Sunday, November 16, 2008

She says 'toque'...she's Canadian in my books!

A body to remember with, eh? This title made me think of the scar just below my knee where a piece of blue glass lodged itself, and the basketball that crippled my pinky finger because I didn't realize that tendons and ligaments tend to repair themselves in a mangled way. But as I read the book, its political background shifted my thinking: the struggle, the triumph, and the journey is written upon the bodies of these characters (presumably upon Carmen herself). It's what they can experience with their senses and what they can remember with their minds that makes them unable to forget their past.

Another recipe: To create and a body to remember with, take the frame and poetic phrasing of Woman Hollering Creek and stir in as much political disturbance as you can from How the GarcĂ­a Girls Lost Their Accents. Add a tablespoon of immigration and a pinch of identity loss. Bake for 166 pages and cover with a toque to keep warm.

As you can see from the recipe, I found many similarities between and a body to remember with and some of the other books we have previously read in class. Although the characters and experiences are different, there are reoccuring themes of identity, immigration, political unrest, and remembrance. On a side note, I've always felt that language structure influences culture. For example, latinos have a language where they must remember what gender they are using so as to have agreement throughout the noun, the adjective, the article, etc..., this translates to these people having an amazing memory of their history. However, whether it's due to their language or not, it appears that they are not a culture that forgets.

I enjoyed reading these stories because I could relate to the Vancouver setting. I saw Stanley Park, 4th avenue, and UBC campus in my head, exactly as they exist and how Rodriguez experienced them. When she spoke of Chile it felt like a separate book, one which I could vaguely relate to. In the powerful chapter "3-D" on page 95, there are several cassettes of Chilean artists in the room. This struck me as intriguing for reasons that go deeper than simple 'outside observation'. Perhaps I could see my own room if I were in Santiago, Chile, with CDs of Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, and Alanis Morisette; trying to preserve my Canadian identity in a Chilean world. I felt strangely connected to a woman seeking a refuge from her torturer; a woman who I really have nothing in common with.

This collection of stories shocked me with its vigilante struggle and the emotional turbulance of forced immigration. I had no idea that all this had happened in Chile. I suppose that's why Rodriguez wrote this book, to show people like myself that there are governments out there that have to the power to wreck people's lives; and they do it, without a care. I wish I'd read this book before I visited Chile. I believe it would have brought me more insight into the culture. As it was, I could never have imagined such crimes happening there. I'm ignorant, I know that, and I think that a good majority of us Canadians take what we have for granted. And so, in true Canadian form, I say: "Welcome to Canada! Here's your toque."

1 comment:

Jacqui said...

Hey there Katie, I loved your recipe...very creative.

I also thought the parallel you made between the way the spanish language requires much memorization and the way it's speakers have such great historical memory, was quite interesting. I've never thought of it that way...I wonder how this could relate to other languages, for example the complexity of Mandarine or Cantonese in relation to the history of this culture which is so well documented and remembered by it's people...?

I enjoyed reading your blog...lots of interesting points!