Susan Sontag: una conciencia disidente – Sebastián Gámez Millán

Susan Sontag: una conciencia disidente – Sebastián Gámez Millán

Es una figura polifacética e intersticial que no se sabe a ciencia cierta dónde ubicar: ¿Escritora? ¿Periodista? ¿Ensayista? Filmó algunos cortometrajes, dirigió teatro y cultivó diversos géneros, desde la novela y el diario hasta el artículo y la crítica, pasando por el ensayo en sus múltiples variantes. No era una escritora corriente y, menos aún, una narradora, pues a pesar de haber publicado una novela, Bajo el volcán, entre las habilidades de un escritor no estaba tan dotada para la imaginación y la fábula como para la crítica cultural.

Por eso es más brillante en sus ensayos, en sus artículos y en sus discursos que en otros textos suyos. Ahí es donde muestra sus principales habilidades como escritora: en su capacidad para analizar y radiografiar el mundo en que vivimos, en su coraje para denunciar, ya sea escribiendo sobre un viaje, una fotografía, un libro o una película. Ahí es donde se muestra en su plenitud intelectual y moral, disidente, insobornable y firme como un faro que nos ilumina.

Quienes la conocieron más íntimamente cuentan que no le gustaba acomodarse, que cada vez que sentía que se acomodaba emprendía una nueva aventura, como cuando se fue a Sarajevo durante la guerra y preparó la representación de Esperando a Godot, de Samuel Beckett. No solo era su estilo de vida; había asumido que como escritora desempeñaba el papel de un referente moral, aunque como cualquier referente moral mantenía cierta distancia con el papel que otros le atribuían.
Sin duda era una mujer muy fuerte: aguantó las sacudidas del cáncer en repetidas ocasiones, enfermedad a la que le dedicó uno de sus ensayos más valientes y peculiares, El cáncer y sus metáforas. Pero esta enfermedad no solo no le impidió seguir viviendo, sino lo que es aún más importante, no le impidió seguir viviendo bien, es decir, haciendo lo que ella amaba: leer, escribir, viajar, ver películas, recorrer exposiciones de fotografías y de arte, rodearse de los seres elegidos y queridos.

Y esa fortaleza no solo se ha manifestado en la resistencia de su cuerpo; estallaba en sus ensayos y artículos, rebelándose contra modas, tendencias y gustos imperantes. En uno de sus más celebrados escritos, Contra la interpretación, denuncia el exceso de interpretaciones en el que vivimos (“interpretosis” lo llamaría Gilles Deleuze), diagnóstico que en cierto modo coincide con otro de los más agudos críticos de nuestro tiempo, George Steiner, que se ha mostrado crítico contra “la cultura del epílogo”, la cultura del comentario del comentario. En su lugar Sontag reivindicó “la erótica de las obras”.

Sin embargo, a menos que me equivoque, la erótica de las obras no es incompatible con el ejercicio de interpretar, quizá ineludible. Al contrario, buena parte de la crítica más selecta y edificante, buena parte de las interpretaciones más esclarecedoras y profundas, surge de esa erótica, como los ensayos de Thomas Stearns Eliot, los de Jorge Luis Borges, los de Octavio Paz, los de Umberto Eco o los del último Tzvetan Todorov. ¿Acaso sus lecturas de Beckett o Sebald (autor cuyo reconocimiento público no sé cuánto le debe a la lectura de Sontag) no surgen de una relación erótica? Nunca se insistirá lo suficiente en que lo erótico no está presente de manera única y excluyente en lo físico; como casi todo, está más bien en la feliz conjunción de lo sensible y lo intelectual. Podríamos invertir aquella frase de la Edad Media que decía: “No hay nada en el intelecto que no haya pasado antes por los sentidos” y declarar que “no hay nada físico que al mismo tiempo no sea imaginario o mental”.

