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L'autre

 | 
Janine Dove-Rumé
, 
Michel Naumann
, 
Tri Tran

III. Littérature nord-américaine

Southern Discomfort: Otherness Un-caged in Migdalia Cruz’s Fur

Christina Dokou

Résumé

Based on Gloria Anzaldúa’s concept of the borderline (frontera) and its resulting mixture of cultures (mestizaje), as well as on Edward Said’s conceptualization of the Other in his 1978 Orientalism, the phenomenon called here “Southern Discomfort” explores the representation of the Latina as monstrous “Other” vis-à-vis U. S. culture in Migdalia Cruz’s play, Fur. The paper shows, initially, how its protagonist, the animal-like intellectual Citrona serves as a critical though clandestine metaphor for popular American fears and stereotypes of borderline latinidad. However, Cruz’s downplaying of the ethnic elements in Fur suggests a further dimension of difference in the play, its allusion to Death as the ultimate cultural signifier/Other. Citrona is read as a Freudian Death-Goddess, and her final release as a loaded gesture of Western cultural malaise and the playwright’s own grappling with issues of hybridity and the burden of the mother-culture, claiming for the Latina Other the complex and conflicted position of a sovereign Self.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Fyodor Dostoyevsky Notes from the Underground [To Ipogeio], George Simiriotis (Trans.), Athens, Ele (...)

Then again, you know, I am certain that we who live in basements must perforce be kept like junkyard dogs, securely tied up. For while we are capable of remaining for forty years in our hole without uttering a word, nevertheless, when we come out into daylight, we begin to speak ceaselessly...
Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
Notes from the Underground1

  • 2 Jean-François Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute, Georges Van Den Abbeele (Trans), Manchest (...)

1Fur: A Play in Nineteen Scenes written in 1995 begins with a freak show and ends with a double cannibalistic murder. Yet to describe what the play is about, one would use words such as “love,” “beauty,” “spiritual enlightenment,” or even “fairy-tale tragedy.” This contradiction between form and content, appearance and substance, works as a creative formula and a theoretical definition for the central theme of the play, which is the politics of Otherness in all their complex vicissitudes. In Jean-François Lyotard’s words, “a differend [différend] would be a case of conflict between (at least) two parties, that cannot be equitably resolved for lack of a rule of judgment applicable to both arguments,” while “to settle their differend as though it were merely a litigation would wrong (at least) one of them.”2 In other words, the conflict of “différends” cannot be resolved without wronging someone because the terms of conflicting engagement, usually imposed by the dominant party, disregard the singular depth, hidden dimensions, and complex rules by which each of the conflicting parties exist and operate, and by virtue of which (their) difference is constructed. It is this “disregard”— the denial, not the incapacity, of seeing—that constitutes the essence of Otherness, for it is difference acknowledged as such (i. e., in contrast to a “self”), but not as stemming from a self. That is to say that Otherness must necessarily be based on a systematic superficiality. As Sue Golding states in her introduction to The Eight Technologies of Otherness:

  • 3 Sue Golding, “A Word of Warning” in Sue Golding (Ed.), The Eight Technologies of Otherness, New Yor (...)

At its most basic understanding, otherness is simply and only a cosmetic wound; a very thin, virtual, and in this sense ‘impossible’ limit. [...]... only and always just a superficial dimension: a surface. But it is ‘surface’— superficial (though not in the slightest ‘trivial’)— not in the sense of being the ‘last layer’ or ‘top’.... It is the ‘is’— the between the either and its or.3

  • 4 Edward Said, Orientalism, NY, Random House—Pantheon Books,

2It is the same logic that was exposed by the late Edward Said in identifying his “Orientalism”4 as the systematic disregard (or rather, dislocated regard) of the Other in favor of a Self-enhancing conflict. In Fur, however, the author Migdalia Cruz takes Said’s Orientalism for a ride southwards, stating it in terms of North American’s discomfited approach to its southern neighbors, and vice-versa, and deconstructs the superficial/scopic foundation of Otherness-as-difference by stating it in grotesquely bold visual terms: as a conflict between Beauty and the Beast. In a future post-apocalyptic desert somewhere in suburban Los Angeles, Michael, an angelically beautiful but emotionally sterile pet-shop owner falls in love with Citrona, a beast-like woman whose body is covered with fur, buys her off her abusive mother at a freak show, and keeps her in a cage in his basement. As Citrona will only eat raw meat, Michael hires Nena, a beautiful but vacuous animal-trapper, to provide rabbits for Citrona and clean her cage. Nena agrees to the distasteful task because she is in love with Michael, but things become complicated when Citrona falls in love with Nena. Desperate to make the indifferent Michael jealous, Nena agrees to spend one night in Citrona’s cage, and Michael agrees to let her only if Citrona promises to give herself to him afterwards. The two women spend a night of unexpected camaraderie, but at dawn, realizing that she will never win Nena’s love, Citrona murders and eats her, and then kills Michael too when the latter, anxious to receive his reward, lets her out of the cage.

  • 5 Migdalia Cruz, “The Writer Speaks: Migdalia Cruz” in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Ed.), (...)
  • 6 Migdalia Cruz, Fur, A Play in Nineteen Acts, in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Ed.), Out o (...)

3“The beauty Michael sees in Citrona,” Cruz states in her introduction to the play, “is about her otherness, her exoticness, her Latina-ness.”5 Paradoxically, however, this pivotal information is severely downplayed within the actual text of Fur. Only Citrona’s name and a dream sequence of hers in Act 10 which, as the stage directions go, is “(to be performed in either English or Spanish, the author prefers Spanish)”6 serve to indicate this crucial latinidad, the consciousness and quality of being Latino/a. Yet beyond these weak and easily disregarded signs of “preference,” the play appears oddly reluctant to explore Latina Otherness openly. The reasons for Cruz’s silencing of this final referent behind the textual curtain of Fur (pun intended) will be sought through a combination of feminist, psychological, and cultural methodologies that look at silence not only as a clandestine affirmation of the complexity and centrality of latinidad in the play, but also relate it to a broader context of cultural relations that are, literally, a matter of life and death.

  • 7 Migdalia Cruz, “Gia tin poly-polytismiki koinonia,” Michalis Georgiou (Trans), in Peiramatiki SKini (...)
  • 8 Simone de Beauvoir, “Woman As Other (Excerpt from The Second Sex),” H. M. Parshley (Trans), in Char (...)
  • 9 Luce Irigaray, “This Sex Which Is Not One,” Claudia Reeder (Trans.), in David nd H. Richter (Ed.), (...)
  • 10 See Julia Kristeva’s discussion of the Semiotic and the Symbolic in Part I of Revolution in Poetic (...)
  • 11 Mary Ann Doane, Feminism, Film, Theory, Psychoanalysis, New York and Routledge, 1991, p. 23.
  • 12 Helene Cixous, “The Laugh of The Medusa” in Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl (eds.) Feminism. (...)
  • 13 Savvas Patsalidis, “American Theatre and the ‘Ethnicity Case’ of Migdalia Cruz” in Peiramatiki Skin (...)

4Even to someone unfamiliar with the ideologies of Otherness, Citrona is easily identifiable as the ultimate stereotypical Other, but to the culturally aware reader this Other is also clearly of a Latina kind. Cruz relates the two qualities by virtue of their scopic apparentness in saying, “people of color are different. And I think that those differences are important and of particular interest when they are formulated in theatrical terms.”7 To begin, womanhood was early on identified by Simone de Beauvoir in her 1949 The Second Sex as the most irreducible form of Otherness, as “the basic trait of woman” is that “she is the Other in a totality of which the two components are necessary to one another” biologically.8 Even scientific or philosophical discourse, according to Luce Irigaray, defines woman as a sexual (and ontological) category on the principle of the different, “more by the practice of masculine sexuality than by anything else.”9 At the same time, Julia Kristeva’s division of the maternal/semiotic and the paternal/symbolic10 is seen in the play in various ways: Citrona, an “all-natural” girl by her own description, is wholly defined by her continued dependence for love on the memory of an abusive mother (who deflowers her with a letter-opener before she sells her), negating what Mary Ann Doane calls “the loss of a loss, the lack of that lack so essential for the realization of the ideals of semiotic systems,”11 by her non-breakage from the true freak (loveless, penis-less). Michael, on the contrary, is wholly symbolic: his job as a pet-shop owner is second-hand, a heirloom of the dead (i. e., transcendental) father-figure Joe, while his attempts to wear the bits of his dead father’s face as a mask point out to the Oedipal assumption of the Sign of the Father by the inadequate son, who misses both him and a sense of real life. While Citrona’s actions are original motions, he lives by mimetically copying her postures. Those two characters also speak in ways coded by modern feminist studies as gender-specific. While Michael’s speech is succinct, analytical, and assumes an air of pseudo-scientificity whether he is talking about economics, pets, cigars, or his neurotic symptoms, Citrona expresses herself through what Hélène Cixous has identified as écriture féminine: a female style of discourse that is open, nonlinear, of mixed genres, expressive, body-centered, maternal, explosive, poetic12—and which, incidentally, is supposed to characterize the folksy discourse of the peoples of South America, their magic realism, their cuentos, their emotional talk and wild gestures. Savvas Patsalidis concurs with other critics in identifying Citrona as “a modern female Caliban,” the ultimate colonized native, “who communicates through roars and growls while at the same time this creature provides the most poetic moments in the play.”13

  • 14 Calvin Hernton, Sex and Race in America, New York, Anchor Books, (1965), 1988, p. 6.

