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Theat old man covered with mushrooms moved to the corner where the black men were wailing and the tubs of rotting water went by while the spoon of the king crackled. The roses fled on the edges of the last curves of the wind, and on the heaps of saffron the small boys mauled the tiny squirrels flushed with a stained exaltation.

The bridges must be crossed and the blackness reached so the perfume of our lungs may beat against our temples with the vestures of burning pine-cone. We must kill the blond huckster of whisky, and all of the friends of apple and sand, and we must smash with tight closed fists the small kidney-beans that tremble in the bubbles of air, so the king of Harlem may sing with his multitude, so the crocodiles may sleep in the long lines beneath the moon's amianthus, so that no one may doubt the undying beauty of the feather-dusters, the graters, the kitchen brass and the casseroles.

José Luis Rodríguez (singer)

Oh, Harlem! No sorrow to equal your crimsons enslaved, or the fierce blood of your dark eclipse, or the dea-mute violence preciousin your vague borders, or your mighty chained king, robed in janitor's cloth! They are the ones. They are the ones who drink silver whisky at the foot of volcanoes and gulp small pieces of heart on the frozen heights of the bear.

On that night the king of Harlem with a hard, hard spoon scooped out the eyes of the crocodiles and banged on the monkey butts. The blacks, confused, cried out under parasols and suns of gold, the mulattoes pulled on condoms, anxious to fall upon a white body, and the wind spotted the mirrors and opened up the veins of the dancers. Blood has no exit in your night with its belly up to the sky.

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There is no blush. Raging blood hidden by black skin, lives in the thorn of the dagger and in the breast of the countryside, beneath the pincers and the brooms of Cancer's celestial moon. Translated by Prospero Saiz. Fire of all times slept in the flints and the beetles drunk with anis forgot the moss of the villages.

That old man covered with mushrooms went to the place where the Negroes were weeping while the spoon of the King crackled and the tanks of putrid water arrived. Roses escaped along the edge of the final curves of the air, and in the heaps of saffron the boys were mauling small squirrels with a flush of stained frenzy. It is necessary to cross the bridges and to reach the black murmur, so that the perfume of lungs strikes our temples with its suit of warm pineapple.


Necessary to murder the blonde seller of brandy, and all the friends of the apple and sand, necessary to bang with closed fists the small Jewesses that tremble full of bubbles, so that the King of Harlem sings with his multitude, so that the crocodiles sleep in long rows under the asbestos of the moon so that nobody doubts the infinite beauty of funnels, graters, feather-dusters, and saucepans in kitchens.

Ah Harlem! There is no anxiety comparable to your oppressed scarlets, to your blood shaken within your dark eclipse, to your garnet violence deaf and dumb in the penumbra, to your great King, a prisoner with a commissionaire's uniform. The night had a fissure and still ivory salamanders. The American girls arried babies and coins in their bellies and the boys fainted stretched on the cross of lassitude. They are. They are those who take silver whisky near the volcanoes and devour bits of heart through the frozen mountains of the bear. That night the King of Harlem with a very hard spoon scooped out the eyes of crocodiles and spanked the monkeys on their bottoms.

The Negroes cried abased among umbrellas and golden suns, the mulattoes were stretching gum, anxious to reach the white torso, and the wind blurred mirrors and burst open the veins of the dancers. Negroes, Negroes, Negroes, Negroes. As I write this in , Sor Juana graces the celadon-green peso bill.


As you will see, there are a few posts that have been migrated, and many more to go— and more as yet unlisted. It will happen. Click here to send me an email. Peyote and the Perfect You. Poetic Alliteration. Posts for and those of previous years that have been migrated can be found in the menu here under Archives. In order to achieve an authentic Latin American philosophy, Salazar Bondy maintained, the sub-continent had to achieve its independence and establish its autonomy and self-determination.

The philosophy of liberation , so explicitly christened, it could be argued, has gone through at least the following three stages: constitution and maturation, persecution and exile, challenges and debates Dussel ; Beorlegui ; Cerutti Guldberg []. Constitution and Maturation — The philosophy of liberation was explicitly labeled as such at the Second Argentine National Congress of Philosophy, which was held in Cordoba in But this group took a more formal shape at the jornadas week long working seminars of philosophy that were organized at the Jesuit University, Universidad of San Salvador where Pope Francis was educated , in San Miguel, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This was an important meeting because it signaled the launching of the philosophy liberation as a Latin American philosophical agenda that supersedes its initial Argentine formulations. Persecution and Exile — With the Peronist dictatorship in Argentina, from to , there began the persecution of the philosophers of liberation. In this way, then, the agenda of liberation philosophy was brought to other parts of Latin America. The role of populism and nationalism in defining the task of philosophy became a litmus test. Challenges and Debates to today.

With the transition to democracy and the collapse or defeat of the military dictatorships in Latin America there began a new stage in the normalization and maturation of liberation philosophy. In —89, Jorge J. In , Ofelia Schutte published her Cultural Identity and Social Liberation in Latin American Thought in which a critical confrontation with some key theses of liberation philosophy is developed. These substantive texts signaled the maturity and general coherence of the philosophy of liberation, at the very least as it was perceived by its critics.

These works called for re-articulations and reformulations that made explicit the inner tensions and divisions within the group of thinkers that had first given voice to this new current and method of doing philosophy in Latin America. These differences and divergences have become increasingly pronounced. To be sure, there remains a substantive core that holds together the constellation of the philosophy of liberation now in the middle of its fourth decade of existence.

Widely shared characteristics of the various philosophies of liberation include the following:. These general and shared characteristics, problems and themes could be summarized in three observations about the coherence and unity of the philosophy of liberation.. First, there is a general agreement that Latin American philosophy must be a philosophy of liberation that aims at overcoming dependence, domination and subordination.

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Second, there is ample disagreement as to the who, what, or how, is this project of liberation to be undertaken. In short, the philosophy of liberation is defined by what many would argue is integral to all philosophy as such, namely questioning the general individual existential situation of alienation, the corresponding project of liberation, and what the utopia of achieved liberation could and would look like.

Philosophers of liberation argue, nevertheless, that this questioning takes on a universal character only and precisely because it is taken up from within a specific and unique existential, historical, and geo-political situation. Like all philosophical movements and traditions, the philosophy of liberation emerged out of both world historical and regional socio-historical contexts. In terms of the world historical background, World War II, and in particular the disclosures about the genocide of the Jews, the Cold War, and the South East Asian wars, created a world historical stage in which Europe and its intellectual and moral traditions stood discredited.

Whereas before, all things European were regarded as the standard against which everything would have to be measured, Europe had become suspect. Latin Americans had to look elsewhere for inspiration and intellectual guidance. The regional socio-historical was framed on the one side by the Cuban revolution and the numerous military dictatorships that took place as a consequence of the Cold War and the failures of development in Latin America.

The Cuban revolution, however, had a profound impact in the socio-political-cultural imagination throughout Latin America. In the iconic image of Che Guevara — , the revolution promise a transformation of the Latin American human being— el nuevo hombre —as it also raised the possibility of political sovereignty for Latin American nations. The decade of the sixties in Latin American was a time of political turmoil, but above all of cultural renewal and utopian yearning. The philosophy of liberation, however, was above all an intellectual and philosophical response and unquestionably synthesis of a series of intellectual and cultural movements that had been gestating for a decade throughout Latin America.

The philosophy of liberation was both necessary and inevitable. This is what the Alliance for Progress — aimed to do this by granting loans that would help economically underdeveloped nations to ascend the ladder of economic development.

2. Background

Yet, Latin American nations continue to lag behind both socially and economically. The core of this theory was that the underdevelopment of the Latin American nation was not due to endogenous factors, but rather was a direct consequence of economic dependence on Europe and the United States. The model of development that reigned during the fifties and sixties, according to these theorists, had a double perverse effect: greater capital accumulation in the metropolises and lending nations, and greater indebtedness and impoverishment in the so-called underdeveloped nations.

The economic underdevelopment of Latin America was now to be understood in terms of an economic theory that showed that underdevelopment is not a prior stage in the natural economic development of nations, but rather an integral dimension of the international economic order created by colonialism, imperialism, and neo-imperialism.

The emergence of Liberation Theology has been amply documented and studied in the specialized literature.

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Yet, liberation theology is as much a phenomenon of global Catholicism as it is a unique Latin American development. The theology of liberation may be understood as theological reflection on what constituted a people, a community of faith. In , after nearly two decades of literacy work in the Brazilian favelas and poor sectors of Brazil, Paulo Freire published his paradigm shifting text Pedagogia del oprimido Pedagogy of the Oppressed , which was followed in by his Education for the Praxis of Liberation.

It is often forgotten that the sixties were the time of the Latin American literary Boom.

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Just as these writers demonstrated how a distinct Latin American literary tradition could be forged, the muralists demonstrated how standards of artistic beauty that celebrated proudly the aesthetic sensibility and creativity of the continent. The fifties and sixties, as was already noted, were decades of tremendous social-economic-political turmoil throughout Latin America. Latin American industrialization went in tandem with massive urbanization and de-ruralization. Extensive migrations from the countryside to the cities gave rise to the shantytowns that are so distinctly visible in most Latin American metropolises.

Sociologist began to address the unique challenges of de-ruralization and urbanization. Fals Borda studied in particular the ways in which the poor created their own institutions and norms of social interaction. Combined with the theory of dependence, the sociology of liberation, created an interdisciplinary matrix that sought to address the conditions of systemic inequity, while raising the norm that people could be the agents of their own liberation.

It is clear that both dependence and liberation were in the lips of economists, sociologists, theologians, and writers. The philosophy of liberation gave expression in concepts what was clearly a lived historical reality. Like existentialism, hermeneutics, phenomenology, and poststructuralism, the philosophy of liberation was never a homogeneous or monolithic movement.

From its inception the philosophy of liberation was marked by internal tensions, which over time have become more intense, but that have also led to philosophical developments that have taken the original theses to new levels of refinement and theoretical elaboration. Cerutti Guldberg, who has written the most substantive and comprehensive study of liberation philosophy, has offered a typology of the internal currents that names four different currents Cerutti Guldberg , —9, These four currents will now be discussed sequentially.

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According to these thinkers, a Latin American philosophy of liberation has to begin from the ontological situation of the American people, which has a distinct relationship to being. Authentic Latin American philosophy begins from the estar of the American people in its own being. At the same time, everything that is either European or North American has to be rejected as manifestations of a philosophy of oppression and philosophical hegemony.

This current rejects as much European liberalism, as a form of abstract individualism, and Marxism, as a form of economic and inorganic collectivism. It calls for a form of populism that is neither nationalistic nor class oriented. Like the ontologicist, the analectical also presents itself as a critique of both Eurocentrism and North American neo-colonialism.

More generally, however, the analectical current articulates itself as a metaphysical critique of the thinking of the totality, of all that is thought in terms of being, the whole that is postulated as the true.