My favorite things Peruvian

My list will not be so informed as one of Tyler’s but I was pleasantly surprised to find that with a little thought I could come up with some credible items.

Literature: Mario Vargas Llosa – an easy pick.  The War of the End of the World is his masterpiece – an epic in the style of Hugo and Tolstoy, filled with religion, fanaticism, obsession and violence.  If Vargas Llosa were a leftist he would have won the Nobel by now but he is a classical liberal.  For lighter reading try Aunt Julia and the ScriptWriter or his tale of running for the Peruvian presidency, A Fish in the Water.

Movie: Motorcycle Diaries has some great shots of Machu Picchu and is not without interest but even if it didn’t romanticize an authoritarian it is too slow and unsophisticated to be a great film.  Thus, I am going to cheat a little and go with Touching the Void which takes place in the Peruvian Andes.  As I wrote earlier it is "a harrowing, awe-inspiring, true-story of two climbers made into a great movie/documentary. Aside from the sheer entertainment value, very sheer in this case, the move has a lot to say about the diversity of preferences, the will to survive and believe it or not, how to achieve goals."

Music: Susana Baca, the best of black Peruvian music.  Once nearly lost, this music is now popular in Peru and is earnings worldwide recognition, in part due to the promotional efforts of David Byrne and his LuAka Bop label.

Art: I confess to liking the amazing sex pots (nsfw) of the Moche.  Produced some 1500 years ago by the Moche civilization these erotic ceramics depict all manner of sexual act including oral sex, anal sex, threesomes, homosexuality and more – a real sextravaganza.  Many were destroyed when the Spanish inquisition came to Peru.  Others were hidden away in the basement of museums as objects not fit to be shown or even acknowledged. 

Alfred Kinsey introduced the sex pots to the West in 1954 writing that the Moche artifacts were "the most frank and detailed document of sexual customs ever left by an ancient people.”  Hilariously, quite a few archaeologists at the time argued that the pots were symbolic warnings about what not to do!

Aside from prurient interest, I think the pottery is a fascinating demonstration of how variable are society’s sexual conventions yet how immutable is human nature – tell me, for example, that this guy ain’t proud!


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