“The world is made of stories and we enact the ones we believe…”
The Story begins with maps, transgressions of truth, and conviction in the superiority of one.
It begins 500 years ago with off-kilter centers of the world, peripheries in darkness, and an invisible indefatigable line. It begins with fervent belief in this first li(n)e, nec plus ultra, or nothing further beyond.
It begins with this divinely ordained border splitting the world into two parts: habitable and uninhabitable. Temperate, torrid. Rational, behaviorally aberrant. Redeemable… not.
It begins with another line also—that between hemispheres. With land imagined as underwater on the opposite side of the world, the Story begins with its miraculous elevation within the bounds of the line—in defiance of physical law and as evidence of God’s favor on this place and people. It begins with this divinely ordained order of things.
The Story begins with the crossing of the first line.
It begins in 1434 when Gil Eanes sails—survives—beyond Cape Bojador and keeps going. It begins with the kingdoms of Portugal and Castile seeking an authority to bolster their claims to land and calling upon the church; when Pope Nicholas V issues Romanus Pontifex, a papal bull granting the Portuguese a monopoly on trade with Africans and authorizing the enslavement of non-Europeans.
It begins with its imperative to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed.” It begins with boundless imagination dissolving myriad worlds into one flock, populating land beyond their center of the Earth with idolators. It begins with that word among many: infidel, pagan, heathen, and the actions they incite on the basis of a new universal logic.
It begins with the directive “to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.”