we have already emphasized, the panorama offered by the Precolumbian cultures
is vast and complex, although the remnants of the grandeur of these cultures
are more than sufficient-such is their clarity and evidence-for their essential
reconstruction. Extending from the Eskimos and Indians of Canada and North
America to the Araucans and Pampas of Chile and Argentina is an immense
complex of myths, traditions, symbols, rites, usages and customs, ways
of life, and so on, which, despite their variety, articulate in a coherent
manner. They project an image of what these cultures were before the Conquista
and colonization, although many of them had already been lost by that time
(or had fused with others), or had more or less abandoned their origins,
solidified in minor forms because of historical reasons-by virtue of political
and economic factors.1
Again, by the time the Europeans arrived, this enormous jigsaw puzzle of cultures found itself in a number of different stages of "development." This "development" to which we refer is in no way "progressive," as if it had been a linear, uninterrupted advance on the part of man as a member of the evolution of the species or as the inventor of scientific "advances." Rather, what we are calling "development" here refers to the various cyclical stages-birth, youth, maturity, decadence-in which any culture normally develops, finally to disappear, thence to arise once more in a different form, generated from a starting point in the old germs and destined to share the lot of its predecessors and its successors. This is particularly clear in ancient America, where the remnants of the old, vanished, civilizations have always coexisted with new cultural manners and ways in various stages of evolution for different particular reasons. This shaped a complicated mosaic of peoples, a swarm of customs and usages, of manifold, changing forms and colors-coexisting, at times, in one and the same society-but with a common groundwork, a common structure, thereby constituting a living, dynamic whole: an ensemble of interrelated cycles and wheels within wheels within wheels, all directly or indirectly integrated into a continent, as if they had been independent, but connected, gearboxes fitted into others with which they composed the map or panorama of Ancient America.
Nor, as we know, was this the exclusive property of these cultures alone. The societies and realms of all places have had these same characteristics of independence and mutual integration, with uniformity arriving only at the coming of the empires, or analogous schemata, which needed totalitarian, rigid forms, imposing themselves by force of arms and making tributaries of their neighbors. It would seem, however, from a historical and cyclical standpoint, that empires are indispensable, although the forms they have taken have been so militarized and abusive that tradition itself has been used as a power factor. This may have been the case with the Aztec and Inca rulers, who, nevertheless, brought their peoples to the maximum of organization, activity, and quantitative growth.2
On the other hand, many of the traditional societies had been constituted as differentiated cores in the form of families, although their behavior was not always homogeneous. Again, we must say that these inequalities became even more complicated in the era of the European invasion, since each distinct people was treated differently, and reacted in its own way in face of the Conquest, in its capacity of protagonist of its history. Despite all this, however, it is astonishing that so many analogies-obvious at a glance-should exist between the American Indians of the North, Center, and South. At times the distances separating these countless peoples were merely such as could be traversed in a day or two on foot, although in other cases they were enormous. Intercommunication was maintained by trade or war, resulting in a mutual influence. But on occasion, and for very prolonged lapses of time and owing to various circumstances, they remained more or less isolated from one another. Peoples of this type coexisted perfectly on the same geographic continent and in the same historical time, emanating from a greater nucleation that embraced them all, as they were of common origin despite the multitude of their forms, languages, and secondary characteristics.
This was true regardless of whether, at the moment of their "discovery," these peoples were nomads, in decline, in their youth, or at the peak of their power. It was true if they were simple gatherers, or beings capable of expressing themselves in ideograms or systems of calculation as complex as their calendars. To believe that nomadic peoples are not yet evolved is to believe in a progressive, imaginary, official historical system in which, from a monkey or a fish, human kind finally becomes an executive-a theory so blatantly false, if one but deign to observe the most elementary historical reality, that a lay person of good faith immediately decries the fraud. Many nomadic peoples were formerly sedentary, and several of them have been both in the course of their history, as is the case with Israel. The nomadic-and the "primitive"-cultures are not retarded or inferior, notwithstanding attempts to relegate them to a semi-evolved category or to confuse them with hordes of savages. At the apogee of the Islamic tradition, to cite one example, they coexisted with the magnificence and progress of the great cities without any kind of interference, but rather in complementarity, which is easy to corroborate if we remember that Islam is actually the religion of the desert.
