Nestor Perlongher and Mysticism: Towards a Critical Reappraisal

By Bollig, Ben | The Modern Language Review, January 2004 | Go to article overview

Nestor Perlongher and Mysticism: Towards a Critical Reappraisal


Bollig, Ben, The Modern Language Review


The apparent change in the poetry of Argentine writer and anthropologist Nestor Perlongher (1949-92) after the publication of his anthropological thesis on male prostitution (1987) and the emergence of AIDS in Brazil, whereby he turned his literary and academic attention towards mysticism, has caused consternation amongst critics. Concerns focus on the abandonment of his earlier politico-sexual radicalism and on the influence of the New Age movement, in particular the Brazilian drug religion Santo Daime, on his work.

The influential Argentine writer and gay-rights activist Juan Jose Sebreli attacked Perlongher's last works:

Con respecto a la obra de Perlongher [...] la parte desdenable es la derivada del surrealismo heterodoxo de Georges Bataille, de Michel Foucault y de Gilles Deleuze. Lamentablemente esta influencia fue la predominante en su ultima epoca, llevandolo del demonismo a la mistica y aun al esoterismo. (1)

Sebreli criticizes Perlongher for his reliance on authors who denied sexual identities, and for focusing on the flow and force of desire in society, as Perlongher insisted at the end of his thesis on male prostitution in Silo Paulo, O negocio do miche [The Business of Male Prostitution]. (2) While Sebreli does not insist on a homosexual identity, his insistence on the body as property of an individual reveals key ideological differences with Perlongher. (3) Sebreli's conception of homosexuality, in particular the focus on the use of the body as personal property, was one of the developments in Argentine post-dictatorship gay rights that Perlongher abhorred. In fact, it is possible to detect in Perlongher's abandonment of homosexuality as a theme for his writing in 1991 a response to the increased insistence on the notion of homosexuality as identity. (4)

Osvaldo Baigorria also exhibits some concern in his essay on Perlongher's mysticism:

Su vinculacion con el Santo Daime inaugura la fase final, mas controvertida o asombrosa, de ese viaje sobre el filo de la identidad personal. Al contrario de lo que puede pensarse, su enfermedad no parece haber tenido influencias sobre esta nueva direccion de sus intereses: Perlongher descubre que es HIV positivo en el 89, en Francia, bastante despues de haber conectado con la iglesia del Santo Daime. Y su 'devenir bruja' habia comenzado aun antes. Por los anos 87/88--al mismo tiempo en que escribia sus principales ensayos sobre el neobarroco-- comienza a tomar ayahuasca o yage [...]. (5) Baigorria is attempting to deny the link between Perlongher's discovery that he was HIV positive and his mysticism. My aim in this paper is to analyse Perlongher's last two collections closely in order to detect the similarities to and differences from earlier collections. This analysis displays three aesthetics in Perlongher's last works: mystical masochism, mystical withdrawal, and mystical purpose. While Perlongher's poetics and techniques do not differ in these two collections, and the first of the three aesthetics is present in his earlier work, the latter two demonstrate a change in Perlongher's writing, a change which I believe to be linked to those caused by AIDS in the possibilities for the use of sex as an oppositional political tool.

A brief overview of Perlongher's earlier poetry will facilitate the analysis that is to follow. Perlongher's first collection, Austria-Hungria (1980), contains many poems that allude, often through slang terms and literary references, to the secretive practices of homosexuals and transvestites in Argentina during the 1976-83 dictatorship, as in poems such as 'El polvo' and 'La murga, los polacos'. His second collection, Alambres (1987), included poems, such as 'Ethel' and 'Daisy', that combined the elaborate performance of transvestites with a sordid background drawn from the streets of Buenos Aires. The collection Hule (1989) cultivated elaborate geometric forms that echoed the Golden Age barroco without adopting complete barroco form, as in poems such as 'Prefimbulos barrosos' and 'Formas barrocas'. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Nestor Perlongher and Mysticism: Towards a Critical Reappraisal
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.