The Contact Zone. Close Encounters

1. Bonus product review, very fresh: contact lenses. I have contact lenses. I am new to glasses and did not know I would ever be a candidate for contact lenses. However, after several twists and turns I walked out of the store wearing contact lenses that cost less than good glasses and realized I could see everything. I could also walk any old way. I had not realized how much I was correcting my movements for what I could not see, or would not see because I was concentrating on seeing something else.

These lenses add to the general clarity. You put them on, and then you put on eyeliner. They make things like eyeliner exceedingly easy to see. You can wear them for seven straight days, including to sleep. Learning to put on contact lenses, I was just like my students, claiming it was impossible to do and that I would never succeed. But I did.



Man: This whiteman is very defensive, he seems to have been deeply wounded.
PZ (Soul of Discretion): Yes, he has had a difficult time of it, it is nice you want to be friends with him.

PZ (aside, with no audience): Yes, whitemen feel most wounded when their ideological blinders are so thick that they cannot imagine what they might have done wrong – and must therefore call everyone else irrational. Then they can be sorry for themselves and other people can feel sorry for them and they do not have to think about modifying any of their behavior.



I might be an author. There is a class on theory, and it is blogging. Some of the students – more, perhaps, than I have linked here – have written about Professor Zero posts in relation to Barthes, Foucault, and the idea of authorship. It is quite illuminating.

I considered changing the post to include commentary on these theorists but then realized the smarter thing to do was to write a new and different post at some point, or academic article on the author function. I also need to think about the “author function” in relation to my struggles with academic writing.

Part of my struggle with academic writing is that I feel I am procrastinating, while doing it, about getting on with life. Time spent on academic writing is time I could be spending studying for the LSAT, working a second job to make more money, or racking up the units part time toward a degree that would get me a good job in a city. So I am impatient with academic writing because while I enjoy it, I perceive it as tying me more tightly to places I do not want to be and lives I do not want to lead.

Note 1: I have designed my current book to be an antidote to that, and I need to keep this in mind.

Note 2: The feeling that academic writing is serious, and that I need to reserve my serious time and energy for things I actually feel serious about, is only an indication that I need to compartmentalize academic writing more. As in fact I used to do, before Reeducation!

I may also suffer due to Foucault’s “author function,” i.e. the requirement that I be “an author” in his sense. I must consider this. I do realize that one is written as much as one writes, one does not own one’s texts, and that one’s texts are not a summary of oneself. But I was also taught that writing was ventriloquism and the writer, if they were me, had to be the dummy. My role as ventriloquist’s dummy was to channel a twist on official doctrine which would be new but not mine. If it were new not mine (it should be the ventriloquist’s), it would be acceptable. Then I would get a check, which would enable me to live.

This never seemed worth it, since there are many ways to get checks. It is not that I want to write naively, in some sort of Rousseauesque paradise. It is that I don’t like to ghost write for an external authority and then carry the added burden of having to call that writing mine and having to answer for it as such.


4. Every time I go to buy groceries, which is less and less often, I am amazed at how much things have gone up in price since last time. I do not remember ever seeing food prices go up so quickly in the United States. I note I have started thinking about food as a luxury item. I did not learn to do this at home, where it was considered a normal necessity. But now I count out pieces of fruit, save half a tomato for later, and freeze three quarters of a package of sausage. I make potato salad to serve as vegetable at the same meal where the main dish is beans. I just thought twice about using a whole onion and decided against it.

My fig tree has figs, but Hurricane Ike took out one of my lime trees, and an orange tree seems to have a disease. I have many scallions and herbs growing. The bananas and mushrooms are over. I must grow lettuce and vegetables.


I am trying to rent my house for next semester, when I will be on sabbatical. Here is part of my conversation with one of the people who answered my ad. It is typical. I’ll bet it is a McCain voter.

Prospective Renter: You mean you are going out of state?
PZ: Out of the country.
PR: Wow! Where?
PZ: Brazil.
PR: That’s a really long way to go just for a sabbatical.
PZ: It’s just an overnight flight.
PR: Are you from there?
PZ: No, I am from here.
PR: And you want to go there?
PZ: Yes.
PR: Well, I guess it is all right, if that is really what you want to do. I am not sure I want to rent from someone like that, though. Good luck in your search.


4 thoughts on “The Contact Zone. Close Encounters

  1. Don’t overwear the contacts. You really need to take them out at night. There is info out there about why.
    The dilemma of academic writing: it goes all the way back, in my mind, to Bartholomae’s concept of “Inventing the University.”
    And how it feels, how it “fits.” A real dilemma for many students and academics, I think.
    Your prospective renter is a fool.

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