Sunday, April 11, 2010

SPAN 365 y la experiencia psicodélica

El curso acaba... Vale, no me quejo de esto como quiero relajarme en las vacaciones que vienen muy pronto. El curso no fue muy crítica, es decir, la lectura de los textos bastante limitados era de primera persona: nosotros leyendo los textos, punto. Me gusta este tipo de aprendizaje porque exige que los estudiantes vengan a sus propias conclusiones, no por la lectura de otra persona. Por el otro lado del argumento, creo que leímos demasiado de las primeros dos textos. Me pesó mucho acabar con esos, y el resultado habría sido el mismo: leer cuatro de los cuentos, o veinte, lo mismo a mi parecer. Los textos elegidos fueron perfectamente adecuados, y agradezco por el sentido de antecedente que acompañó los primeros dos textos; el tercero tuvo mucho más sentido por eso.

Y en cuanto a los textos, pensaba en lo que debería escribir aquí mientras conducía hacia mi hogar y se me ocurrió que este estilo o modo y las drogas psicodélicas van muy conectados. Pensaba en la sensación que los textos mágicorealistas dan al lector, la sensación de descubrir nuevas etapas de la realidad, de destapar las varias telas traslúcidas hasta que, después de cada traslado, la claridad empiece aproximarse más y más. En un colocón [trip] de setas, por ejemplo, una persona viene a una claridad superintensa, donde cada cosita está infundida con mucho más sentido que fue previamente pensado.

En lugar de ser simplemente una flor, se piensa en cada paso de desarrollo que sucedió en la crianza de ésta, de donde viene, y de la fineza de su estética. No me mientan que esta descripción no tiene nada que ver con el realismo mágico como lo conocemos. Además de esto, la experiencia psicodélica tiene como punto céntrico tirarse en sí mismo: descubrir a sí mismo. Es la definición de la novedad como cada experiencia tiene algo nuevo dentro. Relato este rasgo con la metaficción de realismo mágico; que, con cada paso, el lector (o el ‘tripper’) está consciente de que él o ella está en el proceso de ser aquí y ahora. La auto-consciencia. Y un punto adicional es la conectividad de todo el mundo, todas las cosas del mundo. 100 Anos me hizo dar cuenta de que cada acción tiene una secuencia de consecuencias, la cual me parece nunca acabada, y el final demuestra que acaso…estamos en control de nuestras vidas y que la única cosa que se debe hacer es reflejar en sí mismo (como también demuestra la ficción dentro de la ficción) para alcanzar este momento de ESTADO LIMITE.

Obviamente sabemos que cada yonqui tiene como objetivo alcanzar este estado límite, que al final, le trae a la plenitud de sí mismo hasta que la persona podría dejar del yo y nadar en el mar de todos seres – el alma del mundo (una idea triunfada por uno de mis autores favoritos, Paulo Coelho). No sé si yo creo en esta idea, pero quizá…
Adios y suerte a todos!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Amor a la distancia": a punch in the face

A new mode of writing. One in which a story becomes internalized, vastly personal. The story, yes, can be communicated to readers; maybe they can even empathize with it. But the feeling of collective memory, of applicability to all: that's gone. This writing is much smaller in scope.

Amor a la Distancia is a funny little story because it's a letter, but all at once, a diary entry and an essay too. Boliviano Edmundo Paz Soldan writes to his girlfriend (or his character does, but it appears nonfictional). For much of it, it feels like he's writing to himself, trying out ideas that he's formulating as he has the experiences that make him arrive at such conclusions. It's very step by step in feel, though the ending obviously wraps it all up into a little package and kind-of laughs in your face. SMACK! That’s how we arrive at conclusions – by trial and error, by taking steps – and SMACK! again, the nature of “telling” (a thing which pervades all cultures and systems) is duplicitous. There is the appearance of the idea, the reality of the idea (which only the teller knows) and the conclusion at which the receiver of the idea arrives. This system makes for some very serious doubts pertaining to verifiability versus fictionality. When can we, as human beings, ever know what is true? Especially in intimate relationships, when so much is at stake and so many details are passed back and forth between two people, there is no sure-fire way to insure oneself against scams... We’re always vulnerable, we’re always in a state of unknowing, as the ending to Distancia surely proclaims...

