“You, Me, and the Ether”: Anaesthetics in Vallejo and Eltit


  • Ramsey McGlazer University of California, Berkeley


Anaesthesia, Ethics, Cesar Vallejo, Diamela Eltit


This essay reads César Vallejo’s Poemas humanos alongside Diamela Eltit’s novel Jamás el fuego nunca. Offering a new account of Eltit’s return to Vallejo, I attend to the authors’ shared engagements with the forces that, across centuries, thwart political possibilities and dampen collective energies. In keeping with the logic of both texts, I call these thwarting, forestalling forces “anaesthetizing.” For “anaesthesia, as men call it,” in Vallejo and something called “ether” in Eltit index a collective sealing-off of sensibilities.  And in distinct but related ways, the Poemas humanosand Jamás el fuego nunca seek to undo this sealing-off, to cross the boundary that would separate the body in pain from others said not to be suffering. In both texts, pain is not merely shown to be relational but is made into the very medium of relation.  And in both texts, this demonstration leads not to a valorization of pain as such, or of pure feeling, but rather to a perspective from which other kinds of relation become imaginable.

Author Biography

Ramsey McGlazer, University of California, Berkeley

Ramsey McGlazer completed a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and the Program in Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2015. He is currently a Pembroke Center Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University.



2016-05-09 — Updated on 2020-09-02


How to Cite

McGlazer, R. (2020). “You, Me, and the Ether”: Anaesthetics in Vallejo and Eltit. A Contracorriente: Una Revista De Estudios Latinoamericanos, 13(3), 198–221. Retrieved from https://acontracorriente.chass.ncsu.edu/index.php/acontracorriente/article/view/1376 (Original work published May 9, 2016)



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