A Great Big Lark

Monday, May 22, 2017

Notes from Leslie Marmon Silko's Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit

 It is remarkable to sense the presence of those long passed at the locations where their adventures took place.  Spirits range without boundaries of any sort, and spirits may be called back in any number of ways.  The method used in the calling also determines how the spirit manifests itself.  I think a spirit may or may not choose to remain at the site of its passing or death.  I think they might be in a number of places at the same time.  Storytelling can procure fleeting moments to experience who they were and how life felt long ago.  What I enjoyed most as a child was standing at the site of an incident recounted in one of the ancient stories that old Aunt Susie had told us as girls.  What excited me was listening to her tell us an old-time story and then realizing that I was familiar with a certain mesa or cave that figured as the central location of the story she was telling.

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Before the arrival of Christian missionaries, a man could dress as a woman and work with the women and even marry a man without any fanfare.  Likewise, a woman was free to dress like a man, to hunt and go to war with the men, and to marry a woman.  In the old Pueblo worldview, we are all a mixture of male and female, and this sexual identity is changing constantly.  Sexual inhibition did not begin until the Christian missionaries arrived.  For the old-time people, marriage was about teamwork and social relationships, not about sexual excitement.  In the days before the Puritans came, marriage did not mean an end to sex with people other than your spouse.  Women were just as likely as men to have a si’ash, or lover.

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All places and all beings of the earth are sacred.  It is dangerous to designate some places sacred when all are sacred.  Such compromises imply that there is a hierarchy of value, with some places and some living beings not as important as others.  No part of the earth is expendable; the earth is a whole that cannot be fragmented, as it has been by the destroyers’ mentality of the industrial age.  The greedy destroyers of life and bringers of suffering demand that sacred land be sacrificed so that a few designated sacred places may survive; but once any part is deemed expendable, others can easily be redefined to fit the category of expendable.

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…..These cowboys believed in action, not words, certainly not the printed word.
Hundreds of years before, proclamations, letters, and edicts came to the Americas from monarchs and popes admonishing the settlers to obey the laws.  In the Americas, the settlers were to reap the riches they all desired.  If you could not read the king’s or the pope’s edict, then you could not be held accountable.  If you were ignorant of the pope’s edict then you were blameless before God.  So illiteracy and the aversion to books that is found through the Americas descends from colonial times.  Ignorance was blissful and profitable.

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(On Photography)  The origin of waves or particles of light-energy that may give such a sinister cast to a photograph is as yet unexplained.  Fields of electromagnetic force affect light.  Crowds of human beings massed together emanate actual electricity.  Individual perceptions and behavior are altered.  Witnesses report feeling an “electricity” that binds and propels a mob as a single creature.  So the greed and violence of the last century in the United States are palpable; what we have done to one another and to the earth is registered in the very atmosphere and effect, even in the light.  “Murder, murder,” sighs the wind over the rocks in a remote Arizona canyon where they betrayed Geronimo.
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