Issue #65 Castroneirics: A Dreamitaph for Fidel (The Exquisite Cadaver)

Castroneirics: A Dreamitaph for Fidel (The Exquisite Cadaver)

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Illustration by Alen Lauzán Falcón.
Issue #65
May 2015

Dreaming of Fidel. Cubans, though none have yet
to admit it, have begun to dream of Fidel. It is
a posthumous dream, one that bodes ill. A
premonition. A sleepless fear. A final
humiliation of the Premier by his fellow countrymen—
technically his troops.

And there is also the sense that we are doing away with
Fidel: the timely nightmare that, by force of nature—
and of violence—we Cubans now need a lingering Fidel,
half-mummified, hoarse, his skin petrified or putrefied,
fecalphobic, senile or whatnot, but still Fidel.

Lacking icons, we now depend on that dreamed-up
image—unwillingly, even—in order to
continue being who we were, after half a century
of despotic dictatorship with an angelic twist. I,
who am not quite sure how to say it: Revolution …

We dream of this, both within and outside the Island. In
Havana’s socialist torpor, or in the hyper-Havana that is
the Mephistophelean malls of Miami, we dream it.
In the ever more cosmopolitan Cuban ghettos, and
in the cemeteries filled with bones of an ever lessening
local color, we dream.

We fall asleep in the middle of the day and dream of it.
Like zombies on a bus bound for home,
nodding off without realizing we’ve already missed
our stop, dreaming of it. Chewing the gum of
victory as we drive down a Florida expressway
or march in a militaristic parody right across
Revolution Square, dreaming, ever dreaming of it.

Children and the elderly. Men and women. White and
Black. All of them mixed, and yet immiscible. Like
water and vinegar. Like the Revolution and the future
which was ever coming to pass. Like Fidel and the collective
dream that Cubans now conjure of him, both outside
and within the Island: how do we diagnose geographies after
a cancerous century of geopolitics?

Dreaming that we dream of Fidel. One after another,
all of us together, dreaming this same, shameful
dream in harmony. The Revolution is a sounding board,
a watch that now has just a bit of
residual tension in the springs. A zigzagging, pessimistic-tock:
reading oneiromantically between the lines.

It’s best just to lie to our psychoanalyst in Brickell,
Barcelona, Santiago de Chile, or West New York. When
being interrogated by officials, it’s best to pretend
in exchange for pesos issued by the Minister of the Interior.
And it’s best not to confess anything to Cuba’s Catholic Cardinal,
a profane pastor who would later confess everything
to Fidel in another dream.

Blame gelds us all as Cubans. Guilt has trained us
to be a submissive breed. The shame of feeling sorry
for our perpetual dependence on a Founding Father.
We don’t want to be accomplices to Fidel’s eternity,
just as we are about to show off our best clothes
at his wake.

But we cannot walk through the world without Him. We
lose our way if we cannot count on His center of mass—
comfort for the masses. This is why we are surprised and
not surprised by these unfathomable dreams of Him.

Too many decades trapped in too much country.
Cuba is a scaffold, a conspiracy theory on a cerebral
level. We float on Fidel, on a raft of barbarism.
Castro is a hell of a cork who won’t allow the Island
to sink, preventing we Cubans from drowning in peace.

It seeps out of us, not just from every nook and cranny, but also
from our dreams. It leaves us. We exude Fidels through every
pore, we savor them in every bite of Creole food, we rhyme
them in each bit of bad poetry and in every perfect piece of
plagiarism: here the oneiric yearning, the long lost transparency
remains …

On and even deeper within the Island. Fidel directing
the firing squads from the La Cabaña fortress;
Fidel designing the underground trenches that have turned
the Cuban capital into Swiss cheese. Outside and far beyond
the Island. Fidel infiltrating the capitalist studios of
Radio y Televisión Martí; Fidel applauding from the runway
while Cuban-American supermodels like Vida Guerra,
whose name is a spontaneous metaphor
for our unepic little epoch.

