Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In Memory: Pablo Neruda

Today is Monday, 12 July 2010.

The Museum of the Bourgeois honors the great Chilean poet, Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, better known under his pen name (and later legal name), Pablo Neruda, born on this date in 1904.

Neruda always wrote in green ink, because he said it was the colour of esperanza – “hope”.

After the Chilean military coup of 11 September 1973, Neruda’s home was searched by the army, as he lay dying of prostate cancer. When the troops entered his bedroom, he said, “Look where you wish – the only danger to you here is poetry”.

Neruda died on 23 September 1973.

At the time, and into the 1980s, it was a fashion among American rightists who considered themselves to be intellectuals, to distinguish between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” states. (Particularly popularized by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Ambassador to the United Nations.)

In theory, authoritarian nations (military-ruled Chile) were less systematically repressive than totalitarian nations (such as Communist-controlled Bulgaria). In practice, the distinguishing feature was support for or opposition to the USA/USE in The Cold War.

In reality, it is reliably reported that electrical shocks applied to the genitals by secret police in authoritarian nations are essentially indistinguishable from electrical shocks delivered by secret police in totalitarian nations.


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