Photo of Angela

Cerebral Cypher

New Year. 2007. Cusco, Peru.

Jan 10, 2007

If you saw The Motorcycle Diaries, you will learn about some of what Ernesto Guevara saw on his own trip through Peru. How much has changed since those revolutionary times, and the last calls of the gritos? More idealism than action. It was his own people that killed Che.

I am told, the indigenous people of the mountain lands want to live this way. The mud huts are made with straw. This keeps the mud together and pact tight. There are few tools. Everything is done with manual labor. There is no private property, only a squatting system. Because of the climate and altitude, the best crops are corn and potato. The children, dressed in traditional costumes, beg tourists for money. They are insistent. I am told not to give these children money because they are exploited by their parents. These children hustle 3x more than an adult worker earns during an entire day. It is a cyclical culture of begging. The basics for a subsistence existence are food, clean water, and shelter. Aldous Huxley quipped— Most human beings have an absolute and infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

In the Third World, the desire is to fulfill basic needs; that’s the drive. In the First World, because a larger majority of the population has access to readily available basics, these people have the time and energy to develop skills and talents. That’s why Europeans look so good; they have the time and energy to groom. The countries with fertile crop lands able to grow agriculture and feed cattle are most successful in history, developing into empires. The rest were not. Consider the deserts of the Middle-East and Africa, for example. Focus is on surviving not thriving.

Here in Cusco, we are mostly tourists coming to Macchu Picchu. I rode through the Sacred Valley. What would Peru be like today if it was still Inca? If the Spanish Conquistadores did not pummel the land, steal the gold, kill the leaders, and exterminate those who could contribute most to the genetic gene pool? The Incas practiced genetic diversity, and meritocracy. It was sublime learning this standing on top of one of the great wonders of the world still withstanding. Pizzaro was dirty. The Incan civilization was castrated in the name of Catholicism. The Catholic doctrine and its hypocrisy speak with a snake’s “forked tongue.” It was a hellish mandate, not a heavenly one. However, with that, what of the nation that wins? The Spanish strength to travel the New World and change the face of the planet; they fucked into existence a singular South America. The Saints in effigies, idols, and icons, these stuffed dolls with beady eyes look creepy in the Churches. Is this not paganism too? Eventually, if it wasn’t for the murders in the name of Christianity, it was the small pox that killed the Incas. These germs were imported from Europe.

Don’t drink the water but, please, visit Macchu Pucchu. Take the slow train ride from Cusco. When you arrive and climb to the summit, ask yourself how the Incas built it. How did they carry the limestone from miles away to here, how did they create the perfect geometry of the keystone? Within your reach there will be the tips of mountains, you will be in clouds, see the world for what it once was.

I can say I visited Macchu Picchu. Like I visited the Parthenon. But these places, no matter what they once were, are now rubbles of rock. Dusty. Inconsequential. These are wonders of the world because we do not know their methods. But they don’t matter and we can only guess. I do not take for granted that they preceded and incited the present and future, but these histories don’t matter anymore, not like the urgency of the present.

Nothing stirs me like today’s modern marvels. What I really want to see is the center of the Pentagon, the inner ring. I want to meet the people who created the internet and the cell phone. I want to go to Spain and see the architectural revolution, these new fabricated materials, and innovations of space. Doctors in Germany have created an artificial heart. There are names that imply value. There are people who write books that change lives. There is art that is recognizable. Things are happening now. These immovable movers. What are you doing? I want to contribute to the landscape of thought, to influence the speed of ideas. I want to lead by example.

The S/Word is MIGHTY. It cuts straight to the point.