Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 10-11 (Jan-June 1985) p. 5.


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Introduction:

In Search Of Clarities

Alok Bhalla

The first movement is singing. A tree voice, filling mountains and valleys. The first movement is joy, But it is taken away.

Czesluw Milo^z

WE thought of organising a seminar on Garcia Marquez and Latin America out of a sense of estrangement from an important part of our world. Latin America seemed to exist for us outside the centers

of discourse and power; it did not have any clear geographical outlines nor did it possess any historical concreteness; it was not of significant value to our imaginative and moral concerns. Whenever we tried to talk of its culture or its past, its art or its politics, we got lost in surreal spaces of beauty and strangeness, gladness and magic, cruelty and ruins. There were times when some of us who could recall odd and radiant images either from the first letters of Columbus, or Chateaubriand's^t^to. or the paintings of Benjamin West, Joseph Wright of Derby and Henri Rousseau. Latin America was a paradisal place : it had the colours of wheat and-clover, the colours of the flames in ritual fires and flowers, of slow summer sunsets: it was full of splendour with gold for ceremonies, herbs for healing and songs for passion; its cities had the designs of temples; its economics was a simple distribution of food grown for need; its men were sorcerers whose every step on the earth was like a prayer. There were other times when the Latin America we could construct was slightly comical and grotesque for it was crafted out of bad Hollywood movies. We could then only think of gravediggers and horsemen, great buzzards covered with ash, bandits with cruel moustaches, sultry women who could make you forget all obligations and laws, and an endless series of lazy or abject Tedros' shaded under their ponchos and their sombreros from a thorn-filled sun.

There was yet another Latin America for those of us who had politics in our

Journal of Arts and Ideas 5


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