By Gaby Rabassa

Conversation. Foto: Juan Suarez
Conversation. Foto: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — In our field of vision, we have a blind point. It’s also known as a blind spot or optic disc. Medically speaking, it’s down to the lack of light-detecting photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye. A lot of the time, our brain doesn’t allow us to realize this as it makes up for this visual information with our other eye. However, the truth is that “there is a part of this world that we are literally blind to.”

This oddity urges me to make a comparison with modern Cuban society. It just so happens that “this blind spot” protects us from things that we shouldn’t be ignoring and lets us live, maybe, distanced from reality, immersed in our own affairs, which we do see, however, because we have no other choice. I also associate this with the brain’s ability to block whatever hurts us and which we ignore, not so unconsciously.

Everyday, we come across employees, who even with their inefficient food service, abuse us further with their sorrows. However, here “my blind spot theory” plays out, when we block out the image of a friend who distracts the waitor/waitress from their work in working hours, or of a phone which draws their attention away so they don’t look us in the eye or the image of a few coins that they forget to give us back. At the end of the day, they have to earn their living too – we think.

How many times do we not “turn a blind eye” when they charge us double in taxis because “oil is scarce”, when a deficient bureaucrat puts more obstacles in our way to get the documents we need, when a new law comes into effect and we resign ourselves to it, even though it doesn’t help us to do so in any way?

How many times do we pay out of our joke of a salary for a labor union which is only such in name, something which our institution or institutions “above”, should pay for? How many times have our footsteps left a mark in an irregular and unfinished pot hole because they had to fix a pipe, but that was all they had to do, somebody else has to come to fix the street.

How many times have we remained silent out of fear? How many times have we not done something so that we’re not labeled as counter-revolutionaries? How many times have we used the “blind spot theory” to our advantage?

In this way, we’ve converted such a beautiful history into simple resignation, with not a trace of rebellion, losing all of our values as we focus on getting by day to day which converts us into perfect antisocial beings, mocking Marxist theory in every way.

At the barber shop. Photo: Juan Suarez
At the barber shop. Photo: Juan Suarez

We can’t remain lifeless in the face of the problems we have to live through, in this society or in any other. Yes, we are social beings. Yes, we are affected by political, economic, environmental problems, etc. Even though we use “the blind spot theory” and we block out our situation, skirting around the “rock” (read here problem or unfavorable situation), the rock will always stay there. We can convert our anatomy into an invertebrate figure that drags itself around looking for a way to not touch this rock, but it will still remain there.

Freud contemplated the idea that our brain could block out these unpleasant situations or memories, however, they would always be present, subconsciously, in our attitudes and relationships.

So, it’s worth stopping to think about this: will we take this rock and skirt around it or will we forever use the “blind spot theory” as an excuse?

8 thoughts on “Cuba and the Blind Spot Theory

  • The condescending opinions are those who in pursuit of their theories are at best either ignorant of the realities of life for Cubans in Cuba or alternatively have no concern for those suffering under a communist dictatorship. As my home is in Cuba and as I am related to almost seventy Cubans, have numerous friends and in the course of daily life meet many others, I know of what I speak.

    Having the privilege of knowing Cuba and its people my prime concern is for their future. For many years they have tenaciously clung on to that faint hope that the younger generations may yet know freedom and opportunity to live in their beautiful country free of repression, with freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom to vote for political parties of choice. Under the yoke of a Communist family dictatorship these rights are denied.

    The US is only one of many countries having Cuban communities. I know of a city with a population of under 1 million and not in the US, which has a Cuban Society which participates in multi-racial events. The President not surprisingly is named Jose!

    I regret you are retreating.

  • Who died and made you arbiter of all things Cuban? Your condescending opinion of those you call “theoreticians” and their objective in contrast to the “realists” discourages those of us who are curious about the situation and in fact are quite powerless to effect the outcome. I’m well aware of the distinctions between the US and Cuban politics. But, you win, I will, from now on, only observe from a far and leave the browbeating to “experts” like you.

  • Thank you for the clarification, Circles. I was mistaken.

    I’m glad to hear that HT is not blocked, although the lack of internet access places a severe limit on the number of Cubans who read your website.

    It’s interesting to learn that HT is also distributed via email, and I would suppose that the text-only articles are copied onto thumb drives and CDROMS for further distribution.

    If I may ask, have you ever been harassed of questioned by the Cuban authorities over your work at HT? Have any of your contributing writers experienced trouble with the authorities over what they write for HT?

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