Translation of ‘Nostalgia’ – Almudena Grandes, El País

This is an article which I found so beautifully written and powerfully expressed. It speaks of that nostalgia that surely every single one of us feels in this bizarre new world we are blindly entering into; the world of postmodernity. A de-humanised, de-politicised, de-sensitised world without meaning, without silence, without belief, beauty, privacy, community, hope, a world so unnatural, so full of physical, intellectual and even emotional noise and pollution. The original article, published in El País, can be found in Spanish here, my translation follows.

I disagree with the author when she suggests in the final sentence that the Spanish ‘new politics’ is itself a postmodern phenomenon, but it is true that the new left in Spain reflects the general zeitgeist of our times; a left that does not want to be seen as Left, a conscious desire for class conflict but fear of being seen preaching it, a penchant for slick marketing and an obsession with ‘image’, a tendency back toward the same social-democratic band-aid fixes that ruined the old guard. Yes, there are some paradoxes and contradictions in the new left, and the old left (the old left which I refer to here is, to be sure, the United Left, not the other ‘old left’ the PSOE) has a proud history and made a sterling effort in the election campaign, but fundamentally the explosion of the new left here and elsewhere should be seen as a reaction against postmodernity and the economic system (namely, neoliberalism) upon which is has blossomed.

Nostalgia: Of the twentieth century, which will always be my home, the run-down house, discredited and authentic, in which I learnt to be me. Of a capital-H History, with its hopes and broken dreams, with its victories and its defeats, with both its clumsy and its exquisite passions, passions the colour of blood that pumped through the hearts of those who did not yet know what marketing was. Of the ice of winter and the sweat of summer, the hand-written letters with every word and adjective weighted with great care, of the gravity of the old words that now no one says: left, right, freedom, God, people, the homeland, conscience, reaction, revolution, comradery, Humanity. Of the fight against the known enemies with names and titles, with faces and forms that neither hid their identities nor acted through intermediaries. Of a collective, universal solidarity that wasn’t published nor televised, that didn’t need logos but that was yet so effective, so powerful that it gave fear. Of the possibility of solitude and the freedom of freely-chosen friendships from a life without social networks, a life where it was possible to hide from the noise and to rest. Of reflection, of meditation, of long-thought thoughts that couldn’t be expressed in 140 characters or less, nor be revoked. Of the slowness of a time where ideas were thought up slowly, a time in which any action could become transcendental, where there were no more instants than those that were captured in photographs made for future memories… Today, on the first day of the new age of the new politics in the new Spain, I only feel nostalgia. 

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