This cultural modality still subsists today, and the peoples who live it still practice their traditions. They carry them out in perpetual watch for the dangers and of the road, in ritual repetition day after day, in their laws, usages, and customs, and in the knowledge transmitted to them through initiation into the cosmogonic mysteries-just as in any sedentary society-and expressed in their symbols and cultural manifestations. By contrast with sedentary societies, however, owing to the proper characteristics of their wanderings, these groups are less conditioned, and experience movement and time more directly. And on the plain-the space they generally traverse-whose landscape is the immensity of the firmament, their communication with the sky, the stars, and their surroundings is much larger than that of the city-dwellers. Their integration with nature, as an image of the supernatural, is undeniable, as they depend on its cycles and modalities in order to subsist: they tend to be gatherers, or hunters, or herders, or fishers. Another thing that is forgotten is that the majority of the peoples who are called nomads are actually seminomads: their temporary-if at times prolonged-installation in particular places resulted in their engaging in agriculture, where possible, or in their periodical return to certain locales.3 This is the case with numerous Precolumbian cultures, to whom ignorance is attributed regarding the alleged advantages of the crystallization, solidification, and sclerosis of sedentary or urban forms of society. But to nomads these forms seem necessarily rigid from the standpoint of nomadic freedom of movement, that reflection of a primordial state.
Nor is it usually recalled that, for the Greeks, the presence of classical sculpture, as a model of rhythm, harmony, and perfection-that is, as an expression of Beauty, attribute of the gods-was direct heir of the rough stone, a natural expression and testimonial of the divine energy. In fact, the polished statue represented an indirect form of sacred presence, now manifested under the tinsel of form and the always relative esthetic appreciation-although the artists desired to make the stone itself speak, sought to reveal it in its intimacy. The nomadic peoples, or wanderers, are in everlasting contact with the sky, and so have need of few intermediary images. Their relation with the celestial has never been called into question: in no way, then, are they inferior to sedentary peoples, nor ought they to be regarded as an embryonic stage of the latter.
As to the historical origin of the Precolumbian peoples, modern science has erected this question into a matter of such towering importance that any evaluation bearing on these civilizations has been framed under this perspective. This has been an obstacle both to a contemplation of the unity of the native traditions-in all the specificity of their cultural expressions-and to an appreciation of the greatness of their civilizations. This attitude persists to our very day, so that the "discoverers", conquerors, and colonizers have always believed and taught that the enlightenment of these societies begins with their intervention or arrival. They fail to grasp that the thought they represent has its roots in their sense of being the owners of history, which they have institutionalized, and which they think is a branch of the deity "science," the only true thing. And they believe in official history, of which they are the representatives: before the invention of this discipline, there was no chronology, and therefore no life, as they imagine.4
From the viewpoint of the Indians, who have always inhabited the continent by the millions, and who continue to mark their time, their life, and their name by other practices, the "discovery" has always been simply a matter of an intrusion, an occupation imposed on the basis of lies and violence, into which they have never been authentically integrated, by reason of the profane characteristics of that intrusion.
