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R U D O L F O A. A N A Y A University of New Mexico The Myth of Quetzaleoatl in a Contemporary Setting: Mythical Dimensions/Political Reality W hat does the stock market crash of October 19, 1987 have to do with the mythical dimensions of the Southwest? Perhaps nothing, perhaps every­ thing. If we know anything about trickle-down economics we know every­ body suffers when world markets go bust. But we are not here to take the pulse of the stock market, we are here to take the pulse of Southwest writing. W hat does one have to do with the other? For me the current situation implies that the creative forces which the mythical dimensions of my region inspire in me also compete with the political reality of the region. The tremendous economic changes that came with the Sunbelt boom of the past twenty years have changed the landscape, and changed the people. It is those changes, for example, that motivate the current novel I am writing, a novel about Albuquerque. The combination of the creative force of the real and mythic landscape and the tribal ways of the old New Mexican communities has had a tre­ mendous influence on me. Now I find myself turning my attention to the process of world politics and economics which has altered the Southwest so radically, so fast. The growth of the Sunbelt in the recent twenty years has altered our perception of our landscapes: the personal, the environ­ mental and the mythic. The old communities, the tribes of the Southwest have been scattered, they have lost much of their power. If we do not take some action now, that creative force of the land and the people might be swept aside. Quite frankly, our future is at stake. We who value the earth as a creative force must work to inform our public of the values of old tribal groups, the ceremonies of relationship, the harmony embedded in hundreds 196 Western American Literature of years of evolution in this land and the mythic force which we can tap to create beauty and peace. We must speak out more clearly against the political and economic process whose only goal in our land is the goal of material gain. It is man’s relationship to his tribe and his response to the elements of sky, earth, water and the cosmos that give shape to our inner consciousness. These relationships create meaning. These relationships have shaped the Indian and Hispanic Southwest, as they have shaped part of the Anglo reality and myth. But the old communal relationships are changing so radically as the new urban environments change our land that we will not preserve those relationships unless we deal with them in a setting of urgency, a setting which encompasses the new political reality. Most of us no longer live in the elemental landscape; we no longer enjoy that direct relationship with nature. The Southwest has changed, it has become largely an urban environment. We no longer live in the basic harmony that can exist between man and the earth. A new order of things, a very materialistic view of things has entered the land, and we have little control over this intrusion. The land which nurtured us is by and large now in the hands of world markets and politics. Yes, the people survive, in mountain villages or pueblos, on ranches and reservations, the folk survive and remain the historic link to the prior landscape we knew. But by and large, the mythic West is dead. The old view of relationships died as the world political process became firmly embedded in this land. Urban Sunbelt population growth, renewed attention to the oil, gas, and mining industries, a federal interest in air bases and weapons labora­ tories, and a high-tech boom and its dream of a new economy are all part of the elements of the politicizing process which our generation has seen become reality in the Southwest. That change came into being as New York and world money markets gained control over and exploited the resources of this land. The signs of the web of the political world...


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pp. 195-200
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