Sunflowers with Tomato

The Climate religion already has its iconoclasts. Two planetary suffragettes attacked van Gogh’s Sunflowers, a painting at which they threw a Warholian can of tomato soup to the cry of “Why do you protect art and not the planet?” In this time of permanent performance, the two maenads of the Earth Goddess applied the only principle of their theology—ago quia ineptum est [I do what is stupid]—against a poor canvas whose relationship with the climatic apocalypse is more than doubtful. Given that, according to the most serious scientific hypotheses, it is the cows’ windy breath that is to blame for the agony of our atmosphere, wouldn’t it have been more purposeful, more dignified, more coherent to throw the red lump on some Paulus Potter, for example?

The very purpose of the action does not seem to have been the subject of long meditations, for neither is it very comprehensible that the preservation of art and the preservation of the planet are mutually exclusive ends. Burning five-pound bills at the door of the Bank of England or “tomatoing” Royal Dutch Shell executives, for example, would have had a greater cause-effect relationship, always within that complex system of sympathetic magic that is Woke activism. What does not seem very logical or symbolic is to attack in effigy some defenseless sunflowers, innocent children of Mother Earth. But coherence, logic, sensible analysis of the real and the adequacy of responses to disturbing facts are anathema to Woke subjectivity, macho qualities that surely offend the empowered Ojancanas of the climatic Moloch.

The action of these damsels is the necessary consequence of the kind of education given in Western schools, where instruction has long since become indoctrination, merit anathema, and seriousness and intellectual rigor crimes. Anyone who has had the dubious honor of contemplating the achievements of modern pedagogy knows that performance has become a daily liturgy, a curricular coven, a teaching jalogüín (Halloween) in all educational institutions, where earlier teachers, books, experience and reason explained the sciences and the arts to future professionals, scientists, humanists and technicians. But as now the institutes, lyceums and academies have as a fundamental purpose that the young people explore their trusses and not their brains, the stimuli of the active life are no longer in front of the weak but necessary barrier of the spirit, of the contemplative life, of the intellectual vocation. Therefore, what the iconoclasts of the National Gallery carried out was the application to external reality of what has been common practice in academic centers for decades: Dadaism.

The tomato wallops at van Gogh are the culmination of four decades of anti-elitist, anti-hierarchical, anti-class, anti-racist, anti-macho, avant-garde, inclusive, feminist, resilient, non-binary, trans-speciesist and other long etcetera of antis and -ists that the reader may wish to add. Anything but classical, humanist and scientific.

I have no doubt that these prophets of nihilism have far surpassed the great artist of our time, the woman who best represents the aspirations and achievements of contemporary man (with apologies): Marina Abramovic, who will have to invent something to surpass the two bacchantes of London. Only one superior sacrilege comes to mind: throwing tomato, or pineapple juice, or Coca-Cola or sulfuric acid on some “masterpiece” of Frida Kahlo, the best artist in history, eclipsed until our times by a phallocratic conspiracy of silence. It is true that van Gogh was a sort of hirsute, red-haired, disoriented and suicidal Frida, but with a better technique (which, on the other hand, was not very difficult, either). I think, moreover, that the tomato streaks should remain on the painting, as a sample of what we could call “Hysteric Art.” Worse things have been seen in many exhibitions and have been priced at gold-premium. The National Gallery must pay fair market value for their work to the two girls, since their “action painting,” in addition, has served to make their museum become a trending topic. And isn’t that the chief end of art?

What can bring a museum closer to the people than the opportunity to throw a tomato at the Mona Lisa? Wasn’t that what Duchamp, Jarry and Picabia advocated? Is there anything more interactive and inclusive, more accessible to everyone? Besides, the Planet will be grateful.

