RUIN AND BEAUTY

DEENA METZGER'S BLOG

The Chilean Miners – Ourselves

The Chilean miners.
Consciousness demands that each one of us descend into the dark. Myth calls us to descend alone and then emerge in our own ways, with the treasure, or transformed, and into a new life.

The miners have been trapped in the dark with each other. Others are digging the new shaft through which they will be raised up.

Before emergence, an explosion will occur, deliberately set. The miners are being called back to their old lives though they may never descend again.

Are we in a new myth? Has the old myth come to an end? Did we lose sight of the reason for descent? What is the treasure? Was it true? For whom was it sought?

What will we learn from the long, long dark with each other? What questions are we to ponder in the dark, then while emerging and afterwards in the light? And with each other? And, finally, alone?

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9 responses to “The Chilean Miners – Ourselves

  1. Laurie Markoff October 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    On Saturday, my friend Lindsa told me that when asked whether they minded the noise of the machines, a woman, wife of one of the miners replied “We do not mind the noise. We know that these are the cries the mother makes as she labors to birth the new men.” What I marveled at was her wisdom in understanding that the men who emerge will not be the same as the men who descended. As in a myth.
    It is also a synchronicity that here we are talking about myths. Last night my daughter called from college. We had the longest conversation we have ever had on the telephone. She wanted to talk about two classes she is taking. One class is on “Paradise Lost’ and “The Golden Compass”, two books based on the Adam and Eve myth, one written in the 17th century, the other my daugther’s favorite book in middle school. She told me that her professor encourages the class in a resistive reading of “Paradise Lost”, in which they find the places where Eve shows strength and can viewed as a heroine. My daugter finds this troublesome, because, despite these divergences, Eve is portrayed essentially as submissive and at fault, and for centuries this myth has supported the subjugation and demonization of women. A resistive reading of the text does not change that, and my daughter does not think the book should be valued as much as it is. But in the other class my daughter is taking, the question is posed “Can you (or perhaps, how can one) hold to your core values and still accept that someone else has entirely different values and that their point of view is valid as well? So she is struggling to accept that her professor is entitled to his point of view (which dominates the class while her minority position is allowed only a small voice). What I felt, after speaking with her, was delighted that at college the young people are talking about the myths we are living.
    What I am aware of in the story of the miners, is that, unlike the heroic myths, these men are facing the darkness, but they are doing it together, and with the support of many communities, including their loved ones, awaiting their return. Perhaps the treasure they will emerge with are their stories- Their stories of the details of how people can join together and care for one another when resources are limited and survival is uncertain.

  2. lindsa ruth vallee October 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Dear Deena………my husband of almost 30 years is chileno……is mother lives in santiago and is preparing for her 90th birthday later this month…….she became an artist in her 70′s……………i have travelled to chile many many times………the land…and the people are amazing…………we are reading all the we can about the miners and their families………and we receive chilean news by satellite every day……………the women on the newscast this weekend said that they love the sound of the digging machine because they feel it to be the sound of mother earth in labor getting ready to deliver 33 new men…………who have been fed by a narrow umbilical chord for weeks now………….down into her womb ……………so, yes, they are tapped naturally and deeply into the mythic story……………lindsa vallee

  3. Leah Shelleda October 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I believe the ancient myths of all cultures are templates.
    Remove the specific names, places, and each age uses the template even when the myths are unknown, along with the word “archetype”. The mothers of abducted daughters, for example, are always Demeter or her counterpart in other cultures. The miners descend but the treasure is not their own to keep. We must descend, by choice, not force. It is alone in the dark that we forge new tales.

  4. Sharon Simone October 11, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Miners
    by Sharon Simone

    All those women in kitchens at night haunt me.
    The ones making lunches and packing them
    into black metal boxes for their husbands.
    They slip leaves of lettuce, patted dry
    with cotton apron corners, between fat
    slices of wheat bread and German bologna
    slathered with plain yellow mustard.

    Next, they boil water and pour it,
    crystal as diamonds, into the cold metal interiors
    of thermos bottles to heat them up before coffee,
    perking dark and thick on the stove, is poured:
    sugared, creamed and sealed.

    No night is blacker than in the mines
    except for this one in the kitchen.
    As breath rises and falls in the bodies of these women,
    they consider the delicate pink lung tissue
    of their men clouding over with black flecks
    they will chip from coal veins and release into air
    a thousand feet deep in the earth.
    Snapping metal clips shut on the lunch boxes,
    they come to, as if the moment’s reverent prayer
    for tissue, bright and brisk with oxygen,
    can only be uttered with the involuntary movement
    of their own good air, in and out,
    in these simple kitchens.