Fidel on the cover of Playboy for his sixtieth birthday,
Wednesday the 13th of August, 1986. Fidel as the official
shield on the red passports for deserting the
proletarian paradise—and the paracivilian police.
Fidel swindling the other post-paradise exiles that are
the bills, the taxes, and the online goodwill of Obamacare.
Fidel with no aspirations and now with no animus,
while we Cubans dream of ourselves,
even confounding the image and the likeness
of the shapeless specter of a Morpheus called Fidel.

Perhaps we are those dreamers of an uncivilized
Bertolucci, a race of New Men who then dreamt up
Ernesto Guevara—AKA Ché. In the left hand,
the AKM rifle of virtue. With the right, depositing
the tribute of a dark-penny-party-parted-down-
the-middle in the jukebox in the last nationalized bar.
The Power of the People: that indeed was power … Not
one drop of water in the sea … Only the crystals crack, while
the men sleep standing up …

We are happy here, feeling one hundred percent Cubano.
We have fallen ill, true, but we have yet to be
evicted. We have a fistful of pills that are ineffective
when it comes to stopping this dream, and droves of
free doctors conferred by the State in a clinical,
cyclical referendum from which we can’t even manage
to centrifugate ourselves.

Sleeping while standing up. Or with the neck resting on
a pillow stuffed with op-eds from Granma, the political
pamphlet from the only political party that has no
expiration date. Standing up or in choirs committed to
an organic—though never orgasmic—intellect: I have been a
Communist, all throughout my life, goodbye my darling,
goodbye my darling, goodbye my darling, bye bye,
and Communists all must sleep …

Cubans have become the orphans of Icarus, not unlike
Odysseus without his Ithaca. With no wings to fly, and a
Cuba to which we cannot return. A carnival of siren songs
beneath a baton-wielding Cerberus with 1959 heads,
beneath the boot-trodden palindrome of 9591 bodies.

From orgiastic to an ergastulum. From moral indolence
to material indigence. From tribal enthusiasm to
the skeptical stampede. From semiotic solidarity to
the tobacco knife that nicks your face, papi, or your ass,
mami, so that you learn some respect.

From the museum of historical anniversaries to the
mausoleum of the Retrovolution. From the marvels of Marxism
to the miracles of marketing. From History with the capital H
of a nuclear Holocaust to the lowercase h of a humorous
history of molecular hirony. Wunderkammer, Wunderkafka.
We shall overcuba, we shall overcuba, we shall overcuba
one day …

Erotic schizophrenics from dream to dream. From
lucidity to libido. Onanistic oneirics, executing the
most faithful fellation on the seminal speeches of “El Caballo"
Fidel, Stud in Chief of a streetcar named, at times,
“duty” and otherwise known as “pain”—a puppet theater
without puppeteers, the last act of intrigue, hypothalamus of
the vigilant watching the vigil. Oh, not anymore …

There can be no more awakening on the Island. Or we awake only
to realize we are awash in another sea of delirium. And within
someone else’s delirious dream. Swimming in a liquid nothingness
covered by a milky skin created not so much by tears but by
rheumy sleep. Bailing buckets of Cuban tears evaporated
by the unbearable insularity of being, each of them
bearing a tattoo of NaCl on their cheeks.

Nationalism as insurmountable mountains of salt. Eons of
Iberian ions. What power does the sun have against a people
who enjoy the rhetorical rhythms of their own narcolepsy?
Hear the bugles bang … Uno, dos y trés … Uno, dos, y trés …
What a cool way … What a cool way … My conga bangs like Che …

Sleepiness as an anesthetic. Ah, if Fidel were to escape
at the precise moment in which he has reached his
greatest definition. Amnesia, amnion. Amateur
shit from the multimillion dollar grants from the
leftist academy. Morbid morality from the rotting right.
Unethical ethnography, lifeless biographies. Cremating the
Dantesque concept of the “comandante.” Serialized
editorials in the Old York Times. The Rockefidel Foundation.
Who puts the bell in the Cubans’ castroistic catalepsy?

