To Whom it may Concern:
WARNING.- As was warned in the self-named text “Bad and Not-So Bad News,” the texts that preceded the aforementioned were not made public. Ergo, what we are going to do is “rewind” (or, as they say, darle “rewind” a la cinta) to arrive at what was supposed to appear on day of the dead. Following which, you can proceed to give a reading in reverse order of the reverse order in which they will be appearing and then like that you will have… hmm… forget about it, even I’ve confused the heck out of myself. The point is to understand the sprit of, as they say, “hindsight,” in other words one goes over there but comes back to see how it is that one got the idea to go over there. It makes sense? Right?
WARNING TO THE WARNING.- The texts that follow in continuation do not contain any reference to situations which are current, circumstantial, transcendental, important, etc., nor do they have political implications or references, nor any of that. They are “innocent” texts, as are all of the writings by he who calls himself “the stainless-steel supcomandante” (me, that is). Any appearance or similarity to events or persons in real life is mere schizophrenia…yes, like the international and national situation where it can be seen that… ok, ok, ok, nothing about politics.
WARNING CUBED.- In the very unlikely event that you feel alluded to by what is said in continuation, you are flat-out wrong… or you are a shameful fan of ad hoc conspiracy theories (which can be translated as “for every fault, there is a conspiracy theory to explain everything and repeat the mistakes”).
P.S. Durito’s First Encounter with the Cat-Dog.-
Durito was stern. But not with the false imposture of just any official from just any government. He was stern like when a great sorrow slaps us in the face and there is nothing to be done, besides curse… or tell a story.
Don Durito de La Lacandona lights his pipe, wandering and erroneous gentlemen, the grieving’s comfort, the children’s joy, women’s and others’ impossible longing, unreachable mirror for men, tyrants’ and strongmen’s sleeplessness, uncomfortable thesis for ignorant pedantics.
Looking with enrapture at the light of our concerns, almost in a whisper he tells, for me to transcribe:
THE STORY OF THE CAT-DOG
(On how Durito met the Cat-Dog and on what they said that pre-dawn morning about fanaticisms).
To the naked eye, the cat-dog looks like a dog… well, more like a cat… or a dog… until it meows… or a cat… until it barks.
The cat-dog is an unknown to biologists and marine biologists (in what classification table for living beings do we place this case?), irresolvable case for psychology (brain surgery cannot discover the cerebral center that defines the dogness or catness), mystery for anthropology (the customs and traditions at the same time similar and antithetical?), despair for jurisprudence (what rights and responsibilities emanate from being and not being?), the holy grail for genetic engineering (impossible to privatize that elusive DNA). In sum: the lost link that will bring down all Darwinism of the laboratory, seminar, symposium, reiterated scientific fashion.
But allow me to tell you what happened:
As is law, it was pre-dawn. A glimmer was enough to define the shade. Quietly, I walked only with the steps of memory. Then I clearly heard someone say:
“A fanatic is someone who, with shame, hides a doubt.”
Not without first giving him credence within my innermost being, I approached and found him. Without giving any introduction, I asked him:
“Ah, so you are… a dog.”
“Meow,” he responded.
“… Or, a cat,” I said doubting.
“Woof ,” he retorted.
“Well, a cat-dog,” I said and said to myself.
“That’s it,” he said… or I think he said.
“And life, how’s it going?,” I asked (and I transcribed without doubting it, willing to not let myself be surprised by anything, since it was a beetle who was dictating this unique story).
“At times it is worth it,” he responded with a kind of purr. “At times like cats and dogs,” he growled.
“Is it a problem of identity?,” I said lighting my pipe and taking out my Smartphone-tablet multitouch to write (it’s really a notebook of the spiral-bound type, but Durito wants to make himself seem very modern − scribe’s note −).
“Nope, one does not choose who he is but does choose who he can be,” the cat-dog barked disdainfully. “And life is nothing more than that complicated transit, achieved or cut short, from one thing to another,” he added with a meow.
“So, cat or dog?,” I asked.
“Cat-dog,” he said as if pointing out the obvious.
“And what brings you to these lands?”
“A her, what else?”
“I am going to sing to her, because some cats know how.”
“Err… before your serenade, which I do not doubt will be a sublime chant to the female who troubles you, could you clarify for me what you said at the beginning of your participation in this story?”
“The thing about fanaticism?”
“Yes, it was something like there are those who hide their doubts of faith behind irrational worship.”
“But, how to avoid settling in to one of the gloomy rooms of that grim house of mirrors that is fanaticism? How to resist the calls and blackmail to settle in and serve in religious or lay fanaticism, indeed the oldest, but not the only one currently?”
