"All of us, at some moment, have had a vision of our existence a something unique, untransferable and very precious. This revelation almost always takes place during adolescence. Self-discovery is above all the realization that we are alone: it is the opening of an impalpable, transparent wall -- that of our consciousness -- between the world and ourselves. It is true that we sense our aloneness almost as soon as we are born, but children and adults can transcend their solitude and forget themselves in games and work. The adolescent, however vacillates between infancy and youth, halting for a moment before the infinite richness of the world. He is astonished at the fact of his being, and this astonishment leads to reflection: as he leans over the river of his consciousness, he asks himself if the face that appears there, disfigured by the water, is his own. The singularity of his being, which is pure sensation in children, becomes a problem and a question."
"Or are superimposed like those pre-Cortesian pyramids that almost always conceal others."
"Much the same question happens to nations and peoples at a certain critical moment in their development. They ask themselves: What are we, and how can we fulfill our obligations to ourselves as we are?"
"the genius of a people"
belied by history
"Past epochs never vanish completely."
"The answers differ in different situations, and the national character, which was thought to be immutable, changes with them."
"...it seems to me there is something revealing in the insistence with which a people will question itself during certain periods of its growth. To become aware of our history is to become aware of our singularity."
"Eventually these features (as reflected in the river of his consciousness,) are seen as a face, and later as a mask, a meaning, a history."
"Our territory is inhabited by a number of races speaking different languages and living on different historical levels. A few groups still live as they did in prehistorical times. "
Different levels shown based on the meausres of living standards as defined by the PQLI or physical quality of life index for the many Mexican states.
"would do more to define the Mexican"
to express and so doing recreate Mexican-ness, its
"instinctive doubts about our abilities, ... our impotence as creators,.... our preference for analysis" instead of "facing reality."
"Los Angeles, a city inhabited by over a million person's of Mexcan origin."
"It floats without ever offering opposition" above or apart from "the North American world based on precision and efficiency."
Pachuco as an extreme.
"persons who where disguises."
"This spiritual condition, or lack of a spirit, has given birth to a type known as the pachuco. The pachucos are youths, for the most part of Mexican origin, who form gangs in southern U.S. cities, they can be identified by their language and behavior, as well as by the clothing they effect."
In southern border cities in the 1940s and 1950s young Mexican American men affected the "style" of exaggerated dress with a distinctive urban otherness for which there would be no mistake as to the ethinc derivation of those who wore the "zoot suits." The ensuing Zoot Suit riots of the early 1940s [May-June, 1943] between Mexican or Chicano youths and U.S. Navy enlisted men made the suits an even more significant badge of distinction for African Americans, or black and Italian youth. While the newspapers extolled the virtues of teh US servicemen in ridding Los Angeles of 'degenearte influnces," Eleanor Roosevelt clearly recognmizedthe racial prejudice that lay just below the surface of the military turned mob as they assaulted Mexican, black and Italian youths who were wearing zoot suits.
A young Malcolm X described the zoot suit as: "a killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats and shoulders padded like a lunatic's cell." Zoot suits usually featured a key chain dangling from the belt to the knee or below, then back to a side pocket.
Zoot suits were for special occasions – such as a dance or a birthday party. The amount of material and tailoring required made them costly items.
"A study of the great myths concerning the origin of man and the meaning of our presence on earth reveals that every culture -- in the sense of a complex of values created and shared in common -- stems from the conviction that man the intruder has broken or violated the order of the universe. He has inflicted a wound on the compact flesh of the world, and chaos, which is the ancient and,...natural condition of life, can emerge again from this rupture. The return of 'ancient Original Disorder' is a menace that has obsessed every consciousness in every period of history."
"But exile, expiation and penitence should proceed from the reconciliation of man with the universe. Neither the Mexican nor the North American has achieved this reconciliation. What is even more serious, I am afraid we have lost our sense of the very meaning of all human activity.... If the solitude of the Mexican is like a stagnant pool, that of the North American is like a mirror. We have ceased to be springs of living water."
"...rises above the the human condition and breaks the circle of solitude that surrounds each one of us."
see "dialectic of solitude"
During the intense privations and fierce futility of the Spanish Civil War, Paz writes that he saw a universal otherness in the faces of those he stood in solidarity with against fascism. He says " they are the faces of coarse humble people. But the memory will never leave me. Anyone who has looked Hope in the face will never forget it."
Emiliano Zapata, as depicted by the muralist: Diego Rivera.
"In every man there is the possibility of his being -- or, to be more exact, of his becoming once again -- another man."
This mixing is called El Mestizaje.
Ninety percent of the present day population of Mexico is considered to consist of "mestizos."
Aztec account of the Spanish conquest
Octavio Paz | Labyrinth of Solitude | consciousness metaphor | reconciliation & Norté Americano failings | Hope | Death