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The Conquests Of Latin America: Elements That Played A Role

2136 words - 9 pages

The destruction of entire people is often overlooked, due to the important fact that it is usually the victor that writes the history books and the facts to be. In Alex Nava’s Wonder and Exile, in the New World adventurers of many backgrounds such as Cabeza de Vaca and Bartolome Las Casas, help to develop three important concepts within the cultural, religious, and literary representations of modern day Latin America. Over a span of 500 years Nava’s three concepts of wonder, exile, and deprivation are shown to have an importance in the shape and further development of the Americas and its Native peoples.
The first chapter focusses heavily on the different concepts of wonder and the mysteries that surround such a notion. Wonder itself is not simply something for one culture, or one individual rather it is a universal concept that is observed in many different ways. In fact, Nava hints early in the chapter that wonder can actually be used as a type of communication, “wonder is always a form of communication, but it reaches for what is unsayable over what can be said” (pg. 13). In fact, Nava even mentions that wonder can go beyond being just a form of communication as well, “It is an experience...something so novel and strange that it overwhelms and dazzles the most familiar categories of human knowledge and understanding” (pg. 13). These conceptions of wonder are not something new to the human race. Rather it has been studied for hundreds of years, probably most notably by Descartes of the enlightenment era. Descartes had different views on the concept of wonder and proclaimed that wonder can be fearful as well as delightful and that it, “prevents or perverts the use of reason and thwarts the acquisition of knowledge” (pg. 14). This negative type of stance on wonder taken by Descartes seems to undermine those such as Nava and Jean-Luc Marion’s, a philosopher, thoughts about the excitement of wonder and what new perceptions it can bring. Yet, Marion is able to use a number of examples that show that in every process that Descartes took to come to such a conclusion that wonder is somewhat fool hearty, was caused by his own interest in wonder itself. So Descartes in theory owes his conclusion about wonder, as well as many of his other hypothesis and ideologies to wonder. Nava’s chapter continues by showing the relationship that humans have with religious principles built upon the foundation of wonder. Stemming from the building block of wonder is faith. Entire religious notions depend strongly upon faith in order to establish doctrines of different meanings. Nava argues that those who believe so powerfully in such mystical theologies, have an “a journey to the unfathomable that we affirm without saying anything” (pg. 17). Nava’s examples of early Jewish and Christian believers engaging in such practices as wondering in a desert for countless years shows that faith, through wonder is powerful enough to compel people to do things that Descartes may...

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