Vision de Anahuac (1519) as virtual image: Alfonso Reyes's Bergsonian aesthetic of creative evolution
journal contributionposted on 2019-10-21, 13:27 authored by Sheldon Penn
This essay offers a new reading of Alfonso Reyes’s canonical imagining of Mexican national identity, published in 1917 during the Mexican Revolution. Reyes and his contemporaries of the Ateneo de la Juventud were self-proclaimed “vitalists” inspired by James, Boutroux, and Bergson. Despite this, there has been minimal examination of the impact of this philosophy on Reyes’s writings. Robert Conn’s recent monograph on Reyes denies genuine engagement with vitalism on the part of the Ateneo and he, alongside Ignacio Sánchez Prado, draws on Hegel for an interpretation of the text. Beginning with a close examination of Sánchez Prado’s article, I argue that, despite the historical frame of Part I, Reyes’s essay does not set out to provide a historical idealist depiction of Mexico. Instead, working closely with three of Bergson’s major texts, I argue that Reyes’s “vision” can be understood as an aesthetic of metamorphosis echoing the philosophy of creative evolution. Deriving his thesis on Mexican identity from a textually visual aesthetic, I conclude that the essay equates to a Bergsonian, virtual image of nation, evoking a communal, ahistorical consciousness. In this way, my reading shows that, although Visión de Anáhuac connects to Romantic ideas of perception and subjectivity, Bergson’s influence separates the essay from mainstream nineteenth-century currents.
This work was supported by a period of study leave provided by the University of Leicester.
CitationJournal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, 2015, 21 (2), pp. 127-146 (20)
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Arts
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)