ReinaldoArenas: MoreThan the SingleStoryBefore Night Falls directedby Schnabel, Global Arenasby Jacqueline Loss
Introduction to Arenas Born July 16 1943 in the rural Cuban countryside Joined rebel forces of Castro as a teenager Moved to Havana after the triumph of the revolution Published first novel in 1967 Celestino antes del alba Left Cuba in 1980 through the Mariel boat lift Arrived in Miami, then settled in New York City Committed suicide on December 7th 1990
Context Context Context! Batista’s Cuba- 1933- 1958 City vs. Country conditions during this time Americas Imperial Arm 1959 Castro gains power Approximately 1965-1968 UMAP (Military Units to Aid Protection) labor camps for “counterrevolutionaries” Sugar Cane What is a counterrevolutionary?
Context Homosexuals (gay men), Counterrevolutionary intellectuals, Jehovahs witnesses, insubordinate farmers In Fidel’s words homosexuals were… Sick Characteristic of capitalism Denounced homosexuals as agents of imperialism Believed work in UMAP would make them “true revolutionary men” Dentro de la Revolucion: Todo. Contra de la Revolucion: NADA
Intellectuals The Speech “Palabras a Los Intellectuales” 1961 Cautions Intellectuals about producing work that could be seen as “against” the revolution Explained that the revolution won Cuba freedom and freedom of speech, and that any work that is anti revolutionary is therefore anti the freedom and undermines the well being and freedoms of the collective whole Persecution of Intellectuals/artists P.M Saba Cabrera Infante and Orlando Jimenez censored
PM PM 1:22 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0- 8gfWzBa8&list=PL6E2F51428B583AEF Bodies Represented Constraints Connect to Arenas Homosexual and intellectual/artist “The system has used any means necessary to eradicate my existence.” Forced sending of manuscripts abroad
Before Night Falls as a Movie What did you think of the film? How was Cuban sexuality portrayed? Were there parts that stood out to you? Do you remember any important scenes that depicted Arenas’ sexuality? How did the movie’s portrayal of his sexuality differ from or adhere to the texts we read for Tuesday?
Symbolism Reinaldo looking up at Hot Air Balloon vs. Skyscrapers Plants and nature in Cuba vs. NYC The I <3 NY bag Johnny Depp both as Bon Bon and lieutenant Victor
Problematic Aspects Schnabel’s portrayal of Arenas and his sexuality Desexualized? In your face-ness? Why may this be? Audience? Schnabels production of the film 10 years after his death Power dynamics of Author and Author’s identity The oversimplifying of a single story Fidelity Criticisms Commodification The issues of artistic liberty Miami, Suicide
Problematic Aspects Imperialist writing Speaking for someone else- prosopopeia vs. testimino The danger of “rescuing” and “rescue narratives”- “I feel I like I walked those streets…” Voyeurism- American desire to see Cuba (the “forbidden fruit”)
Questions Do you think Schnabel’s rendition of Reinaldo Arenas’ life was understandable? Outright Imperialist? Or necessary for filmic (American) audiences? Loss prompts, “Whose cultural memory is privileged if we accept the rescue paradigm? In what aspects of consumerism lead us to buy into the narrative of rescue and demise that coincides with the markets whims.” What do you think?
Problematic Aspects Cutting of scenes at particularly chosen moments Formation of relationships and sexual encounters in film English in Cuba and Spanish in U.S Nosotros vs. Ustedes (Us vs. Them)- touches back to voyeurism
The Danger of a Single Story Using a single story to define someone’s many stories (Arenas as a writer vs. google search as poet) Using a single story to characterize a people (homosexuals, Cubans etc.) Can you think of any other stories that are used as “universals” for a group/s of people? Homogenization and absorption vs. plurality and diversity
The Danger of a Single Story Novelist Chimamanda Adichie, “The Danger of a Single Story.” http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_a dichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html
Works Cited http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~jidomin g/images/jid_batista.PDF http://www.glbtq.com/literature/arenas_r.ht ml Global Arenas: Narrative and Filmic Translation of Identity. Jacqueline Loss Before Night Falls. Julian Schnabel P.M by Saba Cabrera Infante The Danger of a Single Story Chimamanda Adichie