Once, long ago, there was an island where Nature governed over life, its authority as yet unchecked by the efforts of men to dominate it. Situated in the tropics, off the coast of what would eventually be known as South America, this island was home to many species of naturally evolving plants and animals. From the simplest single-cell creatures to the most complex organisms, life would begin here in self-assured exuberance. Young plants would bloom, filling the air with intoxicating levels of sweet scents. Birds would feed, sing, and nest beneath the shady cover of the trees. Rodents, wild boars, reptiles, and insects would roam the island contentedly, never needing to go far to find their next meal or secure a comfortable resting ground. Most of these island creatures would live to a ripe old age and die at peace with themselves, with Nature, and with the life that they had lived. But other less fortunate creatures would die an untimely death: for each year, with cosmic precision, hurricanes would pass over this island paradise, decimating life. At such times, the island ceased to resemble the haven it was during the rest of the year and became, instead, a killing field and mortuary. Thousands of plants, animals, and even some birds would drown in the flooding torrential rains. The winds would blow hundreds of other creatures to death. Still others (it is hard to say whether they were the luckiest or the unluckiest) would be driven off into exile by the stormy streams of water and air, never to see their island home again. So much death, destruction, and loss would make life turn sour on the island; it would sour, mostly, on Nature.
In truth, there was no living creature on the island that could make sense of Nature’s fickle, inconsistent, and contradictory commands. One fine day, Nature would seem to command trust, encouraging all the animals and plants of the island to grow; the next day, it would seem to command fear, discouraging the creatures and betraying their trust. “Trust me. Fear me.” How could any living creature obey these two commands and not feel torn apart and weakened by them? Overwhelmed with terrible doubts, the plants would wonder what point there could be to flowering and pollinating their seeds again, if the hurricanes were just going to mash their fruits into a senseless pulp. And what point could there be to singing, mating, and nesting in the treetops, the birds would wonder, if the hurricanes were going to steal their eggs from them. Alas, the wild boars would wonder too, what point could there be to eating, sleeping, and defecating day after day, if with one up surging wave the angry ocean was going to just erase the traces of all that they had ever eaten, digested and crapped back out into the senseless, unfeeling, pitiless world.
And yet, for these survivors, there could ultimately be no denying the empowering joy of their own verifiable survival. Were they not, after all, the fittest? Had they not, after all, been made stronger by the storms? Had they not survived? Verily, they were the chosen ones! And so it was that at the first sign of the passing of the hurricane season, these survivors would take advantage of the alleviating calm to make a spectacle of their vitality. Flowers would arrogantly bloom throughout the island again. Birds would sing flirtatiously across the canopy of tree tops. Animals of all ages would run and play on the sandy shores, beneath the gleaming warmth and comfort of the sunlight, as if they were all healthy children without any care in the world but to delight in their own expendable energy.
During this most magnificent and triumphant of seasons, the island would receive its only regular human visitors. They would come intending to mimic the creatures of the island, and make a spectacle of their own vitality: for they too were survivors. But unlike the animals and plants of the island, which were instinctively driven to celebrate their survival, these human visitors were driven –by conscious choice-- to marry their survival to the survival of the cosmos. For, as far as these human survivors were concerned, they –and not the plants or animals of the island, were the chosen ones. Thus, in wooden canoes, and usually totaling some fifty or so nearly naked men, women and children, the visitors would arrive at the island’s sandy beaches to celebrate their heroic triumph over death. With them, they would always bring another smaller group of human captives. The visitors would treat these captives with the utmost respect, feeding them only the finest fruits, the freshest fish, and the fattest frogs; for in truth, there was nothing more sacred to these primal people than the fattened bodies and sugary blood of their captives. Each year, they would remain on the island for an entire moon cycle, attentively feeding their captives and meticulously preparing for what they hoped would be another successful Feast of Cosmic Rebirth.
In the final days leading up to this Feast of Feasts, the visitors would prepare a powerful hallucinogenic brew, made of roots and mushrooms fermented by human saliva. On the eve of the festivities, they would pass this brew from hand to hand and mouth to mouth. Men, women, and adolescent neophytes –in short, all the members of the visiting party (except the captives of course), would partake of this blessed brew. Under the silvery light of the moon, this community of illuminated human awareness would begin its night-long chants; some would dance with cosmic self-importance, as if their steps were synchronized with the rhythm of the stars above; others would gravely narrate ancient stories that told of the origins of life and the mysteries of death; and still others would ceremoniously explain to the neophytes the unique role that they, as participants in the annual feast, would henceforth play in maintaining the natural order of things.
At daybreak, the visitors would take the captives and commit them to the slaughter, one by one by one. They would spend the better part of that day roasting their captive’s skewered limbs over open fires, preparing sausages with their intestines and blood, and slowly boiling down their bone-marrow to a gelatinous mass (which made for a tasty dessert when it was luxuriously sipped through straws made of hollowed-out sugar cane). Then, in the late afternoon, as the sun began to set on this island world, the community would ingest the captive’s bodies. These cannibals, it should be noted, placed no more importance on this initial stage of ingestion than they did on the subsequent processes of digestion and excretion. For in order for them to triumph completely over death, they believed that they needed not just to ingest death but also digest it and then, finally, extricate themselves from it. Accordingly, after the meal, the festivities would center on disciplined digestive exercises that encouraged the revelers to vomit, crap, and piss all that they had swallowed back out onto the sandy shores of the island’s coastline. Following this humanly triumphant negation of death, the visitors would climb back into their canoes feeling relieved; and then deftly, quickly, gladly they would leave the now smelly island behind.
Nature never found these human visitors to be particularly intrusive. Rather, it was amused by their highly imaginative but ultimately incompetent attempts to gain control over Nature’s cosmic power to give and take life at will. And so Nature tended simply to celebrate their child-like comings and goings with an annual feast of its own. Billions of microbes, millions of insects, thousands of scavengers would clean the beaches where the man-eating men, women, and children would thoughtfully leave behind their annual pools of gruesome fluids. Inviting, in this way, the creatures of the island to feed off human death, Nature self-assuredly affirmed its authority over this island paradise. The power over life and death remained solely in Nature’s hands, which of course is where it belonged. Given this naturally just state of affairs, no native plant, animal, or human could ever have foreseen the alternative future, the civilized future, the altogether brighter future to which life on the island was ultimately destined.
The day a Spanish galleon shipwrecked off the southern coast of the island, Nature’s glorious reign began its descent into oblivion. From that day forward, the power over life and death on the island was transferred to a new force: the emotional force of human heroism. Accordingly, the creatures of the island were introduced to a new breed of man, a competent and imperious breed of man, a highly cultivated, thoroughly religious, truly refined breed of civilizing man. In fact, two such distinguished men emerged from out of the wreckage of that ship. They were the chosen ones; and they were known to themselves, as they would eventually be known the world over, as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Exemplary specimens of Hispanic genius that they were, these two children of Spain became the island’s first spiritual conqueror and cultivating colonizer, respectively. Under their nurturing care, Nature was dispossessed of its richest deposits of silver and gold; many of the islands indigenous plants were replaced by plants from the Old World; and the peoples from neighboring islands were captured and brought to the island, where Don Quixote helped them understand that they had been born in sin but could, with the help of his priestly mediations, atone for the wrong they had unknowingly done. Sancho Panza, who was always eager to help Don Quixote realize his spiritual ideals, generously offered these lost souls of the New World a chance to redeem themselves by doing penitent labors in his mines and fields. For all those who thus repented, Don Quixote and Sancho swore, the gates to Heaven would surely swing wide with forgiveness and deliver them, finally, to a state of eternal, blissful rest.
But the good news of this happy island’s liberating conquests and civilizing colonizations does not end here, with these two Hispanic heroes alone. Many years after the Spanish wreck, a second ship was brought to the island’s northern shores by a similar tempest. This was a British merchant ship. Only one survivor washed ashore to the north. He was the chosen one; and he was known to himself, as he would eventually be known the world over, as Robinson Crusoe. Exemplary specimen of Anglo-Saxon genius that he was, this son of England became the island’s second civilizing conqueror. Under his nurturing care, the plants, animals, and humans of the island were made industrious beyond compare. True virtue, Robinson led the people of the island to believe, could be recognized without the meddling interventions and priestly mediations of Don Quixote. Each man, woman, and child, argued Robinson, could appeal directly to the Almighty, rise above his state of fallen human nature and, by means of his own industry, tease open the gold-plated gates of Heaven. He did not offer eternal bliss in exchange for labor, but eternal riches.
