[Marxism] A Dash of Mysticism: Governing Bolivia The Aymara Way (WSJ)

Sayan Bhattacharyya ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com
Mon Jul 24 01:02:55 MDT 2006

On 7/24/06, Walter Lippmann <walterlx at earthlink.net> wrote:
> A Dash of Mysticism:
> Governing Bolivia
> The Aymara Way
> Reading Forefathers' Wrinkles
> Doesn't Require Books;
> The Future Lies Behind
> July 6, 2006; Page A1
> To speak of the future, Dr. Núñez found, elderly Aymara thumbed or
> waved back over their shoulder, while to speak of the past they made
> forward sweeping motions with their hands and arms. The main word for
> eye, front and sight in Aymara means the past, while the basic word
> for back or behind also means the future. "The past is never 'left
> behind,' for them, it's in front," said Dr. Núñez. "It's very odd for
> people coming in from the outside."

On this matter...  I just remembered that  the following letter about this
Aymara time-conception was published in the New York Times a few weeks ago,
making a connection with Benjamin:

The following letter appeared  in the New York Times on July 4, 2006:

To the Editor:

The concept of time among the Aymara Indians ("Does This Mean People Turned
Off, Tuned Out and Dropped In?") is similar to that described by Walter
Benjamin in his commentary on the Paul Klee painting "Angelus Novus."
Benjamin's image is that of the angel of history facing the past but falling
or being blown backward into the future.

This notion, like that of the Aymara Indians, seems to describe the
perception of time more accurately than "facing the future."

Wilhelm Hahn
Cape Town
Here's the relevant passage from Benjamin:

"A *Klee* *painting* named *Angelus Novus* shows an angel looking as though
he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating.
*His*eyes are staring,
*his* mouth is open, *his* wings are spread. This is how one pictures the
angel of history. *His* face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a
chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage
upon wreckage and hurls it in front of *his* feet. The angel would like to
stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is
blowing from paradise; it has got caught in *his* wings with such violence
that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him
into the future to which *his* back is turned, while the pile of debris
before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."

(Walter Benjamin, From the Ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History, *Ill*,

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