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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Filling in the Connections / Shower Ideas

I just got out of the shower, and this is what I come up with, showering, shaving, dressing, and making coffee. Of course, this is just an addition to the ideas I have already been developing over several days, and really over several years. It is only because I have been working both short-term and long-term with some intensity that the ideas are flowing today. It doesn't hurt to have Leslie's blog to bounce ideas off of. She has an uncanny ability to filter my ideas through her own and make me see what I am really doing.

*Exceptionalism is the ideological child of Romanticism. The idea of studying national literatures comes from the idea that a Volk has a distinctive essence. Even Comparative Literature suffers from the idea of comparing different national literatures to each other, so it doesn't provide an escape, unless done very well. A historically self-aware position requires that one recognizes one's own investment in romantic ideologies.

*The claim that Spain never had a genuine romanticism (Silver) or that its poetics is theoretically naive (Silver) is itself rooted in the romanticism of Hispanic exceptionalism. To disentangle those claims, then, requires, well, distentangling a knotted rope, deconstructing a circular reasoning.

*Exceptionalism is a kind of auto-orientalism. A nation orientalizes itself.

*Negative and positive versions of exceptionalism aren't really that different, conceptually speaking. In other words,condemning or celebrating the way Spain is backwards lead to the same conclusion. A negative construction is always the way to rescue an exception to an exception. We should be free to question exceptionalisms without fear of adopting simplistic positions on the other side. I've mocked ideas that Spaniards are more stoic, or whatever, than other Europeans. I should continue my mockery.

*Modernism in literature is (often) the effort of a national elite to develop a theory of national identity that is both modern and traditionalist, that negotiates claims of exceptionalism / universality. Modernism is distinctively peripheral, not prototypically metropolitan, in that it is interested in those romantic notions of identity that are more distinctive around the edges. Unamuno's casticismo, Cavafy's Hellenism, or Pessoa's Lusoism. Williams' Americanism. Lezama Lima's insularism. Peninsular studies has not been able to talk about modernism in a way that explains this convincingly. (Soufas gets at a lot of this from another angle, but he thinks of modernism as a "European" movement with a particular manifestation in Spain. He argues against exceptionalism, but doesn't fully see its productive nature.) -ist and -ism are productive suffixes here. Modernism, peninsularism, Hispanism.

*The origins of exceptionalism in Spain: the Generation of '98. Or the loss of the colonies. Ties to Latin American exceptionalisms.

*The 80s in Spain. One hypothesis is that the transition is false because it doesn't undo the latest episode of exceptionalism: the Franco dictatorship. The nation remains sociologically Francoist. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. That's the motto of the exceptionalists. That's the period when late modernism takes shape, ideologically driven by Valente's interest in Saint John of the Cross, Celan, and Jabès.

*My own development. I reacted against Silver in my 2nd book. My Lorca book took me out of the poetry ghetto, but scholars in my own field aren't that interested in American poetry. What I need to do now in my 2nd Lorca book is to connect all these dots. This new book is the book "behind" Apocryphal Lorca. It is an intervention in the ideology of Hispanism. Now I am glimpsing another book behind this one.

2 comments:

Professor Zero said...

*Modernism in literature is (often) the effort of a national elite...

I will cite you but I am basically lifting this paragraph. Not to quote but to use.

Spain's issue is not being willing to be an in between space, which it just is, there's no escaping it. They either fret about not being France or go off to the bar and boast to each other about how really, they are Turks and nobody can understand them.

Jonathan said...

Yes, please use it. This is going into my article on Lorca's duende as a theory of cultural exceptionalism.