Telenovela Fantasmux (Saga), Ñaka Ñaka
by Reuben Torres
It’s been six years since the term hauntology was assimilated into the discourse of electronic music. The neologism had originally been coined in a work by post-structuralist thinker Jacques Derrida in reference to the continuing influence of communism amidst Western civilization’s alleged arrival at the end of history. It was later adopted as a way of describing a tendency within British electronic music, namely the Ghost Box and Mordant Music labels. These artists not only incorporated elements of the past into their work, but made it their prime subject matter. Soon, writers like Simon Reynolds began proposing the term be used as a name for the burgeoning musical style. The rest is (recurring) history.
More than sheer nostalgia, TF is about the way our brain has been molded through decades of consumption. The cheesiness of these themes—some instantly familiar, others navigating the tenuous line between remembrance and reverie—is not just something we cringe at upon revisiting them, but rather, it unmasks something much deeper within us. That trite and tawdry sentimentality is embedded into our mental fabric, it’s the way we (as Mexicans, or Latin Americans who grew up on Televisa/Telemundo soap-dramas) came to assimilate the reality of the world. Innocuous provincial girls pitted against demonic femme fatales, dashing and affluent bachelors as the ultimate existential aspiration of the feminine character, the idea of love as something that can trump centuries-old class disparities, these aren’t just clichés of the culture as they are methods of educating it. In a time when politicians seek to use such paradigms as means toward power, TF is not only relevant, but revealing. The hole goes much deeper than we might have imagined.