Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Athens Only Once"

1) Consensus of what the chapter is about
-Use what the most appropriate active verb

"In Athens Once", Rodriguez meticulously alludes to an identity confused Tijuana that sits in an indeterminate cultural state between the constant influencing north and its unforgiving homeland.

2) Identify 3 concepts

a) Animosity (Mexico City and American on Tijuana)
b) Religion
c) Mexico as a crowd
d) Tijuana in San Diego/ Tijuana is the new "American Dream"

3) For each concept, 2 representative statements in different discussions

a) pg. 91 -- "American has long imagined itself clean...and vulnerable to the foreign. Aliens are carriers of chaos -- Mexicans are obviously carriers of chaos -- their backs are broken with bundles of it: gray air, brown water, papacy, leprosy, crime, diarrhea, whithe powders, and a language full of newts and cicadas.
pg. 83 -- "Consider Tijuana from Mexico's point of view...People in Mexico City will tell you, if they have anything at all to say about Tijuana, that Tijuana is a city without history, a city without architecture, an American city."
b) pg. 88 -- "Spanish Catholicism bequeathed to Mexico an assumption of Original Sin. Much in life is failure or compromse. The knowledge has left Mexico patient as a desert, and tolerant of corruptions that have played upon her surface."
pg. 90 -- "For Mexicans, the border is not that right Puritan thing, a line. (Straight lines are unknown in mexico.)
c) pg. 81 -- "The point of Mexico is the crowd. Whatever happens in Tijuana, I caution myself, do not imagine you have been singled out. You have entered into the million."
pg. 96 -- "Because Mexico is brown and I am brown, I fear being lost in Mexico. When I get out of the cab, I am in a crowd."
d) pg. 92 -- "Californians use Mexico as an opposite planet."
pg. 87 -- "We are a generation removed from that other city, the city generations of American men mispronounced as "Tee-ah-wanna," by which hey named an alter-ego American city, a succubus that could take them about as far as they wanted to go. [...] When boxing was illegal in San Diego, there was blood sport in Tijuana. There were whores and there was gambling and there was drink."

4) Discern how each concept relates to one another and how they all work to support the overall topic.

There is a clear division between San Diego and Tijuana established in this chapter. However, Rodriguez claims that together, Tijuana and San Diego are "one city," and there is no doubt that Tijuana exists in San Diego. Mexico attracts a crowd of Americans because of the religious tolerance of the Catholic faith for alcohol, prostitution, and any other thing outlawed in the U.S. In fact, Tijuana has become the newly renovated "American Dream" where one is able to unleash guilty pleasures. Rodriguez sheds light on the fact that this causes animosity towards Tijuana from both Mexico and the U.S. Tijuana is seemed as dirty and filthy from an American perspective and Mexico views Tijuana as a lost city to America for it being a city "without history, a city without architecture, an American city." Rodriguez uses all four of these concepts to support the modernity of Tijuana. According to Rodriguez, Tijuana may have lost its appeal to Mexico, but has changed with the influence that San Diego has had on the city of Tijuana.

Chapter 2: Late Victorians

In chapter two of Days of Obligation, Richard Rodriguez unearths the early comedies and later tragedies of gay San Francisco.

  • Ends, mortality
  • youth
  • art, artifice, "taste"
  • absence
  • architecture
  • cities
  • family, domesticity 

California's need for Connection to the past

Overall Concept of ch. 5 : ironically contrasts how peoples romanticized perception of Missions in CA with how the missions actually were

1. Irony:

"The same year that Spain purged the foreign from itself, Spain set sail to convert the world." 114

Members must be native born Californians-an odd requirement insofar as the men and women who built California were born elsewhere."122

2. Romance/ imaginative idea of history:

"Tourists come in spite of the religious aspect of the missions. Indeed, the missions are picturesque; they are romantic; they lure the Californian off the freeway for being so different - seeming so pristine - amidst the ancient ruins of twentieth-century California." – 124

"San Jose is the most recently restored of the missions... rebuilt from the ground up - a complete fake. And, for that, probably the nearest approach to the past." - 130

3. Father/ Adam Figure:

“ Father Serra is an authentic pun in California –Father of the state –civilizer, tamer of savages, planter of shade.”-111

“Father Serra can play two parts in a tragedy of California. If he is the first Lost Man, the perceivable Adam, he is well the Angel of the Fiery Sword, forbidding Eden.” -117

4. Importance of Remembrance:

“It reminds me of freeways being built in California; it reminds me of my faith in the future. My nostalgia is for a time when I felt myself free of nostalgia.”-120

“What sorrowing Daughter could not abide was the leveling shrug of a state that honors only the future. Such a state condemned her parents to oblivion.” -123

Connections of Concepts to overall concept of Chapter:

The overarching theme of the chapter is that California, being relatively new, is burdened with the urge to connect itself to the past, even if this means having a broken, self-gratifying understanding of what the past actually contains. For example, the San Jose mission had to be rebuilt and is composed of none of the original masonry, but is still used as a link to the past just to have something. The text has various examples of the ironies that crop up as a result of this need for a historical connection that isn’t really there. Father Serra is prominent because California needed to have it’s own idol. Like the reporters that the archivist complains of, California needs an imagined connection to history, and doesn’t require accuracy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mexico's Children

Meaning of chapter: Rodriguez sardonically examines the public and private self of Mexicans in an American Diaspora.

1. Parenthood (mother vs. father/male vs. female) America = Adopting vs. Mexico parenthood

  • Passage 1: "Mexico, mad mother. She still does not know what to make of our leaving. For most of the century Mexico has seen her children flee from the house of memory." Pg. 52
  • Passage 2: "Mexico worries about her own. What influence shall she have? The village is international now...Mexico cannot hold the attention of her children." Pg. 73

2. Private vs. Public Self (Tu vs. Usted) pg. 54, 63, and 68 passages

  • Passage 1: "At the heart there is tu---the intimate voice---the familiar room in a world full of rooms," ... "Usted, the formal, the bloodless, the ornamental you, is spoken to the eyes of strangers." Pg. 54
  • Passage 2: "Mexicans have invaded American privacy to babysit or to watch the dying or to wash lipstick off the cocktail glasses...The Southwest is besotted with the culture of tu."

3. Memory and Language

  • Passage 1:"What is the prognosis for a memory in a country so young? For Mexico is memory...." Pg. 73
  • Passage 2: "At the end of the week, the tabernacle of memory is dismantled, distributed among the villagers in their vans, and carried out of Mexico." Pg. 79

4. Diaspora/Migration (America/immigrating vs. Mexico/emigrating or [Mexico as an archtransvestite pg. 61]

  • Passage 1: "Like wandering Jews, Mexicans had no true home but the tabernacle of memory." pg. 48
  • Passage 2: "Mexicans live in superstitious fear of the American diaspora...In it's male in it's public, in its city aspect, Mexico is an archtransvestite, a tragic buffoon." Pg. 61 (Archtransvestite: "The arch-transvestite personifies the trajectory of a group of transsexuals in Brazil: usually expelled from home or rejected by their families at a young age, they are practically forced into prostitution as the only form of livelihood." [Via Encontros da imagem 2011.] Mexico has expelled its children and forced them to "prostitute themselves to the gringo."

The concepts relate to one another and work to support the overall topic.

Through the use of words like tu and usted, Rodriguez introduces the private and public self of the Mexican emmigrant and the Mexican immigrant and the way they affect and interact with the American southwest. When talking about migrations affecting the way Mexicans imagine themselves in a new land, Mexicans associates memory with the Mexican mother land and that memory becomes the imagined home/diaspora of Mexican Americans.

Themes: Relating to Mexico



















Other Themes:

* Immigrating Vs. Emigrating
* Present Vs. Memory

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Critical Viewing and Contested Public Space

Yolanda Lopez, "Who's the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim?"
1978, National Museum of Mexican Art Permanent Collection
(Chicago, IL.)

Ester Hernandez,"Sun Mad"
1982, Smithsonian American Art

Judith Baca,"Division of the Barrios and Chavez Ravine"
1983, segment of the Great Wall of Los Angeles

Mario Torero, Rocky, El Lton, Zade, "We Are Not a Minority"
1978, El Congreso de Artistas Cosmicos de las Americas de San Diego

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hola a tod@s and welcome back.

The blog has been on hiatus since I haven't been teaching. And this year/semester, I'm using it for a slightly different purpose as well. I'll post songs, images, and videos that my Intro to Mexican American Studies class will be "reading" alongside the literature. But I'll also continue using the space to comment on my own research and teaching.

Alongside Corky Gonzales's "I am Joaquin" and Lorna Dee Cervantes' "Under the Freeway," I'd like to consider the impact of imagery--signs, symbols, visual art--on contested public space. One of the first images we'll be considering in this light is Wayne Healy's "Ghosts of the Barrio." This image, from Flickr, is also available at USC's Digital Library, where you can zoom in to see details.