June 5, 2010
You use caprice to fracture a people's faith in the ancient things - earth, forest, water, air. Once that's done, what do they have left? Only you. They will turn to you, because you're all they have. They will love you even while they despise you. They will trust you even though they know you well. They will vote for you even as squeeze the very breath from their bodies.
"To slow a beast, you break its limbs. To slow a nation, you break its people. You demonstrate your absolute command over their destiny. You make it clear that ultimately it falls to you to decide who lives, who dies, who prospers who doesn't. To exhibit your capability you show off all that you can do, and how easliy you can do it. How easily you could press a button and annihilate the earth. How you can start a war, or sue for peace. How you can snatch a river away from one and gift it to another. How you can green a desert, or fell a forest and plant one somewher else. You use caprice to fracture a people's faith in the ancient things - earth, forest, water, air. Once that's done, what do they have left? Only you. They will turn to you, because you're all they have. They will love you even while they despise you. They will trust you even though they know you well. They will vote for you even as squeeze the very breath from their bodies. They will drink what you give them to drink. They will breathe what you give them to breathe. They will live where you dump their belongings. They have to. What else can they do? There's no higher court of redress. You are their mother and their father. You are the judge and the jury. You are the World. You are God."
-Arundhati Roy, The Greater Common Good (1999)
A new pack of jackals replacesthe old. We are a nation of people without eyes, without ears…
without a future at all.
Excerpts from The Leopard (1963):
You are right in everything except when you say the Sicilians will want to improve. They'll never want to improve because they think themselves perfect. Their vanity is stronger than their wretchedness…
A few days before Garibaldi entered Palermo... some English naval officers asked me if they could go on the terrace of my house where they could see the ring of mountains around the city. They were enthusiastic about the view but confessed their amazement at the squalor and filth in the streets. I didn't explain, as I did with you, that the one derived from the other.
One of the officers asked: "What are Garibaldi's men coming to do here?"
I replied: "They're coming to teach us manners. But they won't succeed, because we're gods."
They laughed, but I don't think they understood.
“Even if you don't believe me, this state of affairs won't last. Our efficient, modern administration will change everything.”
This state of affairs ought not to last, but it always will. The human element, certainly; a century or two later, perhaps everything will be different, but it will be worse. We were the leopards, the lions. Those who replace us will be the jackals, the hyenas. And all of us, leopards, lions, jackals and sheep will continue to think we're the salt of the earth.
“I don't quite understand. What did you say?”