sábado, 17 de octubre de 2015

What the heck is Tannhauser’s Gate?

The very first time I saw Blade Runner it turned out to be a whole drag. Nevertheless, maybe because Harrison Ford was starring or just because I expected lightsabers to appear from those unconventional umbrella sticks, I resisted until the irresistible ending to discover inside me a dispairing feeling of having failed to appreciate a work of art and a philosophical answer to many of my deep questions.
Perhaps I was too young to reckon the film in its entire value. It was the year 1982 when the movie was released, therefore I must have watched it on TV by 1984 or so. Eleven years old is not, I’m afraid, the best age to see and understand such a complex narrative.

In any case, being much older now, I still think Blade Runner is a descriptive work where almost nothing happens –with the exception of brief action scenes– whose aesthetics is inherited from Metropolis to Star Wars through Star Trek and all the big hits of the science-fiction genre. It lacks the narrative rhythm one would expect from a great futuristic swashbuckling soap opera –and don’t get me wrong, I love Once upon a time in the West, the paradigm of slow motion spaghetti– or the plain dichotomy between good and evil.
In a sense, Blade Runner is a perverted version of Star Wars. Just from the title the audience has a vague notion of the pure heroic main character from George Lucas’s masterpiece, Luke Skywalker. Unlike the Jedi knight, who walks through the big starred black, Blade Runner’s Rick Deckard rushes next to the precipice instead. The last hope Ford represents is covered with a mantle of antiheroism, and brilliant lights and neons appear in Ridley Scott’s film with a layer of filth while the acid rain pervades everything. Characters are ambiguous to death and the pace slows down to film noir detail. Blade Runner is not a sci-fi movie; it’s a hard-boiled detective plot with a voice-over, lights all around and Vangelis soundtrack to add some solemnity.
But it’s not the huge reminiscences of a distorted galaxy far, far away, or the distopian reminder of an Earth phagocyted by its human inhabitants what trapped me forever. It was, like to the average spectator, the ultimate verses from a superb Rutger Hauer / Roy Batty, a soliloquy worthy of the best Shakespeare, an epitaph of a mysterious eternity just scarcely glimpsed.
Any half devotee of Blade Runner would recited the quote parrot-fashion, but for those not so freak so as to remember every single comma, let’s copy and paste them from wikipedia:
“I've... seen things... you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate... All those... moments... will be lost, in time, like tears... in... rain. Time... to die.”
These words were not genuine from Hauer; at least, not entirely. He adapted the original script cutting off some redundant and not very related-to-the-topic depictions. The result is, anyway, incontestable. Maybe because of the things they avoid to say rather than what they evoke.
I don’t know you, but I, when hearing those definite regrets, thought of an unseen world of wonder, of pieces to fit in a personal puzzle, of philosophical questions and their impossible answers solved right before me. I had heard of Tannhauser before. It was a blatant double-headed long-tusked imitation of Alien, the eighth passenger on the windowsill of a god-knows-what in the inside of a picture card album. The info was clumpsily developed from Ridley Scott’s film’s Roy Batty’s allusion, but to a child it proved to be imagination-inspiring.
I have sought Tannhauser in many other occasions, reaching nowhere. I have heard of Wagner’s opera but I resist to admit there’s nothing else but a powerful knight or a German poet. If we recall our ancient dreams and desires up to the point of believing them true above the real thing, Tannhauser must be a sort of sacred guardian, whatever extraterrestrial it may be, who prevents mortals to discover the truth beyond the eternal questions of the human existence: Is there anything else? Are we alone in the universe? Is death the end or just a deceiving starting point to infinite worlds, strange beings, wonders we never dare to dream of? Is life a motorway to disappointment? Can imagination prove stronger than sore truth?
Showing more than some verses of an unbound unreality could have been disastrous por the success of the film as a cult movie, since it didn’t earn much in the ticket office, but every fan of Blade Runner is still waiting for something going far beyond Rutger Hauer chant to impossible galaxies, unbelievable creatures and mystic adventures where philosophy would meet for sure the limits of mankind’s plenitude.
As U2 said once and repeat every gig, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, but Blade Runner showed me –as if it were Lancelot of the Lake glimpsing an existentialist Holy Grail– a flash of eternal wisdom in the shadows of our own  essence. Perhaps we poor humans are not ready for more.

