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Myths as Collective Metaphors [Mitos como metáforas colectivas]

Y el mito y la leyenda son en el fondo metáforas colectivas, o sea, maneras de expresión que la historia encuentra para revelarse a pesar del silencio obligatorio, y a pesar de la obligatoria mentira.

El mito, por citarte un ejemplo, el mito de Túpac Amaru . . . verdad . . . es de una tal hermosura.  Cuando matan al primer Tupac Amaru en la plaza del Cusco y lo decapitan, nace el mito de inmediato esa misma tarde nace el mito anónimo, inexplicable, misterioso en la multitud que asiste a la muerte, que asiste llorando a la ejecución, el mito de la cabeza que va a encontrarse con su cuerpo y durante dos siglos la gente sigue creyendo que aquella cabeza se va a encontrar con su cuerpo y se encuentra.

Porque dos siglos después, exactamente dos siglos después se alza un cacique con nombre ya ignorado pero que elige llamarse como un hombre jamás olvidado porque elige llamarse Túpac Amaru.

Túpac Amaru II, el segundo Túpac Amaru o quizás el primero que ha vuelto al mundo tal como estaba anunciado porque su cabeza se ha juntado finalmente con el cuerpo y entonces se convierte en el protagonista de la revolución más formidable que ha tenido lugar en el mundo andino.

En todoslos tiempos, continuamente hay mitos que si usted diría que más que enriquecer la historia la revelan, que la expresan . . . verdad . . . entonces me parece que es muy tonto no hacer caso de esos mitos como si no fueran científicamente posibles.

And myths and legends are, at bottom, collective metaphors, that is, means of expression that history finds to reveal itself in spite of obligatory silence, and in spite of the obligatory lie.

The myth, to give you an example, the myth of Túpac Amaru . . . truly . . .  is such a beautiful one.  When they kill the first Túpac Amaru in the plaza of Cusco and behead him, in the same afternoon a myth is born, immediately, an anonymous, inexplicable, mysterious myth, among the multitude who attend his death, who, crying, attend his execution, the myth of the head that is going to find its body, and for two centuries people continue to believe that the head is going to find its body, and it does.

Because two centuries later, exactly two centuries later, rises a cacique [tribal chief] whose name is already forgotten, but who chooses to name himself as a man never to be forgotten because he chooses to take the name of Túpac Amaru.

Túpac Amaru II, the second Túpac Amaru — or perhaps the first who has returned to the world as was announced, because his head has finally joined his body — then becomes the protagonist of the most formidable revolution that has ever taken place in the Andean world.

In all ages, at all times, there are myths that, if you will, more than enrich history — they reveal and express history . . . truly . . .  then it seems to me that it is very silly not to pay attention to those myths, as if they were not scientifically possible.

Túpac Amaru, the last leader of the Inca, was executed
on 24 September 1572.

Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan writer, is the author of Open Veins of Latin America, Days and Nights of Love and War, and Memories of Fire among other publications.  This is an excerpt from an interview with Eduardo Galeano, “Indoamérica: Entrevista con Eduardo Galeano,” published on the occasion of the commemoration of 500 years of the Spanish Invasion of America.  The Spanish text of the interview was made available by Indymedia Uruguay on 25 July 2005. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).

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