A returnee

Antonio Casero, forty years old, celibate, doctor of science, a philosopher of hobby, from the kidney of Castile, after having believed in many things and loved and admired much, had come to have sincerity as his main passion.

And for the sake of sincerity, he left Spain, for the first time in his life, at the age of forty; perhaps, he thought, never to return.

See some excerpts from a very long letter in which Casero explained to me the reason for his voluntary emigration:

“… You already know my reluctance to movement, to travel, to the change of environment , of customs, to any material variation that distracts, calls for efforts. This defect, because I recognize that it is, is still quite general among those who, like me, live little outside , and much inside, and prefer thought to action.

“It is true that the same history of philosophy offers us examples of great, very active thinkers, very involved in the mundane rampage, as, v. gr .: Plato, with his comings and goings to Sicily, not counting other comings and goings and his disciple and rival Aristotle, who was not peripatetic only in his school in Athens, but traveling a lot of land and seeing and doing many things. Of the moderns, among the very active, Descartes and Leibnitz can be cited, however illustrious. But, nevertheless, among those of our hobbies, there are more who follow the example of Kant, who hardly ever left his Königsberg. Carlyle, in his Posthumous Voyage to France , makes us see the great importance he attaches to the act of personal courage … of deciding to pack his suitcase and cross the Straits; and Paul Bourget, in his novel The Disciple, offers us the psychology of the sedentary thinker who passes those of Cain because he has to go from Paris to a nearby city. Although I am unworthy, I also abhor trunks, bills, platforms, inns, trains, new faces, new life, the infinite anguish of varying, in everything that refers to the needs of the miserable body and the trifles of social life.

“Many times they have censored me, and they have even laughed at me, I think, because I have never left Spain. I have not been to Paris! Paris! Great, if I could take my home with me, like the snail … and, of course, go through the air. The civilized world, more or less, in what it deserves attention, is the same everywhere, and what varies from region to region is what mortifies the sedentary maniac, like me, who in clothes, food, bed , housing, customs of ordinary life, can not undergo variations. I feel like a brother to the Chinese, the Hottentot; but how will they put the broth out there! France is like the homeland of my spirit; but I think they give a chocolate there! …

… “And, despite all that, I emigrate; if I go; I leave Spain. I resign.

“Yes, I resign, because I believe myself unworthy of her, my active Spanish magistracy . I, about that, after thinking and feeling many things in this life, in which I have reflected so much and felt, now I have sincere simplicity as a deity , humble naivety towards myself; I don’t want, as Bacon would say, idols from the cave , or from the theater , or from the forum , or from the tribe ; my idol is sincerity! Austere, bitter worship; but noble, serene!

“Well, well, my friend, delving into my spirit, looking face to face my most intimate feelings, I have come to convince myself that … I do not feel the country . No, I don’t feel it the way it should feel; The same thing happens to me with painting: I say that I do not feel it, because I compare the effect it produces on me with that which it causes on others, and with that which I experience in the presence of good music, poetry, architecture, and I see their obvious inferiority. The country is a mother or it is nothing; is within a home , it must be love, not by a more bNot as a result of sociological theories, but as parents, children, and home are loved. I don’t love Spain like that; I have become convinced of this now by seeing our national misfortunes and how little, in short, I have felt them. No, don’t want to console me for this intimate disappointment by telling me that almost all Spaniards are in the same case. It’s true, but there they; let them emigrate too. Yes, I know that most, without discounting those who have printed their patriotic pain in many editions, in fact, they have seen things happen as if the struggle of Spain and the United States were res inter alios acta .

“The same observation, deep, bitter, ruthless, but sincere, that I have applied to my intimate feelings, I have been able to make around me. Let us not speak of the selfish frank, military or countrymen, who because the law, undoubtedly deficient, did not demand a direct sacrifice, neither of their person, nor of their property, they saw with the least concealed indifference the catastrophes that were sinking us; Let us not speak either of the hypocritical jingoes who by trade have to employ tons of elegiac platitudes every day in lamenting the pains of the country that they do not experience; but if they were alone! I have closely observed those who have fought for Spain, have exposed their lives defending it, and have deserved glorious laurels … That same man, who had died in his position of honor …, did everything more for honor than for real affection, as a son, to Spain. There was only to hear him relate our misadventures that he had seen up close. No, he would not have talked like that about the misfortunes of a mother, of a son. Without realizing it, oblivious to hypocrisy, he clearly allowed himself to be seen that the joy of noble pride, for his courage, his skill, his brilliant campaign influenced his soul more than the pain for what Spain had lost. That defeated hero had not achieved less glory than that which triumph could have given him; for that reason he was happy … and the country, for which he died, remained in his spirit, there, in the background, like an abs It was well seen that the joy of noble pride, for his courage, his skill, his brilliant campaign, influenced his soul more than the pain for what Spain had lost. That defeated hero had not achieved less glory than that which triumph could have given him; for that reason he was happy … and the country, for which he died, remained in his spirit, there, in the background, like an abs It was well seen that the joy of noble pride, for his courage, his skill, his brilliant campaign, influenced his soul more than the pain for what Spain had lost. That defeated hero had not achieved less glory than that which triumph could have given him; for that reason he was happy … and the country, for which he died, remained in his spirit, there, in the background, like an abstraction of moral geometry, exact, but cold … ”