domingo, 30 de agosto de 2015

Bureaucracy overdose

I heard once from a supposedly serious man that “the level of development of a country is directly proportional to its degree of bureaucracy. The more you can label property the more industrialized a society is”.
Bullshit all around! Procedures exist as diseases or taxes do, just to ruin our lives and make us miserable. For one thing they solve they complicate a dozen beyond reason.
One of my most hated is the MOT test. Every year I pass between one and two car inspections to prove my vehicles are in good shape, smoke-free and all that stuff. I don’t care about paying. I accept the formality as the lesser of evils because some people have a right to earn their living checking cars as well. What really annoys me is the process itself. All that “turn on right indicator; now the left; the warnings; back fog light...” I think someone invented that test and the velocity of execution just to make users appear as sheer stupids. A visionary worker anywhere throughout Spain realised it was easier to get the drivers out of the car and do most of the testing by themselves. Not all. We still need to put our foot in it for a while.
Second wonder: the income tax return. This one chases you for a working lifetime. I accept we must contribute to retirement pensions and to unemployment benefits, everybody must look after everybody, but there’s no need to readjust the balance. A well designed tax system would be even and fair, without needing further compensation for or against. The quantity of material and human resources saved would be vast. Moreover, the procedure is not easy for the average man or woman. Sometimes, or most of the times, professional aid is needed: a civil servant from the Treasury, the bank clerk, an expert in legal matters or else. In any case, any mistake in the process will be your fault and therefore you are to be fined, even if it was the civil servant who did the formality.
What about buying a house, lending money to a close relative, selling a car or any other not very difficult transanction? Be ready for the apocalypse. To a big deal of papers a lucrative percentage of taxes and commissions for gurus and experts will be added.
Bureaucracy is necessary. Our lives are built on private property and we can’t do without it. But things should –and possibly could– be hugely simplified. Everybody would be happier; everybody but bankers, lawyers, politicians, brokers, state agents and so on. Maybe too many interests to be erradicated all of a sudden.

martes, 11 de agosto de 2015

Living with a candidate to pass a competitive exam

Spain is different. Everybody knows that. Starting with the habits of increasing food ingestion from a minute breakfast to a sumptuous dinner, continuing with the compulsive purchase of stock housing or the urgent necessity of getting a permanent job at any cost.
This essay has to do with the last of those assumptions. And with its implications in everyday life. Because who doesn’t want to have a post forever? Things have gone so wrong in the recent past in Spain, with the crisis and its over-elongated shadow, that top desires have changed from a lottery prize to a public job in the administration.
But there’s no easy way to work slavery. With a proportion of at least one post for twenty candidates, if not more, it is a path that a person knows when to start, but not when will be over.
A candidate is a difficult person. Even in his heyday, his mood will turn gloomer and darker than usual, his time for social life will be nonexistent, and his expectatives will go round the examination. No matter how much time one spends on studying, it is always insufficient, especially if there’s a family –parents, wife, children. For them, who understand but do not the situation, the feat is even harder. People who love you want to have good times with you, but you’re not in the mood. And contradictory feelings arouse. The candidate feels guilty because he can’t attend his personal and his professional life, and an aura of pessimism pervades everything.
One life is not enough to face the test. The challenger just wants the competitive examination to be over, to rest, to be the owner of his destiny, even if we are just talking about a couple of hours a week devoted to a long-forgotten minor occupation. And everything turns to be difficult. He doesn’t undestand the lack of comprehension of the others, who obviously are playing in another league. The relatives and friends demand their part of attention and care, and time is very limited, up to the point that, should the candidate have three lives to spend on exam preparation, he would take the three of them in studying and preparing.
But the real tragedy is not here. We have been taught that to a supreme effort a worthy reward must come, but this doesn’t normally occur with competitive exams. If you have, say 700 people for 40 posts, it doesn’t matter how good you are or if you deserve it. Fate doesn’t understand about divine justice and that stuff. The only thing that matters is to be one of the top forty in the examination. It has nothing to do with doing your work well or being the best, it is only about proving that you can do the best test attending to the established strange rules, those that normally have no relationshipship with the post you are applying to. Neither try to understand the assessment criteria or the professional capacity of the examination board: they always know less than you and probably less than the majority of your rivals. Nobody said it was easy, but it wasn’t fair, either.
If you or somebody in your family is undergoing this situation, good luck. You truly need it. Just to pass the exam successfully and to avoid conflict, divorce, distance, madness, remorse of those moments that will be lost forever. Maybe the expectations were, like those of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations’ Pip Pirrip, too great for somebody like you. But do not let yourself be disappointed by this pessimistic narrator. Maybe you are good enough and “it cannot be done” literature only manages to encourage you to try harder. Impossible is nothing, says Nike. It’s just quite difficult.

