The Library of Manifestos

Anarchist to Zapatista.

Early in the morning, this is how I find them, as I have found you sleeping on the floor, a night spent reversing my work. We argue mainly about systems: alphabetically, you say, people can come here to find what they are looking for. But I tell you no one comes here with something in mind; they come here looking for new beliefs. This is why I order them by effect and by issue. Symbolist, Ultraist, Modernist. The sections of deadly manifestos, the Unabomber’s Manifesto. Whole shelves for communism. But you will not agree, and this is how we spend our nights, reshelving.

I have tried to remove Futurism from our library because its placement here is a cruel joke on its creator: each time we dust its shelf we mock the eleven tenets of the dead Italian’s declaration. You argue, though, for history—for the purpose of the catalogue and for our library. We cannot remove the works that proved failures; our shelves would be empty. The purpose of our library is to give the people the words of the past and the foundations of our movements.

But if someone needs this, I tell you, I can recite it, aloud—the way it is meant. In my mouth it has movement. You say nothing.

‘We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness,’ I say, number one.

You have gone back to the shelves.

‘We want to demolish museums and libraries,’ I tell you firmly, number ten.

This is when you know that I will disregard the walls and pages—the course of our history—for the violent words of fascists.

I will write a manifesto for our library, I say. And the last tenet will not allow manifestos that call for the destruction of libraries. I think, foolishly, this is how I will appeal to you.

I will write a manifesto for betrayal, you tell me. It will contain only one command: Devour hearts.

I take the Cannibal’s Manifesto from the wall. It has already been written, I start to tell you, but you take the book from my hands and begin to carve into its cover.

Then I will write a manifesto for revenge, you say.

I find the empty pages of other books and begin to write. This is your manifesto for ignorance, and cowardice, I say, but it will be too big for our library.

And I will write a manifesto for whores, you spit.

We grab the blank pages of the backs of books, of the fronts, then the pages themselves, until we have rewritten the manifestos of history as the manifesto of our bitterness. When we are done we are left with no systems, and no one has written a manifesto for rebuilding.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *