<%BANNER%>

Alejo Carpentier's "The kingdom of this world" and the spectral voice of communal consciousness

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PAGE 1

ALEJO CARPENTIERS THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND THE SPECTRAL VOICE OF COMMUNAL CONSCIOUSNESS By LINDA DARNELL STANLEY A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Linda Darnell Stanley

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This document is dedicated to my husband, Mi chael, without whom I could not continue to realize my dreams.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to convey my sincerest appreciation to all the dedicated professionals at the University of Florida, who have contributed immeasurably to my academic efforts. I particularly want to acknowledge the support and encouragement of my committee members, Dr. Leah Rosenberg and Dr. Apollo Amoko, without whom I could not have brought this project to fruition. They have my boundless gratitude and respect.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... vi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 SPECTRAL VOICE AND MAGICAL REALISM.....................................................5 3 CARPENTIERS REGIONAL VISION....................................................................23 4 CONCLUSION...........................................................................................................52 WORKS CITED................................................................................................................55 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................60

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vi Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts ALEJO CARPENTIERS THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND THE SPECTRAL VOICE OF COMMUNAL CONSCIOUSNESS By Linda Darnell Stanley August 2006 Chair: Leah Rosenberg Major Department: English Alejo Carpentiers foundational Latin American text, The Kingdom of This World, is of critical importance in part because of its historical account of the Haitian Revolution. But its enduring value derives more from its function as a site of literary intervention in Western Enlightenment discours es, an intervention that firmly places the Haitian people at the texts ontological center. In the text, Carpentier uses the form of Latin American magical realism to tell the story of the Haitian Revolution through the lens of a distinctly Latin American regi onal sensibility, a concept he was personally invested in. Focused around figures previously obscured in Western historical accounts, The Kingdom of This World rejects the Enlightenment viewpoint inherent in those accounts and proffers alternative defi nitions of truth and reality. In that process, it appropriates and di srupts the discursive fields arising from Western scopic drive, an epistemic insist ence on the primacy of vision/observation for both defining truth and possessing the seen. Western scopic drive colonizes through the

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vii gaze Furthermore, because it asserts its field of vision and thus its authority to define as absolute, it maps the totalizing narrativ es and universalizing impulses of Western Rationalism onto colonized spaces and functi ons to establish and sustain European hegemony. Consequently, by cont esting Western scopic drive, The Kingdom of This World models specific strategies of resistance to European hegemony. As a mechanism for analyzing those strategi es of resistance, this paper introduces a new concept, spectral voice. In The Kingdom of This World, spectral voice operates within the framework of the genre of magical realism and operates to deconstruct the claim to totality that empowers scopic drive. It manifests in several modalities, ranging from the symbolic voice of Haitian drums functioning as a calling forth of communal will, to the literal voice of a specter whos e presence provides a powerful disclaimer of Western Rationalisms linear and temporal frameworks. In these modalities, spectral voice rejects the defining authority of We stern scopic drive and therefore provides a discursive space where the risks of using the Masters tools for the project of selfdetermination are diffused. In that space, the previously silenced stories of the marginalized emerge from the suffocating silence imposed by Western insistence on truth and reality as unequivocal absolute s. The site of production for truth, reality, and spiritual value is effectively shifted, revealing the voids in those totalities and demonstrating finally the strength a nd validity of the s ubalterns voice.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION At its surface, Alejo Carpentiers The Kingdom of This World (1957) is a chronicle of the Haitian Revolution. In its content, Carpentier scrupulously adheres to accepted chronologies of historical events surrounding that moment (Young 12). Consequently, the novel merits consideration as the only su stained account of the Haitian Revolution in Spanish-Caribbean literature (Paravisini-Gebert 115). But on a more fundamental level, the novels value arises not from its historic al accuracy but from its positioning of Haiti and its people at its ontological center. While in form the novel is historical narrative, in spirit it is a recuperation of elements such narratives elide. Th e novel rejects the value markers of European History and redefi nes value through a Latin American lens, replacing the vision of Europe w ith the voices of the New World. This positioning reflects two central premises of Carpenti ers perspective as both a writer and as a Latin American1 subject. First, Carpentier demonstrates that, while Latin America is a space formed from and reflecting many divergent influences, it is not a space of mere imitation or assimilation. Alt hough it conscripts and transforms external forms and discourses and creates from them uniquely Latin American articulations, it resists definition by those forms and discour ses. Specifically, it contests the imposed identities levied upon it by European colonial domination. That imposition overwhelmingly coincides with the salaciously intrusive Western scopic drive (Stanley 1 Latin America herein is understood to embrace the Caribbean.

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2 293, Marazzi 89), a gaze that seeks to instill in its subject a state of conscious and permanent visibility (Foucault 201). As Frdr ic Regard tells us, Knowing begins with seeing, (79) and Western scopic drive seek s to know in orde r to colonize. So Carpentier counters that gaze that relent less desire to know and consume through a mechanism that I have termed herein spectral voice. Spectral voice emanates from a source th at resists identification by Rationalist means and thereby evades or confuses Western scopic drive it emanates from the hidden. It manifests at times as complexly nuanced possessions, reincarnations, or symbolic representations but more often it is quite literally the voice of a specter. But whatever modality it takes, it is a critical concept because its spectral nature its origination from beyond the pene tration of Western scopic drive allows Carpentier to represent the liminality of those spaces from which his story emerges, the interstices of History in which the agency of the Other is hidden. Yet its spectral na ture also repudiates the desire inherent in West ern scopic drive, the desire to know, possess, and define. Spectral voice makes possible tr ansgression and resistance wit hout submission because to speak need not mean to be seen, and when spectral voice coincides with vision, it is the vision evoked by the voice, not by Western sc opic drive that consumes. Spectral voice evokes the power of hidden knowledge. This investment of power and control in spectral voice diffuses much of the danger of appropriation, the danger that using the disc ourse of the master wi ll invite the masters gaze and thereby validate the masters authority. Thus, spectral voice powerfully articulates the silenced narrativ es of alterity and resistance It subordinates the story of the slave owner de Mzy to the story of his slave, Ti Nol; it shows us Ti Nols exile

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3 from and return to Haiti as more relevant than the impoverishment and death of de Mzy or the collapse of the Napoleonic Empire. It te lls us that the failure of King Christophe of Haiti is not because he fails in the ways of Western rule, but because he embraces them and fails in the eyes of Haiti. It calls King Christophe to account for his failure not through the devises of Western authority, bu t through the thundering liturgy of a dead priest resurrected by communal will. Thus, Carpentier uses spectral voice to forefront the power, vitality, and durability of Haitian co mmunity and destabilize the narrative of Western hegemony. The second premise apparent in this novel is that Carpentier views Latin America from a regional rather than a strictly nationa l perspective. He strives to show not only the appropriative powers at play in creating a uniquely Latin Am erican sensibility, but to express that sensibility as a communal consciousness (meaning those shared elements of identity that situate the individual within th e history, traditions, a nd beliefs of a people) that transcends traditi onal boundaries of space and time. Community becomes an interconnectedness forged from shared values and traumas that cannot be delimited by arbitrary boundaries of nation. However, in this endeavor, Carpentier undermines the transgressive powers of spectral voice. In his desire to de velop a Latin American unity capable of refuting European hegemony, he appropriates the Western discourses of anthropology, discourses in which the inhe rent desires of Western scopic drive are tenaciously embedded. This manifests most pr ominently in Carpentiers portrayal of Vodoun, a portrayal that reflects the Wests perennial att achment to an occult Haiti (Dayan 32). Consequently, while spectral voi ce powerfully refutes the authority of Western scopic drive and allows for c onstructive appropriati on, the anthropological

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4 traces of the novel reinscri be that authority and once again render appropriation dangerous. The result is a subtle but pervasiv e tone of romantic primitivism that insists on differentiating Latin American identity from its correlative Western image, but fails to confer on that identity any internal specificity. Characters that loom large in The Kingdom of This World function not only to resist the yoke of European hegemony, but also to monolithically assert Latin American subjectiv ity. The Latin American space of Carpentiers vision is flattened out and undifferentiated, and the implications of spectral voice become tenuous. But even though Carpentier oversteps his aims in his appropriative strategy, he develops in spectral voice an explosively powerful tool that continues to hold relevance today, not just in Latin Amer ica but anywhere resistance to Western hegemony is of critical importance. Erna Brodbers Louisiana and Myal Ana Castillos So Far From God, and Ishmael Reeds Mumbo Jumbo all use spectral voice in at least one modality. Thus, a new examination of The Kingdom of This World and its use of sp ectral voice are overdue. A close analysis of spectral voice, which has to date gone without critical comment, can deepen understandings of the ways in which literature today seeks to confront and refute Western scopic drive. Sin ce that drive underpins much of the Wests aggression and possessiveness, spectral voice is poised at a threshold of change, a threshold on which our world hovers drama tically as previously colonized peoples struggle to redefine it, to rec uperate their stories of old and tell their st ories anew, to raise their voices in a clarion call for acknow ledgement in the emerging world order.

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5 CHAPTER 2 SPECTRAL VOICE AND MAGICAL REALISM The first appropriative move evident in The Kingdom of This World is Carpentiers use of a literary form known as magical r ealism, a form adapted from Franz Rohs European art aesthetic (Zamora and Faris, Editors Note, Magical 15). This appropriation is not the work solely of Carp entier, but also of a number of his contemporaries such as Gabriel Garcia Mrquez. However, the Latin American magical realism that arose from this appropriation is implemented somewhat differently in The Kingdom of This World than in most other Latin American magical re alist texts. While Carpentier utilizes Latin American magical realism, he juxtaposes it with a literary rendering of Rohs magical realism. Carpentier refers to his approach as lo maravilloso real, or the marvelous real (Carpentier, Baroque 102). This juxtapos ition, which will be the focus of more indepth analysis shortly, plays a large role in how effectively magi cal realism functions with spectral voice in The Kingdom of This World Magical realism lends itself to the use of spectral voice because magical realism contains what Wendy B. Faris identifies as an irreducible element of magic (Faris 7).This irreducible element represents th e incursion of the phenomenal world into the material world, producing a shadow region betwee n faith and fact that blurs or dismantles perceptual boundaries and produ ces unsettling doubts about the very nature of reality. An excellent example of this in The Kingdom of This World is a pair of scenes that focus on King Henri Christophe and a Capuchin monk named Breille. The first scene depicts Breilles death, and the second depicts his resurrection and the beginning of the end for

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6 Christophe. The two scenes function together in multiple ways. They delineate a concept of communal consciousness that privileges Ha itian ways of knowi ng, and they shift the lens of history to focus on Christophes fa ilure in those ways of knowing. They also clearly juxtapose the two form s of magical realism, Rohs aesthetic and Latin American magical realism. That juxtaposition creates an indeterminacy that allows spectral voice to operate through a critical permeab ility of boundaries in the text. The first scene details the rather grueso me manner in which Christophe executes Breille, immur[ing him] in the Archbishops Pa lace, buried alive in it s oratory . for the crime of having wanted to go to Fr ance knowing all the se crets of the King (Carpentier, Kingdom 131). The monks death and the communitys reaction to it mark Breille as a figure representative of a nd constituted from communal consciousness, despite his European origins. This co nnection becomes evident in the way voice functions in the description of Breilles death. It both marks Breilles demise and prophesies his resurrection through a dual inscrip tion of silence as at once the material absence of corporeal voice and the metaphysical presence of voice. The monks death is a passage from the world in which voice coinci des with Western scopic drive to the world in which voice arises from hidden knowledge : After a week of incarceration, the Capuchins voice had become almost inaudi ble, fading away to a death-rattle rather sensed than heard And then silence came at the corner of the Archbishops Palace (Carpentier, Kingdom 132, italics mine). The monks death-rattle is the place of conjunction for the two inscripti ons. It is at once a voice and not a voice, inaudible in the material world but sensed heard in the phenomenal world of the hidden. Consequently, the silence that follows Brei lles death signals colonial presence, as

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7 analysis will show Christophe to be, but also signals the falling away of the fetters of Western scopic drive. The clearest indicator of th is scenes importance is the means by which that silence is broken. It is the over-prol onged silence of a city that had ceased to believe in silence and which only a newborn infant dared to break with its whimper of ignorance (Carpentier, Kingdom 132, italics mine). Here, the commun itys rejection of the silence marked by Breilles death rattle is a rejec tion of death and a ha rbinger of Breilles resurrection, That rejection is embodied in the infants cry, a vibrant marker of communal continuity. By counterpoising the renewal of life with the eminence of death, it reroute[s] life toward its customary sonority of street-cries, greetings, gossip, and songs sung while hanging clothes out in the sun (132) and calls into play the history, traditions, and beliefs of the community. Th is clearly associates Breilles impending resurrection with communal consciousness. What Christophe has done the community undoes in its refusal to believe in the bounda ries that shape Christophes world. As a result, the infants voice becomes spectral because it arises from the hidden, from the will and knowledge of the people that Western scopic drive is incapable of penetrating. Breille becomes a signifier of that will, and of the silenced narratives of the enslaved and oppressed masked over by the totalizing claims of Western hegemony. Breilles signification of communal cons ciousness manifests as spectral voice in the second scene of this pair. That scene si gnals the fall of Christophe, a freed former slave who has taken control of Haiti following the revolution. He s ubsequently tries to replicate a European system of aristocracy in the revolutions aftermath, assuming the role of colonial presence. Significantly, Carpentier elides from The Kingdom of This

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8 World the role of two revolutionary leaders, Dessalines and Toussaint LOuverture, who are central to Western accounts of the Haiti an Revolution. He also ignores Christophes rise to power through his role in the a ssassination of Dessalines, who had declared himself emperor after the revolution. These el isions are critical because they clearly decenter Western narratives of the revolution and put at center instead Christophes failure in the eyes of the Haitian people. The second scene highlights this failure by focusing on Christophes relationshi p with Corneille Breille. Christophe attends the Mass of the Assump tion shortly after Br eilles death. During the Mass, the Capuchin, whose death and d ecay were known to al l, (Carpentier, Kingdom 137), appears before the congregation and Christophe is subsequently paralyzed. His affliction foreshadows his eminent overthrow, death by suicide, and internment in the very concrete of his own C itadel. But even before Breilles appearance, the account of the Mass assumes an air of the unusual with the description of the morning as a mysterious harmony (136). Yet th is harmony resonates from the mundane elements of the fragrance of the orange tr ees in the near-by pati o, and certain words of the liturgy of the day which referred to perfumes whose names were inscribed on the porcelain jars of the apothecarys shop of Sans Souci (136). Repeatedly, concrete details like orange trees oscillate with the unusual, such as Christophes inexplicable mood, which makes him unable to follow the serv ice with due attention, for his breast was oppressed by an anxiety he could not acc ount for (136). Christophes discomfort, because of its unidentifiable orig in, is part of the irreducible element leading us closer to the magical appearance of the Capuchin. Yet we are offered even more details of the ordinary to ground us in the material world be fore this remarkable event. The delicately

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9 veined gray marble and the delightful impre ssion of coolness in th e cathedral contrast viscerally with the highly sens ory image of the tightly bu ttoned swallowtailed coat and the weight of decorations in which Christ ophe perspires uncomfortably. The tickle of the sweat and the cloyin g itchiness of Sunday best clothing heighten the appeal of the calm and cool atmosphere in the cathedral. That sensory contrast grounds the reader in the moment with Christophe, anchored to th e material world by the physical sensations even as the magical world unfolds. Like the de tails offered in the scene of the Capuchins demise the newly plastered wall, the red towers, and the number of lightening strikes associated with his place of entombment ( 131) the attention to the ordinary in the description of the Mass inspires those unsettling doubts as th e reader tries to reconcile the presence of a dead and d ecaying monk with the very concre te world of fruit trees and marble walls. Breilles presence creates a disturbing juxta position of two distin ct contexts; one is the rational, viscerally experienced, ma terial world (a world favored by Rohs aesthetic) and the other is the phenomenal, irrational world of the spirit from which Christophes nemesis appears (a world favored by Latin American magical realism). The presence of both contexts serves to unsettle concepts of real and imagined, leaving open to question how concrete the reader should understand Corneille Breilles phantom to be. Is it a part of the real worl d of cathedrals and perfume, or is it a manifestation of Christophes agonized psyche? Do es the answer to this quest ion even matter? After all, the sense of smell and the aes thetic appreciation of music, both of which are evoked in this passage, are not objectively measurable qualities. So those very elements that ground the passage in the material also point to the perceptual as the stronger context.

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10 The tension between modes of reality here is heightened by the contrast between the Latin intoned by Juan de Dios Gonzles (Carpentier, Kingdom 136) in the Mass, which Queen Marie-Louise finds incomprehe nsible, and the impact of the phantom Breilles voice: When, thundering like the roll of a kettledrum, there arose the words Coget omnes ante thronus Juan de Dios Gonzles fell moan ing at the feet of the Queen (136). Breilles voice similarly impacts Christophe: his eyes starting from his head, [he] bore it until the Rex tremende majestatis At that moment a t hunderbolt that deafened only his ears struck the church tower, sh ivering all the bells at once (Carpentier, Kingdom 138). Breilles presence and the contra st between the two priests voices unsettle rationalist ideals of truth and demonstrate the permeability of boundaries. Certainly, a psychological mechanism of guilt might explain Christophes paralysis, and the lightening strike suggeste d by the thunderbolt may be th e cause of other material manifestations in the passage. However, the de tails that allow such a rational analysis can also be linked dramatically with spectral vo ice. For instance, Breilles words are clarion sharp, precipitating (and perhaps constituting) the thunderbolt. That thunderbolt, as Christophes punishment, links directly to the reason for Breilles immurement the Capuchins knowledge of the truth about Christophe a nd his citadel. So the precipitating event to this scene is an atte mpt by Christophe to silence Breille and hide his knowledge, to silence the voice that now speaks out with spectral force to condemn him. Because of this connection, regardless of whether Breille is a concrete, real presence in the citadel, his perceived presen ce is more eventful and significant in the texts reality than Gonzles presence. T hus, Breille subverts th e rational the living priest Gonzles to the irrational the dr amatic impact of a knowing and truthful

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11 spectral voice. Its sp ectral nature its or igination from beyond the categorical boundary of death lends it a validity denied the words of the living priest. Just as the power of Breilles voice corre lates to his relationship to truth (his knowledge about Christophe), this same kind of correlation exists between the incomprehensibility of Gonzles liturgy, his rise to favor with Christophe, and his fate in the cathedral: Tired of the chick-peas and dried beef across the mountains, the sly friar found the Haitian court to his liking . It was rumored that certain words of his, spoken, as though offhand, before Henri Christophe one day . were the cause of Corneille Breilles terrible disgrace (Carpentier, Kingdom 132). Gonzales deceptiveness correlates with a transformation reflected once again in voice. The fine bass voice (131) he arrives at Christophes court with becomes baritone inflections of unfailing effect (138) that are neve rtheless impossible for Queen Marie-Louise to comprehend. The contrast of unfailing effect and incomprehensibility identifies Gonzales as a point where rational modes of understa nding unravel and the magic al intercedes. His effect (and therefore his power) is illusory in nature. It is hollow ritual, a form that attempts to bridge the gap between material and phenomenal but fails because it is incomprehensible to the people. This is in dire ct contrast to the idea of the hidden, in which underlying the obscuring veil of reality lies content and validity that is not only comprehensible but vital to the people. Gonzales ritual is hopelessly devoid of meaning, leaving him powerless against the force of truth in the spectral voice. This interpretation gains merit from Gonzales reaction to the appearance of his disenfranchised counterpart, Breille; Gonzales is struck prostrate at the queens feet, incapable of anything more articulate than a moan. Gonzles and all he stands fo r become ineffective and irrelevant to the

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12 reality of the text, and Queen Marie-Louise a dheres to the ritual he proffers despite its irrelevance is symptomatic of a larger bankruptcy within the Rationalist paradigm. Like Queen Marie-Louises blind allegiance, Gonzales infatuation with the European fineries of Christophes court makes him emblematic of Western value systems. Similarly, Christophes obsession with creating a Haitian clas s of nobility in the European model marks Christophe as such an emblem as well. Additionally, both men are eventually left prostrate in the presence of Breille, who is in c ontrast elevated above them: Now, with a great bound, the specter had seated himself on one of these beams, in the very line of Henri Christophes vision spreading wide arms and legs as thought the better to display his bloodsta ined brocades (Carpentier, Kingdom 138, italics mine). The preeminence of Western scopic dr ive, represented here by Ch ristophes vision, is struck aside by spectral voice and its visible mani festation. Breilles image, emanating from beyond the boundary of death and beyond the penetrating Western scopic drive, commands Christophes vision, denying the pr ostrate king access to the rational constructs upon which he has built his kingdom Christophes undoing is his faith in the forms of Europe and his failure to recognize their irrelevance to Haiti. Struck down as well in this scene are the concrete symbols of European domination (qua the domination of European religious systems). Breilles thunderbolt levels the precentors, the thuribles, the choristers st and, and the pulpit, and like Gonzales and Christophe, these symbols correlate to Europ ean domination and the colonial presence. The effect of Breilles voice on them thus represents an inversion of colonial power dynamics because the manifest forces of the colonized dominate or destroy the Rational

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13 forces of the colonizer via the spectral voice. It reasserts the vitality of the silenced and hidden, and challenges the author ity of Western scopic drive. Breilles death and his subs equent presence in the cathe dral, then, precipitate a crisis of reality in which an inherent ambi valence in Western scopic drive and Western discourse becomes apparent. This ambivale nce has its root in what might best be termed the anxiety of spectacle. This anxiety arises from the dual registers of reality that spectacle makes manifest. With Breille s appearance, the surety of Western scopic drive is called into question, but because the reader can never be quite certain how literally to read Breilles appearance, the text refuses to situate him unequivocally in the material world. Thus, the question itself is questionable. The resulting indeterminacy of reality gives rise to a tension similar to what Homi Bhabha terms mimicry, which he describes as the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of a difference that is almost the same, but not quite . the sign of a double articulation; a complex strategy of reform, regulation, and discipli ne, which appropriates the Other as it visualizes power (Bhabha 86). Like mimi cry, the anxiety of spectacle pivots on the desire of Western scopic drive to fix and define its subject on Western terms. That desire surfaces as discourses of fixity that a ttempt to claim a subject by naming it. For example, the Western discourse of supers tition and the occult comes into in an overwhelming number of discussions concer ning voodoo; the deliberate choice herein to refer to the religion as Vodoun is an atte mpt to mediate that discourse. However, the term spectral voice borrows from that same discourse. It mimics the fixity the dominant discourse signifies with spectre in the attemp t to subvert that discourse.

