Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fiesta of Smoke: Foreword



In view of yesterday's post regarding the protests currently happening in Mexico City, today I'll share with you the foreword I am considering for Fiesta of Smoke. My intention in writing it is to dispel any notion that my story rides on the back of actual individuals, particularly Subcomandante Marcos. In fact, the bulk of  the plot and the parallel character of Javier, were written many years in advance of the advent of Marcos and the Chiapas uprising.

About those who harbor radically revolutionary energies, depth psychologist Adolph Guggenbuhl-Craig has written, "while they may be destructive, [they] destroy in order to clear the way for something new. They are eminently social creatures, despite the fact that the society they propose is not the existing one, but the one which will supplant the present one. True revolutionaries offer alternatives." It was these alternatives to the miseries I have witnessed that motivated the long and considered writing of Fiesta of Smoke.  

Particularly, I wanted to emphasize that it is not political dogma and fervor that should motivate social change, but love. Revolutionary Che Guevara said it best: "Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality." Fiesta of Smoke is a paean to love, on many levels, and I hope it will move your hearts as it has moved mine, these many years.
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 Thirty years ago, when I first began writing Fiesta of Smoke, Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatistas and the Chiapas Rebellion were still a dozen years in the future. From traveling in Mexico I had seen the seeds of revolution ripening: huddled groups of Mayan refugees sitting in fields; grinding poverty; nonexistent health care, education or sanitation. More importantly, I felt the coming changes. In a country lush with vegetation and overflowing with fruits and flowers, tension zinged through the air. Something acidic and old polluted the beauty and the abundance.

I became a self-educated student of Mexican history, particularly of the Mexican War of Independence of 1810 and the Revolution of 1910, and of three of the men who led them, Father Hildago, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. Inspired by Hildago’s Grito, the cry for independence, I began to wonder how I, in some small way, might serve the ongoing cause of freedom in Mexico. And thus, Fiesta of Smoke was born.

In the thirty years it has taken to bring this book to completion, uprisings have taken place all over Mexico, chiefly in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero. And in most uncanny fashion, Subcomandante Marcos has arisen much as the protagonist Javier CarteƱa has, from student to leader of rebellion. Let me make this clear at the outset: Marcos is a real person and has put his body on the line for the freedom of a people; Javier is a fictional character in no way drawn from the existence of Marcos, and in fact, precedes him by a decade. I can only think that in creating Javier, I tapped into a zeitgeist that was forming Marcos, at the same time.

 Fiesta of Smoke is a fiction in which I have been scrupulous both in following recent developments in Mexico and in avoiding using real incidents as fodder for this narrative. Real people are suffering and dying due to social and political conditions in Mexico and I would never use their grief casually. Instead, I attempt to elucidate this complicated and murky situation through fiction. The social and political problems I describe are real, as is the existence of paramilitary death squads, Army intervention and official corruption. Any similarity to persons living or dead, however, is purely coincidental. 

The ancient evil of the Conquest is resurrected now in Mexico and, as our own civilization is built upon that long season of bloodletting and genocide, we are all implicated to a degree. The ongoing battle for independence and human dignity in Mexico is one of the great dramas of our times. Above all, I wish this account to bring attention to the real struggles of real people who are fighting a desperate battle for their homeland, their cultural heritage and their dignity as human beings. Fiesta of Smoke is my small contribution to the Grito of the 21st century.

1 comment:

Baking Sorceress' Apprentice said...

Suzan, as always your work is awesome, but this forward is beyond belief. It is entirely necessary to complete the structure of this amazing volume. Congratulations. With love, Joan