Jacopo Jacobo Timmerman writes about Gabriel Garcia Marquez writing about Fidel Castro. Marquez is amazed and transfixed as he worshipfully writes about how Castro works so late into the night, telling how many people what they should do in so many different disciplines of life--orthopedics, the baking of bread, and the distribution of beer. Timmerman n writes about how only an insane social system would require a single dictator to be the omniscient expert and authority on everything. And Timmerman n wonders why it is that Marquez responds to this situation with awe rather than with horror.
Where did I read this? When did I read this? Why can't I find it again? Why is my Google-Fu failing me?
And the magic of the internet comes through once again:
Jacobo Timmerman (1990): "A Summer in the Revolution: 1987": New Yorker
When I read one of Gabriel Carcia Marquez's essays on the Commandante [Fidel Castro], I was remind of paeans to Stalin--of the whole state of mind described by Arthur Koestler in Darkness at Noon. Garcia Marquez praises Fidel Castro for needing only six hours of sleep after a day's hard work--the same six hours that were often presented as proof of Josef Stalin's vitality, extolled in writings that also described his Kremlin window lit until the small hours of the night--and praises the wisdom of the Commandante in stating that "learning to rest is as important as learning to work".
If the cumulative tasks in Fidel Castro's workday as it is describe by Garcia Marquez are counted up, the Castro who emerges is a prodigy--someone who triumphs by supernatural intelligence:
His rarest virtue is the ability to foresee the evolution of an event to its farthest-reaching consequence
He has breakfast with no less than two hundred pages of news from the entire world
(a long breakfast, surely), and:
He has to read fifty-odd documents [daily].
And the list goes on:
No one can explain how he has the time or what method he employs to read so much and so fast.... A physician friend of his, out of courtesy, sent him his newly-published orthopedic treatise, without expecting him, of course, to read it, but one week later he received a letter from Castro with a long list of observations....
There is a vast bureaucratic incompetence affection almost every realm of daily life, especially domestic happiness, which has forced Fidel Castro himself, almost thirty years after victory, to involve himself personally in such extraordinary matters as how bread is made and the distribution of beer....
He has crated a foreign policy of world-power dimensions.
Fidel Castro, then, has a secret method, unknown to the rest of mankind, for reading quickly, and he knows a lot about orthopedics, and yet thirty years after the Revolution he has not managed to organize a system for baking bread and distributing beer...
The real answer is that the New Yorker has refused to let Google index its archives. This is, I think, a very bad thing for the New Yorker in the long run: it is certain to lose a lot of mindshare over the next five years or so...