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Me and Gary, brooding (September 2004)

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The only real thing that exists at this moment on earth is our being here together...

José Saramago


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Thursday, December second, 2010

Lo primordial no es nuestro sufrimiento

What is fundamental, o my brothers, is not our suffering; it is the way we carry this suffering down the path of our life.

-- The Christ of Elqui

The Christ of Elqui says this at the end of his sermon in Chapter 15, a sermon which I am thinking tentatively of as his "sermon on the mount" (and it bears remembering that there was reference to a sermon on the mount in the first chapter...) It might also bear comparison with King's "I have a dream" speech -- although I'm having a hard time understanding the "Imagine" portion of the sermon, it seems more whimsical than heartfelt.

I love the quote and it strikes me as a distinctly Buddhist sentiment, indeed almost a direct paraphrase of something the Buddha said, though I cannot remember what specifically.

The occasion for the sermon is a memorial service on December 21st, the anniversary of the massacre at Santa María de Iquique (which I learned of a couple of years ago from Saramago's blog) and coincidentally, the day after Zárate Vega's forty-fifth birthday. Two books I am hoping will help me understand Chilean labor movement history are: Rivera Letelier's earlier novel Santa María de las flores negras, set in Iquique at the time of the strike; and Lessie Jo Frazier's Salt in the Sand: Memory, Violence, and the Nation. Also a Google search for history of nitrate mining in Chile produces some useful hits like this one.

posted morning of December second, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about The Art of Resurrection

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Un escuchador

A tantalizing bit of insight into Rivera Letelier's story-telling abilities is in this review of The Art of Resurrection, by Laura Cardona, book reviewer for La nación:

...As a young man, Rivera Letelier eaves-dropped on the conversations of the adults around him in Algorta, where his mother and his sisters (and likewise, later on, his wife Mari) balanced the family budget by serving meals. Every night, forty or more old miners would come by the house looking for a meal; young Hernán would pass whole evenings under the table, making note of every anecdote.
Cardona got this from Ariel Dorfman's Memories of the Desert, a 2004 account of traveling through the Atacama; she says Dorfman devotes more than a chapter to Rivera Letelier. This book is certainly going on my reading list...

(Found the Cardona review via Proyecto patrimonio's archive of writings about Rivera Letelier. Found the Dorfman book being remaindered by Amazon marketplace sellers.)

posted evening of January 7th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Hernán Rivera Letelier

Monday, March 7th, 2011

A matter of scale

Neither should it be forgotten that the 21st of December 1907 wrote in miniature, [and its] defective pantograph would appear imprinted... [on] the morning of 11 September 1973. More or less the same contenders, more or less the same result, more or less the same dead, more or less the same shame, but now all on a gigantic scale.

Eduardo Devés, Los que van a morir te saludan.
quoted by Lessie Jo Frazier, Salt in the Sand.

posted evening of March 7th, 2011: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Labor history: something I'm wondering about

I read a lot this past week about the fire at Triangle Shirtwaist Factory -- and this is a piece of American history that I consider part of common knowledge, something that people (taking myself as an example) are likely to know about without their having any detailed familiarity with the history of the labor movement in the US. (And indeed I did not know a crucial bit of this piece of history until this week, namely that two years prior to the fire, the Triangle company had successfully broken an effort by its workers to unionize.) Of course it is dangerous to extrapolate from my own experience and knowledge to that of people around me. But I want to pursue this for a minute.

Lessie Jo Frazier talks in Salt in the Sand about the process of institutional memory in Chile, whereby the massacre at St. Mary's School of Iquique is remembered as a totem, as a way of forgetting similar repressive events in the history of Chile's labor movement. This is making me wonder if there's a similar process in place here in the US, whereby one factory fire stands in for a whole class of events, a whole period of history, and what memories are lost in this process, what distortions are introduced. I ultimately don't have much to say about this -- I am not a historian and as I say am extrapolating totally from my own experience -- but thought it might be useful to throw out there.

posted morning of March 27th, 2011: Respond

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