5However, according to U. S. cultural critic Calvin Hernton, the United States offers “a unique phenomenon in the history of mankind... an anomaly of the first order,” which is its “sexualization of racism.”14 That is to say, the fact that the beast in Cruz’s fairy-tale is now a woman in L. A., traditionally a mixing ground for Latinos and white Americans, suggests that here difference is to be seen in racial terms as (or equally) well. Citrona in the cage is signified as primarily a woman of color, a slave by virtue of race.

  • 15 See, for example, Isocrates’ theories in Ethical Nicomachea, or Aristotle and Galen on hysteria.
  • 16 Betty Friedan, “The Problem That Mas No Name (Exceprt from The Feminine Mystique)” in Charles Lemer (...)
  • 17 Ibid., p 358.
  • 18 See Max Weber, “The Spirit of Capitalism and the Iron Cage,” Part one of The Protestant Ethic and t (...)
  • 19 Stephen Fender, “The American Difference” in Mick Gidley (Ed.), Modern American Culture: An Introdu (...)
  • 20 G. Anzaldúa, “The New Mestiza,” p. 549.
  • 21 Werner Sollors, ‘Ethnicity” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed) Critical Terms for Liter (...)
  • 22 Bernd Ostendorf and Stephan Palmié, “Immigration and Ethnicity” in Mick Gidley (Ed.), Modern Americ (...)
  • 23 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 78.
  • 24 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 90-91.

6The image of a caged woman, furthermore, alludes both to the wild (i. e., non-civic, as the city and its civilized marvels are traditionally a masculine locus) and unruly nature of women, a notion established since classical antiquity,15 and to the “golden cage” of the American suburban housewife in the 50s that Betty Friedan so eloquently describes in The Feminine Mystique.16 Women, Friedan observes, were being massively smothered by, and immured in, their roles as housewives in appliance-cluttered homes, while being told that this was a woman’s paradise, ergo that “the ‘woman problem’ in America no longer existed.”17 Friedan’s analysis thus related the problem of a stereotypically American femininity to what Max Weber in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, expanding on Carl Marx’s 1867 concept of the “fetishism of commodities,” called the “iron cage” of capitalism—an American trait par excellence.18 In caging Citrona and becoming her “provider,” therefore, Michael simply offers her the traditional version of what American marriage is all about, on condition that she act like an American housewife should and disavow her own need for “something more”: “That cage is the biggest cage you’ve ever been in,” he tells her, “— doesn’t that tell you a little something about my intentions? About how I feel?” Still, the joke here is not just feminist, but extends to the particular history of the United States. As Stephen Fender notes in examining American captivity narratives, to be captured or caged is a profoundly American cultural nightmare, dating from the time of the European settling of the continent, for it arrests the forward, westward motion that is the very origin, essence and mode of existence of the American nation.19 It should be remarked that, like the definitions of different/Other, so is captivity an “artificial” outcome of the very existence of borders: it is there that development is arrested, and where the cage is, there a border is necessarily established: “Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them.... A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary.”20 Citrona’s caging, therefore, marks her enforced ethnic Otherness vis-à-vis an American “beyond”: after all, as Werner Sollors remarks, “It makes little sense to define “ethnicity-as-such, since it refers not to a thing-in-itself but to a relationship: ethnicity is typically based on a contrast.”21 Furthermore, Michael’s argument was historically used to justify annexing Latin-American territories by their inclusion into a bigger and better “civilized” nation. As Berndt Ostendorf and Stephan Palmié note, Latinos (mostly Mexicans) in the 1960s-70s were the subjects of “the single most dramatic US-bound migratory outflow from any country” and today constitute the largest ethnic minority in the U. S., most of which labor in the Sunbelt and border region under “structured inequality” (read near-slavery) in U. S. agriculture and mass production.22 Domesticating the “backward” but cheap Latino laborer became, then, the white American’s burden. Michael sounds like a Gringo employer or sex tourist when he glories in saying “I never would have guessed that love would cost so little.”23 He repeatedly asks Citrona to marry him, offering her a ring that makes Citrona’s finger bleed, suggesting rather a slave-collar or a manacle, America’s token of forced engagement to the peoples of color. He keeps referring to what he offers her as “paradise”— which moreover “tastes like barbequed chicken,” his specialty and a traditional American staple by which he tries to domesticate Citrona, but the whole idea of the food temptation motif, along with Michael’s suggestion that the chicken “will wrap itself inside you like a snake” (not to mention the allusion to another feathered creature that ended up being barbequed on eternal flames and transforming into a snake) suggests rather Friedan’s or the sweatshop laborer’s version of American hell.24

  • 25 Ibid., 89-90.
  • 26 See Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked, 1969.
  • 27 Louis Marin, Food for Thought, Mette Hjort (Trans), Parallax Re-visions of Culture and Society seri (...)

7Accordingly, when Citrona resists, she does so in two culturally significant ways. First, by asserting her untamable, “uncivilized” brownness (“I’m not clean inside. Inside I’m like rotted link sausages. Parks. Green and brown”25), which marks both the affinity with the earth and its color, a staple trait of self-definition for Latinas, and also Otherness established in terms of food, in the mode of Lévi-Strauss’s “raw-cooked,” or “rotten/cooked” duality.26 Secondly, when Nena finally comes to visit, Citrona constructs for her a parodic, grotesque version of the American house inside her cage, full of literal “creature-comforts”: a bed of rabbit pelts, a t. v. - like puppet show of two rabbit carcasses, and a chair of their bones. While these are the products of Citrona’s “beastly” omophagia, she manages to turn them into meaningful elements of culture, providing more functionality and ease through them than Michael’s “paradise” could offer either woman. As Louis Marin has said, “all cookery involves a theological, ideological, political and economic operation by the means of which a nonsignified edible foodstuff is transformed into a sign/body that is eaten,”27 and Cruz here puts the emphasis on all, suggesting an alternative cultural “cooking” that may seem monstrous to one culture, but actually exorcises pollution (Michael’s tainted paradise AND Citrona’s beastliness) more effectively. The Other, wronged by the terms of the differend, is perfectly capable of providing Southern comfort on its own.

  • 28 Quoted in Charlotte Canning, Feminist Theaters in the U. S. A.: Staging Women’s Experience, London (...)
  • 29 L. Irigaray, “This Sex Which Is Not One,” op. cit., p. 1468.
  • 30 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 81.
  • 31 Barbara Creed, The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism and Psychoanalysis, London and New York, Rout (...)
  • 32 Ibid, p. 7.
  • 33 M. Doane, Femmes Fatales, op. cit., p. 1-2.

8Of course, it is not just any woman in that cage, but a freakish, fur-covered one. It is interesting that while the only widely-known historical cases of enfants sauvages concerned boys, American feminist theatre seems to favor female captives of that sort: besides Citrona, in section 5 of Roberta Sklar’s The Mutation Show, titled “Ropes,” “Kamala, a girl raised by wolves killed by missionaries in order to capture her, is forced to stand straight and learn to walk like a human,” while the missionaries chant “We will name her./We will straighten her bones./We will give her words./We will caress her./We will name her.”28 This suggests that the very nature of woman is conceived in terms of beastliness: first, by virtue of classical traditional polarities of man-urban mind/woman-natural body—Citrona’s juxtaposition with the sexually sterile intellect of Michael, an emotional control-freak, justifies such a Platonic reading; and, secondly, as Luce Irigaray has shown, because of the Freudian freakishness of the supposedly castrated female genitals (referred to in slang as “fur”) discovered by the male Oedipal gaze: “her sex organ represents the horror of having nothing to see.”29 Cruz also conflates womanhood and monstrosity dramatically: the first full look the audience gets of Citrona’s form is when she answers Michael’s question, “What do you want?” with “Something pink,” the traditional color coded for girls (and Citrona’s favorite).’30 The same conflation, as Barbara Creed shows in her film study, is particularly popular in the American horror and gothic genres: “it is the male fear of castration which ultimately produces and delineates the monstrous31” while “when woman is represented as monstrous it is almost always in relation to her mothering and reproductive functions.”32 Doane applies this notion to the femme fatale figure by stating that “[h] er appearance marks the confluence of modernity, urbanization, Freudian psychoanalysis and new technologies of production and reproduction—the fears and anxieties prompted by the shifts in the understanding of sexual difference in the nineteenth century,” which however simply re-affirm and emphasize the classical overidentification of women and body.33 Citrona is, in a sense, categorized as an Other by virtue of her body, is an anthropomorphic version of the dreaded vagina dentata, furry and voracious, castrated and threatening to castrate (unless carefully caged or tamed by a steady barbeque diet).

  • 34 See, for example, Nupur Chaudhuri and Margaret StrobeL (Ed.), Western Women and Imperialism: Compli (...)
  • 35 A. McClintock, op. cit., p. 359.
  • 36 Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Race” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed.), Critical Terms for Li (...)
  • 37 On the subject, see Alixe Bovey, Monsters & Grotesques in Medieval Manuscripts, Toronto, U. of Toro (...)
  • 38 William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1856. Bradford was the first governor of the Puritan colo (...)
  • 39 Quoted in Gloria Anzaldua, “The New Mestiza (excerpt from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizo) (...)

