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«by Andreea Marinescu A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Romance Languages ...»

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DIALOGUING ACROSS CATASTROPHES: CHILEAN POST-COUP AND POSTDICTATORSHIP CULTURAL PRODUCTION IN THE WORKS OF ROBERTO

BOLAÑO AND RAÚL RUIZ

by

Andreea Marinescu

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

(Romance Languages and Literatures: Spanish)

in The University of Michigan

Doctoral Committee:

Associate Professor Gareth Williams, Chair Associate Professor Lawrence M. La Fountain-Stokes Assistant Professor Katharine M. Jenckes Associate Professor Catherine L. Benamou, University of California, Irvine © Andreea Marinescu Acknowledgements I would like to thank my committee members, who have played incredibly important roles in shaping my graduate work and my intellectual development. Gareth Williams has been the most challenging and brilliant mentor I could ever wish for.

Although at times I might have resented it, he has not relented from holding me to the highest intellectual standard and my work has become stronger throughout the years because of it. Catherine Benamou has been a wonderful presence in my life ever since, as an undergraduate student, I took her course on Latin American cinema and my conceptual world was turned upside down. It is in no small part because of Catherine’s constant encouragement and support that I abandoned dental school and pursued a doctoral degree in Latin American studies. Kate Jenckes’ genuine interest in my work, her extremely constructive feedback, and her generosity have kept me going when I felt discouraged or overwhelmed. Larry La Fountain-Stokes has kindly agreed to bring an interdisciplinary perspective to my project.

I would also like to thank other faculty members who have been influential in my graduate studies: Santiago Colás, Alejandro Herrero-Olaizola, Michèle Hannoosh, Julie Highfill, Cristina Moreiras-Menor, Jaime Rodríguez-Matos, Lucia Saks, Javier Sanjinés, and Gustavo Verdesio. Kimberly Boys, Maria Dorantes, and Dennis Pollard have been invaluable mentors in teaching methodologies.

ii The RLL Department staff has been instrumental in helping with administrative support and so much more, particularly Mindy Niehaus-Fukuda, Annette Herbert, Carissa Van Heest, and Carin Scott.

My colleagues as a graduate student have become a part of my life and their friendship has been an invaluable gift that extends well beyond any academic pursuits, although it makes these academic pursuits so much more meaningful: Sharon Marquart, Manuel Chinchilla,Fernando Velásquez, Maria Canal, Andrea Fanta, Ana Ros, Patricia Keller, Jon Snyder, Mara Pastor, Luis Martín-Cabrera, Cristina Míguez, Radost Rangelova, a few among so many other wonderful friends and colleagues.

I would also like to acknowledge the friendship and guidance of Willy Thayer, Elizabeth Collingwood-Shelby, and Sergio Parra in Chile, as well as Oscar Cabezas, and Alberto Moreiras.

I was fortunate to receive financial support in the form of a Rackam One-Term dissertation fellowship, a Dissertation Writing Institute grant, a Global and Ethnic Literatures Seminar fellowship in the Comparative Literatures Department, as well as an International Institute Research Grant to interview Chilean film director, Raúl Ruiz.

Without these sources and without the generous and constant support of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, this dissertation would not have been possible.

My family has been an integral part of this process. My parents and sister have been an unconditional source of encouragement. To my uncle I owe my presence in the United States and, consequently, the existence of this dissertation. My husband, Ivan Mayerhofer, is not only my cherished source of emotional support, but also the most intelligent and careful intellectual interlocutor. Discussing my ideas with him has allowed

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Acknowledgements ……………………………………………………………………….ii

Abstract

………………………………………………………………………...………...vi Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………….1 Chapter 1. The Surrealist Documentary of Return: Raúl Ruiz in Contrast with the Realism of Miguel Littín and Patricio Guzmán …………………………………………16 Chapter 2. The Dream of Memory in Raúl Ruiz’s Memories of Appearances: Life is a Dream………………….……………………………………………...…………………81 Chapter 3. Literary Reconfigurations: Representations of the Literary and the Political in Roberto Bolaño’s Estrella distante and Nocturno de Chile….…………………………106 Chapter 4. Contemplating the Abyss: Motherhood, Bearing Witness, and the Role of Literature in Roberto Bolaño’s Amuleto ………...…………………………………..…158 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………. 217 Bibliography …………………………………………………………………………...222

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This dissertation examines how the works of Chilean diasporic artists, novelist Roberto Bolaño and Raúl Ruiz, question old forms of representation and their underlying assumptions in order to open new conceptual spaces from which to think the political in the wake of the 1973 military coup. The texts examined respond to the destructive effects of certain ways of thinking about art, politics, and history. Nonetheless, the process of witnessing opens up the possibility of new spaces for political critique.





Firstly, the texts work to dismantle what is perceived as the fixed unity of the political subject. Secondly, these texts connect aesthetic innovation to political innovation.

