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  • Eroticism, Counterculture, and Juan García Ponce
  • Bruce-Novoa (bio)

Adult sexuality, in so far as it is restricted by rules designed to maintain the institution of the family and in so far as the desire for sexual satisfaction is diverted and exploited for the purpose of maintaining a socially useful institution, is a clear instance of that subordination of the pleasure-principle to the reality-principle which is repression . . .

Norman O. Brown, Life against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History

Orphic and Narcissistic Eros awakens and liberates potentialities that are real in things animate and inanimate, in organic and inorganic nature—real but in the un-erotic reality suppressed. These potentialities circumscribe the telos inherent in them as: "just to be what they are," "being there," existing. . . . But to be what they are they depend on the erotic attitude: they receive their telos only in it.

Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud

Defender el amor ha sido siempre una actividad antisocial y peligrosa. Y ahora empieza a ser de verdad revolucionaria.

Octavio Paz, El Laberinto de la Soledad [End Page 1]


Although the division of Mexican fiction in the 1960s into Escritura (Writerly) and Onda (Wave or Vibration) has for some time been questioned as too simplistic, critics continue to evoke the opposition as a starting point for the study of the period.1 In great part, Glantz's description rests on the assumption of a connection of the Escritura authors with elitist aesthetics related to European high modernism and the international trends associated with the nouveau roman, contrasted against the playful, irreverent, and iconoclastic attitude more akin to U.S. influences displayed by the Onda authors. In this way, the Onda writers often are seen as representatives of the 1960s counterculture. That dichotomy arises from or produces the impression that the Onda writers represented the U.S. counterculture in Mexico, while the Escritura writers are thought to have been strictly European in their affinities. However, the latter authors participated in counterculture as well, perhaps in ways even more profound and radical than their younger compatriots. And their ties to U.S. cultural production, while perhaps less apparent, were significant. Within this context, I contend that one of the keys to the counterculture discourse of the Escritura writers—whom I prefer to call the "Ruptura (Rupture) Generation"—was eroticism, especially as seen in work of the central figures of Juan García Ponce, Salvador Elizondo, and Inés Arredondo.

By focusing on eroticism in their work, these writers rejected not only the traditional moral code of their times but also the social and political values imposed on art by the previous generations of Mexican artists, especially those who participated consciously or unconsciously in the creation of the nationalistic project that had come to be known as the "Mexican School of Art." More than a mere sexual diversion or perversion as traditional Occidental culture generally treats eroticism, Ruptura writers considered it a questioning of and direct attack on the concept of accepted codes of human interaction within contemporary society. By putting in doubt the solidity of the particular being through the disruption brought about by erotic transport, they also struck at the entire sociocultural project based on that definition of human communal existence and the postulation [End Page 2] of the centrality of the individual subject. And just as Freud's concept of sexuality included much more than genital sex, the Ruptura can be seen to have extended the sense of Eros far beyond sexuality per se. The attitude of these writers about the freedom of expression, especially with respect to the dominant forms of Mexican art, can be seen as a call, in Susan Sontag's words from the same period, for "an erotics of art" (1964, 14). In this way, they can be seen to have participated in the mid-century sexual revolution on the side of the counterculture philosophers. Since the relationship the Ruptura maintained with French and German thought has attracted most of the critical attention, I will focus on Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown, two cultural figures who played a visible and highly influential role in U.S. counterculture...


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