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14 This attempt relies on the idea that co-emerg ent with that fixity is the irremediable otherness of the Other, the difference that is increasingly marked as the perceived identity of the named subject approaches the vision of Western scopic drive. Here, that drive desires knowledge of Breilles specter, but that knowledge m eans situating the specter in the material world. This results in para dox, because such a placement demands the identification of the specter as Breille, an identification that assaults the very boundaries of Western Rationalism with which the iden tification is made. The response to that paradox is ambivalence, a stance that allows the dual inscription of Breille to stand. In fact, it acknowledges his very nature as dual inscription. Instead of exhibiting the almost the same, but not quite of Bhabhas mimicr y that conceals no presence or identity behind its mask (Bhabha 88), Breille exhibits the anxiety of spectacle as the same obscuring the different; Breilles spectacle hi s specter does serve as a mask, or more accurately as a shield. Whereas Bhabha s mimicry makes no endeavor to preserve the hidden because it hides nothing, the ambivale nce arising from the anxiety of spectacle is important precisely because it does preser ve the hidden as a place of enunciatory power and transgression. That power ar ises in part from a hyper-aw areness in Western scopic drive of an impenetrable space beyond the spectacle of the totally hidden Only in the presence of such awareness is the drama of sp ectral voice fully realized. This is a subtle yet critical difference. The preservation of the ambivalence of dual inscription lends power to the spectral voice by sustaining the hidden as hidden while simultaneously calling attention to its power as knowledge. It is the preserva tion of ambivalence that drives Carpentiers application of magical real ism. Because the form embraces the incommensurable, it

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15 provides an ideal frame for spectral voice to function in ways disc ontinuous with other literary forms. Consequently, an understandi ng of how Carpentier contributed to magical realisms transformation and how magical rea lism facilitates spectral voice brings into sharper focus the critical import of The Kingdom of This World. Such an understanding also forefronts the novels relevance to the co ntinuing project of examining interand intra-communal relationships in the region today. The inception of Latin American magical re alism is located in European Surrealism and visual art aesthetics. C onsequently, it shares with Su rrealism an impulse to corepresent divergent perceptions of reality as one unified vision (Zamora and Faris, Introduction 11). However, Carpentiers appl ication of magical re alism significantly changes the form. In fact, as Bobs. M. Tusa notes, while the novel arises from Carpentiers enhancing experiences of Surrea lism during his time in Europe, it is also his rebellion against Surrealism and his count er-challenge (25). Thus his application of magical realism demonstrates the conscription and transformation of a European form as repudiation and resistance, and as a means of explicating La tin American identity. Since his role in developing Latin American ma gical realism so clear ly illustrates his philosophy of appropriation and adaptation, it is central to most discussions of Carpentiers work today. Just as he appropriates historical narrative to display its voids, so too does he change magical realism to accommodate the Latin American context. His efforts in this area coincide with the efforts of other writers of Latin Americas El Boom of the mid-1900s (Zamora and Fari s 1; Janney 9), and t ogether those efforts constitute a major Latin American literary influence. During that era authors such as Gabriel Garca Mrquez, Miguel Angel Asturias, and Jorge Luis Borges shared

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16 Carpentiers concern for developing a litera ry form that focused on Latin American experiences from inside that space, in contra st to imposed European forms and narratives that had previously defined it. Their succes s is apparent not only in the impact their efforts had on Latin American literary traditio ns, but also in the number of writers around the world they influenced then and now. T oday such authors as Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, and Haruki Murakami continue to us e the form, and other traditions of magical realism have arisen that if not derived from,1 are at least in dialogue with the work of Carpentier and his contemporaries. However, some critics argue that The Kingdom of This World does not fit the model of a magical realist text. This assertion is based on a bi nary formulation of magical realism as either the aesthetic vision of ar t critic Franz Roh, who co ined the term in 1925 to apply to Surrealist painting (Evans 3; Faris 15; Roh 15), or magical realism as it appears in Gabriel Garcia Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude (perhaps the most critically examined magical realist text of all) But this is a false binary for several reasons. First, The Kingdom of This World was first published in Spain in 1949, whereas One Hundred Years of Solitude first appeared in 1967, nearly two decades later. This alone makes a comparison of their literary forms anachronistic, as Latin American magical realism was undergoing rapid tran sformation in those decades. Comparing Carpentiers novel to Marquez s is tantamount to comparing the Theory of Relativity to quantum physics. Additionally, as Richard A. Young explains in his discussion of the two novels, Marquezs conception of magical re alism takes the prer ogative of altering 1 One example of this is the emergence of a literary tr adition in West Africa that some theorists identify as Magical Realism. Some authors who deploy this form, however, object to its identification by that name. For an extended discussion of this, see Brenda Coopers Magical Realism in West African Fiction: Seeing With a Third Eye and Olatubosun Ogunsanwos review of the same.

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17 material reality, whereas Carentiers lo maravilloso real focuses ostensibly on phenomenological differences, similar to Rohs conception. However, it is critical to note that Carpentier presents phenom enological difference as an effective force in the material world, which is a clear departure from Rohs aesthetic. Also, as Y oung further points out, the final two chapters of The Kingdom of This World present in material terms the metamorphic transformations of the slave Ti Nol. This makes apparent Carpentiers cognizance of magical realisms potential to pr oduce a coherent, alte rnative reality, and indeed Marquezs later effort may in fact owe its perspectiv e to Carpentiers vision. But more importantly, The Kingdom of This World brings together both poles of magical realisms potential and inserts the European fo rm into the New World context. The result is a text that insists on the reality of perspective and the illusion of reality. This distinction is critical in understandi ng Carpentiers use of spectral voice. Used alone, Rohs formulation of ma gical realism would deny the effective impact of such a phenomenon on the material world. Roh uses the term (Magischer Realismus) to describe a form of visual art in which trad itional realism is overlaid with elements of surrealism and the fantastical (Evans 3; Fari s 15; Roh 15). In the te rms application Roh emphasizes the realism of the art, and he viewed that realism as a rebuttal to Expressionisms exaggerated preference for fa ntastic, extraterrestrial, remote objects and shocking exoticism (Roh 16). In the work s of such artists as Schottz, Nebel, and Picasso, Roh sees a new style that is thor oughly of this world, that celebrates the mundane (17). The mundane that Roh speaks of is in dir ect contrast to Expressionisms dramatic deviation from accurate and objective repr esentation of the world and nature. The

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18 importance of realistic representation for Roh becomes more evident when we examine how he defines magic in the following passage: The clash of true reality and apparent reality . has always had an elemental attraction. . Such a juxtaposition of reality and appearance was not possible until the recuperation of the objective world which was largely lacking in Expressionism(Roh 20). Roh goes on to explain how magical realist art recuperates the objective: We could say th at in this new painting the very system of categories has been refined, gaining in clar ity, richness, and preci sion (Roh 29). We can draw from these passages that for Roh the magi cal element of the art is not in any sense an element of transcendent or supernatural agency, but rather arises from the space between true reality and individual perspectives or representations of that reality. Rohs magical realism does not arise from an ex alted state nor presuppose faith as does Carpentiers. It is a fervent embrace of th e objective while simultaneously acknowledging the irreducible multiplicity of representation. Consequently, the magical depends on and is a function of a startling contrast betw een objective reality a nd subjective judgment, and that contrast reinforces rather than challenges the sys tem of categories, the true reality, by which Rationalism defines the concrete world. But Rohs emphasis on a definable, concrete reality differs significantly from ideals of magical realism that grow out of its Latin American formulation. As Zamora and Faris explain, Roh praises Post-Expressionisms real istic, figural representation, a critical move that contrasts with our contemporary use of the term [magical realism] to signal the contrary tendency, that is, a texts departure from realism rather th an its reengagement of it (15). A fundamental shift in perspectives separates todays magical realism and its ideological Latin American parent from th e aesthetic Roh sought to define in 1925.

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19 That shift occurs in part because of a distinctive narrative approach that rejects Rohs privileging of the objective world a nd differentiates Latin American and contemporary magical realism from other lit erary forms. Wendy B. Faris terms this approach defocalization, (43) or a narrative given from an indeterminate, unlocatable perspective. The defocalized narrative voice ar ises from the hidden, a nd in this respect it is spectral. Like spectral voice it has the power of knowledge, but only at the expense of inverted paradigms, since one effect of de focalization is to record as empirically true elements that in fact depart from rational or empirical standards. Defocalization thereby mimics the empirical dependency that realis t texts derive from a more determinate narrative perspective, like an omniscient narrat or, but allows the text to leave unfixed the categorical boundaries of truth and reality. For example, in The Kingdom of This World we more readily consider the idea that Breilles appearance at the Mass of the Assumption is fact rather than simply Chri stophes hallucination because we are not invested in any single narrative perspective. Therefore we have the broad scope of the omniscient narrator, but not the certainty. Because our narrator remains ideologically unformed, meaning we cannot determine from which viewpoint of reality the narrator speaks, we have no clearly defined framework fo r determining the narrat ors reliability or the texts interpretive parameters. We must therefore retain so me discomfort about anything we accept in the text as real. If we accept the narrative judgment that Breille does indeed appear at the Mass, we must also accept the implic it challenge to the authority of objective history. In what official historical record will we find a spectral Breille? Yet the defocalized narrative lends his appearance the ontological weight of reality.

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20 The unsettling doubts that defocalization pr oduces set apart both Carpentiers and Marquezs approach to magical realism from Rohs. Both Latin Amer ican authors resist the reinscription of material reality with th e appellative true w ith which Roh marks it. But in another respect Carpentier and Marqu ez use magical realism quite differently, and had Carpentier adhered to Gabriel Garcia M rquez magical realism, this would have placed spectral voice too solidly in the realm of the fantastical. Whereas Roh privileges material reality, Marquezs formulation of it does little to preserve the demarcation between realities. For example, in One Hundred Years of Solitude Macondoans ride magi carpets, Remedios the Beauty rises up to the heavens, a pot in Ursulas kitchen spontaneously creeps to the edge of the ta ble and falls, Jos Arcadio and Amarant give birth to an infant with a pig s tail, Melquades foretells th e family history (Faris 121). Throughout Marquezs novel, th e magical asserts itself in ways that transform the material world. As a result, we gain a sense of being constantly in a world that is almost, but not quite, the one in which we reside. That world is different but cohesive. But for Carpentier in The Kingdom of This World the challenge to Rationalist values and hegemony arises in part from the disjunction between perspectives, a disjunction that partially di sappears in Mrquezs novel. Carpentier deploys both forms of magical realism to achieve an effect di stinctly different from either. Because he juxtaposes the two, we gain from The Kingdom of This World the sense that reality is layered, and the fabric of one layer is rent to reveal what lies beneath. We can never be certain whether the differences we see ar e phenomenological or material because the level of incoherence in the text is greater than that in Mar quezs. Consequently, we catch a glimpse of the hidden while retaining a hei ghtened awareness of its hidden status. We

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21 hear the voices of the silenced and remain aware they have been silenced. This makes brutally obvious the violence of colonial oppression as more than a physical violence. It reveals it as a colonization of the spirit a nd calls into question th e categorical boundaries that make that colonization possible. Conse quently, when spectral voice intercedes to mark a given moment as significant, it provid es a place to which the reader can anchor the desire for truth and knowledge. Spectral voice simultaneously becomes the manifestation of instability while serving as the point of coherence in the text. Yet spectral voice also illuminates a will to resistance, a will that the narrative of Western hegemony must elide for the sake of totality. It accomplishes this by revealing those moments when Rationalist categorical boun daries such as the magical and the real, past and present, or body and spi rit collapse (as we see in Breilles case). Magical realism as Carpentier re configures it provides an id eal frame for this revelation, since magical realism is adapted to the di ssolution or transgressi on of such boundaries. As Zamora and Faris express it, magical re alism is a mode suited to exploring and transgressing boundaries, whether the boundaries are ontological, political, geographical, or generic . [It] often facilitates the fusion or coexistence, of possible worlds, spaces, systems that would be irrec oncilable in other modes of fiction (Zamora and Faris 6). Breilles death and resurrec tion are preeminent examples of this in The Kingdom of This World because in Western ideologies death is arguably the ultimate marker of Rationalist order. It is an impermeable boundary whose monumental weight marks the centrality of the individual and signals the absolute linearity of time and progress2. Consequently, by challenging this bounda ry the spectral voice carves out a 2 For extended discussion on the cat egorical imperative of death in European systems of belief, see Deborah Gormans The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal which discusses the significant change in

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22 space for the hidden by bringing under scrutiny perceptual voids in the Western Rationalist body of knowledge. That challenge explains why the manifestation of spectral voice as ghostly is the prevalent m ode, and why magical re alism as a form is so conducive to the function of spectral voice. Magical re alism helps validate this function because it accepts the reality of spectral voice and of resistance a priori, regardless of the ambiguities that may surround any particular instance of its manifestation. This allows spectral voice to re fine its focus, putting aside the question, Is it real? and bringing under examination instead those categorical bounda ries that insist the question be posed at all. mortality rates among children in 19th century England. Additionally, see She Cried a Very Little: Death, Grief and Mourning in Working-class Culture, c. 1880-1914*, in which author Julie-Marie Strange takes a slightly different view with regard to the working class, yet on the whole supports the idea that perceptions of death were changing and the categorical divide between life and death becoming more insurmountable. Finally, social scientist Pat Jalland argues that the middle and upper classes had begun to retreat from death some decades earlier, (qtd in Strange 143). Cumulatively, these sources point to death as the ultimate categorical boundar y in dominant Western ideologies, serving to separate not only the dead from the living, but also the rational or scientific from the irrational or superstitious.

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23 CHAPTER 3 CARPENTIERS REGIONAL VISION As the analyses of Breilles connecti on to Haitian communal consciousness and Christophes connection to European values demonstrate, spectral voice challenges ideas of communal belonging the European Br eille belongs to Haiti whereas the Haitian Christophe belongs to Europe. With the cr y of an infant, spectral voice collapses polarities of identity and repl aces them with a circular, di scursive relationship between past, present and future; it fundamentally alters ideals of co mmunity, identity, and individuality. These strategies redefine co mmunity in a way that effectively decenters Europe (as the seat of rationalist and obj ective thought) and forefronts the syncretic qualities of Latin America. This focus on syncretism is the indicator of the texts second major premise, which concerns Carpentiers view of Latin Ameri ca from a regional rather than a strictly national perspective. While Carpentier was very active in the nationali st project of Cuba, he ultimately came to insist on situating cu ltural production simultane ously within both a national and a broader regional sensibility (Y oung 34; Smith 65). He conceived of Latin American identity and community as functi ons of shared experiences that transcend artificially imposed boundaries. He accordingly viewed syncretism as the disclosure of that regional sensibility. His desire to privilege syncretism results in several strategies that contest the artificial circumscription of commun ity and identity by nationalist boundaries. Particularly, in The Kingdom of This World he refocuses the lens of history to cameo

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24 connections and events quite different from those usually placed at center by Western historiography. He also focuses on the syncre tic elements in Vodoun as a unifying thread between disparate times and places. But it is this last strategy that brings to light a critical problem in the novel; it engages in an esse ntialist view of Vodoun that reinscribes problematic European discourses on th e novels representational space. Syncretism finds expression in The Kingdom of This World most frequently when Carpentier explores what Lizabeth Paravisi ni-Gebert calls the seamless flow between the life of the body and the life of the spirit that characterizes Vodou (116). Breilles appearance in the cathedral is such an e xploration. Because of this seamless flow, Breilles physical demise does not foreclose his continuing resistance. The power of faith arising from shared trauma at the hands of the colonizer facilitates his transition from a corporeal being to one of spirit and communal will. Additionally, Breilles role as priest aligns him with modes of re ligious expression, and his tran sformation into the world of spirit further reinforces this alignment. As a result, his emerges as a socio-religious signifier of Haitian communal consciousness. Similarly, his destructive power over emblems of European power, and specifi cally over European religious practices, powerfully marks him as representative of Vodoun, the Haitian relig ion of resistance and revolution [that] gives collective strength and identity to the di senfranchised (Dayan 39). Through his death and transformation, Breille becomes a model for religious syncretism. That syncretism appealed to Carpentiers interest in Afro-Cubanism (Edison 54; Janney 10), 1 a term coined by Cuban ethnologist a nd social scientist Fernando Ortiz. As 1 Frank Janney notes particularly the overarching presence of animism in Carpentiers early fiction, and also notes, According to J. C. Froelich animism is th e basic element of all Black religions in Africa: (53).

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25 Ortizs term suggests, one of the movement s primary concerns was highlighting the indigenous and African component s of Cuban and Latin Ameri can culture, and as Donald L. Shaw explains, early in Carpentiers career the author adopted much of Ortiz philosophy (3-6). Gonzles Echevarra identifies that philosophy as part of the struggle to disentangle Latin America from a culturally ba nkrupt Europe and asse rt authenticity and independence for Latin American cultural prod uction (55-57). As loci of the African presence in Latin America, syncretic religi ons such as Vodoun and Santera., which arose from West African religions in close and continuous contact with Catholicism, are integral to that st ruggle (Gonzlez-Wippler, Powers 1; Rituals 8; Turlington 15), Accordingly, Carpentiers focus on Vodoun in The Kingdom of This World logically follows his interest. The significance for Carpentier of V odoun and syncretism in developing a regional sensibility cannot be overstated. This becomes evident in The Kingdom of This World with an analysis of Ti Nols expe riences immediately after the Haitian Revolution. This analysis reveals both the cr itical role of Vodoun in communal identity and Carpentiers strategic use of the historic lens to relocate the center of meaning to Latin America. After the revolution, the story of Ti Nol shifts away from Haiti and leads us to Cuba during moments in which Europ ean historical accounts forefront events in Haiti. This move, in establishing Ti Nol and hi s social context as a thread of continuity, Janneys observation highlights Carpentiers interest in recuperating the Black heritage of the Caribbean and thus suggests that interest plays a large part in Carpentiers literary focus. Ho wever, Janneys analysis of Carpentiers animism also inheres a problematic categorization of such religions as emanating from primitive cultures, (53) which reflects an ongoing practice of imposing Western ethnographic views on non-Western cultural practices. Janney assumes Carpentier shares this characterizatio n of such cultures, an assumption with merit the text will demonstrate.

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26 challenges Western historical narratives and rejects the idea that community (and identity) is geographica lly or nationally bounded. Ti Nols master M. Lenormand de Mzy seeks refuge in Cuba, taking Ti Nol with him. While in Cuba, the two men find th emselves in a Catholic cathedral, and the importance of the scene rests in Ti Nols experience of that space. Because of its location, the scene echoes the Mass of the Assumption, and issues of power, voice, and vision appropriately come into play. De Mzy goes to the cathedral after s eeing in the mirror how the marks of age deepened with every passing week, [and he] began to fear the approaching summons of God. . And so, accompanied by Ti Nol, he took to spending long hours groaning and rasping out ejaculatories in the Santiago Cathedral (Carpentier, Kingdom 85). The slave owners sudden bout of piety is precipitate d by a disabling malaise that accompanies a sharp downturn of his fortunes at the card ta bles. Like Gonzales, his piety is hollow, based on self-interest and mate rial concerns, disconnected fro m communal values or any concordant sense of identity. In sharp contrast, Ti Nol finds in the cathedral a strong tie to his home and past. The passage describing his experience is highly visual and ve rges on structural fragmentation as it weaves from disparate el ements a remarkable discovery for the slave in his exile: the Negro found in the Spanish churches a Voodoo warmth that has an attraction, a power of seduction in presence that emanates from The baroque golds, the human hair of the Christs, the mystery of the richly carved conf essionals, the guardian dog of the Dominicans, the dragons crushed unde r saintly feet, the pig of St. Anthony, the dubious color of St. Benedict, the black Virg ins, the St. Georges with the buskins and

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27 corselets of actors in French tragedies, the shepherds in struments played on Christmas Eve (Carpentier, Kingdom 87). This passage demonstrates in both content and form the composite nature of the churchs interior. It s list-like structure amidst conventional prose is disjunctive, and its contents abound with di sjunctions as well. The rich imagery injects into the overarching European milieu elements rendered uniquely Latin American by the synthesis of their parts. The emblems of Ch ristian ceremony and tradition become instead the emblems of appropriation and transformati on. The list and the scene thereby serve as an effective metaphor for Carpentiers vision of Latin American identity. Contrasted with the cathedral setting of the Mass of Assumption, the scenes syncretic elements are heightened and its invocation of Vodoun pr actices forefronted. Whereas the Mass of the Assumption occurs amidst the signs of Catholicism and the colonial presence, the Cuban cathedral a bounds with symbols, attributes and signs similar to those of the alters of the houmforts [sic] consecrated to Damballah, the Snake god. Besides, St. James is Ogon Fa marshall of the storms, under whose spell Bouckmans followers had risen (87). The c onventional markers of Catholicism are shot through and through with dominating markers of the African gods, and these elements of religious syncretism collapse for Ti Nol the distance between home and Cuba, between community and exile. National boundaries su ccumb to the unity of shared history, traditions, and beliefs. Notably, voice and vision function in this scene to invert the thrust of Western scopic drive, giving authority of sight to Ti Nol a nd rendering European voice incomprehensible,. This is evident in the se discordant symphonies, which Don Esteban Salas enriched with bassoons, horns and boy sopranos (Carpentier, Kingdom 87). As in

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28 the case of Gonzales liturgy, European voice is here associ ated with the superfluous, with the irrelevant droning of discordant symphonies. Ti Nol ponders the purpose of the noise, noting It was really impossible to understand why this choirmaster . was determined that the singers should enter the chorus one after the other, part of them singing what the others had sung before, a nd setting up a confusion of voices fit to exasperate anyone (Carpentier, Kingdom 85 86 ). The imposed and to Ti Nol illogical structure the choirmaster strives for, like the hollow ceremonial gestures of Gonzales, have no underlying meaning in the syncretic worl d of Latin America. In the presence of guardian spirit-dogs and St. Anthonys pig, his efforts are worthless. So while the scene lacks the revelatory clarity of spectral voice, we find its antithesis signaling the bankruptcy of Europ ean forms and values. The focus turns away from hollow, incomprehensible ceremony because Ti Nol draws meaning not from the babble of the functionaries and the Europ ean musical forms but from the points of intersection between re alities, between the African gods and the saints of Europe, between the Son of God and th e son of war. These points of intersection highlight the syncretic origins of Vodoun, and in turn, V odoun provides continuity between Ti Nols experience of community in Haiti and his e xperience in the Cuban church. Ti Nols revelation anchors community and identity to shared practices arising from a syncretic heritage and rejects the idea that community is always geographi cally bounded. While the routed Europeans may be devastated by thei r exile and find little reassurance in the hollow forms of normalcy, Ti Nol finds comf ort and warmth. In hi s exile he discovers the far-reaching embrace of community in the chocolate tones of a black Madonna.

