Wednesday, June 17, 2020

¿ACASO NOSOTROS SABEMOS MIRAR EN ESTE MUNDO PALPITANTE?

Un ensayo sobre el libro de cuentos Los árboles, de la escritora boliviana Claudia Peña Claros: 
Además, y de manera audaz, Peña Claros también ha trabajado estrechamente con la perspectiva de otros componentes del campo: los árboles, sí, pero también el monte en cuanto tal, las fuerzas del desatadas del agua, los perros, e incluso los insectos. Esto ya no es la jungla del siglo XIX, denunciando a la barbarie que amenaza a la civilización a su paso, sino un campo que es un territorio donde la soberanía y la propiedad siempre están en disputa, al igual que todos los procesos de producción, extracción y acumulación. Estos son los territorios en donde habita un buen porcentaje de los grupos populares, donde viven y prosperan, resistiendo, y con frecuencia fracasando, ante los desastres naturales, la embestida desnuda del capitalismo, y una serie de políticas neoliberales. Muchas de las así llamadas revoluciones verdes han surgido en estos sitios, desatando por igual prácticas agrícolas depredadoras que invaden violentamente el mundo natural y su delicado equilibrio, así como diferentes formas de insurrección popular. En este abarcar de la materialidad del territorio en toda su complejidad, en su voluntad de ir hacia abajo, escarbando en capas de tiempo que son, a su vez, capas de experiencia, Peña Claros encara el tiempo profundo de la tierra, identificando las acciones que conciernen y afectan a una multiplicidad de seres humanos y no humanos por igual. Lo de Claudia Peña Claros es una escritura geológica que sigue preguntándose: ¿cómo se las arregla una escritora para encarnar de la mejor manera posible, de la manera más crítica posible, estas múltiples perspectivas animada e inanimadas de un mundo en constante agitación material?

In addition, and boldly, Peña Claros has also worked closely with the perspective of other constituents of the countryside: trees, indeed, but also the monte as such, the forces of water unleashed, dogs, and even insects. This is no longer the jungle of the nineteenth century, espousing barbarism and threatening civilization in its wake, but a countryside that is a territory where sovereignty and property are always in dispute, as are processes of production, extraction, and accumulation. These are the territories where a good percentage of the poor live and thrive, resisting—and often failing against—the onslaught of capitalism and a host of neo-liberal policies. Many so-called green revolutions have emerged in these sites, unleashing predatory agricultural practices that violently intrude upon the natural world and its delicate balance as well as different forms of popular insurrection. And, by encompassing the multi-layered materiality of the territory, through her willingness to dig deeper and deeper, uncovering experiences that concern and affect human and non-human beings alike, this becomes a fine example of geological writing. How can a writer better put across the manifold perspectives of a world in constant turmoil?      

Full text in Spanish and English versions in Literal. 
--crg



Thursday, May 21, 2020

TOUCHING IS A VERB: THE HANDS OF THE PANDEMIC AND THE INESCAPABLE QUESTIONS

An essay I originally wrote in Spanish for Revista de la Universidad: Del verbo tocar.  Here translated into English by Sarah Booker and published by 3am Magazine (Whatever it is, we area against it): Touching is a Verb. 




Take a peek: 

Touching Is a Verb
As the virus is spread through proximity, especially through the respiratory system and touch, we have to be aware that we are bodies. It seems like a simple operation. It isn’t. The machine of the production of goods has accustomed us to living under the illusion that we are incorporeal. We can work endlessly. We can consume endlessly. If we were in a story by the Salvadoran writer Claudia Hernández, we would be those characters that, even when dead, even when already turned into cadavers, continue swiping our entry card to get into work or pulling out our credit card at cash registers. Capitalism in the US style is like this: literally disembodied.
The illusion of not having a body, which pills and various medications contribute to, leads to the illusion of having no other connection to the world besides the electronic connection. From the spell of abstraction hangs the absence of solidarity with our surroundings and, at the end of it all, indolence. That which does not touch us—that which we do not know touches us—does not hurt us. But now that we are stopped, now that we know that our hands are lethal weapons and not just, as Kant wanted, what differentiates us from animals, we cannot not think about it. The re-materialization of our worlds in times of deceleration forces questions that are political at their very root: who has touched this object that I am touching? Which is another way of asking: where does it come from, who produces it, in what conditions of exploitation or sanitation is this that comes into my hands created, with what quantity of virus? It took the anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing years and many pages to answer those questions in relation to the matsutake, the mushroom revered in Japan that grows in wooded zones that have survived processes of devastation. Indeed, there are a ton of hands in The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins: those of the migrant workers, those of the businessmen, those of the forest rangers, those of the police, those of the immigration agents. Calloused hands and soft hands. Hands accustomed to caresses or hands that have never felt moisturizing lotion. Tracing the labor of hands in the processes of production and reproduction in the world we live in is an imminently political task. And, right now, it’s an inescapable task. Our lives depend, in fact, on asking those questions and paying full attention to the answers. Everything we have close by—and right now we know that we are always, that we always have been, close to so many hands—affects us because it concerns us. This could well open the door to the end of indolence.

--crg