In Cuentos de vacaciones (1905), the collection of short fictions by Spanish histologist and Nobel Prize winner Santiago Ramón y Cajal, scientific and aesthetic discourses merge to interrogate the increasing complexity of life under modernity. This article examines how science and technologies of representation and display (dissection, “the theater of proof,” microscopy) intersect with modern spaces of visuality (theaters, museums, laboratories) in order to construct an epistemology of the human body and its legibility at individual and collective levels of existence. In my reading of “El pesimista corregido,” I argue that the story can be interpreted as a pseudoscientific experiment taking the form of a mise en scène which, as it exposes the constructed nature of human physiology, also foregrounds the centrality of theater and illusion as mechanisms and channels for subjectivization as well as for the production of aesthetic, cultural, and political consensus.


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pp. 69-91
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