UCLA Center for the Study of Women
Performative Metaphors: The "Doing" of Image by Women in Mariachi Music
- Author(s): Soto Flores, Leticia Isabel
- et al.
Although research concerning metaphor in and about music is common in music studies, I would like to propose an alternative way of approaching metaphor as it relates to performance. Philosopher John L. Austin, in coining the word "performative," refers to the meaningof utterances, or spoken words, as the "doing" of the action that it accomplishes(Austin 1978: 5-6). Although this is the case with spoken words, what happens with the "doing" that has no words? For this, I refer to feminist Judith Butler's notion of "bodily action." In understanding the relationship between the speech act and the bodily act, Butler writes, "there is what is said, and then there is a kind of saying that the 'bodily instrument' of the utterance performs" (Butler 1997: 11).Actions are thus to be understood as performative metaphors, which are effective in bringing about the situation they represent, using an image rather than words.
The image created and negotiated by women mariachi musicians, both in their verbal descriptions of themselves as well as the non-verbal "doing" of their image, affirms the idea that ametaphor is not merely a linguistic mechanism; metaphors can also be performed, meaning that one does not have to "say" something to enact a metaphorical truth-value. A performance, for example, is a public action in which meanings are manifested into actions (and words) that stand for something else.In the following, I will illustrate briefly how metaphors can be performed, not through the music itself, but through the image presented by female mariachi musicians.