domingo, 9 de julio de 2017

"Cities of the World. World Cities."

Italo Calvino says that the delight you take in a city is not through the wonders it offers but in the answer it gives to a personal question. I remember the moment when I first said aloud “This is where I want to live.” Barcelona became an ultimate destination right from that first visit. Eventually, I was able to make my home here and have lived for years now in the Raval, Jean Genet's Barrio Chino, right in the heart of the old city, with its diverse and dense immigrant population. Only now, as I look back on my work as a writer, do I begin to glimpse the question Barcelona must have answered for me. A sociologist, an architect or urban planner, looking at the city from when the Romans settled it as Barcino, through its political and commercial development in the Middle Ages, to the rich texture left by Modernism, might analyse the city's magnetic attraction for tourists today. For me, Barcelona has become overlaid by memories of people and events so that certain corners now speak in my own voice. Gaudí, Picasso and Lorca have become personal experiences here but so has “the grandmother of Barcelona”, who for 6,000 years lay under three metres of soil until she was unearthed under the parking lot of the Boquería, the city's central market, right next to my home some 4 or 5 years ago. This Neolithic overtone to modern Barcelona has taken its place alongside the mad escapade of Columbus finally being able to show off his “New World treasures” to the Catholic Kings right here in the square outside the Tinell, the terrible consequence of the liquidation of the Jewish Call in the Gothic quarter, the ravages of Spain's Civil War, the long dictatorship and Barcelona's solidarity today with refugees. In this paper, I show how inadvertently through my work I have explored the question Barcelona put to me, answering a need to understand myself and all of us as part of an evolution that will continue even after we are no longer here to see it.