Under the imperial gaze of first Don Quixote and then Robinson Crusoe, life on the island was de-natured and re-cultivated, several times over. The new age of civilizing disintegration and re-integration which these heroes set in motion, gave rise to new and completely unexpected forms of solidarity and cruelty on the island. The new natives had in their bodies the heritage of multiple, and often competing, origins. In them, opposite drives and values would fight each other. On the average, these half-breeds were made weak by this internal war. They wished to obey both sets of inherited drives, but could not withstand the tension and inner turmoil that such double allegiance generated in them. Paralyzed with mistrust, they wished the war would end; which is merely another way of saying that, insofar as they were this war, they wished that they would cease to be who they had become. This is no doubt why many of the island’s half-breeds became chauvinists -- either Quixotists or Robinsonists.
There did also emerge, however, other half-breeds who were made strong by their mixed cultural inheritance. Empowered by a natural sense of self-trust, these stronger children of mixed origins welcomed the challenges of their inner tension and learned to cultivate the cross-cultural arts of seduction, translation, and betrayal. They were, down to the last droplet of their blood, double-crossing cross-cultural half-breeds. And it was thanks to them and to their cultivation of ambivalence that the glories of the island’s past would eventually find their complement in the glories of a once-imagined-but-long-since-unrealized future. Indeed, the hopeful growth and evolution of these successful half-breeds reveals the many perfectly legitimate reasons why they came to prefer certain possible futures over others; why they chose certain possible ways of reworking their past over others; and why they half-heartedly embraced both the Quixotism and Robinsonism that their two-timing cultural heritage simultaneously offered and denied them.
After he had washed up onto the southern shore, Don Quixote stood up, struck his sword --in the form of a cross-- deep into the sandy beach, and declared to his half-drowned, half-starved squire: “Sancho, my friend, look about you at this plentiful land. Undoubtedly, it was some powerful magician who led us here onto these sandy shores. No doubt too, he did this so we might conquer this place and further the glory of our Lady Dulcinea del Toboso. Courage, my friend Sancho, for this promises to be the most magnificent of our adventures yet! And should I prove successful in my bid to conquer this island, as most certainly I shall, I will turn the government of it over to your able hands, just as I had promised I would do when we first left home. Take courage, my friend, for soon you will be the governor of this island paradise.” In reply, his faithful squire admonished: “Indeed, I am honored by your gracious intentions, my vociferous Sir, yet, if you are in earnest, then do please me to quit your babbling and turn about to face the approaching enemy. For if I am not deceived, what approaches us now is an army of hungry calibans who are certain to choose my ample and sensuous meat over your gangly skeleton.”
Don Quixote turned to view the approaching crowd of curious aboriginals: “You are right, Sancho, it is an army, but not of calibans, as you say, but cannibals” And having said as much, he advanced upon the army of approaching savages with his sword held high for all to see. Stunned by the sight of these two strange figures and the glimmering object held up by the taller, flatulent one, the anthropophagi stopped dead in their tracks. Don Quixote took this as a cue to launch into a discourse concerning the universal value of human life. He explained to his would-be interlocutors that he and they all formed part of the same family, which he called the Brotherhood of Man. He further explained to them that he had come in representation of their common Father in the Sky and that by submitting to him they would, in fact, be incorporating themselves into the Father's family of liberated worshippers. Finally, he promised them, he would teach them how to partake of the body and blood of this one true God.
The anthropophagi did not understand much of what Don Quixote said. Still, the strange singing quality of his voice appealed to them, and so they came closer, gesturing to Don Quixote, asking him to repeat what he had said. In an attempt to communicate with his eager audience, Don Quixote began a pantomime of all he had pronounced. When the anthropophagi saw him pretending to eat the body and blood of the Father in the Sky, they gathered around him knowingly. The hungrier ones among them poked him in his ribs, but then turned away laughing. Smiling, they approached Sancho next, poking him in the ribs, the buttocks, legs, and arms. The smiling ceased at once. They picked plump old Sancho up over their heads and carried him to the fire. Understandably, Sancho, who was overcome by fear, called on his Lord, Don Quixote, to save him.
In the midst of Sancho’s desperate cries for help, Don Quixote entered into singular, heroic battle with the entire band of male anthropophagi warriors. Although he received several wounds, he defeated them, killing only those who resisted his sword and sparing the lives of the others who freely surrendered to his superior conquering will. Sancho, weeping for joy at not having been eaten, knelt down at his master's feet and kissed them graciously. The conquered anthropophagi followed Sancho's good example. Don Quixote and Sancho were then led by their new subjects to the bamboo palace that they had earlier prepared for their own festivals of carnage, blood and debauchery. Don Quixote ordained that the island, which he had just conquered in the name of the incomparably beautiful Lady Dulcinea, henceforth be known as Isla Dulce or Sweet Island. He further decreed that while he was to remain forever the conquering spiritual master of the island, Sancho would be the island's colonizing administrator. After this ceremony, Don Quixote retired to his quarters to rest and cure his wounds.
Sancho, for his part, set his newly bequeathed subjects to work immediately. That night, he decided, he would celebrate a feast in honor of his master’s conquering genius and his own good fortune. He assigned some of his subjects to fishing; others to gathering fruits and berries; and others still to hunting for the animals whose cooked carcasses would be the centerpiece of that night’s festivities. The feast was a sumptuous success. Sancho ate as he had not eaten in a great long time and Don Quixote, who ate only a little, entertained him with his customary flights of fancy. Once Sancho’s hunger abated and Don Quixote’s imagination ran dry, Sancho rose and spoke some solemn stupidities in honor of his Lord Don Quixote’s all-conquering will, thus bringing the feast to an official close. Don Quixote praised Sancho in return, advised him to govern justly, and graciously retired once more to his bed chamber so he might continue to rest and cure his still aching battle wounds.
Extra-officially, the festivities went on well into the night, with Sancho and some of his new subjects sharing a cup or two of a blessed, hallucinogenic brew, which they generously offered him. Among these late-night revelers was a well-fed, slightly chubby, cross-eyed Princess named Malinche. Sancho, who had come under the effects of the hallucinogens, exclaimed at once upon seeing the princess: “My Lady Dulcinea! It is you! Oh how pleased my master and lord Don Quixote will be when he lays his love-stricken eyes on you, to say nothing of his love-smitten hands!” Sancho’s subjects were pleased to see him greet Princess Malinche with such reverence, and mistook his display of passion to mean that he desired her for the night. Sancho corrected them, explaining that he was not happy for himself, who was already loyally married, but for their spiritual lord Don Quixote. “Finally,” he exclaimed, “Don Quixote will be united with his beloved Lady Dulcinea!”
Sancho led Princess Malinche to Don Quixote’s chamber and excitedly shook him awake. “Who disturbs my fitful sleep?” Don Quixote demanded to know. “My good Lord,” Sancho told him “your Lady Dulcinea has magically appeared before my eyes tonight.” “What is this you say, Sancho? Dulcinea? Here?” “Yes, my Lord. And I have brought her to you so she might know how deep your love for her runs.” “Sancho, bring me my armor and sword, that I might greet her as is befitting a Lady of her unequalled stature.” Sancho did as he was asked and, once Don Quixote was ready, he opened the door to Don Quixote’s quarters, letting himself out and letting Princess Malinche in. That night the plump young princess, who Don Quixote (mis)took for Dulcinea, rose to the noble occasion, charming her spiritual Lord with the unspeakable delights of her carnal knowledge. Nine months later, she gave birth to Don Quixote's son. He was given the name Hispánico and grew up to become the sweetest young man of all of Sweet.
