Bless Me Ultima

Bless Me Ultima

Bless Me, Ultima – Rudolfo Anaya

Two standing points from the image of my copy, Bless Me Ultima

  1. $12, Arizona State textbook store price tag.
  2. Still have a copy from undergraduate studies.

Pull quote from the back cover of the academic version of the book?

“You just have to sit down and write, write, write, and write…”

I loved his seasonally inspired, magical realism series, set in Albuquerque, as it was a town I knew, once. It is a landscape that I understand, if it isn’t really “home” for me.

How does landscape and current environment shape both a person and then, reflect in that person’s culture?

Part of my New Mexico education — last year of high school, sparse semesters of college and some hard times — that was shaped by the landscape, more so than, say, time in Austin.

The biggest rational problem I have with some magical realism is the way the unreal world is connected to the current consensual reality. Dream, myths, vague memories of what might’ve been, the unreal world of ghosts and phantasms, greater than anything we can all know?

With magical realism, that becomes a slippery slope, especially for an author, or in this example, an author-reader relationship. The relationship from author to reader is implied by my act, as a reader, of picking up the book and reading.

There is an amazing and stark beauty to the New Mexico highlands, breathtaking in its own right, rugged, old bones of mountains that have been there for a mighty long time, gradually worn by time. Mountains that are care-worn, like that fabled, old pair of blue jeans.

The four directions of the llano met in me, and the white sun shone on my soul. Page 17.

Invoking the sounds and smells of the high prairie, then the touch of magic that, for me, comes from Northern Europe, liberally intertwining a clear sense of love language, as there’s the poet’s fine ear — and hand — at work, melodically mixing the language. Languages as there’s a heavy dose of Mexican (Spanish) in the text. Lyrical and soaring, the pagan roots are obvious to me.

It also, if I recall correctly, was the first novel I read that clearly crossed mythic boundaries, as,in, borrowed from more than mythos to explain a metaphysical underpinning element.

After I wrote that, I looked at it, and thought, “it’s so nice not having to back up statements with empirical evidence. Leave that to the sad academics.

But as an example of cross cultural elements? An early appearance of that ghost?

It is la llorona, my brothers cried in fear, the old witch who cries along the river banks and seeks the blood of boys and men to drink! Page 30.

There was an ongoing reference to “The River of Carp,” and that reminded me, downtown San Antonio, one warm afternoon, seeing two or three giant carp in the clear, shallow acequia waters.

The myths are intwined with the land – and waters of the lands – forever linked.

God was not always forgiving. He made laws to follow and if you broke them you were punished. The Virgin always forgave. Page 45.

Bits and pieces of my own, personal mythology come back now.

We are the giants who are dying… page 59.

Norse mythology? Maybe I listen to too much opera.

“You must understand that when anybody, bruja or curandera, priest or sinner, tampers with the fate of a man that sometimes a chain of events is set into motion over which no one will have ultimate control. You must be willing to accept this responsibility.” Page 79.

Bless Me, Ultima – Rudolfo Anaya

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