Silvia Moreno-Garcia has been publishing fiction for a decade now, including half a dozen novels in the past five years. But her star rose dramatically this summer with the much-vaunted release of her latest novel, Mexican gothic. Since its publication four months ago, Mexican gothic sold well and earned its author praise and numerous accolades. As the title suggests, the novel is a hybrid of genres, fusing historical, literary, and cinematic motifs from its native land with classic horror tropes from countless Gothic texts in the English language.
But Mexican gothicThe complexity of the story even exceeds the duality indicated by its title. Moreno-Garcia reads deeply and widely; indeed, she first tip to aspiring writers, it is "[r]Read everything - non-fiction, fiction, memoir, news, pulp, obscure things, canon, and the obscure. If his novel skillfully plays with the expected montages of Gothic fashion, it also relies heavily on a distinct but parallel genre: the fairy tale. For me, it's precisely with a skillful balance between eerie Gothic and fairy-tale realms that makes Mexican gothic such a fascinating read, bringing out the tensions between fear and hope that inhabit the liminal boundaries of the two genres.
Mexican gothic doesn't begin in a fictional medieval past or the hazy fens of sensational Victorian novels, but in the tumultuous and colorful world of 1950s Mexico City. The protagonist, Noemí Taboada, is a twenty-two-year-old socialite who adores them. occasional flirtations with local boys but who really wants to start a graduate degree in anthropology. Her wealthy father reluctantly agrees, with one key caveat: Noemí must locate her cousin Catalina and confirm that she is safe. Catalina recently married Virgil Doyle, the dashing and mysterious scion of a transplanted British family who owned a now defunct silver mine.
This is how Noemí travels to High Place, Doyle's decaying estate. Here she finds Catalina in poor health, both physically and mentally, though the cause of her weariness and distress remains unclear. Noemí encounters more and more difficulty during her time at High Place as she seeks to navigate the complex family dynamics of the aggressive Virgil; her frail and casually racist father, Howard; and Howard's imperious niece, Florence. She finds a possible ally in Florence's pale son, Francis, who incurs his mother's wrath by helping her. It's no surprise that High Place is an environment haunted by secrets, secrets that Noemí must uncover if she is ever to be of any practical help to her sick cousin.
OFirstly, Mexican gothic is, indeed, a Gothic novel - shameless, ostentatious, gloriously. I learned about the book from Maureen Corrigan NPR reviews, in which she draws attention to several female Gothic backgrounds: Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Brontë, Daphné Du Maurier. Such observations are well founded; Moreno-Garcia even explicitly invokes Jane eyre and The Wuthering Heights. And other feminine gothic texts are also hidden at the margins, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's most obviously classic, "The Yellow Wallpaper", with its screenplay of a woman trapped by medically-minded men as she goes mad. in a sick mansion.
The characters of Moreno-Garcia cannot fully convince themselves that their world can truly be a fairytale kingdom. But neither can they be satisfied with a universe that is nothing but a bond of cosmic horror.But as soon as I heard Corrigan's summary, I knew there was another major branch of literary horror history that she did not have high: the strange fiction of HP Lovecraft and one of its own major precursors, William Hope Hodgson. Moreno-Garcia explicitly named Hodgson's classic horror story "The voice in the nightAs influence and even co-edited a horror anthology titled Mushrooms, inspired by his work (mushrooms feature heavily in Mexican gothic). She has also co-edited an anthology of Lovecraftian stories, She walks in the shadows (alternatively titled Daughters of Cthulhu), and named Lovecraft as a writer she would most like to meet.
This doesn't mean that she's oblivious to the tensions inherent in Lovecraft's work, her reputation increasingly ambivalent by growing unease with her well-known racism. Contemporary horror aficionados often grapple with the implications of his beliefs, in texts like Victor LaValle's The ballad of Black Tom or Matt Ruff's Lovecraft Country (now a acclaimed HBO series). As a woman of color herself, Moreno-Garcia often acknowledges Lovecraft's complicated legacy; It is no coincidence that the eugenic patriarch of the family of his novel bears the same name as Lovecraft (Howard). Noemí defends herself against the oppressive whiteness of her so-called hosts. As Corrigan's critique suggests, the inordinate power predatory men can wield over women is a major site of fear in this horror, as in so many Gothic tales that precede it.
