Landscapes at the End of the World

Burning 16, 18, 29, 47 days.
The anger of this fire cannot be put out anymore.
This is how it is at the end of the world.

In the end of the world I am writing a book about the end of the world.
It is a book about hitting the fan.
A book about deep disenchantment and the need to (re)construct hope.
I am writing it fast because at the end of the world not much time is left.

In the end, dry red crumbling earth. So thirsty it seems to suck up your feet.
Olive trees, like it was in the beginning.
Do you want something, asks the woman? There are still a few bones left.

After centuries of discontent, Uliza—the hero of my book— burns the house down.
With the husband in it.

The end of what world, asks Mohammed, a Palestinian writer living in Spain. Because there are several.
I bloody hope you are right, I respond. But let me see if I can explain.

She is crouching like a wounded animal. She is wild but frozen. While she performs her daily hygiene rituals the World climbs on her, calming his pelvic agitation, as he reads the latest world news. She kicks and spits. She likes this bumping and grinding less and less. Nausea. He neutralizes her with a blow, leaving her stunned and stupid. The World whines as he mounts her. Ohhh ohhh ohhh my love, let me introduce my new perforating drill deeper and deeper inside you. How I love to see you so dazed and scared! What? You don’t want to? Well take this! A little bad porno never hurt anyone. Do you have any more viagra? Ohhh ohhh ohhhh, hold me, my love, another World you will not find, says he.

Put your mouth into this bucket of appless, ssaid the ssssnake, and find one that isss not rotten.

This apple is not a nuclear weapon. This apple is not a war machine. The seeds of this apple have not been registered. Its taste is woody, reminiscent of plums, with a slight narcotic effect and a touch of smoked guajillo peppers. Its meat has not been modified by anxiety, anguish or chronic depression. This apple is not one woman murdered in Mexico every two and a half hours. This apple is not another social activist murdered in my country. This apple is not the mind devoid of the body. This apple is not language in its capacity to build sense. This apple is not a square deal. This apple is not a satanic dance. It is not an anonymous threat. This apple will not save you. Bite it… Digest it… This apple has crossed the Andes mountain chain in flipflops with a mattress on its back. This apple never thought it would have to do this. This apple will give you a blowjob for seven dollars behind the supermarket. This apple is not lying. This apple is hungry. This apple has nowhere to go. This apple is angry. This apple is not afraid. This apple remembers the ancient Chinese recipe for gunpowder. This apple is very old. This apple has eyes, but no mouth with which to scream.

In the end of the world writing is:
A promise–to–purchase agreement not carried out.
An urgent court warrant sent for the third time; still unattended.
Undocumented. Jobless. Residency denied.
In the end of the world we write standing up, at 3 a.m. in a police station
In the awful handwriting of a slobbering idiot
In the cheapest pen available on half a page of almost transparent paper.
In the end of the world even the oxygen is violent.
In the end of the world violence is the law.
In the end of the world to write is to enumerate indifference.
In the end of the world we lose our dignity every day.
In the end of the world, we are all victims.
In the end of the world, not even that matters.
Ripping one’s shirt is a form of art.

In the end of the world writing scrapes, scratches and screeches.
The page whines and the ink is perverse.
Typewriters function on automatic.
They also drill, cut metal and make cappuccino.
There are no drafts or second attempts.
Everything harms, cuts, or burns.
In the end of the world everything you say will be used against you.
In the end of the world we shoot hurricanes with nuclear weapons and we buy
The Indians smell bad, lack education and do not speak our language.
In the end of the world there is no evidence to suggest that indigenous leader was
And, the Amazon is ours, ok?
In the end of the world, what is the use of poetry.

The last alphabet
the last egg
the last song
the last love letter
the last tango
the last tequila
the last pirrenean ibex
the last battery
the last train
the last cent
the last…
the last light
the last flight
the last black turtle
the last cowboy
the last corner
the last cluck
the drop that filled the…
the last atom of oxygen
the last dance
the last match
the last shot
the last Tasmanian tiger
the last bark of a lost dog
the last breath
the last time
the last Peking duck
the last wild boar
the last place
the last Juliana
the last chewy mouthful
the last house
the last breath
the last ounce
the last drop of…
the last squid
the last call
the last word
the last effort
the last horizon
the last image
…   …   …
are you there, sweet heart?
the last…

After a slumber of 100 years, the sleeping beauty woke up. And the first thing she did after opening her eyes was get a divorce.