If there is one good thing about Woke “education” is that the most valued artists are Rothko, Pollock and Mondrian, not the devalued butches of Titian, Rubens or Rembrandt. Therefore, future tomatinas will not get to (in theory) the representatives of European pseudo art—Boucher, Renoir or Ingres who objectified the female body and who will soon be banished from museums for offending genderist curators as much as they used to offend the confessors of queens. It will be Juan Gris, Miró, Tàpies and other geniuses of our era who will receive the public tribute of the tomato-pelting. Besides, a crimson streak in their works will not be too noticeable, either: it will actually make them more material, more organic—authentic art of the masses, genuine aesthetics of democracy.


Sertorio lives, writes and thinks in Spain. this review comes through the kind courtesy of El Manifesto.

The Debt to Beauty

It is the undoubted attraction, the beauty of women that leads men to become entangled in the combats of the eternal war of the sexes, never finished, never won.

There are those who have defined woman as a sphinx without mystery, without enigma, whose fascination is enclosed in appearance. Mystery or no mystery, it is her unquestionable attraction, her beauty, that leads men to become entangled in the combats of the eternal war of the sexes, never finished, never won, full of battles of attrition, of a few triumphant blows of the hand and of many months and years of trenches, barbed wire and constant, monotonogamous, stultifying bombardments. So much wastage and abundance of hendecasyllables, so many flaming and sublimated madrigals to always end up in a barren and soured bedlam: Dulcinea is always Aldonza and not vice versa. Such is the force and seduction of a simple, imaginary and unrealizable promesse de bonheur [promise of happiness], as the divine Stendhal would write. The beloved is a screen on which the lover projects his dreams, that is the quixotic misunderstanding essential to the whole love struggle, where animal impulses mingle with the fantasies of the spirit: the centaur in search of his Pallas.

For the other side—that of the sphinxes—which is the one with the strategic superiority and the most practical design, this war was resolved in a prosaic and binding objective, but very necessary for society: the family, the house, the polis, the market. That they lived happily ever after culminates all the narratives of the West, and it covers with illusion the inexorable need to reproduce the social body, to give continuity to something that is much more important than the vain and impossible happiness of individuals. Or, at least, this had been so until some members of the high castes decided to change the rules of the game and pervert the natural inclinations of human livestock with the spread of a poison that acts as a solvent of societies and civilizations: the search for an impossible abolition of reality so that even the most delirious fantasies, almost all of them purely corporeal and erotic, become real, something that, of course, cannot happen, but that makes the sphinxes stop thinking about their essential objective and replace it with a phantasm that only produces neurosis for them and great profits for those who invoke it. And when one of the sides—the strongest—is upset, the other is disoriented; the subtle balance is broken. This, fundamentally, is what El deber de lo bello [The Debt to Beauty], the recent novel by Javier R. Portella, is about.

Since the last century we knew that absurdity was the essential note of existence. But it is in this century that it has gone from being a simple intellectual or historical reference to become everyday life—the usual scenario of an increasingly ugly, puritanical, hysterical and imbecilic existence, a product imported from America but with European roots, especially Anglo-Saxon.

The protagonist of the novel, Hector, is overwhelmed (and how!) by the plagues of our time: political correctness, gender superstition and delirious feminism. Hector is the fulminated man, whose true love life was annihilated by Cristina, his former partner, and who seeks in extraordinary adventures the meaning of an existence that moves in a field of shadows where he longs for the light, but has the mania of looking for it inside all the tunnels. His erotic epiphany comes at the hand of Angelica, a prototype of the feminine ideal of our time, liberated but seductive, whose name comes in handy if we take into account that demons are also angels. Fantasy becomes reality for Hector, but it only brings him mild joys and constant ashes. Wounded by beauty and hopelessly addicted to its affairs, our postmodern Werther becomes entangled in a skein of sensual labyrinths that torment him. This comes to an extreme when he encounters a sophisticated sphinx, Margot, with echoes of Faust and Bulgakov, who leads him to his inevitable Walpurgis Night.

