Z: What are the characteristics of “Our America” in the famous essay by the same title?

Student: Well, I understand that the author is referring to the multicultural, intellectual and spiritual Latin America as opposed to the industrial, utilitarian, and Anglo-Saxon United States. But when you actually read the essay this is not so clear. “We” Latin Americans are multicultural, but “we” are also concerned to engage with a “they” that is Native American or Afro-Latin. So who is this “we?” It seems that the essential Latin American person here is a white man trapped in a brown body!


In the time of Reeducation I had a recurring dream, part of which is recounted here. It involved the aftermath of a hurricane in my building. One detail not included in my earlier post were that there was a cadaver hanging in the shower – of the author I was working on – and the body was as heavy as lead, we could not lift it out, so we could not take showers even if the plumbing were working (it was not working well – the pipes were crooked), and we had this macabre cadaver on our hands. Another detail was that the coffeemaker would make coffee, but would spit it out everywhere except in the pot. I saw a dream analyst who said it meant I was putting energy everywhere except where it would nourish me – enough to be able to move the cadaver, for instance. I got a T.A. today, against all expectations, and I have the general impression that the coffee is now running into the pot.


7 thoughts on “Illuminations

  1. My dreams tell me that I’m still trapped by the patriarchy. In last night’s dream, I was waiting in a bank queue to learn how to create some kind of precision spiral. The stiff and patriarchal bank staff member gave me many different instructions. My mind was full of the information on how to make the spiral — but then I had to do my regular job of phoning the Japanese, and I couldn’t manage to, because I couldn’t find their numbers of the computer, which was blank. I began silent screaming to all the officious and paternalistic bank men who came to my desk to help me find the numbers, because I was already late in dialing. It was all to no avail. Even though I asked many of them directly, they wouldn’t answer.

  2. That’s a great dream! I’ve had Kafakaesque bureaucracy nightmares the past two nights, known I should get up and write them down, but been too lazy. One weird detail I do remember is that my ex, against whom I have a protective order from a judge, is also there, who knows why. He is diabetic and is famous for not eating when among friends, so that he has a hypoglycemic attack and creates drama. Jordan almonds, plain ones and chocolate ones, are somehow available for those of us waiting in line, and I keep obtaining these to give to him.

  3. Coffee, I know, I could never give it up. Are you not impressed as well with the “white man trapped in a brown body”?

  4. “A white man trapped in a brown body” … insightful.

    I ended one of my post the other day with a twist to this statement.

    I said: “Mandela freed us from YT. And now we are YT.”

    My reference was to the inhumane way that the ‘new’ politics demonizes, and punishes, opposition to government policies on HIV/AIDS in SAfrica.

    The sameness is striking.


  5. it would be a good day if one of my students could sum up Nuestra América like that! “a white man trapped in a brown man’s body” sounds like a great starter for discussion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s