At the same time, the fact that the Renaissance Europeans are said to have discovered America confronts us with the question: In the presence of what, or whom? And here we face once more the same mistaken viewpoint as before. That is, history-the history of the West, of course-is taken as a legal and scientific institution, absolutely veracious, an independent reality. This makes it the last instance of appeal, and places its findings beyond discussion. This entire invention must then deny the truth of whatever does not fall within the purview of its measurements; or else it is unknown to it and therefore nonexistent, in which case all of the American continent, with its cultures and civilizations, had not existed, because no account had been taken of it before the "discovery." Hence also the need to find an origin for that continent, an officialization, a classification, a need to label and legalize it in order to consume it, a need to make it digestible without its giving much annoyance, or too many surprises. As for the "discovery," it is only that from the same perspective-that is, the Western, historical perspective. After all, for one thing, such a "discovery" would be mutual, and for another, we know that these cultures forged links with one another as well as with other continents, across the seas, as has always been the case with all of the peoples of the world.
But without any doubt, the most lamentable prejudice of all is that of "progress"-associated to evolution, which has its expression in the "theories" that make the human being a descendant of the ape, and of other transformistic degenerations. The present author is not the first to assert that the Darwinian, "evolutionistic" theories constitute the earliest contribution to the literary genre known as science fiction, later perfected by Père Teilhard de Chardin. To be sure, we have no intention of insisting on these points, as they are of no direct concern to us. For our work, we have need only of the symbol in itself, and the universal ideas or principles that it manifests as it shapes cultures-although we are unwilling simply to omit to indicate these anomalies, with which any "scientific" view of the Precolumbian is colored.5
An across-the-board investigation of the ancient American panorama must take account of the fundamental elements of its cultural symbols, with the help of what today are called anthropology, ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, ethnobotany, economics, the social sciences, and of course astronomy, mathematics, architecture and art, and so on. All of these sources are synthesized, and originate, in a single reality: that of man, the human, such as the latter was appraised by the Precolumbians, and taken into account of the human from a traditional viewpoint, not under the perspective that we today bestow upon the personalized ownership of the human phenomenon. It is through traditional man and his symbols that we can approach this phenomenon, and can acknowledge ourselves as human beings in their wholeness. We achieve this by means of the understanding afforded by the via symbolica, which acts as a bolster and an orderly path to knowledge, as it reveals to us our (and the world's) identity and authentic extratemporal origin.
Generally speaking, a person of average information will have an idea of the Precolumbian that, in the best of cases, will be limited to recalling the names of a few mysterious peoples called Inca, Maya, and Aztec. But there were far more native cultures than these, as we have said-in the past, as well as subsisting today in remote, fragmented isolation. Aztecs and Incas alike were militarized peoples, forming two great empires, which at the moment of the Conquista had existed scarcely a few centuries. They were at the apogee of their military, organizational, and commercial power, having arrived at this condition owing to the generalized degradation of the peoples around them, which signaled their historical destiny. Actually, the strange Precolumbian world, seen as a whole, was experiencing an internal trauma at this moment-an interior fission that made the European conquest possible, and that had been unanimously prophesied by their priests, as is well-known in the case of Mexico and Peru (but also occurred in the Antilles, Brazil, in North America before the arrival of Capitán Coronado, and so on). And although these two empires dominated a great part of the continent, it is also true that this part was very far from being the totality. At the same time, the empires accorded great freedom when it came to the beliefs of each particular people whom they had subjected to tribute: local deities apart, the doctrinal base, the conception of the world, and the manner in which this conception was symbolized was essentially the same. Indeed, the traditions and cognitions that these peoples had made their own derived from a common origin-although, concretely in the case of these two empires, the early Aztecs and Incas had taken all of these things from the more developed (and now decadent) cultures of their wise forebears and the neighbors that they had now subjected to their imperial regime.
We might imagine a huge motion picture, shot at the altitude necessary to include the entire American continent. The larger image remains frozen, the camera fixed, and thus we observe the movements occurring on the continent in 1492, a few days before the arrival of the Spaniards. We behold something like a rhythmic dance of harmonious, coordinated gestures, a bubbling beehive of activity, charged with life.6 It is estimated that more than one hundred million persons lived in America at that time, organized in thousands of independent centers and sub-centers. Only in Mexico and the United States a mere hundred groups of distinct languages were spoken. Then we see a grand diversity of usages and customs, ceremonies, festivals, and local dress and beliefs, along with very different racial characteristics. Climate, geography, and geographically determined fauna and flora occasioned countless particularities among these peoples-particularities, consequently, that manifested themselves in most varied ways, surprising and delighting us with the wealth of their content and forms (which distinguish and mark them off from one another).
