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From Ascetic to Aesthetic: the Catharsis of Ernesto “Che” Guevara By: William David Almeida.

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Presentation on theme: "From Ascetic to Aesthetic: the Catharsis of Ernesto “Che” Guevara By: William David Almeida."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Ascetic to Aesthetic: the Catharsis of Ernesto “Che” Guevara By: William David Almeida


3 Cuban Revolution 26 th of July Movement Commander of the Fourth Column Battle of Santa Clara Having originally served as the 26 th of July Movement’s medical doctor, “Che” quickly rose to the ranks of commandante after demonstrating implacable fearlessness and resolve on the battlefield. Eventually, he would lead the decisive battle in Santa Clara which terminated the Batista regime.

4 Ascetic Progression Argentina Cuba Bolivia Why is it that such a privileged individual abandoned comfort time and time again to place himself into incredibly austere circumstances, and how is it that he became aestheticized (both photographically and intellectually) as a result?

5 The Guevara Family


7 Guatemalan Coup (1954) Tipping Point: This event concretized “Che’s” belief that armed revolution would be the only realistic catalyst to socioeconomic reform throughout Latin America.

8 Excerpts from Che’s Message to the Tricontinetal Congress (1965) “Latin America constitutes a more or less homogenous whole, and in almost its entire territory U.S. capital holds absolute primacy.” “Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism and a call for unity against the great enemy of the human race: the United States of North America.” How ironic is it that the image of an individual who plotted terrorist attacks in sites such as Grand Central Station (NYC) has garnered and maintained such an intransigent following in contemporary, post-911 ‘America?’







15 Dichotomist Perspective Has the personage of “Che” been cheapened due to the capitalization of “Guerrillero Heroíco” (arguably the most highly disseminated, reproduced, photographic image of all time)? On the other hand, has the photographic proliferation of “Che” rendered an emotional appeal in favor of socialism/communism? Has this system assumed a ‘fiercely beautiful’ appearance as a result? Martyr, murderer, or both? Is there a finite means to appropriately labeling “Che”?

16 Contemporary Politicization





21 Immediate Catharsis After completing various pilgrimages throughout Latin America and other parts of the world, “Che” concluded that armed revolution would be the only means to successfully initiate socioeconomic reform. Thus, he would ‘swap the stethoscope in favor of the rifle’ to be at the vanguard of foreign revolution. This reconciliation between thought and action, the activation of his ideals, the emotional purgation he exhibits in response to neo-imperialistic injustice can be thought of as the immediate catharsis of “Che.”

22 Secondary Catharsis In the 45 years following the execution of “Che,” “Guerrillero Heroíco” has become iconized through various mediums: t- shirts, pop-art posters, cigarette lighters, etc… In this sense, “Che” has become aestheticized in a purely artistic manner. The observer is overwhelmingly attracted while often possessing little-to-no background information with respect to this individual. Regardless, the viewer may still experience a sort of visually derived, emotional purification. However, if inspired to research “Che,” one may further experience a sort of intellectual catharsis when considering the self-imposed, ascetic tasks this individual undertook.

23 General Questions to Consider Who do we as the ‘American’ public idolize today and why? Is the taking of another life (or even a multitude of lives) justifiable as the means to a better end on the behalf of a larger majority? Where do we draw the line between sacrifice and self- righteous indignation? How trusting can we be toward secondary and tertiary accounts regarding historical figures?

24 Works Cited Anderson, John Lee. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. New York City, NY: Grove Press, 1997. Print. Berry, Maria, Dir. The True Story of Che Guevara. Wild Eye Productions, 2007. Web. Autumn 2012.. Fontova, Humberto. Exposing the Real Che Guevara (and the Useful Idiots who Idolize Him). Penguin Group (Sentinel), 2007. Print. Guevara, Ernesto. The Diary of Che Guevara. San Francisco, CA: Ramparts Magazine, 1968. Print. Lopez, Luis, Dir. Chevolution. Dir. Trisha Ziff, and. 2008. Film. 12 Nov 2012.. Reid-Harry, Simon. A Revolutionary Friendship: Fidel and Che. New York City, NY: Walker Publishing Company, Inc. 2009. 331. Print Salles, Walter, dir. The Motorcycle Diaries. 2004. Film. 03 Nov 2012.. Sinclair, Andrew. Che Guevara. New York City, NY: Viking Press, Inc., 1970. 1-5, 63-64. Print Villegas, Harry. Pombo: A Man of Che's Guerrilla. New York City, NY: Pathfinder Press, 1997. 37-55. Print. * Not included in original presentation.

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