Time Analysis In Atomik Aztex

November 15, 2011

In Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, Zenzontli often mentions the year 1942. The numbers of the year, if rearranged yields the year 1492, the year of the discovery of the new world. Both years are significant in which 1942 depicts a world plunged into chaos, a result of World War II, while 1492 depicts a more promising illusion, since the new world had already been inhibited but was newly discovered by settlers. If we, as readers, can accept this theory, the two times can be related to the way in which Zenzotli views his visions and his reality. When speaking with Nita, Zenzotli states:

“‘I’ve been going nuts. You can’t imagine. Between real visions and fake insights, between fake visions and real delusions, I can’t tell what time it is, whether the big hand is on the three or the little hand is on the six, or the little hand is on the three or the big hand is on the six.’” (Sesshu Foster 69)

Zenzotli visions have compromised his understanding of what his reality truly is. In one sense, it can be argued that he does prefer his visions to his reality since it does help him discover who he is and why the visions continue to occur. On the other hand, despite having said he may actually like having the visions, the visions cause Zenzotli to dive into a world of chaos, in which he confuses where his reality ends and where the visions begin.

Dante’s Inferno Levels

November 15, 2011

In Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, Zenzotli often refers to Dante’s Inferno. For instance, in regards to Max, he comments that if:

“Max’s personality was patterned on Dante’s Inferno, with inner circles providing special
torment for the worst offenders, then the behaviors he revealed in his office, were
marvelous strange.” (Sesshu Foster 49)

In his allusion, Zenzotli muses that as a result of his schizophrenia, Max’s personality resembles the levels of Hell as presented in Dante’s Inferno, which has numerous layers and is illustrated in the image below. Although each layer is different, they are united by the fact that they are all distinct sides of Max’s persona. While Zenzotli comments that Max’s condition is relatable to the levels of Dante’s Inferno, the levels analogy can also be attributed to Zenzotli’s realities. Despite existing between his two realities, it is apparent that the two affect one another. For instance, in the reality in which Zenzotli is the “Keeper of the House of Darkness”, the character of Maxtla may be an unconscious representation of Max since Zenzotli did appreciate the good nature of Max’s personalities. If this is to be considered as true, then the levels of Zenzotli’s own personality is revealed in that readers learn that there is a real Zenzotli, a Zenzotli which derives from this Zenzotli, and the characters forged from his reality which is embedded in his alternate reality. Similarly, Zenzotli often discusses levels when attempting to describe his current reality.

Zenzotli’s Deluded Reality

November 15, 2011

Many narratives utilize the technique of magical realism. Within a narrative, magical realism establishes a setting within a reality, but also contains magical or supernatural elements. In Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, the homodiegetic narrator, Zenzotli exists between two realities; one in which he works at a meat packing plant, and one in which he is the “Keeper of the House of Darkness”. Although the two realities alone are evidence of magical realism, because the two realities tend to affect one another, they tend to reveal more elements of magical realism. For instance, while trying to get the attention of the people, Zenzotli states:

 “I snapped my fingers. It came to me (What? I’m, like, a genius! How do I do it?), I knew exactly what I had to do to ensure enough signatures for the union ratification vote to take place according to the rules of law of the National Labor Relations Board as promulgated by President Roosevelt in the Zippity-doo-dah.” (Sesshu Foster 75)

By making it appear that the idea to attract voters came to him purely by magic, Zenzotli blurs the line that separates his two realities and inserts a supernatural element. Similarly, while working on the killing floor, Zenzotli comments “Once upon a time I had though Max was a good guy” (Foster 48). Zenzotli’s comment utilizes a cliché introduction to traditional fairy tales in order to make a mere remark. However, the mere insertion of the line causes readers to reflect on his alternate reality, in which he is more content.

Focalization in Atomik Aztex

November 15, 2011

In Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative, Manfred Jahn explains that a focalizer is “the agent whose point of view orients the narrative text” (Jahn N3.2.2). In essence, a focalizer is the voice of the narrator who tells the events of the narrative. In Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, the events of the story are presented by the homodiegetic narrator, Zenzotli. We learn from him that he lives in between the realities of his real life and his visions. From his own point of view, his visions are causing him to get “fucked in the head” and “are better than aspirin and cheaper” (Foster 3). Zenzotli’s visions are almost medicating, as he finds a sense of comfort, discovery, and reality in them. However, it is from another perspective that we learn that Zenzotli’s visions aren’t as medicating, but rather disruptive and alarming. Amoxhuah, awakens Zenzotli during a vision, to tell him that he was “‘mumbling things in your sleep, sir, stupid things, insensibilities, inanities, platitudes’” (Foster 59). Although Zenzotli believes that his visions are filled with a greater reality, fearless adventures, and medicating images, Amoxhuah simply claims that he understands them to be foolish, cliché absurdities.

Diction in Atomik Aztex

November 15, 2011

Throughout Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex, the homodiegetic narrator, Zenzotli often replaces hard sounding c’s with k’s. Other replacements include the spelling of through as thru and thought as thot, while other instances of Zenzotli’s experiments with language revolve around changes to the type. In doing so, Zenzotli explains that he is merely showcasing his “emphasis” (Foster 2). This type of narrative experimentation is what Manfred Jahn explains to be skaz narrative, which has “a distinctly oral diction and syntax, a skaz-narrator’s discourse is also characterized by a high incidence of phatic and appellative elements, signaling the presence of the listening audience” (N3.3.4). While Zenzotli’s experiments with his diction is used for emphasis, his experiments also demand that readers consider his Aztek heritage. Like Zenzotli’s diction, the replacement of hard sounding c’s with k’s also appears in the Mortal Kombat franchise as seen in the image and clip belowy.

In Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative, Manfred Jahn argues that a chorus character is “a convention in drama, an uninvolved character (“man in the street”) commenting on characters or events, typically speaking philosophically, sententiously, or in clichés” (Jahn N7.8). In other words, a chorus character may not be a profound character but whose role heavily relies on the advice he or she offers to other characters. In Severo Sarduy’s Cobra, the Guru, Rosa, and the Grand Lama fill the roles of chorus characters. Primary characters, such as Tundra, Scorpion, Totem, and Tiger sought the advice and wisdom of the Guru, Rosa, and the Grand Lama on their spiritual journey. Rosa’s advice is identical to the Guru’s and their vague words tended to be left unheeded. The Grand Lama’s advice, however, offered resolutions to Totem, Scorpion, and Tundra’s spiritual anxieties. However, because Tiger’s anxiety wasn’t founded in worldly crises, the Grand Lama was unable to suggest a solution and instead, Tiger’s spiritual fears were left unresolved.

Spiritual Identity In Cobra

November 15, 2011

Throughout Severo Sarduy’s Cobra, numerous characters are on a journey to find spiritual enlightenment. Though they are chasing the same dream, the characters find themselves on very different roads. For instance, while some characters undergo transformations, Tiger and Scorpion often seek the advice and guidance of others, such as the Guru and Rosa, in order to make sense of their realities. The identical advice that the Guru and Rosa gives Tiger causes him to come to a halt in his spiritual journey. Hoping to gain a better perspective, Totem and Tiger also consult the Grand Lama. In seeking his own personal advice, Tiger asks “Which is the true road to Liberation?” (Sarduy 147). Unlike Totem, Tundra, and Scorpion, Tiger seeks ultimate freedom and prosperity beyond what he knows. Totem, Tundra, and Scorpion’s concerns become eased by their counselors since their anxieties are based primarily in the present and real world. Unlike Tundra and Totem who had received instructions from the Grand Lama, Tiger’s question is left unanswered and he is left to make his own decisions and discover his own spiritual identity.

Manfred Jahn argues that psychonarration is the “textual representation of a character’s conscious or unconscious mental states and processes, mainly by using forms of ‘narrative report of discourse’ or ‘narrated perception’” (Jahn N8.11). In other words, a character’s thoughts, whether or not they are aware of them, can be understood through their behavior and diction. In Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper, the character of Saturn or Salvador Plascencia presents readers with two distinct sides of the same person. Saturn, until presented as Salvador Plascencia, is an all knowing entity, constantly watching over the other characters, with far too much power. In this depiction, readers are more inclined to believe that Saturn possesses such a power because he often introduces a section as a heterodiegetic narrator. However, it is only until Saturn is presented as Salvador Plascencia that readers are able to understand who Salvador Plascencia is. Depicted with more human qualities, we learn that Plascencia is trapped in his own melancholy, which arises from him being in a love triangle. He has become so distraught and detached from the characters that he even withdraws from the war that has been waged on him.

In Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper, readers are exposed to the points of view of numerous characters. Most tend to be homodiegetic narrators, or characters present during the events of the narrative, and who accounts the events. From these numerous characters and their own points of view of the same event, readers are presented with multiple focalizers. In Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative, Manfred Jahn defines multiple focalizers as a narrative that utilizes a “technique of presenting an episode repeatedly, each time seen through the eyes of a different (internal) focalizer. Typically, what is demonstrated by this technique is that different people tend to perceive or interpret the same event in radically different fashion” (Jahn N3.2.4). In essence, if a narrative contains the use of multiple focalizers, it presents readers with the perspectives of several different characters in the same situation. For example, while Saturn frequently narrates the beginning of a section, he establishes the setting and which characters will be participating in the scene. For instance, Saturn establishes the setting in which Federico de la Fe and Little Merced encounter the mechanic. While Federico de la Fe is there strictly for business and to continue his journey, Little Merced is more curious of her new environment and the possibility of her acquiring limes. Similarly, while the mechanic observes them, he remembers a time when he was younger and would crawl underneath the shells of the mechanical turtles.

Throughout Salvador Plascencia’s The People Of Paper, the characters strived to escape from the watchful eye of Saturn. Saturn, who reveals himself to be Salvador Plascencia, engages not only readers, but his characters as well. Readers, having been enthralled by his unique and unpredictable narrative structure, are further lured into a world possessing a dual nature. The dual nature of the narrative heavily revolve around the characters’ paranoia and fear that an outside source lingers in their every thought and action, possibly interfering or even influencing their behavior. However, Plascencia’s character is caught up in his own melancholy, which arises from his position in a love triangle. The characters who wage war on Saturn, do so in the hopes that he will step back and allow them to have their own freedom. The war, which seems relentless at times and stagnant at others, constantly remains a one-sided war. The characters fight against Saturn, who rarely shows any reaction. To combat his watchful eye, whether it be unconscious or conscious, the characters resolve to encase themselves in the lead made from the mechanical turtles. This act not only establishes the characters as defiant beings but also reveal the dramatic lengths that they will go to in order to preserve their freedom and privacy. In Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived In A Story”, the character of Guillermo Segovia strived to escape the gaze of what he believed to be an unknown entity. Because the uniting trait between these characters is their fear of the unknown and their lack of privacy, their fear can also be related to the following clip taken from an episode of Doctor Who in which the Doctor, a time lord and alien, is encased in an indestructible element in order for the people of earth to protect themselves from any potential danger he may embody.