Hay angustia y amargura en este texto, en que el narrador intenta explicar (a sí mismo, me parece) por qué las cosas son así, por qué algunos detalles se suelen excluir, y entonces el cuento acaba así. Por qué, siempre y sin fin. Y duele al lector porque necesitamos también saber por qué. And this questioning makes us conclude that there are expectations of us as people, as partners, because that’s the way our culture is set up. We don’t cheat. We love each other without flinching. But Soldán realizes that other side of the coin. We love eachother, but we make up a love-reality, an image of the “us”, that perhaps overestimates our ability to not jeopardize that love-reality. So therefore, we do cheat, we do lie, because we’re all individuals who can and will. He says “tampoco te puedo contar muchas cosas porque sin secretos ninguna relacion subsitiría” (75): he puts citrus on the wound that is the paradox of coupling and it hurts…

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Relatability and contrast and comparison. All works thus far.

Starting with McOndo. As the editors of the book indicate, Westerners for the most part are consumers of mass-created products and ideas of lo latinoamericano. And those products and ideas seemed to stop advancing by the end of the 1960s, or thereabouts. Magic realism is a dominant force, to the point of being stereotypical, clichE, avant-garde no longer; there's nothing subtle about it anymore, the essence has been commodity and that makes it somewhat fake. The McOndo guys are contemporary contemporary contemporary. They're post-postmodern, as the magic realists themselves were post-modern.

I was taken in by their attack on their predecessors and also on the people who endorse the predecessors (aka Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is cited like an A-list fluff star) and make live on these pretty visions, images, of an unreal, floating, and frankly, fictionalized reality that is Latin America. While we strive to believe that magical realism poignantly points out aspects of life that we tend to miss, one could also read it as following the non-perceivable and mythical into the dark hole of unreason, of bad vision, of denial of a real-life-reality that pales in comparison. Zamora and Faris cite writer-critic Julian Barnes in the introduction to Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community to exacerbate the common approach to and emphasis on lo latinoamericano in MR>>>
:"A quota system has to be introduced on fiction set in South America. The intention is to curb the spread of package-tour baroque and heavy irony. Ah, the propinquity of cheap life and expensive principles, of religion and banditry, of surprising honor and random cruelty. Ah, the daiquiri bird which incubates its eggs on the wing; ah, the fredonna tree whose roots grow at the tips of its branches, and whose fibers assist the hunchback to impregnate by telepathy the haughty wife of the hacienda owner; ah, the opera hours now overgrown by jungle. Permit me to rap on the table and murmur "Pass!" Novels set in the Arctic and the Antarctic will receive a development grant."

A big quote, I know, but it speaks wonders (one of which is that MR applies not only to Latin America but to the world). Critics realize the faults of magic realism: its magic can't undo its faults, its shortcomings.. The crazy cliches (like what Barnes describes) and the vague communal ownership over all this stuff has got to go, according to McOndo. I get it, totally. One would get tired of hearing about all this stuff when, after all is said and done, you still eat, shit, sleep and die (pardon the phrase). Latinos are normal people, just like any other place, and MR is a style that can or cannot be applied to Latino writing, according to taste. It's not automatic! There are alternatives!

But then back to roots. Leyendas de Guatemala and Reino de este Mundo are predecessor steps toward magic realism; some consider them part of the package itself. Personally, Leyendas bored me. I'm a postmodern child and I'm used to referential everything, so the floatiness and frankly magical everything that isn't quite relateable but simply exists? It leaves me not knowing which way to step, it's so separate. However now, I can see how just this very quality can make it such a good source for fiction, a novel like Cien Anyos, for example. It has such a high-saturation aestheticism, it would look good in splices on the page. On that note, when I think of Leyendas, I think of fantasy film, like Avatar or Fern Gully; it tells a story, but the vividness of the images takes over plot, characters, action...

