Friday, January 27, 2012

When I was around 10 or 11 years old my family took a vacation to Cancun Mexico and we visited the Mayan Temple Chichen Itza. I was just excited to get to ride on an airplane for the first time, and to go to the beach. However I have a feeling if I returned there today I'd have a different reverence for the whole experience. After looking back on the entire aesthetic experience there I can definitely describe Chichen Itza as sublime. We went there during the spring equinox, a popular time for tourists to visit the area because when the dramatic lighting hits the side of the temple just so, you see a shadow of a serpent going up and down the sides of the temple. It definitely evokes feelings of magnitude, and then... you climb it. I remember counting 96 stairs to the top of this temple, but I may actually be remembering complaining and exaggerating as a 10 year old kid. So who knows how many steps there really are. The temple wasn't the only thing we saw that was a bit awe inspiring. Surrounding the temple are ball courts that were used to play some mesoamerican ball game, although I couldn't find any picutres depicting the courts with actual skulls (and the pictures in this blog were certianly not taken by me) our guide explained to us that the winner of these games would be beheaded, and his skull was added to the foundation of the court. A pretty crazy thing to be told when you're ten.

1 comment:

  1. I think an interesting question would be whether - after knowing the grisly events that took place on that altar - one could have an aesthetic experience of this place. I mean, before knowing about Aztec culture they certainly be admired for their skill and even pleasingness in their symmetry. However, I cannot help but imagine the emotional effect of watching the light filter past that enormous temple with the pounding music and smells of rich dirt. Is there a perverse aesthetic in this (or a perversion of the sacred), those human skulls representing the transfer of life from man to feeding god?