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29 Another important aspect of this passage is its reference to the baroque golds of the cathedral because the idea of the baroque is central to Carpentie rs concept of Latin America. He sees the Latin American space as inherently baroque, as a place where the fantastic inheres in the natural and human r ealities of time and place (Zamora and Faris, Editors Note On the Marvelous 75). Conse quently, in his search for Latin American authenticity, Carpentier again uses an appropr iative strategy. He transforms the European notion of the baroque into a distinctly Latin American configuration, one that strives for an overall balance of disparate parts and steep[s] the reader in whatever atmosphere he [Carpentier] is evoking (Smith 64). Carpen tiers Latin American neobaroque, as Csar Augusto Salgado explains, is a critic al redefinition of European baroque that refocus[es] on the hybrid refigurations that European baroque paradigms have undergone when transplanted into the coloni al arena [. .] New World Baroque cultural artifacts of the colonial period could be read as instances of discontinuity rather than as application of European aesthe tic norms despite their visible allegiance to a metropolitan school of style (317). The baroque in Latin America, then, marks those points of divergence at which syncretic forma tions depart from European norms. By using this neo-Baroque within the fr amework of magical realism, Carpentier challenges the putative success of European Rationalism and the Enlightenment within the Caribbean space. He shifts the view of ar tifacts in the Caribbean we might interpret as European baroque to one that shows us inc ongruities wrought by the irresistible forces of the New World: angels playing the bassoon, the theorbo, the organ, and the maracas perched atop a burned church overrun by jungle growth in The Lost Steps (116); a Ceres with a broken nose and discolored peplum hol ding court from a fountain of crumbling

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30 grotesques in War of Time (105); Christophes Citadel in The Kingdom of This World built on the energies of sacr ificial blood, of the mighty bellowing of bulls, bleeding, their testicles to the s un (125). All are transformed in that shift to images whose principle characteristic is their incongruous melding of Old World and New. They are European baroque in form but American in spirit, and th e emphasis in that melding for Carpentier is the transformative power of creolization/metizaj e. So the overarching baroque tone of Ti Nols cathedral experience works with the refocused historical lens to mark the moment as a remarkable instance of creolit. But Ti Nols experience also points to a critical problem in the text. That problem arises from Carpentiers intention to illust rate a unified Latin American sensibility capable of shaking off the fetters of Eur ope and claiming authenticity for the Latin American creole subject. By tuning the lens of history to show Vodouns importance in The Kingdom of This World Carpentier seeks to recontextu alize historical, social, and moral relevance by shifting critical focus from distant Europe to America. As Robert Gonzles Echevarra suggests, this goal is evident throughout the co rpus of Carpentiers work as a search for origins, the recovery of history and traditi on. The foundation of an autonomous American consciousness serving as the basis for a literature faithful to the New World, (qtd in Paravisini-Gebert ). Barbara Webb expands on this, saying Lo maravilloso real with its emphasis on the mythohistor ical heritage of the Americas, represents the beginning of a dialogue . concerned with establishing a New World cultural identity based on the shared heritage of all of its peoples (Webb 13, italics mine). That emphasis on the shared heritage of all however, leads Carpentier (like many other authors before him and since) in to an unintended essentialization. In The Kingdom

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31 of This World a monolithic representation of V odoun blunts the otherwise razor-sharp effects of spectral voice. It in vites in Western scopic drive and grants its authority to define and circumscribe. In his eagerness to portray Vodoun as a unify ing influence, Carpentier adapts the methodologies of Western anthr opology and ethnography even as he tries to diffuse their negative impact. These academic discourses are arguably inextricable from Western scopic drive, since their pr imary purpose is to produce know ledge of cultures through penetration, observation, and categorizati on. The problematic influence of these discourses is apparent in Ti Nols experience in the Cuban cathedral, which exhibits a difficulty symptomatic of Vodouns representa tion in the text. The features of the cathedrals iconography that app eal to Ti Nol are features he associates with Vodoun, made evident by his invocation of the hounfort. As Joan Dayan explains, the hounfort is the alter around which the Vodoun community articulates itself (40). The cathedral scene contains nothing to contradi ct Ti Nols identification. However, the prevailing religion of s yncretic origins in Cuba is not Vodoun, which is uniquely associated in its specifi city with Haiti. Rather, in Cuba Vodouns counterpart is La Religin Lucumi, often re ferred to as Santera (Gonzlez-Wippler, Powers 1, Gonzlez-Wippler Santera 3, Prez 18). Certainly, Ti Nols association of these elements with Vodoun is understandable; his prior experiences make it a reasonable identification. Also, Carpentiers intent was clearly to draw attention to the shared African origins of these two faiths. But becau se the text imposes one upon the other with no clarification, both of them lose specifi city. They become flattened out into a monolithic representation of syncretism. This move reflects the influence in Carpentiers

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32 writing of Cuban ethnographer a nd social scientist Fernando Ortiz, who identified the end result of syncretism as transculturation and saw it as similar to the Anglo-American paradigm of acculturation and assimilation (Prez 16).Such a flattening may well serve to highlight common bonds of shared heri tage and traumas, but does little to acknowledge the unique elements imbedded in every faith by the agency of its practitioners. To suggest that syncretism follows the same pathways everywhere is to deny that agency. Anthropology, ethnography, and related soci al science discourses also have another impact, indirect yet equally negativ e, on perceptions of Vodoun. They spawned in their early years popular discourses that titillated Western audi ences by fetishizing elements peripheral to the more basic beli efs and practices that articulate the multiple and ambiguous versions of the Haitian socioreligious life (Dayan 33). These discourses, both academic and popular, find their way into The Kingdom of This World as another manifestation of Carpentiers appropria tive tendencies, but not the conscious manipulation evident with magical realism. They manifest most noticeably as the urge to homogenize identified above, and in an unintended or at least unexamined reactionary pattern evident in Breilles example. This pattern nearly always associates Vodoun with supernatural or supranatural fo rces. Even in Ti Nols Cuban cathedral experience, although no supernatur al or supranatural elements emerge, the overall tone and ambiance of the scene is hi ghly suggestive of th em. While this asso ciation facilitates the power of spectral voice, it also reinfor ces an early anthropological discourse that makes a distinction between modern religions and primitive religions, a distinction that hinges on the so-called primitivementality problem (Geertz 110). In these

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33 discourses, primitive is inextricably connect ed to superstition, shamanism, or as in this case blood ritual. As such, the primitive religion is cast as the under-evolved precursor of modern religion, and as in ot her such polarities, is almost inevitably racialized. Consequently, the association of Vodoun with superor supranatural phenomena in The Kingdom of This World in the absence of any offsetting representations renders a troubling view of the religion. That view is just as reductive as Hollywood horror films featuring bloodthirsty rites of black magic and zombified monsters bent on the destruction of humanity. Popular discourses on Vodoun such as the hor ror film genre are not alone in their reductionism. For example, in the early de cades of the twentiet h century, ethnographic interpretations of primitive cultures abounded, and in fact colonial expansionism had prospered from the Rationalist notion of cultural evolution2. Even well-intentioned anthropological efforts to e xplicate the role of Vodoun and its socio-religious function typically fell short of their intentions. Conse quently, in the decades that followed, authors such as Carpentier had to contend with th e perceived legitimacy that the science of evolution and early cultural anthropology lent the col onial endeavor. However, countering such legitimacy often results in accepting unaware any number of the premises on which it is founded. Consequent ly, Rationalist notions like the idea of primitive cultures as less evolved and theref ore closer to a state of nature or a 2 Cultural evolution adapts LaMarckian and Darwinian notions of evolution to cultural development. Colonialism used the concept to shift justification of the colonial endeavor from a strictly religious claim (saving the souls of the savages) to one that also incor porated the notion of saving the savages from their evolutionary backwaters and civilizing them fo r their own good. For a more detailed analysis of cultural evolution and its relevance to colonialis m and post colonialism, see Sander A. Gilmans Sexology, Psychoanalysis, and Degeneration: From a Theory of Race to a Race to Theory. Also see Sandra Siegels Literature and Degeneration: The Representation of Decadence and Jo Rouclouxs Can Democracy Survive the Disg ust of Man for Man? From Social Darwinism to Eugenics.

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34 childlike state creep into otherwise resistant texts. Some aspects of The Kingdom of This World suggest that Carpentier may have been influenced by such endeavors, such as W. B. Seabrooks 1929 ethnography of Haiti, The Magic Island Seabrooks agenda in The Magic Island is to challenge previous, deleterious assumptions about Haiti and the practi ce of Vodoun, but his perspective is so unquestioningly accepting of Rationalisms civili zed/savage dichotomy that his intended altruism toward his subject becomes milque toast condescension. Passages such as this one from The Magic Island reveal his attitudes toward th e Haitian people: the mass of the populace, possessing childlike traits often nave and lovable as well as laughable, have also a powerful underlying streak of primitive, atavistic savagery (Seabrook 276). This image of primitive peoples as childlike and nave yet capable of explosive violence pervades early ethnographic studies, reinforcing the ideal of white Eurocentric superiority even when it is intended to conde mn the mature and jaded West, like this statement of Seabrooks re lated by Joan Dayan: [He] told his blas readers back in New York to get some passion into their lives by putting blood in their Fi fth Avenue cocktails: Perhaps if we mixed a little true sacrificial blood in our synthetic cocktails and flavored them prayerfully with holy fire our night clubs would be more orgiastically successf ul and become sacred as temples were in the days of Priapus and Aphrodite. (32) The back to nature message in this passage is unmistakable. Urban imagery counterpoises the dark spiritua lity of true sacrificial bl ood to firmly demarcate the primitive/modern divide, and builds on a scene in The Magic Island in which Seabrook witnesses a vodoun ceremony: The blood . spurte d in a hard, small stream from the bulls pierced side, where the mamaloi knelt with her bowl to receive it and transferred it bowl by bowl to the great common trough. The papaloi and mamaloi now drank

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35 ceremonially of the holy blood (Seabrook 40). The relative truth of Seabrooks description aside, this passage panders to a rapacious desire for titillation in his audience and exacerbates problematic views in the West of Haitians and Vodoun. By focusing on such blood rites, Seabrook perpetuates a fo rmulation of Vodoun that obscures the more pervasive and overarching functions of the religion, such as promoting communal cohesion, regulating social be havior, and providing a sense of pastness to a people denied a history throughout the tenure of colonialism. Comparing Seabrooks passage wi th the following passage in The Kingdom of This World arouses at least a suspici on that Carpentier is aware of Seabrooks work and incorporates some of it into his own novel: Every day in the middle of the parade square several bulls had their throats cut so that thei r blood could be added to the mortar to make the fortress impregnable (Carpentier, Kingdom 120). The passage describes ritual sacrifices Christophe implements during the co nstruction of the Citadel La Ferrire. The blood of the bulls sanctifies the structure as the sacrificial blood purifies the participants in Seabrooks reported ceremony. While th is example is complexly nuanced because ultimately Christophe fails, it is still pr oblematic. Granted, the text suggests through Christophes fate that his re lationship to Vodoun and his unde rstanding of it are flawed. His entombment in the very walls the sacrifices are meant to fortify illustrates his faith as fixed and dead, in sharp contrast to the fa ith that animates Breille. The supernatural protections the sacrifices are mean t to confer fail to materialize. Still, in that very failure is the implicit and unyielding correlation of Vodoun with blood rites and supernatural manifestations.

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36 This pattern is likely unintended. On a c onscious level, Carpentier professes to privilege syncretism because it mirrors creolization, the merging of indigenous, European and African elements that produces, for Ca rpentier, the authentic Latin American subject. More specifically, he expresses a desi re to recuperate the African influences in Latin America (Cheuse 21). But his position refl ects the same problem inherent in certain ethnological attitudes because it reflects an unquestioning acceptance of the discourse of race-based superiority. In his desire to contest white Eurocentric privilege, Carpentier envisions the black Latin Amer ican subject as closer to nature or more natural, a vision implicit in his treatment of Vodoun. While the example of Breille mediates this to a degree, and is clearly intended to serve as an ideal of creo lization, it is worth noting that Breille attains his authentic status only thr ough death and resurrection. Other examples of Vodoun in the text are a ll racially marked; for inst ance, the color consciousness inherent in the dubious colo r of St. Benedict (86) in Ti Nols Cuban cathedral experience. Carpentier attemp ts through this color consci ousness to recuperate the African presence and grant superiority to th e creolized Latin American subject. He thereby strives to relocate the wellspring of spiritual and moral value to Latin America. But in so doing he reinscribe s the racialized Eurocentric di scourses that give rise to claims of white superiority in the first place. The Kingdom of This World contains other examples that may also manifest such unexamined reactions to anthropologi cal discourses. For example, the novel is an overwhelmingly masculinized text. Women in the novel are either hysterical white women, like Pauline Bonaparte or the second Madame de Mzy, or objects of male sexual desire, like Ti Nols kitchen wenc h: Twenty years had gone by in all this

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37 [waiting for Macandals resurrection]. Ti Nol had fathered twelve children by one of the cooks (Carpentier, Kingdom 60). This is one of severa l references to Ti Nols reproductive potency, and in each the reci pient of his urges remains nameless, insignificant to the demonstration of his f ecundity. Some might argue this is because Carpentier has no awareness of gender issues that problematize these representations. But given his already demonstrated engagement with other anthropol ogical discourses and their popular offshoots, the overarching masculin ity of the text may well be a response to Western discourses that rou tinely constructed the Afro-C aribbean Creole male as alternatively either hypersexual or impotent, and either animalistic or effeminate. Unfortunately, the reactionary portrayal of Afro-Caribbean masculinity in The Kingdom of This World does as much to reinforce the oversexed, animalistic vision of these discourses as to refute the visi on of impotence and effeminacy. Another example of this occu rs during the texts portray al of a slave insurrection. This insurrection marks the onset of a thirteen year period that culminates in the Haitian Revolution and is led by a slave and Vodoun priest named Boukman. During the insurrection, Ti Nols sexual exploits take a cruel turn: For a long time now he [Ti Nol] had dreamed of raping Mlle Floridor. On those nights of tragic declamations she had displayed beneath the tunic with its Greek-key border breasts undamaged by the irreversible outrage of the years (Carpentier, Kingdom 74). The irreversible outrage in this passage is a double entendre signaling bo th the inevitable effects of time on a body that Mlle Floridors breasts have apparent ly escaped, and the irremediable impact of years of slavery on the Haitian people. Ti No ls actions are overtl y manifestations of physical lust, but on a deeper, far more fundame ntal level they are a scream against the

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38 injustices of slavery and colonization. By fr aming that protest in terms of Ti Nols sexual prowess and reproductive energy, Carpenti er articulates that scream through the creative force of the strong a nd forceful Afro-Caribbean ma le. Unfortunately, with this assault (which leads to Mlle Fl oridors death) Carpentier also at least partially validates the image of him as animalistic and hypersexual. Notably, Ti Nol gains his intimate knowledge of Mlle Floridors anatomy in a way that forefronts the functions of voice and vision, again demonstrating that the transgressive mechanisms of the novel and its problematic points often coincide. Mlle Floridor is a failed Parisian actress who marries M. Lenorma nd de Mzy after his second wifes death. But her failures in Paris do not prevent her from imposing her questionable talents on her slaves: There were nights wh en she took to the bottle . [and ordered] all the slaves to turn out . [she would] declai m before her captive audience the great roles she had never been allowed to interpret . this player of bit parts attacked with quavering voice the familiar bravura passages (Carpentier, Kingdom 60). As in Ti Nols experience in the Cuban cathedral, Mlle Floridors drunken performances upend the dynamic of Western scopic drive. Instead of seeing and claiming/naming, she yields her body to the sight of slaves while her words lack the power to shape her reality. Much like the priest Gonzles, her voice is irre levant in the context of Haiti. Voice and vision also play into the insu rrection as a whole because of the Vodoun ceremony that marks its inception, a ceremony th at again demonstrates the problematic use of Vodoun in the novel. Boukmans lead ership and the impending revolt are augured by claps of thunder . echoing like avalanches over the rocky ridges of Morne Rouge (Carpentier, Kingdom 66). The thunder here and Boukman s role as priest tie him to

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39 Breille and connote Boukmans words as spec tral: Suddenly a mighty voice arose in the midst of the congress of shadows, a mi ghty voice whose ability to pass without intermediate stages from a deep to a shrill register gave a strange emphasis to its words. There was much of invocation and much of spell in that speech filled with angry inflections and shouts (66).Again, the power of spectral voice to initiate dramatic changes in the material world functions tr ansgressively, articulat ing a unity amongst the slaves that supersedes the expectations of the slave-owners ra tionalist worldview. But Vodoun is directly linked to the superor supranatural, with no counterbalancing evidence that it plays a more pervasive and mu ndane role in the lives of the slaves. As Joan Dayan explains, Vodoun is a religion in wh ich the people have a close, reciprocal, even palpable relation with their gods. Give n the scope and depth it has in their lives, followers of Vodoun would hardly be capable of functioning in the material world if every instance in which their faith was rele vant was a dramatic and catastrophic event. Yet the novel presents Vodoun as dramatic sp ectacle, narrowing its scope and promoting a view of its followers as ove rly emotional and aggressive. Another excellent example that demonstr ates the double-edged role of Vodoun in The Kingdom of This World is a pair of scenes focusing on Macandal, an escaped slave and leader of a slave revolt around which Ca rpentier focuses much of his narrative. Macandal is the character that most clearly represents the African presence in Latin America. He is the purveyor of preserve d African knowledge, and through a process of physical and spiritual transformation, he inco rporates that knowledge into the material and phenomenal realities of the Haitian peopl e. He is, in many respects, the embodiment of Vodoun, and he marks it even more clearly than Breill e as the affirmation of

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40 communal consciousness. His life and ulti mately his death becomes a powerful articulation of resistance and subjectivity, recovering the pas tness of Africa elided by Western domination. Here again, in this example, the monolithic view of Vodoun is present, but the function of Macandal in the text is so powerful that it demonstrates convincingly how spectral voice can ultimatel y overcome such problems and effectively give presence to the hidden without succumbing to Western scopic drive. The first scene narrates the return of M acandal from a self-im posed exile after his escape from de Mzys plantation. It build s on accounts of shape-shifting abilities the Haitian slaves ascribe to Macandal. The slaves stories transform him into a symbol of resistance, giving him legendary (or even mythic) status. This transformation finds expression in tales of physical metamophoses that the Negroes communicated to one another, with great re joicing (Carpentier Kingdom 41). In their stories, Macandal shape shifts from a man to a green lizard [that] ha d warmed its back on the roof of the tobacco barn, a night moth flying at noon, or a big dog, with bristling hair, had dashed through the house, carrying off a haunch of venison, or even a gannet so far from the sea! [that] had shaken lice from its wings over the arbor of the back patio (41). Through these stories, the slaves refine a powerfu l legend of Macandal as a figure who in his myriad forms, continually visited the plantations of the Plaine to watch over his faithful and find out if they still had faith in his re turn. (41). Macandal has been transformed in the imagination of the people to a savior. This role arises from Macandals powe rful connection with and sustenance of African faith and tradition. From the novels beginning, he articulate s the African roots glossed over by the amnesiac conditions of col onialism: [He] would tell of things that

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41 had happened in the great kingdoms of Popo, of Arada, of the Nagos, or the Fulah . But, above all, it was with the tale of Kankan Muza that he achieved the gift of tongues the fierce Muza, founder of the invincible em pire of the Manding ues(Carpentier, Kingdom 13 italics mine ). The italicized phrase above is heavily laden with implications. It evokes a phrase attached to charismatic and pent acostal Christian practices, and thereby constitutes another appropriation from th e West. Like the cathedral scenes, this appropriation directly juxtaposes systems of belief because Macandal is also the purveyor of African faith: He knew the story of Adonhueso, of the King of Angola, of King Da, the incarnation of the Serpent, which is th e eternal beginning, neve r ending, who took his pleasure mystically with a queen who was th e Rainbow, patroness of the Waters and all Bringing Forth (Carpentier, Kingdom 13). This places Macandal on a level with Breille, and the paralleling of figures one European and one Afri can, constitute a powerful manifestation of Caribbean creolization and s yncretism in which Macandal is the spiritual anchor to Africa. Accordingly, the slaves faith in Macanda l is a preservation of their pastness and sustenance of their African roots as a basis for community. The streng th of their faith not only sustains Macandals legend, but lends materi al power to it as well. The text does not assert Macandals abilities on anything more than an imaginative level; it allows the transformations to remain an element of the slaves belief alone. Yet that belief in the fluidity of spirit and flesh ultimately has dramatic impact in the material world, since the slaves follow Macandal in a revolt against the wh ite colonists. This is the central contrast between Carpentiers magical realism a nd Rohs, which would acknowledge the

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42 coexistence of different pers pectives but stop short of e ngaging the magical as an effective force in material reality. But in contrast, magical realism as Marqu ez constructs it would not provide for the double register here of phenomenal incursion in to material events. It would instead erase the distinction that allows Macandals importa nce to so clearly arise from faith. Only by maintaining the tension between material a nd metaphorical can Carpentier demonstrate that faith resides in the space of slippage betw een layers of reality. In this instance it is the tool of regeneration, of another resurre ction from a metaphoric al death that deepens the resonance between Breille and Macandal. Whereas Breilles death is literal, Ma candals death is a traumatic maiming. Injured in a milling accident on de Mzys plan tation, he looses his arm: With his right hand he was trying to move an elbow, a wr ist that no longer obeyed him . The master called for the whetstone to sharpen the m achete to be used in the amputation (Carpentier, Kingdom 21). It is fitting that de Mzy performs the amputation, because his enslavement of Macandal is also an amput ation of power and self-determination. The physical loss of Macandals arm stands in for the spiritual loss of all he has known before his captivity. His inability to control his ar ms movements, even with his uninjured hand, demonstrates the totally debil itating effects of slavery, an amputation of independence and a severance from origins. Because the changes wrought in Macandal by these dual amputations fundamentally change who he is, they are tantamount to a death in which his old self is destroyed and a new one reborn. Like Breille, Macandal is resurrected, transformed by his ordeal and called forth by the will of the people. But because Macandal s death is not literal but figurative, that

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43 return is a dramatic double in scription: Behind the Mother Drum rose the human figure of Macandal. The Mandingue Macandal. The One-Armed. The Restored (47). This passages culminating phrase, The Restor ed, inarguably demonstrates Macandals return from exile as regeneration. He ha s been reconstituted as The Mandingue Macandal, the spirit of Africa in the comm unal consciousness. Yet he still bears the mark of his maiming as evidence of his materi ality and of the inescapable impact of the colonial presence. It also marks him as distinct from the Mandingue Macandal. Like Haiti, he is irremediably altered by the trau mas of colonialism, at once restored but changed. He hovers between two worlds, that of Africa and that of Europe, and in his indeterminacy he captures the essence of th e Creole dilemma at once both and yet neither. Unlike Breille, Macandals reappearance is not fleeting; he remains among the slaves inciting unrest and resistance until he is captured and killed. So his reappearance might more accurately be called a metaphorical reincarnation, since his corporeality after his return is never at issue as it is with Breill e. And just as Macandal has imaginatively possessed the forms of animals during his transformation, he is in turn possessed by the will of the people, given over to the functio n of resistance in the battle for deliverance. The people still reside in th at space of natal alienation that Orlando Patterson identifies as social death (Patters on 8-9). Because they do not own their own bodies . or history . or destiny . they are as dead as Macandal before his sojourn in the mountains. Consequently, when Macandal takes on the mantle of their will, of communal consciousness, it is a possession of the living by the dead.

