1. What’s up with the names of the characters?

2. Is the Zenzontli aware of his situation with the meat packing factory?
He seems unaware of all the things that go on aside from the meat-packing union.
3. What’s the deal with Zenzontli’s wife in both narratives?
Although she is the same character name wise, she is psychologically different and developed/develops differently in each narrative.
4. Why is the narrative time warped around two different time-space continuum?
I believe that the leader of the Jaguar Unit is based upon during World War II as the Aztex try to take over Europe in place of the Americans who sought to stop the war. Where as the meat packer Zenzontli is based upon a more modern day and age quite possibly the late 1990’s or even the 2000’s.
5. How do drugs play a role in this if it’s not mentioned anymore?

6.Does Zenzontli realize that his mentality is being distorted due to the “other” narrative?

7. What is Zenzontli going to do with the German?

8. What’s the deal with the “prostitutes”?

9. Why were the children mentioned in only one narrative but not the other?

10. What is up with the italics? Do they symbolize anything?

11. Why isn’t there any transition between narrative to narrative?

What is interesting to note in Atomik Aztex is the large quantity of names; Zenzontli, 3Turkey, Weasel, Aztex, Xiuh, etc. They play a subtle role in the narratives as the names act as a representation of the Aztex culture and is portrayed as a defiant identity against the social norm provided by the meat packing industry. This could be seen through the constant obstacles that are symbolized by the American norm i.e. Mark’s meeting with Zenzontli which resulted in Zenzontli being punished with extra shifts and working alone in a room filled with pigs while he may eventually succumb to sickness due to the poor health environment provided by Mark’s agenda against Zenzontli and all that Zenzontli stands for. This is undoubtedly about the possibility of forming an union with Zenzontli as the ring leader of the meat packing industry. This is compared to the other narrative in which Zenzontli is the leader of the jaguar unit and plays a vital role upon the war front at Stalingrad. In that particular narrative, names and rituals also plays a more obvious and important role in society as the Axtex are undoubtedly the rulers of the present day society. What is also interesting to note is the way the names are presented as they are subtley changed to reflect the influence and control the Axtex nation has upon conqueoring the Spaniards; language changes to fit the rulers.

Originally I believed that Atomik Aztex to be a singular and linear narrative however that fails to be the case. I believe that time and space has been distorted in such a manner in which regular order is no longer established. One could reorder the sequence of events and it would not have mattered. This can be seen through the first 70 odd pages of the story. The initial introduction states that Zenzontli believes that he’s getting fucked in the head but as one continues to read he no long acknowledges this. Instead the narrative splits up and integrates seamlessly together albeit with some rough patches here and there. This can be an instance in which time and space is distorted and we as the readers are transported unknowingly and unwittingly in to the eyes of the “other” Zenzontli. Although the character is essentially the same and all of the supporting characters are the same (3 Turkey, Nita, Zenzontli’s Ray, Nakatl, Weasel, etc.) their roles are completely different between the worlds. Zenzontli in the modern sense is the ring leader for the group of meat packers striving for an union where as he is the leader of the Jaguar Unit in the World War II scenario.

The People of Paper contains a multitude of magic realistic elements throughout the entire novel. This can be seen through the various remedies and situation that Plascencia writes about. We can understand the magic realistic elements such as burn/wasp sting collecting, hiding behind lead, sucking on limes leads to death and cavity rot, and people can be brought back from the dead all play a major role in The People of Paper. They are all remedies to help ease the heart and the issues that everyone deals with. The magic realism seems to permeate the entire flow of the story. The very idea of a celestial being that can be both a planet and a person is preposterous by itself but Plascenia incorporates such notions to help the story move along.

Towards the end of The People of Paper, Plascenia becomes a bit creative with his writing. He begins to utilize and distort the very format of standardized book writing. He begins to shift around various thoughts and characters as the people of EMF and Saturn’s companions begin to crowd in and attempt to drive out Saturn from their lives. They all attempt to broadcast their thoughts and their feelings in an attempt to drive out Saturn. This particular strategy by the EMF appears to be quite effective as Saturn’sthoughts begin to retreat towards the margins and ultimately ends up in the corner; barely a sentence or two of thoughts by Saturn. It is quite an interesting notion that Plascenia incorporates in to his writing; that the book itself is a huge think tank in which the characters’ very thoughts can be broadcast upon the very page and even their thoughts can drive out the author from the very book that he is writing. Ultimately the author, Saturn, gets a hold of himself and begins to fight back and ultimately has gained control over the course of the story once more. However his motivation has changed and no longer is he interested in those who live and fight with the EMF, he becomes wrapped upon in his own life and delusions as he begins to search for those that have left him much like how Federico de la Fe and Froggy begin to move past this war and on to their own respective lives.

