Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton August 11, 2018

Humorous sublimation of a dying Cuban writer in Reinaldo Arenas’ The Color of Summer

Christophe Panichelli ORCID logo and Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla ORCID logo
From the journal HUMOR

Abstract

How does a human being deal with suffering? How can we emotionally cope with the vicissitudes of life, especially in times where they suddenly multiply themselves? In this study, we present an innovative interdisciplinary study on the use of coping mechanisms by career writers dealing with difficult life events. We focus in particular on the use of humor and sublimation, two creative mental mechanisms that contribute to the lowering of anxiety while at the same time dealing constructively with the external stressors. Never before have these mechanisms been studied in a complementary way in the context of a literary study. This paper offers an in-depth analysis of Reinaldo Arenas’ The Color of Summer. In this novel, this Cuban author introduces an autobiographical perspective of the Cuban sixties and seventies, intending to present a facet of history that would never appear in Cuban history books. The combination of both coping mechanisms, which we call humorous sublimation, offers a novel that not only helped the author cope with his tormented life, but also allowed the reader to gain an understanding of a dark period of Cuban history by means of a very funny and surreal reading.


*Christophe Panichelli and Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla contributed equally to this work.


References

Adams, Jeffrey. 2006. Sublimation, intersubjectivity, and artistic identity-formation. The Psychoanalitic Review 93(5). 687–711.10.1521/prev.2006.93.5.687Search in Google Scholar

American Psychiatric Association. 1994. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edn. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Search in Google Scholar

Arenas, Reinaldo. 2000–2001. Humor e irreverencia. Encuentro de la cultura cubana 19. 59–63.Search in Google Scholar

Arenas, Reinaldo. 2001a. Before night falls. London: Serpent’s Tail.Search in Google Scholar

Arenas, Reinaldo. 2001b. The color of summer or the new garden of earthly delights. Middlesex: Penguin Books.Search in Google Scholar

Bateson, Gregory. 1985. Steps to an ecology of mind. New York: Ballantine Books.Search in Google Scholar

Bergson, Henri. 2002. Laughter: An essay on the meaning of the comic. http://www.searchengine.org.uk/ebooks/54/15.pdf (accessed 13 February 2017).Search in Google Scholar

Cade, Brian. 1982. Humour and creativity. Journal of Family Therapy 4. 35–42.10.1046/j..1982.00575.xSearch in Google Scholar

Cooper, S. E. 2006. Irreverent humor in postrevolutionary Cuban fiction: The case of Mirta Yáñez. Cuban Studies 37. 33–55. http://muse.jhu.edu/article/210495 (accessed 16 December 2016).10.1353/cub.2007.0004Search in Google Scholar

Corruble, Emmanuelle, Marie Bronnec, Bruno Falissard & Patrick Hardy. 2004. Defense styles in depressed suicide attempters. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 58. 285–288.10.1111/j.1440-1819.2004.01233.xSearch in Google Scholar

Esteban, Angel & Panichelli, Stephanie. 2004. Gabo y Fidel. El paisaje de una amistad. Madrid: Espasa.Search in Google Scholar

Farrelly, Frank & Michael Lynch. 1987. Humor in provocative therapy. In William F. Fry & Waleed A Salameh (eds.), Handbook of humor and psychotherapy, 81–106. Sarasota: Professional Resource Press.Search in Google Scholar

Fourie, David P. 2010. Asking about ambivalence: A different kind of therapist neutrality. The American Journal of Family Therapy 38. 374–382.10.1080/01926187.2010.513900Search in Google Scholar

Freud, Sigmund. 2014. The neuro-psychoses of defence. Cologne: White Press.Search in Google Scholar

Fry, William F. 1963. Sweet madness. A study of humor. Palo Alto: Pacific Books.10.1037/11790-000Search in Google Scholar

Guanche Pérez, Jesús. 1996. El “periodo especial” y algunos cuentos de humor en Cuba. Paper presented at III Taller Internacional de Comunicación y Oralidad, Universidad Central de las Villas, Cuba, 17-20 July 1996. http://revistas.udistrital.edu.co/ojs/index.php/enunc/article/view/2496/3495 (accessed 16 December 2016).Search in Google Scholar

Hamilton, Max. 1967. Development of a rating scale for primary depressive illness. The British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 6. 278–296.10.1111/j.2044-8260.1967.tb00530.xSearch in Google Scholar

Hidalgo, Narciso. 2012. Choteo, irreverencia y humor en la cultura cubana. Bogotá: Siglo del Hombre Editores.Search in Google Scholar

Hollander, Jaap. 2012. Provocative coaching, Making things better by making them worse. Carmarthen, U.K.: Crown House.Search in Google Scholar

Ionescu, Serban, Marie-Madeleine Jacquet & Claude Lhote. 2008. Les mécanismes de défense. Théorie et clinique. 5th edn. Paris: Armand Colin Ed.Search in Google Scholar

Kaufman, James C & Janel D Sexton. 2006. Why doesn’t the writing cure help poets? Review of General Psychology 10(3). 268–282.10.1037/1089-2680.10.3.268Search in Google Scholar

King, Laura A. 2001. The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 27. 798–807.10.1177/0146167201277003Search in Google Scholar