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44 Macandals escape and return consequently marks him as spectral like Breille, and his voice accordingly has the power, relevance, and knowledge of spectral voice. This is doubly so because in his storytelli ng he speaks from a place hidden from Western scopic drive through erasure. The Western pe rspective cannot conceive of that space represented by the memories and traditions he preserves. It is incommensurable with the totalizing narratives of History, Ra tionalism, and Enlightenment. That incommensurability is manifest in the M other Drum Macandal emerges from behind. Drums in The Kingdom of This World mark the hidden, and thereby mark the space from which spectral voice arises. The hidden knowledge they connote is best exhibited by a moment of troubled observation by M. Le normand de Mzy:: It [the sound of drums] filled him with uneasiness, making him realize that, in certain cases, a drum might be more than just a goatskin stretched across a hollow log. The slaves ev idently had a secret religion that upheld and united them in their revolts (Carpentier, Kingdom 79). DeMezys unease at the sound of the drums resu lts from his realizati on that they vocalize hidden knowledge. He acknowledges that Possi bly they [the slaves] had been carrying on the rites of this religion under his very nose for years and years, talking with one another on the festival drums without his susp ecting a thing(79). But even this belated suspicion is just that a suspicion, a po ssibility. Despite the testimonial the drums offer, de Mzy still resists the admission th at his gaze Western scopic drive has been turned aside. He cannot even bring himself to consider his own ignorance as a symptom of critical absence in his worl dview: But could a civilized person have been expected to concern himself with the savage beliefs of people who worshipped snakes? (79). De Mzys shock at the realization the slaves could share a spiritual unity makes obvious the

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45 hidden and silenced status of the slaves soci al practices. So too does his rejection of the idea that he, as a civ ilized (read also as rational) man, should ha ve perceived such a possibility or even cared about it. The idea of the slaves as a functioning, believing, and knowing social unit is too far outside the scope of his mindset. Consequently, the symbolic function of the drums is to signa l the spectral, and Macandals emergence from behind the Mother Drum fundamentally alters the way his voice in the text can be received. Such a reading of Macandals metamor phosis engages in the discourse of superstition that is so problematic in The Kingdom of This World But it does so necessarily, because Carpentie r has invested Macandals re turn with an ambiance of reductive spiritualism. The dramatic spectac le of Vodoun is again the site of that investment. But this approach will also dem onstrate, when carried through to the second scene in this pair, why Maca ndal serves as recuperation for the text despite these problems. Because spectral voices success in diffusing the dangers of appropriation rests on its ability to preserve hidde n knowledge, Macandals death is the most effective use of spectral voice in The Kingdom of This World But revealing this effectiveness depends on fully appreciating the spectral nature of Maca ndal, and therefore of his voice. So in this instance, the appropriative impulse that ri sks reducing him to a caricature of voodoo primitive invests him with the power that ultimately redeems him. In weighing the effects of anthropological influence in the fi rst scene against the e ffects of spectral voice in the second, spectral voice carries the day. Ultimately, Macandal dies martyred to the ca use of freedom, but his legend persists in the imaginative forces of the community, a detail Carpentier draws from his visit to

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46 Haiti in 1943. He notes in his essay On th e Marvelous Real in America that The American Mackandal . leaves an entire mythology, preserved by an entire people and accompanied by magic hymns still sung today during voodoo ceremonies (Carpentier, On the Marvelous Real 88). The durability of Macandals legend attests to his symbolic power in the struggle for freedom in Haiti. He is a savior every bit as redemptive as the Christian Christ, and the details of his death in The Kingdom of This World make that glaringly apparent. The scene of Macandals death is often read to signal the narrators disbelief in the slaves perceptions of Macanda l, but reading the passage through the lens of spectral voice reveals again a double register of realit y that resists defining either register as real. This resistance is successful because spectral voice makes of Macandals death a final metamorphosis, one that commutes him, like Breille, entirely in to the space of the hidden. That space, one of spirits and spect ers, lays completely beyond the reach of Western scopic drive . it is accessible only th rough the power of faith, and it manifests as spectral voice and the vision that voice evokes. Consequently, the hidden remains hidden by appropriating the very discourse intend ed to reveal it to Western scopic drive. The term spectral counts on the connotati ons of superstition it evokes in the Western mind to render it truly spectral, not in the sens e of false beliefs, but in the sense of hidden knowledge. By presenting Macandal as specter, as reincarnate, as possessed, the text renders him totally hidden This quality of the hidden makes Macandals death a place at which competing realities collid e. In the end, it is the mate rial reality of Rational world view that flinches.

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47 Macandals final transformation is set in motion when he is captured by colonial forces after they have tortured a betrayal fr om another slave. He is sentenced to burn at the stake for his role in the slaves campaign of terror, and his execution is spectacle in both conception and implementation: Maca ndal was now lashed to the post. The executioner had picked up an ember with the tongs. With a gesture rehearsed the evening before in front of a mirror, the Governor unsheathed his dress sword and gave the order for the sentence to be carried out (Carpentier, Kingdom 51). The Governors intentional drama here betrays his unwillingness or inabili ty to acknowledge the gravity of what is about to happen. His near-comic theatricalis m compares gruesomely to the events that follow: The fire began to rise toward the Mandingue, licking his legs. At that moment Macandal moved the stump of his arm, whic h they had been unable to tie up, in a threatening gesture which was none the less terrible for being partial, howling unknown spells and violently thrusti ng his torso forward (51). Macandals actions are a startling contrast to the vision of authoritative state cer emony evoked so blatantly by the Governors ritualizing gestures. The precision and intentionality of the governors signal provides the exact antithesis of Macandals flailing, truncated limb, yet despite the fatal implications of the Governors gesture, Macandals signification is far more potent and empowering. His actions energize the slave population, directly refuting the intent of the execution by refusing to allow his death to become a tool of subjugation: The bonds fell off and the body of the Negro rose in the air, flying overhead, until it plunged into the black waves of the sea of slaves. A single cry filled the square: M acandal saved! (Carpentier, Kingdom 52). Macandals momentary freedom marks a sustaining moment in which the magical, the marvelous, trumps the logic and order of Western rationalism.

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48 That final cry is a crystalline expression of hope that presages Macandals continuity in the minds and hearts of the slaves. It is al so the most powerful instance of spectral voice in the text. Because Macandal is the spectral double of Breille, the embodiment of Mama Drum, and the agent of resistance possessed and empowered by the hopes and desires of the people, the cry is the spectral voice of communal consciousn ess. Like the crying infant that signaled Breilles transfor mation, it is the harbinger of Macandals transformation as well. As in other instances the enunciatory power of spectral voice denies Western scopic drive and instead invests scopic power in the people. Consequently, although Macandal is recaptured and the execution continues, his death is never validated by that scopic power: When the slaves were restored to order, the fire was burning normally like any fire of good wood, and the breeze blowing from the sea was lifting the smoke toward the windows wher e more than one lady who had fainted had recovered consciousness. There was no longe r anything more to see (Carpentier, Kingdom 52). Since the confusion of Macandals escape prevents the slaves from seeing Macandal recaptured and thrust into the flames, this is the moment often read as signaling a narrative investment in the ma terial registry of reality. In short, critics often insist the narrator simply does not believe the slaves perceptions of Macandal. But this interpretation ignores the d ynamics of voice and vision diagramed herein. Because spectral voice has the power to render its subject totally hidden, and because it divests Western scopic drive of its truth claims, the material reality the Europeans see Macandal incinerated in the flames has no relevance. The truth about Macandal, like Macandal himself, is hidden fr om the predatory Western scopic drive. As

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49 a result, the Europeans present at the execution are confounded by the subsequent behavior of the slaves: That afternoon the sl aves returned to thei r plantations laughing all the way. Macandal had kept his word, remaini ng in the Kingdom of This World Once more the whites had been outwitted by th e Mighty Powers of the Other Shore (Carpentier, Kingdom 52 italics mine). Here the narrator relates the slaves perceptions as knowledge, with nothing to indicate the reader sh ould take it otherwise. It tells the reader the whites had been outwitted , presenting this as an unequi vocal statement in the same defocalized manner as it presents Macanda ls recapture and deat h. Reality is still functioning in that double registry, and th at allows ambivalence to mediate the contradiction between Macandals material death and his continuing existence in the phenomenal world of the slaves. The slaves know what spectral voice has obscured from the Europeans. Macandal remains an effec tive force in their communal consciousness, and inasmuch as it informs their lives, he remains an effective force in their material reality. As in the case of Breilles transforma tion, Macandals perpetu ity is augured by a procreative moment. In a passage resonant of the infants cr y, the text discloses that Ti Noel got one of the kitchen we nches with twins, taking her th ree times in a manger of the stables. (Carpentier, Kingdom 53). Ti Nols response effectively twins Breille and Macandal, doubling the power and implications of spectral voice in community continuity. Like the infants cry, his reaction calls upon the energy of renewal in the face of death. It blurs the boundary between the two and evokes once again the history, traditions, and beliefs of the community. Ti Nol is proclaiming his rejection of the reality imposed by Western scopic drive, and his fecundity validates the power of his disbelief.

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50 Like Carpentiers appropri ation of Rohs magical r ealist aesthetic, Macandal presents reality as a double re gistry. He is both dead and alive, both the past and the future of Africa in the Haitian communal cons ciousness. He is a categorical anomaly that defies boundaries. So later on the eveni ng of Macandals execution, when M. Lenormand de Mezy in his ni ghtcap commented with his de vout wife on the Negroes lack of feelings at th e torture of one of th eir own (Carpentier, Kingdom 52), he is attempting to diffuse an unease akin to what the voice of the drums instilled in him. His response to that unease illustrate s the most significant effect of spectral voice. It can turn Western scopic drive back upon its elf and preserve the hidden in plain sight De Mzy copes with his confusion by wrapping it in the rhetoric of colonial domination: drawing therefrom [the execution] a number of philos ophical considerations on the inequality of the human races which he planned to devel op in a speech larded with Latin quotations (52). De Mzy explains the slaves behavior as evidence of their savagery, but it is his fear of that perceived savagery and his certainty of his knowle dge of it that will forever obscure the truth from him. In the context of Haiti, Macandal lives on. Reading that communal shout, Macandal sa ved! as knowledge borne of spectral voice demonstrates that he has indeed tr anscended the boundary be tween the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world. Like any good savior, he lives on to redeem his people and inform/be informed by their trad itions, practices, and beliefs, and the shout attests to his transcendence. Th at communal impulse is not an error; it is the discursive equivalent of the infants cry. Macandal is saved through the perpet uation of his legend and the body of knowledge it entails. Just like Breilles resurrection, his vitality belies the Western, linear construction of life and death and insists instead on an enduring

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51 circularity, one in which the people find renewa l in their past, and phenomenal reality is not separate from, but an integral part of th e material conditions in which they live.

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52 CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION The example of Macandal in The Kingdom of This World demonstrates one reason why Carpentiers work continue s to hold relevance today fo r Latin American scholars. Alejo Carpentiers use of spectral voice and communal consciousness permits him to assault European narratives of truth and tota lity that underpinned th e colonial enterprise. The case of Macandal and Ti Nol is only one example of this, but it is a powerful one. So too are the cases of Breille and Gonzles Each demonstrates the permeability of the fundamental categorical boundari es and challenges conventional perceptions of Latin American and European identit y. They bring into focus the social and spiritual elements that constitute such identity, and consequen tly serve to illuminate the critical work Carpentier undertakes. Thr ough appropriation and transfor mation, Carpentier makes of magical realism a uniquely American approach capable of capturing a uniquely American reality, a reality in which improbable juxtap ositions and marvelous mixtures exist by virtue of Latin Americas varied histor y, geography, demography, and politics not by manifesto (Zamora and Faris, Editors Note On the Marvelous Real 75).Yet, Carpentier rejects the idea this appropriation is merely imitative. The Kingdom of This World condemns such imitation as it strike s down both Gonzles and Christophe and celebrates the spiritual vitality of Latin American commun ity in Breilles resurrection. It rejects hollow form in favor of locating individual relevance in communal links. Carpentier envisioned those li nks as a regional bond. That vision, while plagued with

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53 certain difficulties, had a profound and lasting effect on the direction of Latin American studies. Spectral voice is an excellent example of that impact. It contributes to a larger project of critical analysis and introspection Carpentier a nd many of his contemporaries set in motion, and the momentum of that analysis still re verberates today. Syncretism, regionalism, and the recuperation of African r oots remain major topics of discussion in the aftermath of decolonization. Any attempt to understand the peopl es of Latin America must necessarily ground itself in an examina tion of these issues. Because spectral voice impinges the boundaries that categorize the Ra tionalist world that delineate logical from illogical, real from imagined, truth from fiction it lends itself to this work. It renders audible those peoples, cultural practices, and experiences that resist containment without ceding to the consuming desire of We stern scopic drive. Such resistance belies the seamless totality of the Rationalist narrat ive, insisting instead on in-between spaces populated by the Other. Spectral voices eminen ce from those liminal spaces can liberate hidden knowledge and empower the re-imagi nation of colonized spaces. Thus, it can function as a powerful political tool for dest abilization and recupe ration by challenging the very foundation on which Western expa nsionism and global domination has been built the claim of Rationalis m to totality, objectivity, and truth. While the term spectral voice, like the anthropological traces of The Kingdom of This World on one level invokes the discourses that construct those claims, on a higher level it rejects them. It brings to center the importance of co mmunity, faith, and shared experiences in a peoples ability to endure even the harshest of conditions. Accordingly, Ti Nol reflects in a supremely lucid moment as he nears the end of his life, bowed down by suffering

PAGE 61

54 and duties, beautiful in the midst of his misery, capable of loving in the face of afflictions and trials, man finds his greatest, his fulle st measure, only in the Kingdom of This World (185).

PAGE 62

55 WORKS CITED Bhabha, Homi K. Of Mimicry and Man: Th e Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994. 85-92. Brodber, Erna. Myal London: New Beacon Books, 1988. --. Louisiana New York: New Beacon Books, 1994. Carpentier, Alejo. The Baroque and the Marv elous Real. Trans. Tanya Huntington and Lois Parkinson Zamora. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. 76-88. -. The Kingdom of This World Trans. Harriet de Onis. New York: The Noonday Press, 1957. --. The Lost Steps. Trans. Harriet de Onis. New York: The Noonday Press, 1956. -- On the Marvelous Real in America. Tr ans. Tanya Huntington and Lois Parkinson Zamora. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. 89-108. --. War of Time Trans. Frances Partridge. Ne w York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970. Castillo, Ana. So Far From God New York: Plume, 1993. Cheuse, Alan. Memories of the Future: A Critic al Biography of Alejo Carpentier Diss. State University of New Jersey, 1974. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1975. ATT 75-8383. Cooper, Brenda. Magical Realism in West African Fiction: Seeing With a Third Eye. London: Routledge, 1998. Dayan, Joan. "Vodoun, or the Voice of the Gods." Raritan: A Quarterly Review 10.n3 (Wntr 1991): 32(26). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 12 July 2005 . Edison, Thomas Wayne. The Afro-Caribbean Novels of Resistance of Alejo Carpentier, Quince Duncan, Carlos Guillarmo W ilson, and Manuel Zapata Olivella Diss. University of Kentucky, 2002.Lexington: UMI, 2002. ATT 3039116.

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56 Evans, G. S. Magical Realism and Its Meanings: A Not So Necessary Confusion. The Caf Irreal: Irreal [Re]views #4 June 2003. 4 April 2005 Faris, Wendy B. Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Re alism and the Remystification of Narrative Nashville: Vanderbilt UP, 2004. Foucault, Michele. Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison 1979. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books, 1995. Gilman, Sander A. Sexology, Psychoanalysis, and Degeneration: From a Theory of Race to a Race to Theory. Degeneration: the Dark Side of Progress. Eds. Chamberlin and Gilman. Columbia UP, 1985:72. Gonzles Echevarra, Roberto. Alejo Carpentier: The Pilgrim at Home. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1977. Gonzlez-Wippler, Migene. Powers of the Orishas: Santera and the Worship of Saints. New York: Original Publications, 1992. --. Santera: African Magi c in Latin America New York: 1973. Gorman, Deborah. The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal London: Croom Helm, 1982. Marazzi, Antonio. "An anthr opological View of Vision." Diogenes 50.199 (Fall 2003): 89(12). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 07 May 2005 . Ogunsanwo, Olatubosun. "Magical Realism in We st African Fiction: Seeing with a Third Eye." Research in African Literatures 31.2 (Summer 2000): 226. Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 12 January 2005 .

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57 Paravisini-Gebert, Lizabeth. "T he Haitian revolution in inte rstices and shadows: a rereading of Alejo Carpentier's The Kingdom of This World." Research in African Literatures 35.2 (Summer 2004): 114(14). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 23 March 2005 . Patterson, Orlando. Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. Prez, Andres I. Mena. "Cuban Santeria: Haitian Vodun, Puerto Rican Spiritualism: A Multiculturalist Inquiry Into Syncretism." The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37.1 (March 1998): 15(13). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 25 October 2005 Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. Regard,.Frederic. "On Cixouss Tongue (Beyond Scopic Desire)." Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities 9.1 (April 2004): 179(9). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Li braries, University of Florida. 23 August 2005 . Roh, Franz. Magic Realism: Post-Expressionism. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community Eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. Roucloux, Joel. "Can Democracy Survive the Disgust of Man For Man? From Social Darwinism to Eugenics.(Column)." Diogenes 49.195 (Fall 2002): 47(5). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. University of Florida. 17 April 2005 .

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58 Salgado, Cesar Augusto. "Hybridity in New World Baroque Theory.(Special Issue: Theorizing the Hybrid)." Journal of American Folklore 112.445 (Summer 1999): 316(1). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 12 October 2005 . Seabrook, W. B. Magic Island New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1929. Shaw, Donald L. Alejo Carpentier. Ed. David Foster. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985. Siegel, Sandra. Literature and Degenerati on: The Representation of Decadence. The Dark Side of Progress Eds. Chamberlin and Gilman. Columbia UP, 1985: 72. Smith, Verity. Carpentier: Los Pasos Perdidos London: Grant and Cutler Ltd, 1983. Stanley, Sandra Kumamoto. "The Excremental Gaze: Saramago's Blindness and the Disintegration of the Panoptic Vision." CRITIQUE: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 45.3 (Spring 2004): 293 (16). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 23 October 2005 . Strange, Julie Marie. "She Cried a Very Li ttle: Death, Grief and Mourning in WorkingClass Culture, c. 1880-1914." Social History 27.2 (May 1, 2002): 143(19). Expanded Academic ASAP Thomson Gale. George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida. 23 December 2004 . Turlington, Shannon R. The Complete Idiots Guide to Voodoo Indianapolis: Prentice Hall, 2002. Tusa, Bobs M. Alejo Carpentier: A Comprehensive Study. Valencia, Spain: Albotros Hispanofila, 1982. Webb, Barbara J. Myth and History in Caribbean Fi ction: Alejo Carpentier, Wilson Harris, and Eduoard Glissant Amherst: U of Mass P, 1992. Young, Richard A. Carpentier: El Reino de Este Mundo. Eds. J. E. Varey and A. D. Deyermond. Valencia, Spain: Grant Cutler, Ltd., 1983.

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59 Zamora, Lois Parkinson, and Wendy B. Faris. Introduction. Magical Realism:Theory, History, Community. Eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. --. Editors Note. Alejo Carpentier: On the Marvelous Real in America. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. --. Editors Note. Magical Realis m: Post-Expressionism by Franz Roh. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community Eds. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. 15.

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60 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Linda Darnell Stanley graduated suma cum laude in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Fl orida in Jacksonville, Florida. In May, 2006 she will receive a Master of Arts in Eng lish with a focus in postcolonial Caribbean studies from the University of Florida in Gain esville, Florida. She continues her studies at the University of Florida as a Ph.D. stude nt whose primary area of interest is the application of postcolonial and neocolonial theory to literatu re of the Americas. She is a member of the Golden Key honor society and recipient of the Kirkland Fellowship for masters students at the University of Florida.


