14 May 2007

Progress advancing with the tread of the conqueror


I saw the forests of Ilom burning at the turn of the century. It's progress advancing with the tread of the conqueror, Colonel Godoy used to explain real poetical, as he stood before all those rows of precious timber being turned into flaming brands, smoke and ash, because it was progress that was turning trees into firewood - mahoganies, primaveras, sapodillas, ceibas, pines, eucalyptuses, cedars - and because justice had come to the forest with the authority of the sword, as blows rained everywhere and on everyone...

I am reading Ecocriticism, the school of criticism that applies ecological concern to literature...a bit euro-centric so far.

lets go latin...try this for a start.

The metabolism between humanity and the soil, showing that social forces, property, accumulation, enclosure...cut down the trees...


Those nets - the Indians were even right about that, curse them! You should have seen what this land was like when they were cultivating it rationally. You don't need much arthmetic to work it out. You can do it with your fingers. Maize should be planted as they used to plant it, as they still do, to give the family its grub, and not for business. Maize is sustenance, it allows you to get by, more than get by. You show me a rich maizegrower, Hilario. It seems crazy, but we're all worse off. There've been times in my house when we ain't even had money for candles. It's the folk who own chocolate trees, cattle, orchards, beehives, who are rich. Small-town rich folk, maybe, but rich for all that, ain't so very bad being the biggest fish in a small pool. Now that Indians used to have all those things, as well as the maize that forms our daily bread. They did things in a small way, if you like, but they had all they needed, they weren't greedy like us because now, Hilario, greed has become a way of life to us. You just take maize itself: poverty sown and harvested until the very earth is worn out. ... Wake up, Hilario, don't leave me with my Bible in my mouth, it's rude to go off to sleep like that - what's there to choose between a dead man and a man asleep, they both look the same...The maizegrower leaves the land in the end because he's beaten it to death, like killing a snake, with his planting and planting, over and over, after all he knows it ain't his, it belongs to the boss, and if they give him leave to set fire to the forest, heaven help us all!... I saw the forests of Ilom burning at the turn of the century. It's progress advancing with the tread of the conqueror, Colonel Godoy used to explain real poetical, as he stood before all those rows of precious timber being turned into flaming brands, smoke and ash, because it was progress that was turning trees into firewood - mahoganies, primaveras, sapodillas, ceibas, pines, eucalyptuses, cedars - and because justice had come to the forest with the authority of the sword, as blows rained everywhere and on everyone...'

Miguel Angel Asturias. Men of Maize. p.237. University of Pittsburgh Press. Critical Edition. Translated by Gerald Martin. 1993 (original 1949).

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