Jaume Alcalde
Jaume Alcalde


From October 31, 2003 to January 4, 2004

The Greatest story ever seen of an invisible man on a desert island


On Planet Earth, when someone has a problem, he starts to solve everyone else’s.


Yahvé only wrote ten lines, in a poor language and an aggressive handwriting that revealed an angry temperament, with low self-esteem, not far from psychosis. Socrates and Jesus must have suffered from creative blocks. Their strength left them through their mouths and they never managed to write anything. Marx charged by the page, as Stalin would do later by the deportee, an excess that could exhaust the keenest of us. No-one was capable of reading it all. Though it must be acknowledged that at least they tried. Hitler’s readers never got past the cover: just one look at the title and thousands of people felt an urge to burn books and, once they got started, to burn other people.

My extraterrestrial question is this: will Planet Earth be capable of finding someone who can join the whole of humanity in reading a messianic political ideal? And the most important thing: will the prophet in question at least have the professional itch to work through it from the first word to the last?

As the saying goes, if you want something done properly, do it yourself.

And that is what a man once did on a desert island, in a far-off time, when there were two superpowers that wanted to conquer the Earth to achieve their goal: "not one inhabitant without a fridge", they would both say as they struck a map of the world covered in arrows and colours with their fists. Really that was the only aspect that separated the ideology of the Russians and the Americans. The Russians wanted to people to buy their noisy but sturdy fridges, whilst the Americans wanted to sell theirs, better manufactured, but equipped with a timer that, after a few years, was activated and managed to make the owner feel guilty. The Americans did not like things to last too long, which is why they invented things like the performance, the atomic bomb and, later on, the H bomb. That was a bomb that could destroy people but not things which, frankly, seemed to be a contradiction of what their ideology had been until then. It was an idea much closer to the Russians’, who wanted things to last a long time but people a short one.

Everything was very confused at that time. As we know, when you are a bit fuddled, you cannot stop doing things. And all of them badly.

They did not stop experimenting with everything. With anything.

During one of those experiments, a naval ship that was carrying out invisibility tests altered the space-time curve and, to explain in words that can be translated into earthling technology, it went flushh (‘all invisible’) and then glup, glup (‘it sank’).

Our hero survived and reached the beach of a desert island. In that sunny solitude he thought he was near the tropics and noticed a terrible unreality: stranded on the beach, a whole crew of two hundred brave sailors were beginning to give off the typical stench of decomposition, whilst hundreds of useless, invisible objects were bobbing on the waves. To wit: a signal gun with invisible flares; tins of food mixed with tins of shoe polish which our hero ate or spat out as the case might be; and thousands of objects as dumb and useless as the illegible words all around him. He never found out that that strange thing he felt as he flitted around the island was just a few pages written in red ink with the heading top secret, just as the Bible (he recognised the title from the raised letters on the cover) was in fact a false volume concealing photos of naked women with animals; little more than the moving testimony of what the heroic captain tried to save before the shipwreck.

And so, many things and for many days. Hundreds of stupid things on as many stupid days which were useless to palliate his terrible situation. He was alone, in the hot, crowded loneliness of an invisible man on a desert island, with no company other than strange birds and towering coconut palms that reminded him of his home town, though in fact everything looked as non-existent to him as the wreckage of the ship.

It was then that an event came to light up his existence. And it was one Christmas Day when he recognised a notebook and a pencil by touch, joined by an elastic band. It could only be his! How, after so many days of shipwreck, had that come back into his hands? And everything became clear before his eyes: the shipwreck, never having felt loved or understood, etc., etc.

There was not the slightest doubt. He and he alone had to explain to everyone the meaning of their individual and collective lives, to introduce the message into each of the thousands of empty bottles that lay scattered around the island.

The sea and the wind would carry his definitive answer to the why, the how and the when.

Without losing hope that some future humanity would see messages appear as if by magic inside Coca-Cola bottles, the invisible man wrote in his best handwriting:

i’m bored and i don’t know who i am or what this means, but i can’t die without doing something. You do it for me or for you, but do something and do something big.

And that, in theory, will be the end of the invisible man and all the people on earth, of this story and of all history: millions of island men will feel like artists and prophets, nations and ideologies. And they will stop being bored and, incidentally, existing.

On my planet, when someone thinks they have some special, revealing message for everyone else, we tell them: “If you want to feel you are somebody, HRT-2000-L (that’s our way of saying “so-and-so”), don’t do like the invisible man on the desert island. Simply, feel like a piece of shit lost in any galaxy, but don’t touch our hanging bags full of flix fluid”.

And then we all laughed.


César Martínez



With thanks to: Sònia Buxó, César Martínez, Jaume Cusachs, i Perejaume.