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0013405/00001

Material Information

Title: Alejo Carpentier's "The kingdom of this world" and the spectral voice of communal consciousness
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Stanley, Linda Darnell ( Dissertant )
Rosenberg, Leah R. ( Thesis advisor )
Amoko, Apollo ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English thesis, M.A
Carpentier, Alejo -- Reino de este mundo -- 1904-1980   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- English

Notes

Abstract: Alejo Carpentier's foundational Latin American text, The Kingdom of This World, is of critical importance in part because of its historical account of the Haitian Revolution. But its enduring value derives more from its function as a site of literary intervention in Western Enlightenment discourses, an intervention that firmly places the Haitian people at the text's ontological center. In the text, Carpentier uses the form of Latin American magical realism to tell the story of the Haitian Revolution through the lens of a distinctly Latin American regional sensibility, a concept he was personally invested in. Focused around figures previously obscured in Western historical accounts, The Kingdom of This World rejects the Enlightenment viewpoint inherent in those accounts and proffers alternative definitions of "truth" and "reality". In that process, it appropriates and disrupts the discursive fields arising from Western scopic drive, an epistemic insistence on the primacy of vision/observation for both defining "truth" and possessing the seen. Western scopic drive colonizes through the gaze. Furthermore, because it asserts its field of vision--and thus its authority to define--as absolute, it maps the totalizing narratives and universalizing impulses of Western Rationalism onto colonized spaces and functions to establish and sustain European hegemony. Consequently, by contesting Western scopic drive, The Kingdom of This World models specific strategies of resistance to European hegemony. As a mechanism for analyzing those strategies of resistance, this paper introduces a new concept, spectral voice. In The Kingdom of This World, spectral voice operates within the framework of the genre of magical realism and operates to deconstruct the claim to totality that empowers scopic drive. It manifests in several modalities, ranging from the symbolic "voice" of Haitian drums functioning as a "calling forth" of communal will, to the literal voice of a specter whose presence provides a powerful disclaimer of Western Rationalism's linear and temporal frameworks. In these modalities, spectral voice rejects the defining authority of Western scopic drive and therefore provides a discursive space where the risks of using "the Master's tools" for the project of self-determination are diffused. In that space, the previously silenced stories of the marginalized emerge from the suffocating silence imposed by Western insistence on "truth" and "reality" as unequivocal absolutes. The site of production for "truth," "reality," and spiritual value is effectively shifted, revealing the voids in those totalities and demonstrating finally the strength and validity of the subaltern's voice.
Subject: Caribbean, Carpentier, Mackandal, scopic, spectral, syncretism, Ti, voice, voodoo
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 67 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2006.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 003614657
System ID: UFE0013405:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0013405/00001

Material Information

Title: Alejo Carpentier's "The kingdom of this world" and the spectral voice of communal consciousness
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Stanley, Linda Darnell ( Dissertant )
Rosenberg, Leah R. ( Thesis advisor )
Amoko, Apollo ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English thesis, M.A
Carpentier, Alejo -- Reino de este mundo -- 1904-1980   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- English

Notes

Abstract: Alejo Carpentier's foundational Latin American text, The Kingdom of This World, is of critical importance in part because of its historical account of the Haitian Revolution. But its enduring value derives more from its function as a site of literary intervention in Western Enlightenment discourses, an intervention that firmly places the Haitian people at the text's ontological center. In the text, Carpentier uses the form of Latin American magical realism to tell the story of the Haitian Revolution through the lens of a distinctly Latin American regional sensibility, a concept he was personally invested in. Focused around figures previously obscured in Western historical accounts, The Kingdom of This World rejects the Enlightenment viewpoint inherent in those accounts and proffers alternative definitions of "truth" and "reality". In that process, it appropriates and disrupts the discursive fields arising from Western scopic drive, an epistemic insistence on the primacy of vision/observation for both defining "truth" and possessing the seen. Western scopic drive colonizes through the gaze. Furthermore, because it asserts its field of vision--and thus its authority to define--as absolute, it maps the totalizing narratives and universalizing impulses of Western Rationalism onto colonized spaces and functions to establish and sustain European hegemony. Consequently, by contesting Western scopic drive, The Kingdom of This World models specific strategies of resistance to European hegemony. As a mechanism for analyzing those strategies of resistance, this paper introduces a new concept, spectral voice. In The Kingdom of This World, spectral voice operates within the framework of the genre of magical realism and operates to deconstruct the claim to totality that empowers scopic drive. It manifests in several modalities, ranging from the symbolic "voice" of Haitian drums functioning as a "calling forth" of communal will, to the literal voice of a specter whose presence provides a powerful disclaimer of Western Rationalism's linear and temporal frameworks. In these modalities, spectral voice rejects the defining authority of Western scopic drive and therefore provides a discursive space where the risks of using "the Master's tools" for the project of self-determination are diffused. In that space, the previously silenced stories of the marginalized emerge from the suffocating silence imposed by Western insistence on "truth" and "reality" as unequivocal absolutes. The site of production for "truth," "reality," and spiritual value is effectively shifted, revealing the voids in those totalities and demonstrating finally the strength and validity of the subaltern's voice.
Subject: Caribbean, Carpentier, Mackandal, scopic, spectral, syncretism, Ti, voice, voodoo
General Note: Title from title page of source document.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 67 pages.
General Note: Includes vita.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2006.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 003614657
System ID: UFE0013405:00001


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ALEJO CARPENTER'S THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND THE SPECTRAL
VOICE OF COMMUNAL CONSCIOUSNESS















By

LINDA DARNELL STANLEY


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Linda Damell Stanley

































This document is dedicated to my husband, Michael, without whom I could not continue
to realize my dreams.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to convey my sincerest appreciation to all the dedicated professionals at the

University of Florida, who have contributed immeasurably to my academic efforts. I

particularly want to acknowledge the support and encouragement of my committee

members, Dr. Leah Rosenberg and Dr. Apollo Amoko, without whom I could not have

brought this project to fruition. They have my boundless gratitude and respect.

















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

ABSTRACT ............... ...................................... vi

CHAPTER

1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ............................................................................... .............. ..

2 SPECTRAL VOICE AND MAGICAL REALISM................. .............................5

3 CARPENTIER' S REGIONAL VISION ...... ................. .............23

4 C O N C L U SIO N ......... ......................................................................... ......... ........52

WORKS CITED .................................. ................................ 55

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ...................................................................... ..................60




























v















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

ALEJO CARPENTER'S THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND THE SPECTRAL
VOICE OF COMMUNAL CONSCIOUSNESS

By

Linda Darnell Stanley

August 2006

Chair: Leah Rosenberg
Major Department: English

Alejo Carpentier's foundational Latin American text, The Kingdom of This World,

is of critical importance in part because of its historical account of the Haitian

Revolution. But its enduring value derives more from its function as a site of literary

intervention in Western Enlightenment discourses, an intervention that firmly places the

Haitian people at the text's ontological center. In the text, Carpentier uses the form of

Latin American magical realism to tell the story of the Haitian Revolution through the

lens of a distinctly Latin American regional sensibility, a concept he was personally

invested in. Focused around figures previously obscured in Western historical accounts,

The Kingdom of This World rejects the Enlightenment viewpoint inherent in those

accounts and proffers alternative definitions of "truth" and "reality."

In that process, it appropriates and disrupts the discursive fields arising from

Western scopic drive, an epistemic insistence on the primacy of vision/observation for

both defining "truth" and possessing the seen. Western scopic drive colonizes through the









gaze. Furthermore, because it asserts its field of vision and thus its authority to define -

as absolute, it maps the totalizing narratives and universalizing impulses of Western

Rationalism onto colonized spaces and functions to establish and sustain European

hegemony. Consequently, by contesting Western scopic drive, The Kingdom of This

World models specific strategies of resistance to European hegemony.

As a mechanism for analyzing those strategies of resistance, this paper introduces a

new concept, spectral voice. In The Kingdom of This World, spectral voice operates

within the framework of the genre of magical realism and operates to deconstruct the

claim to totality that empowers scopic drive. It manifests in several modalities, ranging

from the symbolic "voice" of Haitian drums functioning as a "calling forth" of communal

will, to the literal voice of a specter whose presence provides a powerful disclaimer of

Western Rationalism's linear and temporal frameworks. In these modalities, spectral

voice rejects the defining authority of Western scopic drive and therefore provides a

discursive space where the risks of using "the Master's tools" for the project of self-

determination are diffused. In that space, the previously silenced stories of the

marginalized emerge from the suffocating silence imposed by Western insistence on

"truth" and "reality" as unequivocal absolutes. The site of production for "truth,"

"reality," and spiritual value is effectively shifted, revealing the voids in those totalities

and demonstrating finally the strength and validity of the subaltern's voice.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

At its surface, Alejo Carpentier's The Kingdom of This World (1957) is a chronicle

of the Haitian Revolution. In its content, Carpentier scrupulously adheres to accepted

chronologies of historical events surrounding that moment (Young 12). Consequently, the

novel merits consideration as "the only sustained account of the Haitian Revolution in

Spanish-Caribbean literature" (Paravisini-Gebert 115). But on a more fundamental level,

the novel's value arises not from its historical accuracy but from its positioning of Haiti

and its people at its ontological center. While in form the novel is historical narrative, in

spirit it is a recuperation of elements such narratives elide. The novel rejects the value

markers of European History and redefines value through a Latin American lens,

replacing the vision of Europe with the voices of the New World.

This positioning reflects two central premises of Carpentier's perspective as both a

writer and as a Latin American1 subject. First, Carpentier demonstrates that, while Latin

America is a space formed from and reflecting many divergent influences, it is not a

space of mere imitation or assimilation. Although it conscripts and transforms external

forms and discourses and creates from them uniquely Latin American articulations, it

resists definition by those forms and discourses. Specifically, it contests the imposed

identities levied upon it by European colonial domination. That imposition

overwhelmingly coincides with the salaciously intrusive Western scopic drive (Stanley



1 Latin America herein is understood to embrace the Caribbean.









293, Marazzi 89), a gaze that seeks to instill in its subject a "state of conscious and

permanent visibility" (Foucault 201). As Frederic Regard tells us, "Knowing begins with

seeing," (79) and Western scopic drive seeks to "know" in order to colonize. So

Carpentier counters that gaze that relentless desire to know and consume through a

mechanism that I have termed herein "spectral voice."

Spectral voice emanates from a source that resists identification by Rationalist

means and thereby evades or confuses Western scopic drive it emanates from "the

hidden." It manifests at times as complexly nuanced "possessions," "reincarnations," or

symbolic representations but more often it is quite literally the voice of a "specter." But

whatever modality it takes, it is a critical concept because its spectral nature its

origination from beyond the penetration of Western scopic drive allows Carpentier to

represent the liminality of those spaces from which his story emerges, the interstices of

History in which the agency of the Other is hidden. Yet its spectral nature also repudiates

the desire inherent in Western scopic drive, the desire to know, possess, and define.

Spectral voice makes possible transgression and resistance without submission because to

speak need not mean to be seen, and when spectral voice coincides with vision, it is the

vision evoked by the voice, not by Western scopic drive that consumes. Spectral voice

evokes the power of hidden knowledge.

This investment of power and control in spectral voice diffuses much of the danger

of appropriation, the danger that using the discourse of the master will invite the master's

gaze and thereby validate the master's authority. Thus, spectral voice powerfully

articulates the silenced narratives of alterity and resistance. It subordinates the story of

the slave owner de Mezy to the story of his slave, Ti Noel; it shows us Ti Noel's exile









from and return to Haiti as more relevant than the impoverishment and death of de Mezy

or the collapse of the Napoleonic Empire. It tells us that the failure of King Christophe of

Haiti is not because he fails in the ways of Western rule, but because he embraces them

and fails in the eyes of Haiti. It calls King Christophe to account for his failure not

through the devises of Western authority, but through the thundering liturgy of a dead

priest resurrected by communal will. Thus, Carpentier uses spectral voice to forefront the

power, vitality, and durability of Haitian community and destabilize the narrative of

Western hegemony.

The second premise apparent in this novel is that Carpentier views Latin America

from a regional rather than a strictly national perspective. He strives to show not only the

appropriative powers at play in creating a uniquely Latin American sensibility, but to

express that sensibility as a communal consciousness (meaning those shared elements of

identity that situate the individual within the history, traditions, and beliefs of a people)

that transcends traditional boundaries of space and time. Community becomes an

interconnectedness forged from shared values and traumas that cannot be delimited by

arbitrary boundaries of nation. However, in this endeavor, Carpentier undermines the

transgressive powers of spectral voice. In his desire to develop a Latin American unity

capable of refuting European hegemony, he appropriates the Western discourses of

anthropology, discourses in which the inherent desires of Western scopic drive are

tenaciously embedded. This manifests most prominently in Carpentier's portrayal of

Vodoun, a portrayal that reflects the West's "perennial attachment to an occult Haiti"

(Dayan 32). Consequently, while spectral voice powerfully refutes the authority of

Western scopic drive and allows for constructive appropriation, the anthropological









traces of the novel reinscribe that authority and once again render appropriation

dangerous. The result is a subtle but pervasive tone of romantic primitivism that insists

on differentiating Latin American identity from its correlative Western image, but fails to

confer on that identity any internal specificity. Characters that loom large in The

Kingdom of This World function not only to resist the yoke of European hegemony, but

also to monolithically assert Latin American subjectivity. The Latin American space of

Carpentier's vision is "flattened out" and undifferentiated, and the implications of

spectral voice become tenuous.

But even though Carpentier oversteps his aims in his appropriative strategy, he

develops in spectral voice an explosively powerful tool that continues to hold relevance

today, not just in Latin America but anywhere resistance to Western hegemony is of

critical importance. Erna Brodber' s Louisiana and Myal, Ana Castillo' s So Far From

God, and Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo all use spectral voice in at least one modality.

Thus, a new examination of The Kingdom of This World and its use of spectral voice are

overdue. A close analysis of spectral voice, which has to date gone without critical

comment, can deepen understandings of the ways in which literature today seeks to

confront and refute Western scopic drive. Since that drive underpins much of the West's

aggression and possessiveness, spectral voice is poised at a threshold of change, a

threshold on which our world hovers dramatically as previously colonized peoples

struggle to redefine it, to recuperate their stories of old and tell their stories anew, to raise

their voices in a clarion call for acknowledgement in the emerging world order.














CHAPTER 2
SPECTRAL VOICE AND MAGICAL REALISM

The first appropriative move evident in The Kingdom of This World is Carpentier's

use of a literary form known as magical realism, a form adapted from Franz Roh's

European art aesthetic (Zamora and Faris, Editor's Note, Magical 15). This appropriation

is not the work solely of Carpentier, but also of a number of his contemporaries such as

Gabriel Garcia Marquez. However, the Latin American magical realism that arose from

this appropriation is implemented somewhat differently in The Kingdom of This World

than in most other Latin American magical realist texts. While Carpentier utilizes Latin

American magical realism, he juxtaposes it with a literary rendering of Roh's magical

realism. Carpentier refers to his approach as "lo maravilloso real," or the marvelous real

(Carpentier, "Baroque" 102). This juxtaposition, which will be the focus of more in-

depth analysis shortly, plays a large role in how effectively magical realism functions

with spectral voice in The Kingdom of This World.

Magical realism lends itself to the use of spectral voice because magical realism

contains what Wendy B. Faris identifies as an "irreducible element of magic" (Faris

7).This "irreducible element" represents the incursion of the phenomenal world into the

material world, producing a shadow region between faith and fact that blurs or dismantles

perceptual boundaries and produces "unsettling doubts" about the very nature of reality.

An excellent example of this in The Kingdom of This World is a pair of scenes that focus

on King Henri Christophe and a Capuchin monk named Breille. The first scene depicts

Breille's death, and the second depicts his resurrection and the beginning of the end for









Christophe. The two scenes function together in multiple ways. They delineate a concept

of communal consciousness that privileges Haitian ways of knowing, and they shift the

lens of history to focus on Christophe's failure in those ways of knowing. They also

clearly juxtapose the two forms of magical realism, Roh's aesthetic and Latin American

magical realism. That juxtaposition creates an indeterminacy that allows spectral voice to

operate through a critical permeability of boundaries in the text.

The first scene details the rather gruesome manner in which Christophe executes

Breille, "immur[ing him] in the Archbishop's Palace, buried alive in its oratory ... for

the crime of having wanted to go to France knowing all the secrets of the King"

(Carpentier, Kingdom 131). The monk's death and the community's reaction to it mark

Breille as a figure representative of and constituted from communal consciousness,

despite his European origins. This connection becomes evident in the way voice

functions in the description of Breille's death. It both marks Breille's demise and

prophesies his resurrection through a dual inscription of "silence" as at once the material

absence of corporeal voice and the metaphysical presence of voice. The monk's death is a

passage from the world in which voice coincides with Western scopic drive to the world

in which voice arises from hidden knowledge: "After a week of incarceration, the

Capuchin's voice had become almost inaudible, fading away to a death-rattle rather

sensed than heard. And then silence came at the corner of the Archbishop's Palace"

(Carpentier, Kingdom 132, italics mine). The monk's death-rattle is the place of

conjunction for the two inscriptions. It is at once a voice and not a voice, inaudible in the

material world but sensed heard- in the phenomenal world of the hidden.

Consequently, the silence that follows Breille's death signals colonial presence, as









analysis will show Christophe to be, but also signals the falling away of the fetters of

Western scopic drive.

The clearest indicator of this scene's importance is the means by which that silence

is broken. It is "the over-prolonged silence of a city that had ceased to believe in silence

and which only a newborn infant dared to break with its whimper of ignorance"

(Carpentier, Kingdom 132, italics mine). Here, the community's rejection of the silence

marked by Breille's death rattle is a rejection of death and a harbinger of Breille's

resurrection, That rejection is embodied in the infant's cry, a vibrant marker of communal

continuity. By counterpoising the renewal of life with the eminence of death, it

"reroute[s] life toward its customary sonority of street-cries, greetings, gossip, and songs

sung while hanging clothes out in the sun" (132) and calls into play the history,

traditions, and beliefs of the community. This clearly associates Breille's impending

resurrection with communal consciousness. What Christophe has done the community

undoes in its refusal to believe in the boundaries that shape Christophe's world. As a

result, the infant's voice becomes "spectral" because it arises from the hidden, from the

will and knowledge of the people that Western scopic drive is incapable of penetrating.

Breille becomes a signifier of that will, and of the silenced narratives of the enslaved and

oppressed masked over by the totalizing claims of Western hegemony.

Breille's signification of communal consciousness manifests as spectral voice in

the second scene of this pair. That scene signals the fall of Christophe, a freed former

slave who has taken control of Haiti following the revolution. He subsequently tries to

replicate a European system of aristocracy in the revolution's aftermath, assuming the

role of colonial presence. Significantly, Carpentier elides from The Kingdom of This









World the role of two revolutionary leaders, Dessalines and Toussaint L'Ouverture, who

are central to Western accounts of the Haitian Revolution. He also ignores Christophe's

rise to power through his role in the assassination of Dessalines, who had declared

himself emperor after the revolution. These elisions are critical because they clearly

decenter Western narratives of the revolution and put at center instead Christophe's

failure in the eyes of the Haitian people. The second scene highlights this failure by

focusing on Christophe's relationship with Comeille Breille.

Christophe attends the Mass of the Assumption shortly after Breille's death. During

the Mass, the Capuchin, "whose death and decay were known to all," (Carpentier,

Kingdom 137), appears before the congregation and Christophe is subsequently

paralyzed. His affliction foreshadows his eminent overthrow, death by suicide, and

internment in the very concrete of his own Citadel. But even before Breille's appearance,

the account of the Mass assumes an air of the unusual with the description of the morning

as a "mysterious harmony" (136). Yet this harmony resonates from the mundane

elements of "the fragrance of the orange trees in the near-by patio, and certain words of

the liturgy of the day which referred to perfumes whose names were inscribed on the

porcelain jars of the apothecary's shop of Sans Souci" (136). Repeatedly, concrete details

like orange trees oscillate with the unusual, such as Christophe's inexplicable mood,

which makes him "unable to follow the service with due attention, for his breast was

oppressed by an anxiety he could not account for" (136). Christophe's discomfort,

because of its unidentifiable origin, is part of the "irreducible element" leading us closer

to the "magical" appearance of the Capuchin. Yet we are offered even more details of the

ordinary to ground us in the material world before this remarkable event. The "delicately









veined gray marble" and the "delightful impression of coolness" in the cathedral contrast

viscerally with the highly sensory image of "the tightly buttoned swallowtailed coat and

the weight of decorations" in which Christophe perspires uncomfortably. The tickle of

the sweat and the cloying itchiness of "Sunday best" clothing heighten the appeal of the

calm and cool atmosphere in the cathedral. That sensory contrast grounds the reader in

the moment with Christophe, anchored to the material world by the physical sensations

even as the magical world unfolds. Like the details offered in the scene of the Capuchin's

demise the "newly plastered wall," the red towers, and the number of lightening strikes

associated with his place of entombment (131) the attention to the ordinary in the

description of the Mass inspires those "unsettling doubts" as the reader tries to reconcile

the presence of a dead and decaying monk with the very concrete world of fruit trees and

marble walls.

Breille's presence creates a disturbing juxtaposition of two distinct contexts; one is

the "rational," viscerally experienced, material world (a world favored by Roh's

aesthetic) and the other is the phenomenal, irrational world of the spirit from which

Christophe's nemesis appears (a world favored by Latin American magical realism). The

presence of both contexts serves to unsettle concepts of real and imagined, leaving open

to question how concrete the reader should understand Corneille Breille's phantom to be.

Is it a part of the "real" world of cathedrals and perfume, or is it a manifestation of

Christophe's agonized psyche? Does the answer to this question even matter? After all,

the sense of smell and the aesthetic appreciation of music, both of which are evoked in

this passage, are not objectively measurable qualities. So those very elements that ground

the passage in the material also point to the perceptual as the stronger context.









The tension between modes of reality here is heightened by the contrast between

"the Latin intoned by Juan de Dios Gonzales" (Carpentier, Kingdom 136) in the Mass,

which Queen Marie-Louise finds incomprehensible, and the impact of the phantom

Breille's voice: "When, thundering like the roll of a kettledrum, there arose the words

Coget omnes ante thronus, Juan de Dios Gonzales fell moaning at the feet of the Queen"

(136). Breille's voice similarly impacts Christophe: "his eyes starting from his head, [he]

bore it until the Rex tremende majestatis. At that moment a thunderbolt that deafened

only his ears struck the church tower, shivering all the bells at once" (Carpentier,

Kingdom 138). Breille's presence and the contrast between the two priest's voices

unsettle rationalist ideals of truth and demonstrate the permeability of boundaries.

