Monthly Archives: October 2009

El Dorado

Lighting, in nature and in the home, is very important. A change in light makes a enormous differences in everything.  Some people like white light but I prefer golden light.

Axé.

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That Job Market: Suggestions for Interviewees

It is October 15, the traditional opening day of the job search season. I have a few suggestions for people going on campus visits — suggestions others may not have covered yet.

1. Good facilities are rare. Take note of the schools that have these.

2. Think of yourself as a colleague, not as an aspirant or a student.

3. That does not mean to think of yourself as a senior colleague.

4. Remember that even senior colleagues, when they are new hires, lead first by following.

5. Go with your gut feeling when choosing jobs. (And do not confuse this with your imagination about how things “should” or “must” be.)

Axé.

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Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Mercè Rodoreda

Any time is a good time to read Mercè Rodoreda. The Nation‘s review article on her is worth reading, too. I have never really studied Rodoreda’s life and I have not read all of her books. Having read the review, however, I am re-fascinated. At one point the writer says:

It’s curious that Rodoreda is so esteemed by feminists (she’s the frequent subject of academic papers), when her novels revolve around the abdication of control by women and their subsequent humiliation. And yet there’s something steely and thoroughly modern about the way Rodoreda acknowledges the unsentimental deal-making that masquerades as love.

For oblique reasons this suddenly made me understand some aspects of Clarice Lispector, whose work to me alwasys seemed as flat as Danish modern furniture. My mistake, perhaps.

*

This, of course, is only further evidence for my theses about Reeducation, which assumed that if one had an education and an independent life then one was exerting inordinate amounts of “control” (this being a major sin for women). In Reeducation, as we know already, such achievements were reserved for people from perfect families; the rest of us mortals were incapable of achieving such things in a genuine way. We were better off without them, because for us happiness and achievement could only be masks.

My point is that if you relinquish control like that, and accept the kind of gender role to which Rodoreda’s characters are forced, you are then open to the kinds of humiliations they undergo. And reeducation was invented to keep women in their places and convince them that the poor results of this were their fault. I have said it before and I run across books and essays confirming this all the time. Note once again:  relinquishment of control leads to abjection.

Axé.

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Professor Zero Imitates Some Songs

Well it is Tuesday and I am at work, so I cannot search for music. I have had to make up my own. What do you think?

Imitated Blues

Well I’m leaving in the morning
On that southbound train
Well I’m leaving in the morning
On that southbound train
Listen everybody
Hear what I have to say.

It rained five days
The sun refused to shine
It rained five days
The sun refused to shine
I’m so disgusted
And so dissatisfied.

Them Chicago women
Done made a fool of me
Them Chicago women
Done made a fool of me
Well I’m going to New Orleans
Back to my used to be.

I’m going back home
Try to be by myself
I’m going back home
Try to be by myself
For the one I love
Quit me for someone else.

Ding ding ding ding
Ding ding ding ding ding pause pause pause pause
ding ding ding ding
ding ding ding ding ding pause pause pause pause
ding ding ding ding
ding ding ding ding ding pause pause pause pause.

Trill trill trill trill
Trill trill piano trill trill pause pause pause pause
Trill trill trill trill
Trill trill piano trill trill pause pause pause pause
Trill trill piano trill, trill
Trill trill trill trill trill, pause pause pause pause.

Imitated French Two-Step

Quand je suis parti pour le Texas
Ma chère catin j’ai laissé là-maison
Elle pé parlé vec un aut’ asté
Et mo tout seul dans un vaux oilfield
Ô jolie,
Pourquoi tu m’as fait ça?

Quand l’aut jour mo je suis vini back
Ma chère belle blonde elle té dit, what a whack!
Mo pé parlé vec un aut’ asté
Mo va marié, to gain rien à faire
Ô yé yaille,
Yé! ça me fait du mal.

Axé.

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Día de la Dignidad y Resistencia de los Pueblos Indígenas

This is October 12 and I have forgotten to mention it in two classes so far. Today in Guatemalan protests against the putative heroism of Columbus and the Hispanization of America (which is colonization, Europeanization, whitening) one Native person has been killed so far that I know of.

