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It provides a harrowing vision that prophesies the forms of torture other horrors that the people of Nicaragua would be subjected to. In addition, it is an important example of an author responding both to public criticism and political tragedy through a work of art in an attempt to express political solidarity with the oppressed while furthering his revolutionary literary aesthetic.
The story mimics historical truth because all of the characters in the story are in fact drawn from his real-life experience of attending a similar press conference in Nicaragua. He helps the locals to sell their paintings. Several instances of foreshadowing unhinge the travel-diary-like narration. The surrealistic sense of imaginative horror in these initial passages casually disappears beneath the mention of friendly laughter.
The momentary dream of horror is suppressed by the reality of comfort and peace among friends, a juxtaposition that again foreshadows one of the central themes of the story. Julio sifts through them, stunned by their depiction of a world full of plants, work, religion, and natural beauty. In following with custom, Julio attends Mass and discusses how the service portrays the instability of the lives of the people in the town:.
His political aim is to connect the experience of Latin Americans as a singular, inclusive experience. Before Julio leaves the island community, he decides to take photographs of the paintings he admires in the community room.
Julio thinks that the photos will later become a fixture of his comfortable Parisian home. Instead, what he sees betrays his expectations. A boy he photographed appears with a bullet in his head, shot by an officer and faced with other men with machine guns. Then he sees a photo taken of the Mass that confirms that the photos belong to him. He scrolls through the complete set of photographs, seeing a series of images of the torture of a naked woman, a mass grave in a mine, and a car exploding.
When his companion, Claudine, enters the story, he is speechless and leaves so that she can look at the photos alone. Julio goes to the bathroom and experiences a physical response to the state of shock that the photographs put him in. He vomits. Poet Ernesto Cardenal conducting mass in Solentiname.
The fast juxtaposition of responses places the hellish visions like a weight upon Julio, but not on Claudine. When the narrator returns to his mention of a dream in which Napoleon would appear as if to justify his own unreliable, hallucinatory mind. For Napoleon to appear would no longer remain an implausible farce as it was when the motif appears in the beginning of the story.
The recurring motif reminds the reader what has changed, which is to say the story produces two simultaneous frames of reality that create dissonance in their mutual independence. This mutual independence forms a strangely counter-intuitive truth because though it seems plausible that a bourgeois could comprehend violence, the bourgeois subjectivity relies on its wholly reified consciousness towards violence. Photography slices reality from its context and puts separates it within a newly established frame.
Later, the Nicaraguan revolutionary movement by the Sandinistas would progress, and a similar incident of military slaughter would happen at Solentiname, which makes the story prophetic. Russek, 4. Presumably, its visible testimony to militaristic violence struck a nerve. His inclusion of the irrational appearance of violence through photography and the utter shock it produces exposes bourgeois denial and reintroduces a phenomenon that has been de-familiarized.
He recalls a time when photographs were shocking. He extends horror to the spaces where it belongs. For Moreiras:. This has serious consequences regarding the possible effects of literature on political thinking and the social articulation of cultural work These two stories symbolize the preliminary break down of bourgeois consciousness that is required for revolutionary praxis.
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Remembering Solentiname, a "Utopia Under Construction"
In , a spiritual, political, and artistic movement emerged on an archipelago in the south of Nicaragua: Solentiname. Ernesto Cardenal, a leading poet and priest, established this community in its remote location on Lake Nicaragua. For over 50 years, Cardenal has been committed to social change, starting with Solentiname, which played a significant role in the Sandinista revolution over the U. Correspondence between Ernesto Cardenal and fellow priest Thomas Merton document the founding ideas for Solentiname as a social and artistic utopia built around principles of art, liberation theology, and social justice. Painting became a way of political expression, economic support, and lifestyle for the inhabitants of the archipelago.
Apocalipsis de Solentiname
On September 12, , Thomas Merton, a scholar, poet, and Trappist monk at the Cistercian Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, wrote a letter to a Nicaraguan seminarian who had previously spent two years at the abbey. Ernesto Cardenal, the recipient of the letter, would later become a prominent figure in the very revolution Merton had warned him about. In , Cardenal, a Catholic poet-priest, established a parish on the archipelago of Solentiname in Nicaragua. The priest introduced the residents of Solentiname—whose presence on the islands predated his own—to liberation theology, a school of thought that views the Christian Gospel as a vehicle for social justice. But perhaps the most lasting legacy of Solentiname is neither its theology nor its politics, but its art.