Argullol in full human dance

Rafael Argullol had forty-seven seconds to cross the Shibuya intersection in Tokyo one day in September 2018. The density of people here is generally high, but no one has an accident in their short struggle against time to conquer the opposite sidewalk. Surrounded by this human dance, the Catalan writer was unaware that something insignificant would happen to him shortly before he reached the end, but it was decisive nonetheless. In one of the front buildings, he saw a large advertising screen with a girl asking ten questions in Japanese she didn’t understand. This experience left him with doubt: What ten questions would he ask himself at this point in his life, approaching the age of sixty-nine? Argullol thought after a while that these might be: Have you told yourself the truth? Did you give back what was given to you? Did you leave? Did you respect the mystery? Are you cheered up? Did you call? Theology? Have you endured hostility, have you loved, have you enjoyed the light, have you been free?

Argullol in full human dance


It still took a year to start responding to them in writing, but the truth is that this is how the 1,040-page Human Dance appeared, published in 2023 by the leading firm Acantilado publishing house in the author’s hometown of Barcelona. Twenty-two of the thirty-five works of the magazine, which has not only edited his works but also republished his previous works since its establishment in 1999, are included in its catalogue. The internal questioning and answers in this article are structured into exactly ten books, each of which addresses one of the questions that arose during the Shibuya transition.

Rafael Argullol, who was Professor of Aesthetics at Pompeu Fabra University until his retirement, avoids all kinds of stereotypes while making his works; It often combines narrative, personal memory, essay, and sometimes poetic evocations of philosophical reflections or art, and also uses a number of different methods. It’s also the cultural and historical references within the pages that tend to become a constant crossroads. He is a transversal writer in both his themes and aesthetics. Any cultural contact or personal experience is a material or starting point for your own questions about the world and everything around us, often without escaping from everyday life; thus, it manages to involve readers in meaningful complicity.

Human Dance is no exception to this whole purpose; It is a mixture of memory and cultural references, rescued from any time – ancient, recent, present – ​​coexisting, often unknowingly, with other futures and imagined ones, which leaves an impact on his personality. As an exercise of narrative freedom, there is a boundary between reality and invention. It does not matter whether Aeschylus’ presence on the island of Sicily and its tragic end is told or not, it is the story of three school friends, two of whom face each other in enemy trenches, based on the reading of an inscription on a monument. A very grave case against God, staged in the First World War or in the USSR in 1918, with a premeditated staging with the participation of witnesses, with the defendant sentenced to death and subsequent execution. Any story is an excuse to solve a current problem.

It is also the source of memory that is included in the ten books and facilitates autobiographical analysis. The author’s transition from his childhood Catholic education to personal agnosticism, his abandonment of any theological thought, but considering the cultural heritage of Christianity through art and other manifestations; He abandoned political militancy in communism during his university years, at the end of the Franco period, to later distance himself from any ideological dogma; the wealth he acquired through residences in different places (Barcelona, ​​Rome) and travels; He makes preferential use of his rich knowledge of European thought and culture, as well as of family relationships – even working with Pynchon & Co. in Alicante. “The only nationalism I understand is European nationalism,” he said in one of the books in his bookstore. The presentations, subsequent to those in Barcelona and Madrid, structure each of the ten books into short chapters, elements combined with fluent writing that enable effective communication. Any association or creation is ultimately an excuse to understand current events and to understand oneself in them, suggesting a dialogue between tradition and the present.

It is not strange to find interspersed in this fluent prose definite conclusions, thoughts that absorb the reader, sometimes expressed with poetic feeling, themes that provoke meditation, and even hidden expressions that appeal to both logic and, when necessary, emotion, interspersed within the dense story. he winks in contrast to the mundane atmosphere prevailing in today’s aligned and somewhat dehumanized society: “The deepest love comes only when the desire to possess is defeated by the desire to offer,” he says; «Friendship is a dialogue, the most important dialogue we can undertake»; “The nonconformist is always closer to the truth than the obedient”; “No one is free, but some try to build their freedom. There is probably no more important task in a person’s life”; «Changing your life means that you no longer have boundaries between you and your imagination”; «Words are saviors. You might even say that they are our perfect saviors.

Rafael Argullol completes the trilogy, which started with View from the Bottom of the Sea (2010) and continued with Poema (2017), with Human Dance, and in this last chapter he presents a volume in which everything fits; It is a holistic book that goes beyond the ordinary, justifies the idea of ​​enlightenment, and carries no risk of being considered one of the books of the year due to its quality, transversality and pulse of thought.

Source: Informacion

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