I was very amused by a tweet the other day. It was accompanied by a photo of the Callejón de San Ginés which, if you know Madrid, you will recognise by its famous century-old chocolate and churro spot, and by the small and charming incunabula bookshop at the beginning of the street, on the corner of Calle Arenal. The photo showed that a sign had been placed in the middle of the alley in order to separate the lines of people going to one place or another. The sign clearly and precisely marked the two rows with two arrows: on one side, churros, on the other, books. The text accompanying the tweet read: I refuse to choose.
Since I was a child, I have always loved two fields that are even more separate and opposed than books and churros: books and football. I always had to hide one of my hobbies from everyone. It was important to separate the two worlds, because you could either come across as pedantic if you started talking about Georges Perec in the middle of a corner kick, or the opposite if at the end of a poetry recital you commented on the great goal Messi had scored. Until I discovered writers like Galeano or Nick Hornby who said you could like both, and one didn’t discredit the other.
And that’s just the way we are: contradictory. It’s hard to admit it at first, but that is until you realise that you are neither one nor the other: you are both. And many more. Whether you like La isla de las tentaciones (Spanish equivalent of “Love Island”) or a Susan Sontag essay, whether you go to a classical music concert or to karaoke to sing out of tune ‘Love me Tender’, to eat at a Michelin starred restaurant or to have a portion of omelette in a local bar with sawdust on the floor. Being in the metaverse with the blanket over your knees.
Javier Gomá said in one of his philosophically worldly stories, as he himself defines them, that: “I remember people saying to me: “You can’t have it all; you have to choose” and I am now in a position to respond to people and to respond to myself with a powerful voice: “No, I don’t want to choose. I want it all!” (…) The great and the small, drunkenness and routine, passion and happiness, pleasure and virtue, the vulgar and the exemplary, vocation and profession, this life and the other, height and weight, gravity and grace, naivety and lucidity, experience and hope, height and depth, north, south, east and west, including, as I read somewhere, the ‘body’ and the ‘gun’.”
We are Darwin and we are Verne. We are imagination and we are science. We are what we dream and we are what we count. We are pure contradiction. And although sometimes it feels like we have to choose between mum and dad, we love them both. I refuse to choose.