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A new synthetic dye Powell, Vincent Robert 1998

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A NEW SYNTHETIC DYE by VINCENT ROBERT POWELL B.A., The University of British Columbia A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of French, Italian and Hispanic Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December 1998 ©Vincent Robert Powell, 1998 in presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date VeC- (*j l9fj DE-6 (2/88) Abstract This thesis examines Carlos Monsivais's cronicas, focusing on the transformative nature of language and signification. By incorporating multiple perceptions into his narration, and by resorting to irony, sarcasm, satire and parody, he challenges and undermines the dominant class's hegemonic discourse, and in the process, he underlines the pluralistic nature of Mexican society. In chapter one we analyze the characteristics of the cronicas in so far as they oscillate between journalism and literature. Chapter two focuses on the crucial role assigned to urban popular culture, and we investigate how its myths, symbols and beliefs are resignified within the contemporary urban setting. Chapter three explores the narrational posture because this is how the author shapes and conveys his or her point of view. In Monsivais's cronicas, this narrative point of view is multifarious, such that a kaleidoscope of viewpoints are presented to the reader. Chapter four is an exegesis of the various languages which are put into play in Monsivais's cronicas, highlighting the conflictive and contradictory opinions of the different sectors of Mexican society. In relating Bakhtin's idea of heteroglossia to Monsivais's texts, we accentuate that this appropriation of numerous languages implies that they compete for signification and social transformation, given that meanings are reformulated as previous discourses are incorporated into new forms and contexts. Therefore, Monsivais's cronicas echo Bakhtin's "Discourse in the Novel" and his idea of language as an open system where signification is not limited to the interpretations imposed by the dominant classes, but rather it is in a constant state of collision and resignification according to the concrete and ceaseless flow of utterances produced in dialogues between speakers in specific social and historical contexts. In this sense, Monsivais cronicas could be read as a democratic project. Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents i i i Acknowledgments iv INTRODUCTION 1-14 CHAPTER ONE Contemporary Cronicas: Between Literature and Journalism 15-38 CHAPTER TWO Urban Popular Culture in Contemporary Mexico and its Importance in Monsivais's Cronicas 39-69 CHAPTER THREE Narrative Point of View in Monsivais's Cronicas 70-94 CHAPTER FOUR Heteroglossic Languages and Intertexuality in Monsivais's Cronicas 95-118 CONCLUSION 119-122 Bibliography .- 123-130 iii Acknowledgments I would like to thank all of those people who helped me throughout the preparation of this M . A . thesis. First of all, I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Rita De Grandis, who without her encouragement, this thesis on Carlos Monsivais never would have been completed. Aside from encouraging me to write on this very difficult topic, she spent countless hours reading, editing and providing me with illuminating ideas of how to improve this text. Dr. Rubio must be thanked for his insightful comments throughout the writing process of this thesis. He provided me with some terrific suggestions, particularly with respect with how to particularize certain segments of this work. I would also like to thank him for all that I have learned from him over the years at U B C . I would also like to thank Dr. Blanca Muratorio for her participation in this thesis. Specifically, she asked me some probing questions during my defense, which allowed me to rethink and rewrite a couple of passages, making them clearer and more coherent. A word of thanks to Dr. Antonio Urrello who introduced me to Carlos Monsivais's Amor perdido in his excellent class on El ensayo hispanoamericano. Thank you to my good Mexican friend, Ismael Chaveznava S., for introducing me to Carlos Monsivais's numerous works. Last of all, I have to thank Vicky, who without her, I do not think that I would have completed this work. She supported me tremendously throughout the writing process, through all the frustrations and difficulties which writers must somehow overcome. ) iv Introduction Carlos Monsivais is one of Mexico's foremost social and cultural critics. He has written extensively on every possible subject of Mexican national life, particularly urban popular culture (cinema, comics, Mexican foibles, celebrities, popular music), 'high' culture, the youth movement, generational conflict, sexual revolution, technology, urbanism, politics, and a host of other related subjects. The unifying theme found in his works is the affirmation of change from and 'old authoritative regime' to a more democratic one, and for that reason his cronicas could be read as a democratic project. His prime interest lies in deflating and undermining the dogmatic language of the establishment and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a hegemonic discourse which has attempted to control all aspects of Mexican society. By including a kaleidoscope of perceptions in his narration, Monsivais, "according to Antonio Urrello, "constantly challenges the official version of events and characters and rewrites important segments of Mexican history and cultural life" (Antonio Urrello, 1999, 567). He uses exaggeration, irony, satire, sarcasm and parody to criticize social behaviour and beliefs. Monsivais sets up all his works in an urban setting because he is interested in "la vida cotidiana" and the distinctive space that popular culture has in the modern urban context. Since urbanization and industrialization have had a huge impact on Mexican society (sixty to seventy percent of the population now lives in cities), the cities, and in particular Mexico City, act as an entry point for traditional customs which blend with the modern elements of modernization. As Rowe and Schelling argue, "the city is a place of 1 entry of transnational culture, of TV programs, comic-strip heroes and advertisements, whose references are to a different environment, that of the advanced capitalist countries" (Rowe and Schelling, 1989, 97). Consequently, Monsivais formed his critical spirit in Mexico City. "La inquietud, base de su caracter, lo empuja por todos los barrios y rincones a medida que recorre teatros, cines, espectaculos, partidos politicos, mitines, desmadres en medio del rasgo central del caracter de la ciudad: E L Relajo."' Hence, Monsivais examines the social actions and behaviours of the Mexican people in an urban context. Monsivais's cronicas reflect upon the social lives of the Mexican people and how they are recreated and presented dramatically through their legends. History, myth and character are at the heart of his cronicas because the interactions between people, their attitudes and gestures, provide the material for his discussion, investigation and criticism. The cronicas are episodic in nature and usually each episode is realized in a particular character (an artist, a writer, a leader, etc.) or a socially determined group (the establishment, politicians, or the students, etc.). The experiences of these interpersonal relationships are a fundamental aspect of his work because they reveal la vida social and how it manifests itself through language. In chapter one we will analyze the historical event that shaped the Mexican contemporary cronica: the October 2, 1968 Tlatelolco massacre. This tragic event has had a profound effect on all aspects of Mexican society, particularly the intellectual life. ' Jose Cueli, La Jornada, 5 de agosto de 1995, pg. 49. 2 Writers such as Monsivais committed themselves to unmasking the corruption of the Mexican state, voicing the concerns of the students and the subaltern classes. We will also explore the problematic modality of the Mexican cronica, focusing on how literature and journalism has affected the evolution of it. One of Monsivais's originalities is the mixture of the devices of literature with a serious aim and factual approach, so that artistic redefinition's and social change are seen to be integrated. As we will demonstrate, the Mexican cronica is more an exercise in the literary recreation of real events, epochs and characters, than conventional journalism. Another important factor that we will investigate in chapter one is the influence American New Journalism has had on the cronica; in fact, it has served as a source of inspiration for Monsivais and many other "cronistas". New Journalism and the cronica are concerned with attacking the establishment, the falseness of bourgeoisie social life and condemning status quo's point of view. They both incorporate various forms of subjectivity in their texts in order to problematize and undermine monolithic language. Furthermore, there is a constant reference to an immediate "reality" and they respond to concrete situations, such as the negative effects of urbanization and industrialization, and the need to build roads, homes, etc. for the marginalized sectors of society. Chapter two is an exegesis of the important relationship between the urban popular classes and the cronicas. This is a major theme in Monsivais's works, and he writes from the perspective of urban popular culture because he firmly believes that a civil democracy can only arise from the marginalized classes. In positioning himself with the urban popular classes, Monsivais presents a scathing attack of the establishment and 3 the PRFs failure to democratize Mexico. The chapter commences with an analysis of the transformative nature of urban popular culture, focusing on Monsivais's analysis of it (he has written extensive articles on the subject). We will then investigate how he practices his theory of urban popular culture in his works. Chapter three examines the narrational posture in Monsivais's cronicas. The narrative position continually shifts, displaying a multifarious character. The multiple perceptions that are put into play serve to deflate and undermine the values and the beliefs of the hegemonic discourse of power. In reflecting on the pluralistic nature of Mexican society, Monsivais accentuates the conflicts between the dominant and the urban popular classes. He highlights this in the manner in which he mocks and ridicules the social values and beliefs of the Mexican establishment. In chapter four we will continue our analysis of Monsivais's multiple perceptions, relating his cronicas to Bakhtin's idea of heteroglossia and intertexuality. For Bakhtin, literature should reveal all the languages of heteroglossia, reproducing the conflicts that exist between ideologies that are produced in each individual and society. The most important aspect for the fictional writer is that these varying ideologies should not be described, reformulated or exposively analyzed in the narrator's discourse, "sino mostradas en conflicto mediante la citation de lenguaje que constituye la novela" (Graciela Reyes, 1984, 128). This central idea of Bakhtin's is captured in the following paragraph: A l l languages of heteroglossia, whatever the principle underlying them and making each unique, are specific points of view on the world, forms for conceptualizing the worlds in words, specific world views, each characterized by its own objects, meanings, values. As such they all may be juxtaposed to one another, mutually supplement one another, contradict 4 one another and be interrelated dialogically. [...] They are all able to enter into the unitary plane of the novel, which can unite in its parodic stylizations of generic languages, various forms of stylizations and illustrations of professional and period-bound languages, the languages of particular generations, of social dialects and others (Bakhtin, 1981, 298). Monsivais's cronicas echo Bahktin's concepts of heteroglossia and intertexuality such that the multiple perceptions and viewpoints, imprinted on top of the authorial voice, constitutes the form in which the text recognizes and dialogizes with other texts. The languages which represent specific ideologies that are in conflict with one another range from Mexican popular songs and expressions, literature, economic and political rhetoric, euphemisms, anglicisms, and to familiar American expressions as they are used in colloquial language. Consequently, this literary technique of including fragments of other texts into his own, for the purpose of re-creating a certain event or character, is a central narrative component of his cronicas. Since Monsivais believes, like Bakhtin, that every word is actualized in a particular context, he continually reexamines and reconstructs events or characters in order to highlight the transformative nature of signification, to challenge the official version of events and also to explore their significance in Mexican society. In order to orient the reader, we have provided a brief panoramic analysis of Monsivais's five major works. This will enable the reader to gain a greater overall understanding of Monsivais's project. Dias de guardar (1970) contains cronicas written between 1968-1970 which consign and explore some of Mexico's principal dates in which a series of popular 5 mobilizations rebelled against the establishment, such as the famous generational movement of "la Onda." In this text, Monsivais chronicles the commencement of the fateful events of the October 2, 1968 student protest, which would culminate in the massacre of Tlatelolco. With irony and penetrating humour, Monsivais "places the calendar of Mexican national celebrations under a radically different and critical light" (Antonio Urrello, 1999, 567). He examines the gestation and development of the official and bourgeoisie Mexico, and how their actions have been the principal causes of Mexico's political and economic crisis. The voices that belong to the dominant classes are juxtaposed with those of the marginalized classes, who developed a counterculture in the 1960's which resisted the hegemony of the state. In particular, Dias de guardar sets out to explore the values honoured by the society that gave rise to the Mexican student rebellion in 1968 and its suppression. Monsivais builds up a picture of a consumer society, bent on the pursuit of power defined in terms of wealth and property, determined to hang on to its newly acquired assets and stifle all dissent, a society in conflict with youth who have rejected such goals and are pursuing different ones. The optimism of the bonanza years of the 1960's, followed by the crisis that culminated in the Tlatelolco massacre, and the subsequent sober assessment of gains and losses are presented in a series of cronicas about a wide variety of events and attitudes of the time. They are introduced by a series of photographs representing daily life as well as the events of national importance, often with irony. The text includes snatches of pop music, a list of banners paraded by the marchers, mock questionnaires, and aphorisms from Marshall McLuhan. Furthermore, it is interspersed with a series of 6 scenarios reproducing imaginary conversations and situations dramatizing stereotypes of the late sixties. Monsivais presents us with a rapidly moving kaleidoscope of a society in constant change. Tags from the media, advertising cliches, meaningless lines from pop songs, and oracular pronouncements from the gurus of the day have substituted themselves for communication. The nostalgia implicit in the title is wholly ironic, for the innocent optimism of the sixties is irrevocably over, slaughtered in 1968 in the establishment's attempt to preserve one set of the conflicting values depicted in this text. Amor perdido (1977) continues where Dias de guardar left off, "cronicando" until 1977. A variety of characters appear in these cronicas, ranging from the idols of popular culture to politicians. He investigates the work of those people whose work was ignored by society in a particular epoch - even though their personality was recognized - due to their confessed homosexuality or leftism which questioned the moral character of the dominant ideology: Salvador Novo and David Siqueiros. The characters, like the situations, are unified by an oppressive character of government and the loss of hope in the great transformations that where expected of Mexican society. Famous singers like Jose Alfredo Jimenez who synthesize Mexican chauvinism and the poor person resignated to a life without hope appear in the text. Other significant characters are the important forgotten intellectuals, writers and painters from the Left who rebelled against the dominant class, like Jose Revueltas. As well, Monsivais incorporates the anonymous voices of the bourgeoisie, who simply concern themselves with "jet-set" values, in order to reflect the social tension that exists among Mexico's dominant and urban popular classes. 7 Many of the cronicas are homages to important figures such as Jose Alfredo or Agustin Lara, written at the time of their deaths. He also writes about el Porfiriato, the birth of the PRI, the sexenios of Cardenas, Avila Camacho, Aleman, Diaz Ordaz, Echeverria and Portillo, the Mexican Revolution, the Tlatelolco massacre, la Onda, David Siqueiros, Jose Revueltas, Fidel Velasquez, Salvador Novo and Isela Vega, among others. Monsivais explores the significance of each individual or group within its particular historical circumstances in order to highlight how they have affected past and present Mexican society. An understanding of this allows one to better understand the present context in which they find themselves. And if Mexican people become conscious of their external surroundings, then democracy has more of an opportunity to flourish in Mexico. What is central to this text and the others, is the dynamics of the multiple interrelationships between people within particular contexts. Monsivais's approach to understanding Mexican reality allows the reader to seek signification as it is generated through the different layers of text, thus "providing the possibility of alternative readings of the characters and events portrayed" (Antonio Urrello, 1999, 567). Therefore, interpretation plays a key role in this text because historical events, the historical protagonist, president, union leader, cultural leader, and the "popular" movie idol are scrutinized from a variety of different and converging perspectives, and through the use of personal diaries, letters, declarations, manifestos, and interviews granted to the media (567). Furthermore, Monsivais incorporates other versions of events such as eyewitness accounts. Thus, new signification is created, given that Monsivais's texts shed a new 8 light on events and characters. By reassembling events, characters and contexts, he provides the reader with another version of Mexican reality. By investigating characters and events within their particular context, he exposes how the official version succeeded in glorifying or condemning those individuals or events from a prejudiced point of view. As Urrello argues, "Monsivais's method allows the possibility of different interpretations by a reader who now has at his or her disposal a more complex and complete version of the historical and institutional circumstances" (567). Nearly half of Monsivais's cronicas in Entrada libre: Cronicas de la sociedad que se organiza (1987), recreate the events of the 1985 Mexico earthquake. The underlying theme that runs throughout this text is that of the spontaneous growth of democratic social organization to help people get desperately needed services that were not forthcoming from inept or venal government officials. The disaster was so overwhelming that tens of thousands of city residents, even those living in areas unaffected by the tremors, mobilized to fill what amounted to a political vacuum. Mexican officials, on the whole, are depicted as bumbling and counterproductive. Soldiers cordoned off areas to prevent would-be rescuers from aiding with rescue efforts. President Miguel de la Madrid arouses scorn and ridicule when he proudly refuses outside aid, claiming to be able to handle the crisis that is clearly beyond Mexico's resources. Defying the government's exhortation to stay at home and remain calm, volunteers streamed from all parts of the city to help. By the time the government recognized that it could not cope with the disaster without volunteer corps, the volunteers themselves had learned that they could indeed cope without the government. 9 Monsivais places the earthquake in the context of a series of recent events that have, together, revealed the reality of Mexican society. In his treatment of "la mitologia" surrounding the San Juanito disaster, Monsivais delves into a level of deeply felt rancor that has rarely made its way into print in Mexico. Less than two weeks after the tragedy, he says, there suddenly appeared an epidemic of cruel San Juanico jokes, a subgenre of what he calls "humor naco" (144-47). The word "naco" is, as Monsivais points out, an expression of both race and class prejudice on the part of those who consider themselves "criollo", that is, part of the modernized establishment. "Naco" humour makes sport of the marginalized masses whose greatest sin, Monsivais writes, is that they bear no resemblance whatsoever to Robert Redford. He continues by stating that as long as there is no danger of explosions in one's own neighbourhood, horror can be quickly replaced by humourous digs at the notorious passivity, ignorance, and bad taste imputed to the victims. Since, as Monsivais argues, there were no Pemex gasoline storage tanks in the affluent neighbourhoods of Pedregal, Coyoacan and Las Lomas, these people believed that they could indulge in cruel jokes like, "En San Juan Ixhuatepec no se sirven tacos al carbon, sino nacos al carbon" (148). By contrast, the tremendous spontaneous organization of youthful rescuers within hours of the earthquake, elicits an unmistakable patriotic interpretation of events. The earthquake struck both rich and poor sections of the central city, suddenly victimizing Mexicans of all classes whom other Mexicans sprang to rescue even at the great risk to their own lives. The ugly "naco" jokes of 1984 obviously did not apply in 1985. Instead, popular scorn switched from the "naco" marginalized by poverty and ignorance to the 10 government functionary, marginalized in his turn by his insulation from the lives of ordinary Mexicans. In line with his theme of democratization in this work, Monsivais accentuates anecdotes of the sudden politicization of ordinary people. He writes that neither political denunciations nor media exposes or eyewitness testimony had managed to accomplish what the earthquake accomplished in an instant: "desmitificar de raiz y hacer visible la sordidez antes considerada natural" (106). Clearly, Monsivais sees in the popular response to the 1985 disaster an important shift, replacing the passivity long thought to characterize the Mexican masses with a surge of cooperative action. Hence, he sees something positive arising out of this disaster, namely the spontaneous generation of democratic life among their people. Understandably, he longs to see a new Mexico, and a new Mexican, rising from the city's ruble. Escenas de pudory liviandad (1988) examines "la vida cotidiana" of the popular marginalized groups who live in Mexico's poor neighbourhoods and the effects popular idols have had on Mexican society. In his exegesis of urban popular culture, Monsivais concentrates on three elements: (1) The influence of television, movies and rock music on Mexican society; (2) the relationship between the dominant classes and the urban popular classes; (3) the daily communicative exchanges among the marginalized sectors of society, such as in the "cantinas" or dance halls. In investigating these aspects of Mexican society Monsivais penetrates "la vida cotidiana del pueblo" to observe the process of their collective production of culture by the marginalized classes. 2 This work was originally published in 1981. The current tenth edition includes nine new cronicas that were written after 1981. 11 This work is a collection of cronicas which were written between 1977-1987. The common theme which holds the work together es el espectaculo y sus figuras...y la cultura popular urbana...que es a la vez realidad viva para millones de personas, nostalgia inducida, efectos de las personalidades unicas sobre los modos de vida, industria cultural y respuestas colectivas al proceso de la modernization (Escenas de pudory liviandad, 19). He examines why and how popular artists - such as stars, actresses, comics and singers -are mythologized in the public sphere. He gives voice to important Mexican characters such as Juan Gabriel, Cantinflas, Maria Felix, Dolores del Rio and Celia Montalvan and "chavos banda", "cholos", and "pachucos" who converse with one another in discotheques, rock concerts and dance clubs. Some of the cronicas in Escenas de pudory liviandad are composed of pure dialogues,3 and in others, the voice of the narrator can be clearly heard as though he is a tourist guide pointing out significative historical and cultural landmarks and characters. In one case, he is at Cantinflas's funeral contemplating the significance and the impact of his life on Mexican society at large: " E l mito de Cantinflas se funda en sus origenes, en el acto de memoria que exalta los heroicos tiempos de la carpa en Santa Maria la Redonda" ("Instituciones. Cantinflas. Ahi estuvo," 77-96). In another instance, Monsivais is at " E l Salon Los Angeles" observing a group of popular artists dance la rumba and notices the friction between them and a group of conservative intellectuals. The investigative narrator also visits a cantina and listens in on a conversation between a group of people and then makes some observations about the clientele: Miren al tipo de la entrada. Que barbaro! Como le hara para manejar ese bamboleo? Carajo, esta hasta atras, hasta el gorro, hasta la madre.[The 3 See "Dancing: E l secreto esta en la mano izquierda" (137-40). 12 narrator's opinion begins]..El Borracho Sangrante se desploma sin caer, se abate de pie, como un derrumbe en el vacio...el sigue de pie por necedad aunque todos sabemos que ya hace un rato que se desplomo...Pero nosotros solo vemos un cuerpo derruido, obstinado en desafiar certezas y pronosticos: que no habra alguien que lo levante antes de su caida ("Mexicanerias: La epica de la embriguez," 200). Monsivais also delves into sexism and machismo in Mexican society. He advises us that 'el machismo' has undergone a series of transformations. The "nuevo macho" has lost its force: Las nuevas figuras, tan escasamente afirmativas, responden a los ambientes donde la despersonalizacion es la norma, da igual lo que piensan de mi los vecinos porque estos son intercambiables y pasajeros ("Mexicanerias: Pero hubo una vez once mil machos?" (109) ). As with his previous works, Los rituales del caos (1995) contains a number of individual cronicas on diverse aspects of contemporary Mexican culture: three different works discuss how soccer, boxing, and the festival of "La Virgen de Guadalupe" are public performances of national identity; another cronica critiques self-motivation books as signs of "la religion de exito" or the cult of upward mobility, while yet another examines the metro as an ongoing lesson in plurality and tolerance. Monsivais organizes this spectacular chaos in three sections. Underlying the ephemeral quality of urban culture, most phenomena are described under the title "la hora de...(e.g. "...la identidad acumulativa, "...el control remoto", "...las convicciones alternativas)". Inserted periodically are brief allegories called "parabolas de las postrimerias" in which Monsivais spins tales of life in mass society. Finally, there are three cronicas about particularly important cultural "Protagonistas": Jesus Helguera, 13 popular calendar artist and the Mexican version of Norman Rockwell; E l nino Fidencio, a messianic curandero from the 1920's and 1930's; and Gloria Trevi, a famous pop singer and movie star. Los rituales del caos has a religious overtone to it, not only because it touches upon the theme of faith with "La Virgen de Guadalupe" or the miracle-worker, " E l nino Fidencio," but because it investigates "el milagro de la supervivencia colectiva."4 This is further exemplified when Monsivais offers us a revelation "sobre la cultura de postapocalipsis y la funcion del testigo":5 Y en ese instante vi al apocalipsis cara a cara. Y comprendi que el santo temor al Juicio Final radica en la intuition demoniaca: uno ya no estara para presenciarlo. Y vi de reojo a la Bestia con siete cabezas y diez cuernos, y entre sus cuernos diez diademas. Y la gente le aplaudia y le tomaba fotos y videos, y grababa sus declaraciones exclusivas, mientras, con claridad que habia de tornarse bruma dolorosa, llegaba a mi el conocimiento postrero: la pesadilla mas atroz es la que nos excluye definitivamente" ("Parabolas de la postrimerias: E L APOCALIPSIS E N ARRESTO DOMICILIARIO," 248-49). 