Understanding Culture through Stories

Posted by: | February 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Understanding Culture through Stories

I found this weeks readings interesting and thought provoking, but still challenging, though in an entirely different way that the readings prior. The Asturias readings represented a resignification of indigenous ideas and were loaded with symbolism about cultures in contact, hybridization of culture, and resilience in the face of domination. I feel that these are the types of readings that need to be read several times to fully understand the complex messages embedded in the sureal writing style. The style of writing was very poetic and beautiful, but in its non-linear style, it was hard for me to fully grasp the message upon first read. Though I’m not entirly sure how, I feel that these readings exemplify the concepts that we discussed in class about cultural flows moving in many directions, and a certain resiliance in the way that indigenous culture was practiced in the face of Spanish domination. In “The Legend of the Crystal Mask,” Asturias refers to “the men with the worm white skin,” which I assume alludes to the Spanish. In the same story, the priest concludes with the thought, “The one who adds creatures of artifice to creation must know that these creatures are rebellious. See, they have buried him, yet they remain!” I think that this quote refers to the idea that even if a group is ‘dominated,’ the nature of humans and of culture is that they will find ways to reinvent themselves in a rebellious way to fight back: culture and the human spirit are too strong to be broken.

As many of my classmates have mentioned, the second reading was a lot of straightforward with a simple plot and punch line. This story to me symbolized again the rebelious nature that people maintain even in the face of outward domination. While it may have seemed that Pongo was sucumbing to the outward domination of his Master, the end of this story shows that subtley, his spirit will not be broken.

I think that it is interesting to attempt to understand culture via understanding it through the interpretation of myth and story and I look forward to further discussing this in class.


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