Silent Mountains

I want to focus on the last scene of verbal confrontation between Jack and Ennis in Brokeback Mountain (both the short story and the movie). Weighed down by 20 years of irresolute silence, abscence, and separation Jack and Ennis question the feasibility of an alternate path to their story.  

Ennis asks: “You got a better idea?”

to hear Jack’s “bitter and accusatory” reply: “I did once.”

Jack points to a temporal space in which being together might have been possible. Ennis challenges this speculation and talks of a geographic space instead: “You been a Mexico, Jack?” 

The invocation of Mexico here seems puzzling. Of course, there is a threat involved in the ennunciation; Mexico is the “shoot-’em zone,” and “little boys” like Jack would get done there. The argument then runs: whatever idea you had once (when time was open to queerness), the place to inhabit was nonexistent.    

Still, something is off. Why would Ennis talk about Mexico, instead of spaces more likely to be declared “home”? Ennis was perfectly aware of violence against men that lived together in the ranches of Wyoming–he inherited that knowledge. If Wyoming and Brokeback Mountain are home, then Mexico is the “unhome”. As an unhome, you can do things [“all the things I don’t know”] that aren’t possible at home, but which also have repercussions that must be silenced: [in the movie: “the things they do to boys like you”]. For Ennis and Jack, it seems, Mexico is a place of desire, (in a Foucauldian sense) as it is defined by lack and created by repressive forces. Brokeback Mountain is, of course, also a place of desire, yet one that is encoded differently. In other words, the Mountain is know experientally and is attainable, Mexico is known obliquely and incompletely, and lies at a distance.  

Mexico, although only briefly mentioned, unveils a deeper conflict between Ennis and Jack; how to belong to the unhomed. After many migrations within normative and incompatible representations of home, they are still searching for a sense of belonging. Jack realizes that a break is needed, that his home can’t be a silent altitude fuck, while Ennis knows that the consummation of his desire in “the unhome” can only be met with violence as strong as his desire. 

In a film about cowboys, Mexico is yet again the final frontier; unknown, violent, and lascivious, it’s still waiting for them. 

Z.Z

    

 

 

 

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