Notes: Gloria Anzaldúa, “Entering the Serpent,” in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987). “Entering the Serpent.” In Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.

Summary:

Anzaldúa discusses means by which colonization imposes duality on her culture’s psyche.

Keywords: Culture, Cultural Rhetorics, De/Postcolonial

Quotations:

“I know things older than Freud, older than gender. She—that’s how I think of la Víbora, Snake Woman. Like the ancient Olmecs, I know the Earth is a coiled Serpent” (26).

“I allowed white rationality to tell me that the existence of the “other world” was mere pagan superstition. I accepted their reality, the “official” reality of the rational, reasoning mode which is connected with external reality, the upper world, and is considered the most developed consciousness—the consciousness of duality” (37).

“In trying to become “objective,” Western culture made “objects” of things and people when it distanced itself from them, thereby losing “touch” with them. This dichotomy is the root of all violence” (37).

La facultad is the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities, to see the deep structure below the surface. It is an instant “sensing,” a quick perception arrived at without conscious reasoning. It is an acute awareness mediated by the part of the psyche that does not speak, that communicates in images and symbols which are the faces of feelings, that is, behind which feelings reside/hide” (38).

“Fear develops the proximity sense aspects of la facultad. But there is a deeper sensing that is another aspect of this faculty. It is anything that breaks into one’s everyday mode of perception, that causes a break in one’s defenses and resistance, anything that takes one from one’s habitual grounding, causes the depths to open up, causes a shift in perception. This shift in perception deepens the way we see concrete objects and people; the senses become so acute and piercing that we can see through things, view events in depth, a piercing that reaches the underworld (the realm of the soul). As we plunge vertically, the break, with its accompanying new seeing, makes us pay attention to the soul, and we are thus carried into awareness—an experiencing of soul (Self)” (39).

“We lose something in this mode of initiation, something is taken from us: our innocence, our unknowing ways, our safe and easy ignorance” (39).

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