Why is Mexico rarely invited to the world dialogue? Why are its challenges and triumphs rarely considered "universal"? Why is Mexico never grouped as "Western," or as belonging to "the West"? (Nevermind that William S. Burroughs tossed out in his novel "Queer" the idea that Mexico is "basically an Oriental culture.")
Claudio Lomnitz argues that this historical curiosity comes partly from a domestic source. Mexican intellectuals "fetishize" their national problems, or Great National Problems, Lomnitz says, and thus remain passive participants in the evolution of world history, unable to see connectivity to issues beyond their own borders.
This creates a bunch of black holes. Sort of like how in children's books on the great civilizations of antiquity, Persia, China, Greece, Rome are all there, as our rational ancestors, but Mexico is usually absent. Now apply that same basic abstract to globalization, or even the War on Drugs. Then take it anywhere you want. The yawning absence of immigrants -- those who abandoned the nation -- in Mexico's political and cultural life, for instance.
From Lomnitz's introduction to "Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico":
Mexican-born Lomnitz is a professor of history and anthropology at Columbia University. He is the gifted author of "Death and the Idea of Mexico," a book that is a providing a strong theoretical basis for portions of my own upcoming book.
How is that going? My editor has returned my foreword and first four chapters, with line edits. The hardest part is yet to come. But, taking a plunge, I am willing to now disclose my working title.
The book is called "The Lake of Fire." ... And, line edits terrify me.
BLOG NOTE: Intersections now goes dark for 15 days. You can still follow my link-sharing and observations on Twitter and Facebook. I also edit the Mexico page for The Faster Times. TFT is an interesting new experiment in online journalism at a time when the only unifying characteristics of our practice are experimentation and that great black void of an uncertain future.