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Speculative Fictions

Speculative Fictions: Chilean Culture, Economics, and the Neoliberal Transition

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    Speculative Fictions
    Book Description:

    Speculative Fictionsviews the Chilean neoliberal transition as reflected in cultural production from the postdictatorship era of the 1970s to the present. To Alessandro Fornazzari, the move to market capitalism effectively blurred the lines between economics and aesthetics, perhaps nowhere more evidently than in Chile.Through exemplary works of film, literature, the visual arts, testimonials, and cultural theory, Fornazzari reveals the influence of economics over nearly every aspect of culture and society. Citing Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, Willy Thayer, Milton Friedman, and others, Fornazzari forms the theoretical basis for his neoliberal transitional discourse as a logical progression of capitalism.Fornazzari identifiesCasa de campo,José Donoso's allegory of the military coup of 1973 and the ensuing monetary crisis, as a harbinger of transitional texts, challenging them to explore new forms of abstraction. Those forms are explored in the novelsOir su vozby Arturo Fontaine andMano de obraby Diamela Eltit, where Fornazzari examines divergent views of workers in the form of neoliberal human capital or post-Fordist immaterial labor. In documentaries by Patricio Guzmán and Silvio Caiozzi, he juxtaposes depictions of mass mobilization and protest to the mass marketing of individual memory and loss, claiming they serve as symbols of the polarities of dictatorship and neoliberalism. Fornazzari then relates the subsuming of the individual under both fascism and neoliberalism by recalling the iconicimbunche(a mutilated figure whose orifices have been sewn closed) in works by Donoso and the visual artist Catalina Parra. He continues the theme of subsumption in his discussion of the obliteration of the divide between physical labor and intellectualism under neoliberalism, as evidenced in the detective novelA la sombra del dineroby Ramón Díaz Eterovic.In these examples and others, Fornazzari presents a firmly grounded theoretical analysis that will appeal to Latin Americanists in general and to those interested in the intersection of economics and culture. The Chilean experience provides a case study that will also inform students and scholars of neoliberal transitions globally.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7854-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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    (pp. 1-12)

    When the chilean philosopher Patricio Marchant reflects on why after fifteen years of university life dedicated to studying philosophy and psychoanalysis, he decided to devote himself to Gabriela Mistral’s poetry (producing the singular encounter between theoretical thinking and Mistral that is the bookSobre arboles y madres), he recalls a gift given to him many years earlier by his first philosophy teacher: “your duty,” Louis-Bertrand Geiger advised him, “is to study what is great in yourpatria, Chilean poetry.”¹ For Marchant this duty—a joyful one, a celebration—is distinct from the kind of intellectual work emanating from the will...

  2. 1 THE BROODER’S STARTLED GAZE: José Donoso, Broken Allegories, and the Commodity Form
    (pp. 13-38)

    According to the poet pablo Neruda, José Donoso was destined to write “the great Chilean social nove.”¹ Yet instead of being recognized as the Chilean Balzac, Donoso has perhaps become best known for his literary project’s modernist disarticulation of the very possibility of a realist novel capable of accessing a vision of totality. This focus on his modernist approach is based on a partial analysis of Donoso’s work, privileging his formally experimental novels such asEl obsceno pájaro de la nocheandTaratuta;Naturaleza muerta con cachimbaover more realist-oriented work such asCoronación, Este domingo, andEl lugar sin...

  3. 2 LITERATURE AND LABOR: Post-Fordism and Human Capital in Diamela Eltit and Arturo Fontaine
    (pp. 39-62)

    Andrés Wood’s celebrated 2004 filmMachucapresents a revisonist reading of the history of Chile’s Popular Unity period. It is reading of history that suggests that the social transformations advanced by the Chilean socialist revolution were annulled in a single instance of violence. In the film’s penultimate scene, Gonzalo Infante—the young upper-middle-class protagonist—is threatened by a soldier raiding a shantytown on the eve of the 11 September 1973 military coup. This scene inverts the logic of dedifferentiation that all the preceding parts ofMachucadevelop: focusing on the friendship between two young boys from different socioeconomic backgrounds, the...

  4. 3 RESTITUTION, MEMORY, AND THE MARKET: The Chilean Documentary
    (pp. 63-86)

    Restitution, as a restoration to a previous state or as a giving of an equivalent for a past crime, is a politics marked by its own impossibility. This impossibility, which is firmly lodged in the very heart of the restitutional project, betrays its reparational efforts at every turn, constantly conjuring up the specter of the irreparable and the irredeemable. The latter confront the work of restitution with an impossible question: what scale, equivalence, or exchange (affective, economic, or otherwise) can be drawn upon to account for those historical wrongs that lie beyond measure? Writing on the relation between restitution and...

  5. 4 CRITICAL VISUALITY OF GLOBAL SUBSUMPTION? Neoliberal Biopolitics, Chilean Visual Arts, and the Economic text
    (pp. 87-105)

    Neoliberalism is too often invoked as either the explanation or the problem, as something that has exhausted itself or that has been all too triumphant. It is for this project precisely what remains to be explained. Taking a cue from the work that Michel Foucault began to explore in his 1978 seminar on neoliberal governmentality, where he focuses specifically on the postwar German Freiburg School and the Chicago School of Economics (Milton Friedman, George Stigler, and Gary Becker, among others), and Giorgio Agamben’s work on bare life and the concentration camp, I examine the intimate relation between neoliberalism and biopolitics...

  6. 5 REFLECTIONS ON A RESIDUAL FORMATION: Intellectual Work, Real Subsumption, and Socialized Labor
    (pp. 106-118)

    I begin with what may appear to be an unlikely starting point for a discussion of the relation between neoliberalism and the military coup: a debate over conflicting interpretations of Gabriela Mistral’s poetry. The debate is one that transpired within the pages of the journalEstudios Públicosin 1985-86 and was ignited by a review that Patricio Marchant wrote about Jorge Guzman’s bookDiferencias latinoamericanas.¹ There is, I will argue, more at stake in this debate than just the status of literary criticism on Gabriela Mistral. It reveals differing perspectives regarding the legacies of the dictatorship and the state of...