Correspondence

Living in a Glass House

Letter From Chile

In January of last year, Chilean actress Danielle Tobar made international news by moving into a glass house in downtown Santiago. During the short course of "Project Nautilus," the intimate details of her daily life were open to the (largely prurient) curiosity of onlookers. After only six days, Tobar abandoned the house, claiming security concerns.

At that time, I was backpacking in southern Chile. I did not find the news surprising. In a world culture that has produced MTV's Real World and realtime voyeur websites, the glass house is the next logical step. I wasn't even surprised that it happened in Chile. The country has a large "artsy" clement, especially among the "wired" generation. Combine "artsy" and "wired," and the glass house is a natural result.

What really struck me about the whole affair was the aptness of the glass house as a metaphor for Chile's relationship with the outside world. Since the brief reign of Salvador Allende's Marxist-Leninist Unidad Popular (UP) government (1970-73), the internal affairs of this small country have often been the subject of intense international scrutiny. The window panes on the house are highly convex, causing certain inhabitants—like Allende and former military dictator Augusto Pinochet—to be magnified in the eyes of observers. This magnification is accompanied by a great deal...

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