There’s something epistemological about storytelling. It’s the way we know
each other, the way we know ourselves. The way we know the world. It’s also
the way we don’t know: the way the world is kept from us, the way we’re
kept from knowledge about ourselves, the way we’re kept from understand-
ing other people.
Andrea Barrett, Writer’s Chronicle, vol. 32, no. 3, December 1999
When writing at night, I’m aware of la luna, Coyolxauhqui, hovering
over my house. I envision her muerta y decapitada (dead and decapi-
tated), una cabeza con los parpados cerrados (eyes closed). But then
her eyes open y la miro dar luz a los lugares oscuros, I see her light the
dark places. Writing is a pro cess of discovery and perception that pro-
duces knowledge and conocimiento (insight). I am often driven by the
impulse to write something down, by the desire and urgency to com-
municate, to make meaning, to make sense of things, to create myself
through this knowledge-producing act. I call this impulse the “Coyol-
xauhqui imperative”: a strug gle to reconstruct oneself and heal the
sustos resulting from woundings, traumas, racism, and other acts of
violation que hechan pedazos nuestras almas, split us, scatter our
energies, and haunt us. The Coyolxauhqui imperative is the act of
PREFACE
Gestures of the Body— Escribiendo para idear
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