9Femininity and monstrosity are, however, qualities equally applied in Western narratives to peoples of other races: a plethora of feminist studies on travel narratives testify to the fact that the colonized, explored, or non-Western Other is always identified in terms of feminine weakness (of morals or power),34 as “women were not seen as inhabiting history proper but existing, like colonized peoples, in a permanently anterior time within the modern nation.”35 This femininity was in turn laced with Caliban-like beastiality, because “what needs to be justified,” as Kwame Anthony Appiah has shown, is not just conquest, but “the especial brutality of the colonization of nonwhite peoples—Africans and Indians.”36 The language of the ancient and medieval travel narratives and bestiaria onwards that describe races of animal-like creatures (Centaurs, Cynokephaloi),37 was appropriated by Puritan colonizers in their campaign to redeem the American land from “beast-like” Indians,38 by conquistadores massacring the south American natives in the name of God and exploration, and by Texan proponents of “Manifest Destiny” like William H. Wharton, who swore that “God will forbid that... Texas should again become a howling wilderness trod only by savages, or... benighted by the ignorance and superstition, the anarchy and rapine of Mexican Misrule.”39 Given the loaded border history of the southern United States, the plight of a woman named Citrona in the city of barbequed Angeles is intended to be identified as a mocking comment on the American salvation fetish, which added extra spice to its colonizing hypocrisy towards Other peoples.

  • 40 Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen, “The Beast Within: Perspectives on the Horror Film” in Laure (...)
  • 41 Joyce E. SAlisbury, “Metamorphosis: Humans into Animals” in Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen ( (...)
  • 42 Françoise Meltzer, “Unconscious” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed.), Critical Terms fo (...)

10Another parameter that establishes Citrona’s Otherness is found in reading the play as an allegory of the mind. Drawing on James Iaccino’s reading of Carl Gustav Jung’s “shadow archetype,” Behrens and Rosen identify in American films the image of “the beast within,” “the dark side of our nature” or “the bestial, primeval instincts that lurk just beneath our civilized, law-abiding facades.”40 Given the tripartite cast of Fur, and their polarized personalities, the unbending Michael, with his unwrinkled linen suit serves well as a neurotic superego juxtaposed to Citrona’s naked id, with Nena, the most “normal” of the three, serving as the reality-bound ego. The ease with which those roles are exchanged, however, in the course of the play undermines the Freudian boundary lines and emphasizes the interrelatedness of the three. The stereotyping of woman as “the dark continent” has, after all, long identified her with the unconscious mind and its beastly instincts that must be repressed (“caged”) for human culture to exist, and the monstrous, intensely sexual and ever-hungry Citrona is the perfect personification of the eros and thanatos drives. After all, as Joyce Salisbury notes, in myths humans are metamorphosed into animals or acquire their traits at moments of sexuality or violence, pointing to “an awareness of the animal that is within each of us” in the form of unconscious qualities.41 Yet this relationship is not equal Discussing Lacan’s view of the relationship of the conscious to the unconscious, Françoise Meltzer notes that:42

As with master and slave, the dialectic between the two is not made up of discrete, noncontiguous parts. The Subject will (says Lacan) project his own desire onto the Other, and the Other will see himself in the Subject. [...] Lacan’s famous maxim is that ‘the unconscious is the discourse of the Other.’

11Accordingly, it becomes apparent in the play that what Michael desires most is the emotional freedom Citrona displays, a release from his own forbidding existence—he wants “to cry.” It is usually for those reasons that the U. S. culture turns to Latino culture, which is stereotypically viewed as “emotional,” “flavorful,” “magic-realist” (or, at worst, superstitious), “sexualized” and “macho”: so as to find release from the politically-correct and safe-sex practices of Western technoculture, the planet’s superego by virtue of its self-appointed Puritan redeeming mission.

  • 43 On the subject, see Cruz’s interview with Lenoro Inez Brown, “Writing Religion: Is God a Character (...)
  • 44 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 79.
  • 45 Ibid, p. 110.

12The Puritan element in American culture is also made evident through another allegorical reading of the play as a conflict between the two primal metaphysical Others, the Satanic and the Angelic—or, in Nietzschean terms, the Dionysiac and the Apollonian—in the post-lapsarian Edenic pet-shop. At first reading, this colludes with the established idea about Latin American culture in general, and criticism of Cruz’s plays in particular, where God and religion play a big part.43 Looking at the discourse about the Other in U. S. history, though, the epithet “devil” appears as one very frequently used: as the Salem witch trials show, the First Peoples were not the only thing in America that the white pilgrims exterminated. Similarly in the play, Cruz consistently attributes to Michael—who bears an archangel’s name—angelic traits: the immaculate white suit, his never “falling” to rest, his romanticism coupled with coldness, his virginal beauty, his use of pure rainwater “straight from God” to cleanse Citrona upon purchase, his promises of paradise. Nena describes him as follows: “He’s like God to me... well, maybe not God, himself —[...] But he’s a person surrounded by white light.”44 Cruz however constantly undermines this Manichean characterization, for these qualities of Michael, left without counterbalance, turn him into a soulless oppressor and threaten by the end of the play to make an actual Apollonian statue of him, reminding us of Nietzsche’s caveat regarding art with too much stiff form and too little animal energy: “It’s getting hard to walk.... The sand gets so thick when it’s wet. And not just with blood—but with water. It’s thicker when the water comes from behind your eyes....”45. On the other hand, Citrona, who looks and smells satanic, and is associated with song and rhythm (with her trademark constant singing of Beatles songs and her poetic utterances) represents an irrepressible animal energy to escape, love and create, and literally wins “sympathy for the Devil.” Even her murder of Nena is construed as a eucharistic act of Dionysiac “sparagmos,” the ritual dismemberment and eating of the divine flesh that will impart on the eater the desired qualities of the eaten—in this case, the god of sexual and pantheistic acceptance of even her monstrous self.

  • 46 James Donald, (Ed.), Fantasy and the Cinema, London, British Film Institute, 1989.
  • 47 In Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, Leon S. Roudiez (Trans.), New York, Col (...)
  • 48 B. Creed, The Monstrous-Feminine, op. cit., p. 8-9.
  • 49 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 80.
  • 50 On the subject, see Sigmund Freud, Collected Papers, 1924-50.
  • 51 B. Creed, The Monstrous-Feminine, op. cit., p. 11-13.
  • 52 Jean Baudrillard, America, Chris Turner (trans), London and New York, Verso (1986), 1999. p. 33.

13The Devil’s most pronounced quality is abjection, a quality related by James Donald to “the vulgar sublime” (the performative, ergo displayed, exercise of “perverse and multiple pleasures” generated by postmodern desire)46 and by Julia Kristeva47 as the characteristic of preOedipal femininity in a patriarchal culture: “that which does not ‘respect borders, positions, rules’, that which ‘disturbs identity, system, order’.... separating the human from the non-human and the fully constituted subject from the partially formed subject” on the basis of the notions of border, the mother-child relationship (especially feeding and food loathing), and the feminine body.48 The concentrated transgressive tools of the abject—dirt, waste, contamination, death, taboo violation—and the perpetual danger of its return serve to demarcate patriarchal Oedipal culture as that which invigilates against, and exorcises the abject Other via the most urgent strictures. The abject in Fur is exemplified by the hideousness of Citrona, her fetish for her own filth, and her unresolved maternal ties to her original abuser. Particularly, Citrona’s game of checking her own feces “for signs of life.... for light”49—a neurotic behavior adopted by abused creatures that are forced to endure their own excrement—relates her to the archetype of a primal mother-creatrix via the conflation of birth to voiding and the regressive “animal cast” the sexual organs have atavistically retained in contrast to the rest of the human body.50 This goddess archetype, Creed argues in turn, challenges patriarchal divinity and, for that, is transformed into the castrating monster to be vanquished.51 Citrona’s removal from her mother into Michael’s care might signify the entrance of the subject into the acceptable social realm, but Cruz seriously questions the ethics of such a cleansing since Michael’s methods are more hideous than Citrona’s abjection (caging, attempts to erase her personality, intimidation, and finally, the use of the letter-opener, the raping instrument of the phallic mother, as a means of destroying Citrona’s hopes of love). Baudrillard notes in America how “the mania for asepsis” and “clean-up operations” is another fundamental byproduct of the techno-Puritan constitution of that nation,52 and results in inhuman cruelty towards the physical and imperfect self, so again Otherness here takes an ethnically-loaded turn. Furthermore, Citrona’s abjection is shown ultimately a manifestation of an indelible relation to dirt, to her “brownness”— in other words, to her Latina mother-culture, to which she symbolically returns by killing Nena with the letter-opener before she eats her. One must conclude then that in Fur, the privy, signifying privation, is also a sign of cultural privacy.

  • 53 Maria Teresa Marrero, “Manifestations of Desires: A Critical Introduction” in Caridad Svich and Mar (...)

