An encounter of psychoclasses
Julian Jaynes wrote:
I have endeavored in these two chapters to examine the record of a huge time span to reveal the plausibility that man and his early civilizations had a profoundly different mentality from our own, that in fact men an women were not conscious as we are, were not responsible for their actions, and therefore cannot be given credit or blame for anything that was done over these vast millennia of time.
In his book Jaynes complains that the translators of the texts of the Ancient World color their translations with abstract words absolutely incompressible for the bicameral mentality of other times. Personally, once I realized that psychoclasses exist, the Hollywood movies that retroproject our modern psyche onto epic adventures of the historical past look rather silly, as if man had always been the same.
The indigenistas talk wonders of the Mexica herbalist medicine in spite of the fact that it was impregnated with paleologic thinking. Most of the cures were oriented to expel the evil spirits. If the ailment was “the cold disease,” offerings were performed on the particular mount that aroused special devotion. The diagnosis did not rely on empirical observation, but on divination; and if a god had sent the disease offerings to that deity had to be performed. As Silvano Arieti wrote, his schizophrenic patients interpreted everything that occurred as wished by external agents. Far more disturbing was the propensity of Mesoamericans to perform trepanations to let the evil spirits go. The record of this practice on trepanated skulls is an Indian skull with five large holes.
Most interesting is the first act coming from a frightened Moctezuma when learning about the arriving of strangers: he dispatched a delegation offering fresh human flesh to them. When the Spaniards still were in the Veracruz shore, Moctezuma’s representatives visited Cortés; killed the captives they had brought with them, and began to prepare their bodies for a cannibal feast. The Spanish did not believe what they had before their eyes. “When they saw it, it made them feel sick, they spit out, they rubbed their eyes,” wrote Bernal Díaz. It is true that in a disobedient plot Cortés ordered to cut the feet’s fingers of the pilot Gonzalo de Umbría. The Spanish captain was capable of attacking a village of unarmed Tlaxcallans and commiting a massacre, as well as amputating the right hands of the Indian spies. He ordered the killing of defenseless men, women and children during the siege of Tenochtitlan, “one of the most shameful scenes that the life of that man registers,” wrote his biographer Salvador de Madariaga. It is also true that he ordered that Qualpopoca and his sons be burned alive for having killed a rearguard of Spaniards. He even ordered the hanging of two of his own, and in another plot where he feared for his life he hanged Cuauhtémoc himself. But Cortés did not indulge himself in self-harming practices. Nor did he sacrifice children. Compared to the Amerindians, the rustic soldiers belonged to a completely new dimension of the evolution of the human psyche, as distinct from the infanticidal psychoclass as a butterfly from the worm.
Those who, through history and prehistory, have belonged to the infanticidal psychoclass invariably get schizophrenized: be Indians, Caucasians, Africans or Orientals. A noise coming from Nature or an animal that passes on the way is interpreted as an omen. For these people there is no individuation, free will in the broadest sense, and much less cognition or Aristotelian thought process. In the case of the Mexicas, destiny was determined by the birth date and escaped the will of the individual. The psychic climate was charged of pessimism and threatened with annihilation. The Amerindians protected themselves by making offerings to their demonic gods. When Mesoamericans felt threatened by something they punctually offered blood and hearts as an attempt to placate what, in fact, were their inner demons.
In Cempoala, writes Bernal Díaz, frightened by the bearded teules (a corrupted word from teteuh, gods) that came from the East, “each day they sacrificed in front of us three or four or five Indians.” When Cortés begins his resolute advance to the great Mexican capital Moctezuma fell seized with panic. “And they sacrificed each day two boys so that [the gods] answered what to do with us.” When they arrived to Cholula “we knew that [Moctezuma] was shut away with his devotions and sacrifices for two days, together with ten principal papas [high priests].” A little after that page there appears something unbelievable in Bernal’s story. The response of the high priests was that the emperor should “let us in.”
Take note that, analogously to the magical thinking of pre-Hispanic medicine, the emperor or Huey Tlatoani did not think in Aristotelian logic. It is true that, just as Ahuítzotl, before becoming monarch Moctezuma had been high priest. But he also had been a successful general. Despite of it, in the crucial year of his reign he did not ask advice from his military chiefs but from his priests, and what is worse: he let the Spanish enter knowing that they had just perpetrated the massacre of Cholula; the city being plundered by the Spanish allies, the Tlaxcallans, and the temple of Huitzilopochtli burnt for two days, in addition that Cortés ordered the destruction of all effigies of worship. Tenochtitlan was not Cholula. Located as the only lacustrine city of the continent, it was well protected. The Mexicas could easily have lifted the bridges that led to the empire’s capital. Instead, they let enter not a mere Cortés delegation, but the captain along with all of his army (including the horses, never seen before)!
