Umberto Eco in June (or of promises, oaths, crucifixes and roses)

"There are men of their word and there are men's words. But there is an intimate moment, typical of the state of embarrassment subsequent to an appointment, in which a unique decision must be made because it is unrepeatable in most cases. casoyes Do I swear or promise?
Illustrations by Javier Montesol

I confess that I do not write out of legal imperative, nor do I even put God as a witness of my commitments and my natural duties. There are men of their word and there are words of men. But there is an intimate moment, typical of the state of embarrassment subsequent to an appointment, in which a unique decision must be made because it is unrepeatable in most cases. casoyes Do I swear or promise? It is the first decision associated with the position, that the charges have not yet arrived. I have been able to verify how the rudimentary thought of that moment, sacred or secular, bifurcates, and the dilemma is posed in a way that is as basic as it is binary. For those less experienced in the matter, who then turn the debate on promises and oaths into a coven on the non-denominational nature of the State, the oath is a religious formula disfiguring late Francoists, neo-melancholies and other specimens of native Catholicism, while the promise It is a modern, avant-garde rule, typical of the inhabitants of the XNUMXst century. Because there are those who recently even said that the new government's inauguration model meant entering the XNUMXst century. Next time it would be opportune to warn that we have passed the century because of buying grapes, and because we would be left with the unexpected revelation that Obama is still, at least, in the XNUMXth century, since he was sworn in as President of the United States not on a bible, but about two. Poor President Obama who must be in the Pleistocene, according to the rigors of the new journalism.

If men would never break their freely offered word, if deceit and artifice did not exist, it would not be necessary to invoke a higher authority or it would be inappropriate to reinforce the commitment. Who fails to the given word, for an essential reason, will hardly fulfill the given promise. One can swear by Hippocrates, that there are doctors, as one can also swear to the Trinitarian use. You can swear in the Masonic style, or the Olympic custom with the permission of the Baron de Coubertin. You can swear like the "Horacios", pawning to kill the "Curiáceos", and times are running for it, or you can swear in the style of Santa Gadea, that El Cid demanded from Alfonso VI, an iron bolt and a wooden crossbow . Years later, Alfonso X added that “promisssion making an ome to another of his will on a right and good thing, tenudo is to be guarded; And if this is in the promises that the ome make among themselves, how much more in those that make to God”. For Plutarch, the one who deceives with an oath shows fear of his enemy, but zero respect for God. Or Swift who stated that "promises and pie crusts are made to be broken." And in that same thought there must have been another dean, of a modern municipality and multiple diversity, as was Tierno Galván, whom the galbana of the new egalitarianism would have demolished in that immortal moment of the photograph of him with Susana Estrada. The mayor said that the promises of politicians are not, in principle, reliable, and a contemplative teacher of political reality to share this reflection on this point.

From a strictly semantic perspective, which is where everything begins and where everything should end, the promise involves a range of intensity greater than a mere declaration on the part, but it does not reach in any way the liturgical and solemn value of an oath. The verb "promise" needs to be given a prefix and pronominalized, which shows that it is not a very safe verb to say. And so is the use and awareness of the term in the Spanish-speaking community. Although fair, for justice, it is also to remember that the word “swear” does not have a religious or ecclesiastical root, as the clan of modernity leads to think, but rather comes from the Latin “ius” family. In this confused dualism of semantic positions and political impostures, it should be remembered that formulas combining oath and promise exist even in the historical tradition. Among the Muslims, the emirs swore by themselves in the name of Allah and made promises in respect of their subjects in general. King Felipe V swore before God and before the Holy Gospels, placing his right hand on them, and, at the same time, he promised by his royal word to the cities, towns and places of the Kingdoms. In Egypt, they swore by the Gods but also by the fruits of the crops; in Persia, the sun set as witness to the oath; the Scythians swore by the air; the Hebrews swore by an Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, "taking it out of nothing" and by the Law of Moses. Needless to say, atheists can also swear by what they value most, including individual morality or the ethics of their membership group, in the caso that they have it. Even if he proposes it, and manages to understand it, a stubborn and militant secularist could do it and that fact would withstand a minimal test of rationality. In the hubbub of post-truth wisecracks, there are those who have replaced the proposition "loyalty to the King" with "loyalty to the citizens." One of the casos most singular was that of a Madrid City Councilman, already deposed from his position to the greater glory of his verbal incontinence in public and in private, who promised in the style of Santo Tomás, when referring to the limits of private property , since at the end of his promise he added "Omnia sunt communia" ("everything in common, everything from everyone"). Those were the times of the occupation of the Patio Maravillas in Madrid, long before the purchase of luxury houses in Galapagar. The Secretary of the Plenary did not understand the expression used, which forced the ill-fated mayor to repeat the phrase and add "But come on, I promise." Intelligence to the end, lest, in the meantime, he be left without the medal of his councilor's certificate.