“Simple,” the cat-dog says concisely, “by not going in.
“Building many houses, each one their own. Abandoning fear of difference.
“Because there is something equal to or worse than a religious fanatic, and it is an anti-religious fanatic, the lay fanatic. And I say that it can be worse because the latter goes to reason as an alibi.
“And, clearly, their equivalents: to the homophobic and machista, the phobia of the heterosexual. And you may add the long etcetera of the humanity’s history.
“The fanatics of race, color, creed, gender, politics, sports, etcetera, are, at the end of the day, fanatics of themselves. And everyone shares the same fear of that which is different. And they pigeonhole the whole world into a closed box of exclusive options: ‘if you are not this, than you are the opposite.’”
“Do you mean to say, my dear sir, that those who criticize sports fanatics are the same?,” Durito interrupted.
“It is the same. There you have, for example, politics and sports, both paid: in the two fanaticisms they think that the professional is what counts; in both they are mere spectators applauding or booing the rivals, celebrating victories that are not theirs and lamenting defeats that do not belong to them; in both they fault the players, the referee, the field, the opponent; in both they hope that ‘next time we will;’ both think that if they change techniques, strategies, or tactics then everything will be resolved; in both they pursue the opposing fanatics; in both it is ignored that the problem is in the system.”
“Are you talking about soccer?,” Durito asks while he takes out a ball autographed by himself.
“Not only about soccer. In everything, the problem is who is the one who commands, the owner, the one who dictates the rules.
“In the two confines what is unpaid is looked down upon: plainfolk or street soccer, politics that does not come together in electoral periods. ‘If money is not being made, for what then?,’ they ask themselves.”
“Ah, you are talking about politics?”
“Not a chance. Even though, for example, each day that passes it is more evident that what they call ‘the Modern Nation State’ is a mountain of ruins for sale at bargain prices, and that the respective political classes are set on redoing, time and time again, the peak of a demolished house of cards, without realizing that the cards at the base are completely broken and withered, incapable of staying upright, let alone holding something up.”
“Hmm… it will be difficult to put that in a tweet,” Durito says while counting to see if it can be adjusted to 140 characters.
“The modern political class contends for who will be the pilot of a plane that some time ago crashed into neoliberal reality,” the cat-dog pronounces and Durito thanks with a nod.
“Then what is to be done?,” Durito asks while he carefully puts away his pennant of Los Jaguares de Chiapas.
“Elude the trap that holds that freedom is being able to choose between two imposed options.
“All of the conclusive options are a trap. There are not only two paths, in the same way that there are not two colors, two genders, two beliefs. Therefore not then, not there. Better to make a new path that does go where one wants to go.”
“Conclusion?,” Durito asks.
“Neither dog, nor cat. Cat-dog, not at your service.
“And may no one judge or condemn what they do not understand, because that which is different is a demonstration that all is not lost, that there still is a great deal to look at and listen to, that there are other worlds yet to be discovered…”
Away went the cat-dog who, as his name indicates, has the disadvantages of a dog and of a cat… and none of their advantages, if it is that there were advantages.
The sun then rose when I heard a mixture of sublime meowing and barking. It was the cat-dog singing, out of tune, to the light of our most cherished dreams.
And on some pre-dawn morning, maybe far away still in the calendar and in uncertain geography, she, the light that awakens and reveals me, will understand that there were hidden lines made for her, that maybe only then will be revealed to her or she recognizes them now in these letters, and will know in that moment that it did not matter what paths my steps walked: because she was, is, and will be, always, the only destination that is worth it.
P.S.- In which el Sup tries to explain, in post-modern multimedia form, the way in which the Zapatistas see and are seen in their own history.
Well, the first thing that needs to be clarified is that we, our history is not only what we have been, what has happened to us, what we have done. It is also, and above all, what we want to be and to do.
Nevertheless, in this avalanche of audiovisual media that ranges from 4D movies and 4K LED televisions, to polychrome and multitouch cell-phone screens (which show reality in colors that, allow me to digress, have nothing to do with reality), we can find, in an improbable “timeline,” our way of seeing our history with… the kinetoscope.
Yes, I already know that I went off a ways, to the origins of film, with the internet and the multiple wikis that abound and overflow, you will have no problem knowing what I am referring to.
Sometimes, it may appear that we are approaching 8 and super 8 film, and even then 16 millimeter film continues being distant.
