The Repeating Island Essay

822 words - 3 pages

In The Repeating Island, Antonio Benintez-Rojo writes on postindustrial societies
inaccurate views of the Caribbean as a common archipelago and calls on postindustrial
societies to reexamine their view of the Caribbean. In this paper the following topics in The
Repeating Island will be examined in validating Benitez- Rojo’s perspective that the Caribbean
is a meta-archipleago with no boundaries or center: Columbus’s machine to the sugar-making
machine, the apocalypse to chaos, rhythm to polyrhythm, and literature to carnival.
The first way Benitez-Rojo draws attention to his perspective is through his
analysis on how the Atlantic became known as the Atlantic because of the presence of
European slave plantations, piracy, servitude, and monopoly over the trades in the
Caribbean. He refers to Christopher Columbus presence in Hispaniola as the starting
point of “the machine” (Benitez- Rojo 5) that brought a wealth of goods
from Hispaniola to Spain, who then spread its profitable practice to Cuba, Jamaica, and
Puerto Rico at the expense of native people (6). After the Cape San Vicente disaster,
where the Spanish lost treasure from French pirates, in 1565 Columbus’s machine
expanded its conquests of gold, silver, and diamonds thus creating the fleet. The fleet not
only helped the Spanish become wealthy, it made the Caribbean a meta-archipelago
because of its presence in the waters of the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Pacific. Menendez
de Aviles’s fleet proved successful in protecting gold and silver from pirate attacks
through the use of Caribbean ports, forts, militia, and geography (8).
In today’s Caribbean “the machine” is referred to as the plantation, which the
Europeans controlled all aspects of, especially sugar. The plantation has produced ten million
African slaves, industrial capitalism, African underdevelopment, imperialism, wars, and sugar
islands. The Caribbean is therefore significant historically and thus is meta-archipleago with no
boundaries or center (9).
Let us now shift our attention to how the Caribbean culture is meta-archipleago. The
Caribbean culture is unique because of its fails to be captured by the clock or calendar. It is a
“feed-back machine: who works with nature that makes it meta-archipleago (10).Benitez- Rojo
describes the Caribbean culture in the following quote, “If I were to have put it in one word I
would say: performance. But performance not only in terms of scenic interpretation but also in
terms of the execution of a ritual…In this ‘certain kind of way’ there is expressed the mystic or
magical loam of the...

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