If this is not suicidal magical thinking coming from bicameral minds, what is it? The conquest of America is the chapter of history that catches the attention as no other conquest of the history of mankind. Although Carthage suffered a similar fate of Tenochtitlan, the Romans had to fight through three very costly Punic wars throughout 120 years before razing the city. It took Cortés a tiny fraction of that time to do the feat: he initiated his campaign in 1519 and by 1521 he had taken the double city of Tlatelolco-Tenochtitlan. Jaynes’ observation quoted above about Pizarro, “How could an empire whose armies had triumphed over the civilizations of half a continent be captured by a small band of 150 Spaniards in the early evening of November 16, 1532?” may be said about Cortés too.
“Never did a captain with such a small army perform such a feat, nor achieved so many victories or hold a grip of such a great empire,” commented the chronicler Francisco López de Gómara. If there is something apparent in Bernal’s story it is that the captain wanted to bring to an end the practice of sacrifice in each town he passed through in route to Tenochtitlan. A semi-Indian friend of mine who has read the chroniclers commented that the historicity of their stories is way above the excuse that, mantra-like, we have heard a thousand times from other Mexicans: “Winners write history.” What actually happened is that the Tlaxcallans hated the Mexicas, who through a century had been raiding them to obtain captives for the sacrifice. Had the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan been popular in the so-called Aztec Empire the Spanish would have been repelled in Mexico. A pitiful sensation produces in the reader an illustration of the book by Diego Durán with humble Indians carrying, on their bended backs, the backpacks of the newcomers in their advance to Tenochtitlan while a Spaniard appears comfortably on his horse. The same can be said of another illustration of Indians building brigantines that would be decisively used in the battle of the Lake Texcoco. Obviously, the conquest of Mexico was also a civil war.
As implied above, my father feels an excessive admiration for the Indian world. On several occasions he has argued that the fact that the poetry of Nezahualcóyotl, the most refined representative of the Nahua culture, is so humane that it refutes the vision of the culture as barbaric. But poetry is no reliable standard. The basic, fundamental principle in psychohistory has childrearing as the relevant factor, and from this point of view even the refined monarch of Texcoco was a barbarian.
In a courtier intrigue Nezahualcóyotl consented using garrote to execute his favorite son, the prince Tetzauhpilzintli. The Nahua characters were seized with fratricide fits. Moctezuma I (not the one who received Cortés) ordered the killing of his brother and something similar did Nezahualcóyotl’s heir, Nezahualpilli: who also used capital punishment with his first born son and heir. Soustelle says that this family tragedy was one of the causes of the fall of the Mexican empire since the blood brothers that rose to the throne flipped to the Spanish side. But Soustelle’s blindness about what he has in front of his nose is amazing. Like León Portilla, for Soustelle “there is no doubt that the Mexicans loved their children very much.” But that is not love. Nezahualcóyotl’s mourning after letting his son be killed reminds me the “Pietà” of my first book, my mother, who suffered for seeing me in wretched conditions when she did nothing but escalate her abusive behavior against me. More disturbing is that some upper-class Mexicas delivered their little children to the Tláloc priests to be sacrificed. This piece of data demonstrates that motivation was more than mere economics, as rich people are not desperate for money.
The above image of the chronicler Diego Durán, which shows the tláloques, is in the Library of Madrid. Note the child in the water with the chest opened.
From a considerable distance the Spanish soldiers saw how their companions were sacrificed at the top of the pyramid of Tenochtitlan, whose heads would later be found impaled in a tzompantli together with the decapitated heads of the captured horses. When I mentioned for the first time the tzompantlis I omitted to say that they were structures on parallel crossbeams. Through holes on the temples, the stakes supported the enormous files of decapitated human heads, one after another. (Only in Tenochtitlan there were seven tzompantlis; the Spaniards had seen a tzompantli in Cempoala, not very far from the Veracruz shore, and some time after in their journey another one in Zautla, which also contained femurs and other parts of human bodies.) Bernal Díaz writes: “In that state of affairs, very frightened and wounded, we did not know about Cortés or Sandoval, nor of their armies, if they had been killed and broken down [chopped into pieces], as the Mexicans told us when they threw into our camp the five heads they grasped by the hair and beards.” The demoralized soldiers wanted to flee to Cuba after the battle of La Noche Triste, when most of the Spaniards died: a great defeat for the Spanish arms on Mexican soil.
