Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 10-11 (Jan-June 1985) p. 99.


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A Historical Map for a World of Fables

Notes, hypotheses, reflections on a cinematic phenomenon

Afok Bhalla

HAT most of us in India had, till recently, known about the political

Wor the literary and cultural traditions of Latih America had been sketchy or incidental. Further, the little information we had about it was determined by our immediate historical reality or our particular ethical concerns. Thus, for men with a political conscience who had recognised early in the century that life in India under colonialism was sad and evil the Latin American continent was a place of morally admirable men like Simon Bolivar, Emeliano Zapata and Jose Marti. Their lives were examples of rebellious human beings who had refused to accept that they were doomed to lose themselves in nightmares of violence and exploitation, hard labour and hunger; their treacherous deaths were reminders of the fate men in dark times may have to confront if they insist in struggling on to find their way into a different, a good world of ordinary human beings working through each day for societies in which every person could share with others the 'yellow sweetness' of the sun, the jubilation of fiestas and the splendour of bread. During the same period in India there were others for whom Latin America was a place of legends and shamans, of knowledge and magic. This Latin America also sustained the dreams men had in colonial times of creating in their freedom a society of good reason and grace, but it suggested different, less violent ways of opposing a culture of property, power and technology. What we, hence, knew about Latin America or what our mythic imagination made of it was a result of our desire to confirm our political and moral belief that colonialism was wickedness and that it could never, through some dialectical trick, give to our societies a new vitality and a new imaginative strength.

Unfortunately, the more recent and tormented history of Latin America has made it extremely difficult for us to remember that we had once imagined it both

Journal of Arts and Ideas 99


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