sábado, 23 de mayo de 2015

The tiranny of the idle

He's charming, well educated, tender, clever and sophisticated... the perfect partner. The only little problem is... you know, that he is not very eager to work.
Guys like this are more common than it seems and, if you have one in your life, be ready for an extra sacrifice in the name of love.
Of course the range of people include both male and female adults, youngsters, oldies and babies, but some have more excuse than others to be lazy. It’s not the same being an adolescent with the head full of partying and interminable whatsapp conversation about such paramount topics as hairstyle or the last hangover than becoming a supposedly respectable mum with two children and enormous economic and familiar responsibilities.
The point is, some humans don’t accomplish their duties. They have even developed extraordinary skilful excuses to put the blame on somebody else, the Government, destiny or a bad patch. If they are the one and only in their life, superb! Everybody waste his time in his own manner: sweeping the Sahara desert’s sand, sniffing the money out or collecting stupidities acquired via ebay. But, unless your are a weird alien fallen from the red planet, or a superfreak with no friends or relatives because they abandoned you by a rivershore in a wicker basket, you must contribute to the family economy. Maybe not earning good money. Finding a job nowadays seems impossible mission sometimes. But you can take care of the children as well. Or cleaning the house, cooking or doing the ironing. Household chores are almost infinite. You only need to use your imagination. And your hands. What you can’t do is nothing. Waiting for your ideal job to come out of the blue or even praying for such a chance not to appear.
If you are the other one, the sufferer, good luck. You will need it. God knows how much effort you will make in the name of a bad understood affection. If it’s your offspring I can still sort of admit your patience. Any other case you deserve what you have at home. Do company and two screws a week deserve it? I answer you: not at all.

martes, 7 de abril de 2015

What is the future of the present?

If any person today turned back towards the past and tried to imagine then how things would be in the time to come, it would result absolutely unbelievable. Hard to think that there would not be flying cars and light sabers fuctioning as multipurpose tin openers and other thousand stupidities. In a sense, one considers that future isn’t a linear progression and that technology and invention have run too much for some aspects and have just decelerated for others. People still have sex by physical contact and most homes are unlocked through a not-original-at-all key. We thought we have grasped future, but it was just the weary present. The other guy was two steps before us.
The last craze seems the whatsapp application. Almost everybody is hooked to that shit. More than cocaine, I believe, although I don’t know if I’m also afraid of so dubious an acknowledgement. Communication has transformed into a big stupid speaker that let us contact distant people at the same time that deafens and silences those closer to us. And maybe you would prefer to be there instead of here, but I bet that if you stayed in the other location you would send interminable whatsapps to the mates in this. Yeah, those you ignored a couple of lines ago.  In any case, “talking” through written conversation demands new skills as important as having a driving license or being able of operating a modern computer.
For immense and neverending household chores, innovation never arrived. We still have to sweep the floor, do the washing and the ironing and change the baby’s nappies. Some things never change, even though you have enough money to buy a brand-new vacuum cleaner robot. As for personal hygiene, nothing new under the sun. We still get rid of dirt and smell through running water, and although wet wipes and dry shampoo do wonders, H2O is still the king of cleanliness.
And in love? Does technology selects for us in a more accurate way that that naive chubby angel with the arrow rarely reaching the correct buttocks? I’m afraid not. People choose as wrongly now as ever. Cupid’s post is safe and sound. Maybe he shot all of us in relation to our whatsapp application.

