Awakened by a Dream: How the Theo-centric Eschatology of Quevedo’s Los Sueños Deconstructs Socio-centric Ideologies

Dr. Bryce Christensen
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In a series of radical satires, "Los sueños" (1607-1612) plunges readers into a disorienting metaphysics that dissolves the social hierarchies of late-Renaissance Spain and the socially constructed ideologies that sustain those hierarchies. Though the metaphysics that Quevedo deploys is recognizably Christian and scriptural, this literary representation of that metaphysics to challenges politically powerful institutions that claim social and ideological ownership of Christian doctrine and Scripture. Quevedo’s work, indeed, helps clarify the sharp contrast between a truly theo-centric theory of meaning and a socio-centric theory of meaning. Again and again, Quevedo depicts socially negotiated meaning as hypocrisy and deceit that will survive the scrutiny of neither the devils in hell (Sueño del Infierno) nor God in Heaven (Sueño del juico final). In an unexpected way, Quevedo’s work also clarifies—particularly in his metaphysically satirical portrayal of physicians, apothecaries, and astrologers--the conflict between critics who interpret science as empirical realists and those who interpret science as social constructivists.

Modern skeptics may view Quevedo’s own metaphysics as no more than just another social construct. However, because of the radical way Quevedo wields his metaphysics against virtually all extant social powers, readers may conclude that he hopes not to erect a new social construct but simply to smash all extant social constructs in order to expose hidden realities. (“!Qué diferentes son las cosas del mundo de como las vemos!”)

Keywords: Ideology, Social Constructivism, Metaphysics of Art
Stream: Constructing Art Worlds, Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English/Spanish
Paper: Awakened by a Dream

Dr. Bryce Christensen

Assistant Professor of Composition, Department of English, Southern Utah University
Cedar City, Utah, USA

Bryce Christensen, who teaches writing and world literature at Southern Utah University, received his Ph. D. in English literature from Marquette University. His current research interests include the ethics of science, utopian literature, and the politics of the family. He focuses especially on the problem of preserving human values in a world increasingly de-mystified and de-sacralized by science. Also central to his critical investigations is the difficulty of establishing a community of trust in a culture increasingly skeptical of any and all truth claims. Dr. Christensen has published poetry and critical articles in a number of scholarly journals. His novel "Winner!" (forthcoming from Whiskey Creek Press) examines the psychological consequences of the failure of the Promethean project of modern science.

Ref: A06P0453