Category Archives: Latin American

On Sermons, Separatists and Supremacy, or The Merry Chase Part II, 1951

This week I photographed a bunch of oldies in preparation for offering them for sale online. Old books, not old people, folks. 

Ernest Sevier Cox’s Teutonic Unity, an attractive little volume, came across my desk, and I had to take a closer look. 

 

As I learned, I thought, should I dignify this work with a blog post?

‘Racial’ separatism and the belief that those of ‘different races’ should be not just separate but often killed off completely still exist in our society, so… yes. Ick.

Cox was born in Knoxville Tennessee, home of my alma mater. A quick search reveals no known connection to the family of Cherokee-killer John Sevier, who homesteaded and populated those mountains, but perhaps Earnest’s thoughts were borne from the Indian killing generation to his mind and heart by bloodline. And on the other hand, to be fair, Sevierville Tennessee was anti slavery and anti-secession in the Civil War era. (“Sevierville Tennessee,” Wikipedia). Perhaps Earnest’s loss of his father at a young age left him emotionally stunted and scrambling for something he could believe in and fight for.  Who can’t have at least some grain of compassion for that 12 year old boy Cox once was?

And this copy is signed with a gift inscription in the careful, crabbed handwriting of a sick old man. This wouldn’t be the first time I have felt some compassion for old men isolated from loved ones and society by their misdeeds or so deeply immersed in their principles that they cannot see the truths of the human condition. The recipient passed away in Virginia in 2008, I believe. I can’t find any trace of their association other than this.

 

I lived in the South most of my life, but the verbiage he chose for his titles somehow still made my jaw drop.   

  • White America (1923)
  • Let My People Go (1925)
  • The South’s Part in Mongrelizing the Nation (1926)
  • Lincoln’s Negro Policy (1938)
  • Three Million Negroes Thank the State of Virginia (1940)
  • Teutonic Unity (1951)
  • Black Belt Around the World at the High Noon of Colonialism (1963)

He helped pass the Virginia anti-miscegenation laws that were finally and famously overturned by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Loving v Virginia. 

Cox worked with both former Nazi believers in ‘racial purity’ holed up in Argentina and Northern Europe AND with African Americans like Marcus Garvey who saw repatriation to Africa as the only way to heal and rebuild from the evils and abuses of slavery in America.  Some Americans of African descent were also against mixing and wanted the political, geographical and cultural haven from persecution that might be provided by a nation of their own. 

Toward the end of his life he self-published this volume and distributed it for free, in service to his ideals. 

The thoughts espoused by Cox and his international Nazi and Nordicist buddies are so distasteful, and as we now know in this era of genetic testing to prove ancestry, they are largely fiction. We have many skin colors. We are geographically culturally and perhaps ethnically diverse. But we are One Human Race.

I also believe ‘kids today’ are eradicating prejudice. They just couldn’t care less. Say what ya want about them, and it’s probably almost all true, but I believe they are our hope for an end, at least in developed countries, to hate  harm or marginalization of people due to traits they were born with and cannot help. Thank God.

And people self identifying as two or more races continues to be the fastest growing group on the US Census. The word self identifying is important though, because if your family has been on this continent for more than a century, you most likely have some fraction, no matter how invisible, of some oppressed group’s blood in your veins- indigenous American or African American, Jewish, what have ya.   

But while oppression continues- abuse of children, marginalization and ignorance of the culture and voices of women and minority groups, uses of our environment and natural resources that poison those who live nearby and ultimately our entire human family, anywhere a sense that we can somehow silence or overpower another group of humans in some way for our own benefit and peace of mind still exists, it is important to understand this sort of thinking and how these thoughts are ‘justified’ to keep ourselves off of certain slippery slopes. I worry that in the backlash against ‘political correctness’ we will forget why it matters.

A useful quick dose of Cox’s views and his role on the American and world stage in the White Supremacist or Nordicist movements from the 20’s through the 50’s can be found on Google Books on the scanned pages of a tome called Science for Segregation by one John P. Jackson.   Apparently Cox thought that keeping ‘races’ separate was part of survival of the fittest. Since I have always understood that a diverse gene pool helps keep recessive dangerous traits at bay- Hapsburg jaw? Haemophilia anyone?  I am not sure where he got that. I didn’t feel like pursuing it though. 

A more personal account of his lonely, angry, wandering life can be found on Encyclopedia Virginia’s website- “Earnest Sevier Cox” 

Wikipedia is, as always, invaluable for quick, concise, broad strokes on any given matter or person. “Earnest Sevier Cox”

 Someone take this book off my hands, preferably to study how to peacefully eradicate thoughts like these for good. 

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Filed under African, American, Antiquarian, History, Latin American, Signed, social currents, Southern

Online book discussion: If only she’d let me talk to her, or tracks 4 and 5

So how’s it going for you? How far have you read?

September's Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

September’s Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

Pages 100 through 136 provide the context for the funny, ugly scenes approaching in pages 137-165. Tracks 4 Babbino Caro and 5 Nessun Dorma provide a sort of ironic, but not really, counterpoint to the illustrations and revelations. I won’t spoil it, but I will give my thoughts.

