Calvert Casey's Wasted Narratives
Abstract

Abstract:

In the 1960s, Calvert Casey wrote fiction and essays in support of the Cuban Revolution as a member of Lunes de Revolución and Casa de las Américas before going into exile. This essay argues that he developed a revolutionary, though ultimately wasted, model by which individuals can form a political community despite the rigid social barriers that persisted from Cuba's colonial and neocolonial past. In his writings, Casey explores Havana's sewers and the forgotten stories of the capital city. His focus on literal and figurative waste is not an isolated moment in the history of Cuban aesthetics, but one that he locates in the works of nineteenth-and early twentieth-century Cuban authors, including Cirilo Villaverde, Ramón Meza, and Miguel de Carrión. Casey critiques a certain Romantic vision of the past that, in his view, idealized pre-Revolutionary Cuba as a tropical paradise set for epic struggles and sublime realizations. Against this mythical, Romantic image of the Cuban nation, he proposes an aesthetics and politics without the lofty, normative values that exclude images of sullied objects, disreputable places, and people getting wasted. The essay concludes with an analysis of the film P.M. alongside Casey's posthumously published short story "Piazza Margana" to situate both of these seemingly aberrant texts within a long-standing, though infrequently celebrated, national tradition of reveling in filthy places packed with writhing, drunken bodies.