4 See La Jornada, 5 de agosto de 1995, pg. 44. 5 Ibid. 14 Chapter One Contemporary Cronicas: Between Literature or Journalism? The Generation of 1968 The historical event that shaped the post-1968 contemporary Mexican cronica was the Tlatelolco student massacre of 1968. The students who were slaughtered were protesting against the authoritative nature the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and they were seeking a democratic dialogue with the state. During and after the traumatic events, the Mexican cronica assumed a powerful role of interpretation and protest; in some respects, this form of "literary journalism" acted as a vehicle to express the voices of the silenced masses. Monsivais said unequivocally that 1968 was "un ano axial" (Dias de guardar, 15) and that much of Mexican life during the years preceding this moment of truth was in great measure, inauthentic: "Tal es la situacion anterior a julio del '68: anos devaluados, donde el auto engano nos hace participar y nos obliga a creer. Anos de intensidad minima, fraguada en recepciones, cocteles, notas encomiasticas..." (74). Monsivais argues that since the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), and up until 1968, the Mexican cronica had lost its original social commitment to uncover injustices and give voice to the marginal sectors of society. The cronica was characterized with "un olvido programado del presente" and "[e]n este lapso, de hegemonia duradera hasta el 68, cronica y reportaje ignoran marginalidad y luchas sociales..." (Monsivais, 1979, 32). In addition, he claims that the post-1968 generation of writers felt obligated to write about the repression of class consciousness, and uncovering political and social problems. In 15 this manner, 1968 was not only a pivotal moment in Mexican history, but in Western society. But, in the particular context of Mexico, it inflicts a major transformation in the cronicas. From then on, the cronistas have looked for new methods to approach reality and to apprehend its significations. Specifically, after the massacre, writers such as Monsivais analyzed the present, stripping it of its myths, and especially of its official ones, those of which are the myths of power of the bourgeoisie. Bearing this in mind, "La cronica contemporanea parte de esta necesidad de despertar la conciencia social y revela el esfuerzo del autor por romper sus limitaciones de clase (y de perspectiva) para hacerse cada vez mas eficaz vocero the sectores populares" (Ruffmelli, 1987, 75). Monsivais echoes this concern arguing that the purpose of the post-1968 cronicas is to give voice to the silenced sectors of society, "las minorias y mayorias de toda indole que no encuentran cabida o representatividad en los medios masivos" (Monsivais, 1979, 36). As it has already been pointed out, the events of 1968 revitalized and diversified the themes and the forms of the cronicas. Most Mexican critics, including Monsivais, postulate that La noche de Tlatelolco (1970) is one of the first important works that unmasked the repressive and authoritative nature of the PRI. This classic work by Elena Poniatowska is a complex montage of many fragmented discourses, which somehow inaugurates a new formalistic device to render through the eyewitness accounts the distinct voices into a coherent but polysemic composition which no single speaker can dominate.6 The fragments range from a few lines to half a page or a page in length, and 6 Zunilda Gertel speaks of the "deconstruction and reconstruction of fragmentary languages which an editorial voice recomposes" (pg. 58) in her comments on the creative and interpretive labour of the editor 16 interspersed among the testimonies, are passages from a myriad of other sources: newspaper articles, speeches by government officials, protest songs and chants, graffiti, police records, and literary texts. Photographs are also introduced to complement the verbal representation. "The montage form with its juxtaposition of heterogeneous elements creates a multilayered vision fraught with gaps, discrepancies, and contradictions, as well as startling moments of unanimity and consensus."7 By rejecting the homogenizing tendencies of much conventional journalism, a discourse which reduces and isolates events in a single synthetic capsule, Poniatowska creates a highly effective new form of presenting the silenced, marginalized alternative history of the 1968 student movement. Monsivais argues that this work reconstruye las dimensiones objetivas y subjetivas del movimiento estudiantil, la espontaneidad que el arrojo solidifica, la ideologia visceral y las actitudes epicas que se hallan, a la vuelta de la esquina. La noche de Tlatelolco exhibe la densa capa mortuoria de la vida politica de Mexico, la sensation de un pais colocado bajo una campana neumatica al cual vivifican las brigadas y las manifestaciones, y al cual pretende silenciar en vano lamatanza (Monsivais, 1992, 18). Hence, the particular historical event that constituted the founding moment of a new stage of cronicas was the Tlatelolco massacre. This new modality is characterized by its democratization of styles and its commitment to give voice to the marginal sectors of society. The writers that fall within this particular realm of writing are Carlos in La noche de Tlatelolco. See, Zunilda Gertel, "La mujer y su discurso: Conciencia y mascara," in Cambio social en Mexico visto por autores contempordneos, ed. Jose Anadon, 45-60 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1984). 7 Beth Jorgensen, 1994,78. 17 Monsivais, Elena Poniatowska, Carlos Fuentes , Gabriel Zaid, Jose Emilio Pacheco, Cristina Pacheco, and Joaquin Blanco, among many others. In the particular case of Monsivais, he considers himself both a representative of the popular sectors of society and marginal within a strongly patriarcal and Catholic society.9 This marginalization points to an ambiguous relation with the literary institution, given that his cronicas are not part of the Mexican literary canon. The Particular Circumstances A short historical analysis of the student massacre is necessary in order to gain a greater insight into those events that shaped Mexican society and the new cronica. This is fundamental because within the context of the 1968 student movement, a group of writers emerged who, echoing the concerns of the students, engaged themselves in a forceful ideological and political critique of the PRI. 1968 was a year of opportunity and crisis for Mexico. After forty years in power, the ruling party, the PRI, headed by President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, was anxious to demonstrate to the world that Mexico was not an underdeveloped, violence-prone country populated by the gun-toting bandits and lazy peasants of the Hollywood movies. The Carlos Fuentes is not generally thought of as a cronista, but he has produced a substantial corpus of articles and commentaries that are exemplary of cronicas. For example, In Tiempo mexicano (1971) he avoids abstract economic discussion and seeks explanations in broadly human terms. He delves deeply into such matters as Mexican myth and national character along with the specious enticements of rapid economic development. He points out that many urban sectors of Mexico have succeeded in realizing the dream of modern progress and have been able - almost - to live in Monterrey as i f in Milan, or in Mexico as if in Los Angeles, but this goal has been achieved at an inopportune moment: it has coincided with uprisings, the destruction of the environment, pollution, and urban ghettos {Tiempo mexicano, 32-33). 9 According to biographical data Monsivais is a Protestant. Please see Carlos Monsivais's autobiography: Carlos Monsivais: Nuevos escritores mexicanos del siglo XXpresentados por si mismos (Mexico: Empresas Editoriales, 1966). 18 summer Olympics, scheduled for October 12-27, 1968, in Mexico City, were planned as a showcase in an economically developing nation. At the same time, however, growing political dissidence in Mexico challenged the monolithic state apparatus and the powerful monopoly of the PRI. By 1968, a decade of repressive measures taken by the government against labour activists, teachers, and university students, and the atmosphere of student rebellion in Europe and the U S A combined to create a critical juncture in Mexican history. It was at this moment, virtually on the eve of the Olympics, when international attention was focused on the country, that a series of initially spontaneous incidents aroused the students of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) and the Instituto Politecnico Nacional (IPN) into what came to be known as the movimlento estudiantil, the 1968 Mexican student movement. By the end of July of 1968, the students from U N A M and IPN had managed to mobilize and demanded compensation for injured students, release of detained students and other political prisoners, disbanding of the riot police, and repeal of Article 145 of the penal code, which defines "crimes" of public disorder. Over the course of the next two months the students made more demands on the PRI, such as a more open, democratic society, greater rights for workers and a freer dialogue between those in power and those who, fifty years after the revolution, remained powerless. The student movement's protest attracted an enormous amount of People: 150, 000 at the Zocalo on August 13, a march involving 300,000 on August 27, and tens of thousands at the famous "silent demonstration" on September 13 (Michael Meyer, 1998, 19 701). The government responded with repressive measures: police violence against protesters and onlookers, hundreds of arrests, attacks on school buildings occupied by the students, and finally, on September 18, the invasion and two-week occupation of the U N A M campus by the army (701). Dramatic as these events were, the definitive tragic confrontation between the student movement and a government intolerant of opposition took place on October 2, 1968, when, at a peaceful rally at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, army troops and police trapped thousands of protesters, indiscriminately fired on them, and pursued them into the surrounding apartment buildings. The Tlatelolco massacre left hundreds of demonstrators dead, thousands illegally detained, and many tortured in military camps. By the next morning the student movement was effectively destroyed and the city soon returned to an uncomfortable state of silence, calm, and disturbing "normality" as the opening day of the Olympics - October 12 - drew nearer.10 In the aftermath of the massacre, government cover-ups and censorship of the media impeded any investigation of the events and prevented effective dissemination of what scant information was available to the press." The Olympics proceeded on schedule, and Poniatowska said with bitter irony that Mexicans applauded when an army lieutenant won a medal. But, in the years following 1968, Tlatelolco and the student movement have figured prominently in the intellectual, political, and artistic expressions 1 0 A n exact accounting of the number of protesters killed, wounded, and imprisioned has never been possible due to the PRI's refusal to conduct a complete investigation of the massacre. In Posdata, Octavio Paz states that 325 protesters were killed. ' ' Carlos Monsivais says that mechanisms of government censorship of the media included bribes and outright threats against journalists. When that failed, the authorities silenced their few remaining critics by arresting them. See, Carlos Monsivais, " A veinte anos de La noche de Tlatelolco;" Semanal, Supplement to La jornada, October 13, 1991, 20-29. 20 of Mexico. Opinions vary as to the lasting impact of 1968 on Mexican politics, but it is clear that the Tlatelolco massacre, far from silencing the students' demands for dialogue, guaranteed an ongoing debate over the issues of repression, corruption, and monolithic exercise of authority which they raised. Themes and Concerns of the New Cronica: Unlike the earlier generational ideologue writers (Alfonso Reyes, Leopoldo Zea, Octavio Paz) who wrote in abstract terms, the cronistas respond to concrete situations, and current trends in the world bent on accelerated growth, industrialization and modernity. Instead of writing about the essence of the Mexican being in abstract terms12, this new generation of writers are concerned with "las modas, las canciones, los autores de protesta, las corbatas, los estilos de baile..." (Monsivais, "Mexico 1967", in La cultura en Mexico (17 enero 1968): ii-vii). As in Europe and the USA, the new freedom claimed by the younger generation led to an inevitable confrontation with the establishment: in the case of Mexico, this took the form of the Tlatelolco student massacre and its aftermath. These events and their background became central themes for these writers and major determinants of their 1 2 The "cronistas" reject the type of writing that frames serious problems and specific events in terms of archetypes, symbols and flights of poetic prose. A case in point is the negative reaction of Monsivais and Jorge Aguilar Mora's toward Paz's handling of the Tlatelolco massacre in Posdata (1970). Paz takes specific events as his point of departure, but his handling of the raw material differs markedly from that of the cronistas. Time, space and his penchant for intellectualizing - and poeticizing - work to rob the essay of the journalistic immediacy of the event. Aguilar Mora notes in his La divina pareja (1978) that Tlatelolco was not a "metaphor" as Paz would have us view it, but a real tragedy. Paz's relegation of the violent events of 1968 to a mythic, timeless zone of identity with the Mexico of Aztec ritual sacrifice is for him simply another example of Paz's characteristic tendency to juxtapose "history" vs. "myth" and opt for the latter. Paz's recourse to myth leads him to value the aesthetic, poetic realm over historical reality. 21 generational identity. The mood of the times is best appreciated in the light of Mexican political history since the mid-century, a period which witnessed the continued - i f not accelerated - growth of power by the PRI, a political force whose pervasive style has become unique in Latin America. The presence of a highly bureaucratized, manipulative regime whose "revolutionary" rhetoric often seemed hollow in the light of its specific policies and its parade of mediocre chief executives, was becoming increasingly irksome to the intellectuals, especially since many of them earned their livelihood either directly or indirectly through government funded positions. Like the political situation, Mexico's economic environment, with its accompanying social and demographic changes, has played an important role in shaping this generation. In this regard, the central phenomenon of the 1960's and 1970's has been desarrollismo - "development" in the technical sense of the social scientist.13 Not only have these writers examined the concept itself, but they have also pondered the physical and social changes resulting from the developmental process. Thus, such matters as the migration of rural population to the city, the growth of the peripheral slum areas, the impact of technology on humans, and issues related to ecology appear in their works. The economic crises of 1982, and the subsequent restructuring of the economy, has also had a large impact on these writers.14 They reflect upon the new ideological shift of 1 3 The Mexican government believed that urbanization and industrialization would lead to the creation of a prosperous nation. One of the major reasons why this economic model failed was because political interference encouraged corruption and incompetence, as people were appointed to run state-led companies on the basis of political favouritism rather than merit. Along with this problem, efforts at rapid industrialization encouraged a huge rural migration to the Mexico's cities. Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, the major centres of industrial concentration, soon became overpopulated with the unemployed and the under employed. 1 4 The economic reforms are a process known as 'structural adjustment', involving a relentless assault on the state's role in the economy, including cuts in social spending, privatization, and deregulation of 22 privatization, and the severe socio-economic conditions that it created in Mexico. Closely related to these interests is their fascination with new life-styles and sub-cultures. Essay vs. Cronica These writers use a rich variety of stylistic resources such as mixing "scientific materials" (statistical tables or questionnaires), richness and variety of authorial voices, frequent and playful use of foreign words or phrases, other linguistic gambits such as extreme irony or using taboo lexicon of sex and the erotic, the use of novel framing devices or unusual formats, a marked penchant for humour, an element not especially strong in the essay writers of the earlier years, and a strong sense of authorial self-15 consciousness. Despite the intrusion of lyrical or narrative modes and the inclusion of reportage and journalistic practices contained in the cronicas, the quintessential essayistic intent to persuade remains dominant. Although, as Masiello observes, after the 1950's the everything, from trade to banking to employers' abilities to hire and fire at will . Privatization is part of a broader ideological shift, of which neoliberals believe in cutting back the state and passing ever-larger chunks of the economy over to the private sector. Once privatised, they argue, management will be able to take decisions based on economic efficiency rather than politics and a company's performance is bound to improve. Privatization programmes are extremely good news for the local business class (often through joint ventures with foreign companies) to buy industries at bargain prices. Mexico's stock of billionaires rose from 2 to 24 during the privatizing presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994), all of them with close ties to the PRI. This model of economic development has had severe consequences on Mexican society. Structural adjustment programmes have exacerbated poverty and inequality in many ways. One of the main causes of increasing poverty and inequality has been the massive decline in real wages, the rise in unemployment, and the number of people employed in very low-productivity jobs. State cutbacks, recession and unemployment have all combined to suppress wages; adjustment policies have also lowered wages and exacerbated poverty by removing food subsidies and other price controls. Subsequently, even though neo-liberal policies have curbed inflation to a certain extent, unemployment is higher than ever, real wages are down, there is greater polarization of wealth, food prices have increased and there is greater social inequality. See Duncan Green, Faces of Latin America, 1997, pp. 73-86. 1 5 See Martin Stabb, The Dissenting Voice, 1994, pp. 93-95. 23 traditional, strongly "biographical" authorial voice found in the traditional essay gave way to "multiple dialogues" and "ceaseless debate" among writers and readers. The newer authorial presence constantly redefines itself and "does not claim authority on its own but finds its identity within a broad network of communicative codes" (Masiello, 1985, 32). Not surprisingly, in contemporary literary review these codes derive from shared interests, current social trends and especially from popular culture in all its forms. The principal Mexican periodicals - La cultura en Mexico, Plural, Vuelta, Didlogos and Nexos - suggest a great deal of literary interaction, shared concerns (between author and reader, as well as between author and fellow authors) with respect to social and political issues and, in general, a preoccupation with popular culture. These writers do not pretend to offer transcendental truths, and as such, cannot be characterized as authorial, "distanced" divulgators of wisdom. Moreover, while Paz searches for the distinguishing permanent features of the Mexican being ("la mexicanidad"), Monsivais is more interested in the constant transformations of la cotidianidad. The rift between a more established traditional - and in a sense more authorial and distant - writer such as Alfonso Reyes or Octavio Paz and members of the younger generation like Monsivais, for example, can best be understood in this manner. This notion of a less authorial 'omniscient' voice also helps illustrate the formal differences between the older generation of essayists and the writers of cronicas. As the critic Theodor Adorno has demonstrated in his penetrating studies on the aesthetics of the genre: La actitud autoritaria se lleva bien con la insistencia en los generos mas puros y sin mezcla posible; el pensamiento autoritario cree que una concretion no reglamentada esta manchada, es impura: la teoria de la authoritarian personality ha senalado ese rasgo como intolerance of 24 ambiguity y su presencia es inequivoca en todo arte y sociedad jerarquicos (T. Adorno, 1971, 267). Viewed in the broad context of Mexican history and cultural patterns, the generational identities of writers like Monsivais, Poniatowska and Jose Emilio Pacheco become quite clear. The preceding generation - Reyes, Ramos, Zea and Paz - pursued the question of Mexican essence and sought to explain what appeared to be a radically new phenomenon: the unique society created by the Revolution. While they might have questioned or criticized many aspects of this novel sociopolitical experiment, they were in general supportive of the new Mexico. Indeed, they could even be Utopian in their vision of a Mexican hombre nuevo, stripped of mask and pretense, rising from the carnage of the Revolution and the decades of groping which followed it. By the 1960's the works of the new generation of writers which emerged contained a marked note of revisionism, dramatically underscored by the Tlatelolco massacre and its aftermath. The unifying element in the works of the writers of the 1960's and 1970's is their fundamentally critical position toward the political establishment and its self-serving popular mythology. Perhaps most striking in their work and, what distinguishes them from previous generations, is their use of humour, journalistic closeness to current and concrete realities, their frequent use of technical gambits drawn from mass media and an interactive authorial mode, highlighting their presence as a chorus rather than as individual voices. According to Jose Luis Martinez, "el proposito del ensayo no es crear literatura sino ejercer 'rigor expositivo' de temas filosoficos, politicos o de otros campos 25 discursivos que le interesan a la sociedad" (Martinez, Jose Luis, 1985, 10). The principal preoccupation of essayistic writers resides in the content of ideas, which they present in abstract terms. While the discourse of the essay appears to be neutral because of its codified and formalized language, in the Mexican contemporary cronica, the language employed tends to be strong and emotive. There are an abundance of references to el habla comun and urban popular culture. Furthermore, there is always a constant allusion to a real and immediate reality. While the referent and themes of the Mexican essay converge with those of the cronica, essayistic writers tend to write from the perspective of the middle-class mestizo, idealizing and mythologizing Mexico's ancestral past. On the other hand, the cronistas write from the perspective of the marginal sectors of society, focusing on the extreme polarization of wealth, poverty, illiteracy, crime, government repression, etc., always concentrating on the immediate reality and how it affects the millions of marginalized people in Mexico. For example, when Monsivais criticizes the PRI for its blind pursuit of hyper-development, he does so in concrete terms: anarquia en los precios, crisis habitacional, carencia de agua, transporte inalcanzable, caos del transito, ocho mil toneladas diarias de basura, stress de la vida urbana, insalubridad, drenaje y alumbrado publico insuficientes, contamination ambiental, falta de servicios medicos y de mercados, delincuencia, sobrepoblacion {Amorperdido, 294). Cronicas: Fiction or Reportage? Jorge Ruffmelli also points out that 1968 was a crucial year in the development of the Mexican cronica. He advocates that one of the most notable changes was "el de aproximar el periodismo a la literatura amenazando con borrar sus confines" (Ruffmelli, 26 1987, 70). Without abandoning its condition of immediacy, the cronica begins to search for an undefined permanence (70). At the same time, this specific type of cronica begins to lose "la superficialidad periodistica de la noticia", in favour of an investigative exegesis. For example, in the political sphere, the brevity and urgency of proclamations are left aside in favour of a mediation of the causes that produce proclamations. These writers have a desire to go beyond simply reporting the facts 'objectively' and investigate the reasons behind the causes. They examine the social and the political aspects of society in a critical manner, exposing the inherent contradictions and the hidden problems behind 'simple' "news items". As Ruffinelli argues, "Lo social y lo politico se ven con otros ojos, dejan de ser "noticia" para convertirse en problemas" (70). Consequently, what is the difference and relationship between these types of writing and the realms of journalism and literature? Before we attempt to answer this complex question it is necessary to provide a working definition of these two realms. To begin with, we would say that journalism "significa comunicacion, entrega de information directa y sintectica" (Dallal, 1985, 25). Although there is much controversy about whether or not journalism is objective, it does tend to describe, situate and expose a particular event, allowing the reader to interpret the event and come to their own conclusion. In effect, "el periodismo es action inmediata, vital, directa" (27). If we accept this argument, then we can ask ourselves the following important question: what is the fundamental characteristic of a literary language? According to Dallal, "la principal cualidad del lenguaje literario...se refiere a su capacidad para 27 registrar la realidad (circundante o no) que el escritor intenta describir o inventar." He goes on to argue that this necessarily involves lafuncionalidad de este lenguaje con el universo descrito y por tanto implica una relation dialectica lenguaje-atmosfera, aunque esta ultima desee representar una realidad no existente o fantasiosa, una realidad que, como en el caso de la mas abstracta poesia, queda inmersa en la pura subjetividad (32). Therefore, Dallal emphasizes the referential character of language and it is this condition of language which allows these realms of writing to converge. Dallal argues that we are currently in a process of experimentation where journalism and literature are influencing one another in positive manners. A nueva vision has arisen "que ha desbordado los recipientes que tradicionalmente mantenian sujetos y apartados a los textos del escritor y del periodista" (34). He makes a further observation claiming that for the writer of fiction, the methodologies of journalism will provide a path "abierto a su creatividad en la medida en que entienda, reconozca y domine los secretos del oficio periodistico" (35). For the journalist of today, "poseedor de posibilidades vastisimas en su propio medio, resultara indispensable que, atraido por la literatura, se esfuerce por intensificar sus conocimientos en torno a ella" (35). Hence, both these forms of writing have influenced one another, and will continue to do so. And for Dallal it is clear that for the literary writer journalism is a source of renovation and enrichment. One of the important issues that arises out of this problematic hybrid genre of the cronicas is that the dissolution of boundaries between journalism and literature entails a mutual influence. The important writer Eduardo Gale claims that las frdnteras entre los generos son ahora mas borrosas, hay un estallido de los limites, y yo creo que esto es muy positivo, porque a medida que la 28 realidad del continente va cambiando, necesariamente ha de modificarse el lenguaje que tienen los escritores para comunicarla.16 Similarly, Ruffinelli points out that these two modalities of writing are un buceo en lo cotidiano pero dandole a la fugacidad de sus motivos una consistencia mayor, una durabilidad mas extensa y mas propia de lo literario...En definitiva, diriamos que se trata de dos modulaciones periodisticas que dialogan entre si y con la literatura. En el dialogo interno se influyen y se enriquecen, pero seran siempre diferentes por el contexto de su production (Ruffinelli, 1987, 73). Jorge Edwards also claims that journalism and fiction are not only related to one another, but "se alimentan una de la otra" because "[p]ara saber inventar, primero hay que saber nombrar" (Jorge Edwards, 1979, 41). Considering what Gale, Ruffinelli and Edwards suggest, we are of the opinion that the Mexican cronica is more recreative than informative, and therefore, it is closer to literature than journalism. The cronica employs narrative strategies and techniques similar to those used by fiction writers. Writers such as Monsivais believe that the traditional form of journalism, with its linear structure and its supposed "objectivity", is far too restrictive to capture the heterogeneous aspect of contemporary Mexican society. New Journalism A n influential American writer who was one of the first to explore the boundaries between journalism and literature is Truman Capote, and for Jose Emilio Pacheco, Capote's important work/n Cold Blood (1965) erased forever the borders between 1 6 In Jorge Ruffinelli, Palabras en orden, Mexico (1985, pg. 71, 2a. edition). 