I’m either at José de Calasanz or Rosario de Acuña Cultural Center. I’m not sure, because both names are displayed in the front. From a cursory search, José de Calasanz was an exemplar Catholic priest who supported Galileo, while Rosario de Acuña was a proto-feminist writer ahead of her time, asserting her right as a human being to flaunt the strict rules of her society (she was an atheist, had children out of wedlock, had a divorce).
These two aspects of Spanish culture are in eternal conflict: there’s exemplary people and deplorable characters on both sides of the spectrum. However, you must choose sides, either everything associated with Catholicism is stale and backwards, or liberal intellectuals are cynic degenerates who want to see all tradition burned.
When one party gets elected, they promptly change the names of everything they can get away with. But, as Spanish politics swings like a pendulum, the opposing party will get back to power soon and restore the replaced names. The rift goes back a long time, and only the most cultured and well-traveled Spaniards are able to see beyond the black and white politics that are played here. The middle way is not gray, paraphrasing Goethe: colour arises at the edges of lightness and darkness, and the spectrum occurs where these coloured edges overlap. To a foreigner it’s as clear as water: the fact that José de Calasanz was a great man does not make Rosario de Acuña any less than a great woman. Having both celebrated would bring richness into the intellectual and political landscape.
This is the first time I’ve been to this study hall. It’s small: six large tables with four chairs each. Chairs are standard beaurocratic office fare, the kind you’d find at a government waiting room. The study hall is utterly silent, which is nice, perhaps some 12 people here. However, the windows are open and outside they must be trimming trees, because I can hear sawchains. The sound is regular enough not to be distracting. The windows are large, but the upper half is blocked by the metal shutters as to prevent sunlight from coming in. The view from the third floor is nothing remarkable, but I was looking out the window with pleasure, trying to find what I liked about it, and then it came to me: in my work settings I rarely focus my eyes beyond a dozen meters. Such luxuries must not pass unnoticed.
After a couple of hours at José de Calasanz/Rosario de Acuña hunger made its daily interruption, so I bought half a chicken to complement the slice of Spanish omelette I was carrying. Since there was a pool nearby I took lunch there, and then laid in the sun and had a quick swim. I left feeling exceedingly calm, the pool usually has the same effect as a long walk in nature.
As I’ve been transcribing my dreams, I can’t help but notice so many of my dreams take place in pools. Often times I’m carrying an electronic device, either a phone or a laptop, which slips out of my hand and falls into the water. Somebody will often help me rescue it. I never worry that it will stop working.
I’ve come to the office and laid out my towel and bathing suit at the balcony, where it’s drying under the sun. There’s too many things to describe. I’ll go through the senses: two partners of the office are describing a design behind me, they’ve switched to an event. The event is next to a funeral home, and it may be convenient in case anyone falls into a coma out of boredom. I’ll stop eavesdropping, let’s switch to touch. I had never noticed the chair where where I sit. It’s a tall chair with a mesh backrest. I’m so used to library chairs now that this seems luxurious. Still, the table rests against the window and I miss being able to extend my legs. Smell: unnoticeable, as it should be. Taste: drinking Coke Zero leaves a metallic taste in the mouth, I hadn’t noticed before. Sight: too many things to describe. There’s a bothersome stain on my screen. I’ll clean it and get to work.
After watching the sunset close to home I came to the library for a last session of work, taking advantage that it closes at 1:00am these days.
On my table there’s three other students, the guy in front must be in his early twenties, I wouldn’t have noticed should I not be writing this, but he has very large circular earrings, from one side he has three soda can tabs and on the other side he has a symbol of Venus. Now I’m doubting his ←·····→ her biological sex, but it’s not important. I can’t make out what is being studied.
Diagonally across me, a young posh lady is working on the thickest PC laptop I’ve seen. She has taken off her watch and placed it facing down. It has one of those fancy metallic milanese loops. I can’t make out what she’s studying either.
To my left a tall young lady has left her seat, and I can see her subject matter in plain sight: the geography and government of English speaking countries.
It’s enough presence for a while. Tomorrow I may change my writing exercises again.