The oath is a moral prophylactic, linked to the honorability of the one who proclaims it, even when, as Hippolytus of Euripides said, there are those who have been able to swear by their mouths, but not by their hearts. For this reason, the verbalization of the promise or the oath, which is nothing more than the firm consent that gives value and effectiveness to the acts, both in its private dimension and in the community vision presented by politics, is not a trivial matter. nor inconsequential. Moreover, the acceptance of certain formulas proffered in recent years, due to legal imperatives and other absurdities, has supposed, in practice, to give coverage and representation to those who, in their very origin, question the very basis of their legitimacy as elected officials. In this figuration, analyze the effect that the non-recognition of these formulas would have had, in terms of the inelection of certain positions. The cartography of elected groups would have mutated substantially, although, it is true, the center of gravity of the political conflict would have been located at that first moment. It has been possible, as unfortunately has been happening in this country in the last two decades, that we have played to postpone the conflict, when, in force of nation and law, conflicts are resolved at source and not in a state of decomposition. The Constitutional Court came to accept these formulas on different occasions (STC 8/1985, of January 25 and 119/1990, of June 21) and, once again, determined the destiny of this country. But speaking of Mas, remember that when the President took office, and when asked if he promised in his conscience and honor to faithfully fulfill the obligations of the position of President of the Generalitat of Catalonia with fidethe King, the Constitution, the Statute of Autonomy and the national institutions of Catalonia, replied: "I promise, with full fideity to the Catalan people”. With how simple it is to simply pronounce the word "obey" the Constitution that, at some point, through the art of birlibirloque, became "attack" the Constitution.

Even so, in the world of the ephemeral and of representation, where the symbology of the cross is replaced by the symbology of the joke, no one would be surprised if he promised himself for Hitchcock, for Donald Duck, for Bernarda's nephew , or to swear in the name of the rose. To the rose and to the fist. As Umberto Eco points out, "the rose is a symbolic figure so dense of meanings that it hardly has any more." And he was not foolish in such reasoning when he gave an account of the title of his main novel, since there is a mystical rose, the war of the two roses, the Rosicrucians, the roses that have lived what roses live, and even Rosa Luxemburg or Rosa Chacel. "In the name of the rose" contains a contrastable phenomenon and ineluctably linked to people who consecrate themselves to God. The monks also took an oath of chastity, in addition to ensuring the welfare of the Church and the community. The penitential penalty for violating order and the oath, for contradicting the Christian ideal, was merciless and deadly: We wanted to anticipate the moment of punishment, we were the vanguard of the emperor sent by heaven and by the holy pope, we had to anticipate the moment of punishment! descent of the Angel of Philadelphia, and then everyone would receive the grace of the Holy Spirit and the Church would have been regenerated and after the destruction of all the wicked only the perfect would reign!” Punishment was not a viaticum for moral restitution but was, in itself, a formula of condemnation, where the progressive dismemberment of the body was not a way of repentance and amends, but was the way of enduring the humiliation. In the collective ideal of politics, linked to internal and external power, the promise is a gregarious consciousness of belonging to the party colony, and there is no room for criticism, however accurate and edifying it may be. And the solicitor is subjected to punishment and mortification, either in the intimate scale of decisions, or in the public square, which is the greater punishment.

