Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

martes, diciembre 19, 2006

Happy Holidays from Desde Desdemona!!

Felices Fiestas! Queremos tomar esta tiempo para ofrecerle nuestros mejores deseos a usted y sus seres queridos. Esperamos que su hogar este lleno do gozo, cordialidad y buena voluntad durante esta temporada de fiestas. Que usted y su familia gozen de paz, felicidad y buena salud durante el nuevo ano.

Seasons Greetings! We'd like to take this time to extend our very best wishes to you and your loved ones. We hope your home will be filled with joy, warmth and goodwill during this holiday season. May you and your family enjoy peace, happiness, and good health throughout the coming year.

The bird at the top is a Caribbean laughing gull. In Spanish its name is guanaguanare. This bird always appears when the fishermen are unloading their catch after a day of fishing. The bird hopes for a fish to be dropped from a basket as the boats are unloaded so it can whisk it away. Manuel Acero has watched the guanaguanare for his whole life. Whenever he unloads fish, he saves a few to throw to the gulls. He and I wish them and you a delightful Holiday Season, and ease and prosperity in the New Year.

domingo, diciembre 17, 2006

Oaxaca, Deafening Silence

(cross posted from

Is this my last blogging about Oaxaca?

Taking a step America can't quite make in Iraq, the Mexican Central Government has declared victory in Oaxaca, folded its tents and gone away. According to the New York Times:
The federal riot police ended their weeks-long occupation of the Mexican tourist city Oaxaca’s center on Saturday, having weakened a protest movement trying to oust a state governor.

But the arrest of several protest leaders has weakened the movement, and the frequency and size of demonstrations has fallen.

The federal police boarded trucks and rolled out of the city before dawn, handing security to the state police. The federal agents were headed for a nearby air base where they would remain until further notice, a state spokeswoman said.
The police are really going away. Not. The LA Times says that
More than 4,000 federal police seized the plaza from protesters in October, five months after they had taken it over to demand the resignation of Oaxaca state Gov. Ulises Ruiz.

About 2,000 officers would remain in a military base outside the city in case trouble flares again, authorities said.

It's been about two weeks since Flavio Sosa, a leader of APPO, was arrested. And two weeks since the barricades came down and the graffiti were painted over. It's been two weeks since Radio Universidad stopped broadcasts to the demonstrators. Over the weekend, some 42 demonstrators were released from Nayarit, leaving about 100 still imprisoned there.

There were stories some time ago that the federal police would investigate the death of the nine people killed in Oaxaca during the demonstrations. But those stories have now vanished along with the hundreds of Oaxacenos who remain disappeared. This should probably have been expected:
Ruiz's Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) controls the judiciary and the office of the attorney general in Oaxaca. And at the federal level, President Felipe Calderon and his National Action Party (PAN) depend on an alliance with the PRI to maintain power.
Meanwhile, APPO, the demonstrators' organization, told El Universal
the force´s removal meant "a first step that helps towards strengthening dialogue with federal authorities."
And so, events in Oaxaca now enter the realm of entropy. APPO grows weaker. Ruiz stays in office. The state authorities act on or threaten reprisals. The federal authorities pull back. Those of us North of the Big River yawn, read the Sunday Times travel section, and either scout for or dream about a warm winter vacation. It's as if the events in Oaxaca were like last year's Hurricane Wilma. Gone, and about to be forgotten.

So, with the season ripe for tourism, let the mist surround Oaxaca and let the forgetting begin. Let the tourism bloom!

sábado, diciembre 09, 2006

Today's Ride

It is early morning. As he does every morning, Bardo sits on the floor mat wrapped in a purple striped Mexican blanket to meditate. The meditation is simple. First he prays for all beings to be happy, to be free from suffering, to have equanimity, and to attain spiritual bliss. Then he focuses on his breath. When his thoughts take him away from the breath, he gently returns to the breath. --The Dream Antilles

Sometimes there is more thinking than at others. Sometimes thoughts knock persistently demanding to enter and then jam their foot in the door. Sometimes there are thoughts that dress in burdock and stick to everything. Others are like agrimony burrs, small, sharp, adhesive, irritating. And sometimes it's just a roller coaster. Sometimes the thoughts are simply tweaked out, and there's shallow rapid breathing and darting eyes and the hands won't stay put. Inhale and exhale deeply. Remain seated. Continue to breathe. Return to the breath. At times like this, impermanence seems an ally, but every minute has 80 full seconds.

It's said that when one wants to bring an elephant through the market place, it's best to have the elephant carry a log in its trunk. That way, it will be focused on holding onto something and not take food or knock over stalls. The elephant of the mind, it is said, may need a mantram or a visualization to stay on course and avoid mischief. Great. But I'm distracted. I wonder, what about a bull in a china shop? What then? Remain seated. Continue to breathe. Return to the breath.

domingo, diciembre 03, 2006

The 2006 Holiday Book List

Solstice, 2003, England
I know, I know. Absolutely the last thing you want to hear are more commercials, especially ones with "seasonal" music behind them. I know you don't want to hear yet another, seasonal rant from me about how what was once a simple solstice celebration has become, to my horror, a celebration of Capitalism in all its wasteful excesses. And I'm not going yield to the temptation for yet another polemic on the evils of big box stores, Internet booksellers, and the corporatization of football bowl games. Instead, without further fanfare and Bronx Cheers, I offer you five books I recommend for the season. The choice is entirely yours, believe it or not, whether you give these to others or keep them for yourself:

*Juan Rulfo, Pedro Paramo. A very brief but magical Mexican novel that deeply touched Garcia Marquez (he memorized most of it) and which I finally read this year. Not to be missed. With an extra attraction: a brief Foreward by Susan Sontag in the Grove Press edition.

*Mario Vargas Llosa, Death In the Andes. A beautifully constructed novel from Peru, complete with references to Shamanic stories and Sendero Luminoso. Those of us who don't particularly care for Llosa's politics will love this book anyway.

*Juan Donoso, The Obscene Bird of Night. A haunting jungle of a novel by a Chilean writer. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, masterfully put together.

*David Seth Michaels, The Dream Antilles. Modesty prevents my telling you how much fun this short novel is.

*Alejo Carpentier, Reasons of State. A brilliant novel by the Cuban master, which I think is among his best.

As with any list, there are, of course, runners up. And books that almost made the list. For a more extensive list, you might want just to browse this Blog for suggestions or look here.