The idyl is gone now. Nothing is left but the dirty realities. Leviathan is all there is. These very words, written words, are inventions of the Lugal's scribes. They cannot convey dream time.
Every meaning has been inverted.
"Central Africa," "Australia," "America" are not the names of places where free human beings ever lived. They are names of unprecedented holocausts, of gigantic colonies, of monstrous Leviathanic trophies. They are Leviathan's "empty continents."
From the vantage point of Death, all Life is an aberration. The languages of the two protagonists are mutually unintelligible. The very vocabularies are untranslatable. Leviathan's world is a Wilderness to free living beings. The freedom of living beings is a Wilderness to Leviathan.
Free human beings were able to encompass Leviathan in their horizon and still remain free.
The Leviathanized cannot encompass free beings in their horizon and still remain Leviathanized. Once they grasp freedom they become Renegades. And the stiff-necked spokesmen of Leviathan know it. The questions: Who would abandon the amenities of Civilization? and Who would go back to the digging stick? are rhetorical questions practiced in front of a looking glass.
The Renegades from Civilization are notorious. They shed masks. They shed whole armors. They separate from previously indispensable amenities and experience a shedding of an insupportable burden. Mere contact with a community of free human beings gives them insights no Leviathanic education can provide. Nurturing contact stimulates dreams and ultimately even visions. The Renegade is possessed, transformed, humanized. Psyche-manipulators aware of Civilization's discontents will try to induce such transformations within Leviathan's entrails, but their most vaunted successes will be miserable failures. Civilization does not nurture humanity.
Communities were able to possess the Leviathanized.
But Leviathan cannot possess communities, it cannot possess living subjects. Leviathan can only possess things, dead things, objects.
Communities could remove masks and armors. Leviathan removes the scalp, the skin and the flesh.
Communities could help the repressed recover their humanity. Leviathan dis-covers unrepressed humanity and consumes it. Dis-covery, the removal of Earth's cover, the liquidation of free beings, is in fact Leviathan's central project, and communities that nurture free beings are its greatest enemy.
* * *
The entity that crosses the great water in the ships of Cristoforo, in English "Christ-bearer," is more than the Western Spirit. What crosses the water in three ships is a body, octopus-like as well as worm-like but lifeless and artificial, the body Hobbes calls Leviathan. The body is described by the Dis-coverer's last name, Colonizer, Colon in Spanish.
This Colon, thought by some to be a Converso, namely a Christian more Catholic than the Pope, thinks himself a second Moses leading Israelites out of Egypt. As heavily armored as the first, the second Moses carries the wilderness encased in his armor, and wherever he leads his Israelites is wilderness. Were he to lower his mask, loosen his armor, be it only for an instant, he might see communities of human beings with relationships, emotions and insights far more complex than his own. But he cannot loosen the armor.
If communities nurture the freedom of their members, Leviathans nurture the repression of theirs. The Leviathanized police each other. Only the isolated can get away. Crew and captain stick together, slave sticks to master. Each forces the other to deny his own vision, to see what he expects the other to see. Thus after accomplishing the feat of traversing the impassable chasm, after crossing the unsailable Ocean, these blinded men find in the New World what is most familiar to them in the Old.
Analytical-minded precursors of Natural Scientists, Economists and Anthropologists, Christ-bearer and his accomplices find things, objects, which they automatically categorize as obstacles or as potential instruments.
Heirs of the savagery of Albigensian Crusades, Taborite Crusades, Inquisitions and Witch-hunts, they see communities of Arawaks but name them Savages.
Carriers and agents of Leviathan, synonym for Maneater, they see communities of Caribs but name them Cannibals, Maneaters.
The names are not only projections. They are also definitions. Once defined, the obiects can be manipulated. Savages are potential instruments; they can be put to work. Cannibals are obstacles; they have to be liquidated.
Thus the Blessed Isles are converted into a Leviathanic wilderness or, in the other language, the Wilderness is converted into a part of Christian Civilization.
One participant in this atrocity with few if any precedents, Bartolom‚ de Las Casas, thought by some to be another Converso, sickens during the implementation of this grizzly enterprise, shedding mask as well as armor. This supposed heir of the persecuted suddenly identifies with the persecuted, thus performing a feat as rare in his own as in any other age. Unable, with the Inquisition at his back, to express his view of the hounding of Spain's Jews, Las Casas rails loudly and clearly against the hounding and extermination of Arawaks. The more he sees of his fellow-Christians' deeds, the more victims of Christianity he embraces, until his lone voice pleads for the defense of humanity from the claws of the Leviathanic beast. What is this Conversion to Christianity if not enslavement and bestialization? he asks. What are these Christians who turn an Eden into an infernal labor camp - are they gods or demons? What is the god that calls for such bloodletting, such monstrous sacrifices? Let the victims resist, he shouts, if need be by sacrificing the sacrificers. If maneating be wrong in the eyes of some superior being, let that being condemn the greater wrongdoer.
