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  • Infiernos Imaginarios: Puerto Rican Marginality in Abniel Marat’s Dios en el Playgirl de noviembre and Eugenio María de Hostos’s La Peregrinación de Bayoán

This essay attempts a critical reading of the Puerto Rican writers Abniel Marat’s drama dios en el Playgirl de noviembre (God in November’s Playgirl) and Eugenio María de Hostos’s novel La Peregrinación de Bayoán (The Peregrination of Bayoan). My study explores two different discourses: first, the discourse of Abniel Marat, as representative of an oppressed, angry, and silenced homosexual community at the margins of Puerto Rican culture; and second, the discourse of Eugenio María de Hostos, which represents the discourse of the founding father of an emerging Puerto Rican national identity that struggles to break away from Spanish colonialism. My essay shows that these two discourses, one which takes place in the nineteenth century at the origins of a Puerto Rican national consciousness, and the other, which takes place at the end of the twentieth century at the moment of neocolonial [End Page 215] national re-examination, mirror each other in structure, rhetorical devices, and thematic composition. These two discourses not only resemble each other, but also share their origins in bad conscience: a place of self-tortures of the mind and tremblings of the flesh. For these two discourses, in their critique of their socio-cultural condition, share the same structural space of enunciation, a space outside the law, or perhaps even inherent to the law, that is, a space of deviancy. As these two discourses, the legitimized discourse of national identity and the discourse of the silenced homosexual, are examined, a structural and thematic sameness shows forth. My essay sheds light on this structural origin of the founding father’s discourse as a mode of enunciation always already constituted from a space outside the law, a space of deviancy. That is to say, the founding father’s discourse is always already a deviant discourse, perhaps it could even be said, a perverse discourse. Therefore, the desire of the patriot, patriotic desire, is always already deviant, if not, perhaps, already perverse. The ideas of sexuality and nationality, of sexual and national identity, do not merge just recently, but were always already merged at the origins of their space of enunciation. Thus the idea of national identity is always already an ideological construction that has its birth in a space of deviancy: one that later is to be silenced and incorporated as a constitutive absence, as a silence within, as a forgotten mythology of silent origins. But these origins, always addressed, always questioned, may only answer back with the ambiguity of an always elusive yet always present mythology of spectral silences.

Marginalized Specters: Spectral Margins

Marat’s drama God in November’s Playgirl is best described as a stage where, in his own words, “maricones atormentados” (“self-tormented faggots” [69]) 1 in endless “holocaustos personales” (“personal holocausts” [88]) find some comfort in an irreverent critique of “normality,” of the false understandings of identity, of sexual and racial dominant “realities,” and of the failed patriotisms and abysmal histories of Puerto Rican contemporary culture; in other words, the text amounts to an “eructar desesperante de todos los silencios” (“abrupt eruption, in despair, of all silences” [93]). My essay explores these desperate silences as representations of struggling subjectivities. These are tormented [End Page 216] silences that are wrestling not to be forgotten. 2 But they as well have to forget that which torments them. Marat’s characters, ill-ridden with the ravages of guilt, wrestle to forget their oppressed and violent pasts as they struggle not to be forgotten in the social reality of their present insular condition. “La isla entera esta enferma . . .” (“The entire island is sick . . .” [77]), Marat reflects upon the reality of an indifference to an impending and lethal viral condition. In a kaleidoscopic representation of Puerto Rican reality, Marat merges and stages the political with the historical, the racial and the sexual, in order to explore not only the material and existential conditions of Puerto Rican society, but also the diversity of angles that forms a Caribbean reality...

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pp. 215-239
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