children of the days


For all of Galeano’s appreciation of history’s absurdities, he has chosen a format that leads to an ahistoric, almost medieval experience of time, a liturgical calendar in which the days don’t move forward into the future but rather pile up into an eternal present. He celebrates non-­Western peoples who experience history as repetition (“In the Quechua language,” he writes, “naupa means ‘was,’ but it also means ‘will be’ ”) while reminding readers that moderns are stuck in their own kind of regression: genocide in the 16th century looks a lot like genocide in the 20th. Thus “Children of the Days” commemorates insurgents so audacious they thought they could stop time, like the Parisian revolutionaries who on July 29, 1830, took stones to the city’s clocks, or the Mayan peons in Mexico who on July 31, 1847, rose up and seized both the plantations and the local archives, eventually burning the “documents that legalized their enslavement and the enslavement of their children and the enslavement of their children’s children.”

more from Greg Grandin at the NY Times here.