Of Trees, Criminals, and Odontology


September-November of 1995

To: Carlos Monsivais,
Mexico, D.F.

From: Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mountains of the Mexican Southeast Chiapas,
Mexico

Master[teacher],

I [throughout his text Marcos plays with the formal and informal pronoun, in his letter to Monsivais implying doubt as to his right to be informal with Monsivais; translator's note] send you a greeting and claim receipt of the book THE RITUALS OF CHAOS. I read it while running from one of those impasses that the Supreme Government calls the Dialogues of San Andres.

Vale.
Health and try finding out if Alice manages to find the Red Queen and resolve the enigma to which the last P.S. invites.

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos Mexico,
Fall of 1995

P.S. He recalls, a little late, the principal reason behind this chaotic epistle and titles it: EHT RORRIM DNA OTIRUD (OF POLITICS, DENTISTRY AND MORALITY)

"In that instant I saw the Apocalypse face to face. And I understood that the holy terror about the Final Judgement lies in a demonic intuition: one will not live to see it. And I looked into the eyeball of the Beast with seven heads and ten horns, and among its horns ten crowns, and on each head a blasphemous name. And the people applauded it and took pictures and videos, and recorded its exclusive declarations, while, with a clarity which would become a painful burden, I had the belated realization: the most horrible nightmare is that one which definitely excludes us."
Carlos Monsivais, THE RITUALS OF CHAOS, page 250.

A point is the hinge which binds two mirrors, which face to face, spread out to the sides like wings for flying over a chaotic era. That's the POINT, a hinge.

"Look on page 250" Durito says, as he unpacks his bags.

And I look hurriedly and murmur, "Page...250...mmh...yes, here it is" I say with satisfaction. "Or the one which excludes us momentarily" I think, while Durito insists on hauling his tiny piano on top of what is already his tiny desk, to show me how it is that the small holds up the large, in history and in nature. The argument falls together with the piano and Durito who rolls under, after that rickety operation, with the piano and the desk on top of his shell. I finish reading that part of the book and search for the pipe, the tobacco and Durito (in that order). Durito has no intention of coming out from under the catastrophe which is on top of him, and a tiny column of smoke announces two things: the first is the location of my tobacco, and the second that Durito is alive.

I light the pipe and the memories which are one. Something about the text takes me back many years. That was a sweet and simple time. All we had to worry about was food. The books were few but they were good, and re-reading one meant finding new books inside them. And this is relevant because Durito has brought me this book as a gift, and has pointed out a text on page 250 to tell me that something is still pending, because there are more important things than pointing out for example, that books are made of pages, and pages, added to branches and roots, make trees and shrubbery. The trees, as everyone knows, are for guarding the night which, by day is idle. Among branches and leaves, the night destributes its roundness the same way in which a woman shares her curves inside moist and breathless embraces. In spite of this sensual mission, the trees take time for other things. For example, they tend to house many different kinds of animals, mammals, oviparous animals, arthropods and other rhyming syllables which serve only to show that children grow up. Sometimes, the trees also house masked men. These are, no doubt, of course delinquents and outlaws. The covered face and the fact that they live in treees no doubt means that they are persecuted characters. These type of people live in the night, even by day, in the trees. That is the reason for their passion and drive to love the trees. It is also true that in the trees rest beetles like...

Durito interrupts me from the depth of, now he says to me, the modern sculpture made by the piano and desk on top of his head.

"Do you have a lighter?"

"That sculpture should be called something like CHAOS ON A SMOKING BEETLE" I say as I throw the lighter to him.

"Don't offend me with your ridicule. All you show is your ignorance. It's clear you've never read Umberto Eco who writes about the open work of art. This lovely sculpture is the best demonstration of modern and revolutionary art, and it shows how the artist so commits himselt to his work that he becomes a part of it."

"And what's it called?"

"That's the tricky part. It should have a name if it's to be respectable. That is why it is an "open" work of art. As you know my dear "Guatson", the "open" work of art is not finished but becomes so within the process of circulation and consumption in the artistic market. Elementary. In this way the spectator stops being one and becomes a "co-artist" of the work of art. Zedillo, for example could call his work something like MY GOVERNMENT PROGRAM and put it at Los Pinos [Mexican white house, translator's note]; Salinas de Gortari could call his MY ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL LEGACY and house it at Almoloya [Mexican federal prison, translator's note], and the neoliberals could call theirs OUR PROPOSAL FOR A NEW WORLD ORDER. And you...what would you call this work of art?" Durito asks me.