29 literature and journalism. "Ya no hay fiction ni no-ficcion. Despues de Truman Capote tan solo existe la narrativa."17 Monsivais affirms that Capote's In Cold Blood contains elements characteristic of New Journalism: la cronica y el reportaje son grandes formas artisticas inexploradas que los buenos escritores desatienden. Segiin Capote, un texto que aborde situaciones reales puede explorar nuevas dimensiones literarias cuyo efecto es distinto al de la fiction: el hecho mismo de ser verdad, de ser estrictamente cierto, imprime otra fuerza.18 These predecessors are useful when discerning the close relationship and overlapping between New Journalism and cronicas. On the one hand, the writers accede techniques typically characteristic of journalism and explores new possibilities, thus renovating the genre in the process. This is Capote's lesson, that is to say the lesson of a writer, not a journalist. Ruffmelli argues that this New Journalism influenced important Mexican writers such as Monsivais, Poniatowska, Fuentes, Jose Emilio Pacheco, among others. This closeness between the two writing modalities is not a fusion of genres - nor a dissolution of its characteristics, as Emilio Pacheco would like us to believe - but a particular form of communication that "dignifica su practica narrativa con los recursos de la narration literaria, y es asi como puede renovar su genero desprendiendose de los resortes mas gastados para alcanzar una mayor, diferente, eficacia expresiva" (Ruffmelli, 1987, 73). Thus, for Ruffmelli the works of Tom Wolfe have served as a source of inspiration for the contemporary writers of Mexican cronicas. 1 7 Jose Emilio Pacheco, "Musica para Capote", in Proceso, no. 409 (3 September 1984), pp. 46-52. 1 8 Carlos Monsivais, "Truman Capote", in_Proceso, no. 409 (3 September 1984), pp. 46-52. 30 Therefore, the Mexican cronicas and New Journalism are closely related. Their purpose and function are comparable in that they both attack the establishment and in doing so, their desire to revindicate the rights of a civil society are exposed. Moreover, they critique the falseness of bourgeoisie social life, and analyze and condemn status quo's political points of view. They also fiercely criticize mass media for falsifying "reality" and instilling a false sense of behaviour into the masses. The referent and themes of the cronicas and New Journalism are generally associated with history, politics, cinematographic mythology, the culture of television, the culture of consumption, and show business. Considering this, the cronicas deal with idols, pop culture and its fashions, immediate reality - la cotidianidad - politics, and the traditions of popular urban culture. The cronicas adopt the point of view of the marginalized sectors of society, ranging from feminists and homosexuals to the poor. With respect to narrative strategies, both cronicas and New Journalism focus on provoking and expressing emotions and sensations mainly through the personal points of view of the marginalized sectors of the population. In other words, they incorporate various forms of subjectivity into their texts in order to problematize a monolithic discourse. These writers make use of techniques taken from the social sciences disciplines (psychology, sociology, anthropology, and ethnography), along with literature and film, incorporating orality - el habla comun - into their narration. They organize their narratives around titles and subtitles which echo the popular expressions of everyday intercommunicative exchanges. In Monsivais's cronicas, the rhetorical questions, the anticipations, the indirect style, and ongoing commentary underline the intrusion of a narrator that constantly distances himself from "objectivity" and "neutrality". There is a constant interplay between a third-person narrator who investigates and a first-person intrusive narrator who acts as an eye-witness to certain events. Whether the narrative posture is in third or first-person, the narration is often marked with an ironic and satirical tone. This is further analyzed in chapter three. Another narrative technique in this particular form of writing is the vivid reconstruction of events. Monsivais, like other writers, reconstructs particular real events and characters in order to criticize them and reflect upon their significance for Mexican society. The elements that he recreates vary from popular film stars and idols to the forgotten slums of Mexico City (i.e., Tepito, one of Mexico City's poorest neighbourhoods). Monsivais contextualizes past and present events in order to illustrate their meaningful transformations. This new organization of discursive material allows for new interpretative possibilities, and therefore, opens the door to approach reality in a different way. As Antonio Urrello argues: "Monsivais's approach sends the reader in search of meaning as it is generated through the different layers of text, providing the possibility of alternative readings of the characters and events portrayed" (Urrello, 1998, 567). Towards a "Definition" of Cronicas 32 Monsivais has written extensively on this subject and in Antologia de la cronica en Mexico (1979) and A ustedes les consta (1980) he expresses his views on this problematic new genre. He points out that conventional journalism is much more sensationalist and denunciatory than the cronica, which is more the "arte de comentar literaria y criticamente la actualidad" (Monsivais, 1979, 7-8). Although Monsivais argues that the cronicas are closely linked to reportage, a form of journalism, he believes that they go beyond this: "No discrepe demasiado de la idea de cronica como construction literaria de sucesos o figuras, genero periodistico donde el empeno formal domina sobre urgencias informativas y versiones directas" (Monsivais, 1979, 8). Thus, for Monsivais it is clear that the cronica goes beyond its immediate function of "representing" reality. There is more of an emphasis in its rhetorical apparatus of representation than in believing in the "transparent" character of representation. In order to distinguish between conventional journalism and cronicas, Monsivais argues that while the traditional reporter pretends to offer an "objective", "neutral" and "impersonal" point of view, it is important to keep in mind that "impersonal, objective reporting...is really a kind of special code that can deceive the reader who isn't fully aware of the limitations of the convention" (M. Stephens, 1988, 19). Monsivais does not pretend to ascribe to an impartial point of view because the cronica is openly partial. This partiality is illustrated in the manner in which the writers of cronicas juxtapose the presence of a witness (opinions offered in first person) with that of a third-person "know-it-all" type of narrator who distances themselves from the action and who also presents la interioridad ajena of the characters. 33 These ideas evoke Tom Wolfe's belief that in order to capture the fragmented and chaotic aspects of reality, one has to present something more than just merely an "objective" description. According to Wolfe, the writer should offer something more than readers had to look for in fiction: that is, the interior lives of characters. The only manner in which a writer can achieve this is through the creation of scenes, dialogue, and interior monologues. That is why Wolfe says that "Eventually I, and others, would be accused of "entering people's minds"...But exactly! I figured that was one more doorbell a reporter had to push" (Wolfe, 1977, 35). Hence, there is a clear relationship between Wolfe's ideas of New Journalism and Monsivais's views on cronicas because in both of them "priva la recreation de afmosferas y personajes sobre la transmision de noticias y denuncias" (Monsivais, 1979, 8). In other words, while conventional journalism presents new information, the cronicas and New Journalism relive them artistically. The writers which appear in Monsivais's Antologia de la cronica en Mexico "suelen ser mas escritores que periodistas" (9) because their texts have achieved a kind of permanence, as opposed to journalism. Considering all that has been argued thus far, it is apparent that for Monsivais the representation of reality is problematized by the incorporation of different points of view (and the interplay between first and third person narrator) and its relative distance in time to the events which have already been reported upon by either a newspaper or a news magazine. The cronicas acquire more literary "value" when they separate themselves from mainstream media and they appear independently in books. Monsivais observes that Si el periodismo es lo instantaneo, como puede ser periodistico un libro que demando cuatro afios de trabajo? Solution posible: James Agee entendio lo que el New Journalism habria de enunciar casi 34 programaticamente: no solo importan los grandes acontecimientos en el feudo de la primera plana, sino tambien las informaciones a largo plazo, la noticia de las reacciones de la colectividad ante la noticia, la noticia de los factores que rodearon el surgimiento de la noticia, la noticia de hechos muy diversos que pudieron o pueden ser noticia, la noticia de las respuestas personales y las diversas e impredecibles asociaciones mentales que engendra la noticia, la noticia de los factores de creation de la noticia (Monsivais, 1979, 206). In this paragraph it is clear that Monsivais's interests lie in searching for the news behind the news, the why, the how and the now-what-kind-of-analysis, which journalism rarely explores. The "cronistas" have a very informed and critical point of view, focusing on examining the past with an eye toward separating out actuality from myth. In A ustedes les consta, Monsivais argues that he has eliminated doubts as to what the difference is between cronicas and journalism and reportage: "He vencido el inutil y bizantino temor del abismo generico entre cronica y reportage" (Monsivais, 1980, 13). In this work he gives a much more concise and precise definition, based on his earlier studies: Reconstruction literaria de sucesos o figuras, genero donde el empeno formal domina sobre las urgencias informativas. Esto implica la no muy clara ni segura diferencia entre objetividad y subjetividad, lo que suele traducirse de acuerdo a premisas tecnicas: el reportaje, por ejemplo, requerido de un tono objetivo, desecha por conveniencia la individualidad de sus autores: de este modo, Los ejercitos de la noche de Mailer, donde el narrador es el protagonista confeso no seria un reportaje. En la cronica, el juego literario usa a discretion la primera persona o narra libremente los acontecimientos como vistos y vividos desde la interioridad ajena. Tradicionalmente - sin que eso signifique ley alguna - en la cronica ha privado la recreation de atmosferas y personajes sobre la transmision de noticias y denuncias (57). 35 It is evident that the most important points with respect to technique are essentially the same: point of view can vary between a first-person witness and third-person narrative; and the referent, even though he does not directly indicate it, seems to be a lived reality ("suceso y figuras") which may also be immediate, or at least recent ("urgencias informativas"). Monsivais's main point is that the cronica presents a true reality using the technique of fiction: "la recreation y la reconstruction literaria." One aspect of his analysis that remains ambiguous is that the degree of art used in the cronicas seems to be provisional, subject to the convenience, individuality and discretion of the writer; he does say that traditionally, the cronista chose a fictionalized presentation of the events. This suggests that he, like other writers, privilege fiction over fact. In A ustedes les consta Monsivais has offered a more precise definition presenting the cronica first and foremost as a literary construction: "el empeno formal" ("el juego literario") es mas dominante que el empeno informative" Furthermore, he suggests that it is more subjective than objective, and more closely associated with literature than with journalism. At the end of his prologue in A ustedes les consta , Monsivais clearly delineates the social, political and cultural use and value of cronicas: Todo esta por escribirse, grabarse, registrarse. Entender, desplegar, reportear este nuevo pais es primordial para el periodismo escrito, televisivo, filmico, radiofonico, lo que exige e ira exigiendo el crecimiento de una prensa marginal y el aprovechamiento inteligente y critico de los recursos de la prensa establecida. Una encomienda inaplazable de cronica y reportaje: dar voz a los sectores tradicionalmente poscritos y silenciados, las minorias y mayorias de toda indole que no encuentran cabida o representatividad en los medios masivos...Que pueden informarnos cronica y reportaje de la situation actual? Por lo pronto, para citar a Valle-Inclan, que elpresente aun no es la Historiay tiene caminos mas realistas (76, emphasis mine). 36 Conclusion The contemporary Mexican cronicas emerged as a new modality in the post-1968 era. The cronistas responded to the tragedy of the Tiatelolco massacre by echoing the concerns of the students and engaging themselves in an ideological and political critique of the PRI. The cronicas are more an exercise in the literary recreation of events, epochs, characters, ideas and impressions than traditional journalism. They give voice to people who have not traditionally had one in the public sphere. This is what stimulates these writers to take into consideration popular movements, strikes, ways of life, etc. As Monsivais advocates: "en los sectores tradicionalmente marginados surge el interes por historiar y cronicar su desenvolvimiento" (Monsivais, 1992, 23). According to him, Jose Joaquin Blanco's Funcion de medianoche is one of the first collection of cronistas that combined the essay with the cronicas or, better said,.the writers did not distinguish between the genres. The thematic hierarchies disappear and the new cronistas document (and they radically search for new methods to document reality) the society which they belong to, both of which they detest and love at the same time. These writers, although experts in Latin American literature, have incorporated the styles of American writers such as Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Capote into the cronicas. They are interested in narrative history and they find their themes in the official world just as much as in the underworld of countercultures, "entre los juniors y los chavos-banda, entre lo politico y lo espermatico" (24). What distinguishes them from other writers is their freedom, their uncensored language, their recourse to the "I" which announces a more democratic 37 relationship with the reader, under the premise: "Soy en todo igual a ti, solo que ahora estoy en el uso de la palabra" (24). Like never before, the cities Mexico, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Tijuana, Culiacan, Oaxaca are the main protagonists in the cronicas. No longer is it "el conjunto de edificios y cenas de la Nueva grandeza mexicana " (25), but rather the chaos of urban life, where unforeseen characters appear and disappear, the collective tragedies, the occupations that is generated by the current economic crisis, "el habla obscena" que refuncionaliza y absorbe la violencia urbana, las pequenas transas que no dejan ver el bosque de la corruption, los condones que trazan los derroteros de la nueva sexualidad" (25). In Monsivais's cronicas, intensity, humour (irony, parody, satire, caricature and sarcasm), fantasy and literary recreation all come together, with the intent of reflecting el desmadre that 'arranges' the postapocaliptic world of Mexico. The following chapter analyzes urban popular culture and its importance in the contemporary Mexican cronicas. This is significant because these writers position themselves from a perspective that is rooted in a knowledge of urban popular culture in order to criticize the political and economic rhetoric of the PRI. Monsivais, who is a fierce critic of the establishment, the Mexican state and the institutions that perpetuate the repressive system, has written an extensive number of articles on Mexican urban popular culture which we will examine in order to see how he practices his theory in his cronicas and how he goes about condemning the dominant class, the Mexican political system and the institutions that support and herald it. 38 Chapter Two Urban Popular Culture in Contemporary Mexico and its Importance in Monsivais's Cronicas Introduction In the discussion that follows we are going to investigate urban popular culture19 as it relates to Monsivais's cronicas because it is a central theme that appears in his works. He writes from this perspective in order to fiercely criticize the dominant class, 1 9 We are well aware that the word 'culture' is both complex and ambiguous. Raymond Williams, who claims that culture is "one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language" (Williams, Keywords, 1987, 87), has provided some enlighting anaylisis on this subject. He argues that, first of all, culture can be used to refer to "a general process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development (90)." We could, for example, speak about the cultural development of Western Europe and be referring only to intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic factors - great philosophers, great artists and great poets. A second use of the word 'culture' can suggest "a particular way of life, whether of a people, a period or a group"(90). Such things as religious festivals would fall into this definition. Culture can also refer to "the works and practices on intellectual and especially artistic activity" (90). In other words, those texts and practices whose principal function is to signify, to produce or to be the occasion for the production of meaning. To speak of popular culture usually means to mobilize the second and third definition of culture. When one thinks of "a particular way of life", such practices as the youth subcultures can be thought of as being an example of culture; they are generally refered to as lived cultures or cultural practices. The other definition of culture - signifying practices - would allow us to speak of soap operas, rock music and comics as examples of culture. In The Long Revolution Williams explores the 'social' definition of culture, in which culture is a description of a particular way of life" (57). He comes to the conclusion that there are three points embodied in the 'social' definition: (1) culture as a particular way of life, (2) culture as expression of a particular way of life and (3) cultural analysis as a method of reconstituting a particular way of life. However, Williams warns us that "there is a significant reference in each., .and, i f this is so, it is the relations between them that should claim our attention" (57). He describes as "inadequate" and "unacceptable" any definition which fails to include the other definitions: "However difficult it may be in practice, we have to try to see the process as a whole, and to relate our particular studies, i f not explicitly at least by ultimate reference, to the actual and complex organization" (60). In addressing the "complex organization" of culture as a particular way of life, the purpose of cultural analysis is always to understand what a culture is expressing; "the actual experience through which a culture was lived;" the "important common element;" "a particular community of experience" (64). Williams calls all this "the structure of feeling" (64), and by it he means the shared values of a particular group, class or society. The difference between popular culture and urban popular culture in Mexico is that the latter is a manifestation of the process of urbanization and industrialization. It arose in the 1950's when millions of people began to flock to the cities in search of employment. Idols such as Jose Alfredo Jimenez and Cantinflas were a type of urbanized peasant who represented the transitional between the rural and the urban, the traditional and the modern. 39 which is an oligarchy that is integrated by the PRI and its government, and who, through a system of patronage, control the majority of companies, properties and industries. He also condemns the institutions such as the labour unions, mass media and the culture industry, for perpetuating an undemocratic society which is only concerned with the well being of a selected few. For these reasons, Monsivais always adopts the point of view of the marginalized sectors of society because he believes that in order to create a pluralistic and civil society the subaltern class, who resist hegemonic ideology, must be able to participate in the public sphere, and hence, that is why he gives 'voice' to the silenced masses. He does not merely describe the phenomena, but rather he offers a penetrating analysis of how the economy, politics, the dominant class, mass media and the culture industry have affected the urban popular classes. The arena from which these voices are heard and projected are located within the realm of urban popular culture. Although urban popular culture in Mexico is not difficult to identify, it is tough to define. It is recognizable in the immediate reality of such things as artesanias, carnivals, magical beliefs, salsa, telenovelas and oral narratives - all of these to some extent or another convey the idea of the popular as a distinct sphere. The difficulty resides in the fact that when these objects and practices are placed in their larger context, namely within the parameters of'modernization', industrialization and urbanization, "this distinctness becomes more difficult to define" (William Rowe and Vivian Schelling, 1989, 2). Garcia Canclini recognizes the problems posed with this dilemma: how does one study the millions of indigenous peoples and peasants who migrate to the major cities or the workers who are incorporated into the industrial organization of work and consumption? How do we analyze those phenomena that are not covered by traditional categories of high or popular culture? How to build societies with democratic projects shared 40 by everybody without making everybody the same? (Garcia Canclini,, 1995,23). It is clear from these arguments that we cannot look at popular culture solely from the perspective of the rural, and as a simple, pure form of life. So tenacious is this myth that to say 'popular' automatically evokes images of rural life and the peasant, while the city is seen as artificial and complex. But to view urban centres as a corrupting and contaminating force, in opposition to a pure and authentic culture rooted in the rural areas, is to indulge in nostalgia. Subsequently, in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of what urban popular culture is in Mexico, and how important it is to the cronicas, we must examine it within the context of Mexican and Latin American 'modernity.' Monsivais has done pioneering work in the field of Mexican urban popular culture; he has written extensively on the subject and has developed a theory of urban popular culture, which he practices in his cronicas. He convincingly argues that urban popular culture is, among other things, a response to the uneven, partial and distorted processes of economic and political modernization and urbanization in Mexico and Latin America. Groups who belong to the popular classes resist the homogenizing effects of modernization, "revitalizing in their own way their daily lives and their traditions, converting their deficiencies into technique of identification" (Monsivais, 1982, 421). He claims that the culture of subordinate classes appears to be vulgar, reactionary, fatalistic, degraded, primitive, complacent, shapeless, resentful, chaotic, cruel, quarrelsome, repressive, irreverent, delightfully obscene, superstitious and macho, yet at the same time, he concludes that it is a vital, generous culture which resists the oppression of the 41 national hegemonic culture expressed through the mass media and the state, and 20 underpinned by the transnational corporations and dependent capitalism. In this chapter we will focus on some of the complexities faced with in the study of urban popular culture, as viewed by Monsivais and other cultural and social critics. We commence our investigation by examining how Latin America's unique form of 'peripheral modernity' has led to the formation of a urban popular culture in Mexico which is both distinctive and transformative in nature, manifested in the continual shifting of cultural symbols, customs and practices. We will then discuss the important relationship between hegemony and popular culture, and proceed to analyze how Monsivais views this important relationship between the dominant and marginalized groups of Mexican society. As we shall see, he provides us with a historical analysis of the various stages of popular culture in order to highlight the emblematic changes and transformations that it has undergone in the last eighty to ninety years. Once we investigate Monsivais's theory of popular culture, we will examine how he applies it to his cronicas. In particular, we will provide a short analysis of two of his cronicas -"Tepito como leyenda"(Dz'<zs de guardar, 1970) and "Jose Alfredo Jimenez: No vengo a pedir lectores" (Amor perdido, 87-97, 1977) - in order to see how these works mirror his theoretical analysis of urban popular culture. Both of these cronicas reflect upon urban popular culture and the culture of poverty. We will also relate Monsivais's theory to his latest work, Los rituales del caos (1995); this collection of cronicas focuses on the effects of the mass media on urban popular culture. 2 0 See Carlos Monsvais, "De algunos problemas del termino 'cultura nacional', in Revista occidental 2, no. 1 (1985), pp. 44-58. 