I certainly need to revise the story I wrote early yesterday (a spin off from Huxley's perceptions, as they intersected with my first-day's impressions) of Antigua as a place preserved in time. Our walk later yesterday afternoon took us through a lively portion of the city, filled w/ chicken buses coming and going (to Guatemala City, Xela and other locations), stopping frequently for people to hop out of the back or into the front, grabbing suitcases and packages from the roof. We saw/heard/smelled all the evidence of throbbing city life: streets and sidewalks filled w/ people of all ages and many ethic groups, going in an out of small corner stores, huge open-air markets, overwhelming supermarkets, parks and churches (so many churches!), medical centers, car repair shops, bars, cafes, and multiple banks (all with armed guards; many of the stores are similarly guarded).
I also find myself questioning Huxley's explanation for the wierdly homogenous and strangely anachronistic architecture of this city. He said that
What I've been musing about further today is my means of communication, both with people here and with those of you I am talking to-and-with on the 'net. As I begin experimenting w/ this pretty-new-to-me format of blogging, I also find myself wondering how and what changes it rings on the traditional format of journal writing. There was a marvelous selection of passages from Susan Sontag's journals in last week's New York Times Magazine; among many other things, she describes the effect, on one's self-development, of keeping a journal. It is "superficial," she claims,
For instance: I spoke (albeit haltingly!) with my tutor this morning, about the impact and meaning of September 11, for her, her family, neighbors and countrypeople. What I heard in response was a a profound sense of sadness, of the tragedy of the loss of life of people (from Guatemala, from Latin America, from all countries of the world)--but no sense of political ramifications of the bombing of the Trade Center, no sense of a challenge to a certain way of life, or a call to re-thinking any particular way of being in the world (or listening to the stories of others in it). Her response gave me a sense of how parochial my own distraught reaction to the collapse of the towers was, and continues to be. There are many people in the world--including, I am learning, those of the central highlands of Guatemala---for whom September 11 seems to have little direct application, little direct or indirect to teach.
Or maybe that's an index to the parochial nature of life in more secluded spaces? What space is secluded, in today's world, from the common concerns of us all? What place can be--and @ what cost?
Here's a possible analogy. Jeff and I are attacking this learning of a new language in quite disparate ways: he's breaking it down into the smallest possible units: the sounds of letters and words. I'm impatient w/ that approach, and w/ the next step up the ladder of abstraction as well: the memorization of lists of words. What seems to work best (to stick most quickly and for longer time periods) for me is learning @ the sentence level: if a word has a context that gives it meaning ("Nosotras estudiamos español juntas") I can catch it sooner and retain it better. Mightn't we all attempt something of the same gesture, with regard to our actions in the world? Thinking of them in larger contexts than our own local neighborhoods....?