Monday, July 23, 2012

The Taos Pueblo and Huxley's Brave New World ... a memory visited

2012.07.20-IMG_5419The Pueblo people have always fascinated me. And of course, when you think about the Pueblos, the one that comes to mind first is the Taos Pueblo. As one of the longest continuously inhabited places on earth - and the longest in North America - it ranks alongside the Pyramids (in my mind) as the most significant structures created by humans.

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On this, my first trip to Santa Fe, the Taos Pueblo was my main goal. I had the chance to visit the Bandelier National Monument earlier on the trip so had the opportunity to see the ancient cliff dwelling Pueblo site there. It was a good introduction to the Taos Pueblo.

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Perhaps one of my first introductions to the Pueblo people came from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. In Huxley's novel, the visitors from the Fordian future go to the "Malpais" Pueblo. I'm not sure which Pueblo Huxley modeled his fictional spot on, but in my mind, it was always Taos.

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Quotes from Brave New World

The journey was quite uneventful. The Blue Pacific Rocket was two and a half minutes early at New Orleans, lost four minutes in a tornado over Texas, but flew into a favourable air current at Longitude 95 West, and was able to land at Santa Fé less than forty seconds behind schedule time.

They slept that night at Santa Fé. The hotel was excellent—incomparably better, for example, than that horrible Aurora Bora Palace in which Lenina had suffered so much the previous summer. 

A bird’s-eye view of ten or a dozen of the principal pueblos, then a landing for lunch in the valley of Malpais. The rest-house was comfortable there, and up at the pueblo the savages would probably be celebrating their summer festival. It would be the best place to spend the night.

2012.07.20-IMG_5346Uphill and down, across the deserts of salt or sand, through forests, into the violet depth of canyons, over crag and peak and table-topped mesa, the fence marched on and on, irresistibly the straight line, the geometrical symbol of triumphant human purpose.

2012.07.20-IMG_5331The mesa was like a ship becalmed in a strait of lion-coloured dust. The channel wound between precipitous banks, and slanting from one wall to the other across the valley ran a streak of green—the river and its fields. On the prow of that stone ship in the centre of the strait, and seemingly a part of it, a shaped and geometrical outcrop of the naked rock, stood the pueblo of Malpais. Block above block, each story smaller than the one below, the tall houses rose like stepped and amputated pyramids into the blue sky. At their feet lay a straggle of low buildings, a criss-cross of walls; and on three sides the precipices fell sheer into the plain.

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