But Las Casas no longer has faith in a superior being. He addresses his pleas to the King of Spain, to the monster's very head.
And the beastly head gives the protestor a hearing because it, too, is disturbed by the Dis-coverer's feats, but for different reasons. Leviathan is able to slaughter the New World's inhabitants, but it cannot make them work, it cannot enlarge itself by encasing them in its entrails. Soon after they are herded into the forced labor camps called Encomiendas, they perish, whole populations of them.
The King does not cry for the loss of the human beings but for the loss of what will later be called Capital and Technology.
Capital and Technology are not mere objects but relations of people to objects, not levers and drills but former human beings reduced to appendages of levers and drills. Without the human operators, the levers and drills are inert; they revert to Wilderness. And the point of the entire Leviathanic enterprise is to extirpate the Wilderness, to reduce lush tropical islands to the uniformity of plantations, to burrow through beautiful and precious places for stones, or in the beast's own language, to make the desert bloom, to turn the savage and the wild into profitable gardens.
The legendary Midas cried because everything he touched turned to gold, even his food. The King of Spain cries for the same reason. Every living being he touches shrivels up and dies, not only the obstacles but the potential instruments as well. After all his borrowing from Genoese bankers, driving his realm into fiscal ruin, he wins only half an empire. The fields strewn with corpses no longer contain obstacles, but neither do they contain instruments.
The King's ships have not only carried Conquistadores over the Ocean; they have also carried rats, viruses and bacilli. The Dis-coverers are not only carriers of Leviathan but also carriers of the Plague.
Disease, in fact, is the invader's main weapon, but it is double-edged. It gives easy victory but it mangles the fruit of the victory. That's why the King listens to Las Casas, pretends to become humane, revises the Encomienda laws. But it is all to no avail. The Blessed Isles become ever more depopulated, the labor camps remain inert, the gardens yield no profits, the empire of potential zeks is lost. To make up for the loss, the grizzly conquerors break up communities on an altogether different continent and import human beings immune to the Europeans' diseases to people the labor camps with zeks and to bury the New World's dead.
The New World is progressively emptied of its living beings. The double continent across the Ocean is on its way toward becoming the Europeans' long-sought America.
Unlike the objects that turned to gold when Midas touched them, America is an object that glistens like gold but vanishes when Europeans touch it. The Spaniards who outdo each other in greedy grabbing cannot even hold on to the metallic gold which, melted down into ingots, finds its way into underground vaults of foreign lenders.
And the real gold, the one Hesiod named an age after - the sacred places, the myths, the cultures - vanishes from the very Biosphere, irretrievably.
At this point I can pose a rhetorical question of my own. If the implements that supersede the digging stick, if the notorious amenities of Civilization are so attractive, so irresistible, why do the prospective beneficiaries of all those wonders have to be decimated?
Despite beautification campaigns that outdo the very Church in sustained prevarication, the story of the Rise of Civilization in America will remain ugly beyond description. No amount of talk about Empty Continents that were filled with teeming life will be able to erase the memory of the teeming life that was turned into empty continents.
There will be talk of horses, of gunpowder and of rum. There will be talk of a superior technology and of a superior culture. There will be talk of everything but Death. Yet Death is the Conquistador, whether mounted on the horses or streaming from the guns. Death is the unspoken name of the superior technology. Death is the only superior culture of the community-less invader. And Death is no culture at all; it is the anti-culture, the eater of culture, Leviathan.
The cultured villagers gawk at the horses, but not for long. Horses they can understand. Horses are living beings, friends, cousins. Free human beings soon outdo the armored Europeans in horsemanship, they are soon equals of the mounted Turks of Eurasia's steppes.
The gunpowder and the rum are stranger than the horses. The one serves only to kill, the other to stupefy. But even these are not strange for long to people already familiar with poisoned arrows and poisonous herbs.
What is strange beyond comprehension is the bearded entity inside the armor, an entity that looks and behaves like a human being but is clearly something else, for it takes without giving, is kin to none, exists in no community. What is strange and remains strange is the manlike limb of a dead thing, the spring and wheel of Leviathan.
The invaded are already familiar with Leviathan, but not so familiar as to have been evacuated by it. They've kept their communities intact, relegated Leviathan to the fringes, or expelled the beast from their communities' very fringes.