Certainly, a psychological mechanism of guilt might explain Christophe's paralysis, and

the lightening strike suggested by the thunderbolt may be the cause of other material

manifestations in the passage. However, the details that allow such a rational analysis can

also be linked dramatically with spectral voice. For instance, Breille's words are clarion

sharp, precipitating (and perhaps constituting) the thunderbolt. That thunderbolt, as

Christophe's punishment, links directly to the reason for Breille's immurement the

Capuchin's knowledge of the "truth" about Christophe and his citadel. So the

precipitating event to this scene is an attempt by Christophe to silence Breille and hide

his knowledge, to silence the voice that now speaks out with spectral force to condemn

him. Because of this connection, regardless of whether Breille is a concrete, "real"

presence in the citadel, his perceived presence is more eventful and significant in the

text's reality than Gonzales' presence. Thus, Breille subverts the rational the living

priest Gonzales- to the irrational the dramatic impact of a knowing and "truthful"









spectral voice. Its spectral nature its origination from beyond the categorical boundary

of death lends it a validity denied the words of the living priest.

Just as the power of Breille's voice correlates to his relationship to truth (his

knowledge about Christophe), this same kind of correlation exists between the

incomprehensibility of Gonzales' liturgy, his rise to favor with Christophe, and his fate in

the cathedral: "Tired of the chick-peas and dried beef across the mountains, the sly friar

found the Haitian court to his liking ... It was rumored that certain words of his, spoken,

as though offhand, before Henri Christophe one day .. were the cause of Corneille

Breille's terrible disgrace" (Carpentier, Kingdom 132). Gonzales' deceptiveness

correlates with a transformation reflected once again in voice. The "fine bass voice"

(131) he arrives at Christophe's court with becomes "baritone inflections of unfailing

effect" (138) that are nevertheless impossible for Queen Marie-Louise to comprehend.

The contrast of "unfailing effect" and incomprehensibility identifies Gonzales as a point

where rational modes of understanding unravel and the "magical" intercedes. His "effect"

(and therefore his power) is illusory in nature. It is hollow ritual, a form that attempts to

bridge the gap between material and phenomenal but fails because it is incomprehensible

to the people. This is in direct contrast to the idea of "the hidden," in which underlying

the obscuring veil of "reality" lies content and validity that is not only comprehensible

but vital to the people. Gonzales' ritual is hopelessly devoid of meaning, leaving him

powerless against the force of truth in the spectral voice. This interpretation gains merit

from Gonzales' reaction to the appearance of his disenfranchised counterpart, Breille;

Gonzales is struck prostrate at the queen's feet, incapable of anything more articulate

than a moan. Gonzales and all he stands for become ineffective and irrelevant to the









reality of the text, and Queen Marie-Louise adheres to the ritual he proffers despite its

irrelevance is symptomatic of a larger bankruptcy within the Rationalist paradigm.

Like Queen Marie-Louise's blind allegiance, Gonzales' infatuation with the

European fineries of Christophe's court makes him emblematic of Western value

systems. Similarly, Christophe's obsession with creating a Haitian class of nobility in the

European model marks Christophe as such an emblem as well. Additionally, both men

are eventually left prostrate in the presence of Breille, who is in contrast elevated above

them: "Now, with a great bound, the specter had seated himself on one of these beams, in

the very line of Henri Christophe's vision, spreading wide arms and legs as thought the

better to display his bloodstained brocades" (Carpentier, Kingdom 138, italics mine). The

preeminence of Western scopic drive, represented here by Christophe's vision, is struck

aside by spectral voice and its visible manifestation. Breille's image, emanating from

beyond the boundary of death and beyond the penetrating Western scopic drive,

commands Christophe's vision, denying the prostrate king access to the rational

constructs upon which he has built his kingdom. Christophe's undoing is his faith in the

forms of Europe and his failure to recognize their irrelevance to Haiti.

Struck down as well in this scene are the concrete symbols of European domination

(qua the domination of European religious systems). Breille's thunderbolt levels the

precentors, the thuribles, the choristers' stand, and the pulpit, and like Gonzales and

Christophe, these symbols correlate to European domination and the colonial presence.

The effect of Breille's voice on them thus represents an inversion of colonial power

dynamics because the manifest forces of the colonized dominate or destroy the Rational









forces of the colonizer via the spectral voice. It reasserts the vitality of the silenced and

hidden, and challenges the authority of Western scopic drive.

Breille's death and his subsequent presence in the cathedral, then, precipitate a

crisis of reality in which an inherent ambivalence in Western scopic drive and Western

discourse becomes apparent. This ambivalence has its root in what might best be

termed "the anxiety of spectacle." This anxiety arises from the dual registers of reality

that spectacle makes manifest. With Breille's appearance, the surety of Western scopic

drive is called into question, but because the reader can never be quite certain how

"literally" to read Breille's appearance, the text refuses to situate him unequivocally in

the material world. Thus, the question itself is questionable. The resulting indeterminacy

of reality gives rise to a tension similar to what Homi Bhabha terms "mimicry," which he

describes as "the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of a difference

that is almost the same, but not quite ... the sign of a double articulation; a complex

strategy of reform, regulation, and discipline, which 'appropriates' the Other as it

visualizes power" (Bhabha 86). Like mimicry, the anxiety of spectacle pivots on the

desire of Western scopic drive to fix and define its subject on Western terms. That desire

surfaces as discourses of "fixity" that attempt to claim a subject by naming it. For

example, the Western discourse of superstition and the occult comes into in an

overwhelming number of discussions concerning "voodoo"; the deliberate choice herein

to refer to the religion as Vodoun is an attempt to mediate that discourse. However, the

term "spectral voice" borrows from that same discourse. It "mimics" the fixity the

dominant discourse signifies with "spectre" in the attempt to subvert that discourse.









This attempt relies on the idea that co-emergent with that fixity is the irremediable

otherness of the Other, the difference that is increasingly marked as the perceived identity

of the named subject approaches the vision of Western scopic drive. Here, that drive

desires knowledge of Breille's specter, but that knowledge means situating the specter in

the material world. This results in paradox, because such a placement demands the

identification of the specter as Breille, an identification that assaults the very boundaries

of Western Rationalism with which the identification is made. The response to that

paradox is ambivalence, a stance that allows the dual inscription of Breille to stand. In

fact, it acknowledges his very nature as dual inscription. Instead of exhibiting the "almost

the same, but not quite" of Bhabha's mimicry that "conceals no presence or identity

behind its mask" (Bhabha 88), Breille exhibits the anxiety of spectacle as "the same

obscuring the different;" Breille's spectacle his "specter" does serve as a "mask," or

more accurately as a shield. Whereas Bhabha's mimicry makes no endeavor to preserve

the hidden because it hides nothing, the ambivalence arising from the anxiety of spectacle

is important precisely because it does preserve the hidden as a place of enunciatory power

and transgression. That power arises in part from a hyper-awareness in Western scopic

drive of an impenetrable space beyond the spectacle of the totally hidden. Only in the

presence of such awareness is the drama of spectral voice fully realized. This is a subtle

yet critical difference.

The preservation of the ambivalence of dual inscription lends power to the

spectral voice by sustaining the hidden as hidden while simultaneously calling attention

to its power as knowledge. It is the preservation of ambivalence that drives Carpentier's

application of magical realism. Because the form embraces the incommensurable, it









provides an ideal frame for spectral voice to function in ways discontinuous with other

literary forms. Consequently, an understanding of how Carpentier contributed to magical

realism's transformation and how magical realism facilitates spectral voice brings into

sharper focus the critical import of The Kingdom of This World. Such an understanding

also forefronts the novel's relevance to the continuing project of examining inter- and

intra-communal relationships in the region today.

The inception of Latin American magical realism is located in European Surrealism

and visual art aesthetics. Consequently, it shares with Surrealism an impulse to co-

represent divergent perceptions of"reality" as one unified vision (Zamora and Faris,

Introduction 11). However, Carpentier's application of magical realism significantly

changes the form. In fact, as Bobs. M. Tusa notes, while the novel arises from

Carpentier's "enhancing experiences of Surrealism" during his time in Europe, it is also

"his rebellion against Surrealism and his counter-challenge" (25). Thus his application of

magical realism demonstrates the conscription and transformation of a European form as

repudiation and resistance, and as a means of explicating Latin American identity. Since

his role in developing Latin American magical realism so clearly illustrates his

philosophy of appropriation and adaptation, it is central to most discussions of

Carpentier's work today. Just as he appropriates historical narrative to display its voids,

so too does he change magical realism to accommodate the Latin American context.

His efforts in this area coincide with the efforts of other writers of Latin America's

"El Boom" of the mid-1900s (Zamora and Faris 1; Janney 9), and together those efforts

constitute a major Latin American literary influence. During that era authors such as

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Miguel Angel Asturias, and Jorge Luis Borges shared









Carpentier's concern for developing a literary form that focused on Latin American

experiences from inside that space, in contrast to imposed European forms and narratives

that had previously defined it. Their success is apparent not only in the impact their

efforts had on Latin American literary traditions, but also in the number of writers around

the world they influenced then and now. Today such authors as Salman Rushdie, Toni

Morrison, and Haruki Murakami continue to use the form, and other traditions of magical

realism have arisen that, if not derived from,1 are at least in dialogue with the work of

Carpentier and his contemporaries.

However, some critics argue that The Kingdom of This World does not fit the model

of a magical realist text. This assertion is based on a binary formulation of magical

realism as either the aesthetic vision of art critic Franz Roh, who coined the term in 1925

to apply to Surrealist painting (Evans 3; Faris 15; Roh 15), or magical realism as it

appears in Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude (perhaps the most

critically examined magical realist text of all). But this is a false binary for several

reasons. First, The Kingdom of This World was first published in Spain in 1949, whereas

One Hundred Years of Solitude first appeared in 1967, nearly two decades later. This

alone makes a comparison of their literary forms anachronistic, as Latin American

magical realism was undergoing rapid transformation in those decades. Comparing

Carpentier's novel to Marquez's is tantamount to comparing the Theory of Relativity to

quantum physics. Additionally, as Richard A. Young explains in his discussion of the two

novels, Marquez's conception of magical realism takes the prerogative of altering


1 One example of this is the emergence of a literary tradition in West Africa that some theorists identify as
Magical Realism. Some authors who deploy this form, however, object to its identification by that name.
For an extended discussion of this, see Brenda Cooper's Magical Realism in West African Fiction: Seeing
With a Third Eye and Olatubosun Ogunsanwo's review of the same.









material reality, whereas Carentier's "lo maravilloso real" focuses ostensibly on

phenomenological differences, similar to Roh's conception. However, it is critical to note

that Carpentier presents phenomenological difference as an effective force in the material

world, which is a clear departure from Roh's aesthetic. Also, as Young further points out,

the final two chapters of The Kingdom of This World present in material terms the

metamorphic transformations of the slave Ti Noel. This makes apparent Carpentier's

cognizance of magical realism's potential to produce a coherent, "alternative" reality, and

indeed Marquez's later effort may in fact owe its perspective to Carpentier's vision. But

more importantly, The Kingdom of This World brings together both poles of magical

realism's potential and inserts the European form into the New World context. The result

is a text that insists on the reality of perspective and the illusion of reality.

This distinction is critical in understanding Carpentier's use of spectral voice. Used

alone, Roh's formulation of magical realism would deny the effective impact of such a

phenomenon on the material world. Roh uses the term ("Magischer Realismus") to

describe a form of visual art in which traditional realism is overlaid with elements of

surrealism and the fantastical (Evans 3; Faris 15; Roh 15). In the term's application Roh

emphasizes the "realism" of the art, and he viewed that realism as a rebuttal to

Expressionism's "exaggerated preference for fantastic, extraterrestrial, remote objects"

and "shocking exoticism" (Roh 16). In the works of such artists as Schottz, Nebel, and

Picasso, Roh sees "a new style that is thoroughly of this world, that celebrates the

mundane" (17).

"The mundane" that Roh speaks of is in direct contrast to Expressionism's dramatic

deviation from "accurate" and "objective" representation of the world and nature. The









importance of realistic representation for Roh becomes more evident when we examine

how he defines "magic" in the following passage: "The clash of true reality and apparent

reality has always had an elemental attraction Such ajuxtaposition of reality and

appearance was not possible until the recuperation of the objective world, which was

largely lacking in Expressionism"(Roh 20). Roh goes on to explain how magical realist

art recuperates the objective: "We could say that in this new painting the very system of

categories has been refined, gaining in clarity, richness, and precision" (Roh 29). We can

draw from these passages that for Roh the magical element of the art is not in any sense

an element of transcendent or supernatural agency, but rather arises from the space

between "true reality" and individual perspectives or representations of that reality. Roh's

magical realism does not arise from an exalted state nor presuppose faith as does

Carpentier's. It is a fervent embrace of the objective while simultaneously acknowledging

the irreducible multiplicity of representation. Consequently, the "magical" depends on

and is a function of a startling contrast between objective reality and subjective judgment,

and that contrast reinforces rather than challenges the "system of categories," the "true

reality," by which Rationalism defines the concrete world.

But Roh's emphasis on a definable, concrete reality differs significantly from ideals

of magical realism that grow out of its Latin American formulation. As Zamora and Faris

explain, "Roh praises Post-Expressionism's realistic, figural representation, a critical

move that contrasts with our contemporary use of the term [magical realism] to signal the

contrary tendency, that is, a text's departure from realism rather than its reengagement of

it" (15). A fundamental shift in perspectives separates today's magical realism and its

ideological Latin American parent from the aesthetic Roh sought to define in 1925.









That shift occurs in part because of a distinctive narrative approach that rejects

Roh's privileging of the objective world and differentiates Latin American and

contemporary magical realism from other literary forms. Wendy B. Faris terms this

approach "defocalization," (43) or a narrative given from an indeterminate, unlocatable

perspective. The defocalized narrative voice arises from the hidden, and in this respect it

is "spectral." Like spectral voice it has the power of knowledge, but only at the expense

of inverted paradigms, since one effect of defocalization is to record as empirically true

elements that in fact depart from rational or empirical standards. Defocalization thereby

mimics the empirical dependency that realist texts derive from a more determinate

narrative perspective, like an omniscient narrator, but allows the text to leave unfixed the

categorical boundaries of "truth" and "reality." For example, in The Kingdom of This

World, we more readily consider the idea that Breille's appearance at the Mass of the

Assumption is "fact" rather than simply Christophe's hallucination because we are not

invested in any single narrative perspective. Therefore we have the broad scope of the

omniscient narrator, but not the certainty. Because our narrator remains ideologically

unformed, meaning we cannot determine from which viewpoint of reality the narrator

speaks, we have no clearly defined framework for determining the narrator's reliability or

the text's interpretive parameters. We must therefore retain some discomfort about

anything we accept in the text as "real." If we accept the narrative judgment that Breille

does indeed appear at the Mass, we must also accept the implicit challenge to the

authority of objective history. In what "official" historical record will we find a spectral

Breille? Yet the defocalized narrative lends his appearance the ontological weight of

reality.









The unsettling doubts that defocalization produces set apart both Carpentier's and

Marquez's approach to magical realism from Roh's. Both Latin American authors resist

the reinscription of material reality with the appellative "true" with which Roh marks it.

But in another respect Carpentier and Marquez use magical realism quite differently, and

had Carpentier adhered to Gabriel Garcia Marquez' magical realism, this would have

placed spectral voice too solidly in the realm of the fantastical. Whereas Roh privileges

material reality, Marquez's formulation of it does little to preserve the demarcation

between realities. For example, in One Hundred Years of Solitude "Macondoans ride

magi carpets, Remedios the Beauty rises up to the heavens, a pot in Ursula's kitchen

spontaneously creeps to the edge of the table and falls, Jose Arcadio and Amarant give

birth to an infant with a pig's tail, Melquiades foretells the family history" (Faris 121).

Throughout Marquez's novel, the magical asserts itself in ways that transform the

material world. As a result, we gain a sense of being constantly in a world that is almost,

but not quite, the one in which we reside. That world is different but cohesive.

But for Carpentier in The Kingdom of This World, the challenge to Rationalist

values and hegemony arises in part from the disjunction between perspectives, a

disjunction that partially disappears in Marquez's novel. Carpentier deploys both forms

of magical realism to achieve an effect distinctly different from either. Because he

juxtaposes the two, we gain from The Kingdom of This Worldthe sense that reality is

layered, and the fabric of one layer is rent to reveal what lies beneath. We can never be

certain whether the differences we see are phenomenological or material because the

level of incoherence in the text is greater than that in Marquez's. Consequently, we catch

a glimpse of the hidden while retaining a heightened awareness of its hidden status. We









hear the voices of the silenced and remain aware they have been silenced. This makes

brutally obvious the violence of colonial oppression as more than a physical violence. It

reveals it as a colonization of the spirit and calls into question the categorical boundaries

that make that colonization possible. Consequently, when spectral voice intercedes to

mark a given moment as significant, it provides a place to which the reader can anchor

the desire for truth and knowledge. Spectral voice simultaneously becomes the

manifestation of instability while serving as the point of coherence in the text.

Yet spectral voice also illuminates a will to resistance, a will that the narrative of

Western hegemony must elide for the sake of totality. It accomplishes this by revealing

those moments when Rationalist categorical boundaries such as "the magical" and "the

real," "past" and "present," or "body" and "spirit" collapse (as we see in Breille's case).

Magical realism as Carpentier reconfigures it provides an ideal frame for this revelation,

since magical realism is adapted to the dissolution or transgression of such boundaries.

As Zamora and Faris express it, "magical realism is a mode suited to exploring and

transgressing boundaries, whether the boundaries are ontological, political,

geographical, or generic ... [It] often facilitates the fusion or coexistence, of possible

worlds, spaces, systems that would be irreconcilable in other modes of fiction" (Zamora

and Faris 6). Breille's death and resurrection are preeminent examples of this in The

Kingdom of This World because in Western ideologies death is arguably the ultimate

marker of Rationalist order. It is an impermeable boundary whose monumental weight

marks the centrality of the individual and signals the absolute linearity of time and


2.
progress2. Consequently, by challenging this boundary the spectral voice carves out a


2For extended discussion on the categorical imperative of death in European systems of belief, see
Deborah Gorman's The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal, which discusses the significant change in










space for the hidden by bringing under scrutiny perceptual voids in the Western

Rationalist body of knowledge. That challenge explains why the manifestation of

spectral voice as "ghostly" is the prevalent mode, and why magical realism as a form is

so conducive to the function of spectral voice. Magical realism helps validate this

function because it accepts the "reality" of spectral voice and of resistance a priori,

regardless of the ambiguities that may surround any particular instance of its

manifestation. This allows spectral voice to refine its focus, putting aside the question, "Is

it real?" and bringing under examination instead those categorical boundaries that insist

the question be posed at all.























mortality rates among children in 19" century England. Additionally, see "'She Cried a Very Little': Death,
Grief and Mourning in Working-class Culture, c. 1880-1914*," in which author Julie-Marie Strange takes a
slightly different view with regard to the working class, yet on the whole supports the idea that perceptions
of death were changing and the categorical divide between life and death becoming more insurmountable.
Finally, social scientist Pat Jalland "argues that the middle and upper classes had begun to retreat from
death some decades earlier," (qtd in Strange 143). Cumulatively, these sources point to death as the
ultimate categorical boundary in dominant Western ideologies, serving to separate not only the dead from
the living, but also the rational or "scientific" from the irrational or "superstitious."














CHAPTER 3
CARPENTER' S REGIONAL VISION

As the analyses of Breille's connection to Haitian communal consciousness and

Christophe's connection to European values demonstrate, spectral voice challenges ideas

of communal "belonging" the European Breille "belongs" to Haiti whereas the Haitian

Christophe "belongs" to Europe. With the cry of an infant, spectral voice collapses

polarities of identity and replaces them with a circular, discursive relationship between

past, present and future; it fundamentally alters ideals of community, identity, and

individuality. These strategies redefine community in a way that effectively decenters

Europe (as the seat of rationalist and objective thought) and forefronts the syncretic

qualities of Latin America.

This focus on syncretism is the indicator of the text's second major premise, which

concerns Carpentier's view of Latin America from a regional rather than a strictly

national perspective. While Carpentier was very active in the nationalist project of Cuba,

he ultimately came to insist on situating cultural production simultaneously within both a

national and a broader regional sensibility (Young 34; Smith 65). He conceived of Latin

American identity and community as functions of shared experiences that transcend

artificially imposed boundaries. He accordingly viewed syncretism as the disclosure of

that regional sensibility.

His desire to privilege syncretism results in several strategies that contest the

artificial circumscription of community and identity by nationalist boundaries.

Particularly, in The Kingdom of This World he refocuses the lens of history to cameo









connections and events quite different from those usually placed at center by Western

historiography. He also focuses on the syncretic elements in Vodoun as a unifying thread

between disparate times and places. But it is this last strategy that brings to light a critical

problem in the novel; it engages in an essentialist view of Vodoun that reinscribes

problematic European discourses on the novel's representational space.

Syncretism finds expression in The Kingdom of This World most frequently when

Carpentier explores what Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert calls "the seamless flow between

the life of the body and the life of the spirit that characterizes Vodou" (116). Breille's

appearance in the cathedral is such an exploration. Because of this "seamless flow,"

Breille's physical demise does not foreclose his continuing resistance. The power of faith

arising from shared trauma at the hands of the colonizer facilitates his transition from a

corporeal being to one of spirit and communal will. Additionally, Breille's role as priest

aligns him with modes of religious expression, and his transformation into the world of

spirit further reinforces this alignment. As a result, his emerges as a socio-religious

signifier of Haitian communal consciousness. Similarly, his destructive power over

emblems of European power, and specifically over European religious practices,

powerfully marks him as representative of Vodoun, the Haitian "religion of resistance

and revolution [that] gives collective strength and identity to the disenfranchised" (Dayan

39). Through his death and transformation, Breille becomes a model for religious

syncretism.

That syncretism appealed to Carpentier's interest in Afro-Cubanism (Edison 54;

Janney 10), 1 a term coined by Cuban ethnologist and social scientist Fernando Ortiz. As


1 Frank Janney notes particularly the overarching presence of animism in Carpentier's early fiction, and
also notes, "According to J. C. Froelich animism is the basic element of all Black religions in Africa:" (53).