    In the Smokies, in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
    and deep beneath the city of Pittsburg, good men
    like their fathers and grandfathers before them,
    set out each four A.M. with a single light
    fastened to their foreheads,
    down various village roads
    that all converge at the mouth of the mine.
    One by one they enter, then disappear down the shaft
    while their women, asleep now,
    dream of myriad sperm swimming fast and vigorously
    in their own dark caverns heading toward light.

    How must a man feel closed up like that?
    No rush of cool air brushing his cheek. No reminder
    that his own real body is not the mine’s, except
    for the coffee and sandwich he carries
    locked in his black pail. At some appointed hour,
    a whistle blows down there
    and each man backs himself up
    against his own rock wall of earth
    and gently releases the clips on his lunch box
    to feel the sudden and reliable whoosh deep
    in his chest—the prayer sent out. The dark hole breached.

  5. neighbor October 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Deena, your post and the replies that have followed are so moving. Not being too up to news-date, I hadn’t given it much thought, that the miners were there, were waiting, were to emerge – other than that the cursory sense of amazedness that they’d been found alive and were to be rescued… it hadn’t occurred to me to find meaning in it, I’m almost ashamed to say. But here I am reminded that it’s possible and perhaps more importantly, shown that even if this generic north american culture doesn’t seem myth-linked (or if the myths to which it’s linked are questionable and objectionable), others in the world haven’t forgotten their connections to myths that nourish.

    Thank you all – and thank you Sharon, that’s a powerful, deep (yes, appropriately so) poem.

  6. Deena Metzger October 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    “Science or superstition, Fortt said that Galeguillos and Lobos slowed their truck down so they could take a closer look at the curious white butterfly. That stopped them driving headlong into the rockfalls triggered by the initial, massive collapse.”

  7. Deena Metzger October 15, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Dear Lindsa:

    I was in Chile for ten weeks in 1972 before the golpe and that experience has figured in almost all my writing,novels, etc. since. It was one of the extraordinary times of my life. So it was not happenstance that my heart was taken by the mythic elements of the miner’s situation. And I am still pondering it. I was fortunate enough to have met some of the poets, poster makers, writers, visionaries around Allende and was undone, entirely, when the golpe occurred.
    A small group of people gathered in Los Angeles after the golpe and we made the first film about it — Chile: With Poems and Guns. The documentary took only two months to make and we tried to bring consciousness to the US about what was really happening in Chile – re torture, the stadium and Pinochet. Within weeks of the golpe, we knew what it took 10 years for the film Missing to make public.

    Chile figures most in my novel, Doors: A Ficion for Jazz Horn (Red Hen Press ) which I “co-wrote”with Julio Cortazar twenty years after his death. The book explains how this could occur … perhaps.

  8. laura October 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    beautiful description of descent.

    I wonder if they will be different?. Is it necessary to have consciousness of the descent and/or someone to greet you with the compassionate myth-opened ear on ascent for the meaning to be penetrating in one’s psyche?

    a friend of mine tracked women/wives/mothers searching for a mass grave (hidden) in that same desert; of their husbands who were killed in Chile .. they searched unstintingly for 25 years. Finally they took up the bones and buried their husbands and their quest.

    one thing that struck me as strongly as the mythic descent was the deep detailed concern for the men.. and also the unspoken reason they were mining.. into the earth.. for gold? if the men were not taken up with care would others continue to go down and do this work . What is the difference between the enforced journey into the dark to rape the earth and the holy mythic descent into the underworld. even if instigated by rape and ignorance. a literal story that could produce mythic awareness. and a myth that can liberate our literal lives. thinking outloud in an airplane in the sky in a plane cross ing the continent. xxx

  9. Deena Metzger October 25, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Thank you, Laura, for writing this. There is a mythic irony in writing about the miners from an airplane in the sky. I watched the miners ascend, fascinated and alarmed by what they would encounter in the middle world. They truly came into the harsh light of day of terrible scrutiny and observation, entirely exposed after being hidden for so long. If they had any opportunity to consult their souls underground, I expect they are living in exile now from such contemplation. If i were one of them, i would long for a remote cave far away enough to find silence again. The Kogi consider mining the first great injury to the earth. I think they see deeply into the implications of excavating the body of the mother. Love, D

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