Narcissus in the Presence of the Specular Abyss

The Guevarian New Men had inherited the paternal sacrifice, as if they were the hypothetical sons of Oedipus. They had to recover their lost ego through revolutionary sacrifice. The open wounds left after the revolutionary disillusionment of the seventies, which could never heal, opened again after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of economic relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba. Oedipus blinds himself as punishment for not having seen the truth. Blindness becomes the only possible sacrifice that can conjure guilt and recover the loss. The melancholic tropology of the New Man imposes the restitution of the socialist utopian horizon through revolutionary sacrifice. The young intellectuals of the nineties were destined to become the Guevarian New Men, and they had to take over and continue the sacrifice for the homeland. They had inherited the paternal debt, which they had to repay. This debt is what Fernandez Retamar calls “sobrevida” in “El otro,” dated January 1, 1959: “Nosotros los sobrevivi- entes, / /A quienes debemos la sobrevida? / /Quien se murio por mi en la ergastula, /Quien recibio la bala mia, / la para mi en su corazon?”14 (1959, 385). This poem narrates the feeling of debt of those who did not have to make a sacrifice for the revolution. According to the poem, survival depends on the sacrifice of others’ lives without which the revolution would not have happened. The younger generation of intellectuals from the nineties did not feel guilty for not assuming the paternal law of sacrifice. They had to expiate the paternal guilt but the sociopolitical transformations from the nineties paralyzed them. The antinomies produced by the simultaneous official will to preserve socialism and embrace capitalism produced a radical transformation in the social conscience of the new generations. The New Man’s restitutive melancholy no longer made sense to them. In spite of their revolutionary education, socialist utopia was not their object of desire. On the contrary, the fall of the Berlin Wall produced a sense of loss and lack that materialized in the empty shelves of Havana’s stores, but that did not point to a specific object. These intellectuals, had not lost a dream, and as a result, this loss became a loss of their own ego. The most powerful fiction of those years was not the loss of the object, but rather the loss of the self. The ego objectified itself and became irrecoverable. Like Narcissus, they lost their own sense of self-recognition as the desired Other faced them from the mirror. The thought was that they could recover their lost ego, but unlike previous generations, they did not believe in the possibility of restitution, so they accepted the loss of their own egos. The search for the self became this generation’s fundamental trope.

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