42 Modernity, Nation-State and Popular Culture William Rowe and Vivian Schelling argue in Memory and Modernity (1989) that Latin American modernity "is not a replica of US or European mass culture, but has a distinctive character that varies from country to country" and that one of its major differences "is the force of popular culture" (Rowe and Schelling, 1989, 3). It is a unique modernity which does not entail the elimination of pre-modern traditions and memories but has risen through them, transforming them in the process. Hence, many Latin American countries are caught between traditions that have not yet disappeared and a modernity that has not yet arrived. That is why, as Rowe and Schelling point out, traditional elements are resignified inside modern elements - or equally, the modern is arrived at through tradition. Despite the fact that all of the Latin American countries attempted to create homogeneous societies, they were unable to create unified nation-states due to their social, cultural and economic heterogeneity and the incapacity of the dominant sectors in elaborating an overall project for the 'modern' reorganization of society capable of integrating different regions and social classes and thus of becoming hegemonic. For this reason, the process of secularization of popular memory has been incomplete or partial such that 'magic' and myth continue to play an important role while the relative lack of autonomy of the different spheres of society has meant that both high culture and media are marked by the popular. In this context, the popular cultures of Latin America are not simply forms of folklore consigned to the past or degraded versions of high culture and 43 the culture industry, but a force which articulates alternatives to the existing structures of power. The "force of popular culture" in Mexico was detected by the populist governments in power in the 1930's and 1950's and mobilized as a source of legitimacy and an archive of symbols with which to meet the challenges of modernity and develop an identification between the 'Nation' and 'the people'. Within these particular set of circumstances, the media, which emerged in conjunction with the process of urbanization, industrialization and with populism, played a specific role in shaping the experience of modernity in Mexico. Monsivais points out that the media has played a major role in the development of an internal market and the consolidation of a national identity. In post-revolutionary Mexico, he explains, radio and cinema represented 'the people' as a nation by making use of and amalgamating elements from the cultures of different regions. The telenovela and the radio have been instrumental in creating the "imagined community" of the nation. While this has been an aspect of capitalist development, it has also been marked by 'the force of popular culture' in that both the telenovela and the radio have drawn on the popular genre of melodrama and the syntax and rhythm of oral narrative. In the present context, as both Monsivais and Garcia Canclini argue, because of neo-liberal policies and the globalization of the media, the public spaces occupied by the popular are increasingly dominated by the electronic media while the hybridization of cultural forms due to the interaction between local, national and transnational cultures is transforming popular cultures in ways which are not yet clear. Urbanization and Popular Culture It is no longer possible to make sharp or fixed distinctions between rural and urban cultures in Latin America. The rapid pace of urbanization in Mexico has had a large impact on popular culture. It has been responsible for the massive increase in urban population, so that, in present days, 60 to 70 per cent of the population lives in urban centres.21 Towns and cities act as the entry point for foreign influences, while the most remote rural areas remain repositories of traditional culture. As the rural poor flock to the shanty towns around the major cities, they bring with them traditional customs, which blend with the new influences. Hence, rural culture in Mexico is now mediated to a great extent by the city, both in the sense of its massification of social phenomena and of the communication technologies which make it available. Consequently, cultural codes, products and practices have increasingly moved between rural and urban areas and between different social strata, causing previously stable boundaries to lose their force. As a result of this process, the rapid and multiple cultural transitions and juxtapositions brought about by urbanization produced a unique mixing of traditional and modem elements, and hence technology, to a certain extent, 'modernized' traditional 2 1 During the past forty to fifty years a massive change from rural to predominately urban societies has occurred in Mexico. The main form of urban growth has been through the erection of shanty towns, usually encircling the cities and usually on land which had first to be invaded or squatted. Dwellings are initially put together from whatever materials are available, including carboard, polythene, woven matting and bamboo. Invasions have to be coordinated and they often require the planned action of thousands of people and may involve confrontations with police and army and the risk of death. Later stages include the erection of more permanent types of dwelling and the establishment of services such as water, electricity, sewage and transport. This process reflects the failure of industry to absorb the peasantry or to create an adequate urban infrastructure. One of the major flaws of developmentalism, industrialization and urbanization in Mexico was that they were unable to absorb the masses of poor peasants and rural labourers, which subsequently led to the growth of massive cities and the co-existence of a wealthy minority, frequently working in the modern foreign-sector, and a large mass of under- and unemployed 'traditional' migrants, living in the shanty towns on the peripheries of Mexico City. 45 customs. The juxtaposition of technology and tradition is now a main feature of living space: television sets sit beside religious images and framed photographs of parents and grandparents. Symbols and objects associated with rural tradition, bearers of memory, become refunctionalized in new settings, while, simultaneously, modern symbols and materials become resemanticized. Thus, The concepts of reconversion, resignification and resemanticization are particularly appropriate to popular culture as ways of handling the constant refashioning of cultural signs which keeps alive the sites of the popular and prevents them being wholly absorbed into the dominant power structures (William Rowe and Vivian Schelling, 1989, 11). Subsequently, the increased migration of rural cultures and their retransmission through new urban-based channels means that popular culture cannot be viewed as a simple, pure way of life. A different definition of the popular becomes necessary, in terms of the possibility of a counter-hegemony. Hegemony and Popular Culture Any study of popular culture must be indebted to Gramsci's very important concept of hegemony. Gramsci uses the term hegemony to refer to the way in which dominant groups in society, through a process of intellectual and moral leadership, win the consent of society's subordinate groups. In this sense, it suggests a society in which there is a high degree of consensus and a large measure of social stability, in which subordinate classes appear to "actively" support and subscribe to values, ideals, objectives, cultural meanings, which bind them and incorporate them into the prevailing power structure. Although hegemony implies a high degree of consensus, it does not 46 imply a given society or a situation without conflict; what it does suggest is that conflict is contained and channeled into ideologically safe harbours. In other words, hegemony is maintained (and must be continually maintained) by the dominant class(es) or group(s) making concessions to the subordinate classes or groups. From this perspective of hegemonic theory, popular culture takes on a special significance because it is seen as an area of exchange between dominant and subordinate forces in society. Using this approach - sometimes referred to as neo-Gramscian hegemony theory - popular culture is a site of struggle between the forces of resistance of subordinate groups in society, and the forces of incorporation of society's dominant groups. Popular culture in this usage is not the imposed culture of the mass culture theorists. Rather, it is a terrain of exchange between the two; a space, as already stated, marked by resistance and incorporation. In general terms, those looking at popular culture from a neo-Gramscian perspective tend to see it as a terrain of ideological struggle between dominant and subordinate classes, dominant and subordinate cultures. In the case of Mexico and Latin America, popular culture is that 'location' where subordinate groups are constantly engaged in forms of cultural struggle against the homogenizing forces of incorporation of the official or dominant culture. Through their resistance they recreate and transform previous existing cultural codes, creating new forms of cultural identity along the way. 47 Consuming Passions: Popular Urban Culture in Mexico Monsivais warns us that we should not limit the meaning of popular culture and view it as nothing more than an instinctive, spontaneous resistance of subaltern cultures to the hegemonic. As Martin-Barbero argues, Monsivais views it more like "the interweaving of submission and resistance, opposition and complicity" (Martin-Barbero, 1993, 193). Moreover, he has managed to clarify how this interweaving works, sketching a map of the historical landmarks in the profound transformation of popular culture since the beginning of the century. Monsivais's exegesis is an organization of the historical process indispensable for visualizing the construction of a new cultural synthesis. The first stage of popular culture that Monsivais identifies occurred between 1900 to 1930. He advocates that popular culture in these years was largely influenced by the Mexican Revolution and its projection into daily life through a series of mechanisms, some of which were peculiar to that Revolution and others of a more general nature. Among the mechanisms specific to the Revolution, some of the most important were the Revolutionary theater and the muralists, who converted the masses into legendary archetypes by portraying them as "the people." This represents a significant change in that it transformed the picturesque customs of daily life into affirmations of Mexican nationalism. Even though this shift was charged with ambiguity, it managed to illustrate the nationalistic solidarity set in motion by a Revolution that, in the dramatic scenes of the murals, made more visible and socially legitimated the gestures, customs and manners of speech until then so widely rejected or repressed in Mexican society. 48 Among the influences from a more general Mexican cultural background were the popular songs blending elements of peasant nostalgia with new ways of experiencing citizenship, unabashedly conveying human passions without checks of moralism or urban refinement. Like the theaters, las carpas (the huge dance 'tents') were another dimension of the popular world: crowds, laughter, disorder, whistles, rude sounds and obscenities expressing political rebellion and erotic energy. Monsivais closely analyzes the links between politics and the obscene in urban popular culture, referring to "vulgar language as an essential grammar of social class" (Monsivais, 1978, 101). He claims that something that was much more important than the "expressions" of popular culture in different national contexts was the recognition of the meaning these expressions underwent - the masses making themselves socially visible, "configuring their hunger to attain the visibility conferred by having a social space of their own" (Monsivais, 1976, 85). A second stage that Monsivais recognizes in this development of popular culture occurred in the 1930's, from one end of Latin America to another. The major factors which contributed to this evolution were the influences coming from dependent industrialization and import substitution, populism, the beginnings of the massive migration to the cities from the rural areas, the introduction of radio and cinema, and the increasing hegemony of the culture industry. According to Monsivais, at the level of culture, populism became nationalism and it found its best expression and means of diffusion in film, especially in the cinema of Mexico and Argentina. Martin-Barbero supports this argument and adds: 49 If to create a nation is, in a certain sense, to dramatize its existence in theater, then the role of film was to put at the centre of the stage - a form of mythologizing symbolization - the gestures and patterns of life of national reality (Martin-Barbero, 1993, 195). Similarly, Monsivais advocates that, from the beginning, the film industry set out to mirror popular culture, to reflect its achievements, its myths, its prejudices, its tastes, its attitudes to fiestas, to the search for Mexican identity, and so on. In this manner, "Mexican popular culture, both rural and urban, was drastically transformed and reshaped through the cinema" (Monsivais, 1993, 143-44). The state and culture industry recognized the "force of popular culture" and that is why they set out to incorporate popular culture into the project of nationalism. Monsivais states that film gave national identity a face and a voice. The popular masses did not go to the movies simply for entertainment purposes; they went to experiment with their daily life, to see their codes and customs represented on the screen. In other words, it was through film images that the popular masses in Mexico saw themselves, their own faces and gestures, represented in the new public space of the nation; their previous sense of identity was confined to regional or local communities. The images may have been in many ways vulgar and debased - for example, exalting machismo - but the masses celebrated their new social presence in and through them. According to Monsivais, the result of this was that film created nationalism through the genre of melodrama, a genre capable of giving to any theme or situation a strong expression while, at the same time, it evoked myths and transformed all behaviour into mass culture. Far beyond the chauvinistic themes, this identity would turn out to be of vital importance to the urban 50 masses because it softened the cultural clashes, producing in its way a synthesis of the traditional culture with the impositions and demands of the city. The other medium which facilitated a connection between the campesino cultures and the world of urban sensibilities was radio. Conserving rural forms of speech, songs and much of its humour, radio mediated between tradition and modernity. Radio was also the most effective vehicle - until television appeared in the 1950's - for classist and racist values. It was a medium which could reduce culture to slogans, escalating the deforming melodic and ideological standardization of songs and propagating a nationalism which was externally picturesque, but increasingly hollow. At the same time, film and radio were important influences towards a musical integration of Latin America constructed on the 'popularity' of certain rhythms - the bolero, the ranchera, the tango -and on the mythification of some of the idols of song. From the 1930's onwards, soccer, along with music, became another great creator of idols and of urban popular passions. As we will demonstrate further on in our analysis of Monsivais's cronicas, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, the king of mariachis, is an excellent example of these types of music icons. This second stage of popular culture that Monsivais refers to ended in the late 1950's. Monsivais identifies a third stage beginning in the 1960's, where urban popular culture once again underwent another series of transformations due to the increasing hegemony of the culture industry and this "left very little outside its sphere of influence and introduced styles increasingly defined by the transnational market" (Martin-Barbero, 1993, 195). The dominant cultural framework became a form of technological seduction and an incitement to consumption, a homogenization of desirable life styles, the 51 destruction of what was national - now recalled as the brief 'limbo before technological development.' According to Monsivais, the traditional social, cultural and religious contents of culture were transformed into what is now referred to as the culture of show business. Advertising played a key role in this task, converting commercial products into household institutions and advancing the myth of technological 'progress'. In the economic conditions of the popular classes, this translated into a continual draining away of the cultural identity and meaning of their everyday knowledge and practices. Monsivais claims that television was at the centre of the new cultural dynamic. Openly and completely North American in its values and constructed around the logic of one and the same style of modern life for the whole country, "television dissolved the past into a continual present" (Martin-Barbero, 1993, 196). This process of homogenization also affected the artifacts of daily life and patterns of speech. If radio nationalized the language, it nevertheless conserved certain regional, accents and tones. Television, however, attempted to create a unitary language for the whole country and, as it singles out certain styles to be preserved as a folkloric remnant, caused the disappearance of regional differences. With its obsession with the present - with the latest news -television replaced distinct senses of time and rhythms with a discourse that attempts to contemporarize everything. This, of course, is rather general in the sense that it could be applied to various other countries. In the case of Mexico, the media took on a significative role in that through television they projected and purported the enduring Revolutionary ideals of agrarian reform and education and the myths of economic developmentalism and technological progress. Hence, the PRI used the media as a 52 method of control and manipulation, illustrated in the manner in which they transmitted 'correct' modes of behaviour and beliefs to the masses through television. Monsivais advises us that in order to understand urban popular culture we must consider the nature of the relationship between television, the culture industry and the urban popular masses. He says that television has been responsible for the acceleration of modernization of the marginal 'backward' areas - but at what cost? The answer to this difficult question does not only come from a focus on the dynamics of the media or from the logic of the industry feeding and programming the media because this denies - as has occurred for many years - the distance between what the industry offers and the manner of its appropriation and conduct. Monsivais's historical analysis of urban popular culture is a key contribution to the study of this field because he has concentrated on explaining how the urban popular classes have appropriated images and rearticulated them, creating new identities in the process. Hence, Monsivais plays close attention to the dynamics of uses: How groups without political power or social representation assimilate what is offered to them, making melodrama sexy, constructing satire out of bad jokes, amusing themselves and reacting without changing their ideology, persisting in political rebellion in spite of an enormous campaign to make them apolitical, revitalizing in their own way their daily lives and traditions, converting their deficiencies into techniques of identification...The underclass 'take' - because they have no choice - a vulgar and pedantic industry and turn it into self-indulgence and degradation but also into an enjoyable and combative identity (Monsivais, 1985, 47). It is clear to Monsivais that urban popular culture is both rich and vital; it has manifested itself through its resistance to the homogenizing effects of the national hegemonic culture 53 expressed through the mass media, the state and the culture industry, and underpinned by the transnational corporations and dependent capitalism. This cultural struggle has led to the revitalization of traditions and ways of life, as the urban masses rearticulate and transform previous significations in their new urban contexts, creating new identities in the process. This is a worldwide global phenomena, but it takes on special significance in Mexico by virtue of its close proximity to the USA and the Americanization of Mexico. Traditions are commodified by the capitalist machinery, but at the same time strong cohesive social groups have arisen in Mexico in the last fifteen years who have resisted both the USA's belief systems and the Mexican establishment. Since the Tlatelolco massacre, many popular struggles have become detached from PRI mediation, and more pragmatic in their demands and directed towards solving the problems of everyday life. (For example, the pobladores have mobilized and demanded such things as water, electricity, sewage, and so on). They have also become both de-ideologized and 22 ?3 suspicious of pyramidal organization. The phenomenon of Superbarrio' is an example of the mobilization of these groups. Neighbourhood context of the popular classes A key dimension of urban popular culture, so suggestive of the social and cultural density of peoples' ways of lives in urban centres, is illustrated in the life of the barrio as 2 2 See Sergio Zermeiio, " E l fin del populismo mexicano," Nexos, No. 113, May 1987, pg. 35. 2 3 In Mexico City, a figure who calls himself Superbarrio has appeared at various demonstrations to fight for housing rights for the marginalized sectors of society who live in slums. The popular struggle is raised to epic level within an imagination modeled by the comic strip. He first appeared in popular mobilizations for housing following the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City wearing a mask and uniform with the letter 'S ' , appropiating the Superman symbolism for new uses. On one occassion Superbarrio challenged the Chamber of Deputies and dared them to wrestle him to the ground and take his mask off. 54 the 'place' of constitution of identities. According to Martin-Barbero, "the neighborhood is the great mediator between the private universe of the home and the public world of the city" (Martin-Barbero, 1993, 200). It is a space structured on the basis of certain types of sociability and 'communication' between 'relatives' and 'neighbours'. In accordance with this assertion, Cantor Magnani argues that the neighbourhood provides the individual with basic references for the construction of an "us" of a "wider society than that based on family ties and, at the same time, denser and more stable than the focused and individualized relationships imposed by society" (Cantor Magnani, 1984, 138). It is in the barrrio that the urban popular classes can establish lasting and personalized loyalties. Belonging to a neighbourhood means, for the popular classes, to have a recognized identity under any circumstances. It is within these spaces that we can observe the manifestation and revitalization of traditions by the urban popular classes. Taking the neighbourhood as a place of recognition puts us on the track of the specificity of symbolic production of the popular sectors of the city. Tepito in Mexico City is an excellent example of the capacity of the popular classes in urban contexts to display cultural originality and creativity. In some ways, the inventiveness and ingenuity of Tepito has come from its location. This lower-status neighborhood, located in the old centre of Mexico City, only eight blocks from the main square (el Zocalo), has been under attack for many years to demolish and 'clean-up' the centre, and its inhabitants resisted, making a cultural event out of it. Tepito became a neighbourhood that challenged commercial interests who considered the area nothing short of a slum - a hideout of smugglers, thieves and crooks. 55 Everybody looked with disdain at the capacity of these people to survive on the sales of the objects produced from materials collected from the garbage - what the community called 'the recycling of technological garbage.' Tepito has not survived only by these means, but through the permanent effort to become a community through artistic expression. D. Manrique has said that in Tepito We discovered purely by chance from the paintings on the walls - the murals - that various walls make up a house; various houses, a tenement; various tenements, a block; and various blocks, the city streets. Together they make up the neighborhood.24 It is clear that a sense of disorder and capacity for improvisation are the secrets of a communal creativity that brings forth something new from something old. The graffiti and murals, the decorations on the buses, the store fronts, the jokes, even the store windows are good examples of the popular aesthetic creativity of Tepito. The graffiti - the mestizaje of popular iconography and the political popular imagination of university students - are perhaps the best symptom of the changes in urban culture. In graffiti, traditional political slogans escape the formal confines of the written text and the simplistic forms of the pamphlet, recovering the expressiveness and resignification of the image. Popular 'paintings' escape the clandestinity of the public toilets and extend their obscene blasphemy over the walls of the city. Political slogans open up a space for poetry, and popular poetry is charged with the power of political protest. Armando Silva argues that different forms of rebellion come together and merge, "tattooing their protests on the skin of the city" (Silva, 1985, 122). D. Manrique, in Martin-Barbero, 1993, 201. 