Mayan Metalepsis in Charles Olson’s Mayan Letters, Cy Twombly’s Poems to the Sea, and Alurista’s Spik in Glyph?
This chapter focuses on the poetics of Mayan hieroglyphs, with special attention on how their formal features integrate the temporal contradictions of decoloniality. It recounts how poets Charles Olson and Alurista each studied Mayan glyphs, finding in them a means to integrate political contradiction in a Mayan philosophy of parallelism. The philosophy of parallelism associated with glyphs is called kajulew in K’iche’ Mayan, which anthropologist Dennis Tedlock translates as “mythistory,” or the interpenetration of mythic and historical times. As Tedlock and others have pointed out, that interpenetration does not resolve into synthesis. Mesoamerican mythistory is like a weaving with intersecting threads, in which the threads of mythic and historical times depend on one another but produce no unifying third position by which to resolve antinomies or contradictions. The threads are suspended in a state of complementary intensification, and they are distinctly inscribed in the aesthetics of the glyphs. For Alurista, this idea helps to reconfigure problematics of identity beyond set racial categories of Latino and Anglo. This chapter also examines how these ideas affected Black Mountain aesthetic, focusing especially on visual artist Cy Twombly’s Poems to the Sea.
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