Quizá algunos de sus ensayos que más perduren sean los dedicados a la fotografía, donde, siguiendo los pasos de su admirado Walter Benjamin (la “Breve antología de citas” que recoge al final de Sobre la fotografía es un homenaje al sueño de Benjamin de componer un libro completamente de citas), puede considerarse una de las más destacadas pensadoras de la fotografía: “Al enseñarnos un nuevo código visual, las fotografías alteran y amplían nuestras nociones de qué vale la pena mirar y qué tenemos derecho a observar. Son una gramática y, aún más importante, una ética de la visión”.

Con la proliferación de los móviles y las redes sociales el papel de la fotografía y de las imágenes en nuestro mundo no ha hecho sino incrementarse hasta límites insospechados, como parecía intuir Sontag en la década de los 70 del pasado siglo: “Es común que quienes han visto algo bello lamenten no haber podido fotografiarlo. Tanto éxito ha tenido la cámara en su función de embellecer el mundo que las fotografías han relegado al mundo como medida de lo bello. (…) Las fotografías crean lo bello y –a través de generaciones de imágenes fotográficas– lo desgastan” . Su uso y abuso se ha democratizado. Y el ejercicio de la democracia, cuando no va acompañado de una adecuada formación, implica a menudo trivialización y banalización.

Aun siendo anterior, Sobre la fotografía me parece más profundo que su última reflexión sobre esta materia, Ante el dolor de los demás. Pero una de las funciones de los intelectuales es pensar su tiempo, y, como una intelectual imprescindible, en este último ensayo vuelve a pensar en el mundo en que vivimos y, ante tal proliferación de fotografías e imágenes, que nos pueden anestesiar la sensibilidad, si no lo han conseguido ya, nos interpela acerca de cómo tenemos que mirar esas fotografías e imágenes a través de las cuales nos asomamos al mundo: con compasión, que es “el arte de la telepatía sensible” según Milan Kundera o, lo que es lo mismo, con humanidad, para que no seamos cómplices de la indiferencia hacia nuestros semejantes, sin los cuales no podemos concebirnos nosotros.

Concluyamos esta presentación de Susan Sontag con un poema de José María Velázquez-Gaztelu, que la evoca en medio de la vida, en medio de la guerra, con esa mirada suya tan compasiva y humana como crítica y disidente:

Vier Jahreszeiten Hamburg

En su mirada está el relámpago de un niño en el instante de morir,
en la mirada de Susan Alí pierde los brazos y las piernas,
Alí pierde a sus padres con ráfagas cargadas de ceniza,
colgado en los escombros, columpiando su dolor en una loca
carrera de mujer, se apaga el resplandor del bombardeo,
el cuerpo desmayado entre las manos de Susan que camina en el vacío
de las calles abatidas de Bagdad, el ladrido tembloroso al extinguirse
el llanto de Sufian, ese otro niño encarcelado que se esconde del verdugo,
Sarajevo entre ruinas, la sombra de Godot, la biblioteca, los jirones
de niebla desangrando los sudarios en viejos hospitales de Tikrit y de Basora.
Se descorre el telón en este hotel con los cuadros de ricos mercaderes,
lámparas y espejos que derraman sus brillos azulados
en el lago donde Hamburgo se sumerge,
aparece reflejado su magnético perfil, contemplo en la vigilia
la máquina gigante de la guerra, la fosa y el alud de los cadáveres, el viejo
ayuntamiento al otro lado, el Rathaus, un pájaro de vidrio
navegando en el fondo de la noche,
los canales que palpitan al calor de los dorados
destellos de las aguas, en la clínica de Kindy Alí tapa su miedo
con sábanas de óxido, refugia su temor en el esmalte
fugaz de aquella lágrima cayendo por los ojos
sin luz de Susan Sontag.

Sebastián Gámez Millán

_________________________________________

1. S. Sontag, “En la caverna de Platón”, recogido en Sobre la fotografía, trad. Carlos Gardini, Barcelona, Edhasa, 1996, p. 13.

2. S. Sontag, “El heroísmo de la visión”, reunido en Sobre la fotografía, 1996, op.

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