All of this variety rests on a common foundation, in an invisible structure, which is what bestows unity on the whole (and at the same time differentiates it from the Old World)-a unity manifested through these peoples' symbols and myths, and expressed in their cosmogonies, theogonies, beliefs, and cultural modes. Indeed, were we to bring our great motion-picture camera down so that it could be focused on any given point of the American map, we should find there a cultural nucleus in full activity. Then, were we to study that nucleus in its essence, it would reveal a structure, a series of symbols, perfectly homologous and cohesive with that of any other nucleus that we might wish, or be able, to study. True, this is due in large part to the fact that archetypal structures are always the same, in every time and place. But it is even more due to the fact-and this is what interests us here, since it constitutes one of the reasons for writing this book-that Precolumbian symbols form a series of specific, typically ancient American, modules, which may well shape the most vast expression of all traditional cosmogonic knowledge.
It could seem, under a superficial light, that a treatment of the symbol in its raw essence, in its naked synthesis, would deprive it of a great part of its manifold splendor, of its attractive coloration. But a more pacific regard would give us to understand that it is thanks to knowledge of the symbol and symbolic schemata that we are able not only to understand the essence and thought of these civilizations and cultures, but to really taste-savor, we might say-and admire the immensity, wealth, harmony, majesty, and originality of the most varied Precolumbian forms, which mirror those of the entire world.
Let us bring out some of the values of the Precolumbian Tradition that, for various reasons, are not generally known. It will be to our purpose to continue to underscore certain esoteric aspects of Ancient America, given the scant importance that official science ascribes to the traditional symbols of various cultures, even though they constitute the language of the civilizations that preceded us, from which, like it or not, modern man has received all. And yet these moderns have undertaken haphazardly to squander this inheritance, so that they are now faced with the irreversibility of their acts.
Let us begin with some data on different aspects of the American Indians, from the Eskimos to the natives of Tierra del Fuego; from the arctic to the antarctic through the tropics and the equinoctial line. If we begin with the Eskimos, we meet a people who, despite having habits directly related to their climate and environment, possess many traits in common with the cultures that begin to extend toward the south. They even utilize elements found in other American cultures, for example, the spear-thrower is wielded in regions as distant as Paraguay and Brazil, as well as practically throughout native America. Likewise there have been headhunters (where the head is a trophy), a characteristic of peoples all over the continent, although they are found in other traditions as well. Eskimos carry their infants on their backs in "bundles," a custom that will be found everywhere to the south and is still common in countries of indigenous ancestry. But especially, the Eskimos constitute an example, a model, of what will be found everywhere among the native Americans. We refer especially to the fact that this culture, of itself alone, forms a very wealthy world, and therefore an immense field of work, just as do the other peoples more to the south, which, on a similar symbolical and cultural foundation or basis, have their own characteristics, and a complex individual physiognomy. The Eskimos themselves belong to various distinct tribes that, for centuries, and in continuous movement, have populated not only Alaska, but the entire arctic.
Looking a bit further down the map, we find the Indians that today inhabit Canada and the United States-countless peoples, in former times, who spoke different languages and had different social organizations, dwellings, usages, and customs, which identified them as nations. Many of them resembled one another very closely, usually by reason of physical proximity or a shared ecological area. But others had very dissimilar characteristics, beginning with their languages; and yet there are cases in which societies very distant from one another had common particularities, including related languages. Ancient America as a whole gives the impression of a great mother Tradition that gradually splits up into families of nations, which in turn underwent various evolutions, internal changes, and outside influences. All of these tribes, at the moment of the discovery, were, besides, warlike societies, struggling with one another, year after year, the length and breadth of the continent. This, be it observed in passing, facilitated the Conquista of the Europeans, who learned of these characteristics and turned it to their advantage by striking alliances against third parties.