Robinson Crusoe, who was the sole inhabitant of the island's northern shores, gradually awakened to a growing sense of horror at the imposing spectacle that Nature had made of itself in this apparently uninhabited, island world. Robinson's first impulse was to swim away, back to civilization. But, realizing that there was no other land in sight, he instead prayed to God, asking that the Almighty help him understand and accept his misfortune. The Almighty did more than answer his prayers; He revealed to Robinson his manifest destiny: The Almighty intended for him to remain on the island and, in his likeness, conquer its unwieldy Nature. This placed Robinson under considerable hardship, but trusting in the wisdom of the Almighty and in his own God-given talents and abilities, he set about doing God’s labor.
As time passed, Robinson Crusoe came to appreciate the fact that God had favored him over the island's seemingly magical forces of Nature by equipping him with a cunning sense of reason and technical ability. Although it would certainly be lonely, he realized that his life on the island did not need to be a constant, relentless struggle to satisfy his most immediate, physical needs. By means of the exercise of his own reasoning powers, Robinson ceased merely to defend himself against Nature and began to conquer the island's natural wonders, forces, and resources. He first experimented methodically with the island's deciduous seasonal fruits, until he had organized them into crops and established a self-reliant, agricultural economy. He then proceeded to mine the island for minerals; there was plenty of coal, some iron and copper, but to his great consternation, only very little silver or gold. All the same, he built fortifications, including a castle with gunnery units, trenches and moats. He designed a system of roadways and canals on which to transport both his harvests and military defenses (if needed). Every day he prayed and gave many thanks to God for his good fortune; for his good reasoning, science and technology; and for his good progress in all things. Sensing that by virtue of his own efforts and the sweat of his brow the island had essentially come under his dominion; Robinson decided to name his island kingdom Sweat Island or Isla Salada.
No more had Robinson accomplished these feats than he determined to set out and explore the other regions of his island world. After several days of walking, he came upon a trail of human footprints which he followed to a campsite where he discovered the island's yearly visitors in the throes of an anthropophagous festival. The presence of Nature on Sweat, he realized, was not limited to the animals and plants he had already begun to dominate so cunningly; it also included the more ghastly aspects of brutish human Nature. Just as he had done before, upon first viewing the spectacle of Nature on the island, Robinson reacted to this anthropophagous spectacle with horror; he fled from the savages for the more civilized regions of his own fortified home.
Robinson remained nestled in his fortress for several weeks, planning a strategy for self-preservation. He realized that the element of surprise was his best defense against his enemies. In order to rid himself of or otherwise conquer the anthropophagi he would have to scare them with the magic of his science and technology. He placed several gunnery units in the hills above the campsite of the anthropophagi; he developed an automated system for triggering numerous bows and arrows simultaneously; and he built himself a suit of armor. Finally, on the eve of one of the festivals, Robinson exploded as if from out of nowhere with the power of a modern god. The distant anonymity of his magical bombs and cannon-balls killed most of his enemies without their knowing what or who had befallen them, others he killed less smartly with his bow and arrow devices; a few managed to escape by boat when they saw him coming down the hills glittering in his armor. When he reached the campsite, he was attacked from behind by the one remaining anthropophagite. In singular hand to hand combat, Robinson wounded and defeated his personal enemy, but masterfully spared his life.
Robinson took the young brute home with him; he nursed him back to health and put him to work in the fields, mines and canals. He named his slave Friday and tried to educate him in the Christian manner. He explained to him that his past way of life had violated the will of the Almighty and that henceforth he would have to do penance for his sins. The fruits of his labor, Robinson explained, would be the true measure of Friday's value in the eyes of the Almighty. Humiliated by the superior force of Robinson's military and technological power, Friday accepted the spiritual terms of his debt to the Almighty. In the years that followed, Robinson grew still more prosperous with Friday’s labor: more and larger crops could be tended, the roadways and canals could be mended, and the island could be defended from seasonal hurricanes and visits by Friday's anthropophagous ex-compatriots.
One year, Robinson and Friday took another prisoner: a female. Like Friday before her, she was made to understand that she owed her life to the graciousness and generosity of the master, Robinson Crusoe, who had spared her life and nursed her back to laboring health such that she too might some day redeem herself in the eyes of the Almighty. Robinson put her to work in the fields alongside Friday while he dedicated himself to other more conceptual forms of God's labor. He studied the stars; did mathematics; conducted experiments with the island's natural resources; and began to create powerful machines that could do the work of many men and women. But he was nevertheless distracted from his work by the presence of the woman. His lust for the young, brown, sensuous body of his newest acquisition grew stronger and stronger with each passing day. No amount of work could keep him from lusting after her. He prayed to God for the strength and moral fortitude with which to defend himself from this most voluptuous of imaginable temptations.
Friday took his master's hesitancy to procreate as a license to do so himself, and so he took the woman and bedded down with her. Eventually, she swelled with Friday's child. At the sight of this, Robinson flew into a jealous rage, explaining to them both that they had committed a terrible sin of the flesh by daring to have a family out of wedlock. Robinson pretended to grow skeptical as to the ability of either Friday or the woman to ever truly assimilate and live up to the standards of the Almighty's civilization, so he decided to turn them away (temporarily) from his fortress. He instructed Friday to construct two small huts: one near his castle where Friday would be expected to live out his days of punishment in domestic service to Robinson, and another near the fields where both the woman and her child would be expected to live out their days of penitence laboring in the fields. Friday's child was born a girl. Robinson parsimoniously named her Virginia.
One particularly glorious day, Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe met. Each would now have a real companion, a noble friend, and a true equal with whom to exchange impressions, knowledge, and other cultural riches. They sat down in civilized brotherhood beside a cool fountain of crystalline water, where each told the other the harrowing story of his shipwreck and subsequent conquest of the island. Don Quixote boasted of his victorious campaigns over the island’s cannibals and of how, with the loving embrace of his Lady Dulcinea, he had united the people of Sweet both in ideals and blood. Robinson, by contrast, boasted of his technological dominance over nature and of the prosperity of life on Sweat. Through the course of their dialogue, it became increasingly clear to these two civilized men that, in spite of their evident differences, they shared many experiences in common. Each, in his way, had conquered a new world. They were the two of them, remorseless destroyers of old ways and indefatigable creators of new habits!
As is generally the case with such first encounters, an uncomfortable silence fell on these two boastful interlocutors once they had exchanged their stories and realized how similar they were, the one to the other. Each stared the other in the eye and, in the breathless silence, began to lose himself in the other's gaze. This was a singular gaze: the gaze of equality: the gaze of the self-assured master staring into a mirror image of himself. Each struggled to break free from the inclusive gaze of the other, in which he could see his own intuited sense of superiority duplicated but not recognized. Then, just as unexplainably as the gazing had begun, it ceased. The self-certainty of difference set in, correcting the confusion of mirrored identity. Each had conquered; this was true. But only one of them could be the chosen one; this too was true and they both new it. And so the men parted, promising to visit each other on their respective halves of the island, yet feeling deeply troubled by the encounter. Neither could shake the awful suspicion that the other considered himself to be the island’s only true master. This suspicion would eventually poison their relations, putting an end to all dialogue and instigating war between them; but first, it poisoned their minds with jealous pride.
“Who does that Robinson think he is?” Don Quixote would complain to himself late into most nights after he had said his knightly prayers. “Robinson is proud beyond belief of his technical prowess, and I have seen how Sancho and the rest of my Sweet people are in awe of him. Fine, Sancho and the rest of them can benefit from these Robinsonian technical advances and their lives can become ‘easier’ and more ‘comfortable,’ as they like to say these days. But as for me, I will do what God put me on this island to do; I shall disrupt this worldly comfort and ease and reveal the moral malaise that Robinson sponsors with this thing he calls ‘progress.’ I shall struggle to remind both the people of Sweet and Sweat of the ultimate value of life; I shall sacrifice myself in the name of life eternal.” And then Don Quixote would ask himself rhetorically: “How can I hold my peace when Robinson threatens to reduce the meaning of life on this island to nothing more than its usefulness to self-interested individuals? Are we all to forget the eternal, unchanging, and unrivaled values of spiritual life in exchange for these ever-shifting and always-competing self-interests of economic life? May God save us all from such false optimism! There can be no heaven on Earth. There is no real progress but that of the soul toward the afterlife. It is my duty, as a knight-errant and spiritual conquistador, to fight against this worldly pestilence.” Then, in a fitful surge of fury, Don Quixote would shout out loud at the gathering shadows of the night: “Oh Robinson, you arrogant scoundrel and fastidious infidel, you shall not dominate the superior will and lasting spiritual value of Don Quixote!” At the sound of his shouting voice, Dulcinea –or rather Malinche—would awaken. Not until she came to seduce him with the dark-chocolate of her semi-sweet kisses would Don Quixote cease his righteous spewing, relax and, after performing his duties as a faithful husband, fall asleep cradled in the arms of his one true love.
