The images of wild boars running through Barcelona during the pandemic led Raül Garrigasait (Solsona, 1979) to Prophecy (Edicions de 1984), his second novel, where the wise man from Solsona turns them into a symbol of the imbalance in our world.
One day the scene of a wild boar in the middle of the Rambla comes to mind. Do you see the novel, there?
No, I start to see themes, especially the clash between the forest and the city.
The dissolution of culture.
Yes, it interests me because it is a way of imagining what we have inside each day. This thing between the animal background, these instincts that we have, and all the layers of repression and civilization that we try to make them endure, more or less.
We separate these two worlds, but language is typical of humans, it is also animal.
Of course. It is our origin. We are biology and civilization is a construction, but when we live in society we always presuppose that the other is a rational and free subject, and that therefore, despite having a natural basis, they have a rationality and freedom that are not determined. Totally by nature, because if we do not make this budget, the relationship with others does not work. We come from there, from that dark animality, but we live as if we were not just that, and that is where the tension is.
This culture and language that frees us at the same time imprisons us, depending on the access we have to them. You can only think what you are capable of thinking.
I am very confident in the expansive capacity of language, in the word, after all, reading makes us expand the linguistic possibilities of our life, and our life is a linguistic construction, and the more we expand it, the more life we will have.
We have a boar and a clash of civilizations, but it is not good and evil.
Good and evil are born of civilization. In nature that does not exist.
But in the novel he does oppose presumed opposites.
The moment when everything starts to take shape is when I imagine two characters, a father and a daughter, linked in two different worlds. Then the world of the prophets of the Bible enters, and from that image of the boar and the idea of prophecy everything arises.
We could reduce a good part of the literature to a debate between parents and children.
It’s possible, and in any case it sure is in the novel, because everything revolves around this relationship between a father and a daughter.
Today we are supposed to know how to parent, but relationships are as difficult as ever.
One thing that happens to us today is precisely that instead of having a clear and defined system of values, with firm value judgments, whatever it is, good or bad, it doesn’t matter, we are going to look for manuals that we do not quite believe but we try to apply. And in the relationship with our children there is nothing worse than an insecure parent, than a parent who doesn’t know what to do, who tries to apply something, but in reality he does the opposite of what he thinks he should do. The novel does not go into much, there, but it is true that this need to reinvent fatherhood and motherhood makes it difficult to act as a father and mother, because you do not have a model, but you do have a lot of will.
Here there is will, but also lack of communication.
In the novel there is a kind of misunderstanding that is traumatic. In fact, traumas are often misunderstood, and in this case it is linked to a painful experience. It happens in people’s lives, but especially in the relationship between parents and children, that sometimes there are times when something breaks by chance or due to a misunderstanding, and depending on when it happens, the break can last for years. , as in this case.
There is also a critique of power.
Yes, I would say that there is a bit of satire on the impotence, incompetence or incapacity of politicians.
But why are the people who are supposed to know sometimes the ones who know the least?
Life is unpredictable and anything can always happen, although I believe that in institutions, and I think in smaller terms, not necessarily in political situations, but when there is an atmosphere that promotes doing things well, so to speak, a situation in which you expect others to do things well because you have committed to it, in general they tend to work better. And this atmosphere is what often does not exist today. And that from the outset everyone wants to do it well.
“The reductionist applications of science to life scare me a little”
Were you tempted to turn the novel into a scientist with a very specific thesis?
No, because it is something that makes me very angry, in general, in life. Science is very interesting, it’s fascinating, but the reductionist applications of science to life are a little scary, at least for me. We have seen it clearly and that is why it was very clear to me. Here the scientist character is a veterinary professor, and in his case a nice thing happens, which is that he makes a whole scientific speech but it’s a scientific speech about living beasts that he can’t control either. Therefore, scientific discourse is an effort to control reality, to classify it, to order it, to dominate it, but it does so around a reality that it does not dominate and that ends up obsessing it, with that wild boar, Behemoth, which seeks.
From a distance, science may seem cold and sterile, but it is also emotional. “I love pigs,” she says.
In all the intellectual things that we are passionate about, deep down there are motivations that are very personal, very emotional if you want. That is the grace.
This second novel takes place in Barcelona… As the son of Solsona, won’t they blame him?
A wild boar going down the Rambla is much more fun! In addition, wild boars do not enter Solsona. They know very well that there is a limit and that there are Carlists inside, and it is better not to joke. The border between Collserola and Barcelona is very special, and very porous. And it is a global problem; in fact, in other places like Hong Kong or Berlin they also have a spectacular problem with wild boars. It is a phenomenon that is very difficult to control, and that is the result of the extreme humanization of nature that we have carried out: we have exterminated the predators, there are no wolves…
Get people to pick up Genesis and start reading it: it’s amazing! They are stories full of violence, lucidity, pain, everything that interests us”
You are an expert in the classical world, but here you go back further, to the Bible, which you say is much closer to this animal world, to these violent resonances, but also marks the border between the animal world and the developed world… We have not only lost religion, but also ritual, and that is where a good part of the current confusion stems from?
Something a bit strange happens to us with the Bible, and that is that we associate it with Catholicism, when in fact throughout history Catholics have read it very little, because Catholicism was built around a philosophical theology above all, and the Bible is a very puzzling text, and reading it just doesn’t fit in with philosophical theology. And by rejecting Catholicism we end up rejecting the Bible, but instead the Bible is a fascinating text. Get people to pick up Genesis and start reading it: it’s amazing! They are stories full of violence, lucidity, pain, everything that interests us. And for me it is great literature, but it goes further, because it is a founding text of many things and therefore it is a text where everything resonates.
Catalan version, here