14Added to the physical abjection of Citrona is, of course, the culturally-inscribed abjection of her lesbianism, culminated in the act of eating (with its double entendre) the object of her love. If sexual normalization means leading the woman into acceptable family relations within the patriarchal exchange economy, then lesbianism is twice-abject because it disrupts this exchange by rerouting Otherness towards itself. Citrona is most abject in her expressions of lust for Nena, who in turn has the job of cleaning Citrona’s filth and providing her raw food, thus encountering her through her most abject facets. It is a grotesque version of the old racial stereotype of the marginalized Other as a sexual predator bent on the rapine, or the ethnic “cleansing” (dirtying, actually) of the dominant by attacking its weakest element, its women. At the same time, however, lesbianism, or “the female desiring subject’” s masturbatory capacity to “do without the physical presence of a man to satisfy her”53 is seen as a most effective strategy for permeating the boundaries of the cage of Otherness: when Citrona desires, she squeezes and reaches out through its bars; Nena enters it; Citrona, having eaten Nena, leaves it. Lesbianism here can also be read as the increased propensity for tactile contact, the capacity to slip through bars and borders (physical, cultural), suggesting also that when Otherness is allowed to look on itself as a sovereign self, difference is cancelled. Nena’s entering of the cage sets in motion a series of epiphanies that, for a moment, bring all the characters together in startling recognition of one another. Nena sees Citrona as a gifted human being; Citrona enjoys catering to the object of her affections; and Michael, in abandoning his ego and giving Citrona for once what she wants, secures her momentary trust in him.

  • 54 See particularly Chapter 2 of Sandra M. Gilbert and Suzan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic, Boston: (...)
  • 55 M. Cruz, “The Writer Speaks,” op. cit., p. 72.
  • 56 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 104.

15The permeation of the cage boundary is also significant in revealing another dimension of the Other, its split against itself. Sandra Gilbert and Suzan Gubar in their landmark 1979 study The Madwoman in the Attic speak of the split female subject, especially in her attempt to function as an author-creator who faces not only the anxiety of the male canon she partly wants to enter and partly to demolish, but also that of the lack of influence as regards female predecessors, a yearning relationship that turns into an intellectual “infection” (another form of Kristevan abjection).54 Gilbert and Gubar’s famous example of the split female subjectivity personified in the pair Jane Eyre/Bertha Rochester finds in Fur its echo in the relationship of Nena to Citrona. The two women are constructed as polar opposites in terms of appearance, erudition, sexual orientation, behavior, philosophy and intellect, with the pretty but vacuous Nena in the role of perpetual romantic prey to the complex, lustful and predatory Citrona. However, they are also perfectly counterpoised and matched, like their favorite colors, pink and violet: as Cruz says, “Citrona lusts for Nena, another woman who could be her twin—if only Citrona were as hairless as she.”55 Always in the play when Citrona acts, Nena is passive, and vice-versa; when Nena speaks with Michael in one room, Citrona participates in the conversation from the basement as if present; when one suffers by being deprived of her love object, so does the other. Citrona even dreams of Nena fulfilling her own greatest wish, which is killing Michael with a gun and declaring her love for the prisoner she liberates. The irrepressible Citrona which holds Michael’s affection could well be the dark “shadow self” or desire in Nena’s unconscious, or perhaps the conventional Nena is Citrona’s unconscious projection of what she herself would like to be (she even calls Nena her “sister”), how she would like to be able to submit her will, love as instructed and be accepted by the mainstream, “white/pink” heterosexual society Michael represents. This Madwoman’s dream is one of assimilation both inside and outside the cage: this is actually fulfilled when Citrona sleeps with Nena, eats her and then escapes, the two selves having become one, while previously Nena, afraid of her role as sacrificial lamb, fantasizes herself exploding and parts of her attaching to Citrona’s body: “I’ll make a new kind of monster out of her. My mouth will grow out of her stomach... it’ll rest on her pelvic bone, and when I lick my lips—I’ll lick hers too. Let’s see how she likes that. (Pause) Oh... no... I bet she’ll like that....”56 It is not difficult to discern the cannibalism and lesbian overtones in this fantasy, which suggests that Nena in a sense switches places with Citrona in her mind before she does so in reality (when her corpse finally is left in the cage).

  • 57 Maria-Louisa Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other: A Conversation of Migdalia Cruz with Maria (...)
  • 58 S. Patsalidis, “American Theatre...,” op. cit., p. 27.
  • 59 M. Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other...,” op. cit., p. 16.
  • 60 Tiffany Ana Lopez, “Violent Inscriptions: Writing the Body and Making Community in Four Plays by Mi (...)
  • 61 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 87.
  • 62 Ibid, p. 84.

16This sense of split personality that infects women authors in particular connects Citrona to Migdalia Cruz herself in an autobiographical sense of Otherness that is doubly enhanced by the ethnic Otherness of the playwright. Cruz recalls the birth of Citrona during a playwrights workshop held in some deserted L. A. suburb on a scorching hot day (the latter two being elements adopted in Fur): “At that time I was going through a major disappointment in love. I was desperate. It was then that I wrote Citrona’s first monologue.”57 Cruz also identifies herself as “nuyorican,” as belonging neither wholly to her ethnic Puerto Rican background, not to her American home in the South Bronx ghetto, in N. Y.58 In that sense, she and other latinos/as that adopt the same stance are the hybrid “freaks” caught at the gray zones of the differend between cultures. “There’s something particular about growing up Latino in America. One is trapped between a world of whites and a world of blacks,” Cruz says in an interview: “Since then I have been confused about whether I am white or black.”59 Tiffany Ana Lopez identifies this relation of colored body to culture as a “violent inscription” which, nevertheless, like the arbitrary category of Otherness itself, is necessary to create the sense of community on both sides of the dividing line.60 That grasp of artistic creation as a way to overcome her identity impasse is also transferred to Citrona’s own artistic capability, which the play emphasizes in various ways. Citrona brings out the best in herself, her beauty “inside” she cannot see but explores and communicates to us through her poignantly recalled memories of a childhood marked by precocious awareness of prejudice, yet oddly happy, her Beatles’ songs which she uses as an oblique commentary to the various instances in the play and the metaphorical images she fashions: “You spray me when you come in. You spray me like grass. I’m grass that’s not supposed to be alive,” or “I’m white inside. I’m a moon and I want to orbit you.”61 She also does the same for Nena’s features (“Fine bones. The bones of a well-bred lady. A sweet high-born beauty. Ankles of ivory.”)62 and in the end, writes a beautiful poem and directs an impromptu multi-symbolic puppet show about the two of them.

  • 63 Ibid, p. 92-93.
  • 64 Caridad Svich, “Out of the Fringe: In Defense of Beauty” in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (...)
  • 65 Ibid., p. 86.
  • 66 See the parable of Chloe and Olivia in Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, London: Harcourt, 1929.

17Citrona’s powers of creative cultural parody peak during her dream-sequence (the dark stuff, according to Freud and Jung, that creative art is made of), which Cruz, perhaps deliberately, has fleshed out as a telenovela version of the play: Nena, declaring her secret love for Citrona, kills Michael, and then Michael comes back to life, reduces Nena into a pile of smoldering rags, and claims Citrona for himself, persisting in his delusions that she loves him.63 Since impossibly sentimental soap-operas, full of outrageous plot-reversals are a staple of Latino culture (especially for middle-class Latinas who watch them religiously), it is as if Citrona is mocking Michael’s dream of romantic conquest by transposing this Western idea of love into an “Other” aesthetic context, where it automatically deconstructs by overdose. At the same time, however, Citrona’s dream-consciousness keeps making wry asides, both participating and distancing herself from the fantasy plot. In that sense, Cruz, who belongs to a generation of Latino artists, where “there was the reaction ‘against’ notions of ‘Latino-ness’ established by both the Anglo and the Latino culture, especially in the worlds of Spanish-language tabloid television and community theatre,”64 is mocking these stereotypes (especially regarding gender roles) at the same time she is herself admitting that they actively shape the Latino consciousness. Interestingly, Michael, the deluded “Creator” who, like Dr. Frankenstein, fashions himself a monster bride, functions according to those gender stereotypes. He projects in vain his fantasies of love and domination on Citrona, and imagines that when women are alone “they would talk about men. They would yearn for men together,”65 thus making himself the butt of the joke Virginia Woolf inaugurated in the name of all women authors in A Room of One’s Own: that women enjoy autonomous creativity and can do fine without a male in the plot.66

  • 67 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 85-86.
  • 68 C. Svich, op. cit., p. xiii.

18Citrona’s creation, therefore, to verify the feminist adage, is both a personal and an political act. Like her, Cruz finds herself only semi-resisting the seduction of the Anglo-American culture, which in the play is symbolized by the Bazooka bubblegum, a characteristically American product: the name even alludes to Teddy Roosevelt’s all-American injunction to “speak softly and carry a big stick” (or rocket-launcher) in dealing with Others. Bubblegum is the utter opposite to black, kinky, impossible-to-get-rid-of fur: artificial, smooth, ephemeral, sweet, pink/white—and open to the subversion of the sagacious script of its fortunes on the wrapping paper (Marx would call it superstructure) by the addition of the tag “in bed,” where the mixing of bodies and cultures takes place.67 That Citrona would have a craving for it, while she refuses to eat cooked meat, suggests the conflicted nature of her split sensibility, her love and denial of her own identity, as well as her love of Nena and denial of Michael, who are facets of the same culture (an intra-cultural mitosis that complicates Citrona’s view of white Otherness). Similarly, Cruz experiences both the nurturing, alluring aspects of life in the States—a new home providing the freedom to live, love, and create, the way Nena envisions Michael’s shop to be for her—and the caging of her identity inside preconceived notions of her latina-ness. As Caridad Svich says in her introduction to Out of the Fringe, “Writers and performers like Migdalia Cruz,” belonging to a “second wave” of Latino artists “that could exist outside the imposed ‘ghetto’ of ‘Latino’ theatre and sit in all its complexity at the ‘American’ table,” sought to go “beyond issues of coming-of-age and assimilation to question the very fabric of both the Latino and Anglo cultures of which they were a part. Exploring taboos with the abandon granted to them by the forebears, they pushed the venerable envelope of what was ‘acceptable’ representation.”68

  • 69 Edward Said, “Intellectual Exile: Expatriates and Marginals (Excerpt from Representation of the Int (...)
  • 70 Gloria Anzaldúa, “From Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” in Leitch, The Norton Anthology of (...)
  • 71 Arthur Kroker, SPASM: Virtual Reality, Android Music and Electric Flesh, Culture Texts series, Mont (...)

19It could in fact be argued that it was that selfsame act of self-imposed exile that boosted that generation’s creativity, the same way Citrona’s isolation as a freak propels her to wit, philosophizing and artistry as alternative venues to beauty. After all, as Edward Said shows, not only does the intellectual in exile draw his or her material “from the social and political history of dislocation and migration” he is a subject to, not only is this exile sometimes an internalized condition, stemming from the intellectual’s critical position vis-à-vis mainstream society, but in fact “the intellectual in exile tends to be happy with the idea of unhappiness, so that dissatisfaction bordering on dyspepsia, a kind of curmudgeonly disagreeableness, can become not only a style of thought, but also a new, if temporary, habitation.”69 However, Citrona’s (and Cruz’s) exile, based on the ethnic body, are not temporary, but claim a permanent position in the Bakhtinean polyglottic modern society. In that sense it would be useful to recall Gloria Anzaldúa’s notion of the frontera (borderland) which for her is the synecdoche for the new Latina of mixed origins (mestizo), the hybrid product of the continual borderline amalgamation—the border as a bordello—between the U. S. and Latin America: “From this racial, ideological, cultural and biological cross-pollinization, an ‘alien’ consciousness is presently in the making—a new mestizo consciousness.... of the Borderlands.”70 Postmodern critics, fueled by Jacques Derrida’s deconstructive critique of borders and boundaries, hail the notion of the borderland as the Petri dish for the new, impure, technovirtual, innocent-nomore, resilient post-human (mutant or cyborg) and post-humanist race towards which we are already (d) evolving, and which, in severing itself from human aesthetics, must necessarily be monstrous—what Arthur Kroker calls “the freak triumphant”:71

  • 72 Allucquère Rosanne Stone, “In the language of vampire speak” in Sue Golding (Ed.), The Eight Techno (...)

Borderlands belong to no one and everyone; are spaces in which ordinary laws are suspended, common categories abandoned, the waking world of predictability and rhythm held at bay. Unlike our fantasies, real borderlands are rarely pleasant places to be.
But they are where the action is. They’re where the vampires live.
72

  • 73 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 112.

20It is preferable, those critics agree, to embrace our new, adaptable freakishness as a pathway to a more honest approach to life rather than keep imposing (as Michael and Nena do) outdated and dysfunctionals notions of humanity on ourselves and others. Citrona as the emblem for the mestizo is the only survivor of the (“postapocalyptic,” as Cruz calls its time-setting) play’s catharsis, even though she is, ironically, the epitome of “impurity”: “I am the beast that was...” she tells Michael before she devours him, and in that ellipsis we read not only the humanity Citrona leaves behind, but the ambiguous future trajectory, which she alone has earned the right to define, having become Other in evolutionary terms as well.73

21This ambiguity is evident in Cruz, who provides a possible scenario in the violent annexing of the American element by Citrona, after she has lost all hope of fitting in and ever being loved, but one is not certain whether that confirms Otherness perpetually or resolves it, for lack of another side to the differend equation. Having hopefully established, so far, that the many facets of Otherness Citrona embodies in Fur are all indirectly pointing to the same substratum of a Latina consciousness in constant strife with the host/enemy north American culture, one must now wonder at this “indirectness.” As Marrero notes, Fur is:

  • 74 M. T. Marrero, “Manifestations of Desires,” op. cit., p. xvii.

...set within an internal terrain... making no allusions to identifiable, specific, geographical locations (be they Hispanic or Anglo). [It] is a self-contained world set within what could be termed the deliberations of language, the psychological, and the theatrical.74

  • 75 As it happened, for example, in the (otherwise enthusiastic) reception of the play’s translated ver (...)

22Why does Cruz not proclaim that latinidad, but instead provides such scant allusions that an average (or non-Latino) audience may well never notice the ethnic dimension of her play?75 One can think of several reasons for this silencing, some already intimated. It cannot be that one of the basic characteristics of Otherness as a concept is that it invites an automatic reaction to be ignored, repressed, or erased by the dominant Selfhood, because this is what Cruz’s play has been working against. Nothing sways the audience’s sympathies towards Citrona more than her constant and so eloquent attempts at communication and recognition, her desperate pleas to Nena: “Talk to me. However, it is also true that Cruz acknowledges a palpable sense of “Southern Discomfort” regarding latinidad in both the Anglo and the Latino cultures. First of all, there is the fundamental fact of the massive and unmatched by any other ethnic group exodus to the U. S. of all those latinos who seek to escape conditions of poverty, dictatorships, corruption, backwardness nd a repressive “macho” culture (mostly the result of imperialist interventions, yes, but present nevertheless). Secondly, with the fall of the Soviet Union! the United States needed a new scapegoat on which to exercise their difference-based sense of identity and blame their socio-economic political decisions. This may ostensibly have been found in the Islamic world and the phantom face of terrorism, but there is also always a need for more tangible emblems of hostile Otherness for public consumption, and these have been found in Latin America. I have been researching a slew of U. S. and British newspaper and magazine articles in the past five years which have been methodically noting the ideological, methodological, and material affinities between the “evil” Orient and leaders, peoples, and movements in South America (from Hugo Chavez to the Zapatistas), sounding a new note to an age-old policy of discrimination and exclusion towards their “dark opposite,” the South.

  • 76 See B. Creed, op. cit., p. 11.
  • 77 G. Anzaldua, “From Borderlands...,” op. cit., p. 2214.
  • 78 G. Anzaldua, “The New Mestiza,” op. cit., p. 552.

23It is understandable, therefore, that while on the one hand the valorization of the multinational and multicultural fabric of the United States has been the preferred rallying cry for the advocates of the American experiment, on the other hand there is the sense that the mother-culture of those transplanted Latinos and Latinas emerges as a wicked stepmother from whose asphyxiating embrace one must escape, and whose presence must be silenced. Kristeva argues, in fact, that every fundamental sense of borders stems from this initial drawing of the dividing line between the abject maternal body (here taken literally) and the emerging individual.76 This escape, a conscious form of Othering/abjecting oneself becomes especially urgent if one belongs to any “deviant” social group—and Citrona, Cruz’s alter ego, qualifies for membership to several of those. “As a mestiza, I have no country, my homeland cast me out...(As a lesbian I have no race, my own people disclaim me...)” echoes Anzaldua,77 who clearly identifies this outcast position from inside Otherness with a beast-self:78

Fear of going home. And of not being taken in. We’re afraid of being abandoned by the mother, the culture, la Raza, for being unacceptable, faulty, damaged. Most of us unconsciously believe that if we reveal this unacceptable aspect of the self our mother/culture/race will totally reject us. To avoid rejection, some of us conform to the values of the culture, push the unacceptable parts into the shadows. Which leaves only one fear—that we will be found out and that the Shadow-Beast will break out of its cage. Some of us take another route. We try to make ourselves conscious of the Shadow-Beast, stare at the sexual lust and lust for power and destruction we see on its face, discern among its features the undershadow that the reining order of heterosexual males project on our Beast. Yet still others of us take it another step: we try to waken the Shadow-Beast inside us. (...) But a few of us have been lucky—on the face of the Shadow-Beast we have seen not lust but tenderness...

  • 79 See the parable of “Shakespeare’s Sister” by Woolf in A Room of One’s Own, cit., as well as Alice W (...)
  • 80 S. Patsalidis, “American Theatre...,” op. cit., p. 26.

24Among the various forms of latino-objectionable deviancy is, of course, artistic talent which, as Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker have shown, under oppressive conditions becomes more of a curse than a blessing.79 Cruz and second-generation artists like her, Patsalidis notes, “carve a path of their own, disobedient towards either side. There is a tendency to escape any control center, and especially a tendency to exit the cage of the aesthetic and thematic strictures of the ethnic paradigm,” despite “the danger of their being alienated from what has until now been their main means of financial support, the community.”80 So even if their artistic identity does derive from their South American heritage, it is fulfilled through an artistic opposition to it, a love-hate relationship. The artist punishes the mother culture with silencing its influences, but also punishes herself as the wayward daughter by depriving herself of her one fundamental identity element as an artist, her capacity to articulate clearly. This complex process of identity Othering is mirrored in Citrona’s relationship with her mother: Ada bears a precocious daughter with the caul still on, a sign of good luck, but hits her so hard that Citrona claims to have lost her ability to figure large sums in her head (as, in stereotypical cultural terms, girls don’t do math—it should also be noted, Cruz herself is a math aficionado), starves her, jeers at her, calls her a bitch, mutilates her and sells her like a dog, or even more cheaply than that. Still, she is the only family Citrona has ever known, especially after her desired “sisterhood” with Nena is rejected. In killing Nena with her mother’s raping instrument, Citrona then takes revenge primarily on her mother’s ghost (at the time of the murder she speaks her mother’s name and accuses her seriously of abuse), acknowledging that all her troubles with being Other in a white, hairless culture stem equally from her having been already Other in her dysfunctional home.