But Lovecraft remains loved for a reason, and in his and Hodgson's strange fiction there is a fear that is both more philosophically existential and more visceral than the gendered fears of Radcliffe, Gilman, DuMaurier and the Brontës. This is cosmic the fear, the terror that humans exist alone in an indifferent or even downright hostile cosmos. It is a universal fear, which can afflict anyone (at least anyone living in our secular age); in fact, it is, I would say, the logical answer to a skeptical atheist worldview.
While Moreno-Garcia's novel is most evidently interested in the horrors inherent in male-female power dynamics, she indicates at various points that she is not unaware of the force behind cosmic terror. A key motivator for some characters stems from their desire to cheat on death, a desire born out of unspoken fear of the implications of death. No price becomes too high to pay to avoid the cessation of consciousness. Mexican gothicSociety's use of mushrooms also exploits this fear. Throughout Hodgson's body of work, mushrooms threaten to engulf his characters, rob them of their fundamental human identity, and transform them (as a scholar Kelly hurley noted) in ab-human "Things." While this horror helps motivate its villains, it haunts its heroes as well - perhaps not articulate, but hidden in the shadows around them.
BHorror stories aren't the only stories about protagonists who have to face their fears: it's also true of fairy tales. Like GK Chesterton observed (and Neil Gaiman a adapted), classic fairy tales assert the power of our fears but promise a hero to overcome them. Noemí's cousin is in love with fairy tales, although it gets her in trouble. Just as her Gothic readings may have led her to seek out a figure of Rochester in Virgil Doyle, her love of fairy tales may lead her to see a prince's palace in High Place. The most true märchen force their characters to undergo countless trials before their happiness forever, but Catalina seems to have self-censored this suffering and seeks to move on to the "end of the fairy tale."
Therefore, Mexican gothic sometimes seems to question the fairytale tale of reality. Obviously, on some level, he cheated on Catalina. The more pragmatic Noemí, on the other hand, is able to stay (for the most part) lucid in High Place's spooky surroundings - or at least struggle to regain lucidity. In its anthropological mindset, fairy tales are simply oral traditional constructs, by-products of culture rather than custodians of wisdom.
And yet, despite Noemí's skepticism, Mexican gothic is hardly a mere repudiation of the fairytale genre. If Catalina's excessively rosy appropriation of fairytale conventions blinds her from danger, the blindness is at least partly self-inflicted. She might thirst for love at first sight, as in Charles Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty"; but from Perrault's "Little Red Riding Hood" or "Bluebeard" she might have learned that men are appetizing predators. Dark paths wind through the dark woods of the land of the fairies, a realm of tribulation and testing. While gothic horror and fairy tale are separate genres, they are also adjacent, even overlapping in some opening twilight spaces. And Mexican gothic can be located in such a space.
If Christian fairy tale exhibitors like Chesterton are correct, many fairy tales point (obliquely or symbolically) to the triumph of the hero Christ and the wedding supper of the lamb. The prince and the princess, living happily ever after, typologically prefigure the eschaton. Against the modern "realism" which is located only in the mundane and unenchanted realm of our senses, fairy tales represent a greater and more transcendent realism. They telescoping time and space to remind us that, for us who are the bride of Christ, this tragic world culminates in a divine comedy.
Moreno-Garcia certainly never addresses such a triumph in his text. Often, images and language seem to subvert, even reverse, such a reading. The Doyles cultivate their own blasphemous parodies of sacramental rituals, from a gruesome wedding ceremony to a number of monstrous perversions of the Eucharist. A common refrain in High Place is the Latin text of John 1:14, "And Verbum caro factum is":" And the Word was made flesh. "
Yet this book is aptly titled Mexican gothicand popular wisdom and the Catholic liturgy are two key features of Mexican identity. Noemí is sometimes able to receive strength from her church rituals, however usual and underdeveloped they are. And allusions to fairy tales abound in the last few pages, sometimes comically appropriate but suggesting deeper applicability. Moreno-Garcia shows some reluctance to fully accept the cosmic authenticity of such accounts, commenting at one point that "he needed a story and she needed to tell one, so she has it. did until she didn't care if she was lying or telling the truth. "(300).
The characters of Moreno-Garcia cannot fully convince themselves that their world can truly be a fairytale kingdom. But neither can they be satisfied with a universe that is nothing but a bond of cosmic horror. The last existentialist moments therefore indicate a desire, a desperate desire that community storytelling can create relationships where we can support each other against the void. This is an inadequate answer, but it could be the start of a fruitful journey. Fairyland is a dark, if not horrible place, but follow the path to its farthest point, and you may spot a certain wedding feast, where the celebrants live truly happily ever after.
