This book was percolating inside my brain for years until it burst like a volcano about to destroy a small village… maybe because deep down I sense that bringing José Martí into people’s awareness will actually enhance their lives, and the scholastic tomes available offer little or no appeal outside of a small circle of historians and academic explorers.
“Martí Lives” is a special project for me because it combines all my interests and concerns and fears with my skills and abilities into one neatly-bound statement which suggests that we must reconnect with our humanity. You don’t need to spend hours on CNN or the local news to realize that we have the resources, but not the will to end human suffering altogether.
The book may be doubly-rewarding for someone who never heard of Martí, as they’ll get the double life-enhancing benefit of the visualized myth and the real story of his life.
Martí is known in Cuba, Mexico and South America, not just for his efforts to liberate Cuba and organize the war for separation from Spain, but for his celebrated literary achievements.
It may be difficult to describe this project to someone not aware of Martí… but every new endeavor in life poses its own challenges.
My challenge was to create a book that was not any “one” thing… not (just) a book on history or art, but to present a complete synopsis of Martí’s presence (real and potential) in a consumerist culture, with a look back at who he was before he was a myth... and a peak forward to an expanding legacy.
By indulging my proclivity for 21st century story-telling... truth, fantasy, perception... and embracing my fondness for short stories and visually hallucinogenic fiction-spaces, Martí truly lives within the pages of this book.
Martí said that it was “the responsibility of government to end human suffering,” and so, as citizens (and human beings) it makes sense that it is our responsibility to expect and encourage this from our leaders, who will not think of it for themselves.
Hopefully… if we’re lucky, Martí will help reopen a door that has been closed to us by the powers that be… a door that could lead to general humanist concerns becoming a part of our everyday decision-making.
It won’t be easy... but if humanism was easy, we humans would probably be better at it... and eventually we might even get good at it. As good as we are with business, jazz and pizza.
Now that would be something.
It could begin with someone looking this site over and deciding to buy the book.
After consuming the fantasy images and the stories, the real-life bio and timeline and related materials, she starts reading the essays by Martí at historyofcuba.com, and eventually decides to explore some of the more traditionally academic titles about Martí by Ferguson or Mañach or Foner or Pérez, Jr., after which she leaps into the newest and greatest and longest bio on Martí by Alfred J. Lopez, which features excruciating attention to detail... and before she’s done she may start to question the obvious pitfalls of a consumerist culture with a growth-based economy component and do-it-yourself slavery...
Eventually the possibilities of what mankind could achieve by working together to solve problems rather than splitting apart to maintain the status quo and protect the powerful will become apparent to her, and the inherent beauty of a culture based on shared consciousness will suddenly seem much more rewarding and mysterious than the one in which millions of minions march down the street focused on their required small screens, forever missing the grandeur of a simple sunset.
Suddenly the utter selfishness and total waste of our I-me-mine system becomes too serious to ignore and she has found a new cause; humanizing the 21st century.
Martí and I are right behind her...