Imagine this. You are on a bus, with someone you don’t know very well, and some unidentified man begins filming all the passengers on the bus. Did I mention he was escorted by a police officer? Imagine that your new friend starts to freak out. What do you do?
On the way home from Teotihuacán, I was with this new friend. I said, oh, this happens all the time in Mexico (because it’s true), and told her that I thought it was to make sure people don’t get on the bus who are not in the country legally (I think this is the justification). Of course, this would help if the bus hadn’t picked us up at the side of the road, taken our money in cash, and given us no receipt – often in Mexico you need to show ID to buy a bus ticket, and your name appears on it, with a specific seat number. So, she imagined that this would get into the wrong hands. At that moment, my inner dialogue was very fatalistic, and, I copped to two common expressions here: “Qué va ser” “No se puede hacer nada.”
I firmly believe it is best to avoid confronting the police and the military when one is in a confined space, they have weapons, and are not known for their transparency. Is this the right answer? How can I engage with this situation in a way that aligns more closely to my beliefs and my desire not to be subject to powers I disagree with? I don’t want to become another face on a video where no one knows anything about me, and in fact, where those taking the video depend on me “blending in” with others, and losing my individual features.
Now we are venturing onto the territory of my thesis. In relation to representations of situations much worse than being filmed on a bus without my consent, I argue that characters, like people, are so repressed that they are reduced to their physical features, that they become interchangeable with one another. I also argue, however, that their is hope in this collective interchangeability. Since I believe that literature allows us to think about reality (historically, today), and my reality on Saturday was this dehumanizing situation on the bus, how can we see hope there? Is there a way to change that situation?