Divine Echoplex 2

The temple of Kukulcán – the Mayan name for Quetzalcoatl – at Chichén Itzá. While ‘quetzal’ supplies the god’s feathers, ‘coatl’ doesn’t just mean ‘snake’ but also its twinning. So, both plumed serpent and ‘quetzal doubled’ – i.e., mirrored, echoed. When I visited Kukulcán in 2009, a local showed me a wonderful thing. By clapping your hands at a certain distance, the pyramid produces an echo: the sound of a quetzal chirping. This paleoacoustic effect – a birdsong recorded in stone – was engineered, just as deliberately as the snake of light that slithers down the north staircase at equinoxes.

A sample.

From echoes to reflections; as above, so below: Tezcatlipoca – “Smoking Mirror”, the divine antagonist; jaguar-cloaked god of the night wind, of discord and autocracy, beauty and sacrifice, divination, temptation, sorcery – brought about the fall of Quetzalcoatl through the use of magical obsidian mirrors. And where did the dawn god fly in defeat? Into what black waters? The gulf of space? The Gulf of Mexico? Ignatius Donnelly fancifully leapt from a Mayan epithet (“Old Serpent covered with green feathers, who lies in the ocean”) to Mu – Atlantis.

Self-portrait in John Dee’s Aztec mirror

In the endnote of his “Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan”, Robert Smithson suggests it might instead have meant the Sargasso Sea. A beautiful idea – the long plumage of a drowned god swaying as sargassum (especially knowing eels in the western hemisphere all begin their mysterious life cycle in the Sargasso Sea before dispersing on oceanic currents; as if the gorgon’s mane, flung into the deep, were to multiply and infect the world waters).

I want to footnote Smithson’s endnote thus: Gitmo SEALs have beer lore about a sunken city – with pyramids – somewhere in the vicinity of Cuba. In 2014, before diving 2000+ feet into the Caribbean in a homebrew sub with Karl Stanley, the guy who built it, knowing he’d begun his career as the Han Solo of submariners by prowling the seafloor around the Cuban archipelago for things to sell to the Smithsonian, I asked if he had caught sight of that diluvial city. He very pointedly refused to answer my question.

Detail of Robert Smithson’s Map of Broken Glass (Atlantis)

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One Response to “Divine Echoplex 2”

  1. Reflektor | Chamblissian Says:

    […] I have written here previously, Tezcatlipoca – “Smoking Mirror”, the divine antagonist; jaguar-cloaked god of the night […]

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