  • 81 Sigmund Freud, “The Theme of the Three Caskets,” C. J. M. Hubback (Trans.), in David H. Richter, (E (...)
  • 82 Ibid., p. 491.

25Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, therefore, who is also plagued by parental ghosts into increasing secrecy and paranoid silence, Cruz cannot denounce (“kill”) the step-parent U. S. culture she would like to fit in, nor fully valorize a maternal culture of latinidad which she charges with devolutionary influences. So she mutes these elements. Like the poisoned sword that has already determined Hamlet’s death halfway through his revenge, the letter-opener has long poisoned Citrona physically (without virginity, she is “used goods”), emotionally and intellectually and is revealed as the emblem of her self-amputation of hope at the time of her own vengeance. Yet if the Citrona the audience has come to intimate is finally “dead,” then what is really this character who escapes from the cage? The opening of the cage has all the elements of a Pandora’s box motif: toying with a forbidden secret, the mysterious “beauty”-freak (a woman, and an artificial one at that) that turns death-dealer, the unleashing of unknown evils and, of course, hope (in the form of dead Nena) being the only thing remaining in the box. It is a motif consistent with the figurations of women’s anatomy and heterosexual intercourse in a patriarchal culture, which Sigmund Freud accepts at face value when he revisits it in his 1913 essay “The Theme of the Three Caskets.”81 Freud examines there the theme in literature and myth of a man’s choice between three women/caskets, the third of which, always disadvantaged in relation to the other two because it is less “loud,” or rather more prone to silence, is the right choice. For Freud, the third casket/woman symbolizes “Death itself, the Goddess of Death,” which in being objectified assumes by displacement the qualities of her victims, the dead (concealment, pallor, muteness)82 and the man’s choice of it suggests his submission to the inevitable. However, as the conscious surrender to the utter abjection of death is a frightful prospect, the male mind transfers the function of death to its nearest unconscious drive, eros, and attributes to the personified death the qualities of a supremely desirable woman.

  • 83 On that relation, Sue Golding, op. cit., on p. 120 quotes thanatologist Elizabeth Bronfen: “the Oth (...)
  • 84 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 105.

26Throughout the play, Citrona gives ample clues to this metonymic dimension of her Otherness—which is, one might say, the mother of all Otherness, as death is the ultimate and irreducible conceptually frontier of difference for all living beings.83 Besides corpse-like traits (supposedly rotten inside, covered with dirt and excrement, smelling putrid) and her literally deadly silence when she exits the tomb-like basement cage, she repeatedly comments on the pallor of her skin, her being buried alive, her preference for the shade and, through the puppet parable of Moo and Chew (which puts Nena to sleep, foreshadowing her death), her being life’s “shadow.” Her poem to Nena also bespeaks a wish for erotic burial, a kind of embrace by death or a romantic liebestöd:84

Before I met you, I dreamt of your face.
It was the face of love in a hourglass, pouring over me.
Sand filling me up, drawing out my darkness.
If I could rest my head between your legs—I could sleep.
(
Silence. Michael disappears from view.)

  • 85 Ibid, p. 90.
  • 86 M-L. Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other...,” op. cit., p. 16.

27The fact that Citrona is most intelligently talkative and active for the greatest part of the play does not counter the required Freudian “dumbness,” since her talk is systematically disregarded by the Other two. Citrona’s voracious hunger demands fresh kills every day, and she is identified with menacing and supernatural death-related archetypes as the werewolf (by virtue of her fur and appetite), the vampire (by virtue of her blood-drinking and lesbianism) and, most overtly, with the patchwork reanimant, Frankenstein: “I don’t dream anymore. I don’t remember how to sleep. I don’t sleep because I’m a monster and monsters are hard to love. Look at Frankenstein’s monster. The only thing that loved him—that innocent little girl—he goes and throws her down a well.”85 It is interesting that both Citrona and Michael refer to the famous American 1931 cinematic version of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, and not Mary Shelley’s book, is another indication that Citrona, too, feels monstrous because of her being an unwitting patchwork between cultures. Her relation to Cruz’s autobiography confirms that idea: as the playwright says about her ghetto childhood, “When you are growing up with death all around you, you learn to bury your emotions for long periods of time. [...] Actually, I had a great childhood, but the environment was way too tough, both inside and outside the Bronx.”86

  • 87 Harry T. Moore, “Preface” in William Van O’ Connor, The Grotesque: An American and Other Essays, Cr (...)
  • 88 J. Baudrillard, America, op. cit., p 35.

28The displacement Freud mentions between the Death Goddess and her victims also works in terms of Citrona’s relationship with Michael, who is revealed in his narratives as the carrier of a very peculiar virus: whoever loves him—his father, Joe, the pet shop owner whom Michael inherits, all the pets that show their affection to him and finally Nena—dies. This strange feature, combined with the frigidly angelic nature of Michael, might initially point to him as the Angel of Death, but in the end he is also killed by Citrona, perhaps voluntarily. However, we can see Michael’s dead-related qualities as part of the postmodern malaise of American life. Why American in particular? As critic Harry T. Moore noted long ago, it is a paradox of American literature, despite being sprung from the healthy amalgam of 18th-century rationality and humanitarian sympathy in a new nation, that it “is filled with the grotesque, more so probably than any other Western literature. It is a new genre, merging tragedy and comedy, and seeking, seemingly in perverse ways, the sublime.”87 The description could well fit Cruz’s Fur, and especially the merging of the tragic and the droll in each character. Jean Baudrillard has theorized that the hysteric fetishization of the youthful and fit body in American culture, evident in Michael’s extreme personal hygiene habits, relate in fact to an underlying anxiety of death:88

The omnipresent cult of the body is extraordinary. It is the only object on which everyone is made to concentrate, not as a source of pleasure, but as an object of frantic concern, in the obsessive fear of failure or substandard performance, a sign and an anticipation of death, that death to which no one can any longer give a meaning, but which everyone knows has at all times to be prevented. [...] The care taken of the body while it is alive prefigures the way it will be made up in the funeral home, where it will be given a smile that is really “into” death.

  • 89 J. Baudrillard, “Simulacra and Simulations,” op. cit., p. 474.
  • 90 M-L. Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other...,” op. cit., p. 19.
  • 91 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 100.
  • 92 See Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, James Strachey (Ed. and Trans), New York, Nort (...)

29In view of that, since for Baudrillard, the simulacrum signals “the sign as reversion and death sentence of every reference,”89 it is no wonder that the first thing of his that Michael gives to Citrona is a photograph of his unverifiable boyhood instead of the present flesh and blood man. Michael has all the qualities of a pure simulacrum, with his lack of tangible roots, his immaculate appearance and his utterly sterile emotional landscape, symbolized by the sand-covered desert—the perfect paradigm for Kroker of the virtual android to which American culture is mutating. As Cruz says, “when the world has finally been destroyed and there’s only desert left, people have a hard time keeping their humanity alive and reestablishing their communication with other people.”90 For Baudrillard and his followers, that mythical time in Cruz’s play is now. Therefore, Michael’s romantic submission to Citrona’s quasi-sexual killing (a pretend nuptial kiss from her that turns into a deadly bite when suddenly the lights go out) could be well seen as the neurotic metonymy for his culture which, having reached a point of surface perfection but total emotional stasis, becomes enamored of a self-destructive death wish, represented by its (historically inevitable) annexing by another, more organically robust culture. For Michael, Citrona “is beautiful because she has nothing to hide. I hide all the time”91—and so in loving her he wants to experience the unparalleled freedom Death’s embrace offers to the people driven to mental illness by the strictures of a highly developed, and therefore highly repressive (according to Freud),92 society.

  • 93 L. Behrens and L. J. Rosen, “The Beast Within”, op. cit., p. 782.
  • 94 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 112.
  • 95 M. Cruz, “The Writer Speaks,” op. cit., p. 72.
  • 96 S. Patsalidis, “American Theatre...”, op. cit, p. 30.

