I dream of thousands of emerald-green parrots flying alongside my airplane — parrots just like the ones that flew alongside the bus as I travelled through the interior. Through naming, he reinscribes the landscape with personal cultural value, and restores a vital history. These vestiges, these cells are slowly crawling towards each other. They are crossing oceans and mountains and six-lane expressways. They are calling to each other and arranging to meet in my sleep.
That this erosion of frontiers and borders is both a personal and a political condition is demonstrated on one of the many slides which punctuate and comment on the performance in Fronteras Americanas. The West is no longer west. The old binary models have been replaced by a border dialectic of ongoing flux. We now inhabit a social universe in constant motion, a moving cartography with a floating culture and a fluctuating sense of self.
All those who live within the country may also inhabit the borders, interacting without subsuming, dancing together, in effect. All together. At long last. Very exciting. Here we are. Like her other plays, Toronto Mississippi , for example, it is about imagining the possibility of crossing psychological borders to effect a transformation.
It can be reimagined. Typically, these islands have been a refuge for those seeking solitude, tranquility, or anonymity — artists, retirees, draft dodgers. They were first named by Spanish explorers, but not colonized; and they have retained their original Spanish names, providing a link with South America which intrigues Callie, the daughter of the Canadian family which lives on one of the islands.
Saturna, Texada. In this case, the naming points to an historical anomaly: these Spanish names do not imaginatively transform the landscape or inscribe it with the values of the conquerors. For Callie, however, they evoke an aura of romance and exoticism, which she then transfers to Elias, a refugee from the political realities of El Salvador.
She sees Elias as an heroic figure, who has survived torture, who has risked his life for his beliefs. His attraction is not only his difference, but his history, which both disturbs and excites a young woman who desires a more vivid world than she currently inhabits. As Elias realizes, she loves the terrible things he remembers There are these soldiers everywhere and these Indian women making tortillas or pounding silver or something.
There was just this time, this time between getting my draft notice and coming to Canada. Everything was very sharp, defined. Instant overview. Made the food taste better and women. You put all that on top of really getting to know women for the first time and it was incredible.
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Ironically, in this story Owen portrays himself as an all-American Hemingway hero. Elias, however, who can never return to his country, prefers not to tell his story: it is too real. She listens and sympathizes, and refrains from judging, but she refuses to be deluded by the self-justification of the other family members. Or some of it anyway. For her, borders are nebulous constructs, conflated by popular culture. But in the end, they can only console each other; they can change nothing. Understanding the stories of others is precluded when there is no common vocabulary. Yet Elias, as has Sander, cuts his English classes, or sleeps through them, suggesting that he is not interested in learning the stories of others.
He uses his difference to keep Callie at a distance, even to mock her.
ISBN 13: 9780889223837
His language is also a means of self-preservation through isolation — keeping his private history from the interloping curiosity of others. Even with a common language, however, there may be psychological borders which preclude communication, as Sander discovers when he suspects that he does not understand the motives of anyone in his family. Callie, Sander, and Owen finally feel betrayed by Elias, because he does not conform to their stereotypical image of a defenceless political refugee. Elias subjects Sander to a mock interrogation, using physical violence to intimidate and to shock him into the reality of his persecution in El Salvador.
He tricks Callie into applying for refugee status for the woman whom he has loved and left behind in El Salvador.
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Working for the top of [her]. Borders are also obviated through the imaginings expressed in songs and stories, and in dreams, the desires of the human heart. What I sleep is my own. I am in my bed, in my room and there are no countries.
"Living the Border" with Guillermo Verdecchia
There is no language to sleep. This is a true thing to all peoples.
Do you see the girl in my bed? It is too dark. You must touch her to see her. Her arms break, her eyes close. She is gone. Desaperecido, disappeared. Do you want it? Do you have a place to put her story? In the Epilogue, however, he reveals his hopes and desires, also directed at the audience as a kind of plea or perhaps a challenge. The important question remains unanswered: can there be a place in which stories are shared and understood, or are they inevitably appropriated and misunderstood?
The day was green. Paperback, Very Good. All rights reserved.
The Globe and Mail
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