Spurned Love: Memory, Dialectics, and Insularism

The most significant aspects of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok’s analysis of melancholia are their characterization of it as an open wound and their emphasis on its paradoxical nature. The melancholic, according to Abraham and Torok, fights a merciless battle between love and death. Abraham and Torok’s reading underscores something that Freud noted, but not with great emphasis. In their extreme emotional condition, melancholics are prisoners of two contradictory desires that they feel simultaneously and with the same force. Melancholics loathe the object that eludes them and that has abandoned them, but they also desire it with an absolute passion, and in fact they have never ceased desiring it.

Marques de Armas’s Los altos manicomios (The Upper Asylums) (1993) is a book on the alienation and abandonment felt by postrevolutionary men and women. It also stresses the increasingly complex alienation between the individual being and the political being. But it is above all a book about the impossibility of delineating a memory and a utopian horizon. “Habria mas memoria si no asomara tanto ciervo entre laminas de humo,”16 writes Marques de Armas in “Monologo de Augusto” (1993, 5), echoing these famous lines by Jose Marti: “Mi verso es de un verde claro / y de un car- min encendido: / mi verso es un ciervo herido / que busca en el monte amparo”17 (Marti 2007, 307). Marti’s poem draws a parallel between nature and the spiritual state, both of which appear wanting and above all painful. The poem is wounded because it cannot express national unity. Marques de Armas’s poem exhibits a desire to reconstruct a history that is mortally wounded, but not exactly by the trauma Marti describes.

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