Lund on Garro

Now I will finish Lund, send some e-mail, and telephone the painter. Then, if business is not yet closed, I will pick up shoes, call that MD back, and see about the alignment in my car. After that, I will work out; it is a beautiful day. Then I will shop for food, have dinner, and do more work, as I took the morning off to sit on the porch, and it was pleasant.

Renan: national feeling comes through history, through telling a national story. To forjar patria you consolidate competing narratives into a unified, national one: “the dialectical sublation of forgetting into a common past worth fighting and dying for in the future.” But historical investigation can make us remember us too much; why is it Zapata that we remember and not Calles?

Garro’s novel is on this issue and the violence of the nation is not forgotten, but present; what the pueblo forgets is which side they were on in which past violent event. The characters do not forget the pueblo’s conditions of possibility: that the mestizos feel afraid in the countryside, for instance. The Indians are a national shame, and should be exterminated, says a voice or some voices, or the voice of the pueblo. Fear and shame tie the mestizo to the country or countryside, and point back to a national origin.

And this origin is in part the Malinche myth: desire, pleasure, betrayal. Mestizaje points to adulterous conditions of birth and is embarrassing for that reason; this helps explain why the idea of “pure” mestizaje (Gamio, Vasconcelos) was formed. What joins the Catholic porfiristas, for instance, and the atheist revolutionaries is “voracity and the shameful origin of the mestizo.” And mestizo, then, is the binding agent that unites state, nation, and identity. The voracity, violence, and voluptuousness of the Conquest is the origin of this nation.

This is why, in the novel, the mestizos cannot unite with the Indians against the Federal troops, for instance; the novel is disgusted with this. Jean Franco thought it was the story of a nation of marginals, but actually it narrates shame at the failure of this alliance. The factions in power have joined (and entered war against each other) to obscure the point the pueblo must not see: the need for redistribution of land.

A great part of Garro’s point in this novel is the obstacles which exist to Renan’s hegemonic consent. (And, the petit bourgeoisie of the town killed Indians before, so why do they object to the general’s doing it now? asks one key character. And: if you were doing it before, it is natural that they should do it now, it is said.)

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