The Age of Barbaria

Bronze_coin_of_Pontius_Pilate_Jerusalem_mint_2...

Bronze coin of Pontius Pilate

La Era de Barbaria (Spanish)

The Age of Barbaria

Annual trips back to the year 33 began in the Age of Barbaria. That year was selected because, according to surveys, Christ’s crucifixion drew the attention of most Westerners, and this social sector was important for economic reasons since trips to the past weren’t organized, much less financed, by the government of any country (as had once happened with the first trips into space) but by a private company. The financial group that made the marvel of traveling through time possible was called Axa. Acting at the request of the High Chief of Technology, who suggested infinite profits through “tourism services,” Axa transported groups of thirty people each to the year 33 in order to witness the death of the Nazarene, much as the tourist commoners did long ago when at each equinox they would gather at the foot of the pyramid of Chitchen-Itzá to witness the formation of the serpent from the shadows cast down by the pyramid upon itself.

The greatest inconvenience encountered by Axa was the limited number of tourists who were able to attend the event at one time, thus hampering the millions in profit expected by the investors. For this reason the group maximum was gradually raised to forty-five, at the risk of attracting the attention of the ancient residents of Jerusalem. That figure has been maintained at the request of one of the company’s principal stockholders, who argued, reasonably, that the conservation of that historic deed in its original state was the basis for the trips, and that if each group produced alterations to the facts, it could result in an abandonment of general interest in carrying out this kind of travel.

Over time it has been proven that each historical alteration of the facts, no matter how small, is nearly impossible to repair. Such damage occurs whenever one of the travelers fails to respect the rules and attempts to take away some memento of the place. The most well-known was the case of Adam Parker who, with incredible dexterity, was able to cut out a triangular piece of the Nazarene’s red tunic, probably at the moment the latter collapsed from fatigue. The theft did not signify any change in the holy scriptures, but it served to make Parker rich and famous, since the tiny piece of canvas came to be worth a fortune, and more than a few of the travelers who have since taken on the trouble and expense of going back thousands of years have done so to see where the Nazarene is missing “Parker’s Triangle.”

A few have posed objections to this kind of travel, which, they insist, will end up destroying history in ways beyond our notice. In effect, it has: for each change introduced on any given day, infinite changes are derived from it, century after century, gradually diluting or multiplying its effects. In order to notice a minimal change in the year 33 it would be useless to turn to the holy scriptures, because all of the editions, equally, would reflect the blow and completely forget the original facts. There might be a possibility of tracing each change by projecting other trips to years just prior to the Age of Barbaria, but nobody would be interested in such a project and there would be no way of financing it.

The discussion about whether history should remain as it is or can be legitimately modified also no longer matters. But the latter is, in any case, dangerous, since it is impossible to foresee the resulting changes that would be produced by any particular alteration. We know that any change might not be catastrophic for the human species, but could potentially be catastrophic for individuals: we might not be the ones who are alive now, but someone else instead.

The most radical religious groups find themselves on opposing sides. Barbaria’s information services have recently discovered that a group of Evangelicals belonging to the True Church of God in Sao Pablo, will make a trip to the year 33. Thanks to the charity of its faithful, the group has managed to gather together the sum of several million charged by Axa per ticket. What no one has yet been able to confirm are the group’s intentions. It’s been said they will blow up Golgotha and set fire to Jerusalem at the moment of the Crucifixion, so that we thus arrive at the greatly anticipated End Times. All of history would disappear; the whole world, including the Jews, would recognize their error and would turn to Christianity in the year 33. The entire world would live in the Kingdom of God, just as described in the Gospels.

Others dispute this as conspiracy theory, or they question how the travelers could witness the Crucifixion without trying to prevent it. The theological answer is obvious, which is why those least interested in preventing the martyrdom of the Messiah are his own followers. But for the rest, who are the majority, Axa has decreed its own ethical rules: “In the same manner in which we do not prevent the death of the slave between the claws of a lion when we travel to Africa, neither must we prevent the apparent injustices that are committed with the Nazarene. Our moral duty is to conserve nature and history as they are.” The crucifixion is the common heritage of humanity, but, above all, its rights have been acquired totally by Axa.

