Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chicanonautica: After the Election in Dystopian Arizona

Believe it or not – I try not to be political. But when politics comes after me, I have to fire back . . .

In Arizona, the SB 1070 gang now run the state. If they're policies are as ugly as their campaign promises, we can look forward to dystopian times. Kafkazona may become a running theme for me . . . How long before the new laws make us all into cockroaches?

SB 1070 – and HB 2281, that outlaws teachers mentioning ideas I express all the time (thank Tezcatlipoca, I'm an undocumented intellectual) – weren't really anything new. Laws and other political actions to de-Hispanize Aztlán have been happening as long as I can remember. They say all they want is everybody within the borders to be registered with the bureaucracy. But then they talk about what they hope will happen . . . it sounds like ethnic cleansing.

My feelings about these dystopian developments can be read in my story, “Doctora Xilbalba's Datura Enema” in Rudy Rucker's Flurb. Turns out I was right about the “security-based economy” – maybe we'll be seeing manifestations of the Centipede God soon . . .

It gets my blood and imagination boiling. When Sheriff Joe Arpaio raided church ceremonies to check IDs well over a decade ago, it inspired a story called “Burrito Meltdown” that was finally published in the British anthology Angel Body and Other Magic for the Soul. This month “Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs” – a Dr. Strangelove Meets Cheech & Chong sort of take on the border wars, will appear in a new science fiction anthology, 2020 Visions, edited by Rick Novy.

Maybe I should collect these stories into a book . . .

Another book you may want to check out is the dystopian novel Contraband by Charlie Vázquez. A good dystopia tends to cheer me up – I can look at the world and see that we haven't gotten there yet, and realize that 1984 was a long time ago. Vázquez's world is one torn apart by political and religious polarization and extremism – uh-oh! Technological and social progress have regressed, people who don't fit in are forced underground, literally, living in a fantastic system of tunnels – like those under the border fences in recent news. Rather than being a predictable variation on Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury, and Dick, we get a new vision that is fantastic, disturbing, and richly textured. Volfgango Sanzo is sent on an odyssey that is full of strange beauty and lush imagery that enhance the tragedy of a world being destroyed. Repression and rebellion are locked in a dance of death. The extremes of this society are tearing it apart. I hope we aren't there yet.

Also, to put things in perspective, and demonstrate that none of this is new, I recommend the books of Guillermo Gómez-Peña, especially Warrior for Gringostroika, and Dangerous Border Crossers, and the stuff he and La Pocha Nostra do:

And rereading of the works of Oscar Zeta Acosta may be in order. Let's hope that the Brown Buffaloes and Cockroach People don't become extinct.

Ernest Hogan's Irish name clashes with his Mexican face on his Arizona driver's license.

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