I mean to say, our way of explaining our history looks like an image of constant and repetitive motion, with some variations that give that sensation of mobile immobility. Always attacked and perused, always resisting; always being annihilated, always reappearing. Maybe that is why the denunciations by the Zapatista support bases, made through their Juntas de Buen Gobierno, have so few reads. It is as if one has already read those before and only the names and geographies changed.
But here also we show ourselves. For example, in:
And yes, it is somewhat as though in those motion pictures by Edison, from 1894, in his kinetoscope (“Annie Oackley”), we were the coin thrown into the air, while Ms. civilization fires at us time and time again (yes, the government would be the civil servant who throws the coin). Or as if in the Lumiere Brothers’ “Arrival of a Train,” from 1895, we were those who remained on the platform while the train of progress arrives and leaves. At the end of the text you will find some videos that will help you to understand this.
But herein lies that the collective that we are has and makes each still, draws it and paints it seeing the reality that we were and are, many times with the blacks of persecutions and prisons, with the grays of contempt, and with the red of plunder and exploitation. But also with the color brown and green that we are from the earth that we are.
When someone from outside takes a minute to watch our “movie,” they usually comment: “what a skillful sharpshooter!” or “what a daring civil servant who throws the coin into the air without fear of being wounded!,” but nobody comments at all about the coin.
Or, on the Lumiere’s train, they say: “but what idiots, why do they stay on the platform and not get on the train?” Or “herein lies one more example of how the indigenous are like they are because they do not want to progress.” Someone more adventures, “Did you see the ridiculous clothes that they used in that time period?” But if someone were to ask us why we do not get on that train, we would say “because the stations that follow are ‘decadence,’ ‘war,’ ‘destruction,’ and the final destination is ‘catastrophe.’ The relevant question is not why we do not get on, but why you do not get off.”
Those who come to be with us to watch us watching ourselves, to listen to us, to learn us in the escuelita, discover that, in each still, the Zapatistas have added an image that is not perceptible to the naked eye. As if the movement apparent from the images hid the particulars that each still contains. That which is not seen in the daily comings and goings is the history that we will be. And there is no Smartphone that can capture those images. Only with a very big heart can they be appreciated.
Of course there is no lack of those who come and tell us that there are now tablets and cell phones with front and rear cameras, with colors more vivid that those of reality, that there now are cameras and printers in three dimensions, that plasma, lcd, and led, that representative democracy, that elections, that political parties, that modernity, that progress, that civilization.
That we ought to leave behind this collectivism thing (that, additionally, it rhymes with primitivism): that we abandon this obsession with caring for nature, discourse on mother earth, self-management, autonomy, rebellion, freedom.
They tell us all this clumsily leaving out that it is in their modernity where more atrocious crimes are committed; where infants are burned alive and the pyromaniacs are congresspeople and senators; where ignorance feigns the rule of a nation’s destinies; where employment sources are destroyed; where the teachers are persecuted and slandered; where a great lie is obscured by another larger one; where the inhumane is rewarded and held up, and any ethical and moral value is a symptom of “cultural backwardness.”
For the great paid media, they are the modern, we the archaic. They are the civilized, we the barbarians. They are those who work, we the idlers. They are the “well-to-do,” we the pariahs. They the wise, we the ignorant. They are the clean, we the dirty. They are the beautiful, we the ugly. They are the good, we are the bad.
And they forget the fundamental: this is our history, our way of seeing it and seeing ourselves, our form of thinking to ourselves, of making our path. It is ours, with our errors, our falls, our colors, our lives, our deaths. It is our freedom.
This is our history.
Because when we the Zapatistas draw a key below and to the left in each still of our movie, we are thinking not about what door to open, but rather about what house with what door must be constructed so that that key has motive and destiny. And if the soundtrack of this movie has the rhythm of a polka-balad-corrido-ranchera-cumbia-rock-ska-metal-reggae-trova-punk-hip-hop-rap-and-those-which-accumulate it is not because we do not have musical taste. It is because that house will have all of the colors and all of the sounds. And it will have then new gazes and ears that will understand our determination… even if we are only silence and shade in those coming worlds.
Ergo: we have imagination, they only have schemes with conclusive options.
That is why their world collapses. That is why ours reemerges, just like that glimmer that no matter its smallness is lesser when it covers the shade.
Farewell. Cheers and let’s pass the anniversary happily, that is to say, fighting.
El Sup confusing the heck out of himself with the videos that he has to add in order to, as they say, put the candle on the cake that does not say, but knows it is in its thirties.
Mexico, November 17th, 2013.
Thirtieth anniversary of the EZLN.
Translated from Spanish by Henry Gales.