JONATHAN Blitzer, in The New Yorker writes about meeting Javier Marias, the Spanish writer most likely e to get the Nobel Prize. I know of Marias only as the writer of the unforgettable first page of the novel, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me—a spectral line from Shakespeare’s Richard III. Guy dates a woman; gets her into bed; and she dies there.
How to explain and to whom.
For me, the nightmare date. And it can happen. You always get far more than you bargained for, at least from my experience. If something good can f*ck up, it will. In Marias’s latest novel, Thus Bad Begins, a character berates his wife, not only for having an affair behind his back in the distant past but for telling him about it in the present.
“If only you’d never told me,” he tells his wife; “if only you’d kept me in the dark. When you embark on a deception you should maintain it right until the end. What is the point of setting the record straight, of suddenly telling the truth,” he chides the wife.
The novel is set in 1980. After Franco died in the 70s, his lieutenants and the king set about legalizing everything bad they had done or allowed to be done by legalizing all opposition parties—especially the communist party—and granting a general amnesty that covered dissenters. And of course themselves, the fascists. This was known as the “pacto del olvido,” the agreement to forget.
“There was no other way to do it peacefully,” said Marias.
So why can’t we agree to forget about the Marcos dictatorship?
The reason is compelling.
General Francisco Franco launched his mutiny against the democratic republic because half of Spain was conservative Catholic and the other half were liberals and commies; a bunch of fu*king atheists. And as with Spaniards, it wasn’t just talk like it is with us and Americans.
Blah, blah, blah…blah, blah. F*ck it.
When they believe, they fight to the death for their belief. They kill for it too. Many priests and nuns were killed at the altar and in the convent. Churches were burned. After Franco won everyone suspected of being a liberal or commie was shot. And women on the wrong side were fed sexually to the Spanish African Legion and mutilated. The long and the short of it: the Spanish Civil War was a real open war, between people of courage, with sincere if murderous combatants on both sides. There was honor in either side of the divide.
Martial law, on the other hand, was a sneak attack, totally without facts to explain it and legal foundation to justify it—until our Supreme Court, in an act of refined cowardice declared it to be…not illegal. Not legal—for that would eternally shame the Court beyond any hope of redemption. Just not illegal.
In short, there was no legal obstacle for martial law going into full force and effect.
After that, it was robbery right and left—not an ideological vindication—and random murder at every opportunity. That is why there can be no agreement and never any assent to forget about it. Because all the honor was on one side, and no honor attached to the Marcos regime—its adherents then nor its socially undistinguished defenders today.
There you go. Another confusion cleared.
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