All of this is told with humor and with a tone that is more French than Spanish, for it is not a traditional thing to describe with elegance the deviations of the flesh, to untie with care such tender ties. Portella draws a humorous but deep portrait of an empty and full society, satisfied to the point of stupidity, a portrait that takes us from the classrooms of the pathetic Santiago Carrillo High School or from a sordid back room of the Ministry of Equality to the mansions of the European oligarchy; Hector goes through all the circles of the amorous hell of our time, of this unbridled chaos, of the glorified vulgarity that can only be redeemed by the cult of beauty, something that the protagonist misses throughout the novel and that only shines in a few moments—as that which they call “happiness.”


Sertorio lives, writes and thinks in Spain. this review comes through the kind courtesy of El Manifesto.

Radio Moscow Calling…

All they have left is the radio. The rebels no longer have any other instrument than this primitive voice machine to make themselves heard. Nor does the entire population understands them—Arabic has become the second language of the Third Republic and its learning has priority over that of Spanish, or that simplified things that is now called “Spanish.”

The official from the communications department of the Ministry of Equity connected the old transmitters and listened in. Soon, from Moscow, the octogenarian Juan Manuel de Prada will sit in front of a microphone to deliver his subversive message to the few remaining listeners in the Peninsular Confederation of Sovereign Republics, once known by the now-forbidden name of Spain (the New Penal Code punishes with fines of six hundred thousand euros those who call the confederate territory “Spain” and those who call themselves “Spaniards”).

Civil servant number 593,582 of the Ministry of Equity was a lucky man. He had obtained his job in a special promotion that included, exceptionally and with great protests from the female civil servants, sixty white and heterosexual men, especially necessary for the maintenance of the facilities and for certain technical matters, such as, for example, the radio.

The radio was the only mass medium that had escaped the Ministry’s checkers, the only voice that was still marooned and wild, unaffected by all the blockades of the computer networks set up by the agencies of the Global Information System.

593. 582—the old Christian names had been replaced by numbers in the Ministry, the initial phase of a project that was intended to be extended to the entire native minority, so that they would not cling to old signs of identity—tuned in to Radio Moscow.

On the other side of the sea of Hertzian waves was a community of six thousand Spaniards of the old days, who had preferred exile when the Confederation made it obligatory to eat seaweed and insects, to be vaccinated twice a week, to speak and write in simplified Spanish, and to read only the books recommended by the Ministry of Equity.

This last measure, apparently of little importance because nobody read, caused costly expurgations of public and private libraries where supremacist texts of all kinds were stored: from Goethe to Plato, from Calderón de la Barca to Gerardo Diego. It took more than a year to destroy millions of volumes that transmitted the values of the old patriarchal culture, an operation that included classical music, which no one had been listening to for more than twenty years by ministerial order.

When the Minister of Equity burned Goya’s Majas, Murillo’s Inmaculadas and Titian’s Danae in front of Madrid’s Botanical Gardens, the long work of multicultural inclusion, initiated at the beginning of the century by Zapatero, was at last completed.

It was then that thousands of Spaniards could stand it no longer and went into exile in the only European country that remained Christian: Russia, the hereditary enemy of progressivism. From Moscow they began to send subversive messages against the Confederation, in which music by Falla and Albéniz was played, where Quevedo and Bécquer were recited, where they explained what the Reconquest was, what the work of Spain in America was, what the war of 1936 was.

The verifiers managed to block all the channels of diffusion of these messages except the radio, which continued with stubborn presence on the airwaves. That is why 593.582 waited for the moment of Prada’s message to begin jamming it, while meditating on the State Plan of Emasculation, an initiative of the Ministry to castrate the Spanish Christian population and thus put an end to any possibility of Eurocentric supremacism in the Confederation.

“It must not be such a bad thing since the youth of the Popular Party have signed up en masse,” he thought. “It is an essential requirement to obtain a position. And in the Confederation the only source of employment and salaries is politics: the last private company closed down more than ten years ago.”

While 593,582 was meditating on whether or not he should castrate himself to get a promotion and stop being a gender pariah, Prada’s unmistakable, Chestertonian voice started to sound over the airwaves…


Sertorio lives, writes and thinks in Spain. this review comes through the kind courtesy of El Manifesto.


Featured image: “A Young Radio Listener,” ca. 1926 (Mary Evans Picture Library).