56 We are now going to focus our attention to Monsivais's cronicas and see how he relates and practices his theory of urban popular culture to the two aforementioned cronicas and Los rituales del caos. In contrasting Monsivais's theory with his cronicas we will demonstrate how he puts his theory into practice. Reiterating what we argued earlier, the reason why he focuses on the marginalized sectors of society, and writes from the perspective of urban popular culture, is to present an ideological critique of the dominant ideology. He offers a scathing attack of the dominant class, the PRI's ideological apparatuses, the political economy for failing to democratize Mexican society, and the manipulation and projection of false images by the culture industry and mass media. The Culture of Poverty "Tepito como leyenda" (Dias de guardar, 279-289) represents a penetrating view of the urban poor, their psychology, and their heroes; it is a work that explores the frustration, solidarity, innovativeness and survival instincts of the urban popular classes. He begins the cronica by saying that being born in slums like Tepito or Candelaria is "someterse a su ecologia de 'ciudad perdida'" (279). He further claims that these crime-ridden districts "de pulquerias ruinosas, de drogas y vicios y robos y cuartel no dado ni perdido, la Candelaria de los Patos, tragicamente porque no se sabia otra,...signified la resistencia extrema al Orden" (279, emphasis mine), manifested in the cult of petty criminals, sport heroes, and especially prize fighters. The basic psychology of the slum, 57 he points out, is expressed by a kind of skeptical doubt in the face of the dogma of triumph. Monsivais believes that the perfect symbol of this attitude is best exemplified in the figure of the boxer, " E l Chango" Casanova: El simbolo y la sintesis del peladito mexicano en su avidez de gloria...el born loser, el nacido para perder, el coleccionista del desastre....En un pueblo de vencidos-mientras-viven y vencedores a-partir-de-su-muerte...hacia falta alguien que no conociera mas sentido final que la continuidad en la derrota (280). Monsivais concludes from this that the slum dwellers identify with archetypes of fatalistic acceptance; in other words, they shrug their shoulders and take life as it comes. However, in this "lost city", where there is hardly any employment or hope, the people who live in Tepito are characterized as having a ferocious loyalty to "la patria chica", based on "una actitud medrosa de no dejarse veneer" (285). While the tourists, which include the Mexican elite, dedicate themselves to creating and believing in the myth of the quaint picturesqueness of Tepito, the inhabitants of this neighbourhood know that they are condemned to accept the "pais por carcel, la ciudad por carcel, el barrio por carcel, la carcel por carcel:" Y la consigna folklorica se transforma en resignation, abandono, los hombros que se escogen, la mirada abatida, las manos cerradas no para volverse puno sino plegaria. La gran falla del Tepito mitico ha sido la perpetuation de esta norma sombria y fatalista, del determinismo moral de la pobreza. Su profundo acierto, la intuition, asi sea efimera y deportiva, de la solidaridad, de la siempre pospuesta solidaridad mexicana (288). In this cronica, then, he reconstructs the historical and economic realities of this neighbourhood in order to highlight the harsh realities faced by the urban popular classes. Monsivais's ability to see both sides of the coin offer us a more penetrating view. On the 58 one hand, he uses Tepito as an example to illustrate the negative consequences of desarrollismo in Mexico, and in doing so, he highlights the political and economic crises of Mexico; at the same time, he notices and admires the innovativeness, ingenuity and solidarity of these people who, in the process of adapting to the crises and resisting the hegemonic national culture, have revitalized their ways of life and created a new, exciting and unique culture. This marginalized group, despite their enormous disadvantages have managed to produce individual and collective legends. Jose Luis Martinez echoes these thoughts arguing: Desde ahi, brotan los pufios de campeones mundiales de box, modelos a imitar, reflejos de la psicologia del machismo, del triunfo y del ocaso, espiritu de pandilla, del "no te dejes de nadie" porque la presion de subsistir exige idolos propios que empujen a no doblegarse y lo contrario seria morir, desaparecer (Jose Luis Martinez, 1985, 232-33). It is from this type of resistance to modernization where, according to Monsivais, the theoretician, that urban popular culture manifests itself: "...la cultura popular urbana es, entre otras cosas, la respuesta colectiva al proceso de la modernization" (Escenas de pudor y liviandad, 122). The Vocalization of the Defeated "Jose Alfredo Jimenez: No vengo a pedir lectores (Se repite el disco por mi puritita gana)" (Amor perdido, 87-97) also focuses on the presence of the nation's poor and the culture of poverty. At a general level, this cronica is an homage to one of the most celebrated popular Mexican idol's, Jose Alfredo, the king of mariachis, who died in 1974. Monsivais captures the immediacy of the event through sound and sight: he 59 incorporates into his text television and radio reports of Jose Alfredo's death in 1974 and fragments of his songs, and Monsivais himself observes his many fans at la Plaza Garibaldi requesting the mariachis to play one of Jose Alfredo's most popular songs, "La que fue", so that they can reminisce about his life. He notices that la pareja o el grupo rodeado de mariachis van a oir sus propias broncas internas, el son de la nostalgia arrancandose con ardor, lo que tengo aqui en el alma es tarareable, ahorita la estoy pasando de la Chingada (Como sufro hermanitopor via de Dios\) (88). In this cronica on Jose Alfredo, one of the nation's most celebrated singers of musica ranchera , the psychology of the "loser"- the traditionally downtrodden desgraciado that haunts the lyrics of his music - is viewed in the context of urban growth, high tech, and big business. Monsivais argues that Jose Alfredo, entre otras cosas, es primer testimonio de los inmigrantes, los recien avecinados en la ciudad de Mexico: segun esto, el empezara como portador (lo urbano con memoria agraria) de las vicisitudes y perdida de tradiciones a que obligan la pobreza y el empobrecimiento del pais...las clases populares necesitan poseer sentimientos, hacerse del catalago de confusiones indecibles a las que ordenan nombres preestablecidos: pasion, corazon, amor, borrachera (89). Monsivais sees the impoverished, unsophisticated, and exploited peasants crowded into urban slums where, lacking any genuine means of expressing their many frustrations, they identify with the world of musica ranchera, a world, Monsivais suggests, made up of simple prefabricated emotions, of synthetic rural memories created by commercially motivated manipulators whose stylized product, rather than reflecting an authentic reality, is shaped to conform to the ideas that the masses have of their likes and antecedents (94). Monsivais postulates that "la cancion ranchera convoca a desesperanza y queja, reflejos 60 de la melancolia prefabricada, reflejos que por superficiales y anecdoticos que parezcan, obtienen su profundidad de la ausencia de las sensaciones matizadas y complejas" (94). This idea is further confirmed when Monsivais advocates that En las canciones de Jose Alfredo, en las minifaldas y rebozos parisinos de las cantantes, en programas como Asi es mi tierra, en la estilizacion de gritos y jorongos y vestimentas de mariachis, ha ido cuajando la nueva y ya antigua tradition. Quienes manipulan la cultura de la pobreza declaran como mejor folclor al recien elaborado y lo ensalzan, desplegando su escasisima imagination sobre un territorio inerme: la idea que las masas tienen de sus gustos y antecedentes (94). Here we notice that in order to highlight the transformative nature of urban popular culture, Monsivais reconstructs the context of those years in which the culture industry was becoming increasingly influential over the masses, and furthermore, he suggests reasons why they manipulated the masses. In doing this, he offers a fierce critique of the cultural industry. In accordance with this argument, Jose Angel Escarpeta Sanchez writes: "Monsivais vaubicando, senalando, contextualizando los hechos o los personajes que trata para explicar y profundizar de tal circunstancia" (1993, 159). His analysis of the life of Jose Alfredo allows the reader reach a deeper understanding of the symbolic reality of his death and of urban popular culture. Monsivais returns to the 1930's and argues that En los treintas, se ensayan y calibran tecnicas y maneras de industrializar un hallazgo: la manufactura de lo tipico, la fabrication de lo hondamente traditional. E l cine propone un genero, la comedia ranchera...arrastra consigo una producci6n-para-consumo-general...(89). In those times, the ranchera song was in reality a type of art ("como emblema despolitizador, Jorge Negrete no lo hace mal" (91)), and the machista message that it communicated at least characterized the Mexican as "nacido-para-triunfar." But the hero 61 of the new cinematic genre was since his birth "una criatura porfirista" (91) "propagandizada como reminiscencia de las bondades feudales" (89). By 1947, when Jose Alfredo inaugurated the new generation of ranchera singers conditioned by the culture industry, the message had changed from "la jactancia a la imploracion" (92). Impelled by the culture industry, the ranchera begins to sing about "sus pesares", and "enaltece tempranamente su propia mitologia" (95). Monsivais claims that from the 1950's, Jose Alfredo le da salida a una zona umbria y feroz, la de los sentimientos en busca de nomenclatura y acomodo, que ya no se adecuan facilmente a las inocencias campiranas ("Que bonito es el sol de manana, el regreso de la capital!"), las ensonaciones de postribulos (" Por que te hizo el destino pecador?"), o las meditaciones de la trova ("Un rayito de sol por la manana...") (95). The urbanized ranchera, personified by Jose Alfredo, became the "vocalization de los vencidos" (96) and Mexicans listened to this mariachi because they saw themselves reflected in him: "el mexicano borracho y macho y eternamente desgraciado en los amores" (96). Jose Alfredo, like Cantinflas (el peladito), was a type of urbanized peasant who reflected the fatalistic world of the urban masses. The culture industry, recognizing a commercial opportunity, manipulated the culture of poverty by making the urban masses believe that Jose Alfredo was "un producto genuino del Sentir Popular" (92); they marketed the ranchera songs as i f grief and sorrow were something one could buy or visit in the museum. Monsivais expresses this view when he states that the "makers" of images are the ones who "manipulan la cultura de la pobreza..., desplegando su escasisima imagination sobre un territorio 62 inerme" (94). The masses of people who loved Jose Alfredo saw him "como apoderado en la concretion verbal y musical de los impulsos mas supuestamente intransferibles," and that is why Monsivais argues that, E l pueblo cree que asi es el pueblo. O de que mas viviria la industria del espectaculo y la industria del desconsuelo? Jose Alfredo bien pudo surgir a pedido, se necesitaba alguien para ambientar el cambio del macho al mariachi, para aportar los sonidos (musica y letra) que concitan o solicitan el gusto de la deception (93). It is evident from this passage, and the preceding arguments, that this cronica is consistent with the following theoretical thesis of Monsivais: Jose Alfredo perdura enconadamente en la memoria popular por su enorme capacidad de vivificar y encarnar formas tipicas de conducta (bohemia, disipacion, enamoramiento institutional y profesional) convertiendoles enmiticos y ejemplarizantes (Monsivais, 1978, 112). Aside from the scathing attack of the culture industry which is illustrated in this cronica, Monsivais subtly argues that the significance of macho changed between the 1930's and the 1950's. Machismo, as expressed by Jorge Negrete, represented something relatively good: the evocation of "una tradition campirana, de un entendimiento del folclor y de la tipicidad que ufanaba" (94). Jose Alfredo, on the other hand, changed the "Charro Cantor" into "un mariachi borracho", who following the advice of the "Representante Genuino del Pueblo, se vuelve proveedor puntual de sacudimientos y convulsiones, mantenedor de carencias y reformulador de privaciones" (93). Furthermore, he argues that a Macho, as represented by Jose Alfredo, was '"un ser de suprema virilidad'" that proclaimed to all: Yo soy puro mexicano y me he echado el compromiso que naci 63 de ser macho entre los machos y por eso muy ufano yo le canto a mi pais Es mi gloria haber nacido...(91). For Monsivais, this type of machismo was a reflection of the patriarchal and paternalistic environment that was promulgated by the Mexican state, a strategy used by them to control the masses. Monsivais also states in this cronica that the great Mexican fiesta, which Jose Alfredo heralded, was nothing but a lie, a myth; it was only a pretext to get intoxicated and sumerge oneself in "el puro olvido alcoholico" in order to escape the responsibilities of the present and the future. As Jose Alfredo said: "Que me sirvan de una vez pa'todo el ano porque me pienso seriamente emborrachar" (91). Monsivais asks himself, Cual es el mundo de Jose Alfredo?, to which he responds: "el instante en que el mariachi es captado por una camara de television y alza su copa ante el patrocinador" (93). At the end of it all, Monsivais concludes that Jose Alfredo is the sum of his songs and the reactions of his beloved public: Ando borracho, ando tomando porque el destino cambio mi suerte... Estoy en el rincon de una cantina oyendo una cancion que yo pedi, me estan sirviendo orita mi tequila, ya va mi pensamiento rumbo a ti (94). Life, for this mariachi, had no real meaning; Jose Alfredo himself chose his own epitaph: "La vida no vale nada" (93). His life, then, was the voice of imminent disaster, "de darse en la madre"(97), and the loss of hope. And yet, this unique and interesting character is a 64 dynamic and significative cultural symbol of Mexico. Furthermore, even though he was a victim of the culture industry, as Monsivais so convincingly argues, he is also one of the most important sources of urban popular culture in contemporary Mexico. He resisted and rejected the bourgeois culture ("Yo se bien que estoy afuera") and social life, and in doing so, he revitalized and transformed traditional rural songs, such as the corrido, into three-minute record tracks."25 Mass Media and Popular Culture The central focus in Los rituales del caos is the effects the mass media has on urban popular culture. Monsivais claims in Los rituales del caos that "en buen medida, la crisis economica es la cultura popular urbana, porque todo lo adopta (estilos de vida, formas de trato, deseos, usos de tiempo libre) a la logica de la sobrevivencia" (122). In other words, urban popular culture is a manifestation of the economic and political crisis in Mexico and the strategies these people have adopted in order to survive this crisis. For example, since unemployment is endemic in Mexico City, many people from the marginalized sectors of society have set up vending areas where they sell unique 'authentic' indigenous crafts. As well, the phenomenon of Superbarrio, as we mentioned earlier, clearly demonstrates how popular protest has reached new heights in Mexico. Los rituales del caos attempts to uncover the patterns underlying the apparently chaotic surface of contemporary culture. According to Monsivais, in an age of commodity fetishism, urban popular culture performs the social functions formerly 25 See Isaac Leon, "Cultura popular y cultura masiva en el Mexico contemporaneo: conversaciones con Carlos Monsivais", Contratexto, No. 3, July 1988, pp. 71-72. 65 occupied by religion. Traditional religious practices have been fundamentally altered. In discussing the annual festival for the Virgin of Guadalupe, Monsivais suggests how its staging, as a televised spectacle, has changed its nature: "Hasta que punto es reverente a la antigua una muchedumbre cuyo alborozo tambien le viene de su condition televisable?...no es lo mismo rezar a secas que rezar ante una camara" (43). In these passages the writer presents a scathing critique of how mass media has converted certain aspects of popular religion that were once personal and private into consumer spectacle. In doing so, Monsivais questions whether or not personal beliefs have become anything other than a response to public opinion. Even as traditional religion adapts to fit into the media age, it is being displaced by other types of social rituals enacted in public arenas. When chronicling the behaviour of crowds at concerts given by Luis Miguel ("el catedratico de lo sexy...en la Universidad de Televisa"), Madonna, and Acitron among others, Monsivais highlights the "Instantaneous Rites" that unite the audience: the frenzied use of lights and neons; the communal chants; and the ever faithful "wave". He sees these moments of superficial unity as a product of "los ritos instantaneos provienen, tal vez, del entrenamiento mental de los televidentes, conocedores al detalle de las diferencias entre lo que fue y los que esta siendo" (197). Hence, he suggests that these new public rituals fail to forge long-lasting social cohesion. Throughout these critical descriptions of timely beliefs and instantaneous rites, Monsivais indicts the capitalist machinery that commodifies and regulates social interaction. Among the series of epigraphs that opens his text is a citation of John 66 Kenneth Galbraith: "Lo unico que puede decirse del caos es que es bueno para la libre empresa." It is clear that Monsivais's book is an indictment of the neo-liberal economic order of the "new" Mexico of Salinas de Gotari. Despite his highly critical view of the effect of mass media on urban popular culture, Monsivais does not dismiss all of its manifestations as alienating products serving the interests of capitalism. In fact, he often mocks elite critics who dismiss urban popular culture as trivial or immoral, or those academics who proffer monologic explications of the behaviour of the masses. He uses his three protagonists (Helguera, E l Nino Fidencio, and Gloria Trevi) as examples of the way urban popular culture can challenge dominant ideology. For example, while Gloria Trevi clearly uses scandal and controversy to sell her records and films, according to Monsivais, she also challenges social norms through her provocative behaviour. Her exuberant use of slang attacks traditional notions of what is "proper" for young women. Monsivais finds the same transgressive power in the "Tianguis del Chopo," an alternative music market where fans of U-2, the Dead Kennedy's, Pink Floyd, and Sinead O'Connor circulate, mix, and barter. His commentary oscillates between a positive view about how the market allows the type of direct contact that fosters dialogue and plurality, and a negative view about how mass media manipulates public opinion and cultural exchanges. In doing so, Monsivais underlines the progressive potential of the more democratic exchanges located there. 67 Conclusion What we have argued in this chapter is that urban popular culture is no longer securely located in a place of origin, or a stable community because there are no longer fixed boundaries between rural and urban spaces. Monsivais has written extensively on the effects of urbanization and industrialization on urban popular culture in Mexico. He sketches a historical map which traces the transformative nature of popular culture from the turn of the century to present day. Monsivais also argues that the major contributors to the evolution of urban popular culture have arisen from the political and economic crisis of the state - brought on by the failures of modernity and urbanization - and the increasing hegemony of the culture industry. He concludes that despite the overwhelming odds and challenges that the marginalized sectors of society have faced, they have managed to create a vibrant, important culture which, through its constant cultural struggle against the monolithic views of the dominant, national culture, have revitalized their traditions and forged unique, new identities. We argued that Monsivais's theory of urban popular culture is clearly illustrated in his cronicas. In "Tepito como leyenda" we saw the collective response of the urban poor to the process of modernization. Because of their immense loyalty to la patria chica and their pride ("no dejarse veneer"), and along with the lack of opportunities and alternatives in Mexico, these people, who refuse to accept the dominant ideology, have created a distinctive culture and identity. This is an excellent illustration of the emblematic changes and transformations that urban popular culture in Mexico is continually undergoing; this view is consistent with Monsivais's theory of urban popular 68 culture. His cronica which reconstructs and analyzes the life of Jose Alfredo is more than anything, a critique of the culture industry and the bourgeoisie, and in it he condemns them for manipulating the tastes of the urban and rural poor. He also criticizes them for exalting and perpetuating machismo, a form of sexism that exploits women, and which is symptomatic of a patriarchal and paternalistic society. In Los rituales del caos, Monsivais criticizes mass media and neo-liberalist policies for attempting to commodify and control social interaction. Despite the negative effects of capitalism and satellite television on urban popular culture, Monsivais views their resistance to the dominant ideology as both necessary and healthy. He believes that the only way to achieve a civil and fair democracy in Mexico is for it to arise from the marginalized sectors of society; that is why he writes from the perspective of urban popular culture. 69 Chapter Three Narrative Point of View in Monsivais's Cronicas Introduction In this chapter we analyze narrative point of view in Monsivais's cronicas because this is how a writer controls and shapes his or her works. Subsequently, an understanding of Monsivais's narrational posture is crucial in order to understand the overall significance of his works. We argued in chapter one that the narrative posture in the contemporary Mexican cronica can be divided into two basic categories: first and third-person narrators. As we saw, there was a constant interplay between a first-person narrator who appeared as an eyewitness in the frame of action and a third-person narrator who questions and comments on the action. Furthermore, we asserted that Monsivais juxtaposes a first-person narrator with that of a third-person 'omniscient' narrator whenever he wants to enter in la interioridad ajena of characters and reproduce what they think. In A ustedes les consta Monsivais argues that "En la cronica, el juego literario usa a discretion la primera persona o narra libremente los acontecimientos como vistos y vividos desde la interioridad ajena" (13). Monsivais does, however, advocate that this literary game must not cause the real referent to disappear. That is why his cronicas always allude to some given objective fact, a statistic, a date, that serves to illustrate that the given referent is something real, and not merely fictitious. Although these are characteristics that enable the reader to better understand the cronicas, what best helps us to comprehend the "cronicidad" of the 70 cronicas is the manipulation "del punto de vista, desplegado este de manera que el referente publico se transparente" (Linda Egan, 1991, 307). The flexibility of Monsivais's narration is illustrated in the manner in which he simultaneously wants to take advantage of the traditional authority of an ocular witness and that of the suggestibility of an "omniscient" narrator - this is, as Linda Egan claims, "la antigua optica del histor o del editorialista moderno" (307). This privileged "I" frequently becomes "metaficticio para recrear la imagen de una verdad en vias de construction" (307). A narrator that visibly recovers his double role of recollector and interpreter of journalistic facts is a narrative strategy employed by Monsivais which reflects the integrity of his voice and the referent, precisely because he reveals the limits of one point of view. Monsivais first-person participatory-narrator often portrays himself as an ignorant person in order to deny that one truth exists, and at the same to emphasize the importance of "la libertad de la conciencia" (307). The manipulation of point of view is further complicated when we take into consideration the various narrational postures that the first and third-person narrators adopt. In other words, since the narrative position of the narrator continually shifts, an analysis of the multifarious narrational 'voices' is essential i f one wishes to understand Monsivais's narrative point of view. As we shall demonstrate, first-person narrative is problematized when we examine the multiple perceptions within this narrative posture. In a similar manner, within the third-person narrative, many voices are heard: from the confident and eloquent personal editorialist who expresses himself in a perspicuous manner, to the impersonal reporter who concretizes the referent, to the sympathetic and 71 compassionate narrator, to the bilingual narrator, and to the histor, who investigates and criticizes with a more subjective point of view. Furthermore, the narrative tone, which is in itself a narrational point of view, is often ironic, parodic, sarcastic and satirical when the narrator wants to ridicule and mock political leaders, the elite, the bourgeoisie, powerful businessmen, etc. Thus, humour is a fundamental characteristic of his cronicas, and he uses it to subtly criticize and deform the Mexican establishment. These multiple perceptions that are put into play serve to undermine the absolute truths and ideological unitary language that is promulgated by the Mexican state and the status quo; hence, Monsivais succeeds in dismantling the PRI's systems of monologic beliefs and social conventions. Consequently, the cronicas are "un reportaje interpretative que pide la democratization social," and simultaneously, it is an art form "que privilegia la recreation de escenas sobre la denuncia o la funcion informativa" (Linda Egan, 306). For Monsivais, a civil democracy must arise from the urban popular classes, those who have not traditionally had a voice in the public sphere. For this reason, as we saw in chapter two, he writes from the perspective of the marginal sectors of society: the popular urban class. And again, we emphasize, humour plays a crucial role in that it contradicts and undermines the Mexican's state authority and legitimacy. The Eye-Witness Monsivais's frequent use of a first-person narrator highlights the provisional 'truths' that the reader should perceive and judge in order to either reject or accept them. For example, in "Con cimbalos de jubilo" (Dias de guardar, 20-27) the reader is led to 72 'see' the vacuity of the bourgeoisie when "el reportero - o sea, quien esto escribe y que asi suena"(£)z'a£ de guardar, 23) - appears as an ethnographist who cannot partake in the values of Jet Set26 "que el cronista describe con el animo del hombre civilizado ante una tribu de primitivos" (Linda Egan, 307). In "Saluda al sol, arafia, no seas rencorosa" (Dias de guardar, 307-20), the informant opens and closes a reportage on the campaign of Luis Echeverria declaring "Me llamo Carlos Monsivais. No pertenezco a ningun partido politico" (307). This allows the reader to judge the political system from an independent critical point of view. In various instances, Monsivais narrates his own experiences and participation within the frame of action as in "Dios nunca muere" (Dias de guardar, 91-116), where the reporter (Monsivais) uses his "escualida identification de prensa" to bail out a couple of youths who had been charged with possession of "mariguana" (21). In another instance, we admire the cronista who confronts the perpetrators of a violent act against a government representative. In the presence of a group of frustrated teachers and peasants who "lo agarraron y lo tusaron" [the representative for the government], Monsivais, who appears as both a participant of the action and a citizen, insists that "nada justifica este atropello" and he confesses that "hago uso de la distincion entre entender y justificar un hecho. Por mas que comprenda las causas, repito, "las pelonadas" me parecen una violencia indefendible" (Entrada libre, 194). Monsivais uses this term frequently and it refers to the falseness and the pretentiousness way of life of the bourgeoisie. They want to partake in the high life, and live an extravagant life, and for these reasons, Mexico "va creciendo entre las ruinas del desperdicio burgues y la expansion capitalista" {A ustedes lea COILS la, 76). 73 This first-person narrational point of view complicates itself if we analyze the multiple dimensions of this 'person'. Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg examine these complexities in The Nature of Narrative (1966): The eye-witness in narrative can be telling an ostensibly actual tale or a plainly made-up one. He can be protagonist or observer or both. He can be the inwardly directed autobiographer or the outwardly directed memoirist or both. He can be apologist or confessor or both. He can be limited to what his eyes have seen or he can supplement this by what as histor [investigator with critical point of view] he can find out, or even by what he can confidently imagine. He may even dematerialize and become omniscient. He can be the repository of truth or be wholly or partially unreliable. He can report with perspective or immediacy or some compromise between the two (Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg, 1966, 285). Considering this paragraph, a discussion of how Monsivais incorporates first-person narrative into his cronicas follows. In the majority of the cases, Monsivais simply characterizes himself like a detached observer, an outsider, who is sauntering around in a crowd making observations. He recreates himself in his cronicas as someone who is unfamiliar with the event that he is witnessing, and one who does not want to participate in the action, but is simply there because someone asked him to do so: Oiga, sefior cronista, por que es tan popular entre nosotros ese idolo del rock? Por que nuestras senoras tan mojigatas se empefian en asistir a una funcion de teatro en que los actores se desnudan alii mismo frente a los ojos del publico? Por que en la tierra del mariachi mi vecino se alardea de ser aficionado del jazz? Andele, sefior Monsivais, vaya a ver lo que hacemos en nuestra cultura y expliquenoslo (Dias de guardar, 20). On one occasion ("Con cimbalos de jubilo," Dias de guardar, 20-27) we see him as a plebeian reporter who is attending and is fascinated with the scandalous musical production of Hair, particularly with the song "Age of Aquarius" and the profane nudity: 74 Los in continuan llegando. E l reportero - o sea, quien esto escribe y que asi se suena - lamenta muchisimo su ignorancia de la Buena Sociedad Mexicana y del Jet Set, lo que provoca su indiferencia ante los Ilustres Apellidos congregados y lo que le impulsa a revisar - en un vano intento de retener estilos - la variada falta de imagination que organiza la vestimenta (21). The reporter, Monsivais, continues making observations as he watches all the people arriving to the theatre, from Phillip Law, "homosexual deAlta infidelidad" (21), to Brinner "con su aire pelliceriano" (21). He then makes his presence known when he argues: "Que culpa tiene el reportero de que "los Redo, los Cursi, los Escandon, los Goribar, los Corcuera, los Cortina, los Rincon Gallardo, los Lopez Figueroa, no hayan trabajado para Hollywood" (22). Another instance where Monsivais announces his presence is in "Raphael en dos tiempos" (Dias de guardar, 45-60), where he presents himself as an incompetent theoretician who is obligated to go with the Mexican public to two shows of the Spanish singing sensation, Raphael. He is sitting beside other "sociologos que interpretan...con rapidez" the frenzies of the public (both popular and elitist) who had come to witness an international star in action. The narrator confesses that como las demas exegesis, tambien la del Teorico Siibito resultaba incompleta porque no habia nada que hacer, no era posible entretenerse descifrando el bizantinismo de cuantos proletarios oirian a Raphael en la punta de un alfiler y menos en ese instante, cuando la presion brutal de la multitud ademas de cliche verbal era una realidad angustiosisima (47-48). Both of the examples we have provided are illustrations of how Monsivais incorporates himself into the frame of action, in the majority of cases as an incompetent witness who merely by chance, finds himself present at a particular event. Even though the narrative posture is in first-person, this textual narrative strategy allows him to distance himself 75 from the main frame of action and report on something that is 'unfamiliar' to him; this gives the impression that he is presenting a more 'objective' point of view. The unreliable narrator, of which Scholes and Kellogg refer to, is revealed in "Yo y mis amigos" (Dias de guardar, 65-77), which was written shortly after the Tlatelolco massacre. The 'reliability' of a first-person narrator is problematized in this work. The narrator begins by assuring the reader that "lo que sigue es una vasta, arrogante confesion de inmadurez" (65). But then, throughout the text, the reader becomes aware that the perceptions and criticisms of the narrator could only be of an outsider who is both mature and lucid. Hence, Monsivais plays with first-person point of view. Monsivais dramatizes his subjectivity in order to present a more penetrating study of the causes of the Tlatelolco tragedy. The text is dense, constructed with a cryptic-type prose that challenges the reader: -Yo real, yo inevitable, yo convencional. -Yo y mis amigos: Por que anteponer el yo a las situaciones? Por que enfatizar el imposible egocentrismo? -Porque hay etapas de falsas reflexiones y falsas conclusiones y falsos desistimientos, cuando el yo resulta el instrumento menos inexacto del conocer....