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Half Past Midnight

Adolfo Alzuphar: There's a great Haitian parable that I love: it's only when a snake dies that you know how long it is.

Maitre Minuit, the master of midnight. They are tall enough to cross the country in a few steps. They guard the crossroads and the cemeteries. They judge and punish evildoers.

Half Past Midnight

These days, an absence of popular memory of struggle, of governance, of widespread misery and betrayal, but also of triumph gets me down. I am even beginning to not trust in the whole totalizing insurgent youth thing, despite my age. What can one change without being conscious of it?

I recently read in The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty that after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, that feudalism arose as exchanging "advice and council" for land because tribes such as the Franks and the Saxons were run by lordly assembly and so such assemblies, before becoming parliaments and jury duty, in Europe and later in America are what allowed post Roman Empire empires (French, English) to be kept together.

The Magna Carta, this country after the constitutional convention you name it. Would it be possible to discuss such a thing as neighbors, as friends, or even as colleagues. It's hard to even remember such a fact except when it sort of just comes out of you, as surrealistic information giving during a passionate conversation. A democracy that has always existed as such means a society that has always existed as such. What was the point of Saxon, or Frank society? How does it underlie our contemporary society?

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What if forgetting is a pillar of this culture that we built for ourselves? What would it say about memory, or about fighting, which many of us chose to do, stepping over and around the present. What if forgetting was everywhere: on the bus, in the market (buying a product that one should not buy), eating on plastic plates. What if forgetting was even central to capitalism's perpetual growth, and what ensured that an investment bears fruit. There's a great Haitian parable that I love: it's only when a snake dies that you know how long it is.

There's a great Haitian parable that I love: it's only when a snake dies that you know how long it is.

Remembering seems to be central to all working toward a new society. How do we remember. Borges once wrote that libraries are beautiful gardens in the end flowering left and right. Is that not too much information. What if saxon and frank society also featured forgetting as a central pillar of society, as opposed to remembering and commemorating outside of the usual dominant narrative. How do we remember that James Madison was fond of the words "divide et impera" or divide and conquer, three words that underlie our society? Give a child a fish they'll have dinner for one day, but teach them Madison's fascination with dividing and conquering and I'm sure they'll have fish, the right kind, for a whole life time.

Courtney Marie Andrews sings it beautifully in Rookie Dreaming, “we are too busy carrying the weight of everything.” Mirek in Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting tells us that "the human fight against power is memory's fight against forgetting". I'll say it as "forgetting" or choosing not to know, two sides of the same coin, lead us to oppression without a viable alternative. Living this mess, those are my two cents.

Adolf Alzuphar

Adolfo Alzuphar