Academic journal article Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies

Four: Calladita, Te Ves Más Bonita: Analyzing Silences and Erasures

Academic journal article Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies

Four: Calladita, Te Ves Más Bonita: Analyzing Silences and Erasures

Article excerpt

A certain sense of satisfaction seeps through me as I get ready for the city's next appointment. We are now getting into the thick of things and uncovering the roots of her troubles. The past is bubbling up into the present, something I can tell the city is reluctant to disclose too much about. When the office door closes, muting the sounds of street vendors, children rushing to school, and the occasional bank alarm, the silence seems to expand. I feel her wanting to delete, delete even as she speaks; she is hesitant, terrified even, to allow her past to fully emerge. It is not easy for her (or anyone else) to open up these tunnels into the past that has been sealed for so long. I have many questions now; however, I have to be careful to listen more than probe at this juncture. Within the sanctuary that psychoanalysis creates, will she speak more of the unspeakable? Will she talk more about this past that she has so carefully erased? Or will she remain silent? Either way, both the answers and the absence of answers will be telling.

The act of writing (a manuscript or a self) is full of editings and erasures, silences and absences. While the standard advice to writers is "write what you know," there are some things, of course, that we know all too intimately yet do not wish to recall, much less make public by writing about them. The city is no exception. "Calladita, te ves más bonita" is a popular saying usually used with children or, all too frequently, from husband to wife. It is translated as "quiet, you look more beautiful." Your most pleasing appearance coincides with your silence - the city almost seems to take this as a personal mantra. That which is not-beautiful or ambivalent must be edited out, sloughed off the city surface and deleted from the city's conscious like the trash-ticket. Indeed, the uglier events and darker side of the city are rarely spoken about, and people reiterate the phrase aquí no pasa nada (here nothing happens) to a carnivalesque degree, despite the fact that everyone is aware of cases of government corruption, the ever-nearing presence of narco-violence, and so on.

In the city's process of editing and reediting, what else gets taken out and made to "not happen"? As the city stays quiet and resists symbolizing what ails her, I examine some of the themes she chooses not to write about. This process of reflection - of reading between the lines of text she creates - reveals more of the deradicalization, purification, and repression that emerged in the previous session. These erasures also unveil a new theme (not written about) that will spur further questions about what lies beneath the city's physical and psychic surface. The need to narrate through these darker areas becomes increasingly urgent. Is silence a dead end or a fertile beginning?

ESTAS RUINAS QUE (NO) VES I THESE RUINS YOU DO (NOT) SEE

One text that the city reads on a regular basis is Estas ruinas que ves, by Guanajuato-born Jorge Ibargüengoitia. If Don Quijote provides the first emblematic character for the city's subjectivity, this novel, published in 1975 and winner of the Premio Internacional Novela México, constitutes a more recent identity text, although, again, among the well-educated parts of the population. While the full text of the novel is not posted on the city's surface, the novel itself is immersed in the details of the city's physiognomy. It names many local sites, albeit in pseudonymic form, that are easily identified. The entire novel is transparently disguised as taking place in a fictional setting called Cuévano, and local readers can pick out which café, which church, which house, and probably to some extent which event certain scenes refer to. Academics in particular make frequent reference not only to the book, author, and later film but also to the characters and places in the text. The name "Cuévano" also appears as the name of a local bus line and is written on the sides of these busses, and people refer to themselves as cuevanenses, residents of this (semi) fictional site. …

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