Kuiper, Nicholas A. 2012. Humor and resiliency: Towards a process model of coping and growth. Europe’s Journal of Psychology 8(3). 475–491.10.5964/ejop.v8i3.464Search in Google Scholar

Kuiper, Nicholas A., Sandra D. McKenzie & Kristine A Belanger. 1995. Cognitive appraisals and individual differences in sense of humor: Motivational and affective implications. Personality and Individual Differences 19(3). 359–372.10.1016/0191-8869(95)00072-ESearch in Google Scholar

Mañach, Jorge. 2018. Indagación del choteo. Barcelona: Linkgua.Search in Google Scholar

Martin, Rod A., Patricia Puhlik-Doris, Gwen Larsen, Jeanette Gray & Kelly Weir. 2003. Individual differences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being: Development of the humor styles questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality 37. 48–75.10.1016/S0092-6566(02)00534-2Search in Google Scholar

Metzger, Jesse A. 2014. Adaptive defense mechanisms: Function and transcendence. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session 70(5). 478–488.10.1002/jclp.22091Search in Google Scholar

Negrón Muntaner, F. 2008. Mariela Castro, los homosexuales y la política cubana. Nueva Sociedad. Democracia y Política en América Latina. http://nuso.org/articulo/mariela-castro-los-homosexuales-y-la-politica-cubana/ (accessed 16 December 2016).Search in Google Scholar

Panichelli, Christophe. 2006. L’humour en psychothérapie: le recadrage peut-il être recadrôle? Thérapie Familiale 27. 399–418.10.3917/tf.064.0399Search in Google Scholar

Panichelli, Christophe. 2007. Le mécanisme de défense de l’humour: un outil pour le recadrage. Cahiers Critiques De Thérapie Familiale Et De Pratiques De Réseaux 39(2). 39–56.10.3917/ctf.039.0039Search in Google Scholar

Panichelli, Christophe. 2013. Humor, joining and reframing in psychotherapy: Resolving the auto-double-bind. American Journal of Family Therapy 41(5). 437–451.10.1080/01926187.2012.755393Search in Google Scholar

Panichelli-Batalla, Stéphanie. 2015. Autofiction as a fictional metaphorical self-translation: The case of Reinaldo Arenas’ El Color Del Verano. Journal of Romance Studies 15(1). 29–51.10.3828/jrs.15.1.29Search in Google Scholar

Panichelli-Batalla, Stéphanie. 2016. El testimonio en la pentagonía de Reinaldo Arenas. Woodbridge: Tamesis Books.Search in Google Scholar

Pennebaker, James W. 1997. Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process. Psychological Sciences 8. 162–166.10.1111/j.1467-9280.1997.tb00403.xSearch in Google Scholar

Pennebaker, James W & Janel D Seagal. 1999. Forming a story: The health benefits of narrative. Journal of Clinical Psychology 55(10). 1243–1254.10.1002/(SICI)1097-4679(199910)55:10<1243::AID-JCLP6>3.0.CO;2-NSearch in Google Scholar

Perry, J. Christopher. 2014. Anomalies and specific functions in the clinical identification of defense mechanisms. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session 70(5). 406–418.10.1002/jclp.22085Search in Google Scholar

Pi-Sunyer, Oriol. 1977. Political humor in a dictatorial state: The case of Spain. Ethnohistory 24(2). 179–190.10.2307/481742Search in Google Scholar

Reinaldo Arenas. 1943–1990. Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Princeton University Library. (our translation)Search in Google Scholar

Ritchie, Graeme. 2006. Reinterpretation and viewpoints. Humor 19(3). 251–270.10.1515/HUMOR.2006.014Search in Google Scholar

Saumell, Rafael E. 2013. El choteo y su relación con la jodedera consciente. Otro Lunes. Revista Hispanoamericana De Cultura 7(27). http://otrolunes.com/27/este-lunes/el-choteo-y-su-relacion-con-la-jodedera-consciente/ (accessed 18 August 2017).Search in Google Scholar

Schnarch, David M. 1990. Therapeutic uses of humor in psychotherapy. Journal of Family Psychotherapy 1. 75–86.10.1300/j085V01N01_07Search in Google Scholar

Triezenberg, Katrina. 2004. Humor enhancers in the study of humorous literature. Humor 17(4). 411–418.10.1515/humr.2004.17.4.411Search in Google Scholar

Ulla, Jorge & Miñuca Villaverde. 1986. Dos filmes de Mariel. Madrid: Editorial Playor.Search in Google Scholar

Vaillant, George E. (ed.). 1992. Ego mechanisms of defense. A guide for clinicians and researchers. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Press.Search in Google Scholar

Vaillant, George E. 2000. Adaptive mental mechanisms. Their role in a positive psychology. American Psychologist 55(1). 89–98.10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.89Search in Google Scholar

Watzlawick, Paul, Janet Helmick Beavin & Don D Jackson. 1967. Pragmatics of human communication. A study of interactional patterns, pathologies, and paradoxes. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Search in Google Scholar

Zeidler, Henning. 2012. Great artists with rheumatoid arthritis: What did their disease and coping teach? part I. Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alexej von Jawlensky. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology 18(7). 376–381.10.1097/RHU.0b013e3182741ad3Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-08-11
Published in Print: 2018-09-25

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston