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Signs of the AmericasA Poetics of Pictography, Hieroglyphs, and Khipu$
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Edgar Garcia

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226658971

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226659169.001.0001

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World Poetry and Its Disavowals

World Poetry and Its Disavowals

A Poetics of Subsumption from the Aztec Priests to Ed Dorn

(p.37) 1 World Poetry and Its Disavowals
Signs of the Americas

Edgar Garcia

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the possibility of an Aztec poetics in the English language. It draws on Dipesh Chakrabarty’s and Harry Harootunian’s interpretations of the Marxist concept of subsumption (as well as on the writings of Bolivian-Andean theorists of temporal heterogeneity) to argue that current conceptions of worlding in world literature limit the possibility of finding indigenous worlds and rhythms in translation. Restructuring that search through anthropologist June Nash’s idea of “counterplots,” or poetic form as ontological repertoire, this chapter shows how things as seemingly distant as the "Aztec Priests’ Reply" of 1524 (the earliest documented act of poetic resistance to colonialism in the Americas) and the Aztec sunstone reverberate in the experimental poetics of their translators—Edward Dorn, Jennifer Dunbar Dorn, and Gordon Brotherston—casting their world in the late 1960s into a Mesoamerican framework of world-making. Focusing in particular on a Mesoamerican poetic form of mutual dis-identification—“inamic” in the Nahuatl language of the so-called Aztecs—this chapter repositions translation itself within the conceptual boundaries set out for the materials by their original speakers: a Nahuatl poetics of nonidentity recaptures translation itself in a Nahuatl world of endless dis-identification.

Keywords:   Aztec, Nahuatl, translation, subsumption, parallelism, metalepsis, conquest, postcolonial, Marx, Mexico

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