One of my favorite moments was seeing/hearing Heberto Padilla read from Hans Magnus Enzensberger‘s “Sinking of the Titanic.” The book and poem are a critique of the changes in Cuba and include a line, something like, “Where is the poet, Heberto Padilla?”
Padilla, who had only recently been released from many years spent under house arrest, looked up and said: “Here am I. Here am I.” Then he laughed.
I had invited Padilla to come down from his new home in Princeton and talk in the Carrboro ArtCenter’s poetry series. It was easier for him to laugh in Carrboro than in Cuba, but he as a poet and writer wanted to be in a Spanish speaker/reading country and was uneasy about his new freedom which included a large dose of linguistic exile in the mix.
Since I have a lot of opportunity to read the various writings from Enzensberger (in translation) including his wonderful children’s book, The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure. I haven’t read his direct cultural criticism much.
While reading the Habermas entry at signandsignal, I found myself drawn to Enzensberger’s essay link on the sidebar. “The radical loser: Hans Magnus Enzensberger looks at the kind of ideological trigger required to ignite the radical loser – whether amok killer, murderer or terrorist – and make him explode.”