L'anthologie of Global Inestabilidad Transpuesta - Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America - El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny (Part 12)

Transposing emblem by Antuel D'Adam
 

Argentina’s society is one of many contradictions and paradoxes. As some readers may know, the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, has been called “the Paris of South America.” If you have ever been there, this nickname shouldn't strike you as impossibly ridiculous. Buildings such as the ones in the pictures below are not very hard to find, and the cosmopolitan atmosphere in Buenos Aires and its European-style restaurants and theaters will make you feel that its nickname is more than fair.
Paris, France - Traditional Rococo building, Alex & Brigitte (left); Buenos Aires, Argentina: Buenos Aires Cabildo, Koehler (right)

However, when you look at other places in Argentina, and even at Buenos Aires itself, the incongruity of “Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America” should dawn on you rather quickly and help you understand what I am trying to say: Argentina is Paris . . . and it isn't. Argentina may have the architectural sophistication of Western Europe, but her economic strength is more along the lines of her neighboring countries. The truth is that there are more things than not that Argentina shares with the rest of the nations in the region. But because Argentine children have been, and still are, brought up with stories about how Argentina is the best country in the world, with the best beef and the most beautiful woman (we even have a song (by Bersuit Vergarabat) about that), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a widespread feeling of uneasiness among Argentines. A certain psychological instability arising from a mismatch between what we should be and what we actually are. How come we are so great yet have so many problems as a country? Every Latin American is probably aware of that age-old running joke that says we’re cocky. We are. But behind that cockiness there is a certain fear, a defense mechanism. A way to cope with a truth we don’t like. How come we’re the best yet no one, not even ourselves, seems to see it?
American Progress by John Gast (1872)

When I look at the United States, the parallels are just as striking. I don’t wish to talk about the new US political situation nor of the possible implications of that situation. Political analyses should be left to political analysts. But I find the US position in the world to bear a striking resemblance to Argentina’s position in South America. Bear with me. After WWII, the US cemented her status as the most powerful nation in the world. That was but the last step on a long road to success, which can be easily be said to have its roots at least in her 19th century Manifest Destiny. Meanwhile, Argentina was considered El granero del mundo, “the World’s Barn“, and one of the richest countries in the world, at around the same time.       

La naturaleza del paisaje, Guillermo Bekes (2014)

But what about now? The United States is still the greatest of the great powers, but there others today, coexisting with America. Argentina’s economy is but a shadow of its past, and many neighboring countries that Argentina used to greatly outperform, well, do much better than her now. We could spend days and thousands of pages trying to analyze the reasons why these changes occurred, but suffice it to say that they did. 
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Girl with boom box

What I’m trying to say is that the collective uneasiness that has been a recurrent feature of Argentina’s society for a long time now seems to work in similar ways in the United States. Of course Argentina and the United States are not the only (and possibly not even the most representative) examples of these somewhat predictable fluctuations in the global system, but I’m from Argentina and the US is the most powerful nation in the world. Thus my choices.
Brooklyn, New York - Mural in East Williamsburg

So what? Is it relevant that culture, politicians, and mothers alike tell us that we are still the best of the best? Well, it may. If Argentina and the United States are not as powerful as they used to be and we fail to understand that this is not necessarily a bad thing, but an opportunity, and instead lie to ourselves and respond with fear, cockiness, or whatever . . . well, things can quickly start to sour.

Argentina - Dancers by leaf
Please, don’t misunderstand me. I know that if you see all these changes as the equivalent of losing your prominent position in a company, you’re probably going to be afraid. But we need to understand that this isn’t a win or lose game. Argentina may not be the World’s Barn and the US may not seem to be the nation chosen by God all the time now. But we’re still great countries with great people. This psychosocial state of uncertainty should be embraced as a key element in the constitution of the collective psyche of two cultures that are contradictory, but beautifully contradictory.






Emblem of instability in postcards at 1080 Brew (Queens, NYC)

More original version



Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America:

El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny


Emblem of instability in postcards at 1080 Brew (Queens, NYC)
Argentina’s society is one of many contradictions and paradoxes. As some of the readers may know, the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, has been called "the Paris of South America." If you have ever been there, this nickname shouldn't strike you as impossibly ridiculous. Buildings such as the ones from the pictures below are not very hard to find, and Buenos Aires' cosmopolitan atmosphere and European-style restaurants and theaters will make you feel that its nickname is more than fair.
 