We appear as Poe characters. A Ravenlution of atonic,
catatonic little beings. The catcher in the Ryevolution.
But in the end we’re just children dreaming about their
dad: millions of Sleeping Beauties, virgins poisoned
by the fruit of the moringa tree with the thorns like a
marabú bush.

Peter Pans with Stockholm syndrome. Passengers on the
Mariel boat lift, seasick from the surf. Scarfaces from an
antiestablishment Oliver Stoned. Naive northalgia. Rites
broken to reconcile the Cuban nation with itself, at least
as long as this REM sleep continues, this symphony playing
Do-Re-Mi in D sharp major, this Oedipus Rev, this sinister
siesta of the Rewindvolution.

The strange thing is that dreams of Fidel are always
silent, fairly unfocused, filmed with a high-speed slow-motion
lens, and our retinas are blinded by the high-contrast
atmosphere. Intimate and intimidating neorealism. And
that massive muteness, that vocal void, that hollow echo is
our untimely revenge against the fifty-year monologue
with which Fidel mesmerized us.

What no Cuban knows is that everything is happening
to every other Cuban in the exact same way.
That the curse of utopias is never personal,
but rather collective. And that this daily dozing
is not announcing the fall of Fidel, but rather that
of his faithful: we, the sleepwalkers, to which Castro
do we owe our survival?

Suddenly we find ourselves neither inside or outside the game,
but rather with nothing to play. The dominos are stuck.
The genie with the tuft of hair extinguished Aladdin’s lamp.
From siá cará to San Finishin. Santero-socialist spoils mixed
with bitter escuba shrubs and cursed water. The courage, the
discouragement: the fountain of faith has ceased to flow. There is
no game, but then again, nor are there any moves. Being in
Zugzwang, the beginning and end of the Cuban dreamverse.
Cubaom …

The Cuban who moves now does not appear in the photo
of self-transition: from dictatorship to dictocracy. For the
Cuban who moves now, it is better to die before he is killed
like Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá: Christs of Democracy with
the criminal Cubansummatum est of the Cuban Catholic Cardenal.
From biopolitics to necropolitics, and for the cruel one who
tears out the heart which beats inside of me,
I nurture Castro and Ortega …

May the muted dreams not impede the dreams in English.
The language in league with the enemy. Everything tempts
the United States to reach out and touch down, with that
extra force, upon our Latin American lands where fidelism
is the most fertile. The carrion Caribbean. The fideloma that
ultimately metastasizes into ballots rather than bullets.

May being silent never prevent a dream from being
deafening. The whisper of a totalitarian Tatlin: the
cry that catapults Cubans generation after
degeneration, like little sleepwalking animals. We had
two homelands: Cuba and the night. Or were they
one and the same?

Dreaming of Fidel. Cubans, though none have yet
to admit it, will never stop dreaming about Fidel. That
murderous dream constitutes us as an impossible people.
We gesticulate with the same rudeness as him. We think
with his same impoverished perversion. We repeat his
argot of war, both in the tribune and in the tribunal,
applauding our out-of-fashion supermodel, Muerte Guerra,
whose name is more familiar to us in dreams than that of
our own mother: Satán María de la Sierra Maestra,
ora pro nobis.

Or perhaps the idea of us no longer exists. Absolutely
apocryphal, faced with the false fossil of Fidel, we are now
all a bit of him. A crust of Castro covering the soul,
our castrated spirituality. And yet we also have the
sense that we are aborting Fidel. The intuition that,
by force of habit—and by vileness—we, the Cuban people,
are for the first time what is undreamable for Fidel:
we have finally become the fetus of a future of which
the Caudillo could never conceive.

Thus, our dreams of Fidel are neither a tribute
nor an interment, but rather a cenotaph: a crypt
without its exquisite cadaver. A stateless palindrome.
A crossword puzzle without a clue. A tongue twister
for the illiterate. A communion at the boundaries of the State
and of God. A vaudevillian verity: that every Revolution is
both sleep and dreams, which are themselves merely
the dreams of dreams.

Poetry, Cuba
Return to Issue #65
I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for subscribing to e-flux

Feel free to subscribe to additional content from the e-flux platform.