Ortiz's term suggests, one of the movement's primary concerns was highlighting the

indigenous and African components of Cuban and Latin American culture, and as Donald

L. Shaw explains, early in Carpentier's career the author adopted much of Ortiz'

philosophy (3-6). Gonzales Echevarria identifies that philosophy as part of the struggle to

disentangle Latin America from a culturally bankrupt Europe and assert authenticity and

independence for Latin American cultural production (55-57). As loci of the African

presence in Latin America, syncretic religions such as Vodoun and Santeria., which arose

from West African religions in close and continuous contact with Catholicism, are

integral to that struggle (Gonzalez-Wippler, Powers 1; Rituals 8; Turlington 15),

Accordingly, Carpentier's focus on Vodoun in The Kingdom of This World logically

follows his interest.

The significance for Carpentier of Vodoun and syncretism in developing a

regional sensibility cannot be overstated. This becomes evident in The Kingdom of This

World with an analysis of Ti Noel's experiences immediately after the Haitian

Revolution. This analysis reveals both the critical role of Vodoun in communal identity

and Carpentier's strategic use of the historic lens to relocate the center of meaning to

Latin America. After the revolution, the story of Ti Noel shifts away from Haiti and leads

us to Cuba during moments in which European historical accounts forefront events in

Haiti. This move, in establishing Ti Noel and his social context as a thread of continuity,




Janney's observation highlights Carpentier's interest in recuperating the Black heritage of the Caribbean
and thus suggests that interest plays a large part in Carpentier's literary focus. However, Janney's analysis
of Carpentier's animism also inheres a problematic categorization of such religions as emanating from
"primitive cultures," (53) which reflects an ongoing practice of imposing Western ethnographic views on
non-Western cultural practices. Janney assumes Carpentier shares this characterization of such cultures, an
assumption with merit the text will demonstrate.









challenges Western historical narratives and rejects the idea that community (and

identity) is geographically or nationally bounded.

Ti Noel's master M. Lenormand de Mezy seeks refuge in Cuba, taking Ti Noel

with him. While in Cuba, the two men find themselves in a Catholic cathedral, and the

importance of the scene rests in Ti Noel's experience of that space. Because of its

location, the scene echoes the Mass of the Assumption, and issues of power, voice, and

vision appropriately come into play.

De Mezy goes to the cathedral after "seeing in the mirror how the marks of age

deepened with every passing week, [and he] began to fear the approaching summons of

God .... And so, accompanied by Ti Noel, he took to spending long hours groaning and

rasping out ejaculatories in the Santiago Cathedral" (Carpentier, Kingdom 85). The slave

owner's sudden bout of piety is precipitated by a disabling malaise that accompanies a

sharp downturn of his fortunes at the card tables. Like Gonzales, his piety is hollow,

based on self-interest and material concerns, disconnected from communal values or any

concordant sense of identity.

In sharp contrast, Ti Noel finds in the cathedral a strong tie to his home and past.

The passage describing his experience is highly visual and verges on structural

fragmentation as it weaves from disparate elements a remarkable discovery for the slave

in his exile: "the Negro found in the Spanish churches a Voodoo warmth" that has "an

attraction, a power of seduction in presence" that emanates from "The baroque golds, the

human hair of the Christs, the mystery of the richly carved confessionals, the guardian

dog of the Dominicans, the dragons crushed under saintly feet, the pig of St. Anthony, the

dubious color of St. Benedict, the black Virgins, the St. Georges with the buskins and









corselets of actors in French tragedies, the shepherd's instruments played on Christmas

Eve" (Carpentier, Kingdom 87). This passage demonstrates in both content and form the

composite nature of the church's interior. Its list-like structure amidst conventional prose

is disjunctive, and its contents abound with disjunctions as well. The rich imagery injects

into the overarching European milieu elements rendered uniquely Latin American by the

synthesis of their parts. The emblems of Christian ceremony and tradition become instead

the emblems of appropriation and transformation. The list and the scene thereby serve as

an effective metaphor for Carpentier's vision of Latin American identity.

Contrasted with the cathedral setting of the Mass of Assumption, the scene's

syncretic elements are heightened and its invocation of Vodoun practices forefronted.

Whereas the Mass of the Assumption occurs amidst the signs of Catholicism and the

colonial presence, the Cuban cathedral abounds with "symbols, attributes and signs

similar to those of the alters of the houmforts [sic] consecrated to Damballah, the Snake

god. Besides, St. James is Ogon Fai, marshall of the storms, under whose spell

Bouckman's followers had risen" (87). The conventional markers of Catholicism are shot

through and through with dominating markers of the African gods, and these elements of

religious syncretism collapse for Ti Noel the distance between home and Cuba, between

community and exile. National boundaries succumb to the unity of shared history,

traditions, and beliefs.

Notably, voice and vision function in this scene to invert the thrust of Western

scopic drive, giving authority of sight to Ti Noel and rendering European voice

incomprehensible,. This is evident in "these discordant symphonies, which Don Esteban

Salas enriched with bassoons, horns, and boy sopranos" (Carpentier, Kingdom 87). As in









the case of Gonzales' liturgy, European voice is here associated with the superfluous,

with the irrelevant droning of "discordant symphonies." Ti Noel ponders the purpose of

the noise, noting "It was really impossible to understand why this choirmaster .. was

determined that the singers should enter the chorus one after the other, part of them

singing what the others had sung before, and setting up a confusion of voices fit to

exasperate anyone" (Carpentier, Kingdom 85-86). The imposed and to Ti Noel illogical

- structure the choirmaster strives for, like the hollow ceremonial gestures of Gonzales,

have no underlying meaning in the syncretic world of Latin America. In the presence of

guardian spirit-dogs and St. Anthony's pig, his efforts are worthless.

So while the scene lacks the revelatory clarity of spectral voice, we find its

antithesis signaling the bankruptcy of European forms and values. The focus turns away

from hollow, incomprehensible ceremony because Ti Noel draws meaning not from the

babble of the functionaries and the European musical forms but from the points of

intersection between realities, between the African gods and the saints of Europe,

between the Son of God and the son of war. These points of intersection highlight the

syncretic origins of Vodoun, and in turn, Vodoun provides continuity between Ti Noel's

experience of community in Haiti and his experience in the Cuban church. Ti Noel's

revelation anchors community and identity to shared practices arising from a syncretic

heritage and rejects the idea that community is always geographically bounded. While the

routed Europeans may be devastated by their exile and find little reassurance in the

hollow forms of normalcy, Ti Noel finds comfort and warmth. In his exile he discovers

the far-reaching embrace of community in the chocolate tones of a black Madonna. .









Another important aspect of this passage is its reference to "the baroque golds" of

the cathedral because the idea of the baroque is central to Carpentier's concept of Latin

America. He sees the Latin American space as inherently baroque, as a place where "the

fantastic inheres in the natural and human realities of time and place" (Zamora and Faris,

Editor's Note "On the Marvelous" 75). Consequently, in his search for Latin American

authenticity, Carpentier again uses an appropriative strategy. He transforms the European

notion of the baroque into a distinctly Latin American configuration, one that strives for

an overall balance of disparate parts and "steep[s] the reader in whatever atmosphere he

[Carpentier] is evoking" (Smith 64). Carpentier's Latin American "neo- baroque," as

Cesar Augusto Salgado explains, is a critical redefinition of European baroque that

"refocus[es] on the hybrid refigurations that European baroque paradigms have

undergone when transplanted into the colonial arena [. .] 'New World Baroque' cultural

artifacts of the colonial period could be read as instances of discontinuity rather than as

application of European aesthetic norms despite their visible allegiance to a metropolitan

school of style" (317). The baroque in Latin America, then, marks those points of

divergence at which syncretic formations depart from European norms.

By using this "neo-Baroque" within the framework of magical realism, Carpentier

challenges the putative success of European Rationalism and the Enlightenment within

the Caribbean space. He shifts the view of artifacts in the Caribbean we might interpret as

European baroque to one that shows us incongruities wrought by the irresistible forces of

the New World: "angels playing the bassoon, the theorbo, the organ, and the maracas"

perched atop a burned church overrun by jungle growth in The Lost Steps (116); a "Ceres

with a broken nose and discolored peplum" holding court from "a fountain of crumbling









grotesques" in War of Time (105); Christophe's Citadel in The Kingdom of This World,

built on the energies of sacrificial blood, of "the mighty bellowing of bulls, bleeding,

their testicles to the sun (125). All are transformed in that shift to images whose principle

characteristic is their incongruous melding of Old World and New. They are European

baroque in form but American in spirit, and the emphasis in that melding for Carpentier is

the transformative power of creolization/metizaje. So the overarching baroque tone of Ti

Noel's cathedral experience works with the refocused historical lens to mark the moment

as a remarkable instance of creolite.

But Ti Noel's experience also points to a critical problem in the text. That problem

arises from Carpentier's intention to illustrate a unified Latin American sensibility

capable of shaking off the fetters of Europe and claiming authenticity for the Latin

American creole subject. By tuning the lens of history to show Vodoun's importance in

The Kingdom of This World, Carpentier seeks to recontextualize historical, social, and

moral relevance by shifting critical focus from distant Europe to America. As Robert

Gonzales Echevarria suggests, this goal is evident throughout the corpus of Carpentier's

work as "a search for origins, the recovery of history and tradition. The foundation of an

autonomous American consciousness serving as the basis for a literature faithful to the

New World," (qtd in Paravisini-Gebert). Barbara Webb expands on this, saying "Lo

maravilloso real, with its emphasis on the mythohistorical heritage of the Americas,

represents the beginning of a dialogue .. concerned with establishing a New World

cultural identity based on the shared heritage of all of its peoples" (Webb 13, italics

mine). That emphasis on the shared heritage of all, however, leads Carpentier (like many

other authors before him and since) into an unintended essentialization. In The Kingdom









of This World, a monolithic representation of Vodoun blunts the otherwise razor-sharp

effects of spectral voice. It invites in Western scopic drive and grants its authority to

define and circumscribe.

In his eagerness to portray Vodoun as a unifying influence, Carpentier adapts the

methodologies of Western anthropology and ethnography even as he tries to diffuse their

negative impact. These academic discourses are arguably inextricable from Western

scopic drive, since their primary purpose is to produce knowledge of cultures through

penetration, observation, and categorization. The problematic influence of these

discourses is apparent in Ti Noel's experience in the Cuban cathedral, which exhibits a

difficulty symptomatic of Vodoun's representation in the text. The features of the

cathedral's iconography that appeal to Ti Noel are features he associates with Vodoun,

made evident by his invocation of the hounfort. As Joan Dayan explains, the hounfort is

the alter around which the Vodoun community "articulates itself' (40). The cathedral

scene contains nothing to contradict Ti Noel's identification.

However, the prevailing religion of syncretic origins in Cuba is not Vodoun,

which is uniquely associated in its specificity with Haiti. Rather, in Cuba Vodoun's

counterpart is La Religi6n Lucumi, often referred to as Santeria (Gonzalez-Wippler,

Powers 1, Gonzalez-Wippler Santeria 3, Perez 18). Certainly, Ti Noel's association of

these elements with Vodoun is understandable; his prior experiences make it a reasonable

identification. Also, Carpentier's intent was clearly to draw attention to the shared

African origins of these two faiths. But because the text imposes one upon the other with

no clarification, both of them lose specificity. They become flattened out into a

monolithic representation of syncretism. This move reflects the influence in Carpentier's









writing of Cuban ethnographer and social scientist Femando Ortiz, who "identified the

end result of syncretism as 'transculturation' and saw it as similar to the Anglo-American

paradigm of acculturation and assimilation" (Perez 16).Such a flattening may well serve

to highlight common bonds of shared heritage and traumas, but does little to

acknowledge the unique elements imbedded in every faith by the agency of its

practitioners. To suggest that syncretism follows the same pathways everywhere is to

deny that agency.

Anthropology, ethnography, and related social science discourses also have

another impact, indirect yet equally negative, on perceptions of Vodoun. They spawned

in their early years popular discourses that titillated Western audiences by fetishizing

elements "peripheral to the more basic beliefs and practices that articulate the multiple

and ambiguous versions of the Haitian socio-religious life" (Dayan 33). These discourses,

both academic and popular, find their way into The Kingdom of This World as another

manifestation of Carpentier's appropriative tendencies, but not the conscious

manipulation evident with magical realism. They manifest most noticeably as the urge to

homogenize identified above, and in an unintended or at least unexamined -

reactionary pattern evident in Breille's example. This pattern nearly always associates

Vodoun with supernatural or supranatural forces. Even in Ti Noel's Cuban cathedral

experience, although no supernatural or supranatural elements emerge, the overall tone

and ambiance of the scene is highly suggestive of them. While this association facilitates

the power of spectral voice, it also reinforces an early anthropological discourse that

makes a distinction between "modern" religions and "primitive" religions, a distinction

that hinges on "the so-called primitive-mentality problem" (Geertz 110). In these









discourses, "primitive" is inextricably connected to "superstition," "shamanism," or as

in this case "blood ritual." As such, the primitive religion is cast as the under-evolved

precursor of modern religion, and as in other such polarities, is almost inevitably

racialized. Consequently, the association of Vodoun with super- or supranatural

phenomena in The Kingdom of This World in the absence of any offsetting

representations renders a troubling view of the religion. That view is just as reductive as

Hollywood horror films featuring bloodthirsty rites of black magic and zombified

monsters bent on the destruction of humanity.

Popular discourses on Vodoun such as the horror film genre are not alone in their

reductionism. For example, in the early decades of the twentieth century, ethnographic

interpretations of "primitive" cultures abounded, and in fact colonial expansionism had

prospered from the Rationalist notion of cultural evolution2. Even well-intentioned

anthropological efforts to explicate the role of Vodoun and its socio-religious function

typically fell short of their intentions. Consequently, in the decades that followed, authors

such as Carpentier had to contend with the perceived legitimacy that the science of

evolution and early cultural anthropology lent the colonial endeavor. However,

countering such legitimacy often results in accepting unaware any number of the

premises on which it is founded. Consequently, Rationalist notions like the idea of

"primitive" cultures as less evolved and therefore closer to "a state of nature" or a


2 Cultural evolution adapts LaMarckian and Darwinian notions of evolution to cultural development.
Colonialism used the concept to shift justification of the colonial endeavor from a strictly religious claim
(saving the souls of the "savages") to one that also incorporated the notion of "saving the savages" from
their evolutionary backwaters and "civilizing" them for their own good. For a more detailed analysis of
cultural evolution and its relevance to colonialism and post colonialism, see Sander A. Gilman's
"Sexology, Psychoanalysis, and Degeneration: From a Theory of Race to a Race to Theory." Also see
Sandra Siegel's "Literature and Degeneration: The Representation of 'Decadence'" and Joe Roucloux's
"Can Democracy Survive the Disgust of Man for Man? From Social Darwinism to Eugenics."









"childlike" state creep into otherwise resistant texts. Some aspects of The Kingdom of

This World suggest that Carpentier may have been influenced by such endeavors, such as

W. B. Seabrook's 1929 ethnography of Haiti, The Magic Island.

Seabrook's agenda in The Magic Island is to challenge previous, deleterious

assumptions about Haiti and the practice of Vodoun, but his perspective is so

unquestioningly accepting of Rationalism's civilized/savage dichotomy that his intended

altruism toward his subject becomes milquetoast condescension. Passages such as this

one from The Magic Island reveal his attitudes toward the Haitian people: "the mass of

the populace, possessing childlike traits often naive and lovable as well as laughable,

have also a powerful underlying streak of primitive, atavistic savagery" (Seabrook 276).

This image of "primitive" peoples as childlike and naive yet capable of explosive

violence pervades early ethnographic studies, reinforcing the ideal of white Eurocentric

superiority even when it is intended to condemn the "mature and jaded West," like this

statement of Seabrook's related by Joan Dayan:

[He] told his blase readers back in New York to get some passion into
their lives by putting blood in their Fifth Avenue cocktails: "Perhaps if we
mixed a little true sacrificial blood in our synthetic cocktails and flavored
them prayerfully with holy fire, our night clubs would be more
orgiastically successful and become sacred as temples were in the days of
Priapus and Aphrodite." (32)

The "back to nature" message in this passage is unmistakable. Urban imagery

counterpoises the dark spirituality of "true sacrificial blood" to firmly demarcate the

primitive/modern divide, and builds on a scene in The Magic Island in which Seabrook

witnesses a vodoun ceremony: "The blood .. spurted in a hard, small stream from the

bull's pierced side, where the mamaloi knelt with her bowl to receive it and transferred it

bowl by bowl to the great common trough. The papaloi and mamaloi now drank









ceremonially of the holy blood" (Seabrook 40). The relative truth of Seabrook's

description aside, this passage panders to a rapacious desire for titillation in his audience

and exacerbates problematic views in the West of Haitians and Vodoun. By focusing on

such "blood rites," Seabrook perpetuates a formulation of Vodoun that obscures the more

pervasive and overarching functions of the religion, such as promoting communal

cohesion, regulating social behavior, and providing a sense of"pastness" to a people

denied a history throughout the tenure of colonialism.

Comparing Seabrook's passage with the following passage in The Kingdom of This

World arouses at least a suspicion that Carpentier is aware of Seabrook's work and

incorporates some of it into his own novel: "Every day in the middle of the parade square

several bulls had their throats cut so that their blood could be added to the mortar to make

the fortress impregnable" (Carpentier, Kingdom 120). The passage describes ritual

sacrifices Christophe implements during the construction of the Citadel La Ferriere. The

blood of the bulls sanctifies the structure as the sacrificial blood purifies the participants

in Seabrook's reported ceremony. While this example is complexly nuanced because

ultimately Christophe fails, it is still problematic. Granted, the text suggests through

Christophe's fate that his relationship to Vodoun and his understanding of it are flawed.

His entombment in the very walls the sacrifices are meant to fortify illustrates his faith as

"fixed" and "dead," in sharp contrast to the faith that animates Breille. The supernatural

protections the sacrifices are meant to confer fail to materialize. Still, in that very failure

is the implicit and unyielding correlation of Vodoun with blood rites and supernatural

manifestations.









This pattern is likely unintended. On a conscious level, Carpentier professes to

privilege syncretism because it mirrors creolization, the merging of indigenous, European

and African elements that produces, for Carpentier, the "authentic" Latin American

subject. More specifically, he expresses a desire to recuperate the African influences in

Latin America (Cheuse 21). But his position reflects the same problem inherent in certain

ethnological attitudes because it reflects an unquestioning acceptance of the discourse of

race-based superiority. In his desire to contest white Eurocentric privilege, Carpentier

envisions the black Latin American subject as "closer to nature" or "more natural," a

vision implicit in his treatment of Vodoun. While the example of Breille mediates this to

a degree, and is clearly intended to serve as an ideal of creolization, it is worth noting that

Breille attains his "authentic" status only through death and resurrection. Other examples

of Vodoun in the text are all racially marked; for instance, the color consciousness

inherent in "the dubious color of St. Benedict" (86) in Ti Noel's Cuban cathedral

experience. Carpentier attempts through this color consciousness to recuperate the

African presence and grant superiority to the creolized Latin American subject. He

thereby strives to relocate the wellspring of spiritual and moral value to Latin America.

But in so doing he reinscribes the racialized Eurocentric discourses that give rise to

claims of white superiority in the first place.

The Kingdom of This World contains other examples that may also manifest such

unexamined reactions to anthropological discourses. For example, the novel is an

overwhelmingly masculinized text. Women in the novel are either hysterical white

women, like Pauline Bonaparte or the second Madame de Mezy, or objects of male

sexual desire, like Ti Noel's kitchen wench: "Twenty years had gone by in all this









[waiting for Macandal's resurrection]. Ti Noel had fathered twelve children by one of the

cooks" (Carpentier, Kingdom 60). This is one of several references to Ti Noel's

reproductive potency, and in each the recipient of his urges remains nameless,

insignificant to the demonstration of his fecundity. Some might argue this is because

Carpentier has no awareness of gender issues that problematize these representations. But

given his already demonstrated engagement with other anthropological discourses and

their popular offshoots, the overarching masculinity of the text may well be a response to

Western discourses that routinely constructed the Afro-Caribbean Creole male as

alternatively either hypersexual or impotent, and either animalistic or effeminate.

Unfortunately, the reactionary portrayal of Afro-Caribbean masculinity in The Kingdom

of This World does as much to reinforce the oversexed, animalistic vision of these

discourses as to refute the vision of impotence and effeminacy.

Another example of this occurs during the text's portrayal of a slave insurrection.

This insurrection marks the onset of a thirteen year period that culminates in the Haitian

Revolution and is led by a slave and Vodoun priest named Boukman. During the

insurrection, Ti Noel's sexual exploits take a cruel turn: "For a long time now he [Ti

Noel] had dreamed of raping Mlle Floridor. On those nights of tragic declamations she

had displayed beneath the tunic with its Greek-key border breasts undamaged by the

irreversible outrage of the years" (Carpentier, Kingdom 74). The "irreversible outrage" in

this passage is a double entendre signaling both the inevitable effects of time on a body

that Mlle Floridor's breasts have apparently escaped, and the irremediable impact of

years of slavery on the Haitian people. Ti Noel's actions are overtly manifestations of

physical lust, but on a deeper, far more fundamental level they are a scream against the









injustices of slavery and colonization. By framing that protest in terms of Ti Noel's

sexual prowess and reproductive energy, Carpentier articulates that scream through the

creative force of the strong and forceful Afro-Caribbean male. Unfortunately, with this

assault (which leads to Mlle Floridor's death) Carpentier also at least partially validates

the image of him as animalistic and hypersexual.

Notably, Ti Noel gains his intimate knowledge of Mlle Floridor's anatomy in a way

that forefronts the functions of voice and vision, again demonstrating that the

transgressive mechanisms of the novel and its problematic points often coincide. Mlle

Floridor is a failed Parisian actress who marries M. Lenormand de Mezy after his second

wife's death. But her failures in Paris do not prevent her from imposing her questionable

talents on her slaves: "There were nights when she took to the bottle [and ordered] all

the slaves to turn out ... [she would] declaim before her captive audience the great roles

she had never been allowed to interpret this player of bit parts attacked with quavering

voice the familiar bravura passages" (Carpentier, Kingdom 60). As in Ti Noel's

experience in the Cuban cathedral, Mlle Floridor's drunken performances upend the

dynamic of Western scopic drive. Instead of seeing and claiming/naming, she yields her

body to the sight of slaves while her words lack the power to shape her reality. Much like

the priest Gonzales, her voice is irrelevant in the context of Haiti.