I stare with a critical eye and answer "Mmmh..something like BEETLE BURIED UNDER A PIANO AND A DESK."

"Bah! That's just descriptive" Durito complains.

As we talk the rituals of the night go on slowly: the sound of the airplane, the smoke of the pipe, the loneliness, the discreet scandal of the crickets, the luminous and drawn-out blinking of the fireflies, the heaviness of the heart, and above, the stars made dust on the Milky Way. Maybe it'll rain. The past months have had inconsistent rain; even the seasons seem disoriented and cannot find themselves within so much coming and going. Durito asks me for the name of the author of the book.

"Monsivais" I answer.

"Oh, Carlos!" Dirty says with a familiarity which surprises me.

I ask if he knows him.

"Of course! History is a subject we share..but you should keep writing. I have other things to do" Durito answers.

I delay because at the beginning of this letter I was unable to resolve the dilemma of whether to use the informal or formal pronoun in order to address you[sir]. Durito is a firm supporter of an axiom, which is a pillar of his global conception; there is no problem large enough which cannot be avoided. And so with that philosophic corpus, I've decided, once again, to leave the solution to this dilemma pending and continue with the soft pendulum which takes us from YOU to SIR.

So then I decide. I bite the pipe in determination. I take on a look of a Southeastern-governor-willing-to-defend-the- popular-will-at-all-costs-who-sees-how-things-are-and- provokes-them and undertake the rude task of writing to you[sir].

I must look like a real phenomenon, too bad I have no witnesses(Durito is already snoring underneath the ruins of his work of art), too bad I sent all the mirrors in that writing called something like MIRRORS: THE MEXICO FOUND AMONG THE NIGHTS OF DAY AND THE CRYSTAL OF THE MOON. What? That wasn't the title? Oh well, no matter. The thing is I now need a mirror to check myself for that delirious glow of genius getting ready to abort his own best idea. What? A self-imposed goal? Why? In order to abort? But no! You[sir] must agree with me that the best ideas are those which are never expressed. The moment they go inside the jail of language, they are materialized, they become letters, words, phrases, paragraphs, pages...even books if you're careless and give them free reign. And once there, ideas become tangible, they can be weighed, measured, compared. Then they are really boring, in addition to the fact that they become independent and do not obey orders of any kind. I understand that to you[sir] it matters little that orders go unobeyed, but for a military leader like myself it is a true pain in the molars. The molars, as all scientists with postgraduate degrees know, are pieces of bone which exist in order to give jobs to dentists, and in order to make the toothpaste industry flower, and in order that the profession of shameful torture exist; dentistry. The word "dentistry" is an idea made language and once so, becomes measurable and classifiable; it has nine letters, syllables, and is as heavy as the bill which must be paid after you leave the waiting room...

"Definitely" Durito says.

"What?" is all I can muster in response to Durito's interruption.

"There's no doubt that this plebiscite excludes beetles" Durito continues, who to all appearances was not asleep but reviewing papers even beneath the chaos on top of him.

"This plebiscite left out all beetles and is a form of racism and apartheid. I shall take my protests to all pertinent international organizations."

It's useless to try to explain things to Durito. He insists that the Seventh Question was missing, and whose wording was more or less something like; "Are you in agreement that gallant knighthood should be added to the National Professional Register?"

I explain to him that I sent various postscripts making discreet insinuations to the CND[National Democratic Convention] and the CIVIC ALLIANCE, but no one noticed.

"It's insulting that that question is missing. It's a matter of aesthetics. Whose silly idea is it to have a plebiscite with six questions? Even numbers are anti-aesthetic. Uneven numbers, however have the charm of assymetry. It's strange to me that someone as asymmetrical as you my big-nosed shieldbearer, should not have fixed a detail like that."

I pretend to be offended and keep silent. An atrocious noise is heard from the north. The lightning bolts tear the dark curtain which dilutes the distance between mountains and sky.

Durito tries to console me by telling me a story (which I can't understand too well from under the modern sculpture) about how he once had a practice which specialized in the big toe of the left foot. I appreciate the subtle insinuation which Durito offers in order to help me concentrate on the subject of this article, which is something like "Ethics and Political Parties" or "Politics and Morality" or "The new Left, New Morality and New Politics, or "We are all Prigione[a reactionary moralistic Vatican representative in Mexico City, translator's note]" or...Just now a thunderbolt jolted me so that I even forgot about the Apocalypse, and Durito says that it serves me well for picking on members of the high clergy, and I tell him I'm not picking on him, I'm just looking for a g-o-o-o-o-d title for this article, so that it impresses some ambassador who will copy it.

"What about this one...The Lovely Lie and the Lost Cause.."

Durito says I've lost my mind, and he'd rather go to sleep, and that I should wake him once civil society arrives to save him from the ruins. Then I realize that I now have all the necessary elements for the article: title, characters (political parties, the ambassador, the papal nuncio, the political spectrum and civil society), a polemics (that one about the relationship between morality and politics) in which to stick my nose, and for which I have plenty of nose. Now I only need a subject to justify the paragraphs, the stamps, the request to Juan Villoro of THE WEEKLY JORNADA, in order to have an audience for such a "beautiful" story, and the excuse to renew that amiable epistolar exchange which we began shortly before the Convention a year ago. Do you remember?

My other me comes near and says that if I'm going to get into polemics, I should be serious about it, because you can't play with the nuncios and the Machiavellians. "And if you don't believe me just ask Castillo Peraza, who demonstrated the efficiency of his political ethics in Yucatan" my other me says as he leaves to watch the beans cook.

All polemics are nightmares, not just for the polemicists, but, for the readers most of all. That's why it occurs to me that it's not worth it, especially when I remember that prophesy of a certain Salinista intellectual(who now has amnesia) in December of 1993, who foresaw great victories for Salinas in 1994, since he had all "the marbles" in his pocket.

It occurs to me that I cannot remain a spectator and that I should take sides. So I take sides, in this case, the side of those who do not have a party, and who, together with Durito create a "wave", and no small one either; being that Durito has so many feet and hands that it appears to be a "wave" of Mexican fans during the last games of the World Cup.

But Durito is dreaming with Brigitte Bardot, because he's let out a sigh which is more like a stray lament, so I can't count on him and I should concentrate on the discussion. And the most important part of the discussion is that about the relationship between morality and politics, even more so, between morality and political parties, and more so between politics and power.

However, there is reasoning beyond this, and the problem of the relationship between morality and politics is overcome or displaced by the relationship between politics and "success", and politics and "efficiency." Machiavelli revives the argument that, in politics, the "superior" morality is the "efficient" one, and efficiency is measured in quotas of power, or, in the exact amount of access to power. And from here comes the Machiavellian juggle which defines democratic change as the political opposition made government. The National Action Party is the example, they say, of this political "success", this political morality.

But then they correct and re-arrange themselves: the accumulation of power, they say, serves to contain the antagonism that pluralistic societies guard inside themselves. Power is exerted in order to defend society from itself!

O.K., so let's leave this new reference for measuring political efficiency pending, and return to the original. Not to polemicize with those who measure "success" and political "efficiency" in the number of governor's offices, mayor's offices, and congressional seats, but to reclaim the evidence of "success" which has so many followers in the actual government, in that government of Carlos Salinas De Gortari.

Is "success" in politics defined as efficiency? Are politics more successful in as much as the efficiency of its products? In such a case, Carlos Salinas de Gortari deserves a monument, and not a police investigation due to his alleged complicity in the murders of J.F. Ruiz Massieu and Luis D. Colosio. His politics were "efficient" in as far as it kept the entire country living in virtual reality, which was of course, torn up by real reality. The knowledge of this reality was acquired through the mass media. A great "success", no doubt. The "efficient" politics and economics of Carlos Salinas de Gortari deserves applause from National Action and from those orphaned intellectuals; and not just from them but from powerful businessmen and high clergy members who now complain about having been deceived. Together they used to praise one another about having "all the marbles". The consequences of the Salinista "success" are suffered today by all Mexicans, and not just the poorest ones.

After all, isn't "political efficiency" as perennial in Mexico as an administration? Sometimes it is less. The government of Ernesto Zedillo is an excellent example of "successes" as durable as the pages of a calendar without pictures.

The other problem, the one about the quotas of power, points out that the efficiency of a democratic change lies in the alternation of power. The alternation of power is not synonymous with democratic change, or with "efficiency, but with indulgences and divorces in the form of projects. The politics followed by National Action in Baja California, Jalisco, and Chihuahua, are far from being another "way" of making politics, and are sufficiently authoritarian in order to adjust the length of the skirts(Guadalajara) and the un- covering of the human body (Monterrey).

The alternation of power is a separate problem, and perhaps a reboud to the polemics of the master Tomas Segovia with Matias Vegoso: "Well, the ideal of bi-partisan government is tied to this position, not just because bipartisanism is its only manifestation, but because until today it is the only concrete manifestation of a "non-ideological" government, in other words, of a "technical" government." The first thing I have to say (and surely not the most important) is that this position gives clear proof of the continuation of ideologies and not of their end. The conviction that a "technical " government is better than an "ideological" one is in itself an ideology, a conditioning and distorting belief towards reality, exactly the same way in which the conviction of a 'positive' truth is better than the 'metaphysical' truth, which in itself is a metaphysical conviction.

(Sure, I interrupt, and now there is talk of "tripartisanship" but the problem remains).Tomas Segovia continues: "In the same way, I advise you as a friend to remember that to defend neoliberalism you must remember that it is only an ideology, and nothing more". Don't you understand that this is a most astute, and insidious ideology? There is nothing more ideological than to say: "Everyone else is ideological; I am the only one who is lucid'".

Here I could deduce in my favor those arguments of the master Tomas Segovia with Matias Vegoso, but in addition to the fact that I do not have his authorization, this discusssion would take me to my other problem: the morality of immorality(or should I say amorality?). MUTATIS MUTANDIS: the ideology of no ideology. And from here we can jump to the problem of the knowledge and the intellectuals who produce and distribute this truth.

The process followed by some intellectuals is typical: from criticism of the powerful they went on to criticize from the summit of the powerful.

With Salinas they showed that knowledge exists to serve the powerful. Then they collaborated to give theoretical substance to him. Their logic, no matter how you look at it, arrived at the same result: the powerful cannot be wrong when they analyze reality, and if they are wrong, it is reality's problem not the powerful's.

It is a painful but inevitable truth; the powerful have not only managed to gather around them a group of "brilliant" intellectuals; they have also produced a team of analysts capable of theorizing today, the future hardening of the powerful (regardless of whether the images in the mirror of the powerful belong to the PRI or PAN).

Machiavelli is today the head of a group of intellectuals who seek to give theoretical-ideological substance to the repression to come (in this line you can find Porfirio Diaz's grandson and his Rebellion of the Pipeline[here the book's title is changed from what was intended to be Ravine to what the Subcomandante believes to be the government's official line on their history; translator's note]. This is the fundamental contribution of its elite; the evolution from the justification of a stupid system to the theorization of the imbecility yet to come. Oh well, these are the new kind of organic intellectuals in power. They are capable of seeing beyond power. They represent the image of what organic intellectuals of neoliberalism aspire to be. They will leave their books...

I stop here in order to re-stock the pipe and rest my back. Now, a grey weight adds a new layer to the heavy theater curtain of the night. There are noises which come from the "open" work of Durito, evidence that he is not asleep and is still working. A small column of smoke rises between the drawers of the desk and the keyboard of the piano. Somewhere, beneath that scribble which pretends to be a sculpture, Durito is reading or writing.

In the fire, the dance of the colors ends and little by little turns black. In the mountains the sounds and the colors change constantly. And what to say about the inevitable changing of the day into afternoon, of the afternoon into the night, of the night into the day...

I've got to get back to the article. Machiavelli is revisited and converted not into a guide but into an elegant garment which disguises cynicism as intellectuality. Now there is an ethic of "efficient politics" which justifies whatever means necessary to obtain "results" (or quotas of power). This political ethic should put distance between it and "private ethics" whose "efficiency" is zero, because it adheres to a loyalty to principles

Once again efficiency and its results in addition to the theme of political morality is confined by "private ethics", to the ideology of the "salvation of the soul". In front of the moralists, Machiavelli and his contemporary equals propose their "science", their "technology": efficiency. One must hold to these.

This "non-ideological" doctrine has followers and adherents. I mean, in addition to the Salinista intellectuals and neo- panismo[doctrine of the PAN party;translator's note]. Then the ambassador displays, in all its details, the doctrine of cynicism and efficiency before the applause of the intellectual who have no memory:

If I assault it, it speaks; if it speaks, it assaults.

The ambassador does not represent just himself. He represents a political position, a form of making politics characterized by the undefined eleven months of the present Salinas administration without Salinas. The ambassador is a part of the neocurpus of presidential "counselors" who recommend that Zedillo assault in order to speak. The high cost of these assaults, they say, can be covered with the makeup of the mass media.

I don't remember the name of the movie (maybe the master Barbachano remembers) but I do remember that a main actor was Peter Fonda. I remember the plot clearly. It was about a group of brilliant Harvard students who raped a woman. She accused them in a public hearing and they responded that she was only a prostitute. Their lawyer defended them by using their grades and good families. They're found innocent. The woman commits suicide. As adults, the "juniors" look for stronger emotions and they dedicate themselves to hunting down vacationing couples on weekends. And "hunting" is no figurative term; after the standard rape, the "juniors" free the couple to run into the countryside, and they hunt them down with shotguns.

I don't remember the ending, but it's one of those where justice is done, where Hollywood resolves on the screen what in reality often goes unpunished.

Today, the modern "juniors" have found that they have a country to play with. One of them is at Los Pinos and the other in Bucareli, they get tired of the Nintendo and they play at hunting down "the bad guys" in a game of real war. They give their prey time to escape, and move their game pieces to surround them and make the game more interesting. But it appears that the country is in no mood for games and mobilizes and protests. The "juniors" find themselves in a quandary because the game grows longer and they can't catch the "bad guys". Then the ambassador appears to save(?) them: "It was all planned" he says to us "the dead are not dead, the war is not the war, the displaced are not displaced, we always wanted to talk and we only sent thousands of soldiers to tell the 'bad guy' that we wanted to talk". A pathetic argument for an idem government.

Meanwhile, reality approaches..and the mass media tries to impose itself on reality. Forgetfullness begins to populate the government discourse; they forget the fall of the stock market, the devaluation, the "negotiations" of San Andres as a window dressing to hide the true indigenous politics of neoliberalism, instability, jealousy and distrust, ungovernability and uncertainty. They forget the principal objective, according to Machiavelli; they've had no results, they've not been "efficient".

They forget that they defend a lost cause, and the ambassador knows this but he forgets it when he's giving exclusive interviews. The last declarations of the government are clear; they forget reality, they forget that with each passing moment there are less of them who believe in the lovely lies and who support lost causes...

Meanwhile, the modern Machiavellians complain about our morality and their diagnosis is that in politics there is no good and bad, and therefore the affair cannot be settled by classifying factions.

And here they affirm, but only in reference to the relationship between ethics and politics, that it is not easy to resolve this with the classification of factions: bad vs. good. In other words "If the Machiavelli of the nostalgic Salinista intellectual is bad, then we, who do not agree with him, are good." It remains tempting to take this polemic further, but I think that when you[sir] pointed out that "If efficiency in the manner of neoliberalism has taken us to the present tragic situation, the cult for doctrinaire purity, which has not had such costly results, has also not taken us far" (Carlos Monsivais, PROCESO, number 966). You pointed out a new problem which is worth examining.

From the left the alternative to Machiavelli is not more attractive, this is true. But "doctrinaire purity" is not the problem. It's also something else. The complicity of a mirror which offers itself as an alternative and simplifies all its political relationships (and human ones as well, but that is another subject) into an inversion. This is the fundamental ethic of "revolutionary science"; that scientific knowledge produce an inverse morality to that of capitalism. So altruism is the response to egotism, collectivity to privatization, social context to individualism.

But this knowledge remains inside a mirror, like a fundamental morality, it does not contribute anything new. The inversion of the image is not a new one, but an inverted one. The alternative moral and political proposal is in a mirror: where the right dominates, now the left will do so; where the white dominates, now the black; where the one above, now the one below; where the bourgeoisie now the proletariat, and so on. The same, but inverted. And this ethic is what is recorded(or was) in all the spectrum of the left.

I agree. But the modern Machiavellians say, and say well, that we offer nothing better than they do: cynicism and efficiency. That we criticize them from a new "morality" as criminal as theirs (well, they don't say that theirs is a criminal morality, but that ours is) and that we want to reduce politics to a struggle between black and white, forgetting that there are many greys. It's true, but we do not only say that the morality of the resurrected Machiavelli is cynical and criminal, we also point out that it is INEFFICIENT...

Durito interrupts again to say I must be prudent when I talk about morality.

"Your immorality is public knowledge" Durito says, trying to overlook his failure to bring videos, those with a lot of X's that I asked him to bring from the capital.

"We're not talking about that kind of morality. And stop lecturing me like a Panista mayor" I say in my own defense.

"I'd never do that. But it's my responsibility to deter you from your perverted cinematic preferences. Instead of those I brought you something more constructive. They're the pictures of my trip to the DF."

This said, Durito threw an envelope at me. In it there are pictures of different sizes and subjects. In one of them Durito is standing in Chapultepec.

"You don't look too happy in this picture at the zoo" I said.

Durito answers from under the desk, that the picture was taken after he was detained by a guard from the zoo. Seems the man mistook Durito with a dwarf rhinoceros and was determined to take him back to a cage. Durito argued using different lessons about botany, zoology, mammology, and arthropology, and even gallant knighthood, but he wound up penned up with the rhinos. He escaped somehow, in that moment when the guard took a break.

He was so happy to be free he decided to take a picture when he looked exactly like a white rhinoceros. He was that pale. He was that scared, he says.

And then there were other pictures with Durito in different poses and urban backgrounds.

There was one with Durito among many feet. He wanted me to notice that none of the feet wore boots, and that made Durito applaud. I told him not to be so enthusiastic, that Espinosa[Mexico City mayor] had not yet shown his claws.

There was a picture with a lot of people in it. Durito took that one so that I wouldn't feel so lonely.

There was another one of Durito and another beetle. In the background you could see the buildings of University City. I asked him who the other beetle was.

"It's not a he, it's a she" he answered with a long sigh.

No more pictures. Durito was silent and all you could hear were sighs which emanated from the sculpture. I turned back to the indignation of Machiavelli at my criticism of efficiency.

In view of this morality and this criticism does this mean that we offer an alternative? Is this the blasphemy which knocks down the adopted Machiavellians? A new morality? A better morality? A more successful morality? More efficient? Is that what we offer? Negative. Inasfar as the Zapatistas are concerned we believe it is necessary to construct a new political relationship, whose source will not only be neo- Zapatismo. We believe that that relationship should act upon itself. This relationship will be so new that it will not only be a new politics, but create new politicians. A new form of defining the arena of politics and of those who practice it.

I won't argue why a new political morality won't come solely from neo-Zapatismo; its enough to say that our existence is also, old. We have undertaken the argument of weapons (no matter how much J. Castaneda, in the hopes of salvaging his book from failure, denies them and claims that only in name are we an army), and together with them, we use the argument of force. Whether the weapons are old or new or have gone largely unused does not change the situation one way or another. The fact is that we were, and are willing to use them. We are willing to die for our ideals, yes. But we are also willing to kill. That is why, from an army, whether "lame" or revolutionary, heroic or etcetera, cannot come a new political morality, or better yet, a political morality superior to that which oppresses us a good part of the day and much of the night. She, the night, still keeps some surprises, and I'm sure that many hairs will be torn out trying to figure out what...

"Things are not that simple" Durito says "It may be that I did not bring you the videos you wanted and that's why you want to lay on my noble shoulders a blame much heavier than this piano and desk. But I should tell you that, I brought some things for the Zapatistas: bracelets, headbands, earrings, hairclasps...I worked ten night straight to get these things..."

Speaking of nights, the one today shows the sharp horns of a bull-moon which, new, returns from the west. Her clouds are gone, and without a cape to help her, the night fights the bull solely and in silence. Her enthusiasm is not dampened by the storm announced in the east, and among her treasures are as many comets as rhinestones on the suit of the best bullfighter.

And there I was, trying to decide whether I would rise to her defense, when I was held back by the wide smile, painted inside the horns of the moon. Ten times I sought to avoid her, and ten times the stars demanded that I continue the passes of the bullfight.

Then I tossed the article aside and moved towards the center of the nightly stadium, asking Durito to play a pasodoble. He said I should go back to my writing because I'd taken too much time to finish it, and he, Durito, would not help me. Oh well, I left the round pending and returned to the article and the problem of political morality. The thousand heads thrust forward by the light barely peeked and shook the wall of the night gently...

What was I saying? Oh yes! Our criticism to Machiavelli does not mean that we are better, superior, or best. But we do say that it is necessary to try to be better. The problem is not what political morality is better or more efficient, but what is necessary for a new political morality.

In any case, it's not the diluted cynicism of those intellectuals, anxious to find a theoretical explanation for chaos, which will produce a new or more efficient political morality. In terms of the political parties, Machiavelli runs a complicated scale of rewards; once legalized as alternatives to power, all of their pettiness (secrets, negotiations, opportunisms, pragmatisms and betrayals) do not weigh enough in order to shift the balance in their favor.

However, the nature of that "pettiness" soon makes a historic payment. And the higher the position reached with those "small and great political wits", the larger the payment that history demands. Once again, Carlos Salinas de Gortari is an example made historic lesson (which, it seems, no one in the political class wants to learn).

Is it a better world that we offer? Negative: we do not offer a new world. Machiavelli does, and he says it is not possible to be better, to conform ourselves with the greys which populate Mexican politics and the necessity to keep them from being antagonistic, thus diluting them into greyer greys. We disagree, and not just because of the mediocrity of that sad view of "not one or the other", but because it is a lie, it has no future, and sooner or later, reality comes, with that pigheadedness that reality assumes, and with the tendency to decompose medium tones and sharpen even the most neutral grey...

"Seven questions. That was the correct thing to do" Durito says, who obviously does not let go of his disagreement with the National Plebiscite.

I try to distract him and ask him about Pegasus. Durito's voice breaks as he answers.

"What happened to Pegasus is part of that daily tragedy which lives and dies in the DF. Pegasus was an amiable and intelligent beast, but too patient for the traffic of Mexico City. I had just disguised him as a compact car, because he refused to be a Metro car being afraid of sliding in the rain. Things were going well, but as it turns out Pegasus was a she and she fell in love with a bus from Ruta 100. The last time I saw her she was collecting money in a can for the resistance fund. But I don't regret it, I'm sure she will learn good things. I told her to write but she didn't know where to send the letter."

A tremor shook the sky. I stare at the place where Durito is. A silence and a cloud of smoke surrounds the sculpture. I try to encourage Durito and ask him to tell me more about his trip to the capital.

"What else can I tell you? I saw what is to be seen in a large or small city; injustice and anger, arrogance and rebellion, great wealth in the hands of a few and a poverty which each day claims more people. It was worth seeing. For many, fear is no more; for others it disguises itself as prudence. Some say it could be worse; others will never have it so bad. There is no unanimity, except about the repudiation of everything which is government."

Durito lights the pipe and continues.

"One early morning I was about to go to sleep in one of the few remaining trees of the Alameda. And the city was another, different from the one that lives during the day. From high in the tree I saw a patrol car going by slowly. It stopped in front of a woman and one of the officers stepped out of the car. His demonic look gave him away. My intuition was correct: I knew instantly what was going to happen. The woman did not move, and waited for the officer as though she knew him. Silently, she gave him a roll of bills and he put it away as he looked to the sides. He said goodbye by trying to pinch the woman's cheeks but she brushed his hand aside brusquely. He returned to the vehicle, and then the patrol car left instantly.."

Durito is quiet for a long time. I suppose he has finished and returned to his paperwork, and I should return to mine: instead of discussing which political morality is better or more "efficient" we should talk and discuss the necessity of fighting for the creation of a space in which a new political morality may be born. And here the problem departs from the following:

Should political morality be defined always in relationship with the issue of power? Alright, but that is not the same as saying "in relationship to the taking of power". Perhaps, the new political morality is constructed in a new space which will not be the taking or retention of power, but the counterweight and opposition which contains and obliges the power to "rule by obeying", for example.

Sure "rule by obedience" is not within the concepts of "political science" and it is devalued by the morality of "efficiency" which defines the political activity which we suffer. But in the end, confronted by the judgement of history, the "efficiency" and "success" of the morality of cynicism is naked unto itself. Once it looks at itself in the mirror of its accomplishments, the fear it inspires in its enemies (who will always be the majority) turns against it.

On the other side, the side of the "pure" ones, the saint learns he is a demon, and the inverse image of cynicism discovers that it has made intolerance into direction and religion, in the measuring cup of a political project. The puritanism of National Action for example, is a part of the sample which remains unexhausted in the Mexican right wing.

Well, the dawn is coming, and with it, time to say goodbye. Maybe I didn't understand the polemic of the resurrected Machiavelli to which I was invited, and I see now that I presented (and did not resolve) more polemical lines than the original ones. That's not bad; "inefficient" maybe, but not bad.

Surely the polemic can continue, but it's unlikely to happen face-to-face given the ski-mask, persecution and the military seige.. in the words of Munoz-Ledo: "I don't believe that [Marcos] is someone who will remain in the political scene of the country". What, does he already have a pact with Chuayffet? A disappearance, maybe of the kind ordered by that Justice Secretary of Chiapas, that other great PRD member, Eraclio Zepeda?

Meanwhile, the Powerful will continue to promise us the Apocalypse in exchange for change. It is His conclusion that it is better to avoid it and be comfortable. Others deduce, in silence that the Apocalypse is eternal and that chaos is not about to come, but is already a reality...

I don't know how to finish this so I ask Durito for help. The spectacle of his sculpture is erased by the bolts of lightning of the storm. The reluctant light makes the contrast of the shadows darker. Maybe that's why I never saw Durito come out from under the ruin, and for a moment I thought something extraordinary had happened. Durito was smoking and sitting on top of the piano.

"How did you get out from under there?"

"Simple. I was never down there. I moved to one side when the piano started tumbling. I decided instantly that no work of art deserved being on top of my body. Anyway, I am a gallant knight, and for that you need to be a soulful artist and there are few of those. Alright, what is your problem my dear 'Guatson'"?

"I don't know how to end this letter" I say, ashamed of myself.

"That's an easy problem to resolve. Finish the way you started."

"How did I start? With a point?"

"It's elementary my dear 'Guatson', it is in any book of mathematical logic."

"Mathematical logic? And what does that have to do with political morality?"

"More than you think. For example, in mathematical logic (not to be confused with algebra) the point represents a conjunction, an AND. The point is the same as an AND. To say A AND B or A plus B, you write A.B. The point is not final, it is a sign of unity, of something which is added. It is defined, between one point and another, by X number of paragraphs, where X is a number which the mirror does not alter and reflects faithfully" Durito says as he arranges his papers. To the west, the sun uncovers clouds and takes over the sky.

And things being like this, this postscript comes to an end with a point which, according to Durito, does not mean the end but a continuation. Vale then: Y

P.S. So I invite you to resolve the enigma which encloses the central theme:

Instructions:

First. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR (AND WHATEVER ALICE FOUND THERE), Lewis Carroll, Chapter II, "The garden of the living flowers"

Second. Each period means the end of a paragraph.

Third. Punctuation marks don't count.

Fourth. Numeric chaos in the logic of the numbers in the mirror:

1-111. 14-110. 9-109. 247-107.
11-104. 25-103. 47-97. 37-96. 3-95.
14-94. 3-89. 24-87. 22-86. 6-85.
10-84. 48-82. 21-81. 43-79. 55-78.
10-77. 49-76.83-72. 21-71. 42-64.
6-63. 27-62. 52-61. 63-59. 13-58.
11-57. 3-56. 6-54. 101-53. 141-51.
79-50. 35-49. 32-49. 51-46. 11-45.
88-44. 12-43. 12-42. 31-41. 3-40.
24-39. 15-38. 20-37. 18-37. 17-36.
27-35. 22-33. 111-32. 7-32. 115-31.
20-31. 12-31. 5-31. 68-30. 46-30.
31030. 12-30. 9-30. 54-29. 45-29.
12-29. 49-28. 20-28. 9-28. 40-27.
15-27. 42-22. 111-21. 91-21. 29-21.
3-21. 34-20. 6-20. 81-19. 66-19.
44-19. 36-19. 18-19. 11-19. 123-18.
90-18. 80-18. 76-18. 65-18. 43-17.
4-17. 51-15. 48-15. 28-15. 16-15.
47-14. 20-14. 8-14. 39-13. 12-13.
55-12. 54-12. 53-12. 18-11. 43-10.
25-10. 41-8. 9-6. 6-4. 1-1.

Fifth. In the mirror, chaos is a reflection of the logical order and the logical order a reflection of chaos.

Sixth. A.A=?

Seventh. There are seven mirrors: the first is the first. The second and third open the mystery of chaos which is ordered in the fourth. The fourth is constructed with the fifth and the sixth. The seventh is the last one.

Vale once again.
Health, and it appears that (given trees, outlaws, and dentistry) it is not so easy to love the branch.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Zapatista Army of National Liberation
Mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Chiapas, Mexico


Translated by Cecilia Rodriguez


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