We should like to emphasize once more that, despite this multitude of forms, and explosion of colors, in which Precolumbian America manifested itself, the symbols in which it expressed its knowledge are mutually analogous, and unanimously refer to the same prototypal cosmogony. This holds for those natives that were nomads, gatherers, hunters, semi-nomads with an incipient agriculture, and even city dwellers (living in a state or empire). In today's United States or Canada, the nomads and semi-nomads prevailed, divided into altogether distinct realms with geographical and climatic diversity. Nevertheless, these cultures are no whit inferior to the sedentary, and require very few elements (although their combinations are subtle and delicate) in order to set in mutual relationship the necessary elements for an understanding of the world and for living in it harmoniously. They achieve this by virtue of the synthetic, many-faceted, and magical archaic thought, which, through analogies, constantly ties the signals and signs of visible manifestation to the invisible energies and deities that perpetually express themselves by way of natural beings and phenomena.
The smaller city, or the city-state, is a more sophisticated step, and employs a series of refined elements in order to develop, assist, and complement the cosmogonic knowledge originally expressed. Another, even greater, step is that of the large city, exponent of a civilization, which is a center of cultural radiation that may extend for great distances. Here the splendor of a civilization is well known, and is at its apogee, which nevertheless is the beginning of its end. As in the solar cycle, the moment when a star reaches its highest point is the moment at which it must decline. This is valid for any vital cycle, and any organism, whether it be the human individual or the social cycle. Cultures, too, then, are born, develop, mature, and die, and the civilizations that have preceded us have been subject to this law just as we ourselves are. This is due to an ankylosis suffered by the cultural structures, terminating with their end in historical time. This ankylosis, hardening, or solidification becomes evident in constructive symbolism, in which we see that the nomads and semi-nomads, once become sedentary, have exchanged their tents of rawhide for houses of wood, and finally have arrived at buildings of stone.7
The first city-states begin to be observed in the South of the United States, and thereupon, alternating with the empire cities, or large cities, extend throughout the continent, to the North of Argentina and Chile. Starting there, one encounters nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples and tribes.
Regarding these cities or civilizations, let us point out that it must have been clear to the Europeans, even from a profane viewpoint, what order, harmony, and undeniable wealth many of their cultural creations evinced, beginning with the simplest and most evident, and culminating in the complex ceremonies in correlation with their pantheon, and their sophisticated, splendid courts. All of this was especially evident in the figure of the king-his palace, his dress, his behavior, his symbols of sovereignty, his court, and so forth. We are struck, then, by the scant interest evinced by the invaders in the peculiarities of the vanquished, although a simple soldier could see that there was an order here, an urbanity.
Among the most important American civilizations, we must indicate, by reason of the structures and creations that survived them, those of Mesoamerica: from north to south those of Mexico's central valley, beginning with Teotihuacán and followed by Monte Albán and the Mayan cities. It is clear from the outset, however, that this classification is general in the extreme, and prescinds from whole cultures that have been studied in our day by Archaeology and Anthropology alike. Resuming our survey, we observe that, in South America, great ceremonial and urban centers appear in Peru and Bolivia, surely many of them pre-Incan. There remain other cities and centers to be discovered, and we must recall that most of the known ruins have been excavated and studied only in this century. In order to gather a notion of the magnitude of these civilizations, or great centers, we need only consider that more than twenty of them existed in the Mayan area alone, even though, at the arrival of the Spaniards in this area, some five centuries had passed since the brilliant age today called classical. Each of these Precolumbian peoples was very numerous. Tenochtitlan, for example, the Aztec capital described with admiration by the chroniclers who came to know it, counted some 300,000 inhabitants. The population was not this dense in all of the centers, of course, but let us recall that hundreds of tribes and realms extended throughout the length and breadth of the American continent. On the other hand, this population dropped to less than half during the first years of the Conquista. Diseases (smallpox, measles and so on), wars, mistreatment, and even wild dogs, along with collective suicide out of desperation and sadness, destroyed the Indians in great numbers, in tandem with the adulteration of their beliefs and institutions.
