Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Of Virtuoso Cynics: Plays on Language, Sleights of Hand, and Moving with Music

  • Author(s): Ulloa, Oscar Alain
  • Advisor(s): Fornazzari, Alessandro
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

Of Virtuoso Cynics: Plays on Language, Sleights of Hand, & Moving with Music analyzes the ludic elements of colloquial language, fútbol criollo, and communal music in Latin America as a possibility of acknowledging collective experiences that offer alternatives to dominant cultural patterns and practices. This dissertation proposes to critique standards of language, football, and music that consider language as immaterial, football a mechanism for social discipline and gentlemanly conduct, and music being a higher art form not to be carried out in the street. By putting into dialogue the everyday of Henri Lefebvre and Julia Kristeva’s poetic, I articulate the material elements of popular manifestations of language, football, and music in Latin America, to express the symbolic weight they carry in popular cultures. Popular peoples’ inscriptions into the world are made through the knowledges of experiencing the actual conflicts of society. Drawing from Johan Huizinga’s notion of sacred play, and Alenka Zupančič’s short-circuit, I make a move to say that true play involves an actual virtuosic handling of symbols in their materiality in the day to day as a praxis. The handling being informed by a cynical out view of life, understanding it as having multiple lenses of interpretation, and openly questioning the dominant one by signaling its faults. I articulate the value in playing with colloquial language by emphasizing the poetic as a praxis in Roberto Bolaño’s Los detectives salvajes, where the poetic is found in the materiality of language. I look at Diego Maradona and fútbol criollo as expressing an alternate way of playing the world’s sport that undermines the discriminatory standards that wish to universalize the sport. Later, I explore the participatory and agency creating communal music, candombe, and how that reading of the Afrouruguayan musical tradition informs and gives a democratic perspective to Jorge Drexler’s music application, “N”. I wish to highlight the social and cultural functions of colloquial language, fútbol criollo, and communal music because as platforms of the commons in Latin America, they are widely felt, not only making them apt to express a collective grievance but also be an expressive force for existence in the world.

Main Content
Current View