30The silencing of latinidad in Cruz’s Fur at the same time that this quality is found at the root of the play’s treatment of Otherness can in that way be explained as the silence accorded to the subject of Death as ultimate Otherness. And perhaps it is necessary that Death escape from the cage, for one’s sense of identity requires a perpetual haunting by the abject Other, and so a domesticated Citrona would signal not only the death of Otherness and the differend, but the death of the identifiable Self as well. To exorcise this death, as Freud also suggests, we must give a masochistic vision of Death free reign in the play, in the same way that “the horror film dramatizes our nightmares, so that we can confront them and... laugh at them. So we get a thrill out of being scared... as long as we know that as spectators we’ll be perfectly safe.”93 Is the willing release of Death into the world of the so-called living simply then the final gesture of a dying culture, or the propitiatory jest of a bored one? One would look at such conclusions, partially true though they might be, with justified skepticism, given what has been said so far about Cruz’s distancing herself from such romantic-pessimist ideologies. Besides, the clandestine proliferation of metaphors of irrepressible latinidad suggests that a kind of life goes on after death-by-Otherdose. An indication of that is the sounding of the Beatles’ “Birthday” at the moment of Michael’s murder:94 Citrona’s favorite score moves from her own solitary singing to becoming a main musical theme for the play, underlining her newfound dominion over its elements, as well as her second birth out of the cage and the diseased pet-shop and into...? The blackout Cruz ushers prematurely as a form of visual silence indicates that not even she is sure what to expect of the infringement of this new mestiza fringe upon the mainstream, except that it is going to be portentous and awesome, like a rough beast, its hour come at last, slouching towards L. A. to be born (to paraphrase Yeats)... If anything, it will be the Death of all prior cultural conventions, stereotypes, formulations and monolithic expectations about Otherness. And a beast of beauty, according to the playwright: “In my work I define beauty as the transformation of women from sexual object to spiritual being. The protagonist in Fur, Citrona, though considered a disposable piece of human sideshow flesh, comes to realize her own power through the act and reaction of love.”95 Critics, too, agree on that point—for Patsalidis, the final scenes mark Citrona’s apogee of beauty:96

The play is really about her. How this creature, hideous in appearance, gradually regains her self-confidence as she lets herself free to experience her emotions and transforms from a beast into a beauty, whence she can now determine her own fairy-tale. Ridding herself from the anxiety she feels as a woman about her body, she discovers herself and redefines the ingredients of her subjectivity. Characteristically, she says: “I never thought I’d really want someone to smell my real smell....”

31Cruz, therefore, invites us precisely not to repress that Southern discomfort, for it incites still the possibility for hope to crawl out of some borderline basement some day. The plethora of allegorical, allusive, or symbolic levels of hybrid ethnicity with which Fur engages challenge a reductive reading of latinidad as only a metaphor one can talk about (but not to) from a distanced position of intellectual dominance. Instead, by stretching the implications of this Otherness to the ultimate point of convergence with Death (which is perhaps the transcendental signifier of all culture), she claims for the Other the center-stage position of a complex Self, from which all divergences and multiple readings emanate.

Bibliographie

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ANZALDÚA Gloria, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizo, San Francisco, Spinster/Aunt Lute, 1987.

APPIAH Kwame Anthony, “Race” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed.), Critical Terms for Literary Study, Chicago and London, Chicago UP, 1990, p. 274-287.

BAUDRILLARD Jean, America, Chris Turner (trans.), London and New York, Verso, (1986), 1999.

BAUDRILLARD Jean, “Simulacra and Simulations: Disneyland” in Charles Lemert (Ed.), Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, Oxford and Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2004, p. 471-476.

BEAUVOIR Simone de, “Woman As Other (Excerpt from The Second Sex),” H. M. Parshley (Trans.), in Charles Lemert (Ed.), Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, Oxford and Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2004, p. 339-341.

BEHRENS Laurence and Leonard J. Rosen, “The Beast Within: Perspectives on the Horror Film” in Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen (Ed.), Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, 7th ed., New York, Longman, 2000, p. 781-784.

CANNING Charlotte, Feminist Theaters in the U. S. A.: Staging Women’s Experience, London and New York Routledge, 1996.

CREED Barbara, The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism and Psychoanalysis, London and New York, Routledge 1993.

CRUZ Migdalia, Fur, a Play in Nineteen Acts, in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Ed.), Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/Latino Theatre and Performance, New York, Theatre Communications Group, 2000, p. 75-112.

CRUZ Migdalia, “Gia tin poly-polytismiki koinonia,” Michalis Georgiou (Trans.), in peiramatiki skini, Gouna (performance booklet), Athens, National Theatre 2003-2004, p. 23.

CRUZ Migdalia, “The Writer Speaks: Migdalia Cruz” in Caridad Svich and María Teresa Marrero (Ed.), Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/Latino Theatre and Performance, New York, Theatre Communications Group, 2000, p. 72-73.

DOANE Mary Ann, Feminism, Film, Theory, Psychoanalysis, New York and London, Routledge, 1991.

DONALD James, (Ed.), Fantasy and the Cinema, London, British Film Institute, 1989

FENDER Stephen, “The American Difference” in Mick Gidley (Ed.), Modern American Culture: An Introduction, London and New York, Longman, 1993, pp. 1-22.

FREUD Sigmund, “The Theme of the Three Caskets,” C. J. M. Hubback (Trans.), in David H. Richter, (Ed.), The Critical Tradition, op. cit., p. 488-94.

FRIEDAN Betty, “The Problem That Has No Name (Exceprt from The Feminine Mystique)” in Charles Lemert (Ed.), Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, Oxford and Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2004 p. 355-358.

GILBERT Sandra M., and Suzan GUBAR, The Madwoman in the Attic, Boston, Yale UP, 1984.

GOLDING Sue, The Eight Technologies of Otherness, Sue Golding (Ed.), New York and London, Routledge, 1997.

HERNTON Calvin, Sex and Race in America, New York, Anchor Books, (1965), 1988.

IRIGARAY Luce, “This Sex Which Is Not One,” Claudia Reeder (Trans.), in David H. Richter (Ed.), The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends, 2nd ed., Boston, Bedford Books, 1998, p. 1467-1471.

LOPEZ Tiffany Ana, “Violent Inscriptions: Writing the Body and Making Community in Four Plays by Migdalia Cruz,” Theatre Journal 52. 1 (March 2000), p. 51-66.

LYOTARD Jean-François, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute, Manchester, Manchester UP, (1983), 1988.

MARIN Louis, Food for Thought, Mette Hjort (Trans.), Parallax Revisions of Culture and Society series, Baltimore and London, The Johns Hopkins UP, 1989.

MARRERO Maria Teresa, “Manifestations of Desires: A Critical Introduction” in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Ed.), Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/Latino Theatre and Performance, New York, Theatre Communications Group, 2000, p. xvii-xxx.

MCCLINTOCK Anne, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York and London, Routledge, 1995.

MELTZER Françoise, “Unconscious” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed.), Critical Terms for Literary Study, Chicago and London, The U. of Chicago P., 1990, p. 147-62.

MOORE Harry T., “Preface” in William Van O’Connor, The Grotesque: An American Genre and Other Essays, Crosscurrents—Modern Critiques series, Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1962, pp. vii-xi.

OSTENDORF Bernd and Stephan palmié, “Immigration and Ethnicity” in Mick Gidley (Ed.), Modern American Culture: An Introduction, London and New York, Longman, 1993, p. 142-65.

PAPADOPOULOU Maria-Louisa, “The Attraction of the Other: A Conversation of Migdalia Cruz with Maria-Louisa Papadopoulou,” Michalis Georgiou (Trans.), in PEIRAMATIKI SKINI, Gouna, (performance booklet), by Migdalia Cruz, Athens, National Theatre 2003-04, p. 15-21.

PATSALIDIS Savvas. “American Theatre and the ‘Ethnicity Case’ of Migdalia Cruz” in peiramatiki skini, Gouna, (performance booklet), by Migdalia Cruz, Athens, National Theatre 2003-04, p. 25-30.

PEIRAMATIKI SKINI, GOUNA (performance booklet), by Migdalia Cruz, Athens, National Theatre 2003-04.

SAID Edward, “Intellectual Exile: Expatriates and Marginals (Excerpt from Representation of the Intellectual)” in Charles Lemert (Ed.), Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, Oxford and Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2004, p. 640-44.

SALISBURY Joyce E., “Metamorphosis: Humans into Animals” in Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen (Ed.), Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, 7th ed., New York, Longman, 2000, p. 809-16.

SOLLORS Werner, ‘Ethnicity” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed.), Critical Terms for Literary Study, Chicago and London, Chicago UP., 1990, p. 288-305.

STONE Allucquère Rosanne, “In the language of vampire speak” in Sue Golding (Ed.), The Eight Technologies of Otherness, New York and London, Routledge 1997op. cit., p. 59-67.

Notes

1 Fyodor Dostoyevsky Notes from the Underground [To Ipogeio], George Simiriotis (Trans.), Athens, Eleftherotypia, (1864), 2006, p. 46.

2 Jean-François Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute, Georges Van Den Abbeele (Trans), Manchester, Manchester UP, (1983) 1988, p. xi.

3 Sue Golding, “A Word of Warning” in Sue Golding (Ed.), The Eight Technologies of Otherness, New York and London, Routledge, 1997, pp. xi-xiv, p. xiii.

4 Edward Said, Orientalism, NY, Random House—Pantheon Books,

5 Migdalia Cruz, “The Writer Speaks: Migdalia Cruz” in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Ed.), Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/Latino Theatre and Performance, New York, Theatre Communications Group, 2000, p. 72-73.

6 Migdalia Cruz, Fur, A Play in Nineteen Acts, in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Ed.), Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/Latino Theatre and Performance, New York, Theatre Communications Group, 2000, p. 75-112.

7 Migdalia Cruz, “Gia tin poly-polytismiki koinonia,” Michalis Georgiou (Trans), in Peiramatiki SKini, Gouna (performance booklet), Athens, National Theatre 2003-04, p. 23.

8 Simone de Beauvoir, “Woman As Other (Excerpt from The Second Sex),” H. M. Parshley (Trans), in Charles Lemert (Ed), Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, Oxford and Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2004, p. 339-341.

9 Luce Irigaray, “This Sex Which Is Not One,” Claudia Reeder (Trans.), in David nd H. Richter (Ed.), The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends 2nd ed., Boston, Bedford Books, 1998, p. 1467-1471.

