Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bloggy Goodness

If you are looking for something to while away the hours while your inner genealogy emerges from its interconnection with the Creator, there's no better way than to consult my Ethnic Literature and Film professor, William A. Nericcio's Tex[t]-Mex:Galleryblog. His new book, Tex{t}Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the Mexican in America is OUT and it's really, really, cool.

Besides, he linked to me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rhizomatic Genealogy: Meditations on Connectivity III

The frontera between our Patrimony and its cultural, colonial reality becomes even more twisted, and nebulous when we look at the way men and women characterize(d) their racial origins and appliy(ed) labels to themselves in the historic Mexico and in our present-day genealogical meanderings. Observe how one can create a Spaniard out of mestizo root stock:

Here we have the beginnings of La Nueva Raza. A spanish guy, origin and genetic stock unknown, marries a Native American woman and fathers a mestizo daughter. You can tell he's a Spaniard by the kewl moustache.

The fun begins when the intermarriages (we call them intermarriages when we want to racialize whole groups of people so we can colonize them) need to be socially accepted--the colonizers devise a rape scheme that essentially recolonizes the children of decolonial intermarriages by labeling them as rewhitened. Notice the progression in Sr Don Pedro's descriptions, from Espanol to Meztizo to Castizo to Espanol, a process my cousin notes ends up with a group of people "sufficiently white to be accepted at higher levels of local society.

You can tell the little girl is Espanola by her spiffy hairdo.

However, My cousin has doggedly followed the daddies back to the Roots of Spain, to the fifteenth century, and if we are to believe the yDNA of my first cousin Beto, who springs from the tamale of my uncle Juan, we are european on our male, colonizer side: the haplogroup of that DNA is definitely honkie Nordic-L1a, (M253+) (like I know what that means but I trust the science when its proves what I want), so the idea is, that no matter who the mothers have been in our Mexican genealogy, the fathers all have been Old World, which means not really Mexican. Like Mr. Heston here, we have all been Mexican on the outside but Royally Spanish on the inside all along--but that was just a movie.

So I don't know what to make of all this, except to say that I don't share my cousin's hope that a "genealogical paper trail" will in time, "give us the answer" but I am optimistically sure that I do have an answer: We may all just only be walk-ons in a world-spanning movie set, but we are as John Muir says, "hitched to everything else", including Mexicans, Europeans, Nordic l1a, trees, rocks, natives, colonists, and most assuredly to those we love.

And if that is only just a good movie, that's enough for me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Went Down/To the Demonstration

And saw some really cool people and decided that while I can't always get what I want I do get what I need.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Meditation on Personal Connectivity II

My cousin has drafted the latest chapter of her massive, three-volume, genealogical record of the Mexican heritage in our family on my mother's side, and her essay, a sort of summation, exemplifies the issues we run into when we try to analyze non-linear processes with linear paradigms. After the meticulous and intrepidly-researched (she has been known to haunt dusty church basement archives from Cuatros Cienagas, Mexico to Toledo, Spain) volumes of genealogical records were set down and published for us, my cousin set out to discover just what "kind" of people we are, or in her words, "What kind of 'label'" we can put on our heritage: are we, or were our ancestors, mestizos, that product of the colonial encounter from which emerges the culture of Mexico, with all its paradoxes and pertubations, or are we still children of criollos, "pure" spanish, as the old-fashioned genealogists, who talked about "bloodlines" and such, would have it? The records of our ancestors are necessarily objects embedded in a cultural milieu, and the colonial project that was the Mexican Conquest privileged the Spanish oppressors; my cousin, leery of taking the baptismal certificates at their word and on the prowl for more interesting ancestors such as crytpo-jews or Aztec princesses, puts the problem succinctly:
"Genetic studies are the only way that most questions of racial origin will be fully answered. they are not compromised by prejudice, marital infidelity, or priests who accommodated families by indicating more desirable racial epithets in birth, marriage, or death records."
When my cousin puts together the DNA tests she has run on selected members of our family with the records available on the web of DNA results with other families related to us according to her research, she finds some interesting things. Results of Y-DNA, the stuff that is passed from father to son only, have identified a distant ancestor who possibly was a Jew, a member of the Coronado Expedition of 1540 named Villareal. Results of the Mt-DNA, the mitochondrial stuff that passes from mother to daughter (actually, mother to everyone but only the daughters pass it along to their offspring) are even more interesting; it shows us in "Haplogroup B", a native American identifier that originated in Asia and came to North America possibly aroun 10-13,000 years ago (late: other haplogroups may have arrived 20-30,000 years ago). Of course, because my cousin and I are both modern mestizos, the children of Mexican mothers and (presumably) white American fathers, her decision to follow the Mexican lineage and my fascination with it are cultural, personal, decisions, but these decisions eerily mimic the mitochondrial matrix in which we embedded--and present us with paradoxes when we consider the patriarchal roots of our immediate ancestors, genetically speaking. More about that later.
(Mestizo drawing scanned by my cousin; DNA pics by the .gov people at The Human Genome Project)


