It took me seven years to learn about Wall Street what Federico Garcia Lorca gleaned simply by witnessing the 1929 Market crash. An excerpt from a lecture he gave at Columbia University in October 1929:
The truly savage and frenetic part of New York…the terrible, cold, cruel part, is Wall Street.
Rivers of gold flow there from all over the earth, and death comes with it. There, as nowhere else, you feel a total absence of the spirit: herds of men who cannot count past three, herds more who cannot get past six, scorn for pure science and demoniacal respect for the present. And the terrible thing is that the crowd that fills this street believes that the world will always be the same, that it is their duty to keep that huge machine running, day and night, forever. This is what comes of a Protestant morality that I as a (thank God) typical Spaniard found unnerving.
I was lucky enough to see with my own eyes the recent stock-market crash, where they lost several billion dollars, a rabble of dead money that went sliding off into the sea. Never as then, amid suicides, hysteria, and groups of fainting people, have I felt the senstation of real death, death without hope, death that is nothing but rottenness, for the spectacle was terrifying but devoid of greatness. And I, who come from a country where, as the great father Unamuno said, “at night the earth climbs to the sky,” I felt something like a divine urge to bombard that whole canyon of shadow, where ambulances collected suicides whose hands were full of rings.
-Federico Garcia Lorca
Lecture: A Poet in New York
Lorca at Columbia, October 1929
Translated by Christopher Mauer
From the bilingual edition of Poet in New York, with translation by Greg Simon and Steven F. White
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