By Susan Antebi (auth.)
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Extra info for Carnal Inscriptions: Spanish American Narratives of Corporeal Difference and Disability
7 Freakishness, according to these terms, whether through live spectacle or narrative representation, might be said to operate through a dual condition, one that offers both the limitations of predetermined modes of representation and the potential reappropriation of these modes, through the seemingly infinite opportunities for performed embodiment. This notion of performance suggests a temporal axis, through which change takes place in relation to prior categories of meaning. Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s now classic performance piece and video, “The Couple in the cage,” discussed in Chapter 4, functions through a version of this dual condition; the artists’ performing bodies consistently refer to the tradition of ethnographic spectacle, yet they alter both the details and the framework of this mode of spectacle so that the work becomes a critical approach to racism and a laboratory for contemporary audience responses.
Mass culture from gentility and refinement toward a greater freedom and heterogeneity that would eventually incorporate multiple social sectors. Yet, at the time of Martí’s writing, the transition was in its early stages; in fact, during this period, Coney Island was known as “Sodom by the Sea,” under the administration of local politician John McKane, until his arrest in 1894 (Kasson 34). S. 21 In addition, although freak shows were enjoyed by a broad sector of the population, and even 32 Carnal Inscriptions considered appropriate family entertainment, in large part thanks to the efforts of P.
The train tracks, concludes Martí, “atraviesan, como venas de hierro, la dormida Nueva York” (140) [crisscross the slumbering city of New York like iron veins] (322). Thus the monster, as if any doubt remained, becomes the city itself, proliferating with machines and boisterous, pleasure-seeking crowds. This machine-run city, impressive in its scale and efficiency, reflects awe-inspiring advances in transportation engineering. But in the same gesture, these decidedly nonhuman machines reveal their entirely organic entrails—the mass of humanity they carry.