Splat…splat…splat. Over and over. Butterflies. Mile after mile of hundreds and hundreds of butterflies. The painted ladies are doing well this year. Unfortunately for them, their migration route is intersected by Interstate 40. Here, outside of Ludlow, California, I’m committing vehicular lepidopteracide at an alarming rate. In a manner that is both macabre and hypnotic, I’m captivated by the split second before each impact when time seems to stop: the butterfly hovers mid-flight only feet away in crystal clear profile against the blue, late-morning sky, orange wings outstretched as it strives towards its singular purpose, oblivious to impending calamity. That suspended instant unfailingly passes as Chronos reasserts his reign and 3,000 pounds traveling at 75 miles an hour collides with 0.5 grams of Vanessa annabella. In a most unnatural metamorphosis, butterfly transforms into yellow smear on windshield with an onomatopoetic splat.
Crows line the highway, feasting on carcasses. At rest stops, every car appears to be covered in egg yolks or to have been shot with yellow paintballs. I think of the thousands of vehicles daily covering this stretch of interstate and wonder at how many butterfly fatalities that must add up to. Of unintended consequences in this seemingly desolate landscape of high desert. Of how I-40 killed Ludlow itself – now with a population of 10 and consisting of a gas station-cum-Dairy Queen – when it superseded Route 66. Of how I came to be driving it at that moment, saying goodbye to more than just butterflies and ghost towns.
The below article, written in mid-August, appeared in the October 2016 print edition of Maximum Rocknroll. For the latest on the teachers’ strike in Mexico, see my most recent Insumisión column.
March in Oaxaca on August 22.
By Scott Campbell
In the fall of 2008 while in the city of Oaxaca, I walked with David Venegas in the plaza in front of the Santo Domingo Cathedral, a massive four-block church and former monastery whose construction first began in 1572. We were returning from the courthouse nearby, where Venegas had to report every 15 days. A prominent member of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and the anti-authoritarian group Oaxacan Voices Building Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL), Venegas was arrested, beaten and tortured in April 2007, held for eleven months on charges of “possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, sedition, conspiracy, arson, attacks on transit routes, rebellion, crimes against civil servants, dangerous attacks, and resisting arrest,” and eventually conditionally released. Until he was found innocent in April 2009, one of those conditions was his semi-monthly presentation at the courthouse. As with any trip he made in public, Venegas had at least one person accompany him to provide some security against being arrested or disappeared.
Originally published on It’s Going Down.
May 29, 2016
Translated by Scott Campbell
“The struggle occurs in a given territory, with very specific characteristics, with very specific enemies and their particularities, to know all these elements is our responsibility.”
Documents for an insurrectionary topology.
It is time to deepen the struggle against the state, against capital, and against the forms they use to continue to perfect their means of dominion over us. Different materials for spreading information and reflection have been developed in recent times. Blogs, magazines, newspapers and countless other materials have been produced by compañeros with different contours but with the same intention: to contribute to the social war from an anti-authoritarian and offensive perspective.
Earlier this week I spoke at length with the Angry Indian for his radio show. While the discussion was based around the Zapatistas, we also covered topics such as colonialism, indigenous resistance, Palestine and capitalism.
Have a listen here.