We should like to point out that there is an enormous mass of information available on the Precolumbian vision of the cosmos and theogony, as well as on Precolumbian usages and customs, social, political, and economic organization, history, languages, ethnic types, and all such specifications of the ancient American cultures. This information is available in codices, or native writings, as well as in the work of the Spanish chroniclers of the Indies (who created a genre in Spanish literature), historical documents, travelers' reports, and the labors of anthropologists, archaeologists, and researchers generally. This facilitates scholars' search, especially scholars interested in symbols as vehicles of the coded knowledge of the great traditions, as well as in means to penetrate their secrets. The satisfaction of a like interest will presuppose a mind and spirit in its subjects untrammeled by prejudice, if not a complete reform of their mentality, which will have been stamped and corrupted by the conditioning imposed on it by the exclusively material, narrowly limited criteria of contemporary ignorance.
These symbols are found everywhere, in every element of the Precolumbian culture, and are expressed in all human activities: for example, in that culture's pictographic, ideogrammatic, and hieroglyphic writing, some of it with phonetic elements. Again, we find them in its mythical histories (in the Popol Vuh, for example), which were acted out in ritual fashion by huge masses of actors, dancers, singers, reciters, musicians, adorned in ceremonial garments and paintings, enfleshing the energy of various spirits and numina, presenting their cosmogony in theatrical form in a sacred geographical space. This space was a mirror of the city of the beyond, of heaven, where these histories and their exact, precise movements-changeable only with the various choreographies and stage presentations established in their calendar of festivals-were continually repeated, in order that the life of man and the cosmos might be possible. Imagine what power, and what degree of refinement, a people must have had who would constantly reiterate, ritually, their cosmogony and their mythic, and exemplary symbolical, history, daily incarnating these in ceremonies of this nature all the days of the months of the year, and all of the years of their lives.
But where their symbols become most clear, in that they are numerical, and refer to space-time, is in the Mesoamerican calendars. These astronomical and astrological mechanisms, whose basis is mathematical, and which are founded on the cyclical and rhythmical nature of reality, established the guidelines of the entire culture. They marked individual and group existence, since the being itself, and its name, were determined in function of the cosmic periods identified as deities. This extraordinary invention-in which space and time harmonized, by way of continuous movement, space and time with the stars, the colors, the scents, diseases, the animals and vegetables, stones, human constructions, the various gods, natural phenomena, agriculture, war and peace, prophecies, and everything imaginable-is of a perfect harmony, especially when one considers that its reading is multidimensional, and that the various levels on which this admirable construction, mirror and model of the universe, manifests itself are indissolubly fused, without confusion, by way of analogies, absolutely in correspondence with the very nature of beings, phenomena, and things.
These calendars were the most perfect expression of the vision of the cosmos of these peoples, and on their basis they structured their civilizations. Again, it was these calendars that marked the ritual festivities and all individual activity, and represented the magic of a cosmogony in perpetual re-creation, just as did the great ceremonies of mythical representation mentioned above. May we be permitted to recall once more that all Precolumbian cultural structures, including social organization, are derived from its own cosmogony.