Not even Baby Nostradamus could stop him. The sadness still circulated through Saturn, clogging capillaries and inflaming his lymph nodes, his liver never able to filer the melancholy, but his body has adapted. At times delibitated by the thought of her, but still able to summon enough strength to press against the columns. Saturn’s weight leaned agaisnt the stucture. At first there was only a single crack at the base of the column. He thought of her, of her perfidy, and then of the others throughout the story: Delilah, Merced, Ida. The lone crack splintered into a web of fractures, buckling the structure and crumbling it to rubble. Once the first support was down the others were easily tipped, all the columns falling, and giving Saturn full control of the story. (Placencia 242)

Severo Sarduy incorporates many different literary elements in to Cobra. A lot of what is written creates a free-flowing thought process with subsequent thoughts that make a very loose flowing plot. This is seen in the initial first part of Cobra. We are introduced to various characters; Pup, Madam, Cobra, Indian, etc.to name a few where their introduction is trivial compared to the thoughts surrounding their background. This is evident when Sarduy shifts from writing about the characters and instead begins to write about “histories”, writings, etc. He also begins to incorporate mathematics in an attempt to explain the very essence of Cobra and Madam.

√cobra = pup²
pup² = √cobra

Sarduy also incorporates a lot of magic realism to convey a very mystical sense in Cobra. A lot of what is going on incorporates many elements from Asian cultures and religion. He plays heavily upon the Buddhist religion and borrows heavily upon Eastern magic. We get a sense of this when Cobra tries to transform his/her feet through magical means as opposed to the conventional means.

Narrative time in Atomik Aztex is a bit unstable as it does not adhere to the standard time-space continuum theroem or perhaps common place time-logic. Although Zenzontli can be perceived as living both points of view in standard narrative time each point of view is radically different than the other. One point of view takes place in what seems like the middle of World War II as he is sent to Stalingrad to take down the Nazis in place of the United States while the meat packer union leader seems to be taking place in the modern era in which forming a union is not out tof place if it were to take place at this current time and date. What is unusual is the apparent lack of transition of time; the stories meld together sometimes subtley and other times drastically and it is up to the reader to stop and pick out the differences because the time frame skips and jumps around.

Things that had tickled her in the past, now made her upset and angry. If you suggested an outing to the pier, she’d sneer (Ride the bus all day to come back tired, sunburned, and sandy? Hang out with those wacky whites at the dirty beach? The water’s polluted!”), or mention a hike at Elysian Park, she’d complain, what was wrong with me – wasn’t I tired enough from work already? I certainly was. Where had the intervening years gone? Recently I seemed to have dreamed a dream about it.
It was lots under corrugated tin roofing behind the plant it smells like the country fairgrounds at 4 A.M., semi after semi entering row after row of sheds, ramps deployed with a clatter as thousands of hogs are unloaded into the gated pens, grunting, squealing, & squawking like sports fans, huffing and puffing as they descended heavily into the concrete pens covered in straw as I sat on the subway next to a sweat begrimed warrior reading the Toltek Times with the headlines, STALINGRAD SURROUNDED, ASTROLOGERS FOREKAST DOOM FOR GERMAN 6TH ARMOR. (Foster 33)

In Atomik Aztex, we get the feeling that there are multiple streams of conciousness. There isn’t one particular point of view rather we get a mixture of two radically points of view through the eyes of the same individual character. It’s odd because although he’s the same person he’s living two different lives at the same time while bending time and space. He is in two different time periods, histories, and places altogether; he is off to conquer Europe and Stalingrad in the name of the Aztex empire and Jaguar Unit while fighting the meat-packing industry and trying to form a union for those who worked at the meat packing factory. It’s odd because although the points of views are different parts of the points of view seem to meld in together and change Zenzontli in a very subatomic way. He is no longer one particular character but rather a sort of hodgepodge of the Aztex warrior and the Axtex entry-level meat packer. This is evident through the short bursts of phrases and speech that are more pronounced as the story goes further and further.

“Keeper of the House of Darkness. Master Zenzontli, sir, wake up.” “What, what the fuck?” “You’re mumbling things in your sleep, sir, stupid things, insensibilities, inanities, platitudes,” Amoxhuah was saying to me as I unbent myself out of a sleep-enforced slouch. He was staring at me; I stared back and brought him into focus. “Commonplaces, sir, euphemisms, stock phrases, tripe,” Amoxhuah added, “I’m sorry sir, but from what I could catch they were the kind of empty phraseology that you might hear from your so called experts. It was pretty scary.” (Foster 59)

Atomik Aztex initially was a confusing novel until you realized that there are two different narratives that stream along each other. It deals with the same person but with different narrative times and histories. This is apparent when you realize that he is off the colonize Europe while at the same time he is a part of a meat packing factory. The two different narratives reflect what could have been; as if they are parallel universes existing precisely side by side at the exact moment. I concur!
Also the language makes it hard to know what really is going on. So far that I read I thought it was one character that has a different point of view since he’s also having visions and then also living the reality.

Cobra – Initial Thoughts

November 7, 2011

I felt that Cobra was a bit obscene and graphic. The text in it of itself is also a bit confusing at times as you begin to lose your idea of who the narrator is or who the narrator is talking about. There are points of the book in which the narrator seems to just recount his or her thoughts aside from the story of Cobra’s transformation. The development of the characters in question were also a bit of a struggle to read through. The concept of having two different Cobra’s who in fact was actually one Cobra (who is also a man and or a woman; transgender) was quite a notion to follow as well. I had to reread the text quite a few times to understand that there were two Cobras who was in actuality one Cobra who in fact is a man who plays as a woman in drag.I have to admit though the graphic text was really difficult to go through and sort of digest particularly the random orgies, notions of drug abuse and prostitution, and ultimately Cobra’s sex change at the end of Part I.