The communities resist every incursion, every enslavement, every rape. The story of the invasion is also the story of that interminable resistance. It is interminable because it has no term, because it is not a cycle, because it is not part of the rhythm of life.
The resistance is not primarily a clash of arms, even if the spectacular battles of proto-Leviathanic Aztecs give the impression that the resistance is in the spears. The resistance is in the drums, not in the spears; it is in the music, in the rhythms lived by communities whose myths and ways continue to nurture and sustain them.
Nor is the invasion primarily a military venture, even if the successors to knightly Crusaders look like nothing but lethallimbed armors. The invasion is a silencing of music, a flattening of rhythm; it is a linearization of time, a destruction of the myths and ways that will later be called Culture, a war against communities that nurture freedom, vision and life.
The invaders are not ignorant of what they destroy. They are not only successors to Crusaders against Unbelievers but also to wandering Beghards and liberated Adamites. They are distant successors to communities that once resisted with music and myth. Themselves grandchildren of victims, they've been turned, like many before them, into passionate victimizers. They destroy with passion precisely because they know what they destroy. Themselves repressed, or in their own language Fallen, deprived of Eden, confined to a life of Sin, they are impassioned to repress the free, to universalize the Fall, to destroy Eden as irreversibly as Romans destroyed Carthage, to make Sin catholic or all-embracing.
* * *
The immediate successors to Christ-bearer Colon think of America as the Garden of Eden. Their intent, like that of their later Puritan, Liberal, Bolshevik and Nazi successors, is to turn the Garden into a forced-labor camp. To achieve this end, they must break human beings the way they break horses or dogs, they must eliminate the matrix that nurtures humanity, they must destroy community.
So-called Economists will later claim that the irresistible attractiveness of Civilization's material amenities is the force that destroys the ancient communities. The wise men will economize on words by calling this force Demand. They will also economize on the truth. European clothes are worn by people who have lost their own; no free human beings are attracted to shackles.
His-storians will of course focus on military might as the force that destroys the communities, and they will paint pictures of youthful Alexander-like heroes storming the walls of cannibalistic monsters. But His-storians will shy away from any mention of communities, and they will become knownothings or experts of other fields rather than admit that their heroes perpetrate unprecedented chemical and biological warfare against untold living beings.
The celebrated European armies finish off victims who are already dying. The so-called amenities give an empty compensation to immiserated survivors. The force that destroys the communities is an initially unsuspected but later welcome ally, the Plague.
Ever since Europeans physically adapted themselves to viruses, bacilli and bubonic rats, they have been carriers of lethal epidemics. A book titled Plagues and Peoples will vividly describe what Conquistadorial feats Smallpox and Bubonic Plague can achieve against communities not previously exposed to them. The book's author, William McNeill, will expose the great public secret behind the celebrated Conquests.
Hernan Cortez and his band of gold-sick marauders could not have exterminated the Aztecs, could not have destroyed their military machine, without an ally far more potent than Tlascala and other disaffected Aztec tributaries. Could not and did not. One of the Spanish marauders, Bernal D¡az by name, will leave an account of the famous Conquest of Mexico. He will nonchalantly mention that the Smallpox broke out in Tenochtitlan on the eve of the conquest, and he will mention the mounds of corpses and the crowds of afflicted, but he will concentrate on the Alexandrian features of his band-leader, for such concentration makes Diaz himself no worse than an ancient Greek.
The inhuman nonchalance with which Diaz mentions the Smallpox will be called Scientific Detachment by later Hisstorians. The much later McNeill, our contemporary, will broadcast news when he reveals that among human beings previously unaffected by Smallpox, three or four out of forty survive the disease. The `small' in this plague's name refers to the size of the skin irruptions, not to the power of the disease.
Armed with such a weapon, the mass murderers who depict themselves as Conquistadores and Pioneers have no forerunners. The feat is unprecedented. All of humanity's moral codes melt in the face of these deeds. Nothing comparable was achieved by Assyrians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans or Mongols. Shang Yang did not even dream of including the Plague among the weapons with which to liquidate human communities.
A moral vacuum as unprecedented as the Conquista itself will enable later apologists to blandly overlook the lever that emptied the continent and launched the reign of laws of supply and demand.
The bland overlooking of the European's great ally will begin already at the time of the second Conquista, the famous Pizarro's. This madman's cronies will concentrate so singlemindedly on the gold, they will not even mention the Midas whose touch empties Andean highlands and shorelands and turns them into lifeless gold.
