Thursday, March 16, 2006


What strikes me most about this section of the Storyteller are the stories that Saul tells. Previously, I’ve read the origin tales that he tells as a Machiguenga storyteller, about the moon, the sun, the stars, and comets. My favorites have been the animal stories. Every since I’ve been little, I’ve love animal creation stories. Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories drew me in, and ever since, I’ve been reading folktales about how the leopard got its spots, or why the mosquito buzzes in people’s ears, or, in the case of the Storyteller, why hunters save a particular bird, and other such natural tales. It seems that with the chaos of the Machiguenga’s way of life in the jungle, any being of chaos in their tales is a being of evil. The dark god with his legion of demons cackles and dances in the jungle. Whereas in the myths of the Native American of North America, a trickster figure often takes on the role of folk hero, such as Coyote, Raven, or Rabbit, no such entity seems to exist in the Machiguenga stories. It seems that all beings have the capability to change and shapeshift into other creatures or objects, and perhaps the fluidity of the “Tasurinchi” identity lends itself to that. Because all things are effective the same, then each thing can easily become another.
Tales of transformation take a prominent role in the Machiguenga stories, so it is not surprising that Saul’s adaptations of tales of transformation fit the mold of Machiguenga tales. He adapts the tale of Gregor Samsa into a “bad trance” he has, but it is not until he actually uses the name “Gregor” that the story really clicked in my head and became recognizable. However, elements of the Machiguenga tale style remained present in the story. The style, tone, and structure remained Machiguenga, until the original idea and name “Gregor” were the only tip-offs.

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