Voice and vision also play into the insurrection as a whole because of the Vodoun

ceremony that marks its inception, a ceremony that again demonstrates the problematic

use of Vodoun in the novel. Boukman's leadership and the impending revolt are augured

by "claps of thunder .. echoing like avalanches over the rocky ridges of Morne Rouge"

(Carpentier, Kingdom 66). The thunder here and Boukman's role as priest tie him to









Breille and connote Boukman's words as spectral: "Suddenly a mighty voice arose in the

midst of the congress of shadows, a mighty voice whose ability to pass without

intermediate stages from a deep to a shrill register gave a strange emphasis to its words.

There was much of invocation and much of spell in that speech filled with angry

inflections and shouts" (66).Again, the power of spectral voice to initiate dramatic

changes in the material world functions transgressively, articulating a unity amongst the

slaves that supersedes the expectations of the slave-owners' rationalist worldview. But

Vodoun is directly linked to the super- or supranatural, with no counterbalancing

evidence that it plays a more pervasive and mundane role in the lives of the slaves. As

Joan Dayan explains, Vodoun is a religion in which the people have a "close, reciprocal,

even palpable relation" with their gods. Given the scope and depth it has in their lives,

followers of Vodoun would hardly be capable of functioning in the material world if

every instance in which their faith was relevant was a dramatic and catastrophic event.

Yet the novel presents Vodoun as dramatic spectacle, narrowing its scope and promoting

a view of its followers as overly emotional and aggressive.

Another excellent example that demonstrates the double-edged role of Vodoun in

The Kingdom of This World is a pair of scenes focusing on Macandal, an escaped slave

and leader of a slave revolt around which Carpentier focuses much of his narrative.

Macandal is the character that most clearly represents the African presence in Latin

America. He is the purveyor of preserved African knowledge, and through a process of

physical and spiritual transformation, he incorporates that knowledge into the material

and phenomenal realities of the Haitian people. He is, in many respects, the embodiment

of Vodoun, and he marks it even more clearly than Breille as the affirmation of









communal consciousness. His life and ultimately his death becomes a powerful

articulation of resistance and subjectivity, recovering the pastnesss" of Africa elided by

Western domination. Here again, in this example, the monolithic view of Vodoun is

present, but the function of Macandal in the text is so powerful that it demonstrates

convincingly how spectral voice can ultimately overcome such problems and effectively

give presence to the hidden without succumbing to Western scopic drive.

The first scene narrates the return of Macandal from a self-imposed exile after his

escape from de Mezy's plantation. It builds on accounts of shape-shifting abilities the

Haitian slaves ascribe to Macandal. The slaves' stories transform him into a symbol of

resistance, giving him legendary (or even mythic) status. This transformation finds

expression in tales of physical metamophoses that "the Negroes communicated to one

another, with great rejoicing" (Carpentier Kingdom 41). In their stories, Macandal shape

shifts from a man to "a green lizard [that] had warmed its back on the roof of the tobacco

barn," "a night moth flying at noon, or "a big dog, with bristling hair, had dashed through

the house, carrying off a haunch of venison," or even "a gannet so far from the sea! -

[that] had shaken lice from its wings over the arbor of the back patio" (41). Through

these stories, the slaves refine a powerful legend of Macandal as a figure who in his

myriad forms, "continually visited the plantations of the Plaine to watch over his faithful

and find out if they still had faith in his return. (41). Macandal has been transformed in

the imagination of the people to a savior.

This role arises from Macandal's powerful connection with and sustenance of

African faith and tradition. From the novel's beginning, he articulates the African roots

glossed over by the amnesiac conditions of colonialism: "[He] would tell of things that









had happened in the great kingdoms of Popo, of Arada, of the Nagos, or the Fulah ... But,

above all, it was with the tale of Kankan Muza that he achieved the gift of tongues, the

fierce Muza, founder of the invincible empire of the Mandingues"(Carpentier, Kingdom

13 italics mine). The italicized phrase above is heavily laden with implications. It evokes

a phrase attached to charismatic and pentacostal Christian practices, and thereby

constitutes another appropriation from the West. Like the cathedral scenes, this

appropriation directly juxtaposes systems of belief because Macandal is also the purveyor

of African faith: "He knew the story of Adonhueso, of the King of Angola, of King Da,

the incarnation of the Serpent, which is the eternal beginning, never ending, who took his

pleasure mystically with a queen who was the Rainbow, patroness of the Waters and all

Bringing Forth" (Carpentier, Kingdom 13). This places Macandal on a level with Breille,

and the paralleling of figures, one European and one African, constitute a powerful

manifestation of Caribbean creolization and syncretism in which Macandal is the spiritual

anchor to Africa.

Accordingly, the slaves' faith in Macandal is a preservation of their pastness and

sustenance of their African roots as a basis for community. The strength of their faith not

only sustains Macandal's legend, but lends material power to it as well. The text does not

assert Macandal's abilities on anything more than an imaginative level; it allows the

transformations to remain an element of the slaves' belief alone. Yet that belief in the

fluidity of spirit and flesh ultimately has dramatic impact in the material world, since the

slaves follow Macandal in a revolt against the white colonists. This is the central contrast

between Carpentier's magical realism and Roh's, which would acknowledge the









coexistence of different perspectives but stop short of engaging "the magical" as an

effective force in material reality.

But in contrast, magical realism as Marquez constructs it would not provide for the

double register here of phenomenal incursion into material events. It would instead erase

the distinction that allows Macandal's importance to so clearly arise from faith. Only by

maintaining the tension between material and metaphorical can Carpentier demonstrate

that faith resides in the space of slippage between layers of reality. In this instance it is

the tool of regeneration, of another "resurrection" from a metaphorical death that deepens

the resonance between Breille and Macandal.

Whereas Breille's death is literal, Macandal's "death" is a traumatic maiming.

Injured in a milling accident on de Mezy's plantation, he looses his arm: "With his right

hand he was trying to move an elbow, a wrist that no longer obeyed him ... The master

called for the whetstone to sharpen the machete to be used in the amputation"

(Carpentier, Kingdom 21). It is fitting that de Mezy performs the amputation, because his

enslavement of Macandal is also an amputation of power and self-determination. The

physical loss of Macandal's arm stands in for the spiritual loss of all he has known before

his captivity. His inability to control his arm's movements, even with his uninjured hand,

demonstrates the totally debilitating effects of slavery, an "amputation" of independence

and a severance from origins. Because the changes wrought in Macandal by these dual

amputations fundamentally change who he is, they are tantamount to a death in which his

old self is destroyed and a new one reborn.

Like Breille, Macandal is "resurrected," transformed by his ordeal and called forth

by the will of the people. But because Macandal's death is not literal but figurative, that









return is a dramatic double inscription: "Behind the Mother Drum rose the human figure

of Macandal. The Mandingue Macandal. The One-Armed. The Restored" (47). This

passage's culminating phrase, "The Restored," inarguably demonstrates Macandal's

return from exile as regeneration. He has been reconstituted as "The Mandingue

Macandal," the spirit of Africa in the communal consciousness. Yet he still bears the

mark of his maiming as evidence of his materiality and of the inescapable impact of the

colonial presence. It also marks him as distinct from the Mandingue Macandal. Like

Haiti, he is irremediably altered by the traumas of colonialism, at once restored but

changed. He hovers between two worlds, that of Africa and that of Europe, and in his

indeterminacy he captures the essence of the Creole dilemma at once both and yet

neither.

Unlike Breille, Macandal's reappearance is not fleeting; he remains among the

slaves inciting unrest and resistance until he is captured and killed. So his reappearance

might more accurately be called a metaphorical "reincarnation," since his corporeality

after his return is never at issue as it is with Breille. And just as Macandal has

imaginatively possessed the forms of animals during his transformation, he is in turn

"possessed" by the will of the people, given over to the function of resistance in the battle

for deliverance. The people still reside in that space of "natal alienation" that Orlando

Patterson identifies as "social death" (Patterson 8-9). Because they do not own their own

bodies ... or history ... or destiny they are as dead as Macandal before his sojourn in

the mountains. Consequently, when Macandal takes on the mantle of their will, of

communal consciousness, it is a possession of the living by the "dead."









Macandal's escape and return consequently marks him as "spectral" like Breille,

and his voice accordingly has the power, relevance, and knowledge of spectral voice.

This is doubly so because in his storytelling he speaks from a place hidden from Western

scopic drive through erasure. The Western perspective cannot conceive of that space

represented by the memories and traditions he preserves. It is incommensurable with the

totalizing narratives of History, Rationalism, and Enlightenment. That

incommensurability is manifest in the "Mother Drum" Macandal emerges from behind.

Drums in The Kingdom of This World mark the hidden, and thereby mark the space

from which spectral voice arises. The hidden knowledge they connote is best exhibited by

a moment of troubled observation by M. Lenormand de Mezy:: "It [the sound of drums]

filled him with uneasiness, making him realize that, in certain cases, a drum might be

more than just a goatskin stretched across a hollow log. The slaves evidently had a secret

religion that upheld and united them in their revolts" (Carpentier, Kingdom 79).

DeMezy's unease at the sound of the drums results from his realization that they vocalize

hidden knowledge. He acknowledges that "Possibly they [the slaves] had been carrying

on the rites of this religion under his very nose for years and years, talking with one

another on the festival drums without his suspecting a thing"(79). But even this belated

suspicion is just that a suspicion, a "possibility." Despite the testimonial the drums

offer, de Mezy still resists the admission that his gaze Western scopic drive has been

turned aside. He cannot even bring himself to consider his own ignorance as a symptom

of critical absence in his worldview: "But could a civilized person have been expected to

concern himself with the savage beliefs of people who worshipped snakes?" (79). De

Mezy's shock at the realization the slaves could share a spiritual unity makes obvious the









hidden and silenced status of the slaves' social practices. So too does his rejection of the

idea that he, as a "civilized" (read also as "rational") man, should have perceived such a

possibility or even cared about it. The idea of the slaves as a functioning, believing, and

knowing social unit is too far outside the scope of his mindset. Consequently, the

symbolic function of the drums is to signal the spectral, and Macandal's emergence from

behind the Mother Drum fundamentally alters the way his voice in the text can be

received.

Such a reading of Macandal's metamorphosis engages in the discourse of

superstition that is so problematic in The Kingdom of This World. But it does so

necessarily, because Carpentier has invested Macandal's return with an ambiance of

reductive spiritualism. The dramatic spectacle of Vodoun is again the site of that

investment. But this approach will also demonstrate, when carried through to the second

scene in this pair, why Macandal serves as recuperation for the text despite these

problems. Because spectral voice's success in diffusing the dangers of appropriation rests

on its ability to preserve hidden knowledge, Macandal's death is the most effective use of

spectral voice in The Kingdom of This World. But revealing this effectiveness depends on

fully appreciating the spectral nature of Macandal, and therefore of his voice. So in this

instance, the appropriative impulse that risks reducing him to a caricature of "voodoo

primitive" invests him with the power that ultimately redeems him. In weighing the

effects of anthropological influence in the first scene against the effects of spectral voice

in the second, spectral voice carries the day.

Ultimately, Macandal dies martyred to the cause of freedom, but his legend persists

in the imaginative forces of the community, a detail Carpentier draws from his visit to









Haiti in 1943. He notes in his essay "On the Marvelous Real in America" that "The

American Mackandal ... leaves an entire mythology, preserved by an entire people and

accompanied by magic hymns still sung today during voodoo ceremonies" (Carpentier,

"On the Marvelous Real" 88). The durability of Macandal's legend attests to his symbolic

power in the struggle for freedom in Haiti. He is a savior every bit as redemptive as the

Christian Christ, and the details of his death in The Kingdom of This World make that

glaringly apparent.

The scene of Macandal's death is often read to signal the narrator's disbelief in the

slaves' perceptions of Macandal, but reading the passage through the lens of spectral

voice reveals again a double register of reality that resists defining either register as

"real." This resistance is successful because spectral voice makes of Macandal's death a

final metamorphosis, one that commutes him, like Breille, entirely into the space of the

hidden. That space, one of "spirits" and specterss," lays completely beyond the reach of

Western scopic drive ... it is accessible only through the power of faith, and it manifests

as spectral voice and the vision that voice evokes. Consequently, the hidden remains

hidden by appropriating the very discourse intended to reveal it to Western scopic drive.

The term "spectral" counts on the connotations of superstition it evokes in the Western

mind to render it truly spectral, not in the sense of false beliefs, but in the sense of hidden

knowledge. By presenting Macandal as specter, as reincarnate, as possessed, the text

renders him totally hidden. This quality of the hidden makes Macandal's death a place at

which competing realities collide. In the end, it is the material reality of Rational world

view that "flinches."









Macandal's final transformation is set in motion when he is captured by colonial

forces after they have tortured a betrayal from another slave. He is sentenced to burn at

the stake for his role in the slaves' campaign of terror, and his execution is spectacle in

both conception and implementation: "Macandal was now lashed to the post. The

executioner had picked up an ember with the tongs. With a gesture rehearsed the evening

before in front of a mirror, the Governor unsheathed his dress sword and gave the order

for the sentence to be carried out" (Carpentier, Kingdom 51). The Governor's intentional

drama here betrays his unwillingness or inability to acknowledge the gravity of what is

about to happen. His near-comic theatricalism compares gruesomely to the events that

follow: "The fire began to rise toward the Mandingue, licking his legs. At that moment

Macandal moved the stump of his arm, which they had been unable to tie up, in a

threatening gesture which was none the less terrible for being partial, howling unknown

spells and violently thrusting his torso forward" (51). Macandal's actions are a startling

contrast to the vision of authoritative state ceremony evoked so blatantly by the Governor's

ritualizing gestures. The precision and intentionality of the governor's signal provides the exact

antithesis of Macandal's flailing, truncated limb, yet despite the fatal implications of the

Governor's gesture, Macandal's signification is far more potent and empowering. His actions

energize the slave population, directly refuting the intent of the execution by refusing to allow his

death to become a tool of subjugation: "The bonds fell off and the body of the Negro rose in

the air, flying overhead, until it plunged into the black waves of the sea of slaves. A

single cry filled the square: "Macandal saved!" (Carpentier, Kingdom 52). Macandal's

momentary freedom marks a sustaining moment in which the magical, the marvelous, trumps the

logic and order of Western rationalism.









That final cry is a crystalline expression of hope that presages Macandal's continuity in

the minds and hearts of the slaves. It is also the most powerful instance of spectral voice

in the text.

Because Macandal is the spectral double of Breille, the embodiment of Mama

Drum, and the agent of resistance possessed and empowered by the hopes and desires of

the people, the cry is the spectral voice of communal consciousness. Like the crying

infant that signaled Breille's transformation, it is the harbinger of Macandal's

transformation as well. As in other instances, the enunciatory power of spectral voice

denies Western scopic drive and instead invests scopic power in the people.

Consequently, although Macandal is recaptured and the execution continues, his death is

never validated by that scopic power: "When the slaves were restored to order, the fire

was burning normally like any fire of good wood, and the breeze blowing from the sea

was lifting the smoke toward the windows where more than one lady who had fainted had

recovered consciousness. There was no longer anything more to see" (Carpentier,

Kingdom 52). Since the confusion of Macandal's escape prevents the slaves from seeing

Macandal recaptured and thrust into the flames, this is the moment often read as signaling

a narrative investment in the material registry of reality. In short, critics often insist the

narrator simply does not believe the slaves' perceptions of Macandal.

But this interpretation ignores the dynamics of voice and vision diagramed

herein. Because spectral voice has the power to render its subject totally hidden, and

because it divests Western scopic drive of its truth claims, the material reality the

Europeans see -Macandal incinerated in the flames has no relevance. The "truth" about

Macandal, like Macandal himself, is hidden from the predatory Western scopic drive. As









a result, the Europeans present at the execution are confounded by the subsequent

behavior of the slaves: "That afternoon the slaves returned to their plantations laughing

all the way. Macandal had kept his word, remaining in the Kingdom of This World. Once

more the whites had been outwitted by the Mighty Powers of the Other Shore"

(Carpentier, Kingdom 52 italics mine). Here the narrator relates the slaves' perceptions as

knowledge, with nothing to indicate the reader should take it otherwise. It tells the reader

"the whites had been outwitted," presenting this as an unequivocal statement in the same

defocalized manner as it presents Macandal's recapture and death. Reality is still

functioning in that double registry, and that allows ambivalence to mediate the

contradiction between Macandal's material death and his continuing existence in the

phenomenal world of the slaves. The slaves know what spectral voice has obscured from

the Europeans. Macandal remains an effective force in their communal consciousness,

and inasmuch as it informs their lives, he remains an effective force in their material

reality.

As in the case of Breille's transformation, Macandal's perpetuity is augured by a

procreative moment. In a passage resonant of the infant's cry, the text discloses that "Ti

Noel got one of the kitchen wenches with twins, taking her three times in a manger of the

stables. (Carpentier, Kingdom 53). Ti Noel's response effectively "twins" Breille and Macandal,

doubling the power and implications of spectral voice in community continuity. Like the infant's

cry, his reaction calls upon the energy of renewal in the face of death. It blurs the boundary

between the two and evokes once again the history, traditions, and beliefs of the community.

Ti Noel is proclaiming his rejection of the "reality" imposed by Western scopic drive, and his

fecundity validates the power of his disbelief.









Like Carpentier's appropriation of Roh's magical realist aesthetic, Macandal

presents reality as a double registry. He is both dead and alive, both the past and the

future of Africa in the Haitian communal consciousness. He is a categorical anomaly that

defies boundaries. So later on the evening of Macandal's execution, when "M.

Lenormand de Mezy in his nightcap commented with his devout wife on the Negroes'

lack of feelings at the torture of one of their own" (Carpentier, Kingdom 52), he is

attempting to diffuse an unease akin to what the voice of the drums instilled in him. His

response to that unease illustrates the most significant effect of spectral voice. It can turn

Western scopic drive back upon itself and preserve the hidden inplain sight. De Mezy

copes with his confusion by wrapping it in the rhetoric of colonial domination: "drawing

therefrom [the execution] a number of philosophical considerations on the inequality of

the human races which he planned to develop in a speech larded with Latin quotations"

(52). De Mezy explains the slaves' behavior as evidence of their savagery, but it is his

fear of that perceived savagery and his certainty of his knowledge of it that will

forever obscure the "truth" from him. In the context of Haiti, Macandal lives on.

Reading that communal shout, "Macandal saved!" as knowledge borne of spectral

voice demonstrates that he has indeed transcended the boundary between the kingdom of

heaven and the kingdom of this world. Like any good savior, he lives on to redeem his

people and inform/be informed by their traditions, practices, and beliefs, and the shout

attests to his transcendence. That communal impulse is not an error; it is the discursive

equivalent of the infant's cry. Macandal is saved through the perpetuation of his legend

and the body of knowledge it entails. Just like Breille's resurrection, his vitality belies the

Western, linear construction of life and death and insists instead on an enduring






51


circularity, one in which the people find renewal in their past, and phenomenal reality is

not separate from, but an integral part of the material conditions in which they live.














CHAPTER 4
CONCLUSION

The example of Macandal in The Kingdom of This World demonstrates one reason

why Carpentier's work continues to hold relevance today for Latin American scholars.

Alejo Carpentier's use of spectral voice and communal consciousness permits him to

assault European narratives of truth and totality that underpinned the colonial enterprise.

The case of Macandal and Ti Noel is only one example of this, but it is a powerful one.

So too are the cases of Breille and Gonzales. Each demonstrates the permeability of the

fundamental categorical boundaries and challenges conventional perceptions of Latin

American and European identity. They bring into focus the social and spiritual elements

that constitute such identity, and consequently serve to illuminate the critical work

Carpentier undertakes. Through appropriation and transformation, Carpentier makes of

magical realism a uniquely American approach capable of capturing a uniquely American

reality, a reality in which "improbable juxtapositions and marvelous mixtures exist by

virtue of Latin America's varied history, geography, demography, and politics not by

manifesto" (Zamora and Faris, Editor's Note "On the Marvelous Real" 75).Yet,

Carpentier rejects the idea this appropriation is merely imitative. The Kingdom of This

World condemns such imitation as it strikes down both Gonzales and Christophe and

celebrates the spiritual vitality of Latin American community in Breille's resurrection. It

rejects hollow form in favor of locating individual relevance in communal links.

Carpentier envisioned those links as a regional bond. That vision, while plagued with









certain difficulties, had a profound and lasting effect on the direction of Latin American

studies.

Spectral voice is an excellent example of that impact. It contributes to a larger

project of critical analysis and introspection Carpentier and many of his contemporaries

set in motion, and the momentum of that analysis still reverberates today. Syncretism,

regionalism, and the recuperation of African roots remain major topics of discussion in

the aftermath of decolonization. Any attempt to understand the peoples of Latin America

must necessarily ground itself in an examination of these issues. Because spectral voice

impinges the boundaries that categorize the Rationalist world that delineate logical

from illogical, real from imagined, truth from fiction it lends itself to this work. It

renders audible those peoples, cultural practices, and experiences that resist containment

without ceding to the consuming desire of Western scopic drive. Such resistance belies

the seamless totality of the Rationalist narrative, insisting instead on in-between spaces

populated by the Other. Spectral voice's eminence from those liminal spaces can liberate

hidden knowledge and empower the re-imagination of colonized spaces. Thus, it can

function as a powerful political tool for destabilization and recuperation by challenging

the very foundation on which Western expansionism and global domination has been

built the claim of Rationalism to totality, objectivity, and truth. While the term

"spectral voice," like the anthropological traces of The Kingdom of This World, on one

level invokes the discourses that construct those claims, on a higher level it rejects them.

It brings to center the importance of community, faith, and shared experiences in a

people's ability to endure even the harshest of conditions. Accordingly, Ti Noel reflects

in "a supremely lucid moment" as he nears the end of his life, "bowed down by suffering






54


and duties, beautiful in the midst of his misery, capable of loving in the face of afflictions

and trials, man finds his greatest, his fullest measure, only in the Kingdom of This

World" (185).















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Linda Damell Stanley graduated suma cum laude in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts

in English from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. In May, 2006

she will receive a Master of Arts in English with a focus in postcolonial Caribbean

studies from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She continues her studies at

the University of Florida as a Ph.D. student whose primary area of interest is the

application of postcolonial and neocolonial theory to literature of the Americas. She is a

member of the Golden Key honor society and recipient of the Kirkland Fellowship for

master's students at the University of Florida.