La rentrée

1/ Martha Washington is related to the Fitzhughs my grandfather is related to, and one of these famously had children with slaves (I am assuming all the Washingtons did, but this was more famous/verified). See https://www.csmonitor.com/…/George-Washington-s-African-Ame…
2/ Now even the NYT has a 1619 Project and is talking about the plantation as the foundation of the country and of capitalism, although of this last I started thinking when I read Jack Weatherford in the 80s and I am sure he was not the first to say it. See https://www.nytimes.com/…/14/magaz…/slavery-capitalism.html…
3/ My whole project has to do with the half-failed attempts to ignore this biracial and multiracial reality, the effort to create white / Europe-oriented nations yet call them inclusive.
4/ 2019 is the 400th anniversary of US slavery but 2018 is the 500th of the Spanish decree justifying…

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Google

I truly resent Chrome and Firefox demanding your phone number or other information if you try to open e-mail at the public library; I have never given them my number nor do I feel they are justified in expecting me to even have a telephone. I do not believe their requirements exist for my own protection. I don’t use the Google search engine and now I am going to drop gmail. I think I will go with kolab. What do you use?

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Ho Chi Minh 1924

It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery.

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Ginzburg, Melville

The July 29 New Yorker has a beautiful article about Natalia Ginzburg, who is wonderful, and a fascinating one about Melville. Ginzburg: imagination is stronger when you are happy – suffering makes the imagination weak and lazy – drowning in emotions, and in particular, in pain is NOT what women writers should do. This is in the 1949 essay “My vocation” and the author notes that Woolf said something very similar in AROOO. Melville themes: whiteness, race, family romance, and insanity. I love Melville and this article.

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The new outline

I

1. The national novels are disturbing for what they do with incest, race, death [originary violence, romance of origins]
2. They’ve become nat. novels and also, under influence of Jameson & then Sommer, been read as nat. allegories
3. At that point the 1920s/30s national projects, which reflect some letrado discourse from further back (e.g. Bolívar), get projected back into the said novels
4. But these happy readings, about progress, don’t fit with actual policy — nor with the texts themselves
5. The texts aren’t always about forjando patria, but are diasporic, fragmented, fragmenting, exhibiting fissures, intimating failure
6. A novel like C.V. is about the impossibility of foundational discourse, or at least a foundational discourse based on mestizaje, progress, liberal principles
7. In fact such novels – Sab, María, C.V., others – may be about the prevention of solutions and the preservation or reinstallation of hierarchies
8. Indeed, this fits historically, because the earlier 19th century was the era of republican modernity, and in the second half things get much more conservative
9. This ambivalence is what the novels embody and manifest.

II [This needs development]

1. One of the key ways in which they embody and manifest this ambivalence is via “evoke and elide” – do we want to acknowledge and address the race problem, or not? F. da Silva can help us think about this, because

a/ she has a sophisticated way of talking about production of the L.A. subject
[showing why it NEEDS to be racially unstable/ambivalent]
b/ it explains why what I am calling “evoke and elide” keeps happening — shows that it actually is important, central, the formation of discourse on race in L.A.

*note: her theory of the L.A. subject isn’t just the criollo or the entre-lugar, it is more precise
*note: for her, mestizaje is real but is not a solution
*note: what is interesting about her is that she is looking at a global theory of race, so is not looking to claim L.A. or BR exceptionalism, but is looking at specificity
*note: as we know, she says race is a constituent element in modernity/coloniality & as such is not going away [this is going to have to be explained, but how much will I have to summarize and justify, is the question]
*[what was I saying, in the café, about overdetermination?]

***VERY important note: because modernity is coloniality and depends on race, we don’t get to iron race out of modernity: so when we look at things from her paradigm, we can see what is really happening without asking ourselves to see progress or a linear/single/facile narrative***

I have to keep working on this, there is so much to it. KEY: these texts are not talking about mestizo nation but transnational racial state — diasporic, regional, all of it at the same time. Historians are thinking this way about the continent and we should consider whether the literature is doing the same thing, in its way of engaging/producing national discourse / civic space / identity / etc.

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Vallejo

I’ve got to create a more efficient way of noting the files I clear, but I don’t want to make the invention of e-bibliography and file systems my center project right now.

Photocopies I am recycling today, great and classic articles:

  1. Ulises Juan Zevallos Aguilar 2001 on Peruvian avant-garde, a wonderful piece that I love.
  2. Stephen Hart, César Vallejo y sus espejismos, another really good article, Romance Quarterly (49, 2:111-118, 2002).

I really like all this work and I get frozen on it because of what US academia has been like for me and how I have not managed to withstand its ills. But this work is such a welcoming world.

I am going to write a bureaucratic document I am afraid to write, this afternoon. Doing it is necessary for one thing, and finishing it should improve me. I fear that by doing it I call doom on my head. Actually by doing it I stand up for myself, define myself, distance myself from evil, stand in the light.

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The common good

We don’t know, of course, if anyone believes in the common good, or the public good any more, but here are some fragmentary notes from a conversation we had.

1. We should talk much more about research. In class. College has to become more interesting – we cannot allow it to be further redefined as rote credentialing. We need research at lower levels.

2. We need a description of the “academy” from an academic point of view. Everyone else is saying what college should be but what do we say?

3. If the university is a public good, it should be supported by public revenues – not special interests.

4. As a public good, the university has non-pecuniary benefits, and these have value even if it is not measured in gold.

5. The liberal arts – intellectual discipline, intellectual agenda, sets intellectual agendas.

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