Neïl Beloufa “La morale della storia”, at ZERO…, Milan
An old camel that gave tourist rides since he was old enough to work was much too tired to continue his job.
He had shortness of breath from the polluted air of the city and when someone climbed on his back he was unable to get up, his legs trembled and he cried out in unbearable pain. His boss, who had always fed him, advised him to go to the desert to rest.
Continuing to walk in the same direction under the blazing sun, the camel suddenly noticed that the landscape was no longer changing: he was in the desert.
And he was lost. In a camel’s living memory, this had never occurred.
A small Fennec fox happened to pass by and quickly grasped the situation.
She proposed that the camel follow her to a small oasis where she lived with her large family.
There, she said, there is water and life is good.
The only inconvenience is that there is no shelter and it’s complicated to protect oneself from the sun.
The camel only listened to the first half of the proposition and imagined a green and lush paradise.
When they arrived, the old camel, sweating profusely, collapsed beside the watering hole.
His disappointment was great when he saw that surrounding the water everything was as dry as in the desert.
The little Fennec fox noticed that the enormous camel’s hump created a perfectly dark shadow.
Having dreamt of having a cool nap, she took the opportunity to ask if she could take a rest beside the camel. In the living memory of the Fennec fox, no one had thought of this.
The camel accepted under the condition that the Fennec fox bring a stone in exchange for some shade.
The little Fennec fox went and fetched the stone.
Under the stone lived an ant colony.
Taken by surprise, a few hundred ants began to search for a new shelter.
The little Fennec fox’s brothers and sisters, that normally dig burrows for shelter, also found it more advantageous to trade a stone for some shade. They stopped digging one after the other and went off to fetch stones in the desert.
The impassive camel accepted all newcomers who provided a stone. He only asked that they lay them in a line, one on top of the other. A wall was quickly built and no one took any notice of the hundreds of ants that ran around under the sun. Has anyone seen a pebble? They cried out to one another. In the living memory of the ant, this had never been seen.
There were more and more Fennec foxes and less and less shade.
Afraid he would be reproached for not keeping his promise, the camel woke the little Fennec up in the middle of her nap. He explained that if she wanted to finish her nap, she had to bring another stone. Because the last Fennec fox that had come had no more room in the shade. say this out of fairness, you have to make a contribution to the public good: the bigger the wall, the more shade and everyone will be happy.
In the desert the news had spread and caravans of Fennec foxes filled the oasis, a small pebble in their jaws. Each had fantasized about a different paradise. The Fennec foxes had to go farther and farther to find stones and were more and more tired when they returned. In the surrounding desert the Fennec foxes began to fight amongst themselves for the few pebbles that were left. Aware of the problem, the camel accepted even tiny pebbles and in the name of fairness offered tiny naps in a proportionate exchange. In the living memory of the camel, it was the best solution.
Thousands of ants were fed up with having to move out, as for the camel he only moved when the sun changed position and his wall no longer provided shade.
The third time the camel woke up the Fennec fox in the middle of her nap to fetch a stone she was fed up.
She asked the other foxes why they continued to build the gigantic wall instead of digging burrows for themselves. They all seemed desperate; of course it would be so much simpler. But how to abandon the wall that had demanded so much effort to build, and for which they had so much at stake? No one had ever seen such a thing in the living memory of the Fennec fox.
The camel suavely observed it all.
The little Fennec fox, who had resigned herself to fetching a new stone, saw a rainstorm rising from afar.
She hastened to alert her friends and advised them to quickly find shelter. Some didn’t want to lose their place in the shade (the Fennec fox isn’t stupid) while others ran to shelter themselves at the top of a sand dune. Suddenly, a first gust of wind made the wall tremble, the camel still didn’t want to leave the wall. It was his wall.
Lightening burst in the sky and rain fell hard on the dry ground.
The ants, who were quick to panic, regrouped and attached themselves to one another until they formed a makeshift boat onto which dozens of millions of ants rushed. And the rain came pouring down and down. This had never been seen in the living memory of the ant.
All day and night, water poured down from the sky.
The aunts floated on the water in their boats, far above the stones that had remained at the bottom.
The world had turned upside down.
This had never occurred in the living memory of the desert.
at ZERO…, Milan
until 13 July 2019