Flor Y Canto
When academic researchers seek to understand the wide variety of Hispanic cultures from the Northern most reaches of the North American continent to the Southernmost region of the South American continent, the chosen approach has been to take stock of cultural behavior in relation to expressed ideology and their variations. This type of approach is limited in nature and scope. That is, methodologies based in this type of approach inherently miss the most important aspect of the cultures they seek to understand. Specifically, the manner in which language is used. In this context, the work of Enrico Pupo-Walker is most revealing. In his study of language use, Pupo-Walker states:
“Hoy, esa orientación revolucionaria o iconoclasta frente al lenguaje es rasgo primordial de casi toda la narrativa Hispanoamericana. . . . Es una critica que, si a primera vista se dirige al hecho linguistico como tal, a la postre denuncia también los valores caducos o falsos en que se apoya la estructura social y política de muchos países Americanos”.
“Today, that revolutionary or iconoclastic orientation to language is a key feature of almost all Hispanic American narrative. . . . It is a criticism that, at first glance is directed to the linguistic fact as such, but ultimately complains of the outdated or false values that underpin the social and political structure of many American countries.”
What is interesting about Pupo-Walker’s view of Hispanic American expression is that, in being iconoclastic, it questions the very value structure of many American countries. I say this because Hispanic American countries have, for the most part, been unsuccessful in their efforts to assimilate into their borrowed Western European socio-political structures. Pupo-Walker goes on to describe contemporary Hispanic American literature as expressing such originality that it is not likely to be offered in other parts of the Occident. In this context, then, in what sense can we say that the Hispanic American mode of expression is unique with respect to the rest of the Occident, and how might this affect our understanding of the Hispanic America’s mode of expression in relation to indigenous beliefs?
Let us begin by considering the linguistic turn which Pupo-Walker mentions, as it is expressed by Carlos Fuentes in his text, La Nueva Novela Hispanoamericana. Fuentes agrees with Octavio Paz that “poems and myths coincide in transmuting time into a special temporal category, a past always future which is always disposed to being present, to presenting itself”. In comparing such a view of contemporary Hispanic American expression with the rest of the Occident, Fuentes seems to agree with Pupo-Walker regarding its uniqueness. He states:
Paradoxically, the need for myth has arisen in the West on the ruins of the culture that denied the mythical – but didn’t it also deny its twin enemy, poetry, speaking badly
Fuentes seems to believe that the predominant inability of the Occident to recuperate the mythological in their use of language, and even to deny it, has been the ruin of Occidental cultures in general. That is, without this ability to recuperate the past which is always future and always disposed to being present, to presenting itself, human structures will always necessarily lead to a state of anomie. If Pupo-Walker claims that the contemporary Hispanic American approach to language is not likely to be offered in other parts of the Occident and Fuentes, after characterizing the contemporary Hispanic American approach to language as capable of recuperating the mythological, concludes that the predominant inability of the Occident to do likewise has led to its current state of cultural anomie, what, then, is the basis for such a unique ability on the part of contemporary Hispanic Americans?