Carlos Monsiváis is known for his witty and knowledgeable research into the diverse and complex realities of Mexican culture: what we know as popular culture and "high culture". In this volume, the author, with his usual humor and knowledge, breaks down various rituals of the city of Mexico and Mexican society in general: religious, bourgeois, mercantile, musical, and immediate rituals; clubs and basilicas, stadiums and coliseums, malls and stalls, bars and statues and is interested in idols of Mexicans like El Santo and Julio César Chávez. As if that were not enough, Monsiváis offers an essay full of details of the ritual of collecting.
Just like the Isar enters Munich bringing along some wilderness from the Alps, millions of rural refugees filled Mexico City with their hopes, smells, colors and rituals.
The ensuing chaos was so busy, odd and vibrant, it was challenging to take a step back and reflect. Enter the tale of the two Carlos:
Carlos Fuentes was adored, Carlos Monsiváis was loved. The main difference? Monsiváis loved the city back - just the way it was - with all its grit, promise and inadequacies. In „Rituals of Chaos“ Monsiváis felt that even the masses create culture. Not just the high-brow poets, or politicians busy building a nation. Mexico the real, not the aspiration.
Where „La region más transparente“ - Fuentes Masterpiece describing Mexico City - used stylistics like stream of consciousness, Monsiváis expressed empathy:
For the „La virgen de Guadalupe“ just as much as for „El Santo- a „lucha libre“ star “. In Clubs and churches, stadiums and plazas - patterns and puzzlement.
Go see what traits you can divine from the masses and places - how about San Judas Tadeo (Templo de San Hipólito). The holy figure local thugs turn to every 28th of the month. Monsiváis would have loved that cultural empowerment by the lowly Mexico City - the whole enchilada.