In fact, the changes will be increasingly inevitable. After six years of trips to the year 33, one can see, at the foot of the cross, bottle caps and magic marker graffiti on the main beam, some of which pray: “I have faith in my lord,” and others just limit themselves to the name of who was there, along with the date of departure, so that future generations of travelers will remember them. Of course, the company also began to yield in the face of pressure from dissatisfied clients, leading to a radical improvement in services. For example, Barbaria just sent a technical representative to the year 26 to request the production of five thousand cubic meters of asphalt and to negotiate with Pontius Pilate the construction of a more comfortable corridor for the Via Dolorosa, which will make less tiresome the travelers’ route and, besides, would be a gesture of compassion for the Nazarene, who more than once broke his feet on stones that he failed to see in his path. It has been calculated that the improvement won’t mean changes in the holy scriptures, since there is no special concern demonstrated there for the urbanism of the city.

With these measures, Axa hopes to shelter itself from the storm of complaints it has received due to alleged inadequacies in service, having to confront recently very costly lawsuits brought by clients who have spent a fortune and have returned unsatisfied. The cause of these complaints is not always the intense heat of Jerusalem, or the congestion in which the city is entrapped on the day of the Crucifixion. Above all the cause is the unsatisfied expectations of the travelers. The company defends itself by saying that the holy scriptures weren’t written under its quality control, but instead are only historical documents and, therefore, are exaggerated. There where the Nazarene really dies, instead of a deep and horrifying night, the sky is barely darkened by an excessive concentration of clouds, and nothing more. The Catholics have declared that this fact, like all those referenced in the Gospels, should be understood in its symbolic meaning and not merely descriptively. But most people were satisfied neither by Axa’s response nor by that of Pope John XXV, who came out in defense of the multinational corporation, thanks to which people can now be closer to God.

Translated by Bruce Campbell

The Humanist (USA)

The Age of Barbaria

Bronze_coin_of_Pontius_Pilate_Jerusalem_mint_2...

Image via Wikipedia

La Era de Barbaria (Spanish)

The Humanist (USA)

The Age of Barbaria

Jorge Majfud

In the year of Barbaria began the annual trips to the year 33.  That year was selected because, according to surveys, Christ’s crucifixion drew the attention of most Westerners, and this social sector was important for economic reasons, since trips to the past were not organized, much less financed, by the government of any country, as had once happened with the first trips into space, but by a private company.  The financial group that made possible the marvel of traveling through time was Axa, at the request of the High Chief of Technology, who suggested infinite profits through the offering of “tourism services,” as it was called in its moment.  From then on, various groups of 30 people traveled to the year 33 in order to witness the death of the Nazarene, much as the tourist commoners used to do long ago when at each equinox they would gather at the foot of the pyramid of Chitchen-Itzá, in order to witness the formation of the serpent from the shadows cast down by the pyramid upon itself.

The greatest inconvenience encountered by Axa was the limited number of tourists who were able to attent the event at a time, which did not generate profits in accordance with the millions expected by the investors, for which reason that original number was gradually raised to 45, at the risk of attracting the attention of the ancient residents of Jerusalem.  Then the figure was maintained, at the request of one of the company’s principal stock-holders who argued, reasonably, that the conservation of that historic deed in its original state was the basis for the trips, and that if each group produced alterations in the facts, that could result in an abandonment of general interest in carrying out this kind of travel.

With time it was proven that each historical alteration of the facts, no matter how small, was nearly impossible to repair.  Which occurred whenever one of the travelers did not respect the rules of the game and attempted to take away some memento of the place.  As was the most well-known case of Adam Parcker who, with incredible dexterity, was able to cut out a triangular piece of the Nazarene’s red tunic, probably at the moment the latter collapses from fatigue.  The theft did not signify any change in the Holy Scriptures, but it served to make Parcker rich and famous, since the tiny piece of canvas came to be worth a fortune and not a few of the travelers who took on the trouble and expense of going back thousands of years did so to see where the Nazarene was missing “Parcker’s Triangle.”

