Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Piedra de Sol

Reed Johnson reviews the theatrical production of Octavio Paz's "Piedra de Sol"(Sunstone).
In addition to writing poetry, Paz, who died in 1998, was a tireless essayist, launched a leading literary journal, and served as Mexico's ambassador to India. He's perhaps best known for his 1950 philosophical treatise about Mexican identity, "The Labyrinth of Solitude."

"I would say that this is the greatest poem of Paz," Morett said in her ebulliently accented English. "So it's going to be an encounter with the figure of a man who was a poet, but at the same time he was a traveler of cultures, of worlds. So in this poem, or also in this production, we are trying to connect with those moments, with that culture."

That culture, Morett said, is centered on the massive circular Aztec sculpture that has come to be known as the Piedra de Sol. Unearthed from the ruins of the former Aztec capital that became present-day Mexico City, it was initially construed by archaeologists to be a calendar, but actually may have functioned as part of a sacrificial altar.

Sacrifice, including self-sacrifice, is a key image in Paz's poem. But the metaphor suggests not merely physical violence but rather the opening-up of the self, the shedding of old identities and the adoption of new ones.
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