martes, 17 de marzo de 2015

Cyber revenge

Many amateur videos about homemade sex proliferate on the internet. Some are funny recordings about couples with a randy moment, taken by a security camera or a far cell phone, where situation and angle offer a comic sketch rather than a hot tape. The other variety puts the emphasis on heating the spectator up.
And things have changed a lot. In a world of interwoven communication, data interchange, instant information and almost free access to any kind of contents, it was just a matter of fact that pornography became boring. Just as operated boobs and streched faces have made beauty seem plastic-like, artificial, aseptic souless flesh on somebody’s bones, perfectly choreographed short videos recorded with wanking purposes have fallen in disgrace. To a certain extent. Reality overcomes fakes. Or, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.
But we are not here to speak about the craze of homemade vs. professional sex. The reason of this essay, notwithstanding it comes right into the third paragraph, is to reflect about a new kind of love vengance. Forget about calling your ex at 3 pm. This is much funnier and humiliating. Follow these easy instructions. First, fuck her off. No, no, wait. Just without the preposition. Then convince her, in the name of the passion, your sacred love or whatever, to film both of you in sexual action. Don’t care about appearing on screen, you can add a tomato or any other covering mask to your face in all the stills later. Maybe you are not a sonofabitch. Perhaps you just recorded your girlfriend’s orography because it stimulated your horny mind or your hard-ons, I don’t care. Probably you thought you really love her.
But she left you. Now is the moment for the fuck off part. Remember that video with that so little becoming position of her? Yes, that with the big buttocks. Forget about it. You need to show the face. Now, who is the genuine sonofabitch, the immature, childish, tiny-penis complexed bastard who deserves a good eternal gonorrhea? Yeah, it’s you. Why don’t you cover her face with anonymity instead of those timid drops of masculinity and show off about the deed with your stupid ass-like face and your name subtitled?
Maybe amateur sex is good fun for some, but it isn’t when you don’t ask for permission. You deserve a good yellow badge of cowardice. And a kick in the nose too.
Although quite different, this kind of punishment is similar to beating a woman. I know it’s not the same and the possibility of a forbidden video coming into light is equally feasible for both male and female ex’s. But the fact is, there is no porn for women. Not in the classical term. The most similar thing is a new kind of 50-shadows-of-grey-like type of romantic, erotic stories or films. Women are not going to take revenge on you this way. They could find a thousand other types, but this is not one.
I don’t know if women should use the sexual attraction we feel for them to manipulate men. There have always been who did it and who didn’t. The truth is that most girls feel and think with the heart, and many boys with the cock. For whom does penis size matter? Surely for him, not for her! Those fucking minute dick(heads)!

miércoles, 18 de febrero de 2015

Firm hand or gentle handling

One of the greatest dichotomies in recent sociology is the way we approach the others, especially when there’s a master-apprentice relationship, when one must educate the other or just when one element has to take the initiative for no matter what weird reasons. The two options are diametrically opposite, since one is based in strengh, authority and powerful represion of non-allowed attitudes, and the other tries to convince rather than defeat, to act softly and win adepts for the cause.
It’s difficult to choose one. One may even think that he is being tough and the others consider that as tender as a feather thrust. Or just the other way round: an apparently self-confessed loving man will appear a complete devil in the eyes of the cattle.
Take boss-employee relationship. For no matter which reason, the former is always a bloody bastard with no possibility of redeem; the latter, on the contrary, turns out to be the ultimate lazy unless unskilled worker, even though he has two degrees and a master by the university of life. When the employer adopts a brother-like, gently manner with the laborer, he will systematically try to escape his duties, reaching the point of laughing at the face of the dumb boss, insulting of nicknaming him if his kindness permits the situation. We mankind are like this, biting the hand that feeds us, abusing good people and crawling before real sonofabitches. Because the evil boss, bad-tempered without reason, always molesting and humilliating his subordinates is much more typical, and it’s difficult to say if he went cruel because circumstances and abusers led him to be or just because one get rotten having the single chance and no reason.
In the family field the same can be found. Relationships are generally built over a strong and a weak counterpart among adults, and around a despotic parent and a kind one against the kid when educating underagers. But sometimes parents fall into excessive connivence and children then become real monsters, tyrannical brats with no sense of right or wrong, only whims, shouts and cries.
From my point of view, I have always defended the necessity of being nice, although firm, but from some time on I prefer, on increasing occasions, to settle conflicts with youngsters with a terrifying shout. And, educative or not, it works much better that good words and an infinite patience with them. Of course you cannot be all the time yelling, but once in a blue moon it makes them remember who is the alpha male here, because in a classroom we are not the same. The master orders, and the apprentices try not to obey. It’s a fact of life.
For the rest of human relations, I’m still finding a way. The best I have found up to now is “Yes, darling, a crawling worm and I don’t deserve to live”. It works too. J