A few had posed objections to this kind of travel which, they insist, will end up destroying history without us being able to notice.  In effect, so it is: for each change that is introduced on a given day, infinite changes are derived from it, century after century, gradually diluting or multiplying its effects.  In order to notice a minimal change in the year 33 it would be useless to turn to the Holy Scriptures, because all of the editions, equally, would reflect the blow and completely forget the original fact.  There might be a possibility of tracing each change by projecting other trips to years prior to the year of Barbaria, but nobody would be interested in such a project and there would be no way of financing it.

The discussion about whether history should remain as it is or can be legitimately modified also no longer matters.  But the latter is, in any case, dangerous, since it is impossible to foresee the resulting changes that would be produced by any particular alteration.  We know that any change could potentially not be catastrophic for the human species, but would be catastrophic for individuals: we might not be the ones who are alive now, but someone else instead.

The most radical religious groups find themselves on opposing sides.  Barbaria’s information services have recently discovered that a group of evangelists, belonging to the True Church of God, of Sao Pablo, will make a trip to the year 33.  Thanks to the charity of its faithful, the group has managed to gather together the sum of several million that Axa charges per ticket.  What no one has yet been able to confirm are the group’s intentions.  It has been said that they intend to blow up Golgotha and set fire to Jerusalem at the moment of the Crucifixion, so that we thus arrive at  the greatly anticipated End Times.  All of history would disappear; the whole world, including the Jews, would recognize their error, they would turn to Christianity in the year 33 and the entire world would live in the Kingdom of God, just as descrived in the Gospels.  Which is disputed by other people.

Others do not understand how the travelers can witness the crucifixion without trying to prevent it.  The theological answer is obvious, which is why those least interested in preventing the martyrdom of the Messiah are his own followers.  But or the rest, who are the majority, Axa has decreed its own ethical rules: “In the same manner in which we do not prevent the death of the slave between the claws of a lion, when we travel to Africa, neither must we prevent the apparent injustices that are committed with the Nazarene.  Our moral duty is to conserve nature and history as they are.”  The crucifixion is the common heritage of Humanity, but, above all, its rights have been acquired totally by Axa.

In fact,the changes will be increasingly inevitable.  After six years of trips to the year 33, one can see, at the foot of the cross, bottle caps and magic marker graffiti on the main beam, some of which pray: “I have faith in my lord,” and others just limit themselves to the name of who was there, along with the date of departure, so that future generations of travelers will remember them.  Of course, the company also began to yield in the face of pressure from dissatisfied clients, leading to a radical improvement in services.  For example, Barbaria just sent a technical representative to the year 26 to request the production of five thousand cubic meters of asphalt and to negotiate with Pontius Pilate the construction of a more comfortable corridor for the Via Dolorosa, which will make less tiresome the travelers’ route and, besides, would be a gesture of compassion for the Nazarene, who more than once broke his feet on stones that he did not see in his path.  It has been calculated that the improvement will not mean changes in the Holy Scriptures, since there is no special concern demonstrated there for the urbanism of the city.

With these measures, Axa hopes to shelter itself from the storm of complaints it has received due to alleged inadequacies in service, having to confront recently very costly law suits brought by client who have spent a fortune and have not returned satisfied.  The cause of these complaints is not always the intense heat of Jerusalem, or the congestion in which the city is entrapped on the day of the crucifixion.  Above all the cause is the unsatisfied expectations of the travelers.  The company defends itself by saying that the Holy Scriptures were not written under its quality control, but instead are only historical documents and, therefore, are exaggerated.  There where the Nazarene really dies, instead of there being a deep and horrifying night the sky is barely darkened by an excessive concentration of clouds, and nothing more.  The Catholics have declared that this fact, like all those referenced in the Gospels, should be understood in its symbolic meaning and not merely descriptively.  But most people were satisfied neither by Axa’s response nor by that of Pope John XXV, who came out in defense of the multinational corporation, thanks to which people can now be closer to God.

