Feb 21, 2012

Learning Politics with Travis McGee

Our friend John D. MacDonald pauses in his narrative of the search for Bix Bowie's fate in the Oaxacan highlands. Travis and Meyer are interested in the scene, a high mesa marked with anthropological remnants of a tough and ancient people.  John D. permits Enelio, their bright new Mexican friend, to explain. (N.B. The term "priest" needs to be read in its meaning in Meso-American culture before the Spanish invasion. The priests were also the temporal masters -- the polticians, the Obamas, Santorums, Gingriches, and Romneys, among many other latter-day names.):

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"Here is how it was.  Five, six, seven hundred years ago, these mountain people who had been led into this place by the priests and the soldiers, they cimbed to that place that you see, and they made offerings of food, and they worshipped. They bult the temples and they dug the wells, carried the stones, made the pottery, cut the thatch. But the priests got too far away from the people. They thought they owned the people forever. They lost common understanding. So one day the people went up to the high places and killed the priests and killed the guards and pulled down the temples and never went back. ... They just got tired of slave life, of catering to the demands of priests for food and women and children to train, and tired of work that became more meaningless to them. They went up and killed them and put and end to it...".


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This little offering is not meant as an immediate call to hone the swords and hoist Mencken's Black Flag. It is a suggestion that authoritarianism has its ultimate punishments.

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From Dress Her in Indigo, the 1987 Fawcett printing, p. 95.





2 comments:

DirtCrashr said...

I studied Meso-American pre-history in my Anthro classes and always thought that the main reason for the disappearance of the elitist high-culture, was that the local people got fed the f* up with all killing: the wars and fighting, the human child-sacrifice - all the crap that was demanded of them. And they walked-out.

Jim said...

Hi Crashr,

Could be a case of dueling anthropoligists, of course. Or could be MacDonald taking a liberty or two.

I don't recall that JDM ever mentions Zapotecs by name, but from the locale they were probably the Indios he referred to. Gives me something to check up on.