Octavio Paz, grown up in an outlying neighborhood of Mexico City, wrote in one of his poems:
Between what I see and what I say
Between what I say and what I keep silent
Between what I keep silent and what I dream
Between what I dream and what I forget:
One can easily replace poetry with sound or noise thinking of the Mexican habit of making noise in order to attract attention (as all the branches of street vendors have their own acoustic signals) and the composure towards noise that can be interpreted as ignorant or highly tolerant. Paz would have described this love of music, noise and crowds as no more than a compensation for a deeper, unconscious isolation and gloom. In “The Labyrinth of Solitude” Paz observes that solitude is responsible for the Mexican’s perspective on death, ‘fiesta’, and identity. Death is seen as an event that is celebrated but at the same time repelled because of the uncertainty behind it. As for the fiestas, they express a sense of communality, crucially emphasizing the idea of not being alone and in so doing helps to bring out the true Mexican that is usually hidden behind a mask of self-denial.
The following track is a collage of sounds I collected predominantly in Mexico City (some sounds are from Oaxaca) and might provide an aural illustration of the conflict of Mexican identity.