24 de noviembre de 2013

A night in New York

Ya dije que estoy empezando con este blog y aún no sé nada bien cuál será su conformación final. De momento voy escribiendo las sucesivas entradas sin ningún tipo de ordenación o método y cambiando de tema muy a menudo. Los franceses definen esto como passer du coq à l’âne, una expresión de muy antiguo origen, pero que es plenamente actual. En español podría decirse, con el mismo sentido, “hablar del mar y los peces”. Y ocurre que, como a Lope en aquel soneto que le mandó hacer Violante, yo pensé que no hallara consonante, / y estoy a la mitad de otro cuarteto…

Eso sí, la preocupación de siempre: me pregunto si esto tendrá alguna utilidad. Conocer expresiones de alguna lengua extranjera puede tener su gracia. Y corregiré algún error. El término inglés pendrive, por ejemplo, se ha hecho popularísimo. Como se trata de un dispositivo en el que se almacena digitalmente algo que se ha escrito, identificar pen con pluma era casi inevitable. Pero pen, en este caso, se refiere a “small place of confinement or storage” (pequeño lugar de almacenamiento), y designa muy bien el artilugio; no tiene nada que ver con una pluma.

En fin, incluía yo en mi entrada anterior el principio de un relato mío, Una noche en Nueva York, en español. Querría hacerlo ahora en inglés, pidiendo excusas de antemano por una traducción que seguramente tendrá sus faltas. Por si alguien quiere leerlo en inglés o no conoce nuestro idioma. La traducción automática que hace el propio blog no deja de ser milagrosa y vale en algunos fragmentos. Pero está llena también, como es lógico, de errores insalvables.

                                                           It is such an amazing fantasy of stone, glass, and
                                                           iron, a fantasy constructed by crazy giants,                        
                                                           monsters longing after beauty, stormy souls full of  
                                                           wild energy. All these Berlins, Parises, and other                  
                                                          "big" cities are trifle in comparison with New York
                                                                           (letter from Máxim Gorki to Leonid Andreev on his
first impressions of New York, April 11th, 1906)                                     

These were already years of apathy and boredom. He came to New York as an obliged step in his rational approach to the problem, because he wanted to have all the data and with all possible accuracy. He did not travel to this city as often as before but he had always thought that, faced with a life threatening disease, he would like to rely on some other medical opinion, precisely here, taking advantage of the relative ease to come and the friends and connections that he still had. Then, once in the city, he had decided not to contact anyone until knowing the definitive results of the tests and medical examinations. But this was not planned, this was a last minute decision.

And there also was that other desire, large and turbidly caressed: that of coming here to die, disturbing no one, far from his reduced family and the old friends, in the city where he was so happy and where, in a certain sense, he had achieved everything. The city that he had nevertheless abandoned later. He had always experienced his return to Spain as a sort of betrayal to this New York in which his best dreams had become true. Why had he not remained here, why had he not spent his life here? Is that we know why we do the things we do?

Many a time he had imagined himself awaiting serenely his death at night, in some quiet place, isolated in the immense city, gazing once more at the fascinating spectacle of the nocturnal town that he had seen so many times coming to Manhattan, or returning, crossing some of the bridges that he normally transited, Queensboro or Brooklyn. New York is a city of light, of activity, of night and dreams. He still remembered his first trips on board the Staten Island ferry, in working days —“There are more lights then”, he had been told¾, with the skyscrapers ablaze, alone or with some other friends, other foreigners like him, taking part in the tours organized by the club in which he inscribed himself just upon his arrival, located in the very center of Manhattan, the Midtown International Center.

In these tours the guide, a volunteer, a Jew of German background but born already here, would always pose questions, happy to be able to show for the first time so intense beauty to such heterogeneous groups: what do you think, what does it remind you, what does it suggest to you? ¡And so many different answers! All loaded with emotion, pointing all out the glorious show of the city flooded with light, exploding in light, like some inextinguishable fireworks, sprouting unstoppable from the waters, planted there by the effort of true titans, full of energy and life. It was a magic vision that evoked hidden and powerful giants, men capable of looking face to face to gods, men who were as worthy as gods, who perhaps were real gods and had forever stolen the sacred fire from the gods.

That wonder finished slowly and not completely every night, but one had the certainty of its daily and eternal renewal. And the same thing when crossing the innumerable bridges or climbing the Empire State or going to the delightful bar at the top floor of 666 Fifth Avenue. It would truly be a privilege to have that image in front of the eyes while bidding farewell to the world, to have it in the retina when everything were over.