At gunpoint, probably never seen before in the Altaïr bookstore in Barcelona, the naturalist, historian, film buff and (as he often says) primate Jordi Serrallonga presented his new book on Thursday, opportune for the dates like few others, ‘A nomadic archaeologist in search of Dr. Jones‘, a story of his expeditions for more than half the world to do as it should be done what Harrison Ford does wildly every time he dresses as Henry Walton Jones Jr., that is, Indiana Jones. It didn’t get any worse, but the editorial Desperta Ferro couldn’t come up with anything crazier than proposing to Jacinto Antón (a unique evolutionary branch in the field of journalism) to introduce Serrallonga to the audience (absolutely full in the room) and, without time for the public to get comfortable in the chairs, he took out of the backpack a Luger pistol just like the one used by the Nazis in reality and, of course, in each of the four installments of the character’s series. After such a powerfully theatrical staging, it could be feared that everything would go downhill later, and quite the opposite happened.
Lugers are coveted collector’s items and, in the Indiana Jones movies, a success, because other weapons that appear on screen are, for narrative reasons, anachronistic nonsense. With a rocket launcher from the 60s, Harrison Ford intends to destroy the Ark of the Covenant in 1936. Spielberg Serrallonga and Antón are forgiven for all this and more, especially the latter, who boasted to the public at the presentation that he came directly from the cinema, of the projection of the latest adventure, perhaps with the record of being the first spectator to attend a screening armed with that fearsome automatic pistol.
The author, a luxury collaborator of this newspaper and signature of previous memorable books, such as ‘Invisible Animals’, was not intimidated and, what’s more, he was grateful that the presenter did not arrive with a whip, because, as he confessed, of all the work team that Harrison Ford travels with in his films, that object seems out of place and even makes him uncomfortable. Used so many times to poke the animals in the circus or in the chariots and, of course, the slaves in Africa and America, he believes that it has a connotation never sufficiently considered. Not to say, as they both acknowledged, that since the presentation was taking place in a basement, the whip could have led one to think that this was an act not suitable for minors and only for adults with reservations, and it was just everything. the opposite, because ‘A nomadic archaeologist…’ It is a highly entertaining story of those who awaken professional vocations.
Each chapter is headed by a dialogue from the first four installments of Indiana Jones and by the reproduction of some pages written and drawn by hand by Serrallonga in his hundreds of trips. There, at the head of each episode, are two confessions: his admiration for the fictional character and, also, that the muse of fine arts does not have him among her chosen ones as she did, for example, her admired Jordi Sabater Pi . Lucky you don’t dig with a pencil.
Admiration for Junior (as Sean Connery called him when they both search for the Chalice of the Last Supper) requires a nuance. The character is not a model archaeologist, at least today. He is more of the old school, of those who destroy everything to collect the most valuable piece. “If the adventures of Indiana Jones were set in the 21st century, that is, if he were an archaeologist of today, who digs up what he finds with a brush, they would be François Truffaut films, something very different & rdquor;Serrallonga said when the debate over the book and Indiana Jones began to heat up.
It was then that Antón, that dodo of cultural journalism, put him before an interesting question. What would have happened if Howard Carter and Dr. Jones had competed to be the first to gain access to Tutankhamun’s tomb? To the first, we must recognize that it meant a before and after, a turning point between indiscriminate looting and the scientific method of excavation. Probably, Howard’s famous phrase, “I see wonderful things & rdquor ;, would have been pronounced by Indiana in the singular, one thing and enough. The young pharaoh’s death mask would have been the only item taken before the roof collapsed, and that treasure would be in Chicago today or in a wooden box in a military warehouse.
Almost everything in the presentation of ‘A nomadic archaeologist…’ ended up returning to the movies. Even the chosen place, the basement of the exceptional bookstore founded by Pep Bernadas it has something of the Well of Souls in which Indiana plants the staff of Ra, 185 centimeters high, to which a ‘kadam’ is appropriately subtracted in honor of the Hebrew god. It is a cathedral travel bookstore, an institution that has guided half of Barcelona around the world and where Serrallonga’s book will find a perfect home. But it wasn’t all Indiana.
To make a ‘tast’ of what has happened to him on his expeditions, the author told a fabulous anecdote, capable of eclipsing the very Luger that Antón had left just in case on the little table that presided over the stage. He explained that during some excavation work in Africa, the head of a Maasai village told them that he had never seen a city and that, in fair consideration for the facilities he provided them, they would take him to one. The anecdote does not refer to the final destination of that trip, but to the intermediate stop they made on the way, in a run-down hotel, the New Arusha, John Wayne’s home during the filming of ‘Hatari!’.
As it happened, when everyone was having a drink together at the bar, the TV broadcast ‘The Mines of King Solomon’, but not the exciting version from 1950, but the ‘dodgy’ version, the one from 1985, so that between sips and sip that Maasai chief is speechless before that scene in which Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone are cooked among vegetables in a large pot, while a crowd dressed in a mix of clothing from different ethnic groups salivates around her, and not, presumably, for sinking their teeth into her with lewd intentions. Jon, that’s the name of that village chief, took it with a big laugh, but also put Serrallonga and his colleagues in a bind who didn’t know how to justify that nonsense. The book is not a penance for that shame, but it can and should be read as a demonstration that 40 years have not passed in vain.