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Ritualidad corporal y reflexividad artística en tres novelas latinoamericanas: Los pasos perdidos de Alejo Carpentier, Água viva de Clarice Lispector y Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero de César Aira

  • Author(s): Galvis Echeverry, Carolina;
  • Advisor(s): Lupi, Juan P.;
  • et al.

This dissertation explores three Latin American novels: Los pasos perdidos by Alejo Carpentier (Cuba), Água viva by Clarice Lispector (Brazil) and Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero by César Aira (Argentina). Even though they were published in different times and places, these novels share the same preoccupation. That is, the human necessity for a rituality that gives sense to existence. This rituality speaks about the connection of the body with the surrounding reality and the necessity to express it to others. Therefore, it opens a certain communication among humanity. The protagonists of these novels are artists. All of them have the necessity of thinking about the art they produce. In all of them, art matters for two reasons: 1) It becomes a trace of the protagonist’s journey in the world and her/his possibility of being free through expression, 2) it opens the possibility of a profound dialogue through time. Likewise, all these novels state that art has value only if it is able to disrupt a status- quo. In this sense, they display a counterbalance to power mechanisms. What is more, the concept of art trembles in these narrations. Art becomes only a posterior Western concept added to a universal and timeless human necessity. That is, the necessity of a rituality that speaks about the connection between bodies and places through expression.

The first step consisted in the creation of a proposal that went through different stages of revision and commentaries; this step also included the consolidation and reading of a wide number of texts related to the issue of art reflexivity. A committee integrated by four professors of different fields guided the reading exercise, commented and evaluated the outcomes of that process.

After the proposal approval, a thorough research of Latin American narrations that contain art reflexivity helped to choose the three novels that integrate the corpus of this book. However, the discovery of two commonalities led the corpus selection criteria. On one hand, there is a presence of a deep concern about the relation between the own body and the surrounding world. On the other hand, there is an opposition to a certain kind of power.

The main discoveries, in the three narrations here explored, are based on the presence of a special personal rituality. This rituality intends to overcome the certainty of the future body’s death through a creation, and constitutes a kind of thought; which main source is the body. A present body wants to establish a communication that travels breaking the three temporalities (present, past and future) and concentrates in the present of other bodies. This is why the texts place emphasis on perception when exploring a creational process. Água viva’s protagonist calls the readers’ attention to the importance of understanding her creation (the text) through their bodies. On the other hand, Los pasos perdidos and Un episodio intend to send a message about the knowledge that can be reached through a deep connection of body and space.

This fact constitutes a turn in ideologies that foster the belief in the supremacy of mind over body. Turning this hierarchical order becomes a fusion where perceiving is thinking. In this sense, the creation is seen as the vestige of that thought, a vestige that works to generate o meanings. However, it is possible only in connection with a body willing to open its senses, in the present.

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