Libraries and electronic copies exist

I wanted to see this film here in Barcelona but I don’t think I am going to get to it. (There is so much else I have not done.) I will leave here the fantastic 1999 edition of the DK Eyewitness Barcelona Travel Guide because there is a 2014 one that can be had.

I will also leave PMLA 109:2 (March 1994). I have been carrying it around so I would finally read it, and I have not done so yet. It has articles of general interest, like one “Sorceresses, Love Magic, and the Inquisition of Linguistic Sorcery in Celestina” and then the article I have always meant to absorb, David Spurr’s “Myths of Anthropology: Eliot, Joyce, Lévy-Bruhl” which I really need to study.

But the piece is in JSTOR and if you look at it on line, you see who has cited it and what their pieces were about. Spurr says Joyce “sees in anthropology as a discipline the tyrrany of the rational, colonizing mind intent on objectivizing or romanticizing the lives of subject peoples. Joyce has little patience for nostalgic myths of the primitive like those purveyed by W.B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory.”

Foucault makes a distinction between anthropology, a totalizing discourse, and ethnology, which is situates itself within historicity. Ethnology uncovers the relations between representation and the material conditions of existence (these are Spurr’s words); in this critical analysis of representation, ethnology is allied with literature that is “fascinated with the being of language” (I believe that is from L’ordre des choses).

Spurr: “Whereas Eliot mythologizes history, Joyce appears … to historicize mythology…. Joyce collapses both myth and history into a radical materiality of language….

This all has to do with Oswald de Andrade and Vallejo, you see.

It is more difficult but I am also leaving Latin American Research Review 50:2 (2015). It has all these marvelous things in it and I so prefer to read on paper, but it is also so accessible online.

There is a piece by one Mark Daniel Anderson, “Modernism, crisis, and the ethics of democratic representation in Fernando del Paso’s total novels” that I need to seriously read for several reasons. One, for its main points, which I think are true (see the abstract, against the now traditional opposition of novela total and testimonio).

My reasons for being interested in it has to do with questions of the production of meaning, the critique of the transcendental subject, the latter as the subject of nationalism as well as universalistic humanism, the limits of avant-garde techniques, the relationship of art to civil society, the appropriation of avant-garde esthetics for institutional purposes (which happened by the 1930s), conciliatory mestizaje (mestizaje as mark of shared citizenship) and more. Benito Juárez is the indio oficial … who has the blond Maximilian shot … and so on, and the mestizo classes rise (peacefully and naturally, by consensus according to the PRI mythology, but look at the facts) … and I must read Fernando del Paso, Noticias del imperio and more.

Anderson also says (44-45) that the collage technique creates a collective identity not formed via the “machined seamlessness of nationalistic essentialism.” Rancière says art creates dissensus (not consensus, which Doris Sommer and others claimed it did for 19th century Latin America and which one can see that it tried to do) — creates dissensus via the strategic use of impropriety and misplacement. Bürger associates this technique with the avant-garde but Rancière extends it to any symbolic representation (because representation always maintains a supplementary, decentering, critical relationship to discourse and reality itself).

QUESTION, THEN: If that is true, then is Julio Ortega’s current “deconstructive” reading of Vallejo fuzzy, and what about “critiques of representation” — ? I have to relearn, or learn for the first time perhaps, the meaning of a certain body of theory.

Anyway, there is a great deal in that article. In the journal, there is another piece on why Latin American scholars do not participate in Latin American Studies (because they identify as agents of change, not experts in field merely contributing to knowledge) … and this is one of the articles on the bifurcation of scholarship, so is important; and there is important work on indigenous literary heritage, and a review article on several books, Indigenous and Black Intellectuals in the Lettered City. But the paper version of this journal is staying here, and now that I am a serious scholar again I should be posting all of these notes in Evernote and Zotero, not here; yet somehow I think the most clearly here.

The Anderson piece causes in me Vallejo lucidity, however. As I have always said, Vallejo is hard to read because there is no transcendental subject to guide us and no plot in a traditional sense, nor are the apparent themes really the themes — although there are recurring words and techniques, work on or against grammar and vocabulary. Ortega says, as I said at one time and many have suggested, that he is “undoing” the transcendental subject and also representation, forging a new language so as to forge a new subject.

But avant-garde “dehumanization,” as Anderson points out, did not directly foment ethical self-awareness or engagement with others, and this is what Vallejo does work on (from early on, one might add, not just in España which may be not be his most magisterial work but his most facile).


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