Robinson too would often find his work interrupted by bitter recollections of the self-indulgent pride with which Don Quixote typically spoke of spiritual and ethical concerns. “Who does that Don Quixote think he is?” he would ask himself at such moments. “He assumes he is noble. But who gave him that title of Don in the first place? A shoddy tavern keeper and would-be monarch bestowed it on him; that is who. He was not made noble by industry, but by the favor of another man, as ignoble as him. What a ridiculous specimen of nobility this Spaniard is! He prances about with the pride of a blind stallion, not realizing that what he conceives as gracefulness in his movements and eloquence in his speech betrays the clumsiness and stiffness of his thoughts. His mind is a cobweb of superstition; his priestliness is nothing short of intellectual slavery; he is a decadent, backward, other-worldly ascetic; he is a simpleton and buffoon who is no longer capable of meaningful, ennobling action. How can I possibly hold my peace,” Robinson would then ask himself rhetorically, “when under the leadership of this Don from La Mancha, the island’s resources are going to waste and its people forced to live in poverty? I must fight to liberate them all!” And then, as if he had been suddenly illuminated by a vision of transcendental origin, Robinson would say aloud, with the stars above as his witnesses: “Perhaps I could blow up one of my own ships when I go calling on him next, and accuse him of having blown it up himself. Yes,” he would then add in a conspiratorial giggle, “that would make for a splendid little war!” At once exhausted by his bitterness and excited at its belligerent possibilities, Robinson would go to bed and, seduced by one of the innumerable images of sweaty slave-girls that regularly filled his discriminating mind, he would dutifully, independently, self-reliantly masturbate himself to sleep.
Diplomatic relations between Sweet and Sweat were established shortly after Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe’s first encounter. Since Don Quixote could not be bothered with such worldly trifles, he left the negotiating of all political and commercial agreements to his squire Sancho, whose never-ending hunger, avarice, and lust for power made him an excellent negotiating partner for Robinson. Soon enough, Robinson established an embassy in Sweet City, and Sancho did the same in Sweat City. Motivated by a sense of political efficiency, Robinson named his good man Friday, who of all his subjects was the most cultured, as Sweat’s Ambassador to Sweet. Motivated by a sense of political expediency, Sancho named Hispánico as Sweet’s Ambassador to Sweat. He did so because, over the years, Sancho had learned to fear Hispánico, whose natural charisma and considerable skill as a public orator suggested he was destined to someday replace Sancho as governor of Sweet. Unwilling to relinquish his strangling hold on power and eager to see his dreaded challenger removed to a safe distance, Sancho, with Don Quixote’s enthusiastic support, appointed Hispánico to the embassy. To both Don Quixote’s and Sancho’s ultimate chagrin, this decision set in motion the tragic cycle of events that would lead to the eventual decline and fall of Sweet.
When Hispánico first arrived in Sweat as Sweet’s Ambassador, Robinson was delighted and held a banquet in his honor. There, Hispánico befriended Robinson, who from the beginning treated him always and in all things as neither Sancho nor his father ever had: as his would-be equal. It was also at this banquet that he met Virginia, Friday’s daughter. Hispánico fell desperately in love with her and she fell conveniently in love with him; they married; they built a beautiful house in which to live and love; and together they raised several children. (It used to be rumored that the eldest and prettiest of these children became Robinson’s concubine. It has also been claimed that, thanks to the unbridled fertility of his illicit lover, Robinson was able to increase the number of his workers at almost no real cost to himself. But such malicious rumors are, no doubt, the product of resentful and jealous minds and should therefore not be given any credibility.)
By marrying into Robinson's world, Hispánico was introduced to a form of life that was governed by cultural values other than his own. Neither Don Quixote nor Robinson thought that this could present much of a problem, as they both trusted in the ability of Hispánico to discriminate meaningfully between the values of both imperious cultures. But such proved not to be the case. Out of his love for Don Quixote, Hispánico felt obliged to educate his children as Quixotists; indeed, at times he even considered that it was his duty, as Ambassador of Sweet, to try to persuade not only Virginia and his children but also Robinson to embrace the credo of Don Quixote. Yet out of his love for Virginia, Hispánico also felt the urge to adopt a distinctly Robinsonian way of life; he desired to learn to speak the language of Robinson, to think like Robinson in terms of self-interest, and to embrace, like Robinson, the democratic notion of popular sovereignty. Indeed, Hispánico even considered it his duty, as Ambassador of Sweet, to try to persuade Sancho Panza and Don Quixote to embrace the credo of Robinsonism. Blindly in love with his two worlds, Hispánico was unable to distinguish between the vital cultural values of the one and the other. There was no denying it: his love was great. He loved his two worlds equally. But his love was also indiscriminate. He was equally unfaithful to both his worlds. Tortured by suspicions of his infidelity and paralyzed by the fear of losing either of his two loves, Hispánico grew restless. This anxious agitation weakened his spirit; he fell into a state of deep depression; his powers of volition atrophied; and he was soon unable to perform even the simplest of daily tasks.
Virginia tried to sooth Hispánico with her feminine charms; his children tried to cheer him with their puerile games; Robinson tried to encourage him to break his ties with Sweet altogether; Sancho wished him a prompt recovery (by which he really meant a quick and untimely death); while Don Quixote and Dulcinea –or rather Malinche-- wished him back home again. In the end, it was Hispánico’s parents, Don Quixote and Dulcinea –or rather Malinche, who prevailed. Don Quixote instructed Sancho to dismiss Hispánico from his duties as Ambassador and bring him home at once, where he might be nursed back to cultural health. In spite of Sancho’s and Robinson’s protestations, Hispánico, Virginia, and their children did eventually move from Sweat to Sweet, where Don Quixote waited for them daily in his temple, Sancho regularly avoided them at court, and Dulcinea – or rather Malinche -- told them sweet bedtime stories that encouraged Hispánico anew and helped him to see the revolutionary potential and cultural creativity of betrayal.
At the temple, Don Quixote would preach to his son, his daughter-in-law and their offspring, and warn them against the beguiling powers and temptations of the devil. Although he never admitted it to them, Don Quixote felt partially betrayed by his son and half-heartedly spurned by his daughter-in-law and grand-children. The devil incarnate, as far as Don Quixote was concerned, was a blue-eyed, blonde-haired beast that went by the preposterous name of Robinson Crusoe. Of course, in his sermons, Don Quixote never once mentioned this demon’s real name; but Hispánico, Virginia, and their children knew who Don Quixote had in mind when he spoke of the devil, and so listened to his sermons only with feigned admiration. Were they supposed to simply forget who they were, ignore all that their experience had taught them about life, and accept as truth what Don Quixote imagined as real? Such tactics might have worked with the natives of the surrounding islands, who Don Quixote and Sancho had converted to the credo of Quixotism. But they would not work with them, for Hispánico and his family had been made sophisticated already by reason of their contact with both Don Quixote’s and Robinson’s imperial visions of the world. Don Quixote would need to do more than threaten them with images of eternal damnation in order to persuade them that he, and not Robinson, held the keys to the future. On several occasions, Hispánico tried to reason with his father, explaining to him that the liberties in which he, his wife, and children believed were in keeping with Don Quixote’s spiritual ideals, and that what they wanted was not to forget the glories of the past, but to complement them with the glories of the future. Don Quixote, however, refused to be persuaded by such revolutionary sophistry. He only grew more secure in his certainty that the mind of his dear son Hispánico had been taken over by an evil spirit. Hispánico, Don Quixote insisted, would need to be exorcised, his mind and spirit purified of all foreign contagions. Only such drastic measures, Don Quixote lovingly assured his son, could cure him and bring him back home, as it were, to his father’s faith.
