The defeat of the word 2023/09/28

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There are few things more vain than talking for the sake of talking. And there are few things that Mexicans like like talking for the sake of talking.

Ramon lopez velarde

I feel very lucky: I have the pleasure of reading. Time slips by with great joy having a book in my hands. Be it novel, poetry, history, law or politics. I start the day with a certain bitterness, confirming how Mexico accentuates its decline, but as the hours go by I regain my spirits and some dose of optimism remains as a balance.

Thanks to my friend Raudel Ávila I always have a pending copy. From the last generous shipment I took on the pleasant task of reading modern mexican essay, an anthology by José Luis Martínez. They are texts by our most distinguished intellectuals, among them Ramón López Velarde. I think it is better to transcribe some of his reflections that, as the classic says, come “like a glove” in our current circumstances. with the title The defeat of the wordthis essay sounds like a sentence (and it is).

He makes a diagnosis: “The word has turned from a slave into a cruel mistress. She no longer comes docilely when we call her. Today, the word tyrannizes man and tries to ride on him at all times and spur him on, and infuse him with comic loquacity.”

He accuses: “He who lacks an inner life, it is natural that he pretends to have it, making himself dizzy with theatrical speeches. Thus, to feign medical personality, the merolics waste saliva, ostentatiously reciting the healing excellence of the viper that they display coiled in their arms. Here it is appropriate to also refer to the comfort that it represents, in a society that does not read or meditate, to repeat through the mouth of a goose (sic) stubbornly and profusely the pre-established opinion.”

He insists: “The word has been divorced from the spirit. It barely touches him by a single point. It has been believed that the luxury of expression and, in general, rhetorical ornament should be sought far from the trembling of the wings of the psyche.

He points out situations: “Perhaps the most serious consequence of false and prodigal language consists of the abandonment of the soul. Under the waste of words, the soul becomes sad, like a girl who wants to tell us her emotion and that she cannot, because the commotion of a riot prevents her from doing so. She knows how to silence her soul like a lover, but it afflicts him that her beau is inattentive to her and that, by spreading himself in superficial oratory, he foolishly forgets her.

He suggests remedies: “On more than one occasion I have tried to convince myself that the best attitude of a writer is the attitude of a conversationalist. Conversational literature rests on sincerity. Those who converse clear themselves of all sterile intentions.”

He concludes: “I long to expel from myself any syllable that is not born from the combustion of my bones.”

The previous reflections of our distinguished poet are from March 26, 1916, more than a century ago. They have, today, in the pathetic absence of a political discourse, evident relevance.

Eloquence was considered by the creators of classical culture as the queen of virtues, since it requires mastery of the most varied disciplines. In our case, there are only a few glimpses of good communication between the political class and citizens. Our parliamentary life has been discouraging. The spectacle that the legislative chambers offer us these days is frankly depressing, riddled with demagoguery and incapable of resisting an elementary exercise in congruence. Insults and disqualification have come to displace the argument, and any approach to an agreement is described as suspicious and having been made “in the dark.”

We are poisoned, with something like a “negative mystique.” That is to say, a total loss of respect for the pledged word. We could develop a series of recommendations to give political discourse a dose of credibility. However, there is something that cannot be dispensed with: authenticity. When it does not occur, the interlocutor perceives it and any attempt at communication is fruitless.

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Nathan Rivera
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