I think ‘Ironic, but not really” sort of covers it, for me.

I mean, the crazy new agey stuff Esquivel has Anacreonte and Mammon saying about life and their respective charges, well. It should be at best silly and at worst annoying baloney. But I find myself reading passages like

“When one forgets one is a part of the whole, that one bears the Divine Essence within; when one ignores the fact one is connected with the Cosmos– like it or not– one ends up foolishly lying in bed dwelling on nonsense.”

or

“One act,  however minimal, unleashes a chain reaction in the world around us… One person’s inaction paralyzes the world.”

or

“The kind of alignment I’m talking about consists of getting oneself in syntony with the loving energy circulating throughout the Cosmos. This is achieved by relaxing and letting life flow among all the cells of the body.  Then Love, the cosmic DNA, will remember its genetic message, is origins, the mission assigned it…  her entire being will breathe cosmic energy,  and will remember it is not alone– much less, without Love.”

and feeling myself agreeing and being comforted.

Whoa!

So in this cynical era, this work is sort of funny to me, but I have to be honest. I think this work has potential to be uncovered thousands of years from now and mistaken for an exalted philosophical and  moral text, perhaps much like we see the writings of the ancients we have uncovered.  And that perception would not be a bad thing, at all. Butterfly effect, Conservation of Energy, String and Chaos theories, whatever… I don’t want to give a light, ironic yet also soulful literary fun run short shrift just because it isn’t so highbrow.

What do you think?

Next time : Beginning at Track 6, page 167.

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Filed under Latin American, New Age, online book discussion, quotable, Science Fiction, Women writers

September’s online book discussion

Dear Friends,

It seems that my supply of green cloth bound volumes in the U.S. Army in World War II series is limitless.

I wish I could sit and read each one. What caught my eye just now are the ones on ordnance and chemical weapons.

technical services

So that’s what they call Technical Services, eh? In the library world Technical Services means cataloging. Go figure.

September's Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

September’s Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

But I must take a break from World War history to remind you- if you would like a free paperback copy of Laura Esquivel’s The Law of Love, including the cd of Puccini, Liliana Felipe and others and the amazing illustrations of Miguelanxo Prado, comment here or email me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail. If you promise to read the book and comment on it once or twice for our discussion, it is yours.  I will put it right in the mail. You can paypal me or mail a check. I trust you.

My romance with this book has been on again off again, but right now it is decidedly on. You can read my initial thoughts and some thoughtful comments in the previous post. The members of the Wine Country Books online book discussion (okay, my  mom and I) are hard at it, and I just sent out a friendly reminder to others (okay, my cousin).

Stay tuned for my and other members’ thoughts regarding the first 62 pages and first two tracks on the cd and the next installment!

Gratuitous Cat Photo

Gratuitous Cat Photo

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Filed under Latin American, online book discussion, Science Fiction, Women writers

Vogliatemi Bene by Puccini, and The Law of Love

September's Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

September’s Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

     The members of the Wine Country Books online book discussion group have been dying to begin the conversation about this book! Have you gotten your copy yet? If not, I still have one free copy to send the first person who comments here or emails me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail dot com. 

     So what do you think? 

     Readers! Let’s get the comments rolling! 

     *     *     *

“Listen, Senorita. You have any idea how meretricious I’ve been? 

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’ve levitated my soul enough to merit scatological treatment.” 

– page 55

     I don’t read enough Latin American literature. Whenever I do, it is unbelievable- enjoyable, earthy, usually darkly funny but not always, and beautifully written.  My most recent read was Dona Flor and her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado. What a treat.

     It all started when my mom gave me a copy of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits when I was a teen, sealing my love for and fascination with Latin America for good.  Some years later she gave me The Law of Love.  I don’t know where that copy went, and I am so glad it cropped up again. It has everything, right? Music, illustration by Miguelanxo Prado, and, a silly yet really soulful premise-  we are thrown into situations again and again, reincarnation after reincarnation, until we finally atone for whatever evil we did in previous lives, and only when we atone fully can we step free of our spiritual messes and find true love. The illustrations and especially the music really bring me right into the story, like the alarming realness of the news of the assassination on the Televirtual set. 

     When I read Cuquita’s conversation with the bureaucrat at the Astral Ascension desk in the Consumer Protection Agency, I just cracked up. 

“Well, okay, I admit I was pretty nasty, but not enough to deserve this! I’ve spent enough time paying off karmas from posterior lives not to be stuck with a man guilty of default and battery. Just look at this eye! If you don’t grant me a divorce soon, I swear I’ll kill him.”

“Do what you like, but you’ll still have to pay. Next, please.”

p.55 

     I mean… what married lady has NOT felt this way at least for a time?

     If she says she hasn’t she is LYING! And if she really hasn’t- well. Hum.