I the middle of a skirmish the Indians captured Cortés himself, but they did not kill him. When taking him over to be sacrificed their men rescued him. From the military viewpoint, this magical thinking of not killing the fallen captain but attempting to take him to the pyramid was a gross blunder: Cortés would be the man who harangued the Spanish not to flee to Cuba after the catastrophic Noche Triste. Thereafter, with the Tlaxcallan support, the war turned over and the Mexica capital was lost. Cuauhtémoc, the last Huey Tlatoani rejected the peace proposals that, day after day, Cortés offered the Mexicas. (Cuauhtémoc had been the same noble who led the signal to stone Moctezuma after the massacre ordered by Pedro de Alvarado, inspired by the massacre of Cholula ordered by Cortés.)
It is not my intention to vituperate the Mexicans of my childhood. As I revealed in my previous book, the memories of Mexico City’s beautiful neighborhoods where I lived in the 1960s, before the city disintegrated, still feed my deepest nostalgias. Nor is it my intention to vituperate the ancient Mexicans. As I have also said, the psychoclass of the Mexicas was far more evolved than the Chichimeca: the Nomads from the north who still ate raw meat because they could not use fire; could not build houses, and lived in the caves. The Amerindian hunter-gatherers were in a more dissociated state of mind than the inhabitants of the big cities, like the refined Nahuas. And taking into account the inconceivable sadism of the Mayas with the prisoners, undistinguishable from that of the cruelest serial killers of today I have not the slightest doubt that, even though the pictographic form of Mexica writing before the syllabic Mayan represents a technical regression, the psychoclass of the ancient Mexicans marks a psychogenic advance compared to their southern neighbors.
Gotten to this point I must confess that it is painful to read almost anything related to Moctezuma. And it is painful in spite of the fact that Bernal Díaz says that the Huey Tlatoani himself shared the cannibalism of his age. “I heard them say that they used to cook for him the flesh of small boys,” and on the same page it can be read that “our captain reprimanded him the sacrifice and the eating of human flesh, and Moctezuma ordered that that delicatessen be not cooked for him anymore.” Despite of his culinary habits, the reading of the Bernaldine pages is painful because we can see a very human Moctezuma. Both Bernal Díaz and Cortés were fond of Moctezuma; and his candid, fearful and superstitious personality moves the reader to sympathize with him too. It is very difficult not to feel a particular affection for Moctezuma. It is true that before Cortés and the Spanish the Huey Tlatoani behaved like a güey (a Mexicanism that when I was a boy meant stupid). Today’s Mexicans are not as güeyes as the Mexicas. But even after almost five hundred years it is a disturbing experience to discover how the historical Moctezuma behaved.
Before the Spanish expedition reached Tenochtitlan, the most powerful man of the empire had clung to his papas of long, tangled and gluey hair with blood scabs. We can imagine the mental state of those who, time after time, stuck their hand in living bodies digging through the vital organ. They had ash-colored faces because they too had to bleed themselves once a day. When Moctezuma fell seized with panic as the alien expedition was in route to the empire’s capital, besides the priests he also consulted fortune-tellers and sorcerers. Once the Spaniards arrived it is disturbing to learn how these men, who represented a more integrated psychoclass, took over the empire from Moctezuma: like an adult snatching the ice cream from a little boy, who had been a magnificent host for Cortés and his enormous military escort.
The common people were as psychologically dissociated as their governor. During the long period of time that goes from the Moctezuma kidnapping by Cortés to the massacre perpetrated by Alvarado, with the exception of Cacama and a few nobles the Mexicans did not rebel against the invasion. They did not even react when Cortés ordered that Qualpopoca, his sons and fifteen chiefs be burned alive at the stake, humiliating the emperor who, with chains, had to witness the execution in the plaza of the Great Pyramid. Moctezuma was even taught to learn, in Latin, prayers like Our Father and the Hail Mary. Cortés left temporarily Tenochtitlan to stop Pánfilo Narváez in Cempoala. Narváez arrived from Cuba with a great army; he wanted to place Cortés under arrest and liberate Moctezuma. Only the massacre of Mexico where the blond Alvarado (nicknamed Tonatiuh, the sun) slaughtered the flower of the Mexican aristocracy during the “Aztec Easter” made the Mexicas wake up. Their long lethargy reminds me an eighteenth-century observation by a Jesuit that Amerindians were grownup children, “bambini with beards.”