Immediately after, she formed an organization of angry women called Devotees of the Church of the end of the World, with the following slogan: <<Never again. Never again will you keep quiet for 100 years. Transform or perish. What is already dead, let it finish dying. Anger is your blessing. Destroy what you hate. Don’t come to us, we’ll come to you. >>

We are sorry but sometimes all we have left is violence. A little destruction is healthy after centuries of discontent. After ages of abuse, one becomes a terrorist without knowing. It is a natural process. Would you like to see my shiny claws? Don’t get too close or I’ll knock your head down with a stick!

Dear Lise,

You are not going to believe me but after more than forty days in which I have had all the time to write, I have only written unsent versions of this email in which I excuse myself for not being able to write about “Extinction Illness,” as we had agreed in our conversations among mosquitoes and bullfrogs in the rainy Rawdon forest.

The Amazon is burning and I am broken. The peace process in my country is fucked once again and I am full of disillusionment. Things seem darker than ever. We are in the hands of a system with no eyes, no heart, no empathy, that thrives on abuse and ambition. I feel embarrassed and sad. It is a dying system, so blind, so out of date, so profoundly ignorant, walking towards its own end. I cannot be part of this anymore. It seems more and more urgent to say something but my words are paralyzed. The censor inside harasses me saying that writing is not enough as I make myself write this.

I wonder if the only thing we can do is watch as it walks itself down the plank and then… push. Meanwhile, continue our invisible, clandestine work, activating bodies and empathies, inventing forms of hope. I wonder if the best thing we can do is feel the depth of our anger, so that we can ditch the system in all the possible ways, to radically desert and even destroy the ways in which abuse has invaded and hurt our bodies. So that we can study life, in all its resilience, its diversity, its languages; can embody empathy, sensitive ways of knowing, and freedom.

Because as this World walks over the edge, I have finally found the courage to get a divorce from too many years of disguised violence and manipulation I had been afraid to put a limit to. My son is falling in love for the first time, my cousin is single father to a newborn baby, my sister is embracing his real body as a transgender man, and I am looking for an artistic voice that will have the power to express all this.

In the end of the world we meet on the surface of an open wound. We spend much of our time loving and healing. The wound requires different ways of knowing. It brings us together in new ways. The wound makes us realize how tender we are. It makes us realize how strong we are. It makes us realize how many we are, working invisibly but contagiously. Together, around the wound, we are constructing a new form of hope, or resistance, which in the end of the world is the same thing.

After burning the house down, Uliza runs from the police, traversing a series of adventures, conversations and confabulations with sirens, witches, a bitch dog, and the snake of the garden of Eden in a sort of broken–down female Odyssey, as she follows in the tracks of las Extraterrestres, a group of female aliens who are strong and fierce dissenters who possess ways of knowing that could allow us to hope for another world. Until she realizes that they are not otherworldly, they are everywhere and they have been spreading their work invisibly and contagiously like ants or fungi, like feminists or lesbians or queer or environmental activists, for centuries. She then recognizes that she is one of them.

Photo credit: Louise Omer
Photo credit: Louise Omer

About the Author

Juliana Borrero Echeverry is a Colombian writer, translator, performer. Incendiary sometimes, other times mystical, then a frightened girl all over again. Literature is a suit that stopped fitting a long time ago. My work: stretching, unfolding, unknotting, and shredding the text. I write from the fatigue of discourses and their failure to do something for the sick world in which I live. I make literature dance and crossdress and lipsync. I write from the body. I mutate when I write. I use language to perform witchcraft, secret operations, communication with the beyond. I am writing a book called Las extraterrestres and I pray every night these powerful female alien dissenters will make themselves present and lead the way to a new world. I have an M.A in Embodiment Studies from Goddard College, USA, and a partial one in Live arts from Universidad Nacional de Colombia. I am Professor at Universidad Pedagogica y Tecnologica de Colombia in Tunja, Colombia.


To comment on this article, please click here.

Return to top