(65). Following this paragraph an "I" in italics is introduced which makes the reader wonder whether this other "I" is a writer, an orator, or another "I" which picks up on the thoughts of the first one: -Yo admidador de la retorica: hay ocasiones y epocas cuando la certidumbre de la posesion de la verdad y la responsibilidad en el uso de la palabra y el hallazgo de la frase inapelable, son solamente perrogativas de madurez (65). 76 Thus, considering the last two quotes, this text continually complicates the possibility of identification with someone who concretely identifies himself and does not subsequently vanish. This unreliable narrator, who defines himself as immature, critiques his friends: Tii no conoces ni te imaginas como funciona este pais...Actuas por instinto...Es un pais singular y uno debe manejar las reglas del juego. Tienes mucho que aprender: tu y tus amigos se precipitaron, actuaron al margen de la serenidad, presciendieron del juicio objetivo...En cambio, yo me di cuenta de inmediato (66). As the reader advances in the text s/he realizes that this interplay of first-person narrator is a collective autobiographic "I" that is self analyzing his position with respect to the Tlatelolco massacre. He was first an ally of the government and following the Tlatelolco tragedy, then he radically changed his position. The mature "I" that narrates the events that led up to the Tlatelolco massacre leaves aside his immature past and criticizes the official hypocrisy of the establishment. For this reason "La amistad concluye y la complicidad aparece" (69), and moreover, "Llego lo inevitable: la traicion a la Gran Amistad, la desertion de la Unidad National" (71). Monsivais allies himself with his other friends because "nadie puede seguir siendo amigo de todos los mexicanos" (71). This autobiographic "I" becomes clearer, i f we consider his autobiography, which 27 was published in 1966. Back then, a twenty-eight-year-old Monsivais confessed that while his university friends where openly protesting against the abuses of the PRI, he felt Carlos Monsivais, Carlos Monsivais, Nuevos escritores mexicanos del siglo XX presentados por si mismos (Mexico: Empresas Editoriales, 1966). 77 isolated: "me sentia necesario y solidario y ...me entendia de algun modo lejano, incapaz de participar del jubilo comun" (45). He also said that " M i descubrimiento del mundo literario y mi renuncia a sumarme a las acciones mayoritarias me redujeron a condition de simple testigo" (41). Three years later, this conscience begins to reconstruct itself en "Yo y mis amigos." The narrator in the beginning of the cronica reflects the confusion that he felt in those years, and through tremendous exertion, he explains a memory of why he was "un aliado silencioso": Porque uno no puede evitar la simpatia o la adhesion instintivas para quienes estan destruyendo al importante funcionario, al celebre hombre de empresa, al prospero politico que llevan dentro" (Dias de guardar, 72). He continues his reflections of his past, arguing that those three months leading up to the Tlatelolco massacre represented a real opportunity to create a more democratic and open political system where people could participate and where peoples' opinions were truly heard. Tragically, though, the crushing rhetoric and violence of the Mexican state promulgated: "Unete, incorporate, sumate, asimilate,...entregate al gran juego;" and any hopes for changed were flattened, and "Yo y mis amigos en 1969" remained incarcerated (77). This cronica, therefore, is a type of autobiography in which Monsivais examines his immaturity of the early 1960's, and that along the road, he leaves it aside for a more critical point of view; he no longer considers himself a friend of the hypocritical political establishment. His real friends are those students who fought and died for democracy and the right to participate in the political arena: 78 Y la memoria continua de otros amigos cuya libertad fisica se ha visto suprimida porque acataron los principios y exigieron la aplicacion de las Leyes, porque creyeron en la vigencia de los ideales, porque no cedieron ante la corruption general y el amedrentamiento. Porque no han temido desasirse del juego de la amistad, de la trampa de una amistad tan cabal que evita la denuncia, la critica o la abstinencia del juego (Dias de guardar, 76). Third-Person Point of View Now that we have studied the intrusive, multifarious and participatory first-person narrator, we will examine the multifarious nature that characterizes the third-person narrative posture. The editorialist, who dominates third-person narrational point of view, camouflages himself and remains almost visible behind a third-person 'omniscient' position. This narrative posture, as Linda Egan argues, "debe esforzarse particularmente por dejar huellas de su presencia como constructor del texto;" if the narrator does not allow "que se oiga a Dios, arriesga invisibilizar 'los grandes acontecimientos en el feudo 28 de la primera plana' , de los que la interpretation y la recreation conforman las 29 'misiones inaplazables' del cronista" (308). From this narrational perspective, Monsivais will , at his discretion, adopt other narrative points of view which range from the reporter, to the humanist and sympathetical narrator, to the bilingual narrator, and to the histor, who is much more personal and reflective, making inferences to expand on the significance of particular events. Furthermore, the narrative tone often adopts a humourous point of view, using irony, parody, satire and sarcasm to mock and ridicule those who are in high positions of political power. Monsivais, Antologia de la cronica, 1979, 201-06. 79 The editorialist is the narrator who adopts an omniscience posture (but not full omniscience) whenever he wants to narrate the events of a particular character revealing his or her inner thoughts. In other words, "[e]l narrador es un locutor que cita...las visiones de los personajes" (Reyes, 1984, 116). This narrator gives the impression that he is invisible yet, when examined closely, it becomes evident that the narrator camouflages his subjectivity, furtively manipulating his public personalities from within. This is illustrated in "Alto contraste" (Amor perdido, 17-57), where the division between the government and public opinion is clearly demonstrated. The manner in which Monsivais's narrator presents the profound division in Mexican society after the Tlatelolco massacre is by characterizing society in capital, italicized words (Opinion Publico), and the government, who assumes a conciliatory posture, as Sefior Gobierno. The narrator reflects the dialogue between these 'persons' from within their respective "interioridades ajenas" without explicitly warning us. In the following quotations we will intervene with square brackets in order to indicate the changes in narrative posture. Initially, we hear the voice of the "omniscient" editorialist: Al i i estan los temas de la Apertura Democratica, la proposition echeverrista [referential allusion to Luis Echeverrias's30 attempts to control the passions of the people, who immediately took control of the power after the Tlatelolco massacre] casi condenable en un "aviso oportuno": [This colon is a signal that the narrator is going to 'pass' the voice over to another "interioridad ajena", that of el Sefior gobierno.] Opinion Publico., regresa. El gobierno te perdona. [After this, the voice of the "omniscient" editorialist resumes his dialogue] De hecho, a la Apertura Democratica la bautiza un golpe publicitario: el cese de funcionarios a raiz de la matanza del 10 de junio de 1971 (45). He was Secretary of Interior during Diaz Ordaz's presidency (1964-1970). Many blame him for the government's overreaction. 80 The dry voice of the reporter who announces "el cese de funcionarios a raiz de la matanza del 10 de junio de 1971" orients the reader for a moment. But then the narrative postures become more complicated, as the "omniscient" editorialist aligns himself with the Opinion Publico,: En su primera etapa, la "apertura democratica" es una petition de critica vista con recelo condicionado en un ambiente donde solicitar la critica ha sido demandar el elogio. [Until now, the voice of the 'omniscient' editorialist is heard, but he now announces with the use of quotation marks, parenthesis and italics, a new interlocutor, that of the Opinion Publico., and this sarcastic statement illustrates the narrator's alliance with society, even though it appears as though the narrators subjectivity did not split]. ("Ze agradecemos al Senor Gobierno la limpiay mexicana y viril oportunidad que nos brinda de darle las gracias"). This type of duplicitous discourse within a particular narrative posture is representative of all of Monsivais's cronicas. In "Vinetas del movimiento popular urbano" (Entrada libre, pp. 236-247), we immediately realize that the narrator is a reporter at a meeting between a municipal delegate and a group of women from las colonias populares who have been abandoned by the government. They do not have water, light, streets, transportation, schools or clinics. The mothers decide to speak out for the first time against the injustices they have been subjected to for the majority of their lives. The narrator discusses this when suddenly, without warning, he diverts and utilizes a third person 'omniscient' narrator in order to enter into the delegates' mind and reproduce what he is thinking. At the same time, the third-person editorialist intermingles his own voice and, towards the end of the paragraph that follows, the voice of the government who sent the delegate to this meeting is audible. In the following citation, we will italicize the sections where the delegate 81 speaks, and bold the sections where the editorialist speaks. In instances where both of them can be heard simultaneously, as when the intermittent voice of the editorialist can be heard over that of the delegates, we will both bold and italicize the words. The underlined section illustrates the intervention of the government. El delegado del DDF desconfia del testimonio de sus sentidos. No es posible que sigan insistiendo. Que mas quieren? Les ha concebido (parcialmente) la titulacion, les ha llevado agua (la suficiente), ha negociado con los de las combis para que no cometan tantos abusos y amplien sus horas de servicio. Que mas quieren? Es una pesadilla, no dejan de exigir, de hacerle mitines enfrente de su ventana. Las colonias populares son la cruz de cada delegado. No sepresentan a inauguraciones rumbosas, y los hacen conscientes de la imposibilidad de gobernar como es debido, es decir sin presiones...Esas jovencitas tan llenas de datos, y tan enfdticas. A poco le van a indicar como cumplir su deber? Bola deprecaristas, delicuentes al menudeo\ Se le ordeno escucharlo con paciencia y negociar, porque en tiempos de calma los apaciguados salen mas baratos que los golpeados (243). Within this interweaving of voices there is yet another point of view which is revealed, and that is of "esas jovencitas." Their voice is substituted by that of the delegate who watches them with suspicion through a window, and does not want them to participate in the meeting, and that of the editorialist who sees them as not participating in the "inauguraciones rumbosas" propagandized by the government, but who implies that they should have the opportunity to participate in a proactive manner. This is illustrated at the end of the cronica when the narrator says: Ante el Departamento Central, la comision de mujeres de una colonia de San Juan de Aragon, en demanda de sus titulos de propiedad. Llevan casi tres horas voceando consignas y agitando sus 'cencerros'..."El arma optima de la burocracia: el cansancio: "Vengan manana...Vengan el lunes...Esperense un rato...A lo mejor hoy los recibe el Sefior 82 Delegado...Van ustedes a disculpar, pero el Licenciado tiene mucho trabajo..." (244). The governmental voice which is demonstrated towards the end of this work makes the reader realize that the scene which Monsivais reconstructs is one among many that occur in Mexico on a daily basis. The delegate is presented as a puppet, who attempts to reinforce his power through the monolithic discourse of the PRI. By exaggerating and mocking his language ("Van ustedes a disculpar, pero el Licenciado tiene mucho trabajo") he manages to deflate it. Hence, by adopting the perspective of the marginalized classes and highlighting their critical spirit (they have become impatient with the government, and are now rebelling and demanding services from the government), Monsivais accentuates the loss of power and legitimacy the Mexican state has undergone. The voice of the editorialist is often coupled with that of a more impersonal journalistic voice. The facts and pieces of information which this narrator examines by means of exhaustive investigations, which Tom Wolfe refers to as immersion reporting31, helps to call attention to this narrative voice. At any point in time, Monsivais can make the referent which he alluded to in first-person narrative concrete and real by using an impersonal journalistic voice who informs the reader that in 1966 the "Fundidora de Monterrey acepto entregarle a Durango cuatro pesos cincuenta centavos por tonelada de mineral extraido" (Dias de guardar, 36). Another clear instance of where this 3 1 Tom Wolfe, Prologue, The New Journalism (London: Pan Books, 1975) pps. 34-35. 83 narrator/journalist concretizes the referent is illustrated in his cronica oh Agustin Lara (Amorperdido, 61-86), which explores Lara's life and his Romantic songs that honoured and mythologized the prostitutes that lived during that era: "En 1904, la ciudad de Mexico dispone oftcialmente de 368 mil habitantes y de 10 937 prostitutas registradas. En 1905 de 11 554 'pecadoras bajo contrato' y en 1906 de 9 742" (66). Such objective facts that help to "concretizar el referente...cobran mayor importancia cuanto mas se alejen del momento historico en el cual ganaron uso corriente entre el publico" (Linda Egan, 309). A text that appears in the newspapers immediately following the event which it comments upon, "arriesga perder su "cronicidad" si no aporta consigo un referente suficientemente concretado cuando su autor lo traslada a la permanencia del libro" (309). Hence, the narrative construction of Monsivais's cronicas is characterized as containing a documentable referent and "un punto de vista que transparente el referente y el autor implicito y real" (309). The sympathetic and compassionate narrator appears periodically, and is illustrative of Monsivais's concern for the marginalized sectors of society. As we have already seen, he narrates from their perspective, revealing the injustices and abuses that they have had to endure. An excellent example of where this narrator intervenes and 32 displays his concern is demonstrated in "Fuegos de nota roja". The narrator describes the tragic events of Elvira, whose husband abuses her and locks her and their three children in a small room. The woman, who is desperate and sees no way to provide for This work appeared in Nexos, No. 176, August 1992, pp. 15-41. 84 her children, kills them, and before she is able to kill herself, she is arrested and subsequently sentenced. The narrator comments: Hasta que punto es responsable de sus actos una persona abandonada, sin recursos, enloquecida por la imposibilidad de darle de comer a sus hijos? Elvira no es culpable, Elvira no es inocente, y su atroz desamparo interesa a la opinion publica y muy en especial a grupos de feministas. Como detener la violencia contra los ninos, tan extendida en las clases populares, sin erradicar al mismo tiempo a la miseria extrema y uno de sus resultantes psicologicos, el machismo que se sacia en la atmosfera domestica? (34). The bilingual narrator frequently intervenes throughout the narrative demonstrating a keen awareness of the English language and American culture, as in his writings of "la Onda", where he criticizes the movement's imitation of the 1960's liberation movement of the USA. In "Dancing: E l Hoyo Fonqui" (Escenas de pudory liviandad, 233-43) the narrator discusses the marginalization of the African Americans in the U S A in the 1960's in relation to the discrimination that the "naco" has endured in Mexico and the USA. In a similar manner that American television of the 1950's and 1960's portrayed the ideal nuclear family as Caucasian, thereby discriminating against minority groups, Mexican mass media, for the most part, has procured beauty as Creole and Nordic, discriminating against the indigenous roots. Subsequently, marginalized groups rebelled against the establishment, creating new identities in the process. " E l mensaje, que nadie dicta y todos elaboran, es transparente: Naco is beautiful, ya antes black ha sido beautiful^, en ciertos sectores chicanos, brown demando ser beautiful" (242). Another narrator that intermingles with the other voices of the third-person point of view, is that of the histor, who offers speculations and conjectures on particular events. 85 According to Scholes and Kellogg, the histor as a narrator is not a recorder or recounter, as an impersonal omniscient narrator is, but rather an investigator. In other words, the narrator is portrayed as an inquirer, who constructs a narrative on the basis of such evidence as they have been able to accumulate. They narrate in third-person personal point of view, and they appear almost invisible. These type of narrators analyze the past in a critical manner with the intention of separating out actuality from truth. The histor presents conflicting versions of 'truths' in their search for the truth of fact. They are not a character in the narrative, "but he is not exactly the author himself, either. He is a persona, a projection of the author's empirical virtues" (266). Monsivais's cronicas frequently adopt this narrative posture. The histor is concerned with establishing himself with the reader as a repository of fact, a tireless investigator and sorter, a sober and impartial judge. He does not merely present facts, but he also comments on them, draws parallels and analogies, moralizes, and suggests ways in which the reader should view these facts. Hence, the histor in Monsivais's cronicas is capable of emitting a palpably judicious and critical tone without resorting to the first-person subject pronoun. More often than not, this narrator assumes the posture of a collective "us", i f he employs a subject pronoun at all. Generally, the reader can detect the histor, who generally provides details that concretize the referent (which go beyond those presented by the journalist), while at the same time the language that he uses is both emotive and moral - this illustrates the subjective nature of this type of narrator. En "Goool!!! Somos el desmadre" (Entrada litre, 202-236), Monsivais makes use of various points of view to reconstruct the euphoria that surrounded Mexico when it 86 hosted the 1986 World Cup. The histor contemplates the possible arrival of democracy in Mexico. This narrator claims that although authoritarianism is not completely dead in Mexico, its days are numbered. Moreover, he argues that even though many people are being swept up by a new wave of Mexican nationalism, there is a liberating, and at the same time, dangerous movement talcing place which most people have not recognized: that of the urban popular masses who are rebelling against the political system, and who are demanding civil rights and a voice in the public forum: Esta democratization desde abajo, todavia incierta y lastrada por el primitivismo o el sectarismo, no es muy tomada en cuenta, pero es una de las explicaciones utiles ante la multiplicidad de fenomenos que van de la toma de alcaldias a Rigo Tovar, del "igualitarismo" juvenil a los rockeros de Neza, de la influencia del feminismo a los millones de discos que los cantantes tropicales venden cada ano, de los movimientos urbanos populares al millon y medio de abortos anuales, del grado altisimo de abstencionismo electoral al voto a favor de la derecha en el norte del pais, del futbol a la telenovela. Y la ausencia o la debilidad de organizaciones partidistas le confiere a esta democratization su torpeza, su espontaneismo - y ni modo - su vitalidad desesperada (211-12). It is clear that this narrative voice is not just simply a recorder; he is speculating and investigating whether democracy will ever arrive from below in Mexico, and hence, this narrator is a histor. He is more subjective and makes more inferences and conjectures than the editorialist. 87 Humour 33 The narrative point of view is often ironical, sarcastic, satirical and parodical, and his descriptions of characters in power often lean towards caricature; this criticism accentuates the falseness and absurdity of the Mexican political establishment. In particular, he uses humour in order to mock and ridicule the 'Truth' of those in power, and in doing so, he undermines the entire political system because they lose legitimacy in the eyes of the reader. Hence, the use of humour in Monsivais's cronicas serves two purposes: on the one hand, he thoroughly entertains the reader with his clever ironic and sarcastic remarks, and on a more serious side, humour highlights the absurdity and the oppressive nature of the Mexican state. According to Monsivais, it is a system that must be changed and reformed if Mexico is ever to rid itself of the problems associated with classism, racism, paternalism, alcoholism, fatalism, machismo, violence and corruption. Therefore, as an overall project, Monsivais's cronicas reflect a desire to break away from the authoritative and paternalistic nature of the Mexican state, constructing a true, civil, democratic political system in the process, where people would have opportunities to participate and at the same time create a much better life for themselves. We are well aware that the distinction between these terms is complex. For the purposes of this study, we are going to assume that irony is a figure of speech in which the literal meaning of a word or a statement is the opposite of that intended. In effect, the ironic utterances have a literal significance and another meaning, not articulated verbally. The juxtaposition between "el contexto ficticio y el real produce una contradiction o incongruencia, y ese contraste es el que genera sentido" (Reyes, 1984, 156). Sarcasm is a form of irony, but it consists of sneering or cutting remarks; it is generally personal. Satire is a figure of speech which uses irony, sarcasm and ridicule to expose the frailties and faults of people; it blends humour and wit with a critical attitude towards human activities and institutions. Parody refers to any humourous or satirical imitation of a person, event, or serious work of literature; parody is designed to ridicule in a nonsensical fashion. See Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches, Scholars and Terms, Irena R. Makaryk (Ed.), University of Toronto Press, 1993. 88 A n example of this ironical satirical narrator is 'heard' in " E L N O V E N O CONGRESO ORDINARIO D E L C T M " (Amorperdido, 212-23). Monsivais goes to Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1974, to cover Fidel Velasquez's reelection, who was the "cacique" of the Mexican Federation of Labour (CTM) 3 4 . One only has to refer to the caricature of Fidel Velasquez on the front cover of Amor perdido to see how the narrator exaggerates his mannerisms, giving it a satirical effect; his nose and mouth appear out of proportion to the rest of his body, especially his feet. At the beginning, the narrator explains how he has been invited to cover "un acontecimiento...tremendamente historico" (203, emphasis mine). It is obvious that the sixth reelection of Velasquez is nothing more than a formality, guaranteed by his close personal ties with the PRI. Hence, the narrator exaggerates when he refers to this convention as "tremendously historic" - in doing this, he undermines the importance of the C T M and the authoritative nature of the Mexican state. The absurdity of this event is captured when the ironical narrator says: Un orador me empieza a interesar: lee con formidable rapidez, es imposible oirlo y solo se escucha C T M al final de cada parrafo, cuando alza la voz...Es la peor y la mas bella diccion que jamas he oido, como el timido renacer del idioma despues de su asesinato o en medio de su agonia. La gente conversa...aprueban una ponencia quefisicamente no pudieron oir. He aqui la maravilla de las manos simultaneas (208). The narrator follows this by saying that it was not necessary to hear him This labour union was established by president Cardenas (1934-1940). He and his successors maintained a close relationship with union leaders that amounted to government control. This control was cemented by incorporating the C T M as the foundation of one of the three sectorial pillars of the National Revolucionary Party - a role that continues to this day. The C T M has been led since the 1940's by Fidel Velasquez, giving him considerable stature and influence. In effect, Velasquez limited the amounts of strikes the workers could have, and in return the government guaranteed his continual reelections. See Roderic Camp, Politics in Mexico, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 194-97. 