fictive spaces and frank waters’ otherworlds

I should be reading the sixth essay in Bringing the Devil to His Knees. I still want to get through that book but the brain of school has me and I also wanted to finish up the Frank Waters memoir I’ve had on my desk for months. Interesting that the last two books I’ve read have been memoirs of writers I admire rather than fiction. I’ve been rereading my own fiction but can’t get vested in longer narratives lately.

And this summer I became so interested in the six armed cross at La Garita this summer in Colorado.  I was so taken by the cross. So when I read about Four Corners and read about Taos and Waters’ life traveling around Colorado and New Mexico I had to finish the book. First it made me homesick for Colorado and then it gave me some ideas for another writing project—or rather an old project I’d like to return to. I thought about why I write fiction in the first place. Why anyone wants to create fictive places or imaginary worlds. I thought about how I could add a bit more of the surreal into the writing—more strange dimensions to the writing.

Here is what Waters’ has to say about the cross—and as he writes cross I can’t help but think of the cross on the map the borders make marking the Four Corners area—and the meaning of the cross to the Hopi people and their migration across the continent in their creation myth:

The cross is one of the oldest and most universal symbols known to man. The center point always has been profoundly significant. For if the four arms of the cross extending in opposite directions represent division and conflict, their point of intersection signifies reconciliation and unification. Regarded another way, the horizontal arms represent linear, secular time, the vertical arms represent durational, eternal time. At their intersection they merge into one unbroken timeless time. The center point, in effect, is the meeting point between the conscious and the unconscious.

Anyway, to the Hopi the place and the cross represents the search for spiritual unity—the outer and inner movement of all humanity. Like the Ute or the Hopi concept of space I have been reading from Frank Waters’ book Of Time and Change. A place is neither two nor three-dimensional but four. In the San Luis Valley—New Mexico and Four Corners place in the country—finite concepts of time and space seem inadequate. And of course this reminds me of fictive space…a continuum of time and space…

Anyway I’d like to return to this concept in a piece I wrote called House of Two Bears—a story that follows the Abuelito or where I follow the Abuelito through some of his crazy stories in fiction. I also like the idea in Hopi religion—the idea that if you have a great loss in one of the four worlds you can move on to the next and look for reconciliation. And only in fictive spaces can I follow the Abuelito through time and space. And like Frank Waters notes in his memoir–some people from the southwest just seem more in tune to those “otherworlds”. So maybe the Abuelito was in touch and so maybe I can in a small way get in touch with those otherworlds” via the fiction.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

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