The Guadalajara International Works Fair has come to an end and the herd that animates and inhabits it has spread in all directions: thousands of visitors (250,000, according to the official count, a considerable number remaining given of the long litany of health restrictions), and hundreds of writers, editors, copying professionals, academics and journalists. A herd that wants to portray Mexican power as homogeneous and united in a so-called “conservatism”, but which in truth is extremely diverse and cannot be restrained.
In addition to the huge offer of books in the exhibition space (240,000 titles from 1,223 publishers, that’s no small thing), the plurality of the fair takes place in many spaces. For example, in tables and forums that bring together different generations and literary aesthetics, different backgrounds and positions on social sciences, popular science, politics and social issues. In the countless hallway meetings between friends and acquaintances (and, why not, even rivals) and the subsequent lunches, dinners and after-meals that give way to friends, to complicity (which should never be confused with conspiracies) and new editorial and cultural alliances. . Appointments where offers and future planned contracts are presented, where a young writer meets those who will eventually distribute his work, or a young publisher scouts for new talent for his label.
But for the benefit of these activities, which some puritans will read with crumpled cream as “industrial things”, the fair is above all a cultural festival for the benefit and pleasure of its readers. For thousands of people, it represents an opportunity to discover new voices and to discuss with authors and guests in a proximity that few spaces, not even networks, offer. It must happen to the millions of young readers who have faced their first and most cherished recital at the FIL, and to the thousands who have defined their academic and artistic or scientific tasks there. And what about the other thousands of passers-by who have found all kinds of books on their stalls to have fun, enjoy themselves, escape the world with its bright and dark corners or get to know it better.
Civilization is not the friend of politics. Politicians demand submission, discipline and “sacrifice for the cause” and fear critical thinking like the plague. And politics, in addition, believes that the only explanation for everything is in itself, it is to feed, in the schemes and disagreements of the bigwigs of the institutions involved in the organization of the fair and of those who want to appropriate them or make them disappear. .
Who would like to see the FIL reduced or dissolved? (And by that I don’t mean the envious ones who would like to be stars but to whom nobody bends over or reads their volumes) Who would benefit from leaving the countryside and the city without one of their main spaces for discussion and intellectual coexistence ? The answer is simple: to those who think that the only word that should be heard is their own and that the only ones who should raise their voice are those of the twisters who accept and spread it.
Of course, there is no perfect cultural initiative. But the FIL does not belong to officials and leaders, not even to those who administered it, but to a social and cultural heritage of the whole country and of the Spanish dialect. If it didn’t exist, it would have to be invented. And since it already exists, it must be specified that it is necessary and must be preserved. And the Paleros may have a cult, but they were there at the fair, saying “hello.”
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