Unlike the Peruvians, who constantly clean the great statue of Pizarro—who behaved worse with Atahualpa than Cortés with Moctezuma—, in half a century of living in the Mexican capital I have not seen a single statue of Cortés, his Indian wife, or Moctezuma. So deep did the trauma of the conquest impregnate the Mexicans’ psyche that its tail can be felt half a millennium later. It is true that, after the Alvarado massacre, what had been a sort of picaresque conquering story turned into an apparent infamy, although Salvador de Madariaga qualifies the Nahua vision of the conquest by pointing out that Alvarado “was right in thinking that there existed a conspiracy” from the Mexica to attack the Spaniards after the holyday. On the other hand, through a sense of black humor even a dark-skinned Mexican has dared to see the cruelties committed by his ancestors. In An Autobiography the Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco wrote:
According to them [the indigenistas] the Conquest ought not to have taken place as it did. Instead of sending cruel and ambitious captains, Spain should have sent a great delegation of ethnologists, anthropologists, archeologists, civil engineers […]. Very tactfully it might have been suggested to great Moctezuma that he should establish democracy for the lower orders, while preserving the privileges of aristocracy, thus pleasing everyone. In this way the three abhorrent centuries of Colonial Period could have been side-stepped, and the Great Teocalli would still be standing, though thoroughly disinfected to keep the blood of sacrifices from going bad, and to enable us to turn it into blood pudding—in a factory standing where, for want of it, the National Pawnshop inadequately serves.
History did not occur that way. The soldiers razed Tenochtitlan and a clergy coming out directly from the Counter-Reformation and the Reconquista took care of the statues and the codexes. A melancholic Mexica poem says: “Our lifestyle, our city, is lost and dead.” The infamous pyramid that enclosed the remains of the boy whose photo I included way above was blown up with 500 barrels of powder. Conversely, in the sarcastic scenario by Orozco, in the world’s most beautiful city the tourists would utter wonders when escalating the Teocalli to see the great Uichilobos without any knowledge of the sacrificed child and his remains, still enclosed under the rock, dozens of meters below their feet.
After the fall of Tenochtitlan Bernal Díaz tells us that “land, lagoon and bargekennings were full of dead bodies, and it stank so much that there was no man who could endure it.” In contrast to the Manichaeism of contemporary Mexicans, whether hispanophiles or indigenistas, Martin Brown drew some irreverent cartoons published in Terry Deary’s pamphlet The Angry Aztecs. One of them illustrates the stone blocks of the recently destroyed city: colored stones of the temples that would be used for the construction of the Christian buildings. In Brown’s cartoon there is a dialogue between two pubescent Nahuas, a boy and a girl sitting in the great city on ruins:
Boy: The Aztecs killed my mum.
Girl: The Spanish killed mine.
Boy: I wonder who is deader?
But Brown omitted the crux: Moctezuma and his folk ate the kids of that age, something that the Spaniards never did. What destroys the mind to the point of making an entire continent inhabited by easy-to-conquer güeyes is to carry the burden, in the innermost corner of the soul, that our beloved totatzin sacrificed one of our siblings; or that this happened in the families of friends and acquaintances and that nobody condemned it. Using the language of my previous book, since the sacrifices were part of the social tissue nobody counted with an “enlightened witness,” let alone a “helping witness” when the poisonous pedagogy was being inculcated. Let us remember the ethnologic study of the twentieth century about the New Guinea tribes. The children avoided their parents when they ate one of their little siblings. The rates of child suicide among such peoples, a more disturbed society than the Mexica, were very high.
The Spanish destruction may be compared in some way to the destruction by king Josiah in 641 B.C. according to II Chronicles 34, about which Jaynes comments that had it not occurred more archaeological evidence of the ancient Hebrews’ speaking idols could have been found. Though objectionable for the standards of our time, such measures of cultural extermination were necessary during the attempts of the superior psychoclass to eliminate the sacrifices: be them sacrifices of children to Baal or to Tláloc.
The objective of the book is to present to the racialist community my philosophy of The Four Words on how to eliminate all unnecessary suffering.
If life allows, next time I will reproduce another chapter. Those interested in obtaining a copy of Day of Wrath may visit: this artcle.