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Monday, June 10, 2013

Two Ideas for Today

1. Exceptionalism is a form of poeisis in the etymological sense of making or creation. It uses language to create a reality that does not yet exist. This is really why what I am working on is the poetics of exceptionalism.

2. It is thus a creatively dynamic process.

We can admire its poetic, dynamic nature while still being suspicious of its ideological effects.

Let's take Castro's idea of the "morada vital de los españoles." It is a theory of how Spanish identity was formed through a convivencia among three religions (castes) in medieval times. Interestingly, he doesn't claim that Spanish people are actually aware of how their identity was formed. Thus it is not a description of a self-conception that Spaniards possess, but rather an invitation to identify with a particular theory of history that would explain them to themselves. It is an exhortation, a piece of rhetoric, a rallying cry.

It is forged linguistically, through an existentialist vocabulary, with roots in Ortega and Heiddeger. The vital dwelling-place of the Spaniards. It is dynamic because it is based on a contact among several groups, rather than an essentialist notion of unchanging national character. It is historical (seemingly) but one might expect the effects of this historical convivencia to diminish over time. For AC, however, the effects of this history set a pattern that still repeats itself into the 20th century.

Phrases like "morada vital" have a poetic vitality. They sound cool. To come up with shit like this requires a literary sensibility, a way of making words cast a spell over the listener, tapping into really powerful veins of metaphors. Compare Vasconcelos's "raza cósmica."


Leslie B. said...


Leslie B. said...

So, my reigning article today says:

mestizaje is a discursive practice,

it is part of racialist discourse,

racism has a poetics or is one,


mestizaje takes a socially and historically constructed identity and essentializes it.