Rodo Paper - Hannan Merritt Professor Ristow HIST-231...

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Hannan Merritt Professor Ristow HIST-231 Modern Latin America Writing Assignment #1 Ariel Paper In Ariel by Jose Enrique Rodo, the narrative of Prospero is used to discuss what civilization is and how Latin America can achieve an ideal civilization . Through his discussion of aesthetics, utilitarianism, democracy, meritocracy, imitation and an investigation of the United States he attempts to provide inspiration to the youth of Latin America in their attempt to form a perfect civilization . Rodo believes in the power of good taste and ideas to form “perfect” civilizations . This larger model of aesthetics is the guiding characteristic of Rodo’s philosophy on government and society as a whole that he worries may be lost as Latin America attempts to drag itself out of the colonial era . Good taste can be linked to the “exaltation of life” enhanced by the “altruistic stimuli of taste, art, gentility, admiration for eternal ideals, and respect for the supremacy of nobility” (59) . For Rodo a culture of aesthetics would be a civilization made up of a higher morality . This is because an aesthetic can recognize the inherent beauty of the other humans that make up his environment and achieve the goodness of a figure like Shakespeare’s Ariel . It is with the introduction of utilitarianism that Rodo begins his critique of the United States . Rodo’s views on the United States are a mixture of admiration and disdain . On one hand he admires the “Strong, tenacious…” belief “…that inactivity is ignominious” (75) that is inherent in the American populace while at the same time disagreeing with the very notion of continuous activity . Disregarding the ‘gospel of relaxation’ this “civilization creates a singular impression of insufficiency and emptiness” (79) . In essence, “they live for the immediate 1
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This note was uploaded on 05/05/2008 for the course HIST 231 taught by Professor Ristow during the Spring '08 term at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

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Rodo Paper - Hannan Merritt Professor Ristow HIST-231...

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