The silenced and the masses

By Francesc de Carreras. El País. 13. Dec. 2016.

Nuria Amat has just published a novel under the significant title of The sanatorium (ED Books, Barcelona). Reading it is like plunging into the imperceptible but threatening totalitarian risks of our time. Even if the sacred word is not named, it is clear that Amat is referring to the country in which she lives, Catalonia: “I live in a sick country and its scenery suggests that I will grow old here.” Thus begins the novel. But she does not hide that the rest of the world is being contaminated of the Catalan drift.

I have said that The sanatorium is a novel of ideas. True. It is also a political novel, as is Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It is political because it deals with the dangers of individual freedom, plain freedom, not only ours but of all. That to which our civilization aspired, at least from the enlightened age, runs the risk of extinction without being noticed. Hence the importance of this shocking book: a warning for us to be aware of the situation.

The sanatorium, according to Amat, is an “artificial redoubt, monothematic, serial and submitted to a slogan controlled remotely from the heights, day and night, by patriotic comets.” In that scenario, they quietly confront the “silent” with “the mass”. “The masses,” she says, “are consolidated in a unitary block that prevents any transgression. The masses play with possessing the unique truth in its favour thanks to having been cooked for years from a compound of tricks, startles, frauds and pretendings thousands. The masses do not hear or see what they do not want to see or hear. What is unique to the masses consists of inventing a specific and devastating enemy. Therefore: fictitious. Distorted. Only essential to give foundation to them. ” But in the sanatorium also live the silent, those who, like Amat herself, despite suffering death in life, oppose the masses, they mean, sing and shout what they think. Otherwise, they have no other way than to “mute and resist”.

The book is not descriptive, it is not sociology, it is a literary allegory. But it is not far from reality. A couple of days ago, the young people of Catalan Civil Society, a non-independence entity, announced at the  Universitat Autónoma of Barcelona the screening of the documentary: Dissidents: the price of democracy in nationalist Catalonia. They were attacked by the cries of “fascists”, “viva Terra Lliure” and similar expressions. Professor Fernández Alonso stated: “Nothing happens here until you present yourself in the public space defending non-nationalist approaches. Then the most radical will attack you and the rest will be silent. ” The masses, the silenced¨