10 See Julia Kristeva’s discussion of the Semiotic and the Symbolic in Part I of Revolution in Poetic Language, 1974.

11 Mary Ann Doane, Feminism, Film, Theory, Psychoanalysis, New York and Routledge, 1991, p. 23.

12 Helene Cixous, “The Laugh of The Medusa” in Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl (eds.) Feminism. An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism, NJ: Rutgers, 1991.

13 Savvas Patsalidis, “American Theatre and the ‘Ethnicity Case’ of Migdalia Cruz” in Peiramatiki Skini, Gouna, op. cit., p. 25-30.

14 Calvin Hernton, Sex and Race in America, New York, Anchor Books, (1965), 1988, p. 6.

15 See, for example, Isocrates’ theories in Ethical Nicomachea, or Aristotle and Galen on hysteria.

16 Betty Friedan, “The Problem That Mas No Name (Exceprt from The Feminine Mystique)” in Charles Lemert (Ed.), Social Theory..., op. cit, p. 355-358.

17 Ibid., p 358.

18 See Max Weber, “The Spirit of Capitalism and the Iron Cage,” Part one of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, NJ, Prentice-Hall, (1905), 1968.

19 Stephen Fender, “The American Difference” in Mick Gidley (Ed.), Modern American Culture: An Introduction, London and New York, Longman, 1993, p. 1-22.

20 G. Anzaldúa, “The New Mestiza,” p. 549.

21 Werner Sollors, ‘Ethnicity” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed) Critical Terms for Literary Study, Chicago and London, The U. of Chicago Ρ., 1990 p. 288-305.

22 Bernd Ostendorf and Stephan Palmié, “Immigration and Ethnicity” in Mick Gidley (Ed.), Modern American Culture, op. cit., p. 142-165.

23 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 78.

24 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 90-91.

25 Ibid., 89-90.

26 See Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked, 1969.

27 Louis Marin, Food for Thought, Mette Hjort (Trans), Parallax Re-visions of Culture and Society series, Baltimore and London, The Johns Hopkins UP, 1989, p. 121.

28 Quoted in Charlotte Canning, Feminist Theaters in the U. S. A.: Staging Women’s Experience, London and New York, Routledge, 1996, p. 60-61.

29 L. Irigaray, “This Sex Which Is Not One,” op. cit., p. 1468.

30 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 81.

31 Barbara Creed, The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism and Psychoanalysis, London and New York, Routledge, 1993, p. 5.

32 Ibid, p. 7.

33 M. Doane, Femmes Fatales, op. cit., p. 1-2.

34 See, for example, Nupur Chaudhuri and Margaret StrobeL (Ed.), Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana UP, 1992; Meyda Yegenoglu, Colonial Fantasies: Towards a Feminist Reading of Orientalism, Cambridge Cultural Social Studies series, New York and Cambridge, CUP, 1998; and Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York and London, Routledge, 1995.

35 A. McClintock, op. cit., p. 359.

36 Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Race” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed.), Critical Terms for Literary Study, op. cit., p. 274-87, p. 278.

37 On the subject, see Alixe Bovey, Monsters & Grotesques in Medieval Manuscripts, Toronto, U. of Toronto P., 2002, and Peter Burke, “Frontiers of the Monstrous: Perceiving National Characters in Early Modern Europe” in Laura L. Knoppers, Joan B. Landes, and Andrew Curran (Ed.), Monstrous Bodies/Political Monstrosities in Early Modern Europe, Ithaca, Cornell UP, 2004, p. 25-39.

38 William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1856. Bradford was the first governor of the Puritan colony in Massachusetts, and the first historiographer of Anglo U. S. A. His diaries cover the period of 1630-1650.

39 Quoted in Gloria Anzaldua, “The New Mestiza (excerpt from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestizo)” in Charles Lemert (Ed.), Social Theory..., op. cit, p. 547-53, p. 551.

40 Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen, “The Beast Within: Perspectives on the Horror Film” in Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen (Ed.), Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, 7th ed., New York, Longman, 2000, p. 781-784, p. 783.

41 Joyce E. SAlisbury, “Metamorphosis: Humans into Animals” in Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen (Ed), Writing and Reading..., op. cit., p. 809-816, p. 810.

42 Françoise Meltzer, “Unconscious” in Frank Lentrichia and Thomas McLaughlin (Ed.), Critical Terms for Literary Study, op. cit., p. 147-162, p. 158.

43 On the subject, see Cruz’s interview with Lenoro Inez Brown, “Writing Religion: Is God a Character in Your Plays?” American Theatre 9 (2000), pp. 29-32.

44 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 79.

45 Ibid, p. 110.

46 James Donald, (Ed.), Fantasy and the Cinema, London, British Film Institute, 1989.

47 In Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, Leon S. Roudiez (Trans.), New York, Columbia UP, 1982, p. 4.

48 B. Creed, The Monstrous-Feminine, op. cit., p. 8-9.

49 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 80.

50 On the subject, see Sigmund Freud, Collected Papers, 1924-50.

51 B. Creed, The Monstrous-Feminine, op. cit., p. 11-13.

52 Jean Baudrillard, America, Chris Turner (trans), London and New York, Verso (1986), 1999. p. 33.

53 Maria Teresa Marrero, “Manifestations of Desires: A Critical Introduction” in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Eds), Out of the Fringe, op. cit., p. xvii-xxx.

54 See particularly Chapter 2 of Sandra M. Gilbert and Suzan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic, Boston: Yale UP, 1984.

55 M. Cruz, “The Writer Speaks,” op. cit., p. 72.

56 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 104.

57 Maria-Louisa Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other: A Conversation of Migdalia Cruz with Maria-Louisa Papadopoulou,” Michalis Georgiou (Trans), in Peiramatiki Skini, Gouna, op. cit., p. 15-21, p. 18.

58 S. Patsalidis, “American Theatre...,” op. cit., p. 27.

59 M. Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other...,” op. cit., p. 16.

60 Tiffany Ana Lopez, “Violent Inscriptions: Writing the Body and Making Community in Four Plays by Migdalia Cruz,” Theatre Journal 52. 1 (March 2000), p. 51-66.

61 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 87.

62 Ibid, p. 84.

63 Ibid, p. 92-93.

64 Caridad Svich, “Out of the Fringe: In Defense of Beauty” in Caridad Svich and Maria Teresa Marrero (Ed.), Out of the Fringe.., op. cit. p. ix-xvi p. xi.

65 Ibid., p. 86.

66 See the parable of Chloe and Olivia in Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, London: Harcourt, 1929.

67 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 85-86.

68 C. Svich, op. cit., p. xiii.

69 Edward Said, “Intellectual Exile: Expatriates and Marginals (Excerpt from Representation of the Intellectual)” in Charles Lemert (Ed.), Social Theory op cit p. 640-44, p. 642.

70 Gloria Anzaldúa, “From Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza” in Leitch, The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, New York and London Norton, 2001, p. 2211-23, p. 2212.

71 Arthur Kroker, SPASM: Virtual Reality, Android Music and Electric Flesh, Culture Texts series, Montréal, New World Perspectives, 1993.

72 Allucquère Rosanne Stone, “In the language of vampire speak” in Sue Golding (Ed.), The Eight Technologies..., op. cit., p. 59-67, p. 59.

73 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 112.

74 M. T. Marrero, “Manifestations of Desires,” op. cit., p. xvii.

75 As it happened, for example, in the (otherwise enthusiastic) reception of the play’s translated version in Athens, Greece, in 2003, staged by the Experimental Troupe of the National Theatre.

76 See B. Creed, op. cit., p. 11.

77 G. Anzaldua, “From Borderlands...,” op. cit., p. 2214.

78 G. Anzaldua, “The New Mestiza,” op. cit., p. 552.

79 See the parable of “Shakespeare’s Sister” by Woolf in A Room of One’s Own, cit., as well as Alice Walker’s 1975 essay “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.”

80 S. Patsalidis, “American Theatre...,” op. cit., p. 26.

81 Sigmund Freud, “The Theme of the Three Caskets,” C. J. M. Hubback (Trans.), in David H. Richter, (Ed.), The Critical Tradition, op. cit., p. 488-94

82 Ibid., p. 491.

83 On that relation, Sue Golding, op. cit., on p. 120 quotes thanatologist Elizabeth Bronfen: “the Other is semantically encoded as the site on to which anxieties about loss of control and boundary distinctions are projected (Bronfen, 1992, 190) and thus ‘the Other is always connected with death.”

84 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 105.

85 Ibid, p. 90.

86 M-L. Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other...,” op. cit., p. 16.

87 Harry T. Moore, “Preface” in William Van O’ Connor, The Grotesque: An American and Other Essays, Crosscurrents—Modern Critiques series, Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1962, pp. vii-xi, p. vii.

88 J. Baudrillard, America, op. cit., p 35.

89 J. Baudrillard, “Simulacra and Simulations,” op. cit., p. 474.

90 M-L. Papadopoulou, “The Attraction of the Other...,” op. cit., p. 19.

91 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 100.

92 See Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, James Strachey (Ed. and Trans), New York, Norton, (1930), 1961, pp. 88-92.

93 L. Behrens and L. J. Rosen, “The Beast Within”, op. cit., p. 782.

94 M. Cruz, Fur, op. cit., p. 112.

95 M. Cruz, “The Writer Speaks,” op. cit., p. 72.

96 S. Patsalidis, “American Theatre...”, op. cit, p. 30.

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