One thing that Atomik Aztex undoubtedly succeeds in is making the reader feel disoriented. In a very necessary way, though. Before being able to wrap one’s head around the story of Zenzontli & Zenzón, the reader needs to be disoriented from the eurocentric framing of our own reality. The novel presents an alien reality, one that is hard to grasp for an American reader. How much of our history hinges on the European conquest of the New World? All of it? It’s a painstaking process for the average reader, especially when shifting that narrative to the perspective of Zenzontli involves erasing everything you know about your familial history and your current place in the world.
Another way this disorientation is accomplished is through the perception and explanation of time. Our perception is linear, but the Aztex sees things as a cykle.
This is referenced especially one last time at the close of the novel: “Aztek calendrikal science denotes numbered interstices in cycles of death & rebirth for transitions to new seasons” (200). This idea of Aztek calenders represents the fiction of the work, but we have an example of how this would intersect with reality. In 2012, there was a trending idea that the world just might end. This was based on the Mayan calendar accounting far past the existence of the Mayans, but abruptly ending at the year 2012. What the doomsday believers failed to recognize was that the calendar they all feared was actually cyclical. Once it reaches the end it starts again, nothing dies forever.
In a eurocentric society we can fling ourselved far into the past and future, but there is very little thought on how the future may meet the past. We have the physics to understand the age of the universe, and I make no claims to the true perception of time, but even abstractly there is an unwillingness to connect the two. Are we more afraid of the cycle ending or repeating?
Foster, Sesshu. Atomik Aztex. City Lights, 2005.