Reino de este Mundo sits much closer to Cien Anyos, in that Leyendas is most explicitly a point of inspiration, whereas Reino can much more easily stand on its own (like 100 Anyos does). Connected with my point above, these latter two works are more relatable. Though there are fantastic elements involved in both, they have characters with whom we can empathize, the plots have shape, and there's more of a critical message. Both Carpentier and Marquez are commenting intravenously through the various choices they make in the respective two works, whereas the Leyendas are what they are: legends. They're not so much a return to something, but are that which we might return to (minor points of narration aside: these aren't the parts that weigh heavily).

And how might the McOndo guys feel about Reino... I don't think they'd spit quite so hard. To me, Reino is an historical account fused with life, and I love how real dances with magical here. I venture to say that the fact it is a telling of the past may moderately redeem it in contemporary critical eyes; Carpentier says that it happened, like that, then. Conversely, Marquez attests that it was, it is, and it will be: a fact that McOndo-ists fervently reject ("it" being, made simple, magical realism). But don't get me wrong. I love the MR layers of reality; there should always be some-ones, some-wheres, who emulate that heightened spiritual realm of thought...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Personajes en 100 AnYos - su personalidad o su esencia???

Las acciones de los personajes en 100 Anos me hace pensar que los personajes no son personas per se sino ideas manifestadas en la figura humana. Y no ideas muy claras; mejor dicho, ideas abstractas. Aureliano odia a Melquiades; propongo que el sentido de misticismo con que Melquiades hace todo repugna a Aureliano. En realidad, todo lo que hace Melquiades es realista: el hielo, la traida de las ciencias a Macondo: pero el modo en que introduce esos elementos es mistico. Aureliano es bastante realista, no? Es posible que mal entendI su caracter, no se. De todas formas, bajo este entendimiento, el lustre casi magico de Melquiades se puede leer de ser egotista, aun arrogante. Pero este entendimiento no trata de su personalidad sino de la actitud hecha obvia por sus acciones... Melquiades es la idea de una persona mas que una persona en si.

El amor que tiene Aureliano para Remedios trata mas de la esencia de ella. El hecho que ella es ninya no tiene relevancia a su mente (Aureliano). Yo creo que esta ambivalencia, o sea, falta de conciencia, hacia...las normas, los 'shoulds', junta con la descripcion fragante y sensual de su ser, llega al amor de una chica no muy muy presente. Tal vez es el estado dreamlike de la novela que me hace pensar asi, pero tal vez es mas que simplemente este estilo.

Los personajes forman tan grande parte de la novela en si - hay cienes de ellos - seria imposible que cada uno se considera individuamente, como persona. No. Los personajes tienen esencia, tienen proposito en la trama. Voy a usar una metafora para destacar este punto.....

En una cancion del estilo trance, hay un pulso que se crea por los sonidos electronicos - un pulso que la conduce hasta el climax. Podemos relacionarlo con el tesis o punto final de una obra literaria. Por otro lado, se anyade la melodia de la voz humana, usualmente una mujer sexed-up, del estilo y letra muy cursi. (No compartido con la obra literaria :D.) La voz humana solo sirve para recrear o llenar la linea de otro instrumento; forma parte de la fabula de la cancion, y entreteje con los otros lineas musicales. No se pone enfasis en la humanidad de la voz, como la de Remedios en 100 Anyos; ellas solo son partes de una esquema mucho mas grande...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sexual themes in 100 Years

Up til now, I'm interested in how sex is a major plot-thickening device. There are so many different little tools Marquez implements to get this theme across. Using animals, for instance, to reflect male dominance and rape; for instance, the dogs that accompany the English toward the beginning of the novel are aggressive and invoke fear in Ursula's great-great-grandmother. They're a symbol. The roosters: what's up with them? I feel they do pertain to the role of the male (obviously...) but I think they go beyond that. Maybe the fact that it is the male's decision as to where they go and what they do; but it's also and honor thing. Jose Arcadio Buendia slits their throats to redeem the soul of the ghost who haunts them (his manhood, his pride, perhaps?).

Sexual health seems to be defined by activity. The chastity underwear, the ancestral son with the cut off tail who bleeds to death was a VIRGIN. It seems that Marquez particularly emphasizes that without experiencing sex, one's self is basically incomplete; cannot grow and survive. It's definitely true in a bigger sense, ie, if everyone stops having sex, there's not going to be anymore everyone...

Incest. I'm not 100% sure about this one, but I thought I caught onto it a bit when Ursula was pregnant with Amaranta (I think), she sees her eldest's naked masculine body. From the English version:
"She felt a mingled sense of shame and pity: he was the first man that she had seen naked after her husband, and he was so well-equipped for life that he seemed abnormal. Ursula, pregnant for the third time, relived her newlywed terror."
Ok, so it's not incestuous per se, but it is a reaction that is wholly sexual; a realization of manhood, and her former escapism of the duties of being a 'good wife'... Hmm.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

El curso hasta hoy

Bueno, que decir.

Durante todo el curso, yo pensaba en el discurso que pasa entre este tema, o estilo, literario, el realismo magico, y los suenyos. Obviamente podemos ver las semejanzas entre los dos, en una luz estetica, pero ?cual afecta al otro? Cual aparece primeramente? A mi parecer, y quizas comparto este punto de vista con la mayoria de lectores y sonadores, el realismo magico tiene como raiz, como punto de embarque, los suenyos; y como un companero me dijo, hacer el paralelismo entre los dos es una actividad superflua. Sin embargo, yo lo hago naturalmente; y tal vez la lectura de tales textos como los de Asturias y Carpentier le hace a alguien sonyar mas intensamente, mas vividamente, que hubiera sonyado sin leerlos. Pero no se por cierto.

Y, por la ausencia de otra cosa decir, hablo de mi impresion del tema en general. Le encuentro intrigante lo real maravilloso. Lo veo como una imagen compuesta de muchas capas; se puede verlo esencialmente como los pensamientos mas hondos de nuestras vidas, mas profundas, hechos textuales. Este entendimiento es bastante abstracto; no trata de la mitologia o la historia haitiana explicitamente pero si los implementa, sin cuestion. Bueno, que lo veo asi: las cosas, los sucesos explicitos - el Mackandal, la naturaleza en su forma realista, las revoluciones de clase baja - son el raiz de los textos. Pero mas alla va el autor cuando utiliza el ojo magico, el ojo detallado (como elabora Carpentier en su ensayo El barroco y lo maravilloso), que busca la esencia o un subtexto sicologico, el cual nos llega al realismo magico en si.

Me intriga esto, en que todos nosotros podemos destacar el subtexto personal de la vida: las emociones y como amplifican nuestras vidas, haciendolas mas intensas, mas colocadas en cuanto a la sensacion. Desde una perspectiva creativa, sea literaria, visual-artistica o musical, este plano emocional-sicologico permite que la creacion esta impactante, que va mas alla de lo banal. Sin pensar en el elemento fantastico o no creible del realismo magico, yo puedo verlo inicialmente como una exploracion de lo no consciente; las imagenes magicos, o sea, fantasticos, vienen despues de llegar a este plano de consideracion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A concluding comment on Reino

Something I've been pondering is the failure of both "kingdoms", led first by whites then by blacks. Obviously race has a lot to do with it, but I concluded in feeling that Carpentier was not so much making particular statements about whites versus blacks but rather that they, when faced with too much power, both fall victim to tyranny. Carpentier expresses that all people, irrespective of race, fall victim to that power that having power holds over you. You'd like to say that the blacks would get their act in gear enough to rule democratically and, most importantly, remembering from what they come (the voo-doo, lo real maravilloso, nature), but power is too much for most people to know what to do with it. That is all. :)