatalism of inferior nations and disown the thousands of past occasions when the capacity to reason, and act accordingly, proved more beneficial than scepticism and submission would have been. Your academic distaste for applied history rather suggests its vulgar utility, my friend.'
'Oh, I was not talking of submission or anything in that line. That is an ethical question for one's own conscience to solve. I was merely refuting your contention that history could predict what Paduk would do or say tomorrow. There can be no submission — because the very fact of our discussing these matters implies curiosity, and curiosity in its turn is insubordination in its purest form. Speaking of curiosity, can you explain the strange infatuation of our President for that pink-faced gentleman yonder — the kind gentleman who brought us here? What is his name, who is he?'
'One of Maler's assistants, I think; a laboratory worker or something like that,' said Economics.
'And last term,' said the Historian, 'we saught a stuttering imbecile being mysteriously steered into the Chair of Paedology because he happened to play the indispensable contrabass. Anyhow the man must be a very Satan of persuasiveness considering that he has managed to get Krug to come here.'
'Did he not use,' asked the Professor of Divinity with a mild suggestion of slyness, 'did he not use somewhere that simile of the snowball and the snowman's broom?'
'Who?' asked the Historian. 'Who used it? That man?'
'No,' said the Professor of Divinity. 'The other. The one whom it was so hard to get. It is curious the way ideas expressed ten years ago—'
They were interrupted by the President who stood in the middle of the room asking for attention and lightly clapping his hands.
The person whoe name had just been mentioned, Professor Adam Krug, the philosopher, was seated somewhere apart from the rest, deep in a cretonned armchair, with his hairy hands on its arms. He was a big heavy man in his early forties, with untidy, dusty, or faintly grizzled locks and a roughly hewn face suggestive of the uncouth chess master or of the morose composer, but more intelligent. The strong compact dusky forehead had that peculiar dusky aspect (a bank safe? a prison wall?) which the brows of thinkers possess. The brain consisted of water, various chemical compounds and a group of highly specialized fats. The pale steely eyes were half closed in their squarish orbits under the shaggy eyebrows which had protected them once from the poisonous droppings of extinct birds — Schneider's hypothesis. The ears were of goodly size with hair inside. Two deep folds of flesh diverged from the nose along the large cheeks. The morning had been shaveless. He wore a badly creased dark suit and a bow tie, always the same, hyssop violet with (pure white in the type, here Isabella) inter-neural macules and a crippled left hind wing. The not so recent collar was of the low open variety, i.e., with a comfortable triangula space for his namesake's apple. Thick-soled shoes and old-fashioned black spats were the distinctive characters of his feet. What else? Oh, yes — the absent-minded beat of his fore-finger against the arm of his chair.
Under this visible surface, a silk shirt enveloped his robust torso and tired hips. It was tucked deep into his long underpants which in their turn were tucked into his socks: it was rumoured, he know, that he wore none (hence the spats) but that was not true; they were in fact nice expensive lavender silk socks.
Under this was the warm white skin. Out of the dark an ant trail, a narrow capillary caravan, went up the middle of his abdomen to end at the brink of his navel; and a blacker and denser growth was spread-eagled upon his chest.
Under this was a dead wife and a sleeping child.
The President bent his head over a rosewood bureau which had been drawn by his assistant into a conspicuous position. He put on his spectacles using one hand, shaking his silvery head to get their bows into place, and proceeded to collect, equate, tap-tap, the papers he had been counting. Dr Alexander tiptoed into a far corner where he sat down on an introduced chair. The President put down his thick even batch of typewritten sheets, removed his spectacles and, holding them away from his right ear, began his preliminary speech. Soon Krug became aware that he was a kind of focal centre in respect to the Argus-eyed room. He knew that except for two people in the assembly, Hedron and, perhaps, Orlik, nobody really liked him. To each, or about each, of his colleagues he had said at one time or other, something . . . something impossible to recall in this or that case and difficult to define in general terms — come careless bright and harsh trifle that had grazed a stretch of raw flesh. Unchallenged and unsought, a plump pale pimply adolescent entered a dim classroom and looked at Adam who looked away.
