I had already known enough humanity, my own and that of others, as harmonious as it was controversial, despite the catechism of he who was an altar boy at the San Vicente de Paul parish during three adolescent years plus listening to my mother's sententious ways, the snappy Luisa Cardona, who with a far a way look in her eyes and puckering her deep fuchsia lips said: "We are all equal but some of us are more equal than others". Something was already pointing to that plurality which, I would soon discover, entailed other problematic meanings.
Because, when it comes to pluralities, where does human begin and end? When did it multiply, reduce, or disappear? Why was it said that certain people, situations, and attitudes were inhuman? Therefore, when I fell into the whirlwind of the university dazzle in that basic Humanities course in 1956 and I allowed myself to be swept away by readings that proclaimed dehumanization of art and quoted words as definitive and defining as: "Nothing human is strange.", I felt lost without the grip of catechism of Paul's parish church nor the lapidary classist testimony of my saint of a mother.
Brought up between the small general store self-designated as Bazar Las Muchachas [Girls Bazaar] that my mother ran with Aunt Consuelito Cardona, and my Majorcan grandfather Antonio's window and door shop, I was the first in my immediate family to go to college. Going to college. That was a popular phrase of the time: an obliged goal, a supreme ambition of a society that was hardly coming out of agrarian poverty and jumping with hope into an urban misery.
I believe that at the University I suffered and enjoyed my first great orphanhood. Humanity, and with it the humanities, revealed itself to me as something ungraspable and changing, plunging me into a perpetual state of perplexity with hints of great truths that like the waves at Condado beach —that was then palm trees, pine trees, sand and sea, with no access control— these truths grew large in the close horizon, shook you, forcing you to make salty somersaults and returned you to the sand with glazy eyes in a kaleidoscopic vision decipherable for only a wet instant before the next big wave.
The Iliad, The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, El Canto General by Pablo Neruda, Leaves of Grass by Watt Whitman, and Gypsy Ballads by García Lorca, those divine words in "dual language" took turns in my alert ears with El Carrillón de la Torre (Bell Tower) that could still be heard, and on the stage at the University's Theater, El Gran Teatro del Mundo debuted before our amazed eyes from so much hierarchical revelation in the temple of knowledge.
Humanity was also that velvet curtain that opened and closed uniting and separating two worlds as fantastic as they were real; they were times of initiation in great mysteries, of losing innocence and the hints of experiences as human as inhuman that expanded and complicated a universe that until then we thought was simple. Because the University meant entering the universe and the universe was wide and foreign.
Especially for us, formed and deformed by the dogma of geographic smallness, feeling and knowing that we are a minuscule island in an immense ocean, always close to foundering, to shipwrecking like a fragile sail boat at sea, island, hardly floating between the nostalgic Hispanic past and the futurist fascination of the giant of the North, weak link between the language of Cervantes and that of Shakespeare, heirs of everything and owners of nothing. And let's not even mention Indigenous and African inheritance. Those were still waiting for us in the future.
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