Europe Edition

2024 number 4

I am identity question



I wish you were here

Pablo and Elián are fifteen thousand kilometers away, but they have no one closer. It would be difficult to deny that Pablo, an Argentine immigrant in Sydney, and Elián, a Spanish actor in Madrid, are close to each other. Close, although distant, accompanied, but alone.

In Próximo, the work of the Buenos Aires director Claudio Tolcachir, the near and the distant are confused. What is nearby? What is far? Communication technologies are changing the world, with us inside. As children, we must relearn the meaning of words.

The body. Can we relate without the body? Of course. Two minds can connect, start a friendship, and fall in love, without their bodies ever touching. “What do you smell?”, “What time is it there?”, “What temperature is it?”. The characters in Próximo ask themselves, questions that only interest the body, which seeks its place of relationship. 

Who are closest? Two people sitting at the same table, each one watching the screen of their phone, or two individuals, like Pablo and Elián, a couple of men who do not know each other in person, but only at a distance, and who communicate by Skype? Technology has the same capacity to unite us as to separate us, it all depends on the use we make of it.

The Polish sociologist and philosopher, Zygmunt Bauman was not entirely correct in his criticism of social networks, seeing only their undeniable negative aspect in them. Of course, it is possible to establish and maintain new human ties in the distance. That nothing replaces face to face and skin to skin! It is true, nothing replaces physical presence. But those who communicate by Skype may not look for substitutes: they simply make intelligent use of a tool available. Curiosity and desire for the other remain. “I wish you were here,” Pablo yearns for.

When our grandfathers and grandmothers migrated, it was very difficult to maintain ties with family and friends. It was the time of the postal mail. Today, immigrant children, in their fight against uprooting, network with their friends in their country of origin to play console online. Far, yes, the bodies. The rubbing is impossible through the screens.

“Thinking of a man seems to save him,” wrote the poet and essayist Roberto Juarroz. Skype the other seems to save him, it seems to be the shared experience of Pablo and Elián, who save the other, saving themselves. At least, as long as the communication is not cut.

How can I help you?”, asks Pablo. “Don’t cut me off,” replies Elián.

In another time it was said: give me your hand or hug me. Now we say: do not cut me off.

Non-bodily closeness, but not incorporeal; there are the voice and the image, filtered by two screens: the one that emits and the one that receives. And behind each one, a human being, feeling, at the same time, alone and accompanied, like everyone else, as always.

Máximo Peña / Graduated in Journalism from the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and in Psychology from the National University of Distance Education (UNED). Specialist in Psychotherapeutic Intervention and Mindfulness. Máximo is the author of the blog

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