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The Silence of the Corn

Silence, exile and cleverness, has also made me forget prescriptions by Joyce for the writers and the distractions of Merlin where the magicians loose themselves.

I barely see my daughter since she went away to study at the Emerson University in Boston. That week of July, Beatriz came to Los Angeles to celebrate turning twenty years old. I realized that if I were going to take her out I would have to take her to some very special place. So I took her to Not a Cornfield.

That evening architects specialized in public use of the urban space and public art exposed their theories with photos and power point, Adolfo introduced the artist who conceived the project and an agriculturist made the Aztec salutations to the four points.

The Cornfield is a land bordering to the old railroad by where now the Golden Line runs, as opposed to the station of Chinatown. They say that when the loaded trains came swinging from the East with crops of corn, the seeds fell, forming maize furrows that grew wild in that no-man's land.

Ten years ago the authorities destined the toxic empty lot to become State Historical Park of Los Angeles. In these cases it is mandate of the Department of Parks and Recreation that the indigenous plants, the native animals, etc. return to the place where sometimes they were removed by the expansion of man.

But, nobody ever has seen a photo of that cornfield ghost, no witness remembers it. The only thing that was left was that contradictory name baptizing 32 acres of toxic dirt. When Lauren Bon proposed to seed one cornfield in that site being based on the historical restoration of the area... there was no other proof to be found but the oral tradition. So she baptized her public art project Not a Cornfield.

We left behind Lauren and the architects as we advanced onto the one mile granite walkway that surrounds the land where two million grains will be planted at dawn. Then I felt that the hand of God descended on its Angels.
In the center of the land is what Lauren calls The Eye and while we walked towards the sunset I felt the enormous dimension of the Hunab. The architects did not say anything neither Lauren named it. Because He is unmentionable.

In the center of the cornfield Lauren designed on the soil a spiral of concentric footpaths oriented towards the cardinals, so that when the sun is falling it draws the symbol of Hunab Ku as recorded by the ancient Mayans.

My mind jumped twenty-five years back, when I knew Hugh Harleston in San Diego, the engineer who left everything behind to live twenty-five years by the pyramids of Teotihuacan, where he re-discovered the dimension of the Hunab, the connection of the Mayan calendar in Teotihuacan, cronopolis, the human paradigm.

The Hunab is a system of factorial measurement, like that we used in calculation of quantic physics, those pyramids are temples to the mathematical mystery of the universe where the astronomical systems, the time and the space are developed. They are the geometric map of the mathematical infinite.

The dimension of the Hunab in Teotihuacan is the time capsule left by the designer priests with the secret message of the corn. A month pass by and the maize grows in Not a Cornfield between art and cultural gatherings, drums and movie projections during the night in the middle of Not a Cornfield.

A community of cultural workers provides events and exquisite atmospheres for the visitors of this nature amusement park next to Zanja Madre of Los Angeles, where the main channel of City water used to run.

It is impressive when coming out of the Pasadena freeway to see the cultivated cornfield, standing out against the skyscrapers of the city as it defied conceptual to our urban vortex.

The art, like the religions, has an intangible power that transform mankind, and the moral of the Cornfield will come as the first harvest that now takes shelter, which cannot be eaten because toxic grounds contaminate the cornfield, although they engaged in hundreds of trucks loaded with the more fertile soil. But the seeds that take shelter of this cornfield will give a healthy generation that will be edible for the next harvest.

In March the harvest will have been processed and ears turned ethanol and the rest into biodegradable packing or collapsible shelters for the homeless. In March the State will take control of the space and will have a call for proposals to design the Los Angeles State Historic Park where they think to invest sixty million dollars in the context of the revitalization of the Los Angeles River.

Nobody will be able to construct an historical and appropriate monument like the one that we can see today in the 1201 North of the Spring Street. The same Earth. The Mother Earth, which we defied with asphalt, concrete and the social desolation of the urban capital.

Today I return to cross the cornfield that adorns December a mile away from the Placita Olvera, where we got to build this megapolis and we put the first bricks in the town of Los Angeles in 1781. When you cross the territory you still can hear the last shouts of the Yang-na that lived here 500 years BC... before they were evacuated from this land and dispersed by 1828 for always. The maize was indispensable for those inhabitants, but not for us anymore.

Hopefully man may not once again destroy the Cornfield, because it does not matter the time that passes nor the million dollars that run in the city-planning development of this space. The corn will return again.

(Rodriguez is President/Founder of Stage Of The Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion on Latin arts and culture in Los Angeles area. To contact Rodriguez, please use this email address:

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© CONTACTO Magazine
Published on January 17, 2006

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