However, when you look at other places in Argentina, and even at Buenos Aires itself, the incongruity of “Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America“ should start to come up to the surface rather quickly and help you understand what I am trying to say: Argentina is Paris . . . and it isn‘t. Argentina may have the architectural sophistication of Western Europe, but her economic strength is more along the lines of her neighboring countries. The truth is that there are more things than not that Argentina shares with the rest of the nations in the region. But because Argentine children have been, and still are, brought up with stories about how Argentina is the best country in the world, with the best beef and the most beautiful woman (we even have a song (by Bersuit Vergarabat ) about that), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a widespread feeling of uneasiness among Argentines. A certain psychological instability arising from a mismatch between what we should be and what we actually are. How come we are so great yet have so many problems as a country? Every Latin American is probably aware of that age-old running joke that says we’re cocky. We are. But behind that cockiness there is a certain fear, a defense mechanism. A way to cope with a truth we don’t like. How come we’re the best yet no one, not even ourselves, seems to see it?
 

When I look at the United States, the parallels are just as striking. I don’t wish to talk about the new US political scenario nor of the possible implications of that scenario. Political analyses should be left to political analysts. But I found the US position in the world to bear striking resemblances to Argentina’s position in South America. Bear with me. After WWII, the US cemented her status as the most powerful nation in the world. That was but the last step on a long road to success, which can be easily be said to have its roots at least in her 19th century Manifest Destiny. Meanwhile, Argentina was considered El granero del mundo, “the World’s Barn“, and one of the richest countries in the world, at around the same time.
 

But about now? The United States is still the greatest of the great powers, but there others now, coexisting with America. Argentina’s economy is but a shadow of the past, and many neighbouring countries that Argentina used to greatly outdo, well, do much better than her now. We could spend days and thousands of pages trying to analyze the reasons why these changes occurred, but suffice it to say that they did. 
 

What I’m trying to say is that the collective uneasiness that has been a recurrent feature of Argentina’s society for a long time now seems to work in similar ways in the United States. Of course Argentina and the United States are not the only (and possibly not even the most representative) examples of these somewhat predictable fluctuations in the global system, but I’m from Argentina and the US is the most powerful nation in the world. Thus my choices.
 

So what? Is it relevant that culture, politicians, and mothers alike tell us that we are still the best of the best? Well, it may. If Argentina and the United States are not as powerful as they used to be and we fail to understand that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but an opportunity, and instead we lie to ourselves and respond with fear, cockiness, or whatever . . . well, things can quickly start to go sour.

 
Please, don’t misunderstand me. I know that if you see all these changes as the equivalent of losing your prominent position in a company, you’re probably going to be afraid. But we need to understand that this isn’t a win or lose game. Argentina may not be the World’s Barn and the US may not seem to be the nation chosen by God all the time now. But we’re still great countries with great people. This psychosocial state of uncertainty should be embraced as a key element in the constitution of the collective psyche of two cultures that are contradictory, but beautifully contradictory. Thank you for taking the time to read this.





Footnotes

Bersuit Vergarabat, La Argentinidad Al Palo. (C) 2004 Universal Music Argentina S.A.

Credits

Photo 1: Buenos Aires, Argentina - Pool by Celso Diniz
Photo 2: Paris, France - Traditional Rococo building, Alex & Brigitte (left); Buenos Aires, Argentina: Buenos Aires Cabildo, Koehler (right)
Photo 3: American Progress by John Gast (1872)
Photo 4: La naturaleza del paisaje, Guillermo Bekes (2014)
Photo 5: Buenos Aires, Argentina - Girl with boom box by babble
Photo 6: Brooklyn, New York - Mural in East Williamsburg by Leonard Zhukovsky
Photo 7: Argentina - Dancers by leaf

Parts of the Emblem of Instability

Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.
Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016. Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.
Mankevich, Tatsiana. The Absence of Linguistic Stabilнасцi: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.
Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.
Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.
Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.

Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.
Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016. 
Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016. 
Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017. 
Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.


To follow: texts by Indian, Portuguese, Indian, Spanish, Brazilian, Russian, Guatemalan writers and translators


Further reading


Friedrich, Angelika. The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.
Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part I). August 2016.
Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part II). August 2016.
Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem - Junk Culture - Müll Trashed Мусор (Part III). September 2016.
Whittlesey, Henry. Forward to Next Transposing Emblem. January 2016.
Whittlesey, Henry. Changes to Transposing Emblems. November 2015.
Whittlesey, Henry. Excerpt of new emblem transpoзиция on trash. September 2015.








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