Maius noster / Oswaldo Barreto

Maius noster

Regarding what happened that spring of 1968, which we now designate with double metonymy as the French May, people speak “with anxieties and fears” – as Darío would say – not just in Paris and France but anywhere in the world. Before and after those events there were others identified or distinguished to the degree of the mood of whoever evokes or revives them. Sometimes we speak about May as a revolution and other times, we ourselves, each one and all of us, speak of a social explosion or the ephemeral realization of a utopia.

And yet, as soon as we stop at each of these comparisons, we find the historical figure of May is different from those other references in that it continues to be permanently discussed everywhere on Earth. It’s true this doesn’t happen with other events we’ve stumbled upon in our lives: insurrections, mutinies and revolutions; exoduses, discoveries and conquests; explosions of horror or of collective festivity, these are all events that present themselves (and represent us) at specific moments; always with the same traits: they’re documents and also monuments with the solemnity, the precision and the distance of what already happened and occurred in the way we tend to see it now, almost always with the same feelings. Alternately, the French May always comes back to anyone who lived it or stumbled upon it at some moment, with different faces and profiles that awaken within us again, within each one of us, anxieties and fears, but also always in a different manner.

The French May, more than any other genre of historical event most resembles those novels that fiction readers turn into “their novels,” those they’ve never been able to abandon because they’ve never been able to master them completely. Each moment provides an impulse to engage in a new reading and discover the possibility of reading. It’s a matter of seeing the entire work as one reads any work, that is, by discovering new themes and elements, as well as a new hierarchy based on interests and affections between those new elements we’ve just discovered.

May always offers the possibility of affirming today the exact opposite of what we negated yesterday and what we’ll be able to reaffirm tomorrow. Today, for example, I think May is the only revolution that remains alive, absolutely alive, precisely because it never triumphed, in the sense that those who rebelled never reached power. Other revolutions died and will be seen as cadavers, even if unburied, because those who took power made sure to murder them. We will continue to talk about May because each person has his own, Maius noster.

{ Oswaldo Barreto, Tal Cual, 9 May 2008 }

No comments: