Dins la seva memoria ("Within his Memory"), a Catalan play written by Sergi Bel-bel in 1986, begins in total darkness, an imprecise empty void in which the spectator hears only the deep, rhythmic gasps and sighs of the anonymous protagonist. ' As the stage lights slowly rise during this "preliminary" scene, Ell (or, "He," as the protagonist is generically called) is depicted on his knees, masturbating with his back to the audience. At first glance, his violent, self-inflicted pleasure may be interpreted as an ultimate affirmation of life; yet, his autoerotic gestures are also imbued with memories that carry with them tremendous pain and torment, for as he gazes at his reflection in a mirror hanging above the stage, he "sweats blood" (according to the stage directions) and is reminded of the tragic death of his identical twin brother in an automobile accident some years earlier. It is a gaze that induces an overwhelming sense of anguish: feelings of guilt for having lent his brother the keys to his car after buying him several drinks at a bar, disgrace at the thought of confronting his sister-in-law with the identical face - in effect, the mirror image - of her dead husband, and a disturbing blend of desire and shame as he recalls the uncommon "sentimental education" that was his first incestuous encounter with his twin (Castellanos 12). He can gaze into the mirror and try to relive that dangerous love affair, but his hands and, in essence, his entire body, are now stained with blood.

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Copyright © 2004 University of Pennsylvania Press. This article first appeared in Revista Hispanica Moderna 57, no. 1/2 (December 2004): 241-66.

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