- Escrituras impolíticas. Anti-representaciones de la comunidad en Juan Rodolfo Wilcock, Osvaldo Lamborghini y Virgilio Piñera by Karina Miller
In the first pages of Escrituras impolíticas, Karina Miller cites from “La comunidad organizada,” a 1949 speech by Juan Domingo Perón. In it, he offers a utopian vision of the future, a community articulated around the welfare and harmonious convivencia of all, a community with high aspirations in both cultural and bodily wellbeing. For Miller, Perón functions—as he has for other critics—as a touchstone figure of hegemonic politics. His discourse “funda el mito de la comunidad, su ficción de origen y trascendencia,” Miller writes (11). That myth of community is the myth of a pueblo, founded on a constitutive antagonism between “us” and “them.”
With Perón as her starting point—and with Fidel Castro functioning as an additional exemplar of hegemonic discourse—Miller asks whether it was possible, within the highly politicized field of Latin American literature during the sixties and seventies, to work outside of these terms. Her corpus answers this question in the affirmative, as she traces a series of “impolitical” writings that seek to evade or complicate the us-them dichotomy. Concretely, she sustains that Juan Rodolfo Wil-cock, Virgilio Piñera, and Osvaldo Lamborghini did so by mobilizing affects and experiences that lie outside the war zone of politics in its moralistic mode, namely “la violencia, la soledad, el miedo, el asco, la apatía, el aburrimiento y la estupidez, entre otros” (12). These affects and experiences help to found a series of fictional dystopian worlds that would negate the positive fullness presupposed by discourses like Perón’s.
Miller makes this case through a series of close readings, with each chapter focused on a specific author. Thus Wilcock’s characters pass through experiences of loneliness, stupidity, and metamorphosis. His monsters undo notions of community founded on wholeness, occupying instead “islas improductivas” that function as places of “resistencia a la mitologización de la comunidad” (54). In a similar way, Piñera’s writings often represent fear, boredom, and apathy as alternatives [End Page 214] to the “lógica de lo político como antagonismo bélico”—an antagonism founded on, again, a charismatic leader assembling the harmonious community around him(78). His characters chew gum and play canasta, stubbornly unproductive in their habits. Finally, Lamborghini and the “estética del asco” that runs through his writings forces language and literary taste to their limits, where the economy of signification that underlies hegemonic politics reaches its outer bounds (113). Through her analysis of these three cases, Miller makes the case for a current of impolitical literature underneath the high tides of Latin American writing during the sixties and seventies.
Her convincing analyses successfully weave together a number of literary, critical, and theoretical references, from Herman Melville to Roberto Esposito. These sources help Miller situate her corpus within long-developing debates around the concept of hegemony in Latin American studies. Her reading of Lamborghini represents a key case in point. She understands the proliferation of bodies in his writings—violating and violated bodies—as the index of a politics of affect that functions as the “talón de Aquiles” of hegemony. In its immanent operations, that is, affect interrupts or escapes the logic of representation that underpins the notion of hegemony (133). This argument builds on similar ones made about works by Wilcock and Piñera, perhaps representing the apex of this tendency in way Lamborghini reduces representation to bodily experience.
At stake in these analyses is precisely the relationship between bodies and the sorts of collectivity that gather them together. And this relationship specifically hinges on the question of work—both as obra and as trabajo. As such, against the imperative to write in a highly politicized manner where the us-them dichotomy is transparent, “las escrituras impolíticas de [este] corpus evaden la responsabilidad de la obra.” Against this responsibility, these authors “insisten en...