“Besides, I feel little Spanish. I believe in the national genius; I don’t know what it is precisely; But in certain moments of pragmatic history, and more in the popular features and in certain things of our great saints, poets and artists, I guess a background, still poorly studied, of spiritual greatness, of strong originality. In Santa Teresa and Cervantes is where I guess the most essential characters of this genius. But … all that is so hidden and dark! On the other hand, the national qualities, better off, the acquired vices, which disgust and offend me, jump to the eye, hurt me with shrill and unpleasant tones. This almost exclusive predominance of outer life, of color over the figure, which is the idea; of the crystallized formula on the spiritual juice of things; This servility of thought, this blindness of routine,modern , they disorient me, discourage me, irritate me … and I leave, I leave. I excuse myself to tell you that I don’t believe in regenerations or in jingoistic Geraudeles … I don’t deserve to live in Spain, nor is Spain to my taste. I don’t feel capable of sacrificing for her what every country deserves; So I have no right to be supported by its soil, its law protects me. She has not given me what I would have most wanted: a solid intellectual and moral education, which would have spared me this farce of semi-wisdom in which we live. the intellectuals in Spain. You cannot imagine what my love of sincerity, today my faith, suffers from this pretense of science pinned down to which the poor preparation of our youth studies forces us. I see my reflective power, my intuitive faculties, my judgment and my experience, far superior to the solid means of instruction at my disposal, to take advantage of those faculties in society. If it were not Spanish, but French, English, German, I would not have to regret such an embarrassing deficiency. To be one-eyed in the land of the blind cannot be a consolation except for the selfish and vain. I would like to have two good eyes on land where there are neither one-eyed nor blind. Being from the crowd, in Athens …

“… You cannot believe in regenerators, because the first materials for all regeneration are lacking. I emigrate; I don’t believe in Spain, nor should she expect anything from me. When we lost the squads, when Santiago gave up, I got a little sick with disgust … Yes, a little; soon I healed, more content with this pride of wanting somethingtruly to the homeland, that saddened with the irremediable misfortunes … For the loss of parents and children, something else is felt stronger, deeper: the pain for the absence of the mother is not sweetened by the conscience of tenderness subsidiary; On the other hand, when I felt that I loved Spain something more than the shouting patriots, I found myself enjoying a certain intimate joy … And then, how soon I was forgetting the losses, the national shame! … No, Spain; I do not deserve you. Nor my spirit, made foreign by reading French, English and Germans, he understands you well, nor am I, in short, a good son. I will be the prodigal son … who does not return. ”

But it came back. I met poor Antonio Casero at the Puerta del Sol, getting ready to get on a bus that would take him to … the bulls, to any bullfight. He returned from England, Germany and France, sad, deteriorated, skinny.

“I’m,” he told me, “like stunned.” I have reached that skepticism of behavior, a thousand times more agonizing than that of intelligence. I do not know what to do! I don’t know where to be! I fled Spain, as you know, with great effort, not to get away from it, but to change, to move. You know the reasons I had to emigrate. But outside of Spain he did n’t know how to live! I had the country more rooted in my guts than I thought! The climate, the color of the sky, the color of the landscape, his figure, the way he ate, the way he spoke, the strangeness of public interests, not caring about anything around me; the customs, which seemed irrational to me because they were not mine; everything disgusted me, offended me; everything was ice and roughness, a kind of enemy magnetism that plagued me everywhere. He was even breathing worse. Perhaps the most spiritual of my being is still foreign, but how much in me is earth, human mud, which is the most, oh! He is Spanish and cannot live outside the homeland. No, I can’t live in Spain … but not outside either. And in such a conflict … I go back, I abhor Spanishism , but today my name is Vicente , and I go to the other Spaniards … to the bulls. Natura naturans. After all, what would become of Spain if all her ungrateful children emigrated, who do not love her enough! It would be deserted.