I read your blog regularly and have faith in your critical powers, so I’m a bit
dismayed that you didn’t see the sharp and obvious irony in José Miranda’s “America” project. It’s a joke, shot through with sarcasm
and parody. How do I know this? I guess I figured it out by reading some of the linked material,
including Miranda’s poems and the critical articles on his work, which present a highly ironic,
pessimistic artistic vision. Of course I could be completely wrong, but Miranda and the others
involved with this site (Huguenin, Simões, Felino, etc.) hardly appear to be right-wing
triumphalists. Again, I could be wrong, but….
PS: Check out Jose Felino’s
site. Not a big fan of American advertising and culture if you
PS2: Beware of Alves’s and Parada’s sites, set up, it appears, by Huguenin, which both shut
down my Mozilla Firefox browser!
Dear John Keene —
You may be right. I was fairly puzzled by the whole thing and not really sure what Miranda
was after. But I posted my thoughts anyway, probably with too much haste. I’m still not sure
what’s going on. Miranda’s comments about the text, which he separates from his own intentions,
do make it sound like the text is a joke, as you say. But Miranda wants to have things both ways,
or all ways. And his insistence on metameaning, if that’s what it is, confuses the hell out of me. I
hadn’t seen the ad gallery, which does change the context. You’re definitely right about that ad gallery.
For anyone who’s interested — and USA Today has already taken note in its “Hot Sites”
Web guide — here (from an “Ongoing Interview”) are some of Miranda’s comments about his
To write about America without having been there, isn’t it a merelycal exercise?
No! America, the text, can be read in several ways. That
is, and in the most obvious and least interesting way, it can be read as a political text. … [Lots
of pomo meta-sema-suma-something follows. — JH.] …
So it may be understood that you reject the political stand associated to the
I only wish to say that the text is not a political text, although it could be read that
And in what way does the author of the text politically read it?
I’m unable to
read it the political way, although I can see that the text could be read only in that way.
What is then your political position?
My political position is irrelevant. The
text is what matters, not its author. Let me give you an example: is the political position of the
author of “Animal Farm” relevant to the reading of the text?
Should I assume
that you don’t wish to commit?
You should assume that the political stand of the
author is not relevant to the reading of the text.
Oy. I’d say Orwell’s political position is relevant, wouldn’t you? It’s worth recalling his essay,
“Politics and the English
Language,” in which he speaks about meaningless words. “In certain
kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism,” Orwell says, “it is normal to
come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.” He refers to lots of
them. But the sort of language he especially abhors — the flapdoodle of empty abstractions — is
precisely the kind of language Miranda uses. I don’t read Portugese, but I’d be willing to bet
“America” in the original is no better than it is in English.