Viggo Mortensen: The Finger in the Wound
13 October 2006
Diario de León
We Leonese are prone to easily neglect our own men, as much as excessively flatter the stranger, seeking in what's foreign the excuse for the denied tribute, but Viggo Mortensen, the audacious traveller, has managed something. For the first time in years, we Leonese agree unanimously and, hardly making a habit of it, we are even proud of our common roots. No-one, not even the current Spanish Prime Minister, a fine upstanding Leonese, has managed to restore a part of León's lost hope and glory, for however much pride we have, pride of a regal and ancient people, it's not enough to carry out the everyday life. The misinterpreted Leonese pride is like an old not-fully-healed wound that cannot be cleaned and purified. However, we've been lucky to have amongst us someone who not only knows how to brandish a sword, which he cuts off false mirages with, but he also tries to cure us of our blindness and our ancient illness.
The character is fictional and the one who incarnates it is a foreigner, but perhaps that's why he has better comprehended the real illness. We are what we were, but also what we have insisted on not seeing, on not telling, on not knowing. Those who are trying to make him champion of their complexes, of their incompetent failures, of their various pretentions...do not get it wrong. He didn't come here for that. That's our particular job, nobody else's. Neither in the re-creation of his character of Alatriste nor in his book Linger has he let himself be seduced by the city's or the province's colourfulness. On the contrary, he makes us open our eyes to see what we are trying to hide. He doesn't pick the light of the Cathedral's famous stained-glass windows, but the faint light of a shop window in the Azabachería street, through some kids' limpid eyes. He doesn't feed on the pain of our international Holy Week, but on the distracted face of a kid who doesn't understand the reason for so much noise. He doesn't perpetuate the exultant mountain that appears in the books for tourists, but the perennial and misty mountain that observes, quiet and wounded, the slow daily walk of some people who seem to be left to their fate. Therefore Mortensen doesn't deserve the golden medals for praising our glories, but for having dared to put his fingers in the wound (tr. note: to touch on a sore spot) - as Alatriste did with the wounds of his comrades - and to find out the seriousness of it. Thanks to him, perhaps some other Leonese in the diaspora has discovered himself and started to believe he's a little more needed in his own land.
Last edited: 29 October 2006 08:10:29