We all know that talking about others behind their back is bad. Gossip should be abhorred. I remember reading in a spiritual text that “backbiting extinguishes the light of the soul. ” DEEP. And it is.
Gossip is incredibly detrimental to any organization. And, what I think often gets missed is why people gossip. But, before we answer the question, “Why do people gossip at work ? ” let’s clear one thing up. I truly believe it is the introuvable person who chooses to gossip simply to be mean and hurt the reputation of the person or entity being talked about. Often gossip occurs for one of four reasons :
1 ) People fear the unknown. If people don’t have information that they want, they fear the unknown and will try to garner it from others – especially if that information appears to be hidden. This is why closed door conversations are so detrimental.
2 ) People want to belong and be included. If people believe they don’t have information that others have, they will feel excluded and on the outside of the “inner circle. ” Information is power. Everyone wants to be part of the team, to be included and the easiest way to identify those who are part of a tribe are those who are “in the know. ”
3 ) People crave intimacy and a sense of connection. I would suggest that because of the rampant pace we live at and the lack of real deal authentic communication with one another, many people crave a sense of genuine human connection and intimacy. Gossip is one of the quickest and easiest ways to connect with another human being. The secrecy, forbidden and exclusive nature of confiding in someone something that’s a bit subversive or judgmental is social super glue. Through the veneer of momentary vulnerability and trust, the two are bonded. Unfortunately gossip is a very sloppy second to real, meaningful connection.
4 ) People want to work with people they think of as peers. Meaning, if someone isn’t carrying their own weight, isn’t competent or capable enough to do their travail or simply isn’t a good culture fit, then there will be gossip. Rather than being a “narc, ” employees will talk both about said individual and leadership’s lack of awareness/action. And they will talk often. The longer said individual goes unaddressed, the louder and more embedded the gossip becomes.
When it comes to gossip, these four reasons : fear, belonging, intimacy and the desire to work with others who carry their own weight, are all things that can be handled with some focused time and attention.
How do you want your employees to talk about your company ? How do you want them to feel when they walk in the door ? While this touchy-feely stuff may make you feel a little light-headed, when it comes down to it, company culture matters.
Many business owners are taking a second look at their company culture to make sure it’s the one they envision – one that supports their company’s tâche, vision and values.
Insperity has spent the past 30 years building a human resources company committed to helping businesses succeed so communities prosper. In that vein, our leadership team offers these tips on having a great company culture.
You might think that trying to cultivate a positive workplace as an elusive, time-consuming waste of important resources, but studies show that the opposite is true. Creating a positive company culture begins with fostering happy employees.
Happy employees are 85 percent more efficient, experience a 60 percent drop in absenteeism and stay twice as long in their jobs as their less happy colleagues, creating a measurable effet on engagement, retention, safety, wellness, employer brand and even cost control goals, according to the study, The Science of Happiness, conducted by Globoforce.
Happiness is a habit that needs to be modeled. As a directeur or leader, your demeanor and attitude in the office has an effet on your employees. When you demonstrate happiness you’re training your employees to follow suit.
Get in the habit of being grateful and showing gratitude for what you have. It can be a small thing – I am thankful for this cup of coffee, for the sun coming out today. When you make an effort to find things to be grateful for, you’re training your brain to be on the watch for more of what is good in your world. By making gratitude a habit, you will set the example for others and create a positive work environment. Focus on the positive when interacting with your employees. Point out their accomplishments and abilities. Remind them that they are a positive force within your company and that they have much to offer. This is a powerful motivation tool and it will help to create a “can-do” attitude in your workforce.
As a leader you’re influential – your opinion matters, especially to your employees. Make it a goal to compliment people. Recognizing even small accomplishments and praising your team members in meetings or in an mail can make a big impact. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture.
We all know that sometimes work can get monotonous and overwhelming. Say for example that Mike is feeling a bit underappreciated and is frustrated with his current project. He comes to a meeting feeling defeated and unmotivated. Then you, as his manager, compliment his efforts and praise him for a travail well done. The effet is immediate – he feels valued. His demeanor changes, he becomes engaged and leaves the meeting with a newfound energy to tackle his project.
People need to have a sense of purpose at work. Their happiness is directly connected to knowing that they make a difference. It’s not enough for a directeur to dole out tasks. Take the time to explain why the individual task is important to the company as a whole. This will give your employees a sense of purpose and belonging that will motivate them to strive for more. Engaged employees are efficient, enthusiastic and are willing to do what it takes to help your organization succeed. Creating a sense of purpose for your employees is an investment in developing a positive workplace.