Translated by Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is an Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, where he is chair of the Latino/Latin American Studies program.  He is the author of Mexican Murals in Times of Crisis (University of Arizona, 2003); his scholarship centers on art, culture and politics in Latin America, and his work has appeared in publications such as the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies and XCP: Cross-cultural Poetics.  He serves as translator/editor for the “Southern Voices” project at www.americas.org, through which Spanish- and Portuguese-language opinion essays by Latin American authors are made available in English for the first time.

 

La Era de Barbaria

 

Jerusalem

Image by George Eastman House via Flickr

L’ era della Barbarie (Italian)

The Age of Barbaria (English)

La Era de Barbaria


En el año de Barbaria se comenzaron los viajes anuales al año treinta y tres. Se eligió ese año porque, según las encuestas, la crucifixión de Cristo llamaba la atención de más gente en Occidente, y se pensó en este sector social por razones económicas, ya que los viajes al pasado no habían sido dirigidos ni mucho menos financiados por el gobierno de ningún país, como alguna vez ocurrió con los primeros viajes al espacio, sino por una empresa privada. El grupo financiero que hizo posible la maravilla de viajar por el tiempo fue Axa, a instancias de el Ordenador mayor de Tecnologías Blue, que sugirió infinitas ganancias por prestación de “servicios turísticos”, como en su momento se llamó. Desde entonces, varios grupos de treinta personas han viajado al año treinta y tres para presenciar la muerte del Nazareno, como antiguamente hacían los turistas comunes cuando en cada equinoccio se concentraban al pie de la pirámide de Chitchen-Itzá, para presenciar la formación de la serpiente con las sombras que la pirámide arrojaba sobre sí misma.

El mayor inconveniente que encontró Axa fue el reducido número de turistas que podían asistir al evento por vez, lo que generaba ganancias que no estaban acordes con las expectativas millonarias de la inversión, por lo que de a poco se fue llevando ese número hasta la cifra de cuarenta y cinco, a riesgo de llamar la atención de los antiguos pobladores de Jerusalén. Luego la cifra fue conservada sin alteraciones, a instancia de uno de los principales accionistas de la empresa que arguyó, razonablemente, que la conservación de ese hecho histórico en estado original era la base que justificaba los viajes, y que si cada grupo producía alteraciones en los hechos, ello repercutiría en un abandono del interés general por realizar ese tipo de viajes.

Con el tiempo se comprobó que cada alteración histórica de los hechos, por mínima que fuera, era casi imposible de reparar. Lo que ocurría cuando alguno de los viajantes no respetaba las reglas de juego y pretendía llevarse algún recuerdo del lugar. Como fue el caso más conocido de Adam Parcker que, con increíble destreza, logró recortar un trozo triangular de la túnica roja del Nazareno, probablemente en el momento en que éste cae rendido por el cansancio. El hurto no significó alguna alteración en las Sagradas Escrituras, pero le sirvió a Parcker para hacerse rico y famoso, ya que el diminuto trozo de lienzo pasó a costar una fortuna y no pocos de los viajeros que se tomaron la molestia y el gasto de retroceder miles de años lo hicieron para ver dónde le falta al Nazareno el “Triángulo de Parcker”.

Algunos pocos han puesto objeciones a este tipo de viajes que, aseguran, terminarán por destruir la historia sin que podamos advertirlo. En efecto, es así: por cada cambio que se introduce en un día cualquiera, infinitos cambios se derivan de él, siglo tras siglo, diluyéndose de a poco o multiplicándose en sus efectos. Para advertir un mínimo cambio en el año treinta y tres sería inútil recurrir a las Sagradas Escrituras, porque todas las ediciones, por igual, acusarían el golpe olvidando completamente el hecho original. Cabría una posibilidad de rastrear cada cambio proyectando otros viajes a años anteriores al año de Barbaria, pero a nadie le importaría un proyecto semejante y no habría forma alguna de financiarlo.

Tampoco importa ya la discusión sobre si la historia debe quedar como está o es lícito modificarla. Pero esto último es, en todo caso, peligroso, ya que es imposible prever los cambios resultantes que produciría cualquier alteración. Sabemos que cualquier cambio podría no ser catastrófico para la especie humana, pero sería catastrófico para los individuos: no seriamos nosotros los que estaríamos vivos ahora, sino cualquier otro.