Thirdly, they engage with the systematic exclusion of the feminine element in Latin American political thought.

Chapter 1 analyzes Chilean exilic documentary and argues that, in contrast with Patricio Guzmán and Miguel Littín’s realist style, Ruiz privileges surrealist documentary in order to illustrate the crisis in the dominant political paradigm and the conceptual difficulties of its representation. In Chapter 2, a close reading of Ruiz’s Life is a Dream (1986), I establish that the film’s critical intervention in the original Baroque play opens up a space for the subject’s self-critique. I use Freudian theory to argue that Ruiz problematizes the concept of a transparent memory by exploiting the unconscious dimension of both memory and dreams.

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discussion on the interrelationship between art and politics by analyzing Estrella Distante (1996) and Nocturno de Chile (1999) in order to understand the epistemological underpinnings of Latin American fascist discourse. Using Walter Benjamin’s theory of history, I argue that Bolaño sees fascist culture as desirous of autonomy from history or politics and he embarks on the discursive dismantling of that autonomy. My final chapter reads the maternal figure in Amuleto (1999) in order to show how Bolaño offers a feminist critique of the masculine underpinnings of Latin American revolutionary teleology. My reading reclaims an ignored maternal figure in order to reformulate a political practice of resistance informed by an ethics of care.

–  –  –

This dissertation considers the work of two exiled artists, novelist Roberto Bolaño and filmmaker Raúl Ruiz, and engages critically with their artistic responses to the events surrounding the Chilean military coup on September 11, 1973. Bolaño and Ruiz have found themselves at the historical junction between the possibility of political emancipation opened by the Popular Unity government (1970-1973) and Chile’s long tradition of militaristic antipolitics. I read their artistic productions as attempts to understand and think the social role of literature and film in the wake of the curtailment of the political project opened by Salvador Allende and in light of Latin America’s long tradition of authoritarianism.

Latin America’s long military tradition has established a broad disregard for political life as the basis for modernization and economic development (Loveman and Davies 3). The authoritarian streak that made possible many of the military regimes comes from an anti-political belief that politics is an obstacle to progress and stability in the region.

The Chilean coup of 1973 was justified by the military as a necessary intervention that sought to control the corruption and the “anarchy, stifling of liberties, moral and economic chaos” provoked by the Allende government.1 The Pinochet dictatorship claimed itself to be democratic insofar as democracy meant the preservation of national security through the intervention of the military (Loveman 270-271). Perversely, Pinochet’s decision to step down after the results of the plebiscite of 1988 (although he remained Commander of the Armed Forces) allowed him to claim that the military saved the country from Marxist dictatorship and restored democracy in Chile (299). In effect, with the continuation of the neoliberal policies initiated by Pinochet, the preservation of the essentials of the 1981 Constitution and the prevention of human rights trials, the new political phase that started with the presidency of Patricio Aylwin has more similarities with Pinochet’s regime than it has differences. Instead of signaling the triumph of democracy and the revival of political life, the transition period witnessed the consolidation of what Loveman and Davies call “antipolitics.” The formal end of the Latin American military regimes did not give way to fully civilian governments, but rather the frail democracies incorporated the military’s version of “the politics of antipolitics.” The military continues to have authority in the “protection of democracy,” claiming to keep the nation secure against the challenges of globalization, all the while protecting neoliberal economic policies (Loveman and Davies xi).

In Chile some of the reasons for the military dictatorship of 1973-1989 can be traced back all the way to the Chilean constitution of 1833, which concentrated executive authority in the president, promoted a hierarchical administration, and allowed for governance through states of siege (5-6). This period became a turning point where the liberal principles earlier invoked as motivation for the independence movements were repudiated and repressed through the censorship of the press and the delegitimizing of See Order of the Day No.5, 1973 titled “The reasons of the junta” in Loveman and Davies, 181-183.

active opposition. This consecration of the stability of order became an end in itself under Diego Portales, Arturo Alessandri, Carlos Ibáñez, and Augusto Pinochet. As a consequence, authoritarianism and government repression of civic and human rights came to be celebrated as patriotic values that held the society in check (Gabriel Salazar in Remedi-Rodríguez 35).

In light of this historical background, I draw on the work of Bolaño and Ruiz to respond to two seemingly opposed post-dictatorial political discourses: the neoliberal discourse of progress hailing the end of the dictatorship as the triumph of democracy, as well as the revolutionary teleology that saw the military coup as a mortal blow to political emancipation. Stepping outside of the redemptive framework that both of these positions assume, my dissertation explores how exilic post-coup narratives and cinema, by virtue of their transnational perspective, seek to integrate the historical moment within wider spatial and temporal coordinates. I examine how their work reflects the ever-present need to reevaluate categories of political thought in Latin America, in particular relation to exilic and gendered subjectivities, as well as to the limits of historical memory.



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