After several generations, descendants of survivors will be as immune to the plagues as the Europeans themselves; only their children will be afflicted. They will then be able to repopulate their world. But by then it will be too late. By then the laws of supply and demand will have replaced the rhythms of the communities. By then the marauders will have appropriated the lodges as well as the fields; they will have burrowed into the sacred places, slaughtered the forests' inhabitants and downed the trees. By then the myths and the music will be forgotten. By then Leviathan will have supplanted the spirits, razed the fields and launched His-story.
One of the invaders of the Andean Altiplano and the jungles beyond it, a man named Lope de Aguirre, knows that the killers from Europe are not mere men. The armored Aguirre knows himself to be a higher being, a scourge of god, a deity, for life recedes in the face of his advance. Aguirre knows that the Plague is a minor deity, a scout that opens the paths and empties the fields. He knows that Leviathan is the greater deity, for Leviathan finishes off what the Plague initiated, and Leviathan omnipotently disposes of the remains.
Aguirre also knows, as Shang Yang, Nero and Caligula already knew, that he who kills without limit or scruple, who holds kinless men with bonds of fear, who stimulates greed in potential instruments and terror in threatening obstacles, is beyond good and evil, above humanity. Aguirre concludes that such a god cannot be the underling of Scottish Mary's Spanish husband, the distant emperor Philip Habsburg.
Aguirre declares war on the Emperor. This marauder's defiant letter to Spain's second Philip is the first American Declaration of Independence. It declares that the armored plague-carrier Aguirre, not the Emperor, initiated the killings, and therefore Aguirre, not the Emperor, will finish off the survivors and dispose of the remains. Viva la libertad! Viva Aguirre!
But the defiant declaration is too explicit even for Aguirre's confederates, good Christians all, and will be relegated to His-story's unlit dungeon instead of its showcase. Aguirre fails to become "the Great" because he neglects to express the terror, the fear and the greed with terms like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Aguirre's spiritual heirs, greater masters of language than their unpracticed forerunner, will realize Aguirre's project, not on the southern continent but on the northern, in lands once inhabited by people who had not launched any proto-Leviathanic ventures, people who had exiled the Lethal Trickster from their midst.
Communities of Potawatomi and communities of their cousins will be touched by English-speaking Aguirres who are not subjects of Philip but of his Scottish queen, Aguirres who will first of all declare themselves independent of Queen and Pope so as to appropriate the lands and wealth of the Church and the Irish.
English marauders rally behind anti-Catholic Elizabeth in order to take full advantage of the achievements of Spain's Conquistadores, for their Protestantism is initially nothing but a license to loot Spanish ships returning home with the New World's gold. The first English outposts in the New World are pirates' dens which hug the coasts.
Before venturing inland, the pirates, all respectable merchants, stuff their outposts with refugees who are either excessively or insufficiently Protestant for England's official Reformers.
* * *
The Potawatomi of the Great Lakes will not hear the English language until the future Aguirres proclaim their own declaration of independence.
The Potawatomi as well as their near and distant cousins are nevertheless aware of the existence of the English on the world's eastern shores, just as the ancestors of Franks were aware of the existence of armored Romans in Gaul. Long before seeing any of them, the Potawatomi are aware not only of the English but also of the French on the river that carries the water of the Lakes to the Ocean, and also of the Spaniards west of the Long River, the Mississippi.
Hunters and messengers bring news from all three directions, news of great deaths, inconceivable deaths, deaths not only of individuals but of entire communities. The deaths are brought by the bearded foreigners who emerged from the Ocean, even though most of the victims have had no more contact with the strangers than the Potawatomi themselves.
Long-distance killing is no mystery to the Potawatomi, who immediately recognize the feat as Wiske's, the Trickster's. The Potawatomi do not know that the plague-infected rats who disembark from the invader's ships do not confine themselves to the invader's settlements, nor do they know that other rodents as well as elk and deer carry the invader's infections. They do know that Wiske once raped several village women from a spot on the opposite side of a pond by sending his member into the pond and across it along its bottom. They are not surprised by what they hear, and they will not be surprised when they finally see the bearded men's fire-spitting rifles.
The Potawatomi know the news is important because they recognize it. Long-eared, long-membered Wiske is back again, more mischievous than ever, and far less generous to human beings than he was said to be. And of course they know what to do about the long-membered one: expel him from their communities, exile him to lands where life is nasty, brutish and short, push him away from the lush and teeming woodlands and lakes.
Kin from several villages gather at a place that will continue to be known as The Strait. They prepare a vast expulsion ceremony to purge themselves of the Leviathanic monster as they've done since the first days.
But halfway through the ceremony, the beats of the drum become arhythmic and singing voices drown in cries of pain. The Potawatomi of The Strait are attacked by the long-distance killer. Smallpox or Bubonic Plague reach the Great Lakes long before the carriers do.
