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Art, Myth, and Ritual of the Ishir

This awakens their senses and their thirst for gold. Gorriti brings us to the scene of haunting so that her characters can overcome moral blindness or paralysis by grief. Characters sing; they wail; they go mad; they drown themselves in repetition. At times, they are left speechless. The truth is also spoken in bilingual voices, residual and dominant tongues that demonstrate a contest of values and cultures. Indigenous languages cross with cosmopolitan tongues; Latinisms infuse Spanish prose; musical composition and lyrics from Italian opera disrupt Spanish syntax.

These are the sounds of different memories at work, not projected through a single voice, but through dissonant tones and enunciations.

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Memory, then, is never pure in formation, but always depends on a conflict or blending of colonizing and colonized voices, on liberals and conservatives meeting in distant lands, on bandits facing the law. Memory, above all, is reinforced by repetition, yet a nonnormative or exceptional voice always tells a second story. Perhaps ruins as a nineteenth-century trope respond to a new conception of private interior time that is pulled in several directions.

This dual self is caught between sensate experience and reason, between home and exile, public and private time, as the narrator tries to straighten out the ruined history of the past. Bergson here is helpful when he reminds us that the body is a boundary between future and present Cited in Crary, In the materiality of experience so dear to nineteenth-century writers, the reception of ruins is written on the narrative body, installed in a border space where ethical direction comes into doubt.

Framing, haunting, and doubleness serve a disruptive function. Repetition, as a strategy that might have harbored the hope of bringing elusive fragments together, inevitably collapses upon itself, almost like a stammer. For Gorriti, corporeality is the enduring basis of legend. For Sarmiento, when the body is effaced, voice remains his resource. Sarmiento cannot live without either. Like the ruins that introduce Facundo, ideas need extension in time, but invariably they fall into the double time of repetition, the equivalent in writing of the oral stutter.

It inaugurates Facundo and appears, as well, in many of his texts. We seem to know it by heart.

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For both writers, repetition is like an enchantment that drives away the horrors of history. Haunting us, like an incantation, repetition alerts us to the double lineage that tears us between past and present. Sigmund Freud linked repetition of trauma to the pleasure principle. Yet repetition without mastery leaves us with trauma: it often stands for blockage; occasionally it inspires madness; it finds its way into speech through inarticulate stammer.

Halting repetitions like this leave us stuck in sameness; without advancing, without reproducing, they lock us in the present.

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Perhaps Benjamin is correct: we see history only as a set of fragments; lacking confidence in a holistic past, we instead reduce history to bits and pieces that we later repeat to assure ourselves albeit without success of a basic truth under our control. Yet here we fall upon a paradox: if repetition screams the unfinished obsession with a history in ruins, in literature, it also forms the basis of style as Barthes once told us.

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History is in ruins and there is no way to voice the experience in a single coherent utterance. The American ruin is translated in the stammer that is the basis of style itself. V Edward Said remarked that dualism is required for all second beginnings: phantoms underlie the invention of the new. With his gestures, the thief installs a double reading required of all progress in history.

A phantom of disorder and antiprogress, he calls for a fresh start. He makes a ruin of the past in the hope for something new. And here is the brilliance of Facundo: supposedly a denunciation of barbarism, of the uncultivated savagery of tyrants, the text goes on to advance barbarism as a source of art.

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The ruin of history is not an appendix to civilization; civilization cannot do without it. Sarmiento obsesses with American originality and finds its face in the ruin. We all remember the opening chapter of Facundo when the rastreador and the baqueano rely on their senses to organize knowledge. Sound teaches us to listen to nature; with sight, Sarmiento trains us to see the true nature of the barbaric other.

But just as Sarmiento longs to touch barbarism and give outline to its form, he enters into a contradiction: he admits that poetry lies at the center of savage disorder. Perhaps, as Deleuze might put it, the choices are between creative forces and the force of domestication , Savagery falls in with the realm of the senses: rhythm, as the energy behind the primitive economy of speech, teaches us how to listen and understand; sight, sound, and 36 Francine Masiello touch belong to the barbaric.

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Reason is thus left aside in order for originality to blossom. That the sensate world drives the literature of the romantics is hardly a new idea. Facundo refuses to listen to warnings about his threatened safety and begins a voyage that will culminate in death.

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I find this significant. In the city, Facundo loses contact with the senses; his intuitive feel for danger is suppressed. He is no longer attuned to surrounding danger. He thus ventures forth and meets his demise. Having broken the quadrant that guides his ship, he relies only upon his senses to access the secret of the ancient past: the enemy within that has brought him to ruin. Of course, he is correct in his intuition and finds the whale. But being correct also leads to his destruction. Ahab thus reaches a crossroads between the senses and reason.

By choosing sensibility over reason, he brings down both ship and crew. The lesson: collective power is endangered when only the senses command.

Comics and Memory in Latin America (Pitt Illuminations)

Yet, at the same time, a community without intuitions to bind it surely cannot prosper. I do not want to make a case for embodied knowledge because, of course, we know that carnal experience is crafted by a biopower that is far stronger than individual desire. But I want to point, with all of this, to a shift in sentiment in the mid-nineteenth century that announces the crisis of an ongoing authority, a crisis of the masculine pact, caught between the pull of organized reason and the draw of the senses.

Yet creativity saves their heirs. The ruined structures they perceive—the home, the estate, the doomed ship of a desperate captain—become allegories for failed associations among powerful men. They signal the collapse of the sought-after liberal ideal.

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Understandably, then, the children of revolution drift in travel and exile. They thus turn to writing, and they remain alone. In this regard, it is no surprise that Sarmiento and Gorriti turn to repetition during the Rosas years, as if to stitch together the scraps of an illusory past. Nor is it any surprise that Melville keeps reflecting on Scribbling on the Wreck 37 human extinction, never able to find a way to link past and present. Melville, up to his final fiction written shortly before his death, still tries to capture a before and after in the stuttering figure of Billy Budd.

Like whiteness, the vocabulary of knowledge fails; no connective can redeem it. In each case, the illegibility of a fragmented whole torments these authors; its visual trope is found in ruins and its vocal answer in the stutter. VI Michel de Certeau speaks of the ways in which pedestrians forge spaces of enunciation in dangerous sites to avoid the strategies of the powerful and find alternatives to rationalized space 97— Ruins open us to those unconventional spaces, more often collapsing the anxiety of mismeasurement in a habit of endless repetition.

Ruins not only speak the dual pull of past and present, the return of the conflict between senses and reason at the scene of crisis, but they also prompt a collective critique of those structures left standing. From the site of the Roman Forum to the burning steel of the World Trade Center, ruins are about the history of ruining others.

They speak our failure to find an enduring social bond; they name the site where reason crumbles and harmonic voice is lost. One solution for the ruin of history is found in the force of literature; another might take ruins as a site for new beginnings. In short, ruins awaken us to collective thinking that takes us to the frontier of action. Translated by Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, The Origin of German Tragic Drama. London: Verso, Bulwer Lytton, Edward. The Last Days of Pompeii. New York: A.