Desgana

As a philosopher of action and liberation, in other words, as an existentialist, Uranga’s aim is not to merely describe but to reveal, and in revealing to combat and overcome the will to nothingness (desgana) borne from ontological insufficiency and accidentality. With knowledge of this phenomenologically revealed condition, Mexicans can then embrace their finitude and their shortcomings as if they possessed a secret to human existence, namely, that regardless of their efforts, confidence, or mastery over life, they will always fall short of perfection (of “substantiality”). But possession of this mystery can be injurious.

The Mexican, in accidentalizing herself, approximates the originary condition of our own and authentic constitution; but, at the same time, she alienates herself from a manner of existing that includes a kind of happiness in living. “Distrust,” the state in which the Mexican approaches everything, and the unwillingness

[desgana] that colors all action, are manifestations of his proximity to the accident, just as “trust” and “generosity” and other modes of existing are symbols of a dominion over accidentality and of a certain security that might be gained by having entered the path to substantiality. (Uranga 1952, 25)

The appropriation of contingency as an essential aspect of being-in-the- world, that is, alienates one from the mythology of a “happy life” that the totalizing metanarratives promise. Thus alienated, and suspicious of the narratives, the individual distances herself from “meaningful” projects, as “happiness in living” is no longer an end result of her labor. She comes to see her labor as futile and giving of herself as an exercise in stupidity. She suspects, in other words, that trust and generosity cannot be values toward which she can aspire, since the promise of a happy ending is no longer available. She has approached a certain manner of life that one could call “miserable” and she is unwilling to work for its overcoming; she has fallen into unwillingness or desgana.

“Desgana” refers to one who is unwilling to participate in the creation of meaning or value due, partly, to an awareness that the narratives in which meaning and value lie are constructions of the same mythologies that justified an oppressor’s claims to substantiality. Unwillingness then characterizes one who refuses to participate in the creation of worlds because the promised reward is a spectacle, a simulation of the mythology or narrative. In this sense, it is a refusal before uncertainty, accident, and contingency. Elsewhere, in an essay written prior to his Analisis, Uranga writes:

The unwilling man [El hombre desganado] doesn’t stop seeing a meaningful structure in the world. . . . [He sees] a meaningful process that beckons his collaboration, his decision, his action, that asks to be achieved to its fullest sense by a plus of determination [plus de determinacion]. However, a lack of will manifests itself when changes in life nonetheless force one to a decision. We will a lack of will so as not to choose [Nos desganamos para no decider].” (2013b, 115, emphasis mine)

And so desgana is a state of being where the tensions of existence corner one into a relinquishing of choice, in favor of inaction and dependency. One allows the “beckoning” of the meaningful process to go unanswered, or answered by someone else; in the former case, one does nothing, in the latter, one waits to be saved by others.

 
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