     It is my favorite kind of humor- the humor that strikes right at the heart of a human situation, with compassion as well as cutting honesty.  It seems like everything I read or every movie I watch from the Spanish Speaking World is so rich with this painful hilarity (or hilarious pain?). With the exception of Pan’s Labyrinth. That was not hilarious or witty, not one bit. It was amazing, but funny it never was, not for one moment. But in general, the humor in Latin American literature and film cuts deeply and truly. 

     I am sure Cuquita’s and Azucena’s sentiments fit just fine with other situations that have us wondering WHY ME? AND HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS? Miserable jobs, parenting horrible children, putting up with some asshole coworker or family member day after day, or life’s many other more painful passages- and the common theme is that I don’t deserve it! How can I get out of it! Why am I  having to put up with this? WHY ME? What agency can assist me out of this mess?

     At the start of the book I was absolutely on board regarding the physical and spiritual violence done when colonial powers set themselves to bring  indigenous civilizations and people to heel. But the story line made me uncomfortable, and it didn’t seem particularly well written… but I do wonder if the language and tone would sound much more literary in the original Spanish, and I do see the necessity of these brief passages and the first set of dark illustrations to the story.

     And  fast-forwarded to Azucena’s story, I am back on comfortable ground. Done well, this book could make an adorable, yet deeply thoughtful and soulful movie. And the whole book and cd are worth it just to read the words of Liliana Felipe’s song Mala, Track 2. Seriously. 

     I’ve read ahead a bit, through the thoughts of the Demon Mammon. I get a huge kick out of how he claims credit for human evolution, by making us suffer. His idea that violence is required to produce a masterpiece reminds me of the very insightful, cutting humor I value so highly. 

    I look forward to reading more, and to hearing what you think, dear reader! Get in touch and I will send you a copy free!!!

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Filed under Latin American, New Age, online book discussion, quotable, Science Fiction, Women writers

Would you like a September Online Book Discussion book FREE?

The first person who comments or emails me at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail and PROMISES to read, listen and discuss gets a FREE copy of our book for this month, Laura Esquivel’s hybrid treat of prose, illustration and music, The Law of Love.  FREE!

September's Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

September’s Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

I am mailing a copy of this month’s discussion book to a lucky friend of Wine Country Books (Okay. So it’s my mom) just now. (And the other three lucky friends of Wine Country Books are myself, my cousin and my best friend. AND?)

Won’t you join us? I have paperback used copies with cd for $15 with no extra charge for shipping, and next to new hardback copies with cd for $20 with no extra charge for shipping. You can send me a check. I trust you. 🙂

Unless, of course, you are the lucky winner of the free copy. Comment or email now! It is already September 4th!

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Filed under Latin American, online book discussion, Science Fiction, Women writers

The Very First Wine Country Books Reader!

Dear friends,

I am so pleased to share our first Online Reading Group and Book Discussion Selection!

In September we will be reading and discussing Laura Esquivel’s The Law of Love.

September's Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel
September’s Wine Country Books Reader, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel

Here’s what you need to check BEFORE YOU BUY.  MAKE SURE the book has the accompanying cd. It is crucial to experience the Whole Package, which includes the music of Puccini and Liliana Felipe. Prompts to start each successive track on the cd are scattered through the book.

It is readily available for cheap at your favorite online book vendor… or I have several copies here I can lend or sell. I have a paperback copy in my hand at the moment that I would gladly mail you for 10.00 including USPS Media Mail shipping. Just email me, winecountrybooksnapa@gmail.com. We can do paypal or you can mail me a check. I trust you.

Like Water For Chocolate, her big breakout, was all magical realism… this book leans to science fiction. Sort of.

Will you like the book? I don’t know. Often people don’t like something because it Wasn’t What I Expected. So I will just warn you straight out, prompts to listen to particular tracks on a cd are not the strangest part of this book. It is science fiction, it is New Age, it has illustrations by one of the premier Spanish graphic novel artists, it is humorous and matter of fact and overwrought.

It is the subject of a study guide available through iTunes (we are an android family, so no joy there for me) and an assembly of critical essays I wish I could put my hands on called Laura Esquivel’s Mexican Fictions. Mexican Fictions is available on Google Books too, though, so not so bad.

One of the things I have missed most since I moved to Wine Country from Dixie was my wonderful book club. Our membership was comprised of women of many ages, marital and child statuses, opinions, religions, political leanings, ethnicities and interests. Most of us were somewhat Not Like the Others, as they say on Sesame Street.

But the books drew us together. Or should I say, the hospitality, the discussion, the SNACKS and usually THE WINE drew us together. We nominated books and used a poll to select, we took turns hosting at each other’s houses, and we got to pick the book for the month that was our birthday. It was a real joy to put together each meeting, choosing food and beverages with love and welcome for our Book Club friends.

So… We can’t get together at each other’s houses, but we can have a darn good discussion from afar. You’ll just have to put some loe into selecting snacks and beverages for yourselves.

Get your copy of The Law Of Love with CD, pour a glass of warm, flavorful red wine (not too sweet!) kick on the cd player, and curl up and enjoy. I will be doing the same. Please comment here!

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Filed under Latin American, New Age, Science Fiction, wine country books discussion group, Women writers