Agustín García Calvo (October 15, 1926 – November 1, 2012) was a Spanish philologist, philosopher, poet and playwright.
García Calvo was born and died in Zamora. He read Classical Philology at Salamanca University, being one of the first students of Spanish philologist Antonio Tovar. He concluded his doctoral dissertation on Ancient prosody and metrics in Madrid at the age of 22. In 1951 he worked as a grammar-school teacher. In 1953 he was appointed to a university chair of Classical Languages in Seville, and he occupied a second chair at Madrid's Universidad Complutense (then called "Central University of Madrid") from 1964 to 1965. In 1965 the Franco administration expelled him from his Madrid chair, along with Enrique Tierno Galván, José Luis López Aranguren and Santiago Montero Díaz, because they had given support to student protests against the fascist government. José María Valverde and Antonio Tovar resigned from their university chairs as a sign of protest against this reprisal. García Calvo spent many years of his subsequent exile in Paris, being appointed professor at Lille University and at the Collège de France. He also worked as a translator for the exiled Spanish publishing house Ruedo Ibérico. In the French capital he organized a regular circle of political discussion in one of the cafés of the Latin Quarter. In 1976, following the death of General Franco, he recovered his chair in Madrid, where he remained teaching ancient philology until his retirement in 1992. He was emeritus professor at the Universidad Complutense until 1997 and remained active as a lecturer, writer and columnist until his death in 2012.
In his written works and public statements, García Calvo attempted to give voice to an anonymous popular sentiment that rejects the intrigues of Power. An essential part of this struggle consists in denouncing Reality - an idea that appears to be a true reflection of "what there is", while in fact it is an abstract construction in which things are reduced by force to the status of mere ideas. In this process of reduction all unpredictable and undefined aspects that may be found in things are destroyed, thus facilitating their subjection to all kinds of plots, schemes and intrigues. People - just another case of a "thing" - are in this way organized into individuals, subject to a double and contradictory requirement, which is that each of them has to be the one he is, and yet all of them have to constitute a mass of many. Fortunately this kind of social organization always leads to flaws and imperfections, and it is just these unpredictable impulses, inaccessible to planning and calculation, to which García Calvo refers when he speaks of "the people".
The ever-increasing sophistication of Power arrives at its pinnacle in democratic societies that are composed of masses of individuals. Given that the "scheme of progress" consists in imposing this democratic system in all parts of the world, popular struggle has to be directed against democracy itself, being this the kind of political régime that administers death to the people in the most advanced societies. The simultaneous survival of comparatively old-fashioned systems of domination (for example, communist dictatorships and some forms of religious rule in Arab countries) is only meant to legitimate democracy through a rhetoric of "unfavourable comparison" and must therefore be considered a "cheat".
An essential ingredient of the maintenance of Power and Reality is God, a personage who has assumed many different names (such as the name of Man) in the past, but in his most advanced and sophisticated form presents himself under the name of Money - a ubiquitous idea to which everything can be reduced, since everything has a cost or value. The religion in which this new God is worshipped is Science - a religion whose most important mission is to keep the idea of Reality up-to-date and to convince individuals that everything is under control.
In democracy, State and Capital are only two manifestations of the same underlying phenomenon. Popular struggle must be directed against both, without ever claiming a "right" to anything (as this would imply an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Power) or proposing alternative forms of government (as this would only contribute to the further advance of Power). This popular struggle is not an individual struggle (since the individual, created after the image of the State, is essentially a reactionary entity and must be conceived as the people's most important adversary), but rather the people's struggle - a struggle that originates in what remains in us of the people, beneath all our individual features and in open contradiction with these.
Speech or language plays an important role in oppressing the people, but also in their rebellion. Those words that have signification in each of the world's languages constitute a Reality that happens to be different in each tribe. Insofar as language helps create the illusion that we know everything there is and that we know how to call it and how to manipulate it, language is a weapon directed against the people. On the other hand we continuously see conjectures or glimpses arise in the common use of language that point to the opposite conclusion (that we do not know what there is and that Reality does not reach so far as to include everything that occurs), and in this sense language, something that anyone can use although no-one can possess it, also constitutes the people's self-expression par excellence.
Specific examples of what this struggle against Reality may look like can be found (1) in García Calvo's attacks on the car (the individual vehicle) and his activism in defence of the train, (2) in the struggle against the idea that "we all together form public finance" and (3) in the decision to use the same style in writing as in oral communication, as opposed to the pedantic use of language that we know from academic scholars, civil servants and newspaper journalists.
Grammar and language theory
Pequeña introducción a la prosodia latina (Madrid : Sociedad de Estudios Clásicos, 1954)
Lalia, ensayos de estudio lingüístico de la sociedad (Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1973)
Del ritmo del lenguaje (Barcelona: La Gaya Ciencia, 1975)
Del lenguaje (I) (Zamora: Lucina, 1979; 2 ªed correg. 1991).
De la construcción (Del lenguaje II) (Zamora: Lucina, 1983).
Del aparato (Del Lenguaje III) (Zamora: Lucina, 1999).
Hablando de lo que habla. Estudios de lenguaje (Premio Nacional de Ensayo 1990) (Zamora: Lucina, 1989; 2ª ed. 1990; 3ª ed. 1990; 4ª ed. 1993)
Contra la Realidad, estudios de lenguas y cosas (Zamora: Lucina, 2002).
De los números (Barcelona: La Gaya Ciencia, 1976)
Editions and translations of classics
Aristófanes, Los carboneros (Akharneís). Versión rítmica de A. García Calvo (Zamora: Lucina, 1981; 2ª ed. 1998).
Don Sem Tob, Glosas de sabiduría o proverbios morales y otras rimas. (texto crítico, versión, introducción y comentario) (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1974).
Herakleitos, Razón común (Lecturas presocráticas II) Edición, ordenación, traducción y comentario de los restos del libro de Heraclito (Zamora: Lucina, 1985).
Homero, Ilíada . Versión rítmica de Agustín García Calvo (Zamora: Lucina, 1995).
Xenophon, Memorias de Sócrates, Apología, Simposio (traducción, introducción y notas) (Madrid: Alianza Editorial; 1967, Salvat editores, 1971).
Lecturas presocráticas (Zamora: Lucina, 1981: 3.ª ed. con el Parmenides renovado 2001).
Lucrecio, De Rerum Natura / De la Realidad. Edición crítica y versión rítmica de A. García Calvo (Zamora: Lucina, 1997).
Plautus, Pséudolo o Trompicón (traducción rítmica, introducción y notas) (Madrid: Cuadernos para el Diálogo, 1971).
Platón, Diálogos Socráticos, Apología, Teages, Los enamorados, - Cármides, Clitofonte (traducción, introducción y notas) (Barcelona: Salvat Editores, 1972).
Poesía antigua (De Homero a Horacio) (Zamora: Lucina, 1992).
Socrates (en Enciclopedia Universitas, t. II, fasc.30), (Barcelona: Salvat Editores, 1972).
Sophocles, Edipo Rey. Versión rítmica de A. García Calvo (Zamora: Lucina, 1982; 2ª ed. 1988; 3ªed. 1993).
Virgilio (estudio biográfico y versión rítmica de las Bucólicas del libro IV de las Geórgicas y del libro VI de la Eneida) (Madrid: Ediciones Júcar, 1976).