Language and ideology in the poetry of José Emilio Pacheco Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Birdsong, Jeffrey Lyman
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • The poetry of José Emilio Pacheco expresses an ongoing inquiry into the relationship between language and the existence of violence in the universe. While Pacheco's investigation fails to provide definitive solutions to the problems of this world, such as environmental catastrophe, war, famine, etc., Pacheco's poetry advances an ideological position that foregrounds the limits of human subjectivity and epistemology. For him, moral concepts such as good and evil have no real, predetermined meaning which can be discovered and shared. Instead, these concepts often represent the subjective desires of a few individuals to control and dominate their fellow human beings as well as the outside environment. Language becomes the opportunistic tool through these subjective concepts are formed and imparted to other humans. Therefore, these moral perceptions establish the ethical and political attitudes that ultimately influence and affect world events. Consequently, all people, as language-bearing beings, are inescapably complicit in the power relations that they wish to contest. Recognizing this, Pacheco's poems suggest an ideological program that recognizes the interdependency of all the agents of the universe (people, animals, plants, and inorganic objects). Metapoetic aspects, Los elementos de la noche, represent the act of linguistic communication as the clash of signifiers occurring in the mind’s unconscious. Consequently, the separation between the conscious and unconscious realms creates a divided sense of awareness in the human individual. As a result, Pacheco expresses an ideology whereby language becomes intricately tied to the divided existence of human beings. Such an ideology is consistent with a postmodern sensibility, but it also suggests similarities with the works of French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, which other studies of Pacheco have overlooked. Therefore, this dissertation addresses the basic principles of Pacheco’s ideology in Los elementos de la noche (1963), El reposo del fuego (1966), No me preguntes cómo pasas el tiempo (1969), Desde entonces (1980), and El silencio de la luna (1992) using the ideas of Jacques Lacan and postmodern thought.
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  • González Espitia, Juan Carlos
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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