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Bean Girl, San Cristobal, 1962 BOOKS & THE CULTURE The Gift of Time BY BARBARA BELEJACK The Burden of Time: Photographs from the Highlands of Chiapas By Marcey Jacobson, et al. Stanford University Press 160 pages, $39.50. was making photographs of the world long before I was a photographer,” writes Marcey Jacobson in The Burden of Time: Photographs from the Highlands of Chiapas. “Years ago, when I used to ride the subway in New York, I would watch the people sitting opposite me. What else was there to do on the subway? I began to notice that her particular mouth, his particular ear, that chin, that hand, could not belong to anybody else. Every feature was indicative of a kind of character: a stingy nose, a jealous eye. And every set of features fit together into a perfect unityI call that blood logic. …Whenever I observe a person or a scene, I look for that cohesion. It’s inherent in what I want to photograph. Everything has to fit in, and it does.” I don’t know about blood logic, but I do know that Marcey Jacobson was blessed with an eye for perfect composition. What else can you say about the photograph called “Three Violins”? Everything fits: the old woman with her Mona Lisa smile, dark rebozo, and perfect posture; the two violins, propped up against the faded wall. Everything has to fit, and it does. Of the legions of photographers drawn to Mexico in general, and Chiapas in particular, Jacobson is one of the best. Although her pictures have appeared in countless books about the country, The Burden of Time is her first book, published when the photogra pher was over 90. Editor Carol Karasik produced a labor of love, coaxing Jacobson to agree to the project and then combing through nearly 50 years and thousands of photographs. She also pieced together hours of taped interviews to help shape Jacobson’s essay, a chatty, deceptively simply piece called “Exposures.” \(Mexican photographer Antonio Turok wrote the prologue, while Carter Wilson, an American writer living in San Cristobal, conThe title of the book evokes Mayan mythologythe cycles of days and years carried on the backs of the gods. It also refers to the practice of the cargo, the yearlong financial obligation assumed by members of traditional Mayan communities, and the rapid 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 12/20/02