89 porque Fidel es la permanencia en el control y el control de la permanencia,...33 anos despues, Fidel Velazquez, el hombre mas caricaturizado y satirizado de Mexico, el maximo lider charro para los oposicionistas, el enajenador de la clase obrera,...invicto al frente de su central (210-11). When it is Fidel's turn to speak, the narrator captures the "drama": "La banda militar se desata. La gente, de pie, se apina ante la tribuna central. Va a hablar Fidel Velazquez, nuevo lider de la C T M para seis ahos, se va a oir su voz, su voz chillona con un solo tono, la voz ab eternum" (211). It is clear, then, that the ironical tone of the narrator highlights and criticizes the absurdity of this event and lack of public participation in the forum -although the Mexican state has made use of the word "democracy" in its rhetoric, the Mexican political system is a far cry from a civil democracy. It is, as Mario Vargas Llosa has said, "la perfecta dictadura." As we have seen, Monsivais's humour is often ironical, especially when he is writing about those who hold positions of power in Mexico: government officials, judges, leaders of the labour unions, the bourgeoisie, etc. Another instance where this is illustrated is in "Fuegos de nota roja," where he condemns the judicial system in an ironical manner. This work captures the violent aspects of Mexico City, and the narrator claims that anyone can fall victim to murderers such as Jack el Destripador (2). Further on, the narrator states that when a person responsible for a crime is rich, prosperous, and politically connected, justice has a special meaning. The narrator gives us an example of a woman who is both victimized and held responsible for a crime she did not commit: while her two brothers were murdered by various men who entered the house, she was 90 verbally and physically abused. This woman was subsequently sent to prison by judge Ferrer MacGregor "por el delito de robo en agravio de sus hermanos" because either he did not want, or did not dare, sentence the real culprit of the crime, the powerful Fermin Esquerro Farfan and his killers. The narrator uses irony to condemn the judge's actions: E l juez Ferrer MacGregor inaugura aqui una carrera solida. A el le tocara sentenciar a Demetrio Vallejo y los otros lideres ferrocarrileros a 30 anos de carcel por "disolucion social" y en 1980 el llevara a la ciispide su carrera intentando sobornar en Mazatlan, por cuenta de Durazno Moreno, al juez Dario Maldonado para que libere a un traflcante de heroina (28). Corruption appears at all levels of Mexican society, which is more than anything, a symptom of the corruptness and controlling nature of the PRI. In "Hay viento y hay cenizas en el viento" (Amor perdido, 49-57), a satirical narrator reconstructs a press conference that took place in April 1977 - which announced that the former president Diaz Ordaz was the new Mexican ambassador to Spain - in order to highlight the PRI's immutable rhetoric. Nine years later, the government was not interested in opening up a dialogue with the public, still refusing to accept responsibility for the massacre. During the press conference Diaz Ordaz argues that there are no statistics that confirm the massacres and, immediately following this, the critical narrator reproduces a citation from one of Rosario Castellanos works in order to demonstrate that the massacre has been reduced to nothing more than an "unsolvable" police investigation: "Asi visto, el hecho de la Matanza se reduce a una encuesta policial. 'No hurgues en los archivos que nada consta en actas...', escribio Rosario Castellanos" ( 55). The irony of the situation, as the narrator points out, is that since the government controls all the statistics, how is it 91 possible to confirm the deaths if the government refuses to hand over the statistics? Or if they do, they are altered. During a particular heated moment, a young journalist by the name of Rafael Lopez Jimenez criticizes Diaz Ordaz for having the nerve to return to public life, given his involvement in the Tlatelolco massacre. Diaz Ordaz, following PRI ideology, responds in an antagonistic and authoritative manner: ...lo que estoy mas orgulloso de esos seis anos es el ano de 1968, porque me permitio servir y salvar al pais - les guste o no les guste - con algo mas que horas de trabajo burocrdtico, poniendolo todo: vida, integridad fisica, horas, peligros, la vida de mifamilia, mi honor y elpaso de mi nombre a la historia. Todo se puso en la balanza. Afortunadamente, salimos adelante. Y si no ha sido por eso, usted no tendria la oportunidad, muchachito, de estar aqui preguntando (57). Following this response, the sarcastic and critical narrator intervenes saying "La Salvation del Pais. Las grandes frases nunca se iran mientras haya autoridades que las necesiten...". The irony of the whole situation, according to the narrator, is that i f "El pais se salva en 1968", why is it that "los jovenes son acribillados, golpeados a culatazos,...convocados brutalmente al silencio" (57). It is obvious that the ex-president's response of "LES GUSTE O NOS L E GUSTE" (57) is a reflection of the unitary language of the PRI. The narrator advocates that "La voz levantisca no explica la conjura ni deja lugar para argumentaciones" (57). In a humourous manner, the narrator says: "Basta una Palabra y la garantia de que este no es seminario o clase de historia" (57). The ironical and satirical tone in this cronica illustrates the lack of public dialogue in the Mexican political system. Humour, then, takes the form of irony, parody, satire and sarcasm in Monsivais's cronicas and it is used to destabilize the centripetal forces of the 92 PRI. By mocking and ridiculing the ideological, unitary discourse of the Mexican state, Monsivais succeeds in undermining the legitimacy of the Mexican political system, and in doing so, promotes the transformation of a corrupt political system, and fosters a democratic one. Conclusion Monsivais's constructs his narrative around a multifarious narrator, who manifests himself from either a first or third-person point of view. The multiple perceptions created by the multifarious narrational voices culminate together to reflect the pluralistic nature of Mexican reality, dismantling the PRI's monologic language, belief systems and social conventions in the process. Through an analysis of the narrative point of view in Monsivais's cronicas, it becomes abundantly clear that he believes that the political establishment must be transformed and renovated if Mexico is ever going to achieve a true and effective civil democracy. As we shall see in the final chapter of this study, this idea is further reinforced if we study the various discourses which Monsivais incorporates into his texts: popular expressions, songs and poems, professional jargons, different social dialects, allusive literary and generic languages, the languages of generations and age groups, and that of authorities and counter-authorities. Hence, as Graciela Reyes argues, "[e]l relato esta constituido por el discurso del narrador (en si mismo polifonico) y el discurso de los personajes citados por el narrador con todas sus correspondientes cualidades polifonicas" (Graciela Reyes, 1984, 97). For these reasons, Monsivais's cronicas are "una compleja pluralidad de voces en action, un texto hecho de textos" 93 (122). This textual narrative strategy that brings varieties of speeches into his cronicas, highlighting the differences between them, and contextualizing each of them in a specific world view, expresses the inherent contradictions of Mexican society. Baldwin's concepts of heteroglossia, dialogism and utterance will serve as a point of reference and will further reveal the social, transformative nature of language. 94 Chapter Four Heteroglossic Languages and Intertexuality in Monsivais Cronicas In the previous chapter we analyzed the multifarious nature of the narrator in Monsivais's cronicas. We are now going to examine how, through these narrators, the readers "hear" a spectrum of familiar voices which speak for themselves, challenging and destabilizing the unitary language of the PRI. Maria Eugenia Cossio advocates that these voices "se escuchan o se leen en los medios masivos, se comentan en calles y hogares, en cafes, restaurantes y cantinas" (Maria Eugenia Cossio, 1991, 134). Furthermore, she states that Monsivais "les cede la palabra a otros que, debido a sus circunstancias o a la clase social a la que pertenecen, expresan opiniones contradictorias a las suyas y en conflicto con la de los demas" (141). This is a central aspect of Monsivais's narrative structure and it echoes Bakhtin's important work, "Discourse in the Novel, " and in particular his concepts of heteroglossia, utterance and dialogism. For example, Monsivais imprints one language on top of another one to create a dialogue of voices, which is a fundamental aspect of Bakhtin's theory. Monsivais also makes uses of gesture and tone as fundamental elements of language for signification. As we saw in chapter three, often his tone is ironic and parodic, particularly when he wants to ridicule and mock the establishment. In doing so, he mirrors Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia as the constant struggle between the centripetal and centrifugal forces of language stratification and between dominant and marginalized discourses. Monsivais's multiple voices become a democratic project 95 que pueda realizarse en gran parte debido a quienes ejercen la democracia desde abajo y [quienes] sin pedir permiso, amplian sus derechos ejerciendolos. Para estos grupos, la democracia es en lo fundamental el aprendizaje de la resistencia civil, que se inicia en la defensa de la legalidad, ante la ilegalidad practicada desde las esferas del poder economico y politico (Entrada litre, 11). A key component of Bakhtin's heteroglossic discourse in the novel is the concept 35 of intertexuality. Intertextuality refers to the transference of messages from one context to another; by inserting other texts into a new narrative structure, and therefore into a different context, their original significations are reformulated. This is clearly the case in Monsivais's cronicas, as we can distinguish various levels of intertextuality. At one level, the cronicas are organized thematically, "el episodio precedente configura al que le sigue y es, a su vez, configurado por este, estableciendo un dialogo intratextual." (Eugenia Cossio, 141). Taking the cronicas as a whole, each of them functions as though it was an episode in a chain of related episodes, establishing a dialogue among them. At another level, his cronicas maintain an intertextual dialogue with other texts which he incorporates into his works, such as popular songs and expressions, proverbs, political and economic rhetoric, and a host of other discourses. Thus, by practicing intertexuality, every utterance is related to other utterances, thereby creating intertextual - dialogical -relations. Julia Kristeva coined the term in 1967, stating that "any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another." She developed her conception of intertextuality from the writings of M . Bakhtin. See The Kristeva Reader, 1967, 37. 96 In "Discourse in the Novel" Bakhtin is concerned with language as a social phenomenon. According to him, the ruling class will always try and control the meanings of words but, as he correctly points out, language is characterized by its vitality and basic multi-accentuality of linguistic signs which become apparent as various class interests clash and intersect upon the grounds of language. From this main idea he postulates that heteroglossia refers to the basic condition governing the production of meaning in all discourse, displaying the way in which context defines the meaning of utterances, which are heteroglot in so far as they put in play a multiplicity of social languages and their individual expressions. Therefore, heteroglossia is Bakhtin's key term for describing the complex stratification of language into genre, register, sociolect, dialect, and the mutual interanimation of these forms; simply put, language is stratified according to social activity: There is interwoven with...generic stratification of language a professional stratification of language, in the broad sense of the term "professional": the language of the lawyer, the doctor, the businessman, the politician, the public education teacher and so forth, that these sometimes coincide with, and sometimes depart from, the stratification into genres. It goes without saying that these languages differ from each other not only in their vocabularies; they involve specific forms for manifesting intentions, forms for making conceptualization and evaluation concrete (M. Bakhtin, 1981, 289). In commenting Bakhtin, Michael Holquist points out that At any given time, in any given place, there will be a set of conditions -social, historical, meteorological, physiological - that will insure that a word uttered in that place and at that time will have a meaning different than it would under any other conditions (Holquist, 1981, 428). 97 Consequently, all utterances are heteroglot in that they are caught up in a vast web of matrix forces which are impossible to recover, and hence, impossible to resolve. This, therefore, implies that words are active, dynamic social signs, capable of taking on different meanings and connotations for different social classes in different social and historical situations. Subsequently, signification, far from being a static phenomenon, is constantly created in a particular moment within its historical context, with diverse individual voices (but understood as social), in relation to society as a whole. That is why Bakhtin argues that "Every utterance is oriented towards a social horizon, composed of semantic and evaluative elements,"36 potentially a site of struggle. Every word launched into a social space establishes a dialogue and a contested interpretation. From this idea , Bakhtin further specifies that an utterance never repeats itself because the utterance is always actualized and contextualized in some particular moment of enunciation. Moreover, Bakhtin connects his theory of utterance to his idea of intertextual relations: [The novelist] receives the word by the other's voice and it remains filled with that voice. He intervenes in his own context from another context, already penetrated by the other's intentions. His own intention finds a word already lived in (Bakhtin, 1981, 48). Hence, the linguistic basis of his intertextual web of utterances produces a plenitude of meanings which stem from social interaction within which language is inextricably immersed. M . Bakhtin, in Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle, Tzvetan Todorov, 1984, p. 56. 98 Clearly the dialogue is the basis of his theory. He says that "[t]he word is born in a dialogue as a living rejoinder within it; the word is shaped in dialogic interaction with an alien word that is already in the object" (Bakhtin, 1981, 279). According to Bakhtin, everything must be understood as a part of a greater whole; there is a continual interaction between meanings, all of which have the ability of conditioning others. Since social interaction is verbal interaction it is impossible to separate language from social living because "it is always contaminated, interleaved, and opaquely coloured by layers of semantic deposits resulting from the endless processes of human struggle and interaction" (Raman Selden, 1989, 72). This process whereby the self continually looks and is conditioned by other voices is what Bakhtin terms dialogism. Monologism is its counterpart, and refers to hegemonic discourses which attempt to impose an ideology, as is the case with the monolithic discourse of the PRI. This type of language is closed and it looks for completeness, and can manifest itself through gesture, such that meaning is often revealed through a certain style of embraces, greetings, tones of voice, etc. In "Fidel Velazquez: Los postulados de la Revolution" (Amor perdido, 197-211) E l senador Emilio M . Gonzalez mueve mecanicamente la mano izquierda y canta cada tercera palabra, la eleva, la sostiene como doliendose de la ingrata, luego mueve las dos manos, su gesticulation es ajena a su discurso pero no a la influencia del despecho sobre los ademanes de la ideologia (Amorperdido, 204). In focusing on Gonzalez's gestures, Monsivais aims at portraying the rhetoric of the state's ideology. In this way, "el fenomeno Fidel Velasquez (es), no la eternidad de un personaje sino la tenacidad de un Sistema que anhela trasmutarse en la eternidad de un 99 Sistema" (Dias de guardar, 317). Thus, gesture is one of Monsivais's characteristics of style to portray social language. In an effort to undermine this dominant language, the cronicas born out of the multiple utterances, both dialogize and counteract the central language of the nation state, revealing the conflicting opinions and pluralistic nature of Mexican society. Therefore, in Monsivais's cronicas we hear many voices and types of discourses with no dogmatic or overbearing authorial voice attempting to preempt the reader's judgment by drawing out other voices. The reader must listen to all of them and sort them out for themselves, distinguishing the distinct literary traditions, epochs, places, social classes and professions that enter in dialogue. Moreover, they are subject to interpretations derived from virtually inexhaustible contexts. We, as readers, or writers, are caught up in a constant interlocution between ourselves and the other voices, which is invoked by the text. "There is no first or last discourse and dialogical context knows no limits (it disappears into an unlimited past and in our unlimited future) (Tzvetan Todorov, 1984, 110). Thus, Monsivais consistently brings back particular historical and cultural landmark events in order to accentuate its provisional and situational signification. As an example of this temporary condition of language signification, Monsivais chooses Mexican myths, examining how they have acquired, and still acquire, different significations according to different periods or epochs. In commenting upon this aspect of Monsivais's work, Eugenia Cossio argues that 3 7 Please note as we have already pointed out that Monsivais continually uses the same characters, events, and episodes of national history, etc. In this particular case, an intratextual dialogue is created between "Saluda al sol, arana, no seas rencorosa" {Dias de guardar, 1970, 307-320) and "Fidel Velazquez: Los postulados de la Revolucion" (Amor perdido, 1977, 197-211). 100 Cada mito es analizado en el cauce historico ya que, como cualquier otro fenomeno, adquiere significados diferentes con el paso del tiempo y puesto en relation con otros mitos con los cuales se comunica porque nunca se da aisladamente sino como parte de una serie (Eugenia Cossio, 138). In Amor perdido Monsivais reflects upon the mythologization of prostitution as a social phenomenon which has undergone various interpretative stages: from the degraded view of prostitutes during the Porfirio Diaz administration to Agustin Lara's romanticized and mythologized heroines of his songs in the 1940's and 1950's: Los suenos de la hipocresia engendran prostitutas ideales y desvanecen la sordidez de la explotacion abyecta de miles de mujeres en cartuchos insalubres. Por gratia de esta mitologia, la prostituta se desentiende de sus ominosos contextos, se transparenta virginalmente y, rehusandose a las connotaciones sexuales, no vende orgasmos sino suplicas de amor para yacer como privilegio exclusivo de la conversation entre varones....Lara les procura a los "vasos de perdition" un trato exceptional (un acercamiento distinto) y dispone el escenario en donde, ya en los cuarenta, reinara el mito comercial y social de la Vida Nocturna (73). 38 Monsivais proclivity towards Mexican myths points to a disarticulation of the Mexican bourgeoisie's mythological rhetoric. By allowing the bourgeoisie to express themselves through their language and mythologies he manages to render obsolete its hegemonic discourse, deflating all of its institutions and its language. This is also the case of the myth of progress, another of Monsivais's favourite themes: "Mexico va creciendo entre las ruinas del desperdicio burgues y la expansion capitalista" (A ustedes les consta, 76). In " E l Self-Made Man" (Amorperdido, 163-68), Monsivais returns to his For example, another myth he delves into is the enduring myths of a new Mexico, portrayed by the muralist movement. For Monsivais, muralism promoted a sense of patriotic identity with its own set of symbols, and this allowed the state to build the national unity needed to implement its model of economic development and ensure the legitimacy of its power. 101 criticism of the bourgeoisie's obsession with wealth and its symbolic value. This is revealed in an inane discussion between two people from the dominant class; the reader recognizes immediately the vanity and pretentiousness of these people: -Que te den un tour. Fijate en el bano. Admira esa concha. Son dos piezas de Carrara. - Y el guardarropa. Las centenas de zapatos, las botas, las camisas, los trajes...Si se tiene, nunca se posee lo bastante. -La cabecera de la cama fue de un virrey, no me pidas el nombre. Solo me acuerdo de Revillagigedo porque el nombre es un puntacho. Ve la talla. Es portentosa. Una virgen rodeada de monstruos... -Esta no es casa para vivir. Es para recibir (165). Evidently, Monsivais makes recourse to ironic enumeration to ridicule the ostentatiousness of bourgeoisie's mannerisms and the myth of progress. This temporal nature of language signification is further highlighted i f we consider the various levels of intertexuality that appear in Monsivais's cronicas. As we mentioned earlier, his works maintain a dialogue amongst themselves and the other texts which he incorporates into his cronicas. A good example of how Monsivais maintains intratextual relations is illustrated in Amor perdido. The first cronica, "Alto contraste" (17-57), which spans some seventy years - from the epoch of Porfirio Diaz to the presidency of Lopez Portillo - "sirve como fundamento teorico para el resto de los trabajos que conforman el libro, ya que comprende todo el lapso en que se ubican" (Jose Angel Escarpenta Sanchez, 1993, 162). In other words, intratextual dialogical relations are created between the first cronica (which is a historical exposition) and all the other ones. While "Alto contraste" is a cronica which embraces the historical epochs in which 102 the other ones are situated, "cada uno de ellos, a su vez, internamente, tambien tienen un soporte historico que sittia y explica el personaje o el momento de que se trata" (Escarpeta Sanchez, 1993, 163). For example, when Monsivais analyzes the life of David Siqueiros, he parts from the moment of his death and asks himself how is it possible that this artist became institutionalized, recognized by the elite, i f he was a communist? Monsivais explains this paradox by investigating the particular set of circumstances in which Siqueiros found himself. By examining fragments of letters, newspaper articles and interviews, Monsivais reconstructs particular moments in Mexican history "que no solo marco lo politico sino tambien lo artistico" (163). This is how Monsivais manages to explain the contradictions suffered by Siqueiros. En 1960, Siqueiros viaja a La Habana y Caracas a exaltar el arte publico mexicano y a boicotear la gira latinoamericana de Adolfo Lopez Mateos. Ataca al Presidente, lo responsabiliza de la ferocidad contra los vallejistas, lo califica de titere del imperialismo norteamericano y complice de la oligarquia, lo reta sin cesar (Amorperdido, 116). Four years later, after serving time in jail, "Siqueiros abraza a Lopez Mateos. Siqueiros es premiado por Diaz Ordaz. El era, jamas lo nego, gente de partido" (117). Monsivais gives reasons for Siqueiros's contradictions, born out of the particular environment in which he lived, "de la etapa historica en que se desarrollo" (Escarpeta Sanchez, 163). This cronica is not just an exegesis of the muralists' life, but an examination of a particular epoch of Mexican history. Monsivais is interested in highlighting the oppositions and contrasts in Mexico in order to illustrate the inherent contradictions of Mexican society. He accomplishes this by creating intratextual dialogue between the 103 various cronicas in Amor perdido. The first cronica, "Alto contraste," functions as a historical frame for the rest. If we consider the cronicas as a whole, it is clear that they are all interrelated, maintaining a constant dialogue with one another. In Dias de guardar and Amor perdido we see that he continually returns to prior subjects in order to expand upon previous thoughts, as revealed in his investigation of "la Onda." In Dias de guardar Monsivais examines this rebellious movement of the Mexican youth of the sixties, and the narrator concludes that, on the one hand, he is incapable of joining it, but on the other hand, he also sees this movement as "una forma de vida que se aproxima, quizas de modo inconveniente, a la libertad" (Dias de guardar, 105). A few years later, in 1972, Monsivais once again writes about "la Onda" in Amor perdido and although he still sees the positive aspects of this movement, he is much more critical of it once it dissipated. The serious doubts that he observes with "la Onda" is that in the Mexican manifestation of the movement there was a lot of false posturing and playacting by bored middle-class kids who were simply imitating the North American 1960's hippie generational movement: Para la moral imperante, Avandaro es un reto desuado. Para la biisqueda de alternativas es una confirmation de la dependencia. Avandaro es una respuesta autonoma y original y es tambien, un hecho colonial, no porque un festival de rock sea exclusivo de la cultura norteamericana, sino por el reclame basico: duplicar sin problemas una experiencia ajena; es decir, una vez mas, ponernos al dia gracias a la emulation servil (253). Monsivais, however, believes that even though "la Onda" was imitative in nature, a resurrection of people who want to think freely could surface once again: 104 Y sin embargo - nada muere del todo, amiga mia - todavia los colonias residenciales o barrios populares, aislados, azorados, miles de chavos, en plena o mediana o moderada aficion a la mariguana, se deciden a invertir un dia entero en la reception de las ondas arrojadas por los elepes. Lo que sea, el rock los levanta (255). Thus, Monsivais's examination of "la Onda" in both Dias de guardar and Amor perdido clearly illustrates that intratextual dialogical relations are created within these two works. This is one example of many, and hence, a dialogue is established between all of his cronicas. Citation is another of Monsivais's textual strategies which reveal the provisionality of language signification and intertexuality. In Polifonia textual (1984) Graciela Reyes points out that citation is an essential mechanism which enables discursive operations to occur and the intertextual dimension of the text to reveal itself. Thus, every literary work is characterized "por ser un texto citado que puede y suele contener otros textos citados"(39). Monsivais uses fragments of other texts, poems, popular songs and popular expressions to create his texts. In "Dios nunca muere [cronica de un eclipse]" (Dias deguadar, 91-116), Monsivais incorporates Bob Dylan's famous song "The Times, They Are Changing" to highlight that "los tiempos estan cambiando" in Mexico (102), characterized by "la Onda's" rebellious spirit against the value and belief systems of the establishment. This song exemplifies the loss of power and credibility of the PRI after the Tlatelolco massacre. In "Nation de Avandaro" (Amor perdido, 247-255) he also includes a famous 1970's American song "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder"), but as a subtitle, highlighting the impact of the rebellious youth of the time. 105 Through this citation the narrator expresses doubts about the effectiveness and direction of this dissident group, but he admires their complete rejection of the Mexican political system and their search for democracy. The repetition of the song's title (in fact, he repeats the song six times throughout the cronica) is a call for consciousness directed to the Mexican people in general and to those who belong to "la Onda." In "Dios nunca muere [cronica de un eclipse]", he also uses as a subtitle the popular expression "no hay pedo" (112-114) which conveys the idea that 'there is no problem' or 'need to worry.' By including this expression, Monsivais criticizes the Mexican youth of the 1960's who lived in such an insouciant manner, with no commitment or concern for bettering their society: No hay pedo: no hay problemas,...