'I have called you together, gentlemen, to inform you of certain very grave circumstances, circumstances which it would be foolish to ignore. As you know, our University has been virtually closed since the end of last month. I have now been given to understand that unless our intentions, our programme and conduct are made clear to the Ruler, this organism, this old and beloved organism, will cease to function altogether, and some other institution with some other staff be established in its stead. In other words, the glorious edifice which those bricklayers, Science and Administration, have built stone by stone during centuries, will fall . . . it will fall because of our lack of initiative and tact. At the eleventh hour, a line of conduct has been planned which, I hope, may prevent the disaster. Tomorrow it might have been too late.
'You all know how distasteful the spirit of compromise is to me. But I do not think the gallant effort in which we shall all join can be branded by that obnoxious term. Gentlemen! When a man has lost a beloved wife, when an animal has lost his feet in the aging ocean; when a great executive sees the work of his life shattered to bits — he regrets. He regrets too late. So let us not by our own fault place ourselves in the position of the bereaved lover, of the admiral whose fleet is lost in the raging waves, of the bankrupt administrator — let us take our fat like a flaming torch in both hands.
'First of all, I shall read a short memorandum — a kind of manifesto if you wish — which is to be submitted to the Government and duly published . . .
The President had slipped out of his chair and fairly ran towards Krug.
'I have remembered,' he said with a catch in his voice, 'something I wanted to tell you — most important — sub rosa — will you please come with me into the next room for a minute?'
'All right,' said Krug, heaving out of his armchair.
The next room was the President's study. Its tall clock had stopped at a quarter past six. Krug calculated rapidly, and the blackness inside him sucked at his heart. Why am I here? Shall I go home? Shall I stay?
'... My dear friend, you know well my esteem for you. But you are a dreamer, a thinker. You do not realize the circumstances. You say impossible, unmentionable things. Whatever we think of — of that person, we must keep it to ourselves. We are in deathly danger. You are jeopardizing the — everything...'
Dr Alexander, whose courtesy, assistance and savoir vivre were really supreme, slipped in with an ash tray which he placed at Krug's elbow.
'In that case,' said Krug, ignoring the redundant article, 'I have to note with regret that the fact you mentioned was but its helpless shadow — namely an afterthought. You ought to have warned me, you know, that for reasons I still cannot fathom you intended to ask me to visit the—'
'Yes, to visit the Ruler,' interpolated Azureus hurriedly. 'I am sure that when you take cognizance of the manifesto, the reading of which has been so unexpectedly postponed—'
The clock began striking. For Dr Alexander, who was an expert in such matters and a methodical man, had not been able to curb the tinkerer's instinct and was now standing on a chair and pawing the danglers and the naked face. His ear and dynamic profile were reflected in pink pastel by the opened glass door of the clock.
'I think I prefer going home,' said Krug.
'Stay, I implore you. We shall now quickly read and sign that really historical document. And you must agree, you must be the messenger, you must be the dove—'
'Confound that clock,' said Krug. 'Can't you stop its striking, man? You seem to confuse the olive branch with the fig leaf,' he went on, turning again to the President. 'But this is neither here nor there, since for the life of me—'
'I only beg you to think it over, to avoid any rash decision. Those school recollections are delightful per se — little quarrels — a harmless nickname — but we must be serious now. Come, let us go back to our colleagues and do our duty.'
Dr Azureus, whose oratorical zest seemed to have waned, briefly informed his audience that the declaration which all had to read and sign, had been typed in the same number of copies as there would be signatures. He had been given to understand, he said, that this would lend a dash of individuality to every copy. What was the real object of this arrangement he did not explain, and, let us hope, did not know, but Krug thought he recognized in the apparent imbecility of the procedure the eerie ways of the Toad. The good doctors, Azureus and Alexander, distributed the sheets with the celerity that a conjuror and his assistant display when passing around for inspection articles which should not be examined too closely.
'You take one, too,' said the older doctor to the younger one.
'No, really,' exclaimed Dr Alexander, and everybody could see his handsome face express a rosy confusion. 'Indeed, no. I would not dare. My humble signature must not hobnob with those of this august assembly. I am nothing.'
'Here — this is yours,' sid Dr Azureus with an odd burst of impatience.
The zoologist did not bother to read his, signed it with a borrowed pen, returned the pen over his shoulder and became engrossed again in the only inspectable stuff he had found so far — an old Baedeker with views of Egypt and ships of the desert in silhouette. Poor collecting ground on the whole —except perhaps for the orthopterist.