It is curious to observe how the same vision of the world can take on so many different details and distinct nuances, as is the case with the many indigenous nations. Of one common matrix, different children are sprung, who are individually distinct. Cultures, civilizations, or empires, seemingly so different, as the Aztec and the Incan, reveal, by way of their numerical symbols, by way of those of space-time, by way of their myths and ritual conceptions, a common origin. The essential, central, or absolute aspects of these cultures are identical; only the substantial, the peripheral, and the relative vary. The latter take different forms, and even lead to contrary practices; yet, they manifest the same thing. Let us emphasize that this is precisely what occurs in the case of the various expressions of the Perennial Philosophy. From a common origin, that is, out of a Unanimous Tradition-which in the last instance is atemporal and nonspatial, being archetypal-derive the various shapes and colors of their particular manifestations, in this case cultures and civilizations, many of them still practically unknown. The cultures and civilizations created by the red man fall into this category, and we wish to offer a picture of these as an invitation to study them. The purpose of such a study would be the knowledge, by way of the investigation and genuine grasp of their symbolic codes, of the structure of the universe-their cosmovision, which is, besides, the prototypal expression of a Traditional or Archaic society. Actually, to really know the archetypal cosmogony is to be one with it, which is to establish ontology as a basis for an authentic metaphysics, and this means simply receiving the legacy of antiquity-which is perfectly valid for any circumstance of time and place, and accordingly, for ours.
|1||For example, if we study the Indians of the United States and Canada, we find that they constitute, just by themselves, a genuine and extremely vast sociocultural complex-a world that, although still alive in many cases until a few centuries ago, has today been practically eliminated, especially if we consider the total invasion of the communications media, which sooner or later destroys, changes, and imposes uniformity upon, the little that still remains of the autochthonous societies and their values.|
|2||The empire arises at a society's crowning moment, and paradoxically marks its inexorable decline.|
|3||There is confusion, besides, between peoples who have long wandered and lived as nomads for symbolic-sacred reasons (which they make the constitution of their culture and their social unity)-and this is the case with a good many Precolumbian peoples-and on the other hand, simple hordes of gatherers in a semi-savage or "primitive" state. Perhaps it is with the Aztecs that this unjust error is most notoriously committed, to be dissipated immediately when we attend to the memorials of their peregrinations-whose documentation we have-presided over and ordained by a god, by a chief priest, and by an executive council of sages. At the same time, the constant mobility of the Precolumbian peoples, throughout history and over the length and breadth of geography, should be pointed out. It is very interesting to see the similarities and identities among societies widely separated geographically-which must have been closely united, or have been one, in distant times.|
|4||No one wonders where other cultures and civilizations have come from so earnestly as in the case of the pre-Hispanics. The explanation is that, for antiquity and the Renaissance, those other cultures were more or less geographically situated and, accordingly, "already were." Inasmuch as there "was no" America, its inhabitants must have been, as it were, spurious "additions" rather than "original"-perhaps something of another nature, to which one's own ignorance was transferred. This is not to deny, in any way, the fact of successive migrations from other points of the earth, particularly such migrations as occurred in a past far removed from our historical time. Edmundo O'Gorman, in his La Invención de América (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1977), demonstrates that the "discovery" of America is rather the "invention" of America. We, for our own part, would like to add that the "discovery," far from being an irrefutable historical "reality" in the sense imagined today, was, in terms of the Old World's mentality, the "idea" of a discovery, since the New Continent had no place in the geographical description maintained by European thought at the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth. On the other hand, the geological and archaeological "proofs" of the youth of the New World were not yet known at that time.|
|5||When we refer to symbol, let it be clear that we mean both graphic or visual expressions, and myths, legends, or dances, the study of language and of cosmogony, concepts of space, time, and number, agriculture, medicine, the rites of daily life, and so on.|
|6||It is interesting and important to observe that Mexico was invaded in 1519, and Peru twenty years later; the Indians of the United States, Argentina, and elsewhere constituted nations with their own ways of life until the past century; today the aboriginal cultures still subsist isolated in forests, deserts and mountain regions, in places where European culture has practically not arrived, for whatever time this may continue to be true.|
|7||The difference between the city-state and the city-empire, or better, the large city, is observable in architectonic terms in the pyramids, which were completed at the top with a small sacred enclosure. To the former correspond enclosures of wood and straw, to the second those of stone.|