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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

Bixente Serrano Izko > Extracts

Narrative (short story and novel)

2002 | Pamiela


Quod Salmantica proestat

This writer misunderstood Nietzsche when he read the following in Ecce homo: "Don't believe in an idea that has not arisen as a result of moving among the four winds." This compulsive reader took the advice literally, yet failed to pay attention to Nietzsche's other recommendations not to read too many books and, having put Octavio Paz's The Bow and the Lyre into his rucksack, climbed without further ado up to the Alano mountain ridge from the plains of Tatxera. Dripping with perspiration I arrived at the breathtaking Tatxera mountain pass, and after skirting the right hand side of the colossal Atxar fang on the Alano, I sat down right in the gap between it and the peaks of Ralla, believing that the four winds, the valley of Pietrafitxa below my feet and the dear book would help me to reflect. Such nature and such a cultured philosopher! I started readingā, but could not get as far as the second page even. I reviewed the note I wrote in the tent that evening: "High up there the texts of Octavio Paz are no more than useless literature. The voices that entered so splendidly at home or in that tent that resembles home simply vanished in such places. Did they vanish like the mountains did the day before yesterday in the drizzle at the Peskamu pass? I don't think so: it was a different kind of disappearing. The disappearance of nature can be productive; but that of texts, by contrast, becomes unproductive."

The fact is nature does not appear to give us wings to fly with greater liberty in the fields of culture. The most we can do is turn wings into feathers, either to write, adorn or dress up. We ourselves can turn nature into poetry, freedom, or a channel of culture, if we so wish; but we would have to change the old saying: "Quod natura non dat Salmantica non proestat" into: "Natura non dat quod Salmantica non proestat". Because Salamanca will provide us with the tools to break the chains of nature. At the end of the day, the disappearance of nature could be productive for us, whereas the loss of culture would be unproductive.

Romantic Environmentalism

There is a kind of commonplace environmentalism nowadays, the offshoot of silly romanticism, which orders us to feel compassion for nature when we are in a forest, on a mountain, or in the grandest of places. "Don't pick that flower!" "Don't kill that spider," "Don't cut that straight hazel branch"... Individual orders and compassion, when under the domination of nature we are religiously intimidated! But that, even if only to a sensible, modest extent, is precisely what we need: we need to pick a flower, kill an insect, or get a stick..., if we are seeking to protect individual nothingness, or our nakedness when faced by nature.

Numerous, contradictory feelings lead us to natural places. A thirst for beauty, the occasional wish for solitude, the sensation of freedom this gives us, the yearning for the caress of free wind, the desire for intimacy with a friend, the hunger for peace, curiosity, the urge to strengthen our muscular tone..., and the longing to overcome the power of nature can also take us up into the mountains. The fact is we nature-lovers experience nature in a schizophrenic way. Environmentalist, poet, artist, sportsperson, pilgrim, lover, romanticā we can all go into the forest pretending to regard it as a symbol of freedom, but we know very well that the city, civilisation, free us from the power of nature: a walking stick, expensive heavy walking boots, a rucksack, sunscreen, a hat, the easy path that has gradually brought us closer and closer here, and, it goes without saying, the seductive car awaiting us outside that tunnel..., thanks to all this we can taste the freedom of the state of nature. At the end of the day we are dominated by compassionate environmentalismā and just as well. At least, whenever we dream that we are heading for nature in search of protection and freedom, we realise that the city, civilisation, everyday social activities and, in the final analysis, culture all give us the chance to be concerned about nature. It is a starting point for grasping that the state of nature and freedom do not amount to the same thing.
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