Dr Alexander sat down at the rosewood desk, unbuttoned his jacket, shot out his cuffs, turned the char proximally, checked its position as a pianist does; then produced from his vest a beautiful glittering instrument made of crystal and gold; looked at its nib; tested it on a bit of paper; and, holding his breath, slowly unfolded the convolutions of his name. Having completed the ornamentation of its complex tail, he raised his pen and surveyed the glamour he had wrought. Unfortunately at this precise moment, his golden wand (perhaps resentful of the concussions that its master's various exertions had been transmitting to it throughout the evening) shed a big black tear on the valuable typescript.
Really flushing this time, the V vein swelling on his forehead, Dr Alexander applied the leech. When the corner of the blotting paper had drunk its fill without touching the bottom, the unfortunate doctor gingerly dabbed the remains. Adam Krug from a vantage point near by saw these pale blue remains: a fancy footprint or the spatulate outline of a puddle.
Gleeman re-read the document twice, frowned twice, remembered the grant and the stained-glass window frontispice and the special type he had chosen, and the footnote on page 306 that would explode a rival theory concerning the exact age of a ruined wall, and affixed his dainty but strangely illegible signature.
Beuret who had been brusquely roused from a pleasant nap in a screened armchair, read, blew his nose, cursed the day he had changed his citizenship — then told himself that after all it was not his business to combat exotic politics, folded his handkerchief and seeing that others signed, signed.
Economics and History held a brief consultation during which a sceptic but slightly trained smile appeared on the latter's face. They appended their signatures in unison and then noticed with dismay that while comparing notes they had somehow swapped copies, for each copy had the name and address of the potential undersigner typed out in the left-hand corner.
The rest sighed and signed, or did not sigh and signed, or signed — and sighed afterwards, or did neither one nor the other, but then thought better of it and signed. Adam Krug too, he too, he too, unclipped his rusty wobbly fountain pen. The telephone rang in the adjacent study.
Dr Azureus had personally handed the document to him and had hung around while Krug had leisurely put on his spectacles and had started to read, throwing his head back so as to rest it on the antimacassar and holdeing the sheets rather high in his slightly trembling thick fingers. They trembled more than usually because it was after midnight adn he was unspeakably tired. Dr Azureus stopped hovering and felt his old heart stumble as it went upstairs (metaphorically) with its guttering candle when Krug nearing the end of the manifesto (three pages and a half, sewn) pulled at the pen in his breast pocket. A sweet aura of intense relief made the candle rear its flame as old Azureus saw Krug spread the last page on the flat wooden arm of his cretonned armchair and unscrew the muzzle part of his pen, turning it into a cap.
With a quick flip-like delicate precise stroke quite out of keeping with his burly constitution, Krug inserted a comma in the fourth line. Then (chmok) he remuzzled, reclipped his pen (chmok) and handed the document to the distracted President.
'Sign it,' said the President in a funny automatic voice.
'Legal documents excepted,' answered Krug, 'and not all of them at that, I never have signed, nor ever shall sign, anything not written by myself,'
Old Azureus glanced round, his arms slowly rising. Somehow nobody was looking his way save Hedron, the mathematician, a gaunt man with a so-called 'British' moustache and a pipe in his hand. Dr Alexander was in the next room attending to the telephone. The cat was asleep in the stuffy room of the President's daugher who was dreaming of not being able to find a pot of apple jelly which she knew was a ship she had once seen in Bervok and a sailor was leaning and spitting overboard, watching his spit fall, fall, fall into the apple jelly of the heart-rending see for her dream was shot with golden-yellow, as she had not put out the lamp, wishing to keep awake until her old father's guests had gone.
'Moreover,' said Krug, 'the metaphors are all mongrels whereas the sentence about being ready to add to the curriculum such matters as would prove necessary to promote political understanding and to do our utmost is miserable grammar which even my comma cannot save. I want to go home now.'
'Prakhtata meta¿' poor Dr Azureus cried to the very quiet assembly. Prakhta tuen vadust, mohen kern! Profsar Krug malarma ne donje . . . Prakhtata!'
Dr Alexander, faintly resembling the fading sailor, reappeared and signalled, then called the President, who still clutching the unsigned paper, sped wialing towards his faithful assistant.
'Come on, old booy, don't be a fool. Sign that darned thing,' said Hedron, leaning over Krug and resting the fist with the pipe on Krug's shoulder. 'What on earth does it matter? Affix your commercially valuable scrawl. Come on! Nobody can touch our circles — but we must have some place to draw them.'
'Not in the mud, sir, not in the mud,' said Krug, smiling his first smile of the evening.