Juan Cueto, one of the most important communicators and writers of twentieth century communication in Spain, died this morning in Madrid at age 76, after a long illness that took him out of occupations in which he was always a leader of knowledge and imagination. He wrote for this newspaper, he created Cuadernos del Norte, He directed Canal + in Spain and worked for that company of French origin both in Italy and in France. He wrote books, like Cathodic passion, in which he collected his sharp observations about the world of television when, in Spain, it did not have theoreticians of his wit.
In the house of Cueto in Gijón there were parabolic and encyclopedias. It was the consequence of an intelligence bred to invent the future. So to speak, Villa Ketty, that rare mansion that left a Nazi and that he turned into the libertarian temple in which they were born and their projects were made, was the Google of that time. Corominas was not enough for him or his thorough knowledge of philosophy; I wanted more, and that plus of life was out. The foreigner were the antennas of his house; for him they came, while Umberto Eco received him in Italy, for example, the contemporary airs that opened Europe to frontiers that could only be conceived by the dares of science fiction.
His mentality was bold and modern, ultramodern even. Even so, from the combination of their knowledge and attitudes, a magazine was born, Cuadernos del Norte, able to mix young and mature, tie intellectuals and beggars intellectuals, from all regions of the world, from Borges's Argentina to Octavio Paz's Mexico or Jorge Semprún's France. His was to combine, combine everything, and he did it from that strange geography that he made central in the life of all those who came to his aid to understand what was going to happen.
Villa Ketty was the capital of our searches, and for him it was the center of his rejoicing to learn and to teach at the same time. There he was born Notebooks of the North (now it will be published in facsimile and will be available in digital version) and there it was born, for the Asturian newspaper that it helped to found, Asturias Weekly, his most celebrated column, The dinosaur cave, that later it was transferred to THE COUNTRY. That last creation of his pen without any stumbles he taught all of Spain to read television. Without taboos, without his embrace of modernity making him unintelligible, pedantic or baroque, he used the famous box to spread opinion and wisdom on all current issues. The consequence of that sagacity to see beyond what is seen (as advised by Octavio Paz) were also its variable columns, which were published in several areas of the newspaper. The strength of his writing came from his culture, from the books he read with thirsting avidity, but it was based on lightness. In the deep lightness, in the knowledge of all the arts, from music to the art of humor, which he faced without prejudice.
He was also a quick talker, instructed not to take anything more seriously than the most unknown or feared, so to be with him, to listen to him, was a lesson of joy, to which many came at a time when the sweaty solemnity of this world I needed Mafalda and Juan Cueto. From this multitude of knowledge and attitudes with which he came to life outside of Villa Ketty was born his passion for creating instruments that gave him a mirror of the practical restlessness in which he converted his life.
Among those instruments, Canal +. The Prisa Group entrusted him with the management of that enclosed television project, which at one point caused the unhinged jealousy of the Aznar government, which could have led Jesús Polanco, Juan Luis Cebrián and other directors of that time to prison. Cueto manifested himself as a creator who had been a theoretician; he did not lose his libertarian ways of doing and saying and presenting himself, but he gathered around a rationalist team that helped him make earth, wood, stone, clouds, his dreams. He introduced unusual cinema, football with views, even was the one who brought to the screens the explicit sex, for which he not only lost the bull of the priests but of those who crossed themselves spitting. Then he expanded himself to similar inventions, in Italy, in France, in Germany. It encompassed Europe, he wanted it. One day he conceived with Jorge Semprún a documentary that was going to be titled The lights of Brindisi. He had listened to an Albanian boy who wanted to enter Europe through that Italian border. Rejected as he would have been rejected today, he said before the cameras: "It does not matter, I've already seen the lights of Brindisi." Cueto made his projects and his dreams from that matter; he was always receiving news that were also ideas, the cloudy earth of his dreams.
Your contribution to journalism is diverse, full of wisdom; and the life of those around him owes him a lot. He taught us to divide the solemnity by two, to believe that everything was possible if you knew how to do it or say it; he wrote some books, almost all compilations of his unusual contributions to printed intelligence. He had to be stripped of books with fire, with friendly fire, because he was not born for vanity or for capital letters. The last of his books, I was born with infamy, it was published by Anagrama, its most usual publisher, after many efforts of Jordi Herralde to convince him to let it be edited. To reach that conviction that he resisted there was a lunch that he wanted to be in the same place, the Pondala, where they had dined the Rolling Stones when they went to perform in the city of Gijón. Juan did not live in Villa Ketty anymore.
His daughter Ana continues her passion for television, the intelligent and variable eye of our time. He was excited to talk about his grandson, who is fifteen years old and the height of a basketball player. He was a teacher, and in that sense the father or brother of many who have always known that what we learned from what the world was going to owe to his intelligence, both cheerful and severe, that of a contemporary who does not He allowed himself to be bribed by intellectual laziness or by the darkness of human evil. He was, in short, a good man in a deranged country that he, specifically, made much more livable.