By Susan Antebi (auth.)
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Additional info for Carnal Inscriptions: Spanish American Narratives of Corporeal Difference and Disability
Martí writes of “esos caminos que a dos millas de distancia no son caminos, sino largas alfombras de cabezas” (137) [these roads that from a two-mile distance are not roads but long carpets of heads] (320); and later, “parecen desde lejos como espíritus superiores inquietos, como espíritus risueños y diabólicos que traveseasen por entre las enfermizas luces de gas” (140) [From afar these places seem like restless higher spirits, laughing and diabolical spirits that pass through the morbid gaslights] Caliban and Coney Island 29 (322).
In the context of the Coney Island freak show, as depicted here, the freak appears through the larger audience’s construction of a body as object on display. Yet through Martí’s eyes, this same freak acquires a more dynamic role, one that dramatically reveals the New York audience’s own monstrous participation in the scene, as well as the Cuban’s ambivalent status as not-so-disinterested observer. S. relations as a self-other dyad, Martí’s text inevitably participates in a history of metaphorical bodies and of monstrosity as a shifting category through and against which collective identities are forged.
S. freak show through his knowledge of Mexican freaks. Apparently, the narrative voice seems to assume, Tablada’s Mexican readership would similarly know about corporeal difference as part of a cultural birthright. 13 Montezuma’s freaks, like the Coney Island performers, work in Tablada’s text to shore up an opposition between “us” and “them,” that is, Latin America and the United States. Tablada grounds himself in a generalized discursive history of identity and alterity, and not in the historical contextualization of the specific bodies to which he refers.
Carnal Inscriptions: Spanish American Narratives of Corporeal Difference and Disability by Susan Antebi (auth.)