Saturday, November 25


P.J. O'Rourke on Paraguay

From the humorist's darkly funny Give War a Chance:
Paraguayan church architecture is no-nonsense stuff. The churches look like horse barns with verandas. But inside, they're retina-thrashers. The eighteenth-century church in the town of Yaguaron contains two thousand feet of crazed whittling, a masterpiece of Paraguayan baroque. It's as ridiculously detailed as anything from the Europe of that era but with fun Guarani Indian touches such as drug-trip color combinations and altar chairs [choirstalls?] with armrests that turn into snakes. I took a close look at some of the carved portraits of saints and I think the Guaranis were pulling the padres' legs vis-a-vis conversion to Christianity.
Paraguay is also distinguished by having once had one of the finest traditions of baroque church music in the Americas, one which long outlasted its Jesuit roots. Also, one of its later dictators went mad and had himself canonized by his court chaplain while on the lam from the Brazilian army.

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