Mexican Masksby Octavio Paz A report by: Angelo, Angelica Gomez, Erika Quiros, Thomas Of 1SLP
Octavio Paz Born: Octavio Paz Lozano Birth: March 31, 1914 Birthplace: Mexico City, Mexico Died: April 19, 1998 (aged 84) Occupation: Writer, poet, diplomat Nationality: Mexican Literary movement: Surrealism, Existentialism Notable award(s): Novel Prize in Literature on 1990
Writing style • The essays are predominantly concerned with the theme of Mexican identity and demonstrate how at the end of the existential labyrinth there is a profound feeling of solitude. Paz observes that solitude is responsible for the Mexican’s perspective on death, ‘fiesta’, and identity. Death is seen as an event that is celebrated but at the same time repelled because of the uncertainty behind it.
As for the fiestas, they express a sense of communality, crucially emphasizing the idea of not being alone and in so doing helps to bring out the true Mexican that is usually hidden behind a mask of self-denial. This represents the way in which the Mexicans have inherited two distinct cultures, the indigenous and the Spanish, but by denying one part of their identity they become stuck in a world of solitude.
Characters • Mexican – excels at the dissimulation of his passions and himself. He’s afraid of other’s looks and therefore he withdraws, contracts, and becomes a shadow. • Indians and mestizos – used to sing in low voice • Indians – blends into the landscape until he is an indistinguishable part of the white wall against which he leans at twilight. He disguises his human singularity. • A servant who had recently come from her village
Don No One – Nobody’s Spanish father who is well fed, well respected, has a bank account, and speaks in a loud voice. He’s a banker, an ambassador, a businessman. • Nobody – son of Don No One who is timid, quiet, and resigned
Interpretation • “The person who dissimulates is not counterfeiting but attempting to become invisible, to pass unnoticed without renouncing his individuality” • “Mimicry is a change of appearance rather than than of nature, and it is significant that the chosen representation is either death or of inert space” • These lines indicate that Mexicans try to appear the same as the others while keeping a distinct trait among themselves
The story is mainly about Mexicans and how their history and environment affected them. • Because of the harshness of their environment, they closed themselves in and only showing a “mask” to the people around them
Don No One could be the people who affected the history of Mexico • In the line “he was Nobody’s Spanish Father” it can be said that he was the one who made Nobody • Nobody could be the Mexicans today (and how they interact) who are still affected by Don No One • He is still softened by his father’s image therefore he is overshadowed by him, making him invisible (being a nobody instead of a somebody)
theme • Mexicans of all classes and ages present a mask to the world in self-defense, • "building a wall of indifference and remoteness between reality and himself, a wall that is no less impenetrable for being invisible. The Mexican is always remote, from the world and from other people. And also from himself." • The result is "hermeticism" and the reaction is justifiable if one considers what our history has been and the kind of society we have created. The harshness and hostility of our environment, and the hidden indefinable threat that is always afloat in the air, obliges us to close ourselves in.
Hermeticism • Hermeticism is an ancient spiritual, philosophical, and magical tradition. It is a path of spiritual growth. Hermeticism takes its name from the God Hermês Trismegistos • Western Esoteric Tradition, and embraces the Perennial Philosophy or the Ageless Wisdom • it encompasses a complex of interrelated currents and traditions which have existed in western culture from the early modern period up to the present day, and the historical foundation of which lies in the syncretistic phenomenon known as Renaissance "hermeticism".