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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mexico City Notes


Mexico City Tuesday February 23, 1993

Lodgings: the cheapest without risking life. Each morning an ancient woman enters my room without knocking, empties my trash basket, beats the floor with a wicker spanker, pulls covers up on my bed, and leaves four bars of soap behind on the pillow as compensation for all she leaves undone.

I'm alone on the fifth floor of a hulking wreck of a building. The structure was shattered by the earthquake, and most of the property is taped off with barely legible signs "Peligrosa".

A block away in Plaza de la Constitution, the capitol of Tenochtitlan, indigena protesters wave painted signs and shout. Police in plainclothes watch behind sunglasses, murmur into radios, take notes, inform the generals of their actions. Troops wait on the side streets, cordoned in dark green buses, rifles and tear gas ready. 

Mexico knows the bread of paganism embalmed by a yeasty spirit. Corporate industrialism, Catholicism, and native gods vie for control, amidst pretenses of free enterprise, and a myth of democracy.

The clay earth took Spanish seed. Jesus, Mary, the Father and his saints, a receptacle for myths of the vanquished to quench the thirst of conquerors.

Cultural artifacts are exhibited with miniscule captions, stripped of context. Why haven't they been destroyed also? Perhaps one day one relic will answer the question "Who were we?"

Morning sun glints at Rivera murals on the courtyard walls. Officers in dark gateways disappear into a matrix of ancient stones. Order is catechism to a pagan mind. Vanquished by teachers will the pupils one day take over?

The Spanish created castes, crillio, mestizo, and indigena, but these boundaries cemented the people together, but isolated Mexico herself from the world. The conquerors would not ignore the the natives since they were fearful.

Torn temples, carvings stolen, glyphs battered, manuscripts burned. Mexico, a violent assimilation of a European fragment into a native American perfect storm of myth. Europe was trapped as if by quicksand. The army and priests were swallowed by a dark native force. Militant Catholicism, hip deep in a Mexican swamp, was destined to die very slowly.

This does not assuage anger on either side. In Mexico, rooted in the being and history of blood, anger becomes the progenitor of a new myth cycle. Expect riots, expect massacres, expect executions, and more revolutions, but also expect a powerful continuance of native American culture.

Is Mexico really one battle? Does Mexico mean 'battleground'?



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