A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


A Heart of Jade - Corazón de Piedra Verde
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Salvador de Madariaga's Corazón de Piedra Verde (1942), published in English in the 60s as The Heart of Jade was the first novel I remember reading in Spanish. Around 1959 when I read it, it was my first glimpse on how the Spaniards conquered Mexico. Only later did I read Bernal Diaz del Castillo's Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España. While The Heart of Jade was labeled as innacurate by Homero Aridjis ( a Mexican poet who wrote his own and wonderful magic realism version of the conquest of Mexico, Memorias del Nuevo Mundo, 1991) I still re-read it, often. I am a sucker for the romance between the dashing Spanish Manrique and the lovely Mexica princess Xuchitl. It was in 1966, in Buenos Aires, when I first read Argentine author Julio Cortázar's stories Ceremonias which in one volume compiled his Final del Juego and Armas Secretas . It was here that found my favourite Cortázar short story, La noche boca arriba, The Night Face Up. A young man riding his motorcycle on a busy street somehow daydreams and almost runs over a woman. In avoiding her he crashes and he finds himself in traction on a hospital bed where he suffers terrible dreams. He is a prisoner of war of the Aztecs and he is being led to his eventual sacrifice (the tearing of his heart with an obsidian knife on the top of a Mexica temple). He manages to wake up in his hospital bed every time things get bad. Until the moment his heart is about to be torn does he realize that the motorcycle and the accident are the dream and that he is about to die.

To the ancient Mexicas, the heart or yólotl was the vital organ in the creation of our universe. It generated ideas and feelings. For them the human heart transcended all things material and became the symbol of the intangible and of the powerful. Through human sacrifice the Aztecs gave to their gods their most precious possession in exchange for good fortune or to placate the bad.

Jade has always been part of my life. I remember my mother asking me to help her with her Chinese jade and gold earings and necklace when I was a little boy. When I married Rosemary my mother Filomena gave her the complete set that also included a bracelet and a ring.

My latest connection with jade was in 2003 when I photographed sculptor Lyle Sopel in his North Vancouver studio with a giant jade Buddha he had just finished. All I can remember of the jade octopus is that I photographed it at least 20 years ago in Spanish Banks at about the same time that I photographed the lovely Anette with a jade screen (mined by Mohawk Petroleum) and a jade pendant.


Previous Posts
Kathryn Ricketts, Edmond Kilpatrick & Pale Dry She...

Daryl Duke - The Sun Sets In West Vancouver

Onoclea sensibilis

Gillian, Calvin Klein, Channel No 5 & My Basement ...

Jennifer Mascall & The Gracefully Presented Altoid...

Lauren Elizabeth Stewart - Mezzo-soprano-in-waitin...

Nan Fairchild Sherlock & Matteuccia struthiopteris...

The School For Scandal - Lauren, Christopher, & De...

Dean Paul Gibson - One More Time

Woman In Red

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010