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Alfredo M. Bonanno: A Yellow Rose

Another contribution by Alfredo M. Bonanno: A Yellow Rose.

Originally published in Canenero (1994-1997). Written by Alfredo M. Bonanno.

But have we truly finished interpreting the world? I did not realize that anyone was transforming it. The absolutely “other” event does not stand out on the horizon, whereas the mechanisms of the market are organizing themselves on the old codes and reproduce themselves, justifying poverty and wealth, the absurd polarizations of “the world goes this way”.

In A Yellow Rose, Borges makes us see how the poet Marino, prince of fine speech, seventeenth century Italian master of human letters, realized at the point of death that speaking (or doing, which is really the same thing) as reproduction and mirror of the world, as grand interpretive picture, is not possible. He concludes more modestly with doing (and thus also speaking) as excess, as superfluous addition to a composition that is already complete, even if, for us, it is unwelcome and intolerable.

Thought and action, like this and that, are never simply projected, i.e., they don’t have a meaning “merely” as a function of what they contribute to determining or what one could foresee them as determining. First of all, they are a previous history, i.e., they are themselves events, significant in their sort of autonomy, full of meaning and, thence, carriers of the marking that human activity has attached to them.

In other words, they are characterized messages, pieces in motion of the humans that have thought and done them, as thoughts and actions. As such, they have no neat counterparts in the goal that they intend to achieve, i.e., they are not exhausted in the purposes that have apparently determined them. The study of this “difference” leads directly to the interior of the absolutely “other”.

If we think and act with the sole aim of adapting ourselves to reality, maybe wildly tooting our own horn to make ourselves better heard, and more distant, we don’t have time for nuances, for the thing added in excess of which I am speaking here. We produce what is necessary because the world goes forward with out contributions as well, and the rules of the market impose the codes of this production on us. They tell us (along broad, but sufficiently clear, lines) what to do so as to never come out below, or above, what is required for the project to be realized. And when we fail in the capitulation that is required of us, we feel precisely that we have failed, we are failures, and we look at our inefficient hands and weep despondently.

Perhaps we will have to weep hotter tears when success has come precisely through the great capacity for adapting what we do to the goals to be reached. Perhaps precisely in this instance, that the increasingly intense efficiency of modern techniques suggests to us every day, we have supplied our little contribution to the great constructions of power. And this even when the project assumed the particulars of revolution, of the subversion of institutions and values, customs and traditions.

In this case, in small and big things, we are set up as suppliers of the future executioner, we have concluded our efforts in the perfection of what we had thought. A greater number of final details that correspond with the starting hypothesis is always seen as a higher degree of success. Goals have been achieved, finish lines crossed, hopes satisfied. Now the people have their free rules, old tyrannies are dead, new freedoms are engraved on shiny new tablets. We can present the bill. We are the liberators: we are the creators of the project and its details. We have incubated high social meaning the way a peacock egg is incubated, and now we witness the shining of the sun’s golden feathers.

The force of the goal to achieve has killed the initial character of action and thought. And that character was the adherence of to the concrete activity of the one who thought and acted, a manifestation of strength that wanted to leave its sign, to affirm itself in the world, to transform the world, not with the mark of subordination to something external, but with its own exuberance, with the excess that this very thinking and acting produce. The concern of the one who acts and thinks, and who makes of her thought and action a single thing, is thus not that of finding a measure outside himself, in the efficiency with which the project has been realized, in the completeness of the result, but is rather that of finding within the project itself, which was and remains a moment of doing and thinking, all the superabundance of the absolutely “other”. What does this mean?

It means not waiting for the goals to give reasons to the choices, ideas and means in order to act. Not waiting for practical authorization or moral foundation to arrive from the outside, from others or from what one hopes to obtain. If the project is not clear within us, if we are therefore not willing to incur the risks that our ideas and actions entail, we cannot expect a mere positive result to furnish us with what we lack. By accepting this conception, we present ourselves as creditors; we want a concrete result but only for ourselves, precisely because we have always been aware of that initial lack and have always gone in search of a completeness.

If, however, we are sure of what we think and of the reasons that move us to act, we are complete from the start. And if we are complete, we can make a gift of ourselves to the other, we can make a gift of ourselves to the objective we want to achieve. And this gift of ourselves will appear immediately for what it is: the exchange of a gift between ourselves and the other, between ourselves and the reality that stands before us, unknown but desired, that we want to transform. Our gift is not remedial, it doesn’t equalize, it doesn’t bring justice, it doesn’t smooth out faults. It destroys and creates, adds the immeasurable excess beyond which all calculation becomes impossible. It fills our hearts beyond any economic calculation.

Alfredo M. Bonanno


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