"Darse la mano es como desarmar una bomba": Division by Language and Reconciliation through Touch in Los informantes by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
- Revista de Estudios Hispánicos
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Tomo 51, Número 2, Junio 2017
- pp. 417-439
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- Additional Information
Jacques Derrida, in one of his last projects, took touch as an analytical point of departure for the study of a selection of texts by Jean-Luc Nancy. He interprets the meaning of to touch in Nancy's work as a "setting-in-motion," a trope which can be observed in the novel Los informantes (2004) by Juan Gabriel Vásquez. This article observes an intertextual relationship between Los informantes and a chapter from Nancy's The Sense of the World entitled "Politics II: Subject, Citizen, Sovereignty, Community, (K)not. Tying. Seizure of Speech." The narrator and his father are read as allegorical representations of Nancy's definitions of sovereignty and democracy, respectively. When mapped onto the historic and contemporary Colombian political landscape, the flaws associated with these concepts suggest the need for a new form of community based on interdependence and being-in-common, critically explored in the novel through the character of Angelina, a physiotherapist. Set against a trend in Colombian and Latin American writing of incorporating the themes of Nazism and the Second World War, this article—contrary to previous studies—finds that therapy through language (talking or writing) is not the key to healing the divides of the past. The meaningful encounters demonstrated by Angelina and others involve physical contact and affection: these are the encounters that promote reconciliation.