Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism

Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism

Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism

Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of Nationalism

Excerpt

There is a class of intellectuals who have the delightful privilege of constantly keeping their readers company—writers who take down their impressions of the significant events of a community and supply it with a steady stream of commentary. The role of these intellectuals is something like that of a village priest, consecrating significant events, offering advice and sympathy, proffering benedictions, and even threatening the unbelievers with excommunication. Their lives are like a book that opens onto their community.

Perhaps because it is, at heart, a Catholic and provincial society, Mexico has always had a special preference for these chroniclers, and they have thrived even in today's mass society. Carlos María Bustamante, Guillermo Prieto, and Ignacio Manuel Altamirano were figures of this sort in the nineteenth century, as was Salvador Novo in the decades following the Mexican Revolution. Currently, writers such as Carlos Monsiváis, Héctor Aguilar Camín, Enrique Krauze, and Elena Poniatowska fall into this category. Even intellectuals who have kept a greater distance from the bustle of the day to day, such as the late Octavio Paz, or Carlos Fuentes, descend from their lofty heights, like bishops going to a confirmation, when it comes to consecrating the truly important events: the 1968 student movement, the earthquake of 1985, or the Zapatista revolt of 1994. The cronista accompanies the community, guides it through its dilemmas, consoles it in its grief, and shares in its triumph. Mimesis with . . .

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