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Signs of the AmericasA Poetics of Pictography, Hieroglyphs, and Khipu$
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Edgar Garcia

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226658971

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226659169.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

Hieroglyphic Parallelism

Hieroglyphic Parallelism

Mayan Metalepsis in Charles Olson’s Mayan Letters, Cy Twombly’s Poems to the Sea, and Alurista’s Spik in Glyph?

(p.123) 4 Hieroglyphic Parallelism
Signs of the Americas

Edgar Garcia

University of Chicago Press

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.

Keywords:   hieroglyph, Mayan Culture, metalepsis, identity, difference, avant-garde poetry, Chicano Studies, embodiment, painting, Black Mountain College

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