By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
18 May 2012
Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro
I am here at Graficas Jomagar in Mósteles, about a half hour by car from downtown Madrid, where we print the books for my publishing house, Perceval Press, without hardly having slept after seeing the quarter finals game for the Copa Argentina between River and San Lorenzo on my computer last night. The book we're going to finish printing today is called It's Not About Religion, by Professor Gregory Harms. The book is well written and can be very valuable for better understanding a region plagued by instability and very deeply rooted conflicts. It deals with the Middle East and the erroneous concepts that many have with respect to the sources of military conflicts, terrorism and socio-political chaos that seems to be chronic in that part of the world. Harms demonstrates clearly that, in spite of the great media attention that Islamic fundamentalism has received in Europe and North America, the often violent disturbances in the Middle East don't have much to do with religion. Among other things, he details some of the negative consequences of centuries of military and economic intrusion on the part of Europeans and, more recently, North Americans.
© Perceval Press.
Since Perceval Press was founded in 2002, we've printed almost all of our books in Mósteles. Iker Casillas, the great goalkeeper from Real Madrid and the Spanish national team, the reigning soccer champion of Europe and the world, is from this town near the capital. Well, it's been an important city for years.
It's not surprising that such a warrior comes from here. This community has a lot of history. The Spanish "intifada" against Napoleon, the War of Independence from 1808-1814, began in Mósteles. King Carlos IV had ceded his crown to Napoleon and handed his country over to the French, supported by other Spanish "gentlemen" of little honor, in exchange for nice pensions and other benefits. However, the Spanish people didn´t accept the French invasion or the state´s corruption, the same way the Palestinian people have refused any way they could the occupation and certain injustices on the part of the Israeli government and their own big bosses. The French laughed when the Mayors of Móstoles declared war on France on their own, but bit by bit, the resistance that started in this village inspired the Spanish people to throw the invaders out of the whole country. The courage of Móstoles is nothing new - this town of pre-Roman origins has withstood many times a variety of invaders from Europe and Africa as well as corrupt and/or national fascist governments during its thousands of years of existence. During the last 50 years there was a demographic explosion in the Madrid area that saw Móstoles changing from little town to industrial city.
And now about last night. Some, including the San Lorenzo coach, had said that the Copa Argentina didn't matter to them. It does to me, and also to the San Lorenzo supporters who were there in the Padre Martearena Stadium in Salta cheering nonstop during the whole game. The victory meant a great deal to the River supporters, their coach, and their team. Although Almeyda, just like Caruso Lombardi, had opted for a line-up more or less consisting of substitute players to protect his team in the main tournament, it seemed obvious to me that he hadn't told his guys that the Copa Argentina didn't matter. For our team, it's certain that it mattered to them to play well, and they fought as well as they could, but it isn't easy if you arrive there with a black cloud of doubts hanging over you. When your parents or your coach tell you beforehand that they don't give a damn about the game or whatever thing you're about to undertake, it doesn't help you at all psychologically. That's my opinion. And what Almeyda said was, "They're all finals, ever since River started playing in the 'B' [division]." This River [team] is resembling, more and more, the San Lorenzo that was the phoenix in 1982.
V, my whole family is down with the flu; yesterday while I was using the nebulizer for little Ana, I was watching with impotence the end of the match with River. The smoke coming out of the nebulizer equipment to help Anita´s lungs expand and breathe reminded me of all those coaches full of hot air who spend their life talking instead of concentrating on the game, on the discipline. The CASLA players should do Zazen, a Zen Buddhist practice that would enable them to eliminate bad thoughts, reduce their egos to the max and become vessels or channels through which the spirit can blow strongly and change themselves, once and for all, into eternal beginners. You need to see the best in the worst: the players yesterday showed fighting spirit; [they're the] young ones who could be the promise of an interesting future. The CASLA supporters are even interested in the Copa Melba [trans. note: Fabian is making a play on words - see image below.]. I don't understand this thing of going to play something and then from the start somebody tells you it isn't that important. Nobility and moral valor are developed in little things, in the smallest actions. Borges goes over this, in a somewhat slantwise manner, in his essay "The Modesty of History" - which is to say the secret twists and turns of history.
What the brilliant old man who's buried in Geneva says is that there's a collective history that we're all sure we recognize: Columbus discovered America, the Holocaust, the D-Day invasion... and that these acts, without doubt, have created turning points in the dynamic of the narration of time. Borges, however, always precise, hostile to stereotyped thinking, says that the acts that changed the world are actually secret, little-known. Hence his affirmation that "20 secret people are those who sustain the world." We need to find those 11 secrets that would sustain CASLA. Maybe they're already playing, we'll see ... Big Hug!
To me, some of the veterans, like Bottinelli and Romagnoli, are playing very well in this tournament and last night the new players like Luciatti and especially Matías Catalán, the guy from Mar del Plata who had his debut against River, were very promising. If Caruso Lombardi can manage to remind the players where the door that leads to hope is, I think that they will open it on their own without major problems. Right now, it seems to me that they don't see it, although they crash against it frequently.
Changing the subject, I found another family called Casla. Do you remember the guy at the El Matadero theatre where we presented Ariel Dorfman's Purgatorio? He said that it was a Catalan name. Yesterday I had to find some things for the garden but I didn't have enough time to go to the nursery that I'm familiar with on the outskirts of Madrid. In a neighborhood florist shop, they recommended one much closer, not far from Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
"It's called Casla," the florist told me.
Although I'd heard just fine, I wanted to be sure. "Excuse me, sir, I don't know if I heard you correctly. What did you say it's called?"
"Yes, C-A-S-L-A. Nice name," I said to him.
"I suppose so...unusual, that's for sure."
"Of course!" I agreed smiling.
The guy looked at me with a certain compassion, like a hapless and/or drugged tourist. He sighed and finished up, " Two up and then to the left. There's a sign." And returned to his work without further ado.
There's a sign:
© Viggo Mortensen.
© Fabian Casas.
P.S. My slave name is Fabián Casas, but my free man name is Fabián Casla!
Last edited: 31 May 2012 04:31:59
© Viggo Mortensen/Fabian Casas/Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro.