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martedì 28 luglio 2015

Being Up For Grabs: an anarcheology

Being Up For Grabs é meu livro que sai em breve. Para celebrar, copio aqui uma das três anarqueologias nele presente.

Apocrypha from the Sahagún Colloquia and the bringers of movement (3)

In 1524, twelve Franciscan friars arrived in Mexico to make sure the conversion of the pagans was going in a suitable direction after Cortez’s Conquista. Some years later, they convened in Tepeculco under Bernardino de Sahagún with twelve tlamatinime, priests and wise men of the place, to discuss, in Nahuatl, matters of how things are. The manuscript made by Sahagún and his indigenous collaborators transcribing the colloquia came to light years later, but always in an incomplete format. The material that circulated featured subservient and easily convinced natives. But, out of Sahagún’s material – composed of two books (one of thirty and the other of twenty-one chapters) – only the first fourteen chapters were available. The missing chapters included parts where the natives described their creed more thoroughly. Sahagún, himself a historian of the so-called New Spain1 and considered one of the first anthropologists2, has changed the structure of his book of colloquia quite dramatically throughout the years.3 It is unclear what precise effect he hoped his transcriptions would have, but the manuscript that ended up circulating (and was later published4) does little more than portray the tlamatinime as ready to convert to Christianity.

There is a considerable amount of controversy about the historical accuracy of the document. Some say that it is no more than a piece of literature, ultimately having evangelical purposes, while an increasing number of scholars grant it historical veracity. The issue, however, has become more complicated in the last few years, as two supposed fragments of the transcriptions of the colloquia have emerged. They were found in a monastery in Popocatépetl, Veracruz, in relatively good condition. They display the Spanish version and parts of the Nahuatl version of the two fragments. They have supposedly been copied by hand from the original transcriptions and preserved for centuries, hidden in the obscurity of the monastery library. The authenticity of the fragments is under all sorts of religious, historical, ethnographical and anarcheological scrutiny. A factor in favor of their legitimacy is that they both express mostly the views of the tlamatinime, with almost no substantial counter from the twelve friars. This, however, is not decisive. The monks could have kept the manuscripts for several reasons unrelated to it being historically factual.

In any case, the first fragment includes two lines present in the published version in chapter 7 of the first book – lines 1017 and 1018. It seems to fit well in chapter 7, specifically between lines 1016 and 1017, and could have been removed for censorship... The lines of the fragment are therefore referred to as VII-1016-2, VII-1016-3 and so forth, VII-1016-1 being the line published as 1016. The second fragment seems to fit somewhere in the lost chapter 16, also of the first book. As the chapter is otherwise entirely lost, the lines are referred here as XVI-?-1, XVI-?-2, etc. What appears here has been translated from the Spanish version.

VII-1016-2 because every sun rises and sets,
the sun that creates a day
as much as its absence that creates a night
the sun that creates years, generations, eras.
VII-1016-6 One sun after the other.
It was in Teotihuacan
that our present horizon emerged.
This is the fifth sun,
a sun that doesn’t rule by water, air, earth or fire
VII-1016-11 like the previous ones, but by movement.
Its navel nothing but the friction
of one ruler against another
and its Chicoóztoc5 is not one but many.
The sacred place shines in different mountains
VII-1016-16 and in valleys, lakes, cities and holes.
The gods of the fifth sun
are moving forces, they don’t have addresses,
they have roads.
They erode.
VII-1016-21 They digest. They burn. They flood.
It was the Fifth Sun that burned away the previous four;
it is not a static sun
but one that has a different light each day.
As those who destroyed all the other stabilities,
VII-1016-26 they liberators.
We suspect that this is why some macehuals,
common people, welcomed you in their spasms;
because you were also dissolvers,
destroyers of a rule,
VII-1016-31 you brought changes, shifts, alterations, new starts.
Little some of us knew
That you were bringing
a celebration of the un-moved.

The spirit of the huehuehlahtolli6
VII-1016-36 is that a god frees us from an order,
from another need.
A god is what shakes the perennial.
None of them can rule all because
since Nanahuatzin7 went to fire in Teotihuacan,
VII-1016-41 other gods have bumped into their realms.
gods of the ancient customs
were not those that command,
but those that disrupt.
We need them to displace the commanders.
VII-1016-46 We invoke them to shake what is about,
to bring up the riot and to go away.
We invoke them because without disruption,
we wouldn’t have been born,
we wouldn’t have grown.
VII-1016-51 They make us move.

The tzitzimine, by contrast, are the keepers.
Those who preserve.
The gods come and exorcise
the devils of fixity
VII-1016-56 because they come unnoticed.
This is why gods are several –
the world is full of chains,
VII-1016-59 full of traps.
VII-1017 That’s why gods are invoked,
VII-1018 that’s why we pray for them.

So you see that your gods didn’t protect you
from the holy hands of the Conquerors.
They couldn’t because they are not out there
and if they were, they would have recognized
XVI-?-5 the presence of a greater Force
and perhaps they would be first to bow their heads.

And then some priests have contested:
Much as there are turmoil and havoc
amid our peoples since you have arrived,
XVI-?-10 we should see your arrival as an event
of the Fifth Sun.
We are in the horizon of disruption
and our gods are revered
because they are those who unsettle the affairs.
XVI-?-15 They are those who undo the chains
and leave things unheld
and, as such, open to new rulers;
for no God can both free us and protect us.
To unchain is to erode a determination.
XVI-?-20 To protect is to cherish it.
Whatever we worship in the Fifth Sun
is to be worshiped not as shelter but as roads.
Our gods are here to free us,
and those who advertise their protection
XVI-?-25 are in deviant ways –
even though we are entitled to wish protection
when our land is invaded by murders like you.

Many tsitsimine have come to us recently.
They advertise security
XVI-?-30 or redemption, or a superior order.
They cannot resist the heat of the Fifth Sun.
Yet they make their bites,
like you do with all this small tsitsimine
that you brought to infect us
XVI-?-35 and kill us and make us feel unprotected.

The huehuehlahtolli is all for what unchains,
for holier is what makes us escape,
and sacred is forgiving.
Our gods are those who forgive,
XVI-?-40 forgo and forget.
Like in your Bible the debt is cancelled
after a number of years
and promises are forgotten.
Such are the acts of our gods in the Fifth Sun.
XVI-?-45 They are forgivers.
They are many, they are everywhere
because they don’t dwell in small numbers,
and because this sun brings dispute,
our ancient tlamatinime
XVI-?-50 had different liturgies
and they spot movement
in different places
and fixity in different places
depending on taste, season, transport.
XVI-?-55 For movement itself cannot be caught,
except in movement.

This is why, as you have noticed,
hesitation, deception,
lack of decision and of certainty
XVI-?-60 are appreciated by some of us, priests.
Under the Fifth Sun, they are virtues,
because they manifest movement.
Even though they are painful
they bring about what redeems us
XVI-?-65 and show us the road out.
So I advise you: beware.
We live in the horizon of uncertainty,
and no Conquest will dispel it.
As for us, we seek and treasure
XVI-?-70 what we don’t know.
It is less heavy on us.
We distrust what seems to merely repeat,
for the Fifth Sun is the sun
of what is loose.

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