Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Jorge Bruce

For the third day in a row I have failed to get into the Lima film festival. It is somewhat disappointing, but now I know: you have to study the program way ahead of time, and drop down on those tickets like a hawk the first hour they are available. I justified buying Jorge Bruce’s Nos habíamos choleado tanto as a work related book, but I am reading this lucidly written set of psychoanalytic essays on race and racism for pleasure.

Cholear in one of its more superficially neutral meanings is to mix red and white wine. Here is a better and more complete definition of the verb cholear, and here is an excellent blog post on it. Here you can see the verb in its complete conjugation, including the archaic future subjunctive.

This book contains, among much else, a psychoanalytic interpretation of the only apparently rebellious popular song lyric Cholo soy, y no me compadezcas [I am a working class mestizo or amestizado person, but do not feel sorry for me] (also available at art galleries as a T shirt). This song, interestingly, is a criollo waltz; here its creator, Luis Abanto Morales, sings it:

I also learned from Bruce’s book that although 12% of Lima residents in a fairly recent poll identified as white, only 8% were identified as such by the pollsters. Splitting the difference, we can say that Lima is about 90% non white, which would explain why I so stick out here and why I always feel so out of place if I remember at all what I look like, or see myself in any mirrors. Lima, not Salvador, Bahia, or New Orleans, Louisiana – each about 30% white in my time – is the least white city I have ever lived in. That is why I used to be so shocked to see my own face in the mirror – I do not look normal. And I, as much as any Lima resident, assume white people may be foreign, and look at them and listen to their voices, trying to figure it out.

In daily life, we are choleando, too, or perhaps we are choleados. Our teenager is going to have her birthday party. She grew up mostly in Orange County, California, where she became a fan of chicha music, as she would not have done here for reasons you will soon infer. Somehow she has arranged for a chicha band or DJ, I am not sure, to provide music for the party. Chicha music being working class, cholo, and mountain inflected, the maid has prohibited the party from being given in the house because we will lose class status “in the view of the neighbors.” We depend very greatly upon the approval of our maid, so we are looking for a hall to rent.

In honor of the party, which I will miss, here are LOS SHAPIS on “Chofercito,” a chicha song:


4 thoughts on “Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Jorge Bruce

  1. Dear Professor Zero,

    Here is Chuto. First of all thanks for the link to our Choledad Privada blog. It was very pleasing for us to know you enjoyed and liked our post on “Choleo 0 decibeles” as one of the various modaltities of the Peruvians “choleo”. By the way we shared recently a tv interview with Mr. Bruce in which we found many common points in our analysis. While he treats the “choleo” issue from an academic perspective we deal with it from an everyday/quotidian sarcastic and ironic point of view reaching to similar points. Our assumption is that if “cholear” is multidirectional and everywhere in Peru then maybe in that “choledad”, that we reject and deprive of, contains elements that may build our, so hard to build, Peruvian identity. We are trying to vindicate the negative content of the tag “cholo” then.

    We found very interesting your comments on Lima being the least white city you have ever lived in. We recommend this post we wrote precisely on that topic and you can check here:

    Keep in touch.



  2. HOLA CHUTO and thanks for your visit! Now I’m going to go read your post, before I finally turn off the Internet for the day. It is funny, I didn’t realize until I read the statistic in Bruce that that much of Lima was non white – the first ‘racial’ classifications I learned included a lot of ‘Latin’ people in the category white, but nowadays it’s a mixed category … hmmm … see you soon on your blog.

  3. It is, and it’s easy reading. Conversational. Lacanian and postmodern, though – the footnotes are from Laclau and Mouffe, and so on.

    (I am in transit. I want YOGUR DE LUCUMA right now, any brand will do, but I am beyond the reach of stores that sell it.)

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