Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Mexico between Life and Death

Man and Long Shadow from Above, Taxco, 2009

When thinking of Mexico, Yona, who hails from Havana, comes to mind for Mexico was the land of her dreams. That was before she set foot on Mexican soil, for the Mexico on her Cuban television screen and the real Mexico were not even remotely comparable. Mexicans, as far as she was concerned, were tall, wearing moustaches, sported gel in their hair, and were gentlemen; the real Mexicans however were constantly whistling after her so that she felt she couldn't cross a street without being bothered. By the way, she loved being whistled after (she missed it in Switzerland) but in Mexico (this was in Oaxaca) it was simply too much.

What I also relate to Mexico is Malcolm Lowry's novel „Under the Volcano“ (the story of an alcoholic British consul in a small Mexican town on the Day of the Dead in the late 1930s) and quite often pictures of that movie appear in my mind when looking at Harvey Stein's photographs.

And then, there's Octavio Paz's „Labyrinth of Solitude“: „The word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it: it is one of his favourite toys and his most steadfast love. True, there is perhaps as much fear in his attitude as in that of others, but at least death is not hidden away: he looks at it face to face, with impatience, disdain or irony.“

For the full review, see here

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