I side with the Indians - by Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah

The author of the biggest Italian best-seller of 2006-07 reflects upon Manituana. Excerpts from a a stream-of-consciousness piece published on "L'Espresso" magazine, # 16, Vol. LIII, April 26th, 2007

[…] The thing that Wu Ming have been developing as an ongoing project for years is the new possibility of putting together different languages, new syntaxes, unexplored ways of communicating. It’s a path that has nothing of the elitist or vanguardist about it: like they did with their last novel 54, Wu Ming are able to construct stories that are articulated within the tendons of history. And the alternatives to the passage of history aren’t naive or impossible game play […]

[…] [Wu Ming] do not invent new destinies; rather they uncover trails that haven’t been trodden, or perhaps completed. This is how the long journey through space and time that is Manituana begins, transporting the reader among the trails and villages of the great Iroquois nation, on the eve of that war of American independence that decreed the birth of a new power and the definitive freeing of the “rebels” pitted against the colonial Empire of George III of England. They [Wu Ming] started from the classic “What if…”, asking themselves what would have happened if the loyalists had defeated the settlers led by George Washington. Maybe things would have gone like they did in Canada, where the indigenous peoples suffered many difficulties under the British crown, but weren’t targets of extermination, unlike in the United States.

But Manituana isn’t in any way a book on the history of the native Americans; it’s not the umpteenth text about the Indians. And it’s this fact that is, perhaps, the secret behind the necessity of its existence, behind the word of mouth that’s allowed the book to circulate. It’s a story of a new dimension, of new eyes cast over a fundamental moment in history, when that which would determine the fate of the world over the following centuries was about to be born. It’s the telling of the gestation period of the modern world, the historic pregnancy that would give birth to the world we know today. A gestation that also could have generated something else. An “other”: drowned, aborted, but retraceable in that which did happen. Manituana isn’t cowboys and Indians, not the evil scalping Indians versus the good settlers, bringers of civilization. And neither is it the good Indians versus the evil Americans. Atrocities occur on every front. Manituana is for many pages the meeting of worlds; it’s a seismic graph of rumblings, of the conflicts and of the bastard, hybrid fusion that the convergence of different cultures generated. […]
There’s nothing in this fantasy that’s already consolidated elsewhere. My sense is that the new novel by Wu Ming seems in some way a cryptic dialogue with Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. And it’s with this book that they seek dialogue, rather than The Last of the Mohicans by Fenimore Cooper. The beating heart of that which brought Europe to the Shoah lies in the history of enlightened reason, and so Wu Ming, following the trail, show that the fathers of American democracy themselves were the founders of the massacre, they were the ones who constructed the pretexts (and not just those) for not embracing the energies being generated in the meeting of Indigenous peoples, for not recognising in the half caste the origin of the United States. Rather, the founding fathers supported an idea of civilization and civility that could be a model capable of legitimizing the new colonial aristocracies against the English and French aristocracies of the Old Continent […]
"From the wrong side of history", says the trailer of the book. That side is "wrong" because it wasn’t realized, it's the wrong side because it’s less told, considered reactionary, wrong, the losing side.
And so it was for the enemies of Washington’s “revolutionaries” who would’ve instead had a model of civilization different from extermination. But like always the unrealized is able to weigh on the realized, Benjamin Franklin’s federalist idea – the one for which still today he’s venerated as a great political statesman – was taken directly from the Six Nations of the Iroquois.

[…] You need to be trained for a marathon to appreciate Manituana’s more than 600 pages, but you find your stamina as you read, through a journey which seems a spiral: once you enter, if you decide to enter, it’s difficult to leave. There’s no beginning or end. Manituana continues on line (www.manituana.com) – an initiative that’s completely coherent with the project of the book. The web is never definable: it represents the possible, the progressively constructible. The ability to follow the paths of Manituana on Google Earth expands your ability to imagine the book in a concrete way, a kind of materialism of the imagination, it’s an effort to put all instruments in the service of the novel, one that will have written word purists turning their noses up […]

Manituana isn’t just a story of that which could’ve been, but a map of the possible, a literary toolkit with which you can dismantle the apparatus of history, a capability that can only be nurtured via the necessity of keeping on the wrong side.

Translated into English by Jason Di Rosso

20.04.07 · on recensioni

I side with the Indians - by Roberto Saviano, author of <i>Gomorrah</i>