Homeopathic Repetition and Memories of Underdevelopment: The Dialectic of Subjective Experience and Objective Historical Forces

Trevor James Cunnington


This paper offers a reading of Guttierez Alea's film Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del Subdesarrollos, 1968) using Jameson's notion of the 'homeopathic neutralization' of repetition through its very usage in the modernist work of art to assuage the alienation of industrial society. Before the reading of the film begins, however, I explore the motif of repetition in the work of a handful of the most important thinkers of the newly industrial society. I mobilize their insights on different levels of being: sociological, biological, psychological, and aesthetic, in order to understand how Alea uses repetition of form and content to construct the film's protagonist as a metaphor for the counter-revolution. I conclude with thoughts about the heterogeneity of communist states, and the dialectical relationship between high culture and popular culture. I propose that this relationship is better seen as a continuum with two extreme poles, rather than as a binary switch.


Repetition; Memories of Underdevelopment; Jameson; Marx; Freud; Darwin; Nietzsche

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