The villages of the Potawatomi become burial grounds. Survivors flee toward the bay of the Winnebagos, far to the north. When French Jesuits first reach The Strait a generation later, they will find earthen mounds, forest openings for corn fields, as well as painted rocks, but no human beings.
The survivors are few in number. Preserved memories of the events will speak of one out of twenty. McNeill will confirm that such would be the death toll of a first outbreak of Smallpox. Subsequent attacks of Smallpox - and they recur every few years - take a smaller toll, but they alternate with outbreaks of Bubonic Plague and with other maladies long known in Eurasia as children's diseases.
Apologists who will speak of the European Plague-carriers as `We' will of course deny the event. They will demand Positive Evidence. They will pretend to want to see and count the corpses. But they will actually not want to even hear that Potawatomi communities ever existed on The Strait. Writers of edifying textbooks for children, they will portray killers who emptied lush and teeming woodlands as builders who made deserts bloom. They will say `We' transformed lands where no one and nothing ever lived into thriving industrial parks, `We' turned empty lots into Disneylands.
The survivors are not able to challenge the apologists' tall tales. The recurrent outbreaks of plague do more than kill numerous members of the communities. The plagues destroy the communities.
Of four hundred, twenty survive. Of forty, two survive. Two may remember the names of the vanished Totem, but they cannot regenerate the music. If one of the survivors is a storyteller, the other is not a youth to whom the teller can transmit his tales, and the tales die untold. If one is an herbal healer, the other is not necessarily inclined to absorb the herbal lore. One may remember the songs or the preparations for some of the great enactments, but two or even four or six are not enough to dance the dances or to feast or celebrate.
Some go off on their own, embittered because they sense that something, perhaps even their own guiding spirit, has betrayed them.
Others flee toward the sunset, toward the endless Plains beyond the Mississippi, even toward the great mountains.
Many join villages of equally displaced and disoriented survivors, gatherings of fragments of communities.
The united fragments do not constitute a whole. The gatherings are refugee camps, melting pots, not communities. The beat of the drum is arhythmic. The music is discordant. Continuities preserved since the Beginning are broken off, and the few remembered myths no longer speak of any shared beginning because the gathered fragments are not a Totem and share no common Beginning.
The myths of displaced persons are mere stories and the great enactments are mere ceremonies. Ways of living become ways to spend time. Time that can be spent without being lived is Plague time, Leviathanic time, His-storic time. The His-story of the Potawatomi and of all their cousins and neighbors begins with the plague, and this story is its story.
The countless ages that preceded the Plague are henceforth inaccessible to memory. The communities who remembered their entire trajectory since the Beginning are irretrievably gone. Their time is henceforth Dream time, unreal time, imaginary time.
Even the words we will use to describe what was lost, words like music, myth, ceremony and community, will be as empty as the continent becomes, because they will refer to no lived experiences accessible to any human being trapped in His-story. What is lost is of much greater human import than the things Economists will include on their ledgers.
The gatherings of survivors might recover some of the meanings, they might harmonize some of the music, they might reconstitute some of the vanished communities. But this could take generations, perhaps even countless generations. One of the few things we will know about Cultures will be that they were very old. And the survivors are henceforth not alone. Before they've even recovered from the Plague itself, they are already beset by invaders rushing to finish off what the Plague began.
The invaders do not break off their alliance with the Plague. On the contrary, bubonic rats continue to accompany the invaders in canoes as well as pirogues. The invaders go on dispensing the Smallpox as freely as they dispense the poisonous alcohol that dements its takers, as freely as they dispense the guns that turn disoriented Plague-victims into trigger-quick killers.
The potency of the epidemic diseases gradually diminishes, and the invaders resort to other weapons from their Leviathanic armory to finish off their victims, to liquidate the obstacles and civilize the potential instruments, to transform America into a labor camp.
Henceforth, namely after the initial landing of the invaders and their rats and bacilli, the invaders confront only Plaguesurvivors, fragments of communities, displaced persons.
Yet the fragments go on resisting, the Plague-survivors go on ejecting Leviathan from their midst, the displaced persons refuse to patch their wounds by covering themselves with the masks and armors of the Civilized.
The resistance persists from generation to generation, in the face of plagues, poisons and explosives. The story of that resistance has been repeatedly and powerfully told. It is a story that does not show Leviathan to be as natural to human beings as hives are to bees. It is a story that shows Leviathan to be an aberration which cannot be imposed, by wile or by force, on human beings who retain the slightest link with community, even a link as tenuous as the remembrance of a Dream Time.