At court, Hispánico faired no better. Sancho avoided him at all costs; but on those few occasions that they did cross paths, Sancho treated him with contrived respect, calling him “my most faithful servant.” From his spies, Sancho had heard tell of Hispánico’s radical political theories. In particular, his spies had told him, Hispánico championed something he called popular sovereignty, which was nothing short of an attack on Sancho’s kingly authority. Thus, behind closed doors, Sancho began to organize a campaign to have Hispánico accused of treason, arrested, appropriately punished, and publicly humiliated. Hispánico, whose sons had infiltrated the inner circle of Sancho’s court, kept Hispánico apprised of Sancho’s mischievous plans, and thus was able to avert disaster. Indeed, on several occasions, Hispánico even sought to reason with Sancho, assuring him that the notion of sovereignty that he championed would never place unjust limits on Sancho’s kingly prerogatives. But Sancho, who had grown accustomed to thinking of himself as the island’s sole sovereign, refused to consider Hispánico’s arguments. Instead, he warned Hispánico against ever speaking in public about popular sovereignty and assured him that, to the contrary, he would be justly persecuted.
In spite of the inquisitorial zeal of his father and the insipid machinations of Sancho, Hispánico did not give up hope: for there were signs in the air already that a new age was about to dawn! At night, it was always his mother, Don Quixote’s Dulcinea but his Malinche, who fed this hope with bedtime stories. These stories were, in fact, the same stories that Princess Malinche had listened to as a little girl when she was first invited, by her grandfather, to participate in the Feast of Feasts that her family celebrated each year on the island’s shores. Only now, these stories were mixed with the signs of the new age. Malinche reassured her son that he was the chosen one. In order to further the interests of his sweetly sweaty people, Malinche informed him, he would have to do as she had done many years before when she adapted to Don Quixote and Sancho’s arrival and re-invented herself. In due course, his mother assured him, the cosmos would call on him to affect a transvaluation of the competing drives and standards of value that characterized life on Sweet and Sweat. The war that he had become as a result of his marriage with Virginia, the war that had torn him apart by demanding that he follow competing cultural urges, the war that had weakened him and made him long for the restfulness of home, this war would henceforth serve Hispánico as a fountain of strength: for, thanks to his mother’s bedtime stories, he could now discriminate between the different values that competed for his allegiance and choose those that improved his health. He, Hispánico, son of Don Quixote and Malinche, was to become the half-breed standard of measure for the future.
In true Spanish fashion, Sancho had always been a king’s king, unashamed of the power he held concentrated in his pudgy, dimpled, hands. As much as Sancho was given to satisfying the needs and wants of the body politic (a body which was, to all intents and purposes, his own), he also was a true believer in Don Quixote. Thus, Sancho did not think twice when, only a few years after their arrival to the island, his master and spiritual Lord came to him one afternoon in a state of heated excitement, demanding that he, Sancho, declare a Holy War on the infidels of all the neighboring islands. Sancho financed the first campaigns of Don Quixote’s crusades with monies from his own treasure chests. Thanks to this generous sacrifice, Don Quixote and his armies of crusading warriors were able to conquer a vast empire. Sancho became the region’s king of kings and Don Quixote became this empire’s spiritual father, or Papa, as he insisted that his subjects lovingly and respectfully call him. Having been stripped of their gods, their language, and cultural memory, Don Quixote and Sancho’s ever-increasing number of de-natured and re-cultivated subjects became little more than so many ghostly figures of living death. Long ago, their ancestors had ingested, digested, and excreted death in anthropophagous rituals. Under the imperious rule of Sancho and Don Quixote, they were once again invited to internalize death; but unlike their ancestors, they were given no way to digest the dread and then extricate themselves from its deathly grip. They were offered only guilty feelings and the consoling promise of a blissful, finally restful, afterlife. As for life itself, it had become a punishment for these long-suffering people; and the islands that made up Sancho’s glorious empire seemed to them but prisons and labor camps scattered across the sea, as far as the eye could see.
In time, Sancho’s reserves of silver and gold began to diminish and he was forced to turn to alternative sources of income to finance Don Quixote’s imperial crusades. But since Sancho had neglected to develop other industries beside mining and agriculture, he was hard pressed to come up with a domestic solution to his decreasing economic might. No amount of extra taxes could replenish his treasure chests, not even when he threatened to jail, punish, and execute those among his malnourished, mostly illiterate, and endemically impoverished subjects who refused to pay these extra tributes. So Sancho turned to his sweaty negotiating partner, Robinson Crusoe, for help. Robinson, who was not one to let such a grand opportunity slip through his covetous hands, lent Sancho money at extremely reasonable rates of interest. Thanks to Don Quixote’s ongoing crusades, which always produced modest sums of silver and gold, Sancho was able to pay off significant portions of his growing debt to Robinson. But as the years passed, Don Quixote grew weak; he was unable to conquer any new territories and could barely keep control over Sancho’s already vast dominions. Consequently, Sancho fell deeper into debt with Robinson. For his part, Robinson recognized Don Quixote’s weakness for the golden opportunity that it was. And since Sancho was unable to pay his debts to him in full, Robinson decided to take what was rightfully his; he sent pirates out into the seas, where they regularly attacked Sancho’s fleets of treasure-loaded galleons; and also began, behind Sancho’s back, to do business directly with several of Sweet’s colonies. This business was of all sorts: slave trade, sugar, emeralds and gold, coca leaves, heroine, revolution.
These clandestine commercial relations exposed many of the elites of the surrounding islands to Robinson’s modern outlook on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Soon, on both Sweet and the surrounding islands, Sancho and Don Quixote’s erstwhile loyal subjects were clamoring for political and religious freedoms. Sancho jailed many of these freedom-lovers and executed hundreds more. Don Quixote, who preferred a more spiritual strategy of defense, established an inquisitorial court, where he righteously tortured the bodies and souls of these so-called moderns and lovers of freedom. Robinson never ceased to lend Sancho and Don Quixote money, without which they never would have been able to build more prisons, inquisitorial dungeons, or raise a professional army with which they might once and for all put an end to the modernizing malaise of their subjects. Secretly, however, Robinson also helped to finance rebellions, in the hope that Sancho and Don Quixote’s freedom-starved subjects might finally break free from the double tyranny of authoritarian monarchy and religious intolerance which had come to characterize life in the Empire of Sweet. In either event, Robinson was growing richer, more powerful and arrogant with each passing day.
Yes, life on Sweet had turned sour. Sancho knew it; Don Quixote knew it; everyone who was anyone at the time knew it, for the signs were everywhere, even among the children. One day, Sancho’s Secretary of Education informed him that the children of Sweet no longer read the chronicles of Don Quixote’s crusades with reverent passion. Beyond any doubt, these chronicles --which tell of Don Quixote’s exploits on the battlefield, of his cunning diplomacy with cannibal kings, and of his zealous religiosity in the face of the infidels-- were among the finest literary jewels of Sweet. How could the new generations turn their noses up at such a glorious past? Once, not so long ago it seemed to Sancho, the good people of Sweet had claimed these epic chronicles as part of their imperial cultural patrimony. But the descendants of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza no longer claimed these songs of Sweet’s epic glory as their own. No longer did they wish to celebrate Don Quixote’s empire-building crusades. No longer did they wish to recognize Sancho as their rightful ruler. What they wanted now was liberty, equality, and that most corrupting of all modern political practices: democracy.
These cultural and political calamities had befallen Don Quixote and Sancho because the sweet people of Sweet had been made to feel ashamed of their colonial heritage. And who was behind this humiliating shame? Who was it that was urging the people of Sweet to repudiate their cultural identity? Sancho knew well enough who was behind it all, and Don Quixote did too. Robinson Crusoe, of course: the same rascal who had poisoned Hispánico’s impressionable mind; the same scoundrel who had taken advantage of Don Quixote’s weakened old arm to conduct illicit business with the colonies of Sweet; the same miserly usurer who had lent Sancho money and now sent his sweaty Ambassador around to Sancho’s palace every day to ask to be paid in full. Yes, it was Robinson, the wanna-be imperialist, who had seduced the subjects of Sweet with false promises of liberty, equality, and enlightened progress. Shame on him for having shamed them!
Life on Sweet had once been glorious. Hispánico, his children, and the other sweet people of Sweet all longingly yearned for more glory. But under the stress of Don Quixote’s crusades and Sancho Panza’s lust for power, life in Sweet had lost its natural sugar coating. The time had come for revolutionary change. Hispánico, whose competing cultural drives now made him seem unusually energetic, rose to the occasion, rallied the people of Sweet around him, and bravely declared the coming of a new age: the age of the half-breed.
“The half-breed spirit cannot be enshrined in a person such as Sancho, who would set a barrier to its unbounded freedom. The half-breed spirit is, my brothers and sisters, nothing more and nothing less than the spirit of freedom itself. It is filled with self-trust!” The people of Sweet applauded, guessing already what Hispánico would say next, for they were all of one mind, all of one nature, all of a common will. “Nor can the half-breed spirit be enshrined in a person such as my father, Don Quixote, whose premodern notions of brotherhood and religious unity amount, not to glory and eternal bliss, but misery and terrestrial servitude.” The crowd of sweet listeners was alarmed to hear Hispánico speak in this way about his own father, but it was excited as well by Hispánico’s show of independence. “Don Quixote would have us think ourselves free only insofar as we identify positively with his liberating crusades. Today, thanks to the enlightening example of Robinson Crusoe, we know that we are most free when we are hindered by nothing but our own half-breed health.” The crowds of Sweet’s sweet people now shouted in thunderous unison: “Give us Health!” Seduced by the crowd’s happy response to his stirring words, Hispánico proceeded: “Those who would unjustly restrict our freedom would also accuse us unjustly of treason. But know this, my fellow half-breeds, revolution is not betrayal. To the contrary, revolution is the motor of progress. In this, our age of revolution,” Hispánico said next with philosophic conviction, “the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new. Is this not, then, the best of all possible times? Who would not wish to be alive today? Well then, let each one of you measure his or her readiness; let each search their spirit for fear and hope. And when each of you has found hope, go out into the public square and declare before your enemies your inalienable truth: I am my own master!”
Robinson had grown prosperous beyond belief by means of his licit and illicit trade with the Empire of Sweet. And now that Hispánico --that impressionable young half-breed and quixotic dreamer-- had begun his silly little revolution, Robinson was especially thankful to the Almighty for the promise of still more wealth. Confident that the richer he became, the more virtuous he would look on the day of final judgment, Robinson counted his blessings, one blessing for each silver coin, and two for each gold coin. But what was best of all for Robinson (and he couldn’t quite bring himself to admit this to the Almighty), was that he had prospered at Don Quixote’s expense. How truly clever he had been! There could be no denying it. He had out-foxed the haughty Spaniards. Soon, he would be able to call the entire island his own! And who could tell, in time, he might even come to be the emperor of a still greater, global empire!
But Robinson’s triumph was incomplete. “For too long,” Robinson humbly complained to the Almighty, “You have denied me the company of true equals. But I need real allies and friends, if I am to do Your good works” he pleaded with the Almighty. When the Almighty refused his request and did nothing to alleviate Robinson’s loneliness, Robinson tried to reason with Him. “Friday is a good enough person,” he explained. “I have, as I am sure pleases You infinitely my Lord, made certain to educate him after the Christian way of life.” Still, the Almighty held His peace. So Robinson continued his meek complaint. “Hispánico, Lord, is a reliable and enthusiastic youth, in whom I have managed to instill a civilized love of righteous freedom. Surely, this pleases You too, Lord.” Still, the Almighty neither said nor did a thing. “Neither of these two men,” Robinson went on, “measure up to me Lord. I alone have had to bear the burden, this terrible white man’s burden, with which You, Lord of Lords, have favored me.” Yes, he alone, so painfully alone, had had to bear the cross of civilizing the plants, animals, and people of his island fiefdom. Surely, Robinson believed, the Almighty, in His infinite wisdom and justice, would take pity on him (and deliver him the gift of someone with whom he could share a good laugh at Don Quixote).
One particularly promising and sunny morning Robinson saw several shipwrecked survivors wash onto the shores of Sweat. When he saw that they bore the self-assured bearing of the Anglo-Saxon tribe, he lifted his hands up to the sky and, with teary eyes, thanked the Lord for answering his prayers and putting an end to his lonely civilizing labors. Robinson welcomed his new friends to the island in style. At the banquet that he held in their honor, he placed all his wealth on display. He wanted to assure his new friends that he was a virtuous man and that God had rewarded him plentifully for his labors. Some were immediately convinced of Robinson’s moral virtue; but others, who were less inclined to equate material wealth with moral virtue, were longer in recognizing his puritanical uprightness, integrity, and true goodness. When, with promises of shared wealth and prosperity, he had managed to secure the trust of all his new friends, Robinson asked them to remain on the island with him. Here, he promised them, they would all prosper and, if they saw fit to do so, would govern themselves as equals among equals, each man the king of his own castle. His friends agreed, whereupon Robinson told them of the island’s considerable natural resources; of how they would be able to replenish their stock of slaves each year with the natives who came visiting from neighboring islands (some of whom were quite beautiful), and of how they might all grow rich beyond their wildest dreams at Don Quixote’s expense. Then, at extremely reasonable prices, Robinson sold them each a stake in the island’s future, offering a parcel of land and a handful of slaves to the wealthier among them and administrative positions on his own lands and in his own factories to others who were less deserving. Sweat island had suddenly grown sweet with opportunity!
Hispánico’s revolution had started well. But despite some initial victories, his army of informal freedom fighters began to loose ground and then, definitely, to lose the war. Already, most of the revolution’s territories were being defended, if that was the word for it, by bands of guerrilla fighters and other bandits. Without the help that Robinson had promised, the revolution would not be able to move beyond the current state of protracted guerrilla warfare. Why had Robinson not come to Hispánico’s aid? Was it possible that he had no news of how dire Hispánico’s situation had become? In an attempt to quiet these doubts and in the hope that Robinson would take pity and come to his aid, Hispánico entrusted one of his valiant sons with the unrivaled honor of sneaking across enemy lines and delivering to Robinson Hispánico’s communiqué.
Answering Hispánico’s call for help, Robinson and his sweaty compatriots sent several ships of war to dock in the port of Sweet City. Robinson, who was commandeering one of the ships, sent word to Sancho and Don Quixote, demanding that they surrender or face the righteous wrath of Robinson’s very own rough-riders. This nasty development worried Sancho considerably, who consulted at once with Don Quixote. Don Quixote was only amused, and told Sancho not to worry. Robinson and his spiritless ilk, Don Quixote assured him, would never dare to attack. To suggest otherwise would be unthinkable, given Don Quixote’s superior moral virtue and the strength of his invincible arm. So Sancho, who was only half-heartedly convinced by Don Quixote’s proud posturing, did nothing --except drown his worries in a hearty stew. Seeing that Sancho, that Spanish laggard and coward, refused to strike the first blow, Robinson decided to blow up one of his ships himself. After Robinson had counted, collected, and ceremoniously buried at sea those self-sacrificing sailors of Sweat who had perished in the vile explosion, Robinson assigned an ad hoc committee to investigate the tragedy. This most professional and impartial of all committees discovered, just as Robinson had suspected they would, that it had been Sancho who, under the cover of the night, surreptitiously mined the waters surrounding Robinson’s fleet of warships. Given this unfortunate turn of events, Robinson had no recourse but to publicly accuse Sancho of having committed the dastardly deed and justly declare war on him. Hispánico was delighted to see Robinson and his cavalry of rough-riding freedom fighters charging the defensive fortifications that sustained the double tyranny of Don Quixote’s universalizing church and Sancho Panza’s imperious monarchy.
