Thursday, June 8, 2023

“Irony is the backbone of criticism”: Roger Bartra | Video

November 7 roger bartra He will be 80 years old and he is still very good. Academics and intellectuals are as prolific as it is diverse. He has published over twenty books including The Savage in the Mirror and Brain and Freedom.

Within the framework of the commemoration, Bartra says she is clear, athletic, and ready for whatever comes. He is preparing the tribute that the Academy of the Mexican Language will give him, Next November at 5:00 PM. And not only that, they publish their intellectual memoirs mutation (discussion), a book through which he tours his thoughts.

How do you feel at 80?

In fact, compared to ten or twenty years ago, I don’t feel any difference. Suppose I am of good age, I am of good old age. I feel good, I work out a lot, I am healthy. Many books have come out and will come.

your birthday . coincides with the publication of mutationHis intellectual memoirs.

That’s right, I decided to write this seven or eight years ago, not knowing what it would be. It was an exploration of my intellectual past. It has some elements of a personal nature, but it is above all an intellectual biography. My life has taken many leaps and I thought about it. Why did I go from originally being an archaeologist to studying the agrarian question, then national identity, and from there to the anthropology of the brain and cultural networks studying the myths of sadness in Europe? They look like somersaults and are not usually given in academia. Mutations fascinate me because at the same time it has been somewhat risky, fortunately I have survived and not badly. The motivation that inspired me to write this is to question the logic of my life.

At the beginning of the book he talks of an interest in truth. What is the truth?

The problem is that there are many truths. My obsession with truth comes to me when I was young and in the book I argue that it is one of the three threads that, in addition to a sense of alienation and rebellion, seem to connect all the chaos of my intellectual life. . From a scientific point of view, the search for truth is common, that’s what we all want, but it also has a dangerous edge like dogma. When I was young and a left-wing extremist, I fell into it, I was a dogmatic Marxist. Truth in its various forms has colored my intellectual life and I came to the conclusion that truth must be plural and can change, so one must be humble, tolerant and open to the new.

Are we living in dogmatic times today?

We live in the worst dogma that is nationalistic. When a culture or an ideology belonging to a nation becomes an ideology it is extremely dangerous because it is the root of war, we have seen this in world wars and now in Ukraine, where we encounter aggressive Russian nationalism with defensive Ukrainian nationalism. Let’s see. Mexico is a country with very strong nationalist roots and I also come from Catalan culture which also has a dangerous nationalism.

A moment ago I talked about foreigners, do you think so?

No, but that’s how they take me. I feel very comfortable in Mexico and in Catalonia, I feel Latin American. I have been to Venezuela, Europe and the United States, everywhere they see me as a foreigner. I have always felt comfortable as a foreigner and that is why I have declared myself after Mexican.

What’s to happen after Mexican?

A Mexican that is in the process of changing from a post-Mexican identity to a democratic, open and pluralistic, not a dogmatic Mexican identity that worships the existence of a single national identity. The identities are many, but they can easily be seen as strange or foreign by others, all at risk of dogmatic confirmation.

Are your ideological changes linked to disillusionment?

I was a member of the Mexican Communist Party for many years. I was immersed in Marxist-Leninist dogma for a long time, but I had abandoned it long ago. Later, I was a reformist within communism and they made fun of me. They called me a Eurocommunist, now a social democrat, a fusion of Marxist and socialist traditions with the Left. I faced dogma in my body because I censored myself for dogma and other people censored me when I changed it. Yet I followed the path of a reformist, democratic left and I stayed there. As no social democratic space survives in a place of some solitude in Mexico, Chile has a rather important place, President Boric in it. Without a doubt, Lula is Brazil’s great social democrat, although he does not have that origin and has guerrilla origins, even I myself had a flirtation with Rubén Jaramillo guerrilla. In Mexico, the populist left has been strong, although now marginalized, this would be an example of Cuautémoc Cárdenas. We live in a difficult situation, fortunately the most important part of my intellectual life is reflection and thought.

Is he a sad man?

No, not at all. I’m fascinated by the theme of sadness, but I’m not, after all when my father or my father died, I became sad, but that’s all. Looking at how nationalism invades the world and drives it to war, I am a pessimist. I see the world of politics and political power drifting into a very bad state. Politics is full of pomp and lies, economic power uses its power by exploiting and creating more misery, there is no alternative. I look at the global panorama and Mexico from a very pessimistic perspective.

Another pivot of his book is rebellion…

The revolt had negative consequences, the cult of my revolution to grab power in the name of the people. There is a positive side which implies an intellectual rebellion that does not accept imposed truths and seeks new elements.

Since the 1970s, she has worked on issues such as gender equality, abortion rights or the decriminalization of marijuana.

when i directed the magazine that modelIn the seventies, despite the fact that the Communist Party paid for it, many extremists did not like it because it was heretical. We had a different vision of drug criminalization or the autocracy of the Soviet Union than we were so rebellious and defending causes that are s
till valid, such as abortion.

I’m sorry to be a dogmatic communist, but at the same time within that extremism I think there was something positive because it gave me an intellectual rigor that helped me. What alternative would they have if they had not been radical left wing extremists? I don’t regret it, but I do reflect on it. Then there are things of a personal nature, which I do not talk about in the book and which can be fixed.

Will the old Bartra warn the young man?

None because the past has already happened and cannot be changed. What I am now is a product of who I was.

What is your relationship with God now?

I have never been religious. I come from a republican and atheist family. I have never believed in any deity other than the gods present in the literature. When I was little I asked my father if there is a God and he answered yes, but in literature.

Are you worried about the idea of ​​death?

Every time they threaten to pay tribute to me, give me a prize or when UNAM declares me an emeritus researcher, I think there is something in the mummification process that bothers me, but I Let me take it on the ironic side. Tributes or awards are not so important, what is relevant is the work that someone created because that’s where it lives. When it disappears, it will probably have a function and with this hope I am at peace. Since I have neither a religious nor indifferent nature, I am not concerned about death.

Continuity in his work is ironic or not to take himself so seriously.

Irony is the backbone of criticism and I take it very seriously, but it also exists as a joke. There’s a playful element to all of my rehearsals.

They say that humor saves.

That’s right, Malinowski said that anthropology was an exercise in humor.

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