6 days, 21 hours, 5 minutes. yikes.

I've been neglecting the blog, and for that I apologize. I'll have some interesting stuff tomorrow, about my genealogy, Mexicans, Spaniards, norwegians, and complex aggregates. Think rhizomes instead of roots.

Lori saw this tree growing out of a big rock.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Obsessed with Time

Thomas Moran, A Miracle of Nature (1913)

A recent press release by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility points out, for me, the problems we run into when we try to use language, and only language, to define the spiritual and scientific reality that embraces us with love and beauty. It seems that some creationists have got to the Park Service Administration for political gain, and got them not only to sell a book in the Grand Canyon bookstore that claims the Canyon is only 6,100 years old, but also to gag the Park Service Rangers and Volunteers when it comes to the Canyon's "real" age, which of couse is subject to the relativistic notions of geological theory and science. We (that is, those of us in the 21st century who use television, cell phones, and rolled tacos) are pretty sure that it's a bit more than 6,000 years: more like a few hundred million.

So here's the deal, at least the way it's presented to us by this "Church/State issue":
--Those who view the Bible as an authoritative source for knowledge about the real world say that their research indicates that god "created" (the word, the verb tense is important here) the world according to a certain order, one promulgated by the text of the Bible. Not all religious people think the Bible is literally true, but even metaphorically, the act of creation, the one that happened in the past, and is described in Genesis, really happened: God created the world.
--Those who view the Bible as a work of literature and those who look at it metaphorically--that is, both non-theist scientists and scientists who are religious--are willing to say only that the world "was created" (they won't specify the subject, but for some it is God) however many billions of years ago current knowledge of physics and cosmology tell us about the nature of reality and stuff such as rolled tacos, cheeseburgers, and ipods.

So this church state issue is presented to us as a conflict between two sets of knowledge: knowledge of Who created, and knowledge of When it was created. And here's where language and its church/state issue comes in: the problem is not when or who, but how did everyone decide to say the past tense, "created"? This decision was made when we chose to use language to describe reality, which we do everytime we pass along some idea we have had. We do it all the time, which means we are still doing it, just like I'm doing it now, writing this thing, which is about creation--which happenns all the time: Now.

God creates, I create, the world is created; the problem is not who or when, but which verb tense to use and I propose we use the present tense. God, who creates the universe, has only given us this piss-poor way to talk about it, a way that has a subject and a verb with tenses to organize it into a before/after timeline which may correspond, at times (!) to reality but not all of it, not god.

Thusly, a National Park Service Ranger may, with complete abandon at the edge of the Grand Canyon--is there anyway else to be at the edge of the Grand Canyon but filled with abandon?--say the Canyon is six thousand years old AND eight-hundred million years old and still be right, and that the canyon has been created by god AND by the universe and still be right.

But really, he or she is wrong. The Canyon is created by the universe and by God always.

How do I know this? Easy: I'm not smoking; for fifty-seven hours, forty-four minutes and thirty seconds I have not been smoking.

Notice that this timeline burns left to its end but right to my death.

I am not smoking, and for now, that is the way it shall always be. The world is always, already with me, a nonsmoker.

Monday, January 01, 2007

No Mas

It's been 22 hours and 31 minutes since my last one, but hey--who's counting?

Good riddance.