As Robinson and Hispánico’s troops advanced on Sweet, Sancho ran to Don Quixote and pleaded with him to leave the cloister of his religious contemplation. The Empire of Sweet was under imminent threat; the time had come for Don Quixote to take up arms again in defense of his Lady Dulcinea and all the eternal ideals she incarnated. Don Quixote agreed. He would fight in the name of all that was righteous, beautiful, and true in life. With much ado, and some hastily recited prayers, Don Quixote prepared himself for battle. When he was ready, he sent word to Robinson to meet him that afternoon on the beach. Both he and Robinson had desired this eventful day ever since their first trance-like meeting. Finally, they would decide who the island’s real chosen one was.
Don Quixote and Robinson met on the sandy beach in front of Sancho’s palace. Each faced the other and stared him in the eye. Robinson said nothing. But Don Quixote? He had plenty to say. “Prepare to die you lying, conniving, self-righteous inventor of spiritless machines!” he yelled. Then Don Quixote raised his sword high into the glittering sunlight and, mounted on his glorious stag Rocinante, raced at Robinson, in full confidence of his ability to defeat him in heroic, hand-to-hand battle. Robinson watched joyfully as Don Quixote advanced and, when finally he could see the white of his melancholic eyes, he shot him with a cannon ball. The smoldering ball of modern rage grazed the noble Don Quixote’s head, cutting away a portion of his left ear and leaving him sorely wounded on the beach.
Robinson ran up to Don Quixote and, placing the barrel of a rifle to his throat, demanded that he recognize him as the island’s only true master. Don Quixote, sanely realizing that he had been defeated, begrudgingly recognized Robinson as master. Hispánico, who overheard his father’s sorrowful words of submission, stood dumbly by, staring at his defeated father who lay bleeding on the beach. Was this the same mighty warrior and righteous conquistador who had won for Sancho his extensive empire? Was this the same figure of a man who had once lovingly watched Hispánico grow up to be the sweetest young man of all of Sweet, instilling in him the pride and honor of Spain’s cultivating genius? Hispánico was shaken loose from this melancholic line of thought when he overheard Robinson exclaim that, in light of Don Quixote’s submission, he, Robinson Crusoe, was now the island’s sole master and liberating colonizer. Naturally, Hispánico complained and reminded Robinson that the war that he had just fought with Don Quixote was not an imperial war but a war of independence. Not Robinson, but he, Hispánico, together with his fellow half-breed citizens, was now the master of Sweet. Robinson tried to calm Hispánico’s worries, assuring him that he and his rough-riding freedom fighters recognized the patriots of Sweet as their friends and neighbors. But, Robinson insisted, Hispánico and his half-breed brethren were not yet ready to use their newly won freedom responsibly. In order to learn how to use and not abuse this most satisfying of powers, they would require several years of schooling and paternalistic tutelage. In good time, Robinson assured Hispánico, the peoples of Sweet and Sweat would unite in brotherhood and together constitute the United States of Swat. But for the time being, Robinson encouraged Hispánico, the people of Sweet should be happy and thankful that Robinson had decided to place them under his protection. Partially defeated, partially triumphant, Hispánico agreed to Robinson’s terms and recognized him as the island’s legitimate pater.
For his part, Sancho could not believe the audacity and ineptitude with which his master had gone to war. Seeing Don Quixote laying on the beach, soaked in his own blood, Sancho sensed that all was lost. If Don Quixote could no longer provide protection, who would now guarantee that Sancho’s meals were cooked for him on time? Who would see to it that he always had a kettle of stew into which he might dip his dimpled hands at the slightest hint of hunger? Who would prepare the tarts, the meringues, the chocolate-covered ants and coffee beans on which he had grown accustomed to snack as he justly presided over his kingly court? Guided by the instinctive wisdom of his stomach, Sancho turned his back on Don Quixote and ran to Robinson's side, begging to be spared his life and be fed an ample lunch. Robinson graciously acknowledged Sancho's newly won loyalty and asked Hispánico to take Sancho into custody and arrange for his liberating indoctrination, such that he might too someday soon learn to relish the sweaty, salty flavor of Robinsonian freedom.
As for Don Quixote, Robinson sent him off to a cave, high up in the mountains, where he was made to live out the rest of his life, imprisoned in the memory of his irrevocable defeat and ultimate humiliation. Don Quixote agreed to the terms of his punitive displacement and exile, but he did not leave the theater of these tragic events without first delivering a final, prophetic warning to one and all. Turning to face Robinson one last time, he said: “To you, fiend of the cowardly cannon balls, I have only this to say: someday, discovering that your formula for self-governance and progress contains the seeds of your own perdition, you shall come crawling back to me, seeking my guidance and spiritual leadership. This I promise you!” And to Sancho he said: “Go, you treasonous scoundrel, go and learn from your new master all that he has to teach you. God knows you lost your kingdom to avarice. Go, go now and serve the Lord of avarice and greed. Learn from him how to dominate and conquer the indomitable Nature that is your hunger. Learn from him how to embrace the certain spiritual death that is your own self-interest.” Then finally, to his son Hispánico, Don Quixote said only this in parting: “Your independence from Sancho was won in treachery. Your independence from me is, however, impossible; no amount of treachery, no betrayal, no matter how complete, will ever break the spiritual ties that bind you to me. If you try to forsake me culturally, you will find that you only forsake what is most true in you. Don Quixote lives on in you, my child, just as you will forever live on in Don Quixote. May peace be with you, Hispánico, and may God forgive you for what you have done.” Plucking these moral victories from his physical defeat, Don Quixote retired to the mountains to lead a solitary life of spiritual exercise and, eventually, to die the sad death of a madman who had recuperated his sanity and was thus stripped of all imperious imagination.
Don Quixote may have died in Napoleonic isolation, but the legacy of his imperious insanity did not die with him. All the people of the island remembered him, some with fondness, but most with despondence. Nor was the legacy of Robinson Crusoe’s imperious reason ever forgotten either. All the people of the island remembered him as well, most with fondness, and others, of course, with corresponding despondence. As a general rule, the leaders of the Quixotist faction all claimed to be direct descendants of Don Quixote; and the leaders of the Robinsonist faction all claimed to descend directly from Robinson. The imagined genealogical purity of their leaders was of utmost importance to both factions, as they believed that such purity alone was the source of true honor and the standard measure for all values. But unlike the leaders, the majority of the people who aligned themselves with one or the other of these factions could not claim to descend directly from either Don Quixote or Robinson Crusoe. Such was the case because the vast majority of the island’s so-called natives were descendants of Hispánico and Virginia. When these half-breeds remembered the competing legacies of Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe, they remembered their own contradictory past.
By reason of this incongruous cultural inheritance, the great masses of the island could naturally claim to belong to both factions; but the leaders of the two factions would not accept such double allegiance as a viable alternative to full membership in their guilds, their tribes, their cultures. The leaders feared that the half-involvements and half-detachments of these innumerable half-breeds would only undermine the allegiance and solidarity that they, as Quixotists and Robinsonists, had been able to forge on the basis of their respective notions of purity. Indeed, double allegiance was punished by the leaders of each faction with the cruel severity that was justly reserved for only the most terrible of all crimes: treason. Hounded, persecuted, and reviled in this way for their suspiciously mixed cultural heritage, the people of the island were forced to choose between what came most naturally to them as half-breeds –that is, double allegiance-- and what came least naturally to them –that is, allegiance to one faction only. Ironically, only a few chose the route of what came most naturally to them as half-breeds (for this also proved to be the more challenging, lonely route), and the vast majority chose the least natural route (for, with the nurturing encouragement of the two factions, it was made to seem the easiest and most comfortable route to take).