«o hay pedo: si abandonas la escuela, si careces de empleo, si tu familia te fatiga y te friega, si te robaron lo poco que traias, si no sabes como regresarte, si no traes un poco quinto en la bolsa, si tus antiguos amigos no te pelean, no hay pedo. Nunca hay problema (112-13). This popular saying repeated emphatically throughout the cronica allows Monsivais to portray the generational atmosphere of the 1960's alienated youth. In doing so, he reconstructs in a penetrating manner the context of the time: La irigotera, suma de irigotes, patrimonio de los chavos lentos, de los que nunca toman su tiempo, de los que usan su tiempo como si se tratase de un vehiculo, una maquinaria que traslada de un lado a otro, que te lleva de la juventud a la madurez a la senectud y finalmente se descompone (113). Furthermore, in "Dios nunca muere" he also incorporates the literary tradition, such as Juan Jose Arreola's La feria (1963), in order to elaborate on the conception of the 106 "Gran Familia National." This phrase extrapolated from a previous text becomes resignified in the present context in terms of "la perdurabilidad de la Gran Familia National,...esa unidad impalpable y ferrea que lo incluye junto al profesionalista y al obrero, que lo afiade a las proximas festividades que proclaman la armonia del pais" (92). In reproducing this citation, Monsivais looks back at the Gran Familia Mexicana as a false image of Mexico which rejected the pluralistic nature of Mexico. In "Goool!!! Somos el desmadre" (Entrada libre, 203-236) there is also a literary allusion to another important Mexican writer, Alfonso Reyes's "Vision de Anahuac" (1915),40 to reflect Mexico's alma national^ In reproducing literally Reyes's "Viajero, detente, has llegado a la Cima de la Mexicanidad" (25), Monsivais manages to set up a clash between Reyes's essencialism and idealism with a description of today's Mexico. Therefore, by including in his text Reyes's conception of "la Mexicanidad" he transforms the previous meaning by juxtaposing Reyes's idealized description of Mexican people arriving at the Anahuac Valley with Monsivais's description of people arriving at the Estado Azteca for the 1986 World Cup match between Mexico and Bulgaria. People, including himself, have to be searched for weapons before they enter the stadium: "Estan bien las precauciones, uno concluye recordando las escenas tragicas en otros estadios", but it is a little ridiculous that a writer "se somete a la primera, a la segunda, a la tercera, a la cuarta revision" 4 2, to see if he has a machine gun in his briefcase. Accentuating an 3 9 In Arreola's novel La feria (1963), the narrator says that el pueblo celebrated las Fiestas Patrias like "los miembros de lagraw familia nacional mexicana, y nos sentimos alegres y conmovidos" (43). 4 0 In Obras completas, V. II (Mexico, FCE, 1971. pp. 1-26). 4 1 "Historia documental de mis libros," Revista de la Universidad de Mexico, abril, 1955, p. 10. 4 2 Allusion to the Aztec's belief that the sun and the earth had been destroyed in a cataclysm and recreated four times, and that in their age of the fifth sun, final destruction was imminent. That fate was to be avoided as long as possible, and that is why the Aztecs believed that a special intervention through 107 ironic tone, the narrator feels relieved when " uno atraviesa gustoso el checkmate como quien cruza la Laguna Estigia en busca de comparaciones helenicas. Viajero, detente, has llegado a la Cima de la Mexicanidad" (205). In "Mexico a traves de McLuhan" (Dias de guardar, 364-79), Monsivais appropriates Marshall McLuhan's important work Understanding Media (1964), to examine McLuhan's "The Medium is the Message" and his thesis that the electronic media will reintegrate people leading society towards a "Happy End". For Monsivais, contrary to McLuhan, mass media in Mexico has not "retribalized" individuals, but rather it has reinforced an already oppressive and unitary political system which attempted to create a homogeneous nation using the media as the primary tool of manipulation. The Mexican state has used television and radio to promote modernization and industrialization as an ideal for all Mexican people but, as we saw in chapter two, the effects of this phenomena have created an economic and political crisis in Mexico. Consequently, for Monsivais, "The Medium is not the Message", and as of yet, there is no "Happy End" in Mexico. The cronica ends with the narrator saying: "Viajero, detente: La nueva interdependencia electronica recrea el mundo conforme a la imagen de una villa global" (Dias de guardar, 379). In this final citation of McLuhan's and Reyes, Monsivais distances himself from both of them for their essentially idealistic vision of reality. The examples that we have provided are a clear indication of how intertexuality appears in Monsivais's cronicas creating a network of intratextual references among the Huitzilopochtli (God of War) would serve their interests. That is why they immolated human beings to the gods. See Michael Meyer, 1995, 67-92. 108 themes of the cronicas themselves, just as much as the fragments of other texts, oral expressions, popular sayings and songs, etc., that he incorporates into his texts. This verbal act, this new and fecund meditation, is a revelation, a re-writing of Mexican history. With the incorporation of the narration of the other texts he introduces a dialogical process which reflects the instability of language and society and the conflict that exists amongst Mexico's social classes. A clear example of this collision between the dominant and popular classes is revealed in two cronicas which deal with urban popular dancing (la rumba): "Dancing: E l Salon Los Angeles" (Escenas de pudory liviandad, 97-102) and "Dancing: E l secreto esta en la mano izquierda" (Escenas de pudory liviandad, 137-40). In the first cronica, we are primarily presented with the voices of conservative intellectuals who belong to the establishment. Monsivais mocks their use of academic language and esoteric theories, and in doing so, he undermines the social belief systems, values and ideologies of the hegemonic discourse. In the other cronica, a popular Mexican dancer, in sharp contrast to the academics, expresses himself with colloquial language and, ironically, the reader attains a greater understanding of the significance of Mexican popular dancing. This anonymous voice, who acts as a spokesperson for the urban popular classes, expresses his discontent and resistance towards the dominant, official culture. The presence of the various socio-ideological discourses in these two works destabilize the unitary discourse, and consequently, underline the deep social conflict that exists in Mexican society between the establishment and the urban popular classes. "Dancing: E l Salon Los Angeles" displays not only the deep divisions between Mexico's dominant and the urban popular classes, but paradoxically their interdependence. He reveals this in an incongruous meeting between a group of university professors and a group of popular dancers. The academics go to " E l Salon Los Angeles"- located in the poor neighbourhood of Guerrero - to watch a group of Mexicans dance la rumba. The uncommunicative dialogues between the dominant and lower classes underline the antagonism between them, accentuated by the ruling class's lack of respect and knowledge of the dance. As we shall see, although the academics use an erudite language in order to understand the signification of the actions of the urban popular classes, their dialogues appear absurd and devoid of meaning. This is demonstrated in the manner in which the narrator ridicules the intellectuals utterances, and in doing so, he discredits official discourse and ideology. For example, he mocks and humours their theoretic discourse who say such things as: Creen [the subaltern class] que la rumba es cultura porque piensan que todo lo que hacen es cultural. Son analfabetos populares, es lo que son.../ Asi me las den todas. Asomarse a "lo prohibido" pero con el seguro de vida de la titularidad academica...Vengan, vengan, aqui hay un obrero, contemplenlo. Como desplaza usted la cad era? Expliquese y descodifique!"'(100). The people from the marginalized classes are treated as exotic symbols and objects of intellectual speculation around an 'authentic' Mexican identity. The beginning of this cronica is initially ambiguous; the reader is unaware of who is speaking because the text begins in mid-conversation between an unknown amount of speakers. But the reader soon realizes that since the first person says: " M M M M M . . . F O L C L O R U R B A N O , mmm, mmm,...", the next one: "Quien no conoce 110 Los Angeles no conoce Mexico", and the third speaker says: "El pueblo es una ausencia, dijo el poeta" (97), we know that a group of people are discussing urban popular culture in Mexico. As the reader progresses in the work, s/he realizes that these voices belong to conservative intellectuals, and hence, s/he may assume that they are speaking and attributing meaning to the culture of the lower sectors of society. The conversation between these people proceeds for two pages, without any identification of who exactly the speakers are. We also notice that the utterances are not always understood, or answered. For instance, the voices reveal that these people are sitting at a table watching men and women dancing la rumba, and therefore, only half listening to what the others at their tables are saying. After the utterance, "Eso del 'proletariado intelectual' es descriptivo o peyorativo?" (97), someone exclaims, "Que buena esta la guera del morral!" (97). The dialogue continues as the speakers attempt to analyze the 'meaning' of la rumba. The conversation between these interlocutors ends when one of them says: "Lo pinche del mexicano al bailar rumba es el trabajo que le cuesta mover los hombros" (98). This utterance is very important because it divulges the unknowingness and vacuousness of the intellectuals, given that the popular artists who dance la rumba are proud of the fact that they do not move their shoulders.43 It is obvious, then, that those who have come to view the spectacle at ' E l Salon Los Angeles' do not really understand the dance. Monsivais qualifies this in "Dancing: E l secreto esta en la mano izquierda" when a Mexican from the urban popular classes says: "el mexicano se menea de la cintura para abajo...Los cubanos y los puertoriquenos alzan los hombros. Nosotros casi no" (138). I l l Following their initial conversations, the editorialist narrator begins to contextualize the referent: "Una velada inolvidable en el Salon Los Angeles, en la colonia Guerrero, bajo un titulo aparentemente iconoclasta: La Rumba es Cultura" (98). He proceeds to provide information about the people attending the dance: hordas de investigadores, de ayudantes de profesor, de becarios, de estudiantes de posgrados en la ebullente y controvertida Universidad de Masas..., representantes de Economia, de Psicologia, de Arquitectura (autogobierno), de Filosofia y Letras, de Antropologia, de Ciencias Politicas, de la U A M , maestros de C C H y de la Universidad Iberoamericana..., periodistas, jovenes funcionarios, historiadores franceses y gringos eruditos, actrices, socialistas alivianados, criticos y directores de cine, pintores sin clientela pero con proposition estetica basica, todos pisteando y rumbeando,..seguidos por las camaras del Canal 13 (Programa especial) (98-99). Thus, echoing Bakhtin's heteroglossic novel, Monsivais incorporates a wide array of languages into this text: the languages of the journalists, economists, anthropologists, etc., are contrasted with that of the urban popular classes. Thus, in this confrontation the ruling elite's' words are destabilized, given that their discourse appears absurd outside the university setting. This language clash is further reinforced when one of the intellectuals says: "No viste dos o tres de los habituales, que salieron con cara de no-agarro-la-onda" (100). The histor narrator investigates why the privileged and learned people have come to ' E l Salon Los Angeles', "en pleno extasis del pasito eche" and happy to say, "ahora estoy contento porque estoy no entre universitarios sino entre trabaj adores" (99), while ignoring the fact that their mere presence has caused many of the dancers to leave. This histor now asks himself: "Como es que "la vanguardia del pais adquirio una pasion popular?" (100). 112 The attentive reader will have noticed that when the editorialist narrator contextualized the referent, he provided an important clue as to why all these people from high society were attending the dance. For example, the narrator advocates that all these economists, anthropologists, and so forth, were "pisteando y rumbeando,...seguidos por las camaras del Canal 13" (99). It appears that the intellectuals have made a photo opportunity of their visit. Some of them decide to dance with the Mexicans who belong to the popular classes, and make a mockery out of the dance. The difference in the manner in which they dance is accentuated: Oye mano, la clientela de siempre de veras sabe bailar, sus cuerpos se acomodan y se cinen al ritmo, tienen creatividad. En cambio, aqui cada quien baila como puede, para lucirse, como si los anduviera siguiendo la camara (101). It is clear that what is 'genuine' for the urban popular classes is nothing but a spectacle for the intellectuals. They do not understand urban popular Mexican dancing, as evidenced in the manner in which they dance "la rumba" - they are worlds apart. Their rapprochement is false because their prime motivation is to experiment the '"autentica identification con las clases populares'" so that they can prepare themselves '"para las tareas de la production ideologica'" (101). The media, always dedicated to visibly maintain the presence of the bourgeoisie and its intellectual, political and economic elites, have shown up to present the 'harmony' that exists between them and the urban popular classes. And wherever the media goes, the Mexican state is not far behind. In effect, one of the anonymous speakers comments: "Yo estoy seguro de que al PRI le interesaria patrocinar reuniones semanales como la presente" (101). This statement evokes the idea 113 that the state, inevitably, always attempts to appropriate particular cultural symbols of the underclasses into its monolithic language in an effort to control the rebellious nature and creative energy of the subordinate groups. According to the narrator, another reason why these academics go to "El Salon Los Angeles" is to incorporate their observations into their academic papers, thereby making them more 'real' and 'objective'. These members of "Los circulos universitarios" see themselves obliged to locate in their "notas de pie de pagina", which explain "la moda de rumbear y salsear y conocer eruditamente...a la discografia", a rationalization as to why they are "pasandola a todisima" (100) with the marginalized sectors of society. They require a pretext because, as the narrator claims, the real reason why they have come to the dance hall where "se oye pura salsa, sabory a collar''' is to "reencontrar las raices: la obsesion de la semana" (99). In other words, the intellectuals are simply interested in searching for their 'authentic' roots, as well as incorporating certain elements of popular culture into the national discourse in order to create a 'unique' homogenized Mexican identity. Therefore, "Dancing: E l Salon Los Angeles" clearly reflects the conservative intellectuals' belief that by simply observing the dancers they will arrive at not only the 'meaning' of la rumba in Mexican society, but the importance of urban popular culture for the country. Monsivais, as we previously argued, accentuates the blindness and ignorance of the academics who, using esoteric theories and abstruse language, "vienen a aplastar con su insolencia los ultimos reductos de los marginados" (100). A certain superior attitude characterizes the learned who come to the space of the subordinated to 114 see '"lo prohibido' pero con el seguro de vida de la titularidad academica" (102). The academics' inability to understand la rumba is stressed by the narrator when he observes a reporter interrogating "a un transmigrado rural o como se diga" on the particularity of the dance, who answers him in a clear manner: '"No tengo ritmo predilecto, todos me pasan, el caso es no quedarse hecho un palo'" (102). The anthropologist initially is surprised by the clarity of his comments, but once he rationalizes and 'analyzes' them, he dismisses the statement for its shear simplicity. "Dancing: E l secreto esta en la mano izquierda" counteracts the discourse of the intellectuals. The narrator distances himself from the main frame of action in order to reproduce la interioridad ajena of a unidentified twenty-six-year-old popular male dancer. In sharp contrast to the discourse of the academics, this person expresses himself in colloquial language, saying such things as "lo principal es sentir la musica, sentir el ritmo"(140) and " E l secreto esta en la mano izquierda para sobrellevar a la dama"(138). He explains that he has been dancing since he was eleven "y cada vez me muevo menos, cada vez me aloco menos, y siento mas el cuerpo. Es una sensation padrisima, estoy consciente de todos mis musculos..." (140). This Mexican dancer further states that "yo no soy payaso ni farolon pero me gusta que se den cuenta de que la muevo, de que no en balde he ensayado y le he metido ganas. El que no conoce el baile no conoce su cuerpo" (140) and moreover, "el baile es nomas para uno, es el gusto de verte en la mirada de tus cuates y los desconocidos" (137). He also explains that Empece a practicarlas [las rutinas del baile] desde chavito. Ibamos en bola al programa de Baile con Vanart. Eramos buenos, te lo aseguro, porque luego hay tarados que llevan 10 anos y no aprenden a bailar. Iban los del grupo de Brasil 80 de la colonia de Guerrero, de la colonia Malinche, de la Casas Aleman, de Tepito (que es un barrio que ha tenido influencia en el 115 modo de bailar). A todas estas ondas van los de siempre,...Ahora ya no voy tan seguido, ya casi no hay lugares, ahora todo es distinto aunque quien no lo sabe diga que todo se parece. Pero ya nada es facil. A ver un buen grupo de salsa, por ejemplo, ya solo pueden ir los ricos" (138). This common, everyday language acts as centrifugal force, destabilizing the unitary language of the establishment, and hence challenges their fixed definitions of'reality'. Subsequently, Monsivais's decentralizing language manages to undermine the dominant language because his voices sharply contradict the intellectual's point of view on Mexican popular dancing. The manner in which the dominant class expresses itself appears absurd, as we saw above. The following statement by the twenty-six-year-old dancer - "Muchos aprendieron en las academias el baile que son los grandes robos" (138) - demonstrates how the rich sectors of Mexican society have attempted to appropriate certain popular cultural symbols into their sphere, transforming meaning in the process. The only Mexicans who can afford to attend dance clinics belong to the privileged class, and furthermore, using their language, they attempt to 'define' the importance of urban popular culture for all of Mexican society. They contradict themselves, because on the one hand, they allow Mexican popular culture to penetrate the public sphere, promulgating its importance to the nation, while simultaneously denying the marginalized sectors of society to express themselves with their own voice at the national level. In conclusion, Monsivais constructs a complex and subtle linguistic and social atmosphere through his cronicas whereby the contradictory opinions of particular epochs and characters are verbally expressed, and where a polemic and game of ideas are put into 116 play. His cronicas, then, are indicative of the heterogeneous nature of Mexican society and "piden la democracia social" (Linda Egan, 306) which reflects Monsivais's and the Mexican peoples' desire and confidence that democracy one day will arrive in Mexico: confianza en la democracia, en sus perspectivas inmediatas y liberadoras. Todo, desde los gritos conminatorios ("Sal al balcon hocicon!") hasta la pretension de erigir un Estado independiente dentro del Estado ("CU, Territorio Libre de Mexico") es un acto continuo de fe en el potencial libertario de un pais" (Amor perdido, 42). As we have shown, the manner in which Monsivais reflects this democratic project is by taking into consideration the various languages that we 'hear' in his texts. As Eugenia Cossio comments: A leer las cronicas de Monsivais, oimos literalmente una serie de voces que se yerguen una frente a la otra y que, algunas veces, reconocemos: las hemos oido antes en boca de nuestros conocidos o en la nuestra" (Eugenia Cossio, 142). Similarly, Linda Egan asserts that " E l habla heteroglotica y el tono satirico de su voz subversiva y polifonica conforman las huellas digitales mas reconocibles de lo periodistico del discurso monsivaisiano" (Linda Egan, 309). Hence, in a similar manner to Bakhtin's heteroglossic novel, Monsivais captures the class conflict between Mexico's dominant classes and the marginalized sectors of society. We hear a host of social dialects, professional jargons, allusive literacy and generic languages, languages of generations and of age groups, and of authorities and counterauthorities who impugn the PRFs unitary language. Therefore, Monsivais's cronicas bring varieties of speeches into his texts, highlighting the differences between them. 117 We have provided specific examples of intertexuality in Monsivais cronicas. The heteroglossic languages that he incorporates into his works range from fragments of popular songs, popular expressions, proverbs and poems, political and economic discourses, professional jargon, and a host of other discourses. As such, a dialogue is established between Monsivais's cronicas and the other discourses that he textually transcribes into his texts. This act of appropriation implies that meanings are reformulated as previous discourses are incorporated into new discourses and contexts, and hence, he makes them partake in the struggle for signification and social transformation. 118 Conclusion This study has analyzed some of the principal ideas in Monsivais's cronicas. In the spirit of his assumption that language is an open system, whereby signification continually evolves, our project is a work in progress. We have offered a series of proposals and conjectures, highlighting some of the most important aspects of his works, but we do not pretend that our study captures the "totality" of his works; it is only a modest contribution to one of the most prolific, far reaching and acute Mexican thinkers of our present time. In chapter one we argued that the Mexican contemporary cronicas manifested themselves as a new modality in the post-1968 era. The Tlatelolco student massacre is the historical event that shaped the new direction of the cronicas, both fhematically and rhetorically. Writers such as Monsivais responded to the tragedy by echoing the concerns of the students and engaging themselves in an ideological and political critique of the PRI. We also saw that the cronistas have been heavily influenced by the writing techniques of Capote and Wolfe. In a similar manner to New Journalism, the cronistas incorporate literary narrative techniques and mix them with journalism, such that in the cronicas the boundaries between literature and journalism are blurred. It is evident, from our discussion in chapter two, that Monsivais has always been skeptical of the successive Mexican governments' attempts to institutionalize cultural symbols and practices, because in the process, they become fixed and essentialized images of Mexican reality. As Garcia Canclini argues, the main ideological function of 119 crafts, objects and practices of popular culture, has been to promote a set of symbols for a national identity (Garcia Canclini, 1993, 43). Consequently, the unifying language of this symbolism has always exalted the cultural forms of the indigenous people. Moreover, urban popular culture has been transformed into a spectacle and a market commodity, and the capitalist system promotes urban homogeneity and technological comfort, while preserving archaic communities as living museums (41). Furthermore, the dominant culture accepts urban popular culture and needs it as an opponent that serves to strengthen it and prove its "own superiority" (43). As urban popular culture enters new spaces signification changes, and therefore, cultural symbols become refunctionalized in their new environments. Monsivais argues that the survival strategies of the urban popular classes have always managed to recreate and retransform themselves and for this reason the ruling class "iran a otras piqueras para andar siguiendo al pueblo" (Escenas de pudor y liviandad, 101). Urban popular culture is very attractive to the dominant, official culture because they feed off the creative energy of the urban popular classes, while at the same time controlling its power, which the Mexican state perceives as a potential danger to the social make-up of Mexican society. In other words, the dominant classes believe that they have to supervise and control the marginalized sectors of society, offering concessions to them so that conflict is contained and channeled into ideologically safe harbours. Therefore, both the official culture and subculture 'negotiate' spaces and there is a constant hegemonic struggle involving both resistance and incorporation. The subordinate classes aspire and yearn for a democratic society where they can express their 120 opinions in the public sphere and where they can participate in more equitable terms of ; the economic system, while the establishment sees this intervention as a threat to its monopoly of power and resources, and hence, they make a concerted effort to impede movements of and actions towards a more democratic process. By allowing the subordinate classes to express themselves in their own language, Monsivais reflects his belief that a true, civil democracy must arise from the acknowledgment of the multiple and conflictive points of view of the different sectors of society, and in particular the marginalized.44 Therefore, the incorporation of various socio-ideological languages reflects Monsivais's effort to present the pluralistic nature of Mexican society and his desire to contribute to its transformation towards a more inclusive civil democracy. In doing so, the cronicas echo Bakhtin's concept of the heteroglossic novel in that Monsivais textually transcribes multiple voices and discourses to display the oppositional nature of social and linguistic interaction between what Bakhtin terms the centripetal and centrifugal forces of language. Monsivais shares with Bakhtin the idea of language as an open system where meaning is not limited to the interpretations imposed by the dominant classes, but rather it is in a constant state of collision and resignification according to the concrete and ceaseless flow of utterances produced in dialogues between speakers in specific social and historical contexts. The social heteroglossic languages are reflections of ideology: to speak in a certain manner "es percibir y evaluar de cierto modo" (Reyes, 1984, 128). Hence, to reproduce a 4 4 To some extent, this process has already begun, although it is still a far way from becoming a reality. For instance, several protest groups have formed in Mexico in the last twenty years demanding civl rights, water, electricity, roads, among other things. The PRI has had to adhere to some of their concessions, revealing how they have lost some of their control and power. 121 language is to reproduce a system of ideas and beliefs about the world. In Monsivais's cronicas these languages, when juxtaposed, "dialogan, se contraponen, luchan entre si" (128). Graciela Reyes, in studying Bahktin's concepts of heteroglossia and intertextuality, argues that "[l]a intertextualidad, junto con la coherencia, la adecuacion, la intencionalidad comunicativa, es requisito indispensable del funcionamiento discursivo" (42). Moreover, she claims that all discourse forms part of a history of discourses, such that all discourse is the continuation of previous discourses, "la cita explicita o implicita de textos previos" (42). However, every word acquires different significations in each particular historical moment, because each word, impregnated with meaning, "lleva el lastre de contextos anteriores, de una incontrolable intertextualidad" (19). That is to say, other aforementioned speakers, and therefore, other communicative contexts, each one with its own proper circumstances of place and time. Considering Reyes's analysis of Bahktin it is abundantly clear that Monsivais's cronicas are composed of intersecting texts that provide commentary on one another. Moreover, his texts mirror the idea, as in Bahktin's view of the dialogic novel, that a text or a particular discourse argues with others, agrees with them (although with conditions), interrogates them, eavesdrops on them, and also ridicules and parodically exaggerates them (Bakhtin, 1981, 46). 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