The death of Juan Cueto We were surprised by a group of accomplices, led by Juan Luis Rodríguez-Vigil, preparing an exhibition on The Notebooks of the North, that mythical magazine -to use the youth dialect of these very different times- that illuminated the Transition giving light, meaning and cultural ambition to a Spain that wanted to be born decentralized, democratic and immersed in modernity. That magazine was a project that many miss and that today is more necessary than ever.
Juan Cueto, the great faraute of modernity, was a structuralist who made curiosity the candle of his destiny, a writer of fragments illuminated by the genius he sowed in his writings, almost always newspaper articles, seeds of light loaded with lightness and depth. The foam of haste never disturbed the serene conjecture, but gave it a dimension anchored in time. Juan Cueto was Asturian and The Notebooks of the North were possible in Asturias. It may be that of the licit love that I owe to my land, but who had written The heterodox Asturians It was, at the same time, local and universal without contradictions. The "glocal" concept, that which is global and local at the same time, suited that Asturias of the eighties like a glove; also to the intelligent soul, curious, without prejudice and disbelief that was Juan Cueto, surely the Asturian who, since Jovellanos, has contributed most to the concept of Hispanidad.
Like all genius writers, he always wrote in collaboration. In his office in Villa Kitty, in Gijón, he demanded the collaboration of the best. Before the common reader knew who Martin Amis was, the writings of English were already in the beautiful pages – so well-made – of the Notebooks; when Umberto Eco had not become a novelist or Mario Bunge explained clearly the obfuscated reason of knowledge, and nobody warned knew of such subtle clarities, they were already Eco and Bunge habitual collaborators of these pages that today we review with rapturous melancholy. Melancholy so it was certainly, melancholy so it is not being with the dreamed intensity. The great work of Juan Cueto, an authentic novel underway, are the Notebooks of the North: he wanted in it -with an anti-Amununian touch so of Unamuno- to make Spain his dream Asturias, a nation-passport open to any other nation where the local reason was revealed in its universality.
Heirs of the Magazine of Asturias, that directed Genaro Alas, The Notebooks of the North they opened the doors to doubt in their moment. Our homeland, as readers we were, was the doubt and we soon understood the master plan of Juan Cueto: all the disciplines were glocal all were needed for that hidden glow of wisdom to shine in the moment. Along with anthropology, architecture; next to the cinema, literature; next to life, the need to conquer a higher life.
I quote from memory: Emilio Alarcos, Francisco Umbral, Fernando Savater, Juan Marse, Roland Barthes, Álvaro Cunqueiro, Eduardo Haro Tecglen, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Jean Baudrillard, Andy Warhol, Susan Sontag … "So many. I never thought that death would take away so many. " Juan Cueto, from his office in Villa Kitty, turned them into his involuntary heteronyms with his vivisective intelligence, soon to discover in the change of fashion the threads of eternity, clinging to a present in which the future, as in the song that Santiago Auserón was singing, he was already here.
The future was there. To return to The Notebooks of the North It brings a certain sadness to who we are, by nature and readings, of the bitter husk. Another Spain was possible – democratic, decentralized, modern and prefutura – and the road to it we are losing. I have been asked to talk about The Notebooks of the North and I want to talk about them and Juan Cueto, which is the same. Allow me, he would not dislike it at all but I know he would censor my petulance, to quote Dante for it: "In its depth I saw that it is enclosed, / sewn with love in a volume, / everything that unfolds the universe".
Xuan Bello He is a writer.