En una posición contraria se encuentran los grupos religiosos más radicales. Los servicios de información de Barbaria han descubierto recientemente que un grupo de evangelistas, pertenecientes a la Iglesia Verdadera de Dios, de Sao Pablo, hará el viaje al año treinta y tres. Gracias a la limosna de sus fieles, el grupo ha logrado reunir la suma varias veces millonaria que cobra Axa por el ticket. Lo que aún no se ha podido confirmar son las intenciones del grupo. Se dice que pretenden hacer volar el Gólgota e incendiar Jerusalén en el momento de la Crucifixión, para que de esa forma lleguemos al tan ansiado Fin de los tiempos. Toda la historia desaparecería; todo el mundo, incluidos los judíos, reconocerían el error, se volverían al cristianismo en el año treinta y tres y el mundo entero viviría bajo el Reino de Dios, tal como estaba descrito en los Evangelios. Lo cual es discutido por otra gente.

Otros no se explican cómo los viajantes pueden presenciar la crucifixión sin tratar de evitarla. La respuesta teológica es obvia, por lo cual los menos interesados en evitar el martirio del Mesías son sus propios seguidores. Pero para los demás, que son la mayoría, Axa ha decretado sus propias reglas éticas: “De la misma forma que no evitamos la muerte de un siervo entre las garras de un león, cuando viajamos al África, tampoco debemos evitar las aparentes injusticias que se comenten con el Nazareno. Nuestro deber moral es conservar la naturaleza y la historia como están”. La crucifixión es patrimonio de la Humanidad, pero, sobre todo, sus derechos han sido adquiridos totalmente por Axa.

De hecho, los cambios serán cada vez más inevitables. Después de seis años de viajes al año treinta y tres, se pueden ver, a los pies de la cruz, tapas de refrescos y escrituras con lápiz químico en el palo mayor, algunas de las cuales rezan: “tengo fe en mi señor”, y otras sólo se limitan a poner el nombre de quien estuvo por allí, junto con la fecha de partida, para que las futuras generaciones de viajantes lo recuerden. Por supuesto, también la empresa comienza a ceder ante la presión de los clientes insatisfechos, apuntando a un mejoramiento radical en los servicios. Por ejemplo, Barbaria acaba de enviar un representante técnico al año veintiséis para que logre la producción de cinco mil metros cúbicos de asfalto y negocie con Pilatos la construcción de un corredor más confortable para vía Dolorosa, lo que hará menos fatigosa la recorrida de los viajantes y, además, sería un gesto misericordioso con el Nazareno que más de una vez se rompió los pies con las piedras que no veía en su camino. Se ha calculado que la mejora no significará cambios en las Sagradas Escrituras, ya que allí no se demuestra preocupación especial por el urbanismo de la ciudad.

Con estas medidas, Axa pretende ponerse a salvo de la lluvia de reclamos que viene sufriendo por supuestas insuficiencias del servicio, teniendo que enfrentar últimamente juicios muy costosos de clientes que han gastado una fortuna y no han regresado complacidos. El motivo de los reclamos no siempre es causado por el fuerte calor de Jerusalén, o por la congestión en la que se encuentra atrapada la ciudad el día de la crucifixión. Sobre todo se debe a las expectativas no satisfechas de los viajantes. La empresa se defiende diciendo que las Sagradas Escrituras no fueron escritas bajo su control de calidad, sino que son solo documentos históricos y, por lo tanto, exagerados. Allí donde muere el Nazareno, en lugar de haber una noche profunda y estremecedora apenas se oscurece el cielo por una concentración excesiva de nubes, y nada más. Los católicos han declarado que este hecho, como todos los referidos en los Evangelios, debe tomarse en su valor simbólico y no meramente descriptivo. Pero a la mayor parte de la gente no satisfizo la respuesta de Axa ni la del Papa Juan XXV, que salió en defensa de la multinacional, gracias a la cual la gente ahora puede estar más cerca de Dios.


Jorge Majfud

Jerusalén, 1995

Milenio (Mexico)

Milenio II (Mexico)