How Fidel Castro and Einstein Live, or, Raining Pamphlets and Relativity


A seemingly insignificant anecdote in her notes on Nicolas Roeg’s “Insignificance” about Einstein can rain on vitality when put side by side other works. In “Remote Control”, Barbara Kruger recalls Einstein’s little act of defiance: “When the red-baiting senator tries to confiscate a pile of precious equations, Einstein outwits him by throwing them out the window. So it rains relativity on the hotdog stand and produces an insignificant spectacle of spectacular significance.”

A similar scene takes place in “Soy Cuba.” A group of young Socialists were reproducing copies of a pamphlet containing positive news – Fidel Castro is still alive! – when they were harassed by authorities. Lenin’s State and Revolution is shown in close-up; the youths hardly flinched in the confrontation. One of them threw out the pamphlets announcing Castro’s condition. He will eventually be shot.

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How can the parallelisms not end? Prepare to be persecuted when you have radical ideas. The red-baiters will red-bait you. The authorities will authoritatively hurt you. Prepare to be shot when you have alternatives on looking at things and living the abstraction of the times.

One index of the significance of such deaths is the ideas they enliven and mobilize, revealed to be situated in a violent setting. Hence, all the more reason to throw them out – equations on relativity, news of a living revolutionary, the living revolution – for they must be known by all; they bloods they have must be shared by all. Ideas are not pretty and all-clean; they are born in and out of the violences of the world. That is all the more reason to take them up and hold them with passion and firmness and grittiness as well.

To make them rain, to make them rain upon us

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