The Mexican Mind
I thought before examining the Mexican mind I might warm up by looking at the U.S. mind. The one closest at hand was my own, and so – observing all the necessary precautions – I decided on a practice run right there.
And that is where the first problem arose. I could not immediately find it. I had assumed, before I began, that it was somewhere between the top of my head – a kind of above the tree line area where there is little vegetation – and the lower slope of my chin.
The next problem – I should say challenge – was to find entry. None of the orifices in the area mentioned seemed to make any sense, since the “I” of myself, the writer-examiner, seemed to be already inside.
This was my first success: to have found the place from which I write. I noticed that my hand, the one holding the ballpoint, was doing the writing. The writer that controls the hand seems to be inside. There appears to be some kind of communication between the two. Hence, I conclude that the mind is quite talented in that it directs the hand to do the mind’s will, putting down the words that appear on the inner screen.
At this time, I am not able to tell you where the words come from, or what they sound like or look like before they arrive in the brain. It is unlikely they are exactly like what the hand is writing.
Across from me, on the other side of this small, wobbling coffeehouse table, sits my writing partner. If that concept means little to you, let’s just say he is my friend. The important thing is that he is Mexican and therefore has a Mexican mind. I am assuming it is located roughly where mine is, that is to say, between the jowls and the top of his head. He too is writing. I can see his right hand moving. He is using real ink, and I can see the words advancing across the lined pages, preceded by the metal tip of his fountain pen.
This information affords me an immediate discovery: the Mexican mind is old-fashion; it prefers to lay out its thoughts with an older technology. I am assuming that patting out tortillas, pressing them with levers, or issuing them warm from the wire conveyor belts of ageless tortilla machines represents another nod to the past.
I turn now to the American mind. I use the phrase only because it floats matter-of-factly across the inner screen. In an attempt to remain fair, there is some indication that the tortilla of the North has penetrated southward. You can buy Bimbo™ here, a kind of Wonder Bread™, widely seen as a metaphor for modernity.
For some reason, I feel my efforts at definition sagging, growing stale, as it were, a certain exhaustion settling over me. And I have only examined words and nourishment. I have left out some areas: the arts, history, science, commerce, belief in gods, mental health, culture in general, and the rule of law. And there must be some reason for this. I can only suppose, if these things had been important, they would have come up in my mind.
These issues do come up in my writing partner’s mind. And he writes about them. No doubt because of the same dependence on the past. I have a phrase that protects me from rendering any sort of judgment in this regard. I say to myself, “This is the way people are.” I am understanding toward my friend. He is exhibiting what I suppose we could call the Mexican Mind: circumspect, philosophical, concerned with larger questions.
I suppose I used to be the same. But I have managed to modernize. I have a pocket device that electronically stores all kinds of dictionaries, reference works, and other connections to information. I try not to ask too many questions – the contours of the Mexican mind are an exception. But if a question comes up, for example whether it is all right to take the life of someone who has been designated an enemy, I can turn to my device and find some sort of useful answer almost instantly.
I suppose, in conclusion, that is how we are different. The Mexican mind asks questions. Slowly. The U.S. mind finds answers and get things done. I come back to this, since it is so essential. We know almost instantly who the suspected enemy is, whether it is all right to destroy him. And why. The U.S. mind, for that reason, is known around the world and – I say this with an obvious measure of humility – feared.
When I think of Mexico and the Mexican mind, I see children playing soccer on slanting streets, baby turtles guarded as they scramble toward Caribbean and Pacific waves, and men in Panamas and white clothing dancing in cobbled-stoned squares, with women who wear lipstick, flower print dresses and knowing smiles. In short, I see a mind that succumbs to generosity, warmth, and laughter, but to little actionable information regarding the rest of the world.
When I read this to my writing partner, I know he will raise his brows. But that is because it takes him longer to understand, and longer to appreciate my analysis, and the singularity of the American Mind, based, as it has to be here, on my own.