El Salón Frío – such as it is called – in one of the university buildings. Perhaps called so because of the arctic and thunderous air conditioning. Brits and Cubans, hammering through discussions of matters cultural, social and political. On the wall facing me was the smiling, bearded, cowboy-hatted figure of Camilo Cienfuegos.
A 4 foot tall black and white photo portrait in a dark wood proud yet natty frame. Camilo – guapetón, outlaw, manly, rugged. The wide-brimmed hat and fading tone of the portrait give him a Zapata feel. What does he mean here? How would he spread his influence on the many encuentros in this room? A constant reminder that even the world of literary and cultural studies should allow the winds of the wild to ruffle the papers. Theory can carry a pistol too. Postmodern post-Structural post-script should fight in the mountains. Or is he laughing at us? Where does he go when the door to the Salón is shut?
Who is behind me – a smaller, faded portrait in a musty thin frame? Lenin – the oriental eyes and jutting beard. Perhaps when the lights go out Camilo and Lenin drink rum and smoke cigars – perhaps they argue dialectic – perhaps they ignore each other.
Fidel and Che in the corridors, in the Dean’s office, in the Vice-Dean’s office. Constant reminders of one’s historical and geographical location. Don’t forget who you are! Don’t forget who made you!
Icons fill the halls and rooms. Icons of iconoclasts. Who could smash the image of he who smashed the image? Who would dare? An icon is revered. An icon is the expression of godliness within human form. Raúl hangs over the central lobby (godliness?). Veneration for expediency. Godliness?
What happens here at night?