Mornings in Mexico – D.H. Lawrence

He mocks at you and gibes at you and imitates you. Sometimes he is even more like you than you are yourself. It’s funny, and you laugh just a bit on the wrong side of your face. It’s the other dimension.

A collection of essays, mostly from 1924, Mornings in Mexico is D.H. Lawrence’s keen observations of the Zapotec Indians in Mexico, and the native Indians of the American Southwest. Lawrence does well to get inside the head of the Zapotec Indians, although my impression from his text was that he was intrigued by their beliefs and ways while at the same time mocking them, or perhaps it is just the whimsical prose of his essays. He prefers the continual regeneration of everything from nothing in an endless cycle over long term evolution, but perhaps because it appears more quaint and is so utterly different to what he was brought up with.

I preferred the Mexican essays over the American Indian ones, purely out of personal interest over anything else. Lawrence takes a very wry look at the dog in Corasmin and the Parrots, while the walk to Huayapa is a Sunday distraction. The last one is a very clever look at Market day, sharply observed, not just on the surface, but also the role it plays within the life of the town and it’s surrounding area.

Moving to the native American Indians, Lawrence gives lengthly accounts of some of their sacred dances, again seemingly somewhere between painstaking detail and gently patronising.

While Lawrence piercingly observes the Indians, from the features to the smallest of actions I found the short, sharp sentences caused me to stutter through the essays, which diverge from cosmic beliefs and the Indian’s view of their place in the world, to a walk to the next town for something to do. After a while I got used to the style, but couldn’t say I took to it, I am intrigued to try something else by Lawrence to see if I could spend longer than a morning with him.

But the morning is perfect; in a moment we are clear out of the town. Most towns in Mexico, saving the capital, end in themselves, at once. As if  they had been lowered from heaven in a napkin, and deposited, rather foreign, upon the wild plain.


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