Who is speaking? Sense and self in Vallejo
César Vallejo is considered one of the most important Latin American writers of the twentieth century. Yet with the complexity of his texts, his doubled, branching voices, and the controversies over his editions and manuscript traditions, he became both myth and interpretive battleground before most of his work was available to read. Vallejo’s transformation into a cultural artifact began in the 1920s, when critic José Carlos Mariátegui sought a prototypical Peruvianness in his work. The marketing of Vallejo after his death presents a mysterious, but also unchanging figure: the shadowy voice of a body speaking of orphanhood, poverty and the pain of being. The early critics’ attachment to this dark image promoted reductive readings. The postmodernist corrective, to see Vallejo as a writer of fractured subjectivity, has value but more useful are the ideas of cultural layering and a subjectivity that is neither unitary nor “fragmented,” but plural, distributed, mobile. This presentation would consider Vallejo in light of Foucault’s “What is an author?” Angamben’s “The author as gesture,” and some contemporary Vallejo criticism (Clayton, Granados, Hart, González Viaña). Key texts are the prose poem “Las ventanas se han estremecido” [The windows have shuddered, 1924], the novella “Fabla salvaje” [Savage Fable/Wild Speech, 1923], the novel El tungsteno [Tungsten, 1931] and the post-epic poetry of España, aparta de mí este cáliz [Spain, take this cup from me, 1938].
Filed under Poetry, Working
So: for that ALFS article, for which I have so much material and so much writing, but not a clear enough shape, I have these thoughts:
1. We have this situation:
Les valeurs d’émancipation et d’égalité n’animent plus le système universitaire, qui est devenu un système de tri de la population. Durant mon enfance, l’éducation était émancipatrice. Il y avait un bon niveau de tolérance à la déviance. Il y avait des profs d’histoire ou de philo communistes, anarchistes… Aujourd’hui, un impératif de perfection et donc de conformisme s’est mis en place. La fonction objective du système est de trier les gens et de retenir ceux qui sont les plus disciplinés et conformes. Au bout du bout, les gens qui finissent à la tête du pays sont incapables d’avoir une idée – je vous laisse imaginer à qui je pense.
But since liberal values are still invoked and a lexicon alluding to them is still used, the situation is hard to see. At the same time (and coming from the other direction), most people now were born to a university system where these values had already been abridged and the neo-liberal or corporate, or even the entrepreneurial university had already begun to take shape.
2. Can I afford to go to ACLA and if I try, should I present on Vallejo…or what? I have NOT written my Vallejo panelists as I had planned to do, or Emmanuel on a modernism / primitivism panel, and I should keep these ideas in mind.
3. My notes after ACLA in Utrecht: “Keep working on this paper. Keep working in general, you deserve it.” It is very hard for me to remember such things when I am here at Vichy State-Maringouin, but I am getting a bit better at it.
(Now I will go to the library, and then I will continue to think about the ACLA question.)
While I was driving I thought of various poems I would have written when I stopped, except that I never got to stop early enough because of road construction and traffic. They were in a certain style and now the New Yorker has published one like them. I do not generally like the poems the New Yorker publishes, but sometimes I do. This is Origin Story.