I am saddened by rational beings reading what I had to say about Poetic Consciousness and feeling I am beyond salvation with respect to their efforts to assist me in getting my feet back on solid ground. I have to be out of my mind, they would say, if I am willing to relinquish all sense of human stability in favor of something I claim to know yet have no way to be certain even of how it is supposed to work or even that it truly exists. For me personally, the answer to this quagmire is as simple as the answer to the quagmire pertaining to the chicken and the egg. That is, I feel no need to know absolute certainty claimed by scientists and other misguided spirits.
I am certainly not the first to have ever spoken of that to which I have referred. On the African continent the philosophy of Ubuntu maintains that “I am because you are”. The Hindu’s believe in Namaste, which is a way of saying that they honor that place in me where I feel at one with my existence as the place within themselves where they feel at one with their existence and this is the place that is said to unite us all. My ancestors believe in “In Lak’ech”, which means “I am another you”. Each of these fundamental expressions of our own being have one thing in common. That is, the common element in each of these spiritual orientations to the world is that in the eyes of science they are all equally surrounded in mystery and should therefore fall to the guillotine of Modernist ideology and the ultimate benefits achieved for humanity through science.
So long as the iron cage of science requires that truly valid expressions of our existence be cast in scientific terms, it will not be possible to understand or achieve that which Auguste Comte has pointed out could not be successfully resolved in the categories of science. This is not to say that no efforts have been made to investigate this universal oneness in rational terms that scientifically oriented individuals could understand. For the French Philosopher Henri Bergson, this same oneness is posited in his text, Creative Evolution. Here we find reference to the universal oneness as “the vital impetus”. In the Hispanic culture it is simply pointed to and expressed poetically. This is evidenced in the work of Nobel Laureate, Ocatvio Paz, in his text, “The Bow and the Lyre” where he describes the essence of this oneness as poetic expression that comes from within and unites us all.
In seeking to find evidence in Hispanic cultural expressions of this oneness and the relationship it holds to our own identity as descendents of indigenous ideology, Braulio Muñoz provides us with the fruits of his quest in his text entitled, Sons of the Wind: The Search for Identity in Spanish American Indian Literature. Muñoz is interested in showing us that indigenous beliefs have indeed influenced contemporary Hispanic American consciousness and that our acceptance of our new found ability to express this socially and intellectually latent (latent, here, refers to the expression of indigenous ideology by the colonizers rather than to a psychological state) characteristic of Hispanic American consciousness may lead to our salvation from the alienation of contemporary Occidental ideology. To explain the evolution between indigenous and contemporary Hispanic American consciousness, Muñoz states:
“Just how far old Indian myths and legends have penetrated mestizo culture to stir emotions and shape approaches toward life and world is revealed in a passage where an old woman discusses the creation of legends with a young man who claims to have invented one. ‘We often think we’ve invented things that other people have forgotten,’ she tells the young man’.”
“When you tell a story that no one else tells anymore, you say: I invented this, its mine. But what you’re really doing is remembering – you, in your drunkenness, remembered what the memory of your forefathers left in your blood”.
The old woman explains the creation of legends in such a way that she denies the anthropocentrism of Occidental ideology. That is, in her view of life, the individual is ontologically subservient to the spiritual which is rejuvenated through the blood. In the anthropocentrism of the Occident the spiritual is subservient to the individual; the individuals’ spirit is uniquely theirs. It also follows from her view of life that the temporal realm is a past which is always future and always disposed to being present. In the Occidental view, an individual’s lifetime is uniquely their own and is created and extinguished with the birth and death of the individual.
Another point worth mentioning about this quote is the analogy which can be drawn between the poetic triggering of the transmutation of time and the drunkenness with which the young man’s memory is triggered. We see, then, that the evolution and fusion of indigenous and Spanish cultures as expressed by mestizo consciousness, may change into a heterogeneous mode of linguistic expression, yet the underlying poetic structure of indigenous consciousness remains the same even if Hispanics can also be said to exhibit Occidental beliefs and, as I have already stated, such additional perspectives may be understood more limited as functions. How does Munoz characterize the relation between indigenous and Occidental conceptions of human existence? Quite simply, now that contemporary Hispanic Americans have regained a poetic voice with which to express their latent indigenous beliefs, Munoz sees the potential salvation of Hispanic America from the alienation of Occidental beliefs, in the indigenous’ world-view. He explains:
“The Indian’s moral values and religious fervor, which are ultimately based on magicomythical conceptions of the world, give him a sense of perspective, affording a respite from oppressive conditions and serving as a bulwark against total dehumanization in a capitalist system. The increasing rationalization and impersonality of the mestizo world, the iron cage forged around the world by capitalism, finds its antidote in this trait of the Indians’ culture. . . . This is the new role that the Indian has been called on to play in Hispanic America; his messianic function has not been exhausted after all. He might still save the mestizo from alienation in the modern world”.
Muñoz approaches an understanding of the mestizos’ socio-cultural reality by conceptually placing indigenous and Spanish beliefs in direct ideological opposition. Thus, those elements of the mestizos’ world which directly reflect Occidental ideology, with whatever degree of success they may have been transplanted in the mestizo, are understood as a result of Spanish influences. Further, such influences are characterized as oppressive, dehumanizing, capitalistic, rationalistic, alienating and impersonal. Alternatively, indigenous influences are characterized as moralistic, spiritualistic, magicomythical and messianic. Muñoz also seems to believe that the mestizos’ world will ultimately come to reflect more than a mere synthesis of these opposing ideological views. Instead, it will come to reflect the resolution of a spiritualistic struggle for dominance. Additionally, these ideological influences are still engaged in their struggle and their battle ground is the contemporary consciousness of the mestizo. It is in this context that Muñoz feels indigenous beliefs may still save the mestizo from alienation in the modern world. To support such an optimistic prognostication, Muñoz contends that the magicomythical world-view of the indigenous is a bulwark against total dehumanization which cannot be corrupted by Occidental beliefs.
With the work of so many scholars like Paz and Munoz, et al, describing the worldview of Hispanics today and the undeniable existence of the poetic consciousness that is at the heart of the mestizos’ worldview, the point I wish to emphasize for its relation to the iron cage of science is that the essence of the mestizos relationship to life and the earth that we share with all of our other brothers and sisters, is the secondary status of scientific knowledge. In other words, the primary aspect of African ideology, Hindu ideology and indigenous ideology, et al, reflect the essence of a poetic consciousness and place the ultimate truth of scientific methodology as a secondary choice or functional utility that serves as an augmentation to human interaction. It is in this context that we come to understand the coherence of poetic consciousness.