Imer Boror, aged 19, was killed by gunfire as he participated in a blockade, shot by a motorist who wanted to get through.

There are protests throughout the Andes and perhaps elsewhere, but I have not had the chance to read up on events yet and will not have until tonight.

Axé.

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Research Hours

Tnis is one of those old-old posts.

ON CERTAIN FALSITIES

Perhaps it is for no reason related to me that people have always gone on at me how to be and work. So this is another piece of my counterargument against those who threw so much unnecessary time management advice at me — at me, a veritable time mechanic.

I like all of my projects, but I have always had warnings about how I should not like them, should not commit, and so on, if I wanted to be professional and remain in the profession. I have always found the opposite to be true, though, and I have always found things easier to do when you commit.

If there is a deadline, you have to stop reading at some point and start writing. I have known this since age ten at least, but I later received all too many warnings about reading and reflecting: one should not read too much, one should not reflect too much, one should write, write anything. Consequently I often feel guilty and anxious about reading. The effort to write without having read makes writing hard, if I try to write when I am still too uninformed and unprepared.

Overlapping with this is my guilt about thinking while I write. If you cannot think while you write, and write deliberately, then why do it? (I can almost hear Gertrude Stein say something like that.)

SOME VERITIES

I have three large research projects in Discipline A, but I mostly teach senior and graduate courses in the Department B and beginning to intermediate courses in Department C. For these reasons I am rather fragmented. My friends in more privileged positions say I should not be able to do research in these conditions.

I also have friends who allege that in these circumstances writing can only happen on vacation. In fact the opposite is true. Especially if what you teach is only obliquely connected your research, it is easy to lose touch with the latter if you wait. If I have not looked at my project for four months and I have occupied my mind entirely with other things during that time, it will take me the better part of one month to remember where I was.

Others say one must take research days. This is not realistic for me since it is so easy to have these ruined by unforeseen events. No amount of “defending one’s boundaries” will work for a whole day, and the project is doomed to failure. At the same time, I can be sure to have some research hours in most days even if they have to be rescheduled in some way (that is one of the reasons I schedule them early).

The other advantage of research hours, as opposed to days, is that they help one keep one’s project in mind all the time. That generates progress all on its own. A day a week (10 hours on a 60 hour week) is of course better than none and better than I have done many times, but half a day (5 hours) twice a week is better, and a quarter of a day (2.5 hours) on four days is better yet.

2.5 hours x 6 is 15 hours. That is how much time I am supposed to spend per week on research according to my contract. Magically, it is also the minimum amount of time I need (although with 30 hours, I could produce more than twice as much — and with more than 30 hours, the law of diminishing returns would set in, I believe).

Finding 2.5 hours six times every week (or 1.25 hours 12 times, or 1.5 hours 10 times, and so on) is a less modest goal than people realize. I am for it.

This semester, my possible/realistic research hours are:

Monday: 9PM-11:30 PM

Tuesday: 9AM-11:30 AM

Wednesday: 8 PM-10:30 PM

Thursday: 3:30 PM-6 PM and/or 7 PM-9:30 PM (Two possible chunks on this day)

Friday: never (This day is all teaching and service, all the time, and the evening must be taken off)

Saturday: 7 PM-12 AM (Morning and afternoon must be taken off, but there are still two possible chunks on this day)

Sunday: 9AM-11:30 AM (Afternoon and evening must go to teaching and service or housework or recreation)

That means there are eight possible chunks, of which one need only choose six.

Axé.

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Bring Me Li’l Water, Silvy

We are rocking and rolling down here in South Louisiana. The people in New Orleans want to secede from us so as to join the United States, but they just do not know how efficient we can be. Having spent the day hanging drywall and now being in the midst of studying, I wanted to put up a good, fast, complete, a capella version of Bring Me Li’l Water, Silvy. My search netted this.

Lonnie Donegan rocks on Hard Traveling (hard drinking, hard gambling):

Then there are Leadbelly and John Lomax, playing themselves in a 1935 reenactment. As we know, later that year Leadbelly played the MLA convention. A newsreel and an academic convention — it just shows how famous they were.

Axé.

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