A photograph of Cancun under hurricane deep in “standing water” in the NY Times a week or so ago brought to mind Olson’s Mayan Letters and my own trips to the Yucatan in the 90’s following La Ruta Maya. Also a young friend called who had been in Chiapas recently, met Subcommandante Marcos and attended a conference that went on for several weekends with many groups (from outside, as well) presenting economic and cultural agendas. There was also discussion/analysis of the current Mexican leadership with elections coming up, and Jason my friend said the Zapatista consensus was not going to endorse anyone, at this point. I thought of the question of Olson and Now, and wondered what his take would be on the empowered Zapatista Maya, and on the breakthroughs with the Glyphs…
Maya – one of the few civilizations where artists attached names to their works…
Where books were “screen folded” of fig bark and bound with deer hide…
Olson thought that a culture, in order to survive must have a mythological dimension, and through this dimension the individual would participate in a greater inter-connected universe. He wanted to extend his own reach backward “ to fill mythological space”.
The ancient gods were “not all inventions, but disclosures of human possibilities, in other words, human necessities.” This was the backbone of “Human Universe”.
Studying the glyphs would right the balance that the bad habits of discourse & Logos kept us locked in. Too many abstractions!
“Logos, or discourse, for example, has in that time (since 450 B.C.) so worked abstractions into our concept and use of language that language and language’s other function, speech, seems so in need of restoration that several of us got back to hieroglyphs or to ideograms…”
He advocated for the “Post-logical, as is the order of any created thing…”
How uncomplicated his time in Lerma sounds although a challenge with few amenities…like running water, toilet etc.
He jostles with the Maya on the buses -
“When I am rocked by the roads against any of them—kids, women, men—their flesh is the most gentle, is granted, touch is in no sense anything but the natural law of flesh, there is none of that pull-away which, in the States, causes a man for all the years of his life the deepest sort of questioning of the rights of himself to the wild reachings of his own organism. The admission these people give me and one another is direct, and the individual who peers out from that flesh is precisely himself, is a curious wandering animal like me—it is so very beautiful how animal human eyes are when the flesh is not worn so close it chokes, how human and individuated the look comes out of the human eye when the house of it is not exaggerated”
I love that sense of the human eye. Do you see it in Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rove, Scooter Libby?
One can’t but think of the torture the world continually comes to, acceptingly. when people turn a “deaf” eye. The brutal murders of Maya campesinos, the unmitigated horrors in El Salvador, the current situation in another war against darker skin and strange heathen praxes…
Sacking the museums & libraries of Baghdad… Bishop Landa burned how many Mayan “codices”? 37?
Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo. Where is the human universe now? We are certainly in a post-logical universe. My stepdaughter Althea is convinced that the world is truly going to end by the Maya calculation of 2012.