Unlike the leaders of the two factions, who never once seemed to doubt where their natural allegiance should lie, the half-breeds were torn apart by such doubts. The conflict between the Quixotists and Robinsonists was in their hearts. They were the cultural war that was threatening to disintegrate life on the island and send it swirling into a factious, civil war. They could either reap this war’s just rewards or suffer its terrible punishments. Very few had the courage, the inner strength, and the self-trust to defend their natural right, as half-breeds, to declare their allegiance to both factions, both cultures, both worlds. The vast majority feared that the tension between their two worlds would rip them apart, and so they placed no trust in the ability of the braver half-breeds to overcome that tension and provide them all with an invigorating example of how to live in ambivalence. Motivated, as they were, by such dastardly doubts, the conflicted majortiy of half-breeds surrendered to the punishments of their inner turmoil. What they desired most was that the conflict that they were should come to an end. They wished to feel whole, once and for all. And they were willing to do anything, to stop at nothing, to satisfy this desire for wholeness, even if this meant splitting themselves in two, neurotically repressing one side of their heritage and histrionically affirming the other, even if it meant, as in the end it did mean, internalizing the death of one faction in order to claim allegiance to the other.
Naturally, these fearfully patriotic factions hated each other. Naturally too, they blamed one another for all that was wrong in their lives. A sudden surge in the price of oil, the sudden disappearance of potable water, the sudden emergence of lethal strains of flu, every and any sudden crisis was an excuse to suspect, accuse, and clash. At first, these clashes were carried out strictly within the domain of culture. Debates concerning the proper interpretation of the island’s imperial and colonial history (or was it histories?) stirred the imagination and patriotism of its most highly revered, and therefore also most regularly ignored, academicians, journalists, novelists and other would-be public intellectuals. But the importance of such debates was lost on the vast majority of the island’s people, who did not care so much about whether Robinson had fathered illicit children with one of Hispánico’s daughters or whether Don Quixote had been motivated by a self-serving quest for personal fame as they did care about life in their own neighborhoods. “Why have our potholes not been repaired?” the good people demanded to know. Regardless of whether they were Quixotists or Robinsonists, the answer was always the same. “They, those others, are benefiting unfairly from State favoritism.”
The Robinsonists, who had been ruling the island without interruption ever since Robinson conquered Sweet and declared it a Protectorate, looked on with horror as their traditionally sweaty neighborhoods, schools, and churches were invaded –yes that was the word they used for it-- invaded by the ever-increasing numbers of people who continued to move north to Sweat from Sweet. Providing all these sweet people with penitent labor was no trouble: they were, after all, willing to do the work that no self-respecting Robinsonist would ever be caught doing. But to provide their hordes of children with an education, medical coverage, and equal access to the impartial and infinitely just institutions of the State was simply too expensive. “When,” they demanded to know, “would the potholes be fixed?”
For their part, the Quixotists accused the Robinsonists of using their insider’s knowledge of governance in order to garner ever greater favors from the State. As a matter of principle, the Quixotists had no problem with this factional abuse of the State, what they wanted was to receive their share of the State’s generous gifts too. But of course they never admitted to this, and instead protested that the State, under the undo influence of Robinsonian power peddlers, had for too long treated them like second-class citizens. The Quixotists accused the society at large of systematically violating their right to equal opportunity, and denying them their rightful place in society as equals (equals who were hungry for their piece of the imperial pie: for it should be known that, in the one-hundred years or so following Robinson’s heroic conquest and paternalistic liberation of Sweet, Sweat had evolved politically beyond the status of a mere republic and become the greatest, wealthiest, mightiest empire ever known to man).
The Robinsonists, in short, complained that what the Quixotists really wanted was nothing short of the kind of equal distribution of wealth that only the centralized economy of a fascist or communist state could provide. They expected the State to do too much for them, and failed to do enough for themselves. For their part, the Quixotists complained that the Robinsonists practiced ethnocracy, and only paid lip service to democracy. The lines had been drawn in the sand. Each faction was ready to go to war. Indeed, riots broke out in the cities. The State was forced to intervene. Protestors from both factions were jailed. Mob leaders and other rabble-rousers were persecuted; some of them were placed in secret jails where they were tortured into a state of enduring freedom; and others were simply assassinated; still others, not necessarily the luckiest, were forced to go underground or into exile.
Thus, what had once been a strictly cultural dispute, turned political and the State was called upon to intervene in the conflict as a would-be impartial mediator. But it was no secret to anyone that the State was not in fact impartial and would mediate the growing conflict in keeping with its own best interests and the perpetuation of its own powerful institutions. Accordingly, the factions readied their armies of righteous legislators and wiley lawyers to do battle in the courts. Needless to say, the factions also did all they could to persuade the mediating bureaucrats of the State of the need, in times of crisis, to forgo any and all pretenses of impartiality and, extra-officially of course, declare their partiality for one faction or the other. When word got out that one high official of state had accepted bribes from the Quixotists, the Robinsonists sequestered his family and threatened to kill them all off, one by one, unless he recused himself from the negotiations. Similarly, when word got out that the Robinsonists had intimate ties with several of the State’s more highly respected legislators, the Quixotists assassinated these legislators. Such acts of terror only served to undermine the State’s monopoly on righteous violence, to corrupt the time-honored efficiency of its regal institutions, and weaken its power to protect the life, property, and freedom of its sweetly sweaty citizens.
And so it came to pass that the executive branch of government, which was of course in the hands of the Robinsonists, claimed to have no other recourse but to call a state of emergency, take on the grave responsibility of exercising its emergency powers and, in the best interest of all the parties involved, declare martial law. Yes, as a final solution to the island’s cultural impasse, the leaders of the Robinsonist faction recalled the best of Don Quixote and Sancho’s imperial legacy and declared themselves Emperors. The State, this Robinsonist oligarchy made it known to one and all, would protect and secure its own powers and it would do so at whatever the cost to the liberties of its citizens. Since the legislative and judicial branches of government were also in the hands of the Robinsonists, this drastic measure made all the Robinsonists exceedingly happy, while with good reason it robbed many of the Quixotists of all hope.
The lines were drawn deeper in the sand and life on the island became still more intolerable. The good people of the island, whether of a Quixotist or Robinsonian persuasion, were all being held for ransom, their liberties suspended indefinitely, and their security guarded by fear-mongering military and other more secretive forces of order and peace. The politicization of the cultural debates had only served to exacerbate the underlying cultural tensions. The time had come for the people of the island to take back what was rightfully theirs to own, use, and even, if need be, abuse. They would be free to become who they had already become: half-breeds. And not the State, not the Robinsonists, not the Quixotists could do a damned thing to suppress the unboundable freedom of the half-breeds. The time was ripe for revolution. The only question now was: What kind of revolution?
There were those among the island’s would-be liberating revolutionaries who clamored for the purging, cleansing, purifying revolutionary fervor of a blood-bath. Their virile posturing fooled many half-breeds into believing that they were to be the island’s true liberators, for when they spoke or took to the streets in virulent action, they seemed always to exude the virtues and restless strength of the great conquerors of the past: Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe. But their strength was only weakness disguised as its opposite; their virility, an over-compensation for indiscriminate cowardice. They offered the half-breeds of the island no real mastery and subtlety in waging war against themselves, no way to overcome themselves and their internal conflict. They offered only the purity, cleanliness, and emptiness of an aborted life and tradition.
There were also those who, seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict, favored dialogue as a means to forging mutual understanding, respect, and a lasting peace. Their humble posturing fooled many half-breeds into thinking that they held the key to the island’s liberation from political and cultural tension. But their apparent strength too was nothing but a disguised form of weakness. The happiness they sought was that of resting, of satiety, of a finally attained unity. And like their counterparts, they offered the half-breeds of the island no real formula for a successful transvaluation of their mixed cultural heritage. They only offered the peace, warmth, and restfulness of a partial birth.
Finally, there were those who sought to overcome the weakness of both by combining, in the form of a polemic, the restless spirit of the one with the restful spirit of the other. They were cross-cultural double-crossers, translators and exiles, extradited patriots and repatriated criminals. Through them and their irksome ambivalence, the way toward a successful transvaluation of half-breed values was revealed. They prepared the way for the emergence of a new survivor, one whose life on the island promised to regain the natural exuberance and self-trust it had lost long ago as a result of Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe’s shipwrecked encounter.