In the work of Umberto Eco, prodigious in its conception and in its thesis, heresy is presented as a pristine manifestation of natural thought where man can manifest himself in freedom, act and think on equality and invoke the construction of a community where they are equal options, knowledge and even criteria. There are many similarities between the hierarchical zeal and the pre-bureaucratic stifling of ideas that exists in political parties and the rigor of God's law imposed by the medieval Church. Well, it is not heresy to affirm that it is less morally harmful to break your own given promise than to break the blind trust of the one who appointed you. Substitute crucifix for president in an inauguration, and the iconography of the cross will not be necessary, because the fear of the designator is, by all accounts, greater than the fear of a superterrestrial instance. Just as it happened in the fourteenth century where people were strictly constrained to the stipulations of the Church, so the designs of political parties and constituted power govern, where there is no word or opinion outside of the imposed caton. Party word. Word of God: “our duty is to guard the treasure of the Christian world, and the very word of God, just as he communicated it to the prophets and the apostles, just as the fathers repeated it without changing a single verb, just as they tried to gloss it schools, although in the schools themselves the serpent of pride, envy and stupidity nests today. In this caso two still torches, light that stands out on the horizon. And while this wall resists, we will be custodians of the divine Word”.

For the protection of the sacred verb, or of the political ruling party, it is necessary to provide a structure of persecutors and informers, a scarcely complex matter, since those who seek their own benefit at the loss of any victim are bustling with a life of their own. It is the feeling and the call of the hunter in the Snow White story. In a simple, but semi-exact approximation to the world of politics, there are two kinds of politicians. Those who have been raised in a stable, under the protection of a good shepherd, with manduca and guaranteed shelter, and those who have been raised in the jungle and in the savannah, who prey and eat, as they breathe, because there is nothing in them. them that makes them feel guilty. I admit that I have been a farmyard animal. For this reason, when I have suffered attacks from wild animals that have entered the stable, it has been difficult for me to understand the reason for the attack. It is the law of survival. They eat or you are eaten. They are hunters and inquisitors, indifferent to the truth or the lie. The paradox, luminously recognized also in "In the name of the rose" is that the inquisitors themselves unconsciously give rise to the spread of heretics: "And this is the damage that heresy does to the Christian people: clouding ideas and encourage everyone to become inquisitors for their own benefit: because what I saw later in the Abbey has led me to think that it is often the inquisitors themselves who create heretics. And not only in the sense that they imagine them where they do not exist, but also because they repress heretical corruption with such vehemence that in doing so they drive many to mix in it, out of hatred for those who criticize it. Truly, a circle imagined by the Devil, may God protect us!” Thus, for those who believed that it would be enough to extend the regime of political fear with a cohort of hunters and inquisitors, it would have been enough to read some interesting work, like now that of Umberto Eco. There are those who will never leave the stepmother's mirror of Snow White.

The friars, as well as the critics in the modern world, between torments and brutality, persecute to death those who do not think alike, if thinking were a crime or a serious sin. There are civil deaths for defending ideas in the same way that there were physical deaths for defending new reasons or beliefs in the Abbey. But it is that "In the name of the Rose", similar to what is happening amazingly and terrifyingly at the present time, it is enough for the inquisitor to point out what he considers wrong, in the absence of heresy, not because there really is sin or impropriety, but because, regardless of the nature and the existence or not of a crime, it is the only form of conservation of power. This is also the case today: “The cellarer had fallen into the trap. He was torn between two urges: that of clearing himself of the accusation of heresy, and that of removing the suspicion of murder from him. Probably, he decided to face the second accusation... Out of instinct, because, at that point, his behavior no longer obeyed any rule or convenience ”. Jorge, in the work, tries by all possible means to avoid that the second book of Aristotle's poetry was not read by the other monks, because in the reading and propagation of the work could be the loss of balance. In this conflict environment, the Church was forced to give in with the sole objective of preserving its mandate, but with the firm conviction that it was only giving in in collateral spaces of thought and power, leaving intact the most important spaces of power. In order to continue exercising control, at least at a given pace and time projection, it is convenient to give in on the superficial, hiding the maxim that nuclear power cannot be touched. They function as distractors and instruments of persuasion, since the core, the axial, the essential, which is power and its nutrients, cannot be affected. In this process of change, many heretics and relapsers fall along the way, before the complacent and mocking gaze of those who accompanied them until one minute before dying. No one among their peers will appreciate the effort and dedication to change the community. It is the price of daring, it is the price of oblivion.

Illustrations by Javier Montesol

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Umberto Eco in June (or of promises, oaths, crucifixes and roses)

About the Author

Mario Garces Sanagustin

Mario Garces Sanagustin

Auditor and Auditor of the State. State Treasury Inspector. Member of the Academic Council of Fide.

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