What attracts you to a festival like the LEM?
What always attracts me is the possibility of Majorca. My father was about to emigrate to Mallorca. He said: “I’m going to be a gardener in a hotel and you get high, study languages and become a maitre d ‘.” He wanted me to be a maître d ‘in Mallorca (laughs). Both my wife [la también escritora y periodista Elvira Lindo] like me we have a very old relationship with the island. She lived and went to school here for several years. He has a great love for the island. I had never come to Mallorca and when we started to be together, in 1994, he brought me to the island. I thought it would be a tourist site, without more, like some places in the Canary Islands, but from the first time it seduced me extraordinarily. We have come with our son for many years to Port de Pollença, always to the same hotel, and also to Sóller. Mallorca has places with a lot of noise, but also others that invite you to retreat. I really like the Mallorcan countryside, a field that, as Josep Pla said, is a contained nature, in which there is a mixture of human work and nature.
An increasingly threatened field.
Yes, but the area that I like the most I notice the most … I like the interior of the island and Palma a lot. Mallorca is one of the few places in Spain that feels Italian magnificence. The imprint of the kingdom of Mallorca is very noticeable. You realize that there is a world beyond the island when you visit the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca in Perpignan, a world that has to do with the south of France and with Italy. All that attracts me a lot.
Mallorca has been a refuge for artists and writers, also pirates and millionaires. What do you need to write?
Few things. Having worked in the journalism and having had children, I am very used to writing in almost any situation. I just need a place to sit for a while.
“Many deniers are cultured people, the mind is very prone to fantasy and nonsense”
What does it mean to you to be a journalist?
For me the newspaper is a form, an aspect of the literature. There is no difference between journalism and literature, it is the same, journalism is a variant of literature, only that it is done in the immediate present. Literature, on the other hand, takes a certain distance.
His latest literary work responds to the title of ‘Return to where’, a confessional book, born during confinement, the result of the immediate present of which he spoke. What has the pandemic changed?
I don’t think it changed me. What the pandemic has done is that it has strengthened some idea that I already had. I don’t think he has taught me anything radically new. It has confirmed fundamental ideas for me such as those of a certain order of public priorities, such as a good system of health It implies a fair system of taxation, also scientific training, research … It implies many things but now we have seen that in a moment of maximum emergency the only defense we have against a pandemic is the work of the State, of the Public Administration , and the work of scientists.
Do you have to go to the limit to realize what we have or what we lack?
What is needed is not needing a disaster, such as a pandemic, to take rational action. It is something similar to the climate change. We should have enough capacity to change the economic or consumption model before total disaster falls on us.
What prompted you to write a book like ‘Return to Where’?
The urge to journal during the lockdown. It’s something, the journaling thing, that I’ve done a lot but intermittently. In confinement I felt stronger. Disciplined I sat down every day to write what I was experiencing, what was happening, what I heard, what I felt. I think that many people have had that impulse, it was important to bear witness to that moment, of what we were living because things are forgotten very quickly, and those who have not lived it then have a hard time imagining them.
“By living the fall of the Twin Towers live, I knew that the world can change overnight”
Why do we forget so fast?
Because this is the human mind, it is not prepared to have great memories. Scientists say that memory serves not for the past but for the future, and that what memory does is learn certain patterns of behavior from experience. Memory is very fragile and anyone who has written newspapers or in a newspaper realizes that things are forgotten much easier than we think.
When did you indulge in writing, when you wrote the diaries, did you do it with a plan, with an outline?
No, I was getting carried away. Every time I believe more, because of the way I write, in letting myself go. Then the correction will come, but the main thing is to get carried away by an impulse, and see where it takes you. When I was young I was much more cerebral, I thought that things had to be much more prepared, more built, that you had to have very solid plans, arguments and structures. Now the opposite happens to me. All I need is to have a starting point.
In ‘Return to where’ he travels to the past and reconnects with his origins, with his family. What would he get back from the boy who was in his father’s garden?
I believe that one fundamental thing that must not be lost is the capacity for wonder and learning. Fortunately, the poverty extreme and insecurity but there was one thing that was the awareness of the need to take advantage of things, the awareness that nothing could be wasted. That awareness seems very important to me to project right now towards the future. Our children and grandchildren will live in a world in which the limitless abundance of things that a part of humanity enjoys right now will be gone. The world will have to learn to be austere.
Will anything good come out of this crisis?
The scientific, technological and logistical prodigy of the vaccine has come out; the agreement between employers, workers and unions has come out to mitigate the terrible effects of the crisis; In other words, it has been seen that we could behave with perfect responsibility in a situation of maximum emergency. They are important lessons.
The shortage of supplies does not stop assaulting the front pages of the newspapers. Are you afraid the queues will return?
This is a very efficient world in many things but also very fragile. We depend on very complex, global, and highly interconnected distribution channels. That interconnection that allows you abundance is also fragile because it involves many elements. Think of that tanker that got stuck in the Suez Canal.
Are we none of the deniers in this conversation?
Human intelligence is very fragile and prejudices are very powerful. If the problem were that deniers are always ignorant people, then we might think that it is a problem of lack of information or education, but in this society, if there is something abundant, it is information, and many people who are deniers, just like many people are racists. or fanatic of nationalism, they are perfectly cultured people. The human mind is very prone to fantasy and nonsense.
You saw planes crash into the Twin Towers 20 years ago. I was in New York. What lesson did you draw from that trauma?
That episode marked me, left me very impressed and gave me something that later has only been confirmed: that feeling of fragility that I have been talking about. People need the world to be predictable, to press the button and the elevator to come, to turn on the tap and for water to come, for there to be toilet paper … We take for granted a normality that we think is very solid because it is what we have every day, but suddenly something happens that nobody anticipated and that exceeds your capacity, like a computer that is blocked by excess information. When I lived that live, the sense of reality was blocked. And you realize how the world can radically change overnight. There is also that ease of how people and governments are carried away by fury. After September 11 there were many displays of solidarity but what there was was a rise of a maddened and vengeful American nationalism. It was like an epidemic, with flags everywhere, and you know, when you see many flags you have to run away, then the invasion came first from Afghanistan and after Iraq. The overreaction was terrible. They acted unanimously and no one could argue against it. It is very easy to get carried away by that tide, although there were people who had the courage not to do it, such as Susan Sontag or a black Democratic congresswoman, from California, the only one who opposed the rule that gave the president of the United States unlimited powers, and for which he received all kinds of insults. That is also a lesson.