Popular culture as folk culture

Posted by: | February 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Popular culture as folk culture

The readings assigned for this week consisted of several Mayan legends, as well as a parable. I noticed that there are two themes that reoccur throughout all of the stories: violence and religion. The Mayan legends especially contain quite a lot of violence- from a man being sacrificed (Legend of the Singing Tablets) to a young nun gouging her eyes out (Legend of the Silent Bell).This violence is depicted not only graphically (with images of severed limbs and clawed out eyes), but also through the prose used by the author, Miguel Angel Asturias. While reading his work, one feels the manic energy of pounding feet; the pure terror that is felt by a man whose idols turn against him; and the resignation of one who knows that a painful death is imminent.
Religion also plays a great role in these legends; in each story, a deity is the reason for the actions that take place. From the stone idols in Legend of the Crystal Mask to the mystical Moon-Chewers in the Legend of the Singing Tablets, in some way a deity is responsible for the horrors that befall the participants.
These deities are nothing like the modern Christian god, who is a loving and forgiving figure; blood and violence are necessary to satisfy them.
The last reading, a parable, differ from the others in many ways; the two differences I noticed right away were that the violence was replaced by cruelty, and the bloodthirsty deities of the Mayan legends were replaced by one who was concerned with rewarding goodness and providing strength. The author’s choice of words conveys the humiliation and degradation of the pongo; however, unlike in the previous legends, in the end the abused man’s spirit is bolstered by the knowledge that he is the better man.


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