Monthly Archives: February 2010

Edward Said

It is the weekend, and we are definitely singing. Ridwan has a picture of Edward Said on his blog with the quotation “I have been unable to live an uncommitted or suspended life.”

I think that was what Reeducation wanted — something very bland and Protestant somehow. I also tried to do this, but I was not suited to it.



Filed under Banes, Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

Prolegomena to a Memo (Tentatively Entitled “Dear University Student, Memo #101”)

You cannot win an argument with, and you should not waste time trying to bring to reason or cure irrationality, I have often been told. It took me a long time to actually learn this although I finally did recently. In the intervening decades I listened politely to and tried to translate to reason the discourses of irrational persons, which was very frustrating.

People who are hiding things from me and/or from themselves are frustrating in a related way. Some examples from this week are:

+ Students who are enrolled in my course with the intention of failing. They cannot drop because they need to receive financial aid, or they are graduating and believe I will give them a D. They keep asking for “help” but when I tell them help will be they do homework in an organized way and I and others tutor them they simply sit and do not respond. It is as though they were sitting in for a grade.

+ Students who are enrolled in my course with the intention of getting a D. They passed the prerequisites with Ds, and the cumulative effect of that is that they are in no position to make even a D in this course. But they are hoping for a D because this course fulfills a requirement for them.

+ Students who allege they have the prerequisites for my course but do not, and are enrolled in it because they are hoping to pass anyway. This course fulfills a requirement for them and the prerequisites do not. They feel they have a right to take the course without its prerequisites therefore, and that I can to teach the background they need in office hours. They know they should not admit that, however, so they say they have in fact taken the prerequisites.

+ Students who expected my course in my main department to be easier for them than my course in my other department, because the course in my main department is in their native language.

+ Students who, after I explain painstakingly what the weaknesses of their paper are (the main weakness is, they wrote it very quickly and did not revise it) and what its strengths are, ask why they do not have an A and what they can do to get one.



Filed under Banes, What Is A Scholar?


February 18 was the fourth anniversary of this blog and I forgot about it, having been through Saints Fever and Mardi Gras already. My first post on February 18, 2006, was entitled “Greetings” and said:

My name is Professor Zero, and I am, loosely speaking, a follower of Paulo Freire. Formerly a Subcommandante, I became Professor Zero when the Subcomandante Marcos became the Delegado Cero.

If you do not know about the Subcomandante Marcos, you can easily find out about him. A more difficult assignment is to discover where the tradition of giving leaders the number 0, as opposed to 1, came from.

This is an intellectual and creative blog, but it is not an academic one. It was created outside the university, and it speaks to all audiences.

Now we will sing:

That was the Mariachi Nuevo Jalisco of, amazingly, Lima, Peru. As you have been informed before, the day you were born all the flowers were born too; nightingales sang on the baptismal font.

Now we will continue with one of our theme songs, La feria de las flores. I like to sing into the wind, so that my songs take flight. I came here because I came to the festival of flowers.



Filed under News, Songs

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: James Schuyler

The Smallest

It is in front of the tree.

The houses around the windows are lit

by it, it turns off and goes upon

knees and wherever the bone is almost next

to the skin. It has been defamed.

It will become undernourished.

It is not without end. It is not.

It is not what you can let happen,

or cause to happen, or has anything

at all to do with happening.

It happens as it exists without effect.

It is the pure in pure mathematics.

It is the sully in unsullied rain.

It is the pain in painfully.

It is also the fully. It is

the light in highlight and headlight,

the head in headland, the towering

in towers, trees, the outstretched

in shadows of mountains on plains and lakes.

It is not the water in the lake, however,

it is not cupped.

If it exists, it is unaware of it.

It could name itself however, and does.

It contains alphabets.

It is infinite and therefore the smallest thing.



Filed under Poetry

Advice to New Faculty, or, Fantasy Letters #101, #007, #99, and #0

If I had ever actually sent these I would have been a busybody. When the events took place — and it was not one, but several different occasions — I practically sat on my hands so as not to send them.


Dear Junior Faculty,

Please do not try to intercede in this matter. Your efforts are unnecessary and only make the candidate look undignified. They are also stressing hir out. Lay off, will you?


Dear Senior Faculty,

This is National Smile at the Candidate week! Ze is besieged by lower level vampires who want to feed off hir state of nerves. Normal collegial contact with people in touch with reality is needed at this time.


Dear Candidate,

You are not obliged to be hospitable and listen to advice and “support” from people who know not whereof they speak. Phrases like “I am taking care of it,” “I have advice from senior faculty on it,” and “I have already discussed it as much as I need to” are useful to have in one’s arsenal. It is sometimes useful to practice them ahead of time.


Dear Candidates Nationwide,

Every minute you spend listening to the “helpful” advice of lower level vampires is a minute you spends further depleting and not replenishing yourselves. I should know — I was Reeducated! You don’t have to do it.

Realize too that if you do not win this award, you will see the Return of the Vampires. They will want to have a drink and talk about it! They will spend great amounts of your time and energy in this manner! The answer to that is, “I am very busy now.”


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Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, News


It keeps freezing and then getting warm. Over Mardi Gras there was snow.

I keep coming to points where I declare myself free of Reeducation but then realize I am not really.

Then I start over. I have now started over at a whole new level and it feels like physical exercise.

It might be epoch making.



Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman

Allons au Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras! Painting by Cyndi Alleman, St. Martinville, LA.


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Martinho da Vila

I have always liked Martinho da Vila’s voice. That is not why I am posting this video, though — it is because of a strophe in this samba:

“Na minha casa ninguém liga p’ra intriga
Todo mundo xinga, todo mundo briga.”

“At my house nobody goes in for intrigue, we all just swear and fight.”

I remember this samba because of my main department, in which everyone goes in for intrigue and nobody is willing to state an opinion in public.

I would prefer an outright brawl to the tensions the others seem to enjoy so. But let’s get back to Martinho da Vila’s song.

“Na minha casa todo mundo é bamba,
Todo mundo bebe, todo mundo samba.”

“At my house everyone is bamba, everyone drinks and dances the samba.”

Bamba means: crazy-legged like a samba dancer; a tough guy; a capoeirista; an expert at physical and verbal sparring.



Filed under Songs

Harry Connick, Jr.


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Filed under Songs

Elvis Presley

It is the weekend and Carnival, but we are still singing for the Saints!


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Filed under Songs