25 May 2006

Sold Out, not a Sellout: Eduardo Galeano

A bit of a problem in a city that has so many great things going on: conflicts. You buy tickets in advance for events you don't want to miss, and then something comes up and you're out the money. Maybe not very much money, but it starts to seem wasteful, just the same.

For example, this year I bought tickets for a half dozen Nextbook events and had to miss five of them (mostly due to being out of town).

So I started to think I shouldn't buy tickets until I was absolutely certain I'd be attending.

Which might make sense, except (inevitably), when you wait to buy tickets, you find the event you're absolutely certain you want to attend is SOLD OUT.

This happened to me the other day, when I decided to definitely go see Eduardo Galeano. Actually, I had decided weeks before, but didn't know who (if anyone) would be joining me, so I waited to get the tickets. And the event was SOLD OUT. I was discouraged, but Victor suggested we show up anyhow and see if there were no-shows or ticket returns. (We saw Galeano more than 15 years ago, in Boston, when he was on his Book of Embraces tour. Victor still has his autographed copy.)

So we did, and ended up getting pretty excellent seats. And Galeano was wonderful. Here are some tidbits from his talk.

On being asked "how do you speak truth to power?" Galeano answered, "I don't speak to power. Power is deaf."

On hope: "I refuse to believe that tomorrow is another name for today. Change is possible."

"If you don't want to be mute, begin by not being deaf."

"We are not obliged to repeat history, but to avoid repeating it, we have to know it; we need to recover our memory."

Listening to him made you want to be a better person. Listening to him almost made you feel like you already were a better person. It made you never want to tell another lie, or tolerate one being told to you.

After I get done with Anna Karenina I'm planning to read Victor's dog-eared copy of Open Veins of Latin America. I guess that's part of becoming a better person. For me, reading grim history is always a challenge. I was never able to get through Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, though I did read Harvey Wasserman's. Too depressing. But it's important not to just ignore parts of the past that are unpleasant.

Or parts of the truth that are unpleasant.

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