Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Asturias 1

Mejor tarde que nunca... I'm not sure how well that expression translates. Reading Asturias quickly has been like listening to music in an art gallery full of essential oils. My senses are filled and overwhelmed. He practices anthropology through more through the human than the scientific. I enjoy this because it captures the vitality, the dance and breath of a culture deeply woven with its environment. I want to digest each page and let sit with my senses, but I'm plowing through it because, well that's the only way to surf the wave of course materials. So reading page after page, without the proper time to digest, I'm finding that I'm on sensory overload and the metaphors often bleed into each other in a kind of a goopy way. This book was meant to be savoured like a cup of oaxacan hot chocolate.

I think Asturias could teach us a thing or two about language, some enchantment a la Asturias. For example, the way he describes a woman's hair: “una lluvia de esmeraldas en el cuello carnoso de los cocos.(23)” -There is a real satisfaction that comes with reading a good metaphor and Asturias has the gift. He applies deeply romantic language to describe not only people, but also nature. His descriptions are not only sensual, they are often sexual. To describe the forests, he taps into the sexual fertility of the land, el bosque: “ una masa maleable, tierna, sin huesos...(24).

He also isn't shy of exclamation marks. He uses them like a singer uses dynamics. “!Nuestro Nahual! ! Nuestro Natal! (33).” He is singing off page to not only emphasize an idea, but to give reverence to an image. That said, with so many of them on a single page, they tend to lose their individual emphasis.

When he wrote about cities formed over cities, it made me think of Vancouver and UBC. It made me wonder what city Buchanan was sitting on. What colours existed before it's pale white frame. There is a sliver of a reminder in between Marine Drive in the ocean. Our rain forests are just as rich as the ones that Asturias describes. I have no doubt that he would tune in with their magic just as he has with selva of Guatemala.

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