This is my second post of a promised series explaining why the postmodern Argentine author Manuel Puig demands to be read today. As a reminder, this is in part occasioned by the publication of The Buenos Aires Affair (with my introduction) the Dalkey Archive Press in August, a publication that caps off Dalkey’s placing three of Puig’s books back into print.
It’s a theory of mine that as Western society has progressively moved toward a more self-centered, free-expression based understanding of the individual, the creation of personality has become more and more your own responsibility. That’s kind of a long sentence, so, in other words: the greater absence of moral constraints and fixed social guidelines, the more freedom you have to define yourself. Responsibility for creating your personality becomes less an act of the community and more a personal choice dependent on trying on various selves to see which one fits best.
None of this is entirely new. There have always been seekers in Western society, and people have always been able to exercise some level of control as to their identity. What I would argue is new now is the degree to which identity-creation is thrust at you as a personal responsibility/obligation, and we have been given an unprecedented amount of leisure time and tools with which to try out these new personalities.
So where does Puig come into this? Continue Reading