For the people of Priorat, Roser Vernet (El Masroig, 1955) is quite an institution, as an activist for the region and founder in 2006 of the Center Quim Soler, Literature and Vi in El Molar, with a great job of dissemination and cultural creation.
After having written throughout his life –among others, he was part of the latest incarnation of Ofèlia Dracs–, it is not until now that he has assembled a body of literary prose in the mig del món (Publisher Club). His book, however, is neither properly a work of memoirs nor of autofiction, but a “ barrija-barreja ” of texts “that he was leaving here and there, by hand, by machine and by computer”. The bulk of the book consists of pieces with an essay tone about the landscape and memory, linked to reflections that come from Priorat but that can well be transferred to other realities, because although she places “lo mig del món” at the end of Lloar, she also it is wherever we are. And there are also, without warning the reader, texts that are pure fiction and that at the same time maintain an investigative tone around the mystery of identity, to build a mosaic that explores their world through words.
The search for its own language is one of the aspects that stands out, often linked to its historical reality, such as the pelinxo –“the last representative of the lineage of used rags”, which are “an element as modest as it is necessary”–. “I am interested in the vindication of speech, framed in a world that tends to excessively homogenize things, and I wanted to reflect my idiolect, beyond a lexicon that is not in the dictionary, because there is no standard for northwestern Catalan,” he explains. Vernet. Now, the author is clear that she “would not want that to be the subject at any time.” Still, she takes the space to write about her distinctions between loneliness and loneliness, or the various fogs that trap us: “Sometimes we all use the same words, but we are not saying the same thing,” he says. And he still insists: “If something makes me panic, it’s homogeneity, because I think it’s the death of anything.”
It is about reflecting “the relationship with the place and how the place makes me who I am, rather than explaining war stories,” he says. And it is that the reader will not find, for example, the story of his exile at the end of the seventies –as a militant of the radical independentist left”–, but he will find a part of this intimate and literary experience: “There is always a circularity between the go and come back, be what you are and then stop being. There is a paradox between this rooting that is the center of the world, which is where Our Lord set the compass, and at the same time this constant movement”, he says, recalling the phrase he found on a wall in Venice: “The departure is nothing more than the beginning of the journey back home”.
A movement at its own pace, because “despite the deficitwhich I also claim, we live in an absurd acceleration that contaminates everything, but here you can close the door and get out ”.
It is a world seen from the four elements, earth, water, fire and air, with all its derivatives and differences in nuances, such as the distinction between air and wind… “They are the most primitive, most primordial things, from before we were, and they can condition the rest. Now we find ourselves with the problem of water, but there are also the fires that result from its lack, the air we breathe, and the land that supports it and supports it, and I still don’t know how it does it”.
A debut that comes now, which “coincides at a time when I loosen up a bit in my other activities, not in the world of books, precisely, but in all the other cacaos in which I am always involved. And I give myself more time, because before writing always came second or third or fourth place, there were other emergencies”.
A claim in Unesco
Vernet was coordinator of Prioritat, the association that sought that in the 2019 Unesco declared this landscape a World Heritage Site in a joint Priorat-Montsant-Siurana candidacy. So it was not possiblebut the proposal still stands. She doesn’t see it as a failure: “The region’s self-esteem has improved, so not everything has to go through the wine boom,” she explains. But she writes that you have to be alert: “The pandemic of laziness, which is parented by names and cognoms and vaccines, will help to clear up, will explode. Return clientelism and atavique practices that may not have disappeared from the whole. But she has to continue ”(The pandemic of neglect, which her relative with her name and surnames and vaccines helped to spread, will wreak havoc. Patronage and atavistic practices that never completely disappeared return. But she has to continue).