<italic>Caja negra</italic> y <italic>Por favor, rebobinar</italic> : cine de culto, <italic>blockbusters</italic>, rock, pop, e intervenciones sobre el campo cultural


Rosa, Richard


Reinaga, Lucia








Romance Studies


In my dissertation I propose that Álvaro Bisama's Caja negra is a book that both continues and defies the interventions in the field of culture articulated in Alberto Fuguet's Por favor, rebobinar and other texts associated with the McOndo approach to culture in Latin America; an approach that includes urban metropolitan spaces as well as mass-produced cultural products in the range of possible representations of daily life experiences in Latin America. I argue that, in order to do so, Bisama performs an oppositional, counterfactual and cultist appropriation of the history of the Chilean written, audiovisual and musical media productions of the 20th century, considering Chilean both the media productions that were made in Chile and the media productions that were consumed in the Chilean context even if they were made somewhere else. In Caja negra, the appropriation of such a wide catalogue of productions is achieved by inoculating the text with a significant amount of apocryphal films, books, authors, filmmakers, musicians, records and other data related to these productions and their producers. I show that the saturation of apocryphal data in Caja negra aims to create an alternate history of Chile through the construction of an alternate cultural field. However, the historical fact of Augusto Pinochet's coup d'état in 1973 remains unchanged. I argue that Bisama's display of apocrypha in Caja negra is a way of responding to the lack of reliability of the accounts of history, especially, the history of media productions in Chile, as a consequence of the actions taken by the military. Therefore, I propose that Bisama's approach to the genre of alternate history is political and consists of proposing the conjectural as a strategy to overcome the gaps and untrustworthiness of the accounts of history in a way that provides an alternative to the search for truth. Finally, I propose that Caja negra engages with popular and alternative cultures in a double edged way: On the one hand, it builds on the changes in the field of culture that were either observed, proposed or performed by the productions associated to McOndo, in a time that coincided with the dawn of both the democratic transition and the popularization of new technologies that promised to democratize the access to culture. On the other hand, it shows that active consumption and fanatic appropriation are deliberate and personal acts that, as such, depend more on those who perform them than on the products that are being appropriated. Popular culture is treated as a plurality of cultures, and the text is not a place to display it or fictionalize it, as it happens in Por favor, rebobinar. In Caja negra the codes of these pop cultures are shown yet remain veiled. Their apocryphal nature and the complex processes of fictionalization serve to protect them from overexposure and loss of their subcultural capital. In my dissertation, I observe that Por favor, rebobinar articulates a principle that rules the relationships between characters and between the characters and the reader, and I call it aesthetic empathy. I recognize this principle as fundamental in Fuguet's writing in the nineties. Also; I read in Por favor, rebobinar an apology of active and public critical consumption of cultural products. In my comparative reading of Por favor, rebobinar and Caja negra, I find that in the latter there is a shift in the perception of culture and its representation that functions as a response to the principle of aesthetic empathy and to the apology of critical consumption articulated in Por favor, rebobinar. I argue that this contestation to Por favor, rebobinar and McOndo is achieved by a process of adoption and experimentation with the limits of the more provocative traits of Por favor, rebobinar's content and composition, such as the presentation of a cultural field, the saturation of data related to popular cultures, the fragmentary structure, the inclusion of metatextual interventions, and the emphasis in the specific nature of each fragment of writing through its structure and mediations. In sum, I present a reading of Caja negra as a text engaged in the intervention on the field of culture in Chile, articulated in continuity and contrast to its predecessors in the nineties.




Latin American literature


Chilean literature


Cult fiction


Cult film


Cultural capital


Popular culture




Caja negra y Por favor, rebobinar : cine de culto, blockbusters, rock, pop, e intervenciones sobre el campo cultural




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