Now I see it clearly: the algorithm is the parents. They are what define you as you open your eyes to this world and sometimes decide with amazing insight whether you are cheerful, conscientious, restless, jealous or confident. Accordingly, they guess your taste. When I was growing up in the last century, parents even knew if you were born with letters or science. They knew so much about us that when they asked us to write a book for Kings they did not hesitate, for to them our personality was defined and destined: to the greatest, so formal and hardworking, a masterpiece of literature. Bring him a Jane Eyre. To the second, the boy of eternal dissatisfaction, a book of war. Give him a Sven Hassel. The third, kind and ruthless, one of the adventures. Without hesitation, one of Jules Verne. And for the little one (who writes this), imaginative and sociable, a little book where you can hear people talking. Little Women fits. Oh, and the two little ones included in the illustrated cartoon get confused easily. All creatures want to please their parents, so I tried to fit into their algorithm so as not to disappoint them. I could go on writing here about how my parents’ algorithm influenced our career choices, but that would be one book. What is clear is that the novel chosen for our character had to last a year, so we ended up delving into a plot that strictly defined our tastes.
I think what sets us apart the most in this life is docility and disobedience. After thoroughly enjoying and getting the best out of the novels they chose for me, my disobedient character no doubt began to push me in my youth to wish others what had happened.
Still from the film “La Maternal” by Pilar Palomero.
This story of a girl from the last century is instructive when I think about how the image that others have of us is being sustained. Many books arrive at my house every week. Many, for obvious reasons. Books that sometimes bear his name instead of the addressee and sometimes mean it. Well, quite often the books that bear his name are history, science, politics, war, rockets, and if you happen to get a novel written by a woman, it’s usually a novel, in short, a reprint of one Classic whose quality has been tested by time and leaves no room for doubt. Those who receive them, so whoever thinks about them, usually revolve around feminist themes, difficult motherhood, different kinds of exclusion, social problems, childhood, novels by unjustly forgotten women and also novels by young women who do it It doesn’t hurt to give yourself a boost. Of course, I’m generalizing, but I’m not moving away from a stubborn reality. The algorithm our parents wrote in their updated way still works.
It is never too late to encourage rebellion and I would like to make a suggestion for change this coming year because sometimes we don’t even realize that we are obeying and that unconscious compliance always leads us to the same place, a place where the one in which we feel comfortable because we have been in it since childhood (today it would be called a comfort zone, but I refuse). Whatever book, essay, or novel arrives, this year 2023 I will start changing recipients. With a pair of scissors and some glue, the mess is done. I know I will see myself reading more insect books. It’s not my thing, but it’s about challenging a written destiny. Come to me, more insects, more rockets, more North Korean dictators, more terrorists of all kinds. Go to it Stories of motherhood, reconciliation, childhood trauma, novels by young writers translating young women’s thoughts. There, on her desk, a book in her name about menopause. Here, in mine, a book on de-extinction. Wonderful.
Marcel Proust. private collection. Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty ImagesHeritage Images (Getty Images)
And for the record, this year that has come to an end, we have already started rebelling against the given algorithm. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have seen Better Call Saul, but I turned it down because the abuse in the violent fiction made me queasy. But he insisted, sharing is a joy, and he wanted to talk to me about what he thought was wonderful. He was right: I ended up being seduced by the leading couple. Then again, if it were up to him, he wouldn’t have seen La Maternal, I’m sure of that, but I insisted, knowing that once the prejudice of the title was overcome, he’d be touched, and so on it was, he was blinded by the story of the pregnant teenager. If we were all willing to go beyond the markings we faced as children, if we let ourselves be seduced by stories not originally written for our eyes, we would look at life more generously. Too often we frown at a novel without having read it, and even improvise a scathing critique because that is what is expected of us.
In addition to looking beyond my own compulsions and interests and being true to the image that others have of me, over the next year I will allow myself to be carried away by something that generally works very well: the signpost of chance. This fashion, so common in art, does not mark my path and that I return to the classics in July and August. If the summer of 2021 was the summer of Tolstoy and this after that of George Elliot, in the summer of 23 I intend to continue Proust’s path. And not everything is literature. Last night we started a homemade Chaplin cycle and after laughing out loud at The Gold Rush I thought about how humbling it is to admit that there was always someone who did it before you and did it better.
All the culture that suits you awaits you here.
The literary novelties analyzed by our best critics in our weekly bulletin
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits