José Luis Sampedro is dead. An ethical, aesthetic, intellectual reference. A beautiful human being. These days, the media have reissued some interviews that he granted in the past. A few years ago, I remember that a good friend suggested me to read a book-length interview with José Luis written by Gloria Palacios. Its title: “José Luis Sampedro. Necessary Writing”. Published within the Notebooks of Time collection (number 81). Editorial Siruela.

Here are some brief excerpts from this delicious book, so worth it deserves to be read, as it gives us his valuable insights –inspiring and lucid.

  • […] I always try that my work has depth, in the sense of revealing some ability both to identify the reader something of theirs that they ignored and, above all, to reveal to me what I am.
  • […] The feminine, which embodies for me the vital force. Not that I believe that women are more understanding, but I do believe that women, about the negative fact to be forced to accept a role of caregiver for children, the elderly, the sick, learn not to make their judgments with violence, but make themselves to understand to make less painful resignation. For all this I find them superior beings in their sentimental development. And maybe because I’m more intellectual than sensitive –even if I would like the opposite– it arises in me the envy and the need to approach and understand the world of women.
  • Because over time I have been increasingly accepting me as I am. I assume my ambiguities, my doubts and even I take them as enriching.
  • My philosophy of life is about the position of Aldous Huxley in his “Perennial Philosophy” (“The Perennial Philosophy”).
  • As I got to discover the Sufis I appreciate their admirable poetic expression: for me Rumi is one of the greatest poets in literature.
  • Because I write to give myself, to find others. I write not only to know myself, even if I use literature to do so, but because I need it, because I can not help it, because otherwise I would stay within myself and I would suffocate. It is writing by the need to meet me and give me entirely, for they know not only the official biography of the Other who lives in the world and represents me, but the one I am most deeply, he who lives what he writes and in writing builds what he is.
  • It seems inevitable that the story of lives reveals a notion about attitude and the way to face the facts. […], I am neither indoctrinating nor being dogmatic. My desire is to understand.
  • […] The man has a deep freedom. A freedom that is not so much in being able to get what he wants at any time, but in continual pursuit of what he believed to be his way, whether he succeeds or not, and make sense of everything that happens.
  • For me the task of man must be twofold: first, the pursuit of a career consisting in building himself, and on the other, before the unpredictable, adopting an attitude worthy of a human being. But not that these are two different objectives, as only building oneself we gain dignity, and only dignity just makes sense when building oneself.
  • (Is there thus a total project or the goal is to always seek new goals?) I think they are stages of the path. Getting to the horizon always results in the horizon moving. One is defined not by a single desire, but by selecting among those possible desires those of their own. Be who you are makes you discard certain desires, choose others and select the priority ones.
  • Therefore it is crucial to educate the new generations and reeducate us toward the future provided that we are educated not only in the classrooms but everywhere and at all times. Insist on reeducating ourselves. Daily ask what things we really need, why we move. We must fight against the values imposed on us and make us our own values.

Rest in peace, Master. May your work be your legacy of what you were and are, a beautiful and good person who wrote to show us what is good in the world and who taught us by example how to live.

Thanks, Jose Luis.



Alex Rovira