IMA graduating student Claudia Guerra presented today on Duende, the Spanish word for “having soul,” or heightened expression, emotion and aliveness, often associated with Flamenco dancing. Yet Claudia, a consciousness studies student, drew this word to place that moment and place where consciousness, memory, home and connection coalesce. She describes her presentation on her thesis project in the context of Duende while reflecting on a bullfight she saw in Mexico. She tells of how the bullfighter, when ready to right, stands with such grace, mixing flemenco and bullfighting, leading the bull in a kind of dance. Witnessing this bullfight kill the bull so cleanly and with such respect, she felt the whole crowd was brought together to Duende, which always inhabits place according to Claudia.
From there, she describes the Duende of her hometown and home she returned to after years ago: San Antonio, Texas. Realizing she was talking about consciousness as a way of being in the world. Reflecting on Gabriel Marcel’s statement — “An individual is not distinct from his place, he is that place,” she started to ask herself how she was the places where she lived, and especially how she was her home. She found that San Antonio is a convergence of culture and history, a place toward the edges and founded by people who were fleeing oppression and trying to create a new way to survive. She also looked at the difference between the tourism view of her home town and her own view, which she knows most by a stone bridge built by settlers far from downtown.
She describes her presentation as such:
“An individual is not distinct from his place, he is that place.”—Gabriel Marcel.
The question “Why am I here” isn’t about what my purpose in life is or should be. Rather, the question wonders how it is possible that all these atoms and molecules and genes; all these bits of isotopes, this body laden with water, culture, memory, and beliefs, become me, here, placed on a particular spot on the earth with an understanding that I exist and experience. During this brief presentation, I will discuss the journey I’ve taken during this study and how it has led me to the conclusion that, geography, that is place, should not be separated from our consciousness any more than our minds should be separated from our bodies.