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by Alfredo M. Bonanno


   Facing the understanding of oneself and others, unsuspected aspects of awareness are frequently discovered. When we approach a problem about which we know little or a person whom we have never met before, we feel a sense of panic (or of pleasure, a subtle difference that is never completely clear). Will we manage to get to the bottom of it? We ask ourselves. And the answer is not always positive.

   Most of the time we look at the “stranger” with suspicion, the suspicion that always exists of the difference that is not yet codified. Where will this “stranger” take us? Certainly toward new things, and what will these be like? They might be good or bad, but they upset our balance, the sleep (and dreams) that we often create between one harsh awakening and the next.

   From this, it is all the more necessary not to reveal ourselves. Since our personal world, our own world, is what is at stake when we risk venturing into the unknown, we are disposed to defend it to the death; its boundaries harden and propose an interpretive scheme. The “stranger”, whether person or problem, is thus catalogued in the sphere of our schemes; we dilute the form in the structure, suppress it by force, expecting the other to conform itself to our needs. Thus, after having killed it in the ritual manner that we can and within the limits of our capacity as killers, we reproduce it, adapted to our aims, even continuing to feed our inclusive desires, dreams and sleep.

   In this way, some of us, and certainly not the worst, wrap ourselves up in the cocoon of codification, judging or suspending judgment without being aware of it. But in daily practice, this suspension is always expressed in trusting the other to remain in the sphere of our perspective by itself, without our needing to do it violence. In these cases, the common sense of ridicule helps in finding tunings that would otherwise be revealed as nonexistent.

   Please, no shouting your contempt for order; it is sufficient that you show me that your way of living follows a lively, dancing qualitative logic and not the obligation of the routine of quiet and the code. But show me this with logical, accurate connections. Please, tell me that you are crazy, just like me, but say it with clarity. Please, speak to me of the terrible shudder of darkness, but tell me about it in the light of the sun, so that I can see it, here and now, represented in the distinct speech in which I was educated.

   Encourage me with your chants about destruction – they are sweet lullabies for my heart’s needs – but speak of them in an orderly manner so that I can understand them and thanks to them understand what destruction is. In short, I want the words to reach me in a well-organized form. Alas, if you start to shout, I will no longer listen. It is good to destroy, but with the order that logic imposes. Otherwise we go into the chaos of the unrepeatable, where everything fades into the incomprehensible. Yes, granted, something could reach me even through the perplexing shouts of an Algerian marketplace on a feast day, but I am not used to that life, to that unpredictable and fleeting dance, to the unforeseen appearance of the “stranger”. It is necessary that you put the code of habit before me, that the language be made full of immediateness. Speak to me, I beg you, so that the word becomes the umbilical cord between me and the world of what has already happened, so that nothing presents itself as being thrown suddenly into the dark dimension of chaos.

   Speak to me of love, of your love, for me, of every possible love, even of the most remote and difficult to understand, of the violence that goes at it from the hip, of violence and death, but, in order to let me see it with the eyes of the mind, speak to me about it imprisoned, captured in the slimy and corruptible web of words. Speak to me about it carefully, I beg you, so that my heart can bear its repercussions. Then I will make a habit of it. And really, since you have spoken to me about it, the love will become familiar to me and I will carry it with me everywhere, like one carries a knife in one’s pocket, a heavy object that furnishes security. As to that other possibility, as to the “stranger” that presented herself suddenly before my eyes, like a thief in the night, no longer beckoning to me there, it abandons the high howl that could still speak to me in the night.

   Speak to me of the future society, of anarchy, that in which you and I believe, describe its conditions of uncertainty to me, the unpredictability of relations between human beings finally freed of every constraint; with your calm, persuasive words, tell me of the ferment of the passions that break loose, the hatred and the desire for destruction that don’t disappear from one day to the next, the fear and the blood that don’t stop spreading and flowing in the veins of a society that is finally different from every nightmare of the past. Tell me, I beg you, but do it in a way that does not frighten me, Speak to me about it in an orderly manner, speak to me about what we do, you and I, and the others, and the comrades, and those who were never comrades, but who come to understand from one moment to the next, all together, building, a little here, a little there, bit by bit, while everything within life, I mean true life, begins to flourish again. But speak to me about it with intelligible logic. Don’t shout into my ear that which shouts within you, frightening me. Keep it to yourself. Keep the difficulty of coordinating your needs and ideas with mine to yourself. Keep the indomitable strength to yourself that leads you far from any acceptance of my will, your own being irrepressibly hostile to all codification just like mine, after all. Not telling me all these things, you would stop frightening me.

   I beg you, don’t give me anything more to worry about.


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