Monthly Archives: June 2013

Dirty Wars

Its soundtrack is by the Kronos Quartet. I have missed it in San Francisco but this link has opening dates for the whole country.

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Vallejo

In Langston Hughes, I Wonder as I Wander, page 397, we find a notice printed on Barcelona music hall programs in 1938:

JUST A MOMENT, COMRADE

The United Syndicate of Public Spectacles begs you to have the greatest respect for all the comrades you are going to see on stage. They are workers just as you are. DON’T DISTURB the show and spoil its performance. Take art as it should be taken.

The Joint Committee of CNT-UGT.

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“An athletic organization posing as an academic establishment”

My grandfather and my (great) uncle Dmitri were football fans and Cal fans, but they rooted for Stanford due to scandalous decisions made by the Cal coach in 1928. My father was 4 at the time and did not understand the details of the scandal. The result, however, is that he was taken from Berkeley to Stanford to root for Stanford football throughout the 1930s, while being instructed that the true team was the Bears.

Meanwhile in basketball, the same people were fans of Hank Lucetti at Galileo High School in San Francisco, which my father’s friend Dmitri Mikhailov, son of a student of Rachmaninov, called “Galidago High” as one could in those days. Lucetti then went on to play for Stanford so my father was then taken to Stanford basketball as well — while still being told he should really root for Cal. This is why he experiences cognitive dissonance about the Cal-Stanford rivalry today, he says. He further explains that he has resolved this matter by displacing it to hatred of USC, “an athletic organization masquerading as an academic establishment.”

Ironically, USC now persecutes him by saying on Facebook that he graduated from it, which he would never have deigned to do.

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A sonic vévé for Legba

I am going on vacation. Listen to this sonic vévé. We will all meditate.

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US Cities with the most brain activity

Stanford, CA
Princeton, NJ
Storrs Mansfield, CT
Evanston, IL
Cambridge, MA
La Jolla, CA
Amherst, MA
West Lafayette, IN
Ithaca, NY
Davis, CA
Urbana, IL
College Park, MD
Somerville, MA
State College, PA
Ann Arbor, MI
Oxford, OH
Blacksburg, VA
Chapel Hill, NC
Stony Brook, NY
Provo, UT
East Lansing, MI
Lexington, MA
Allendale, MI
Madison, WI
Iowa City, IA
Brighton, MA
Watertown, MA
Ames, IA
Bloomington, IN
Berkeley, CA
Lenexa, KS
Lawrence, KS
Charlottesville, VA
College Station, TX
Pullman, WA
Burlington, VT
Williamsburg, VA
Ambler, PA
Redmond, WA
Hillsborough, NJ
Webster, NY
Waltham, MA
Boulder, CO
Flemington, NJ
Vienna, VA
Natick, MA
Westminster, MD
Bethpage, NY
Menlo Park, CA
Harrisonburg, VA

…it is said.

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365 — now I have finished my clarion call, and can go into the material, but is this repetitive already?

Staged after the death of the lovers and their father, and the loss of the family lands and fortune, María asks the reader to mourn a world that felt moribund well before its passing. The noble characters seem marked for death: María suffers from the epilepsy that also felled her mother, and Efraín’s father spends a large part of the novel convalescing from the nearly fatal fever that beset him upon receiving dire financial news. Noble, African-born slaves are also part of this receding world, while Creole working classes and less traditional elites exude energy and life. It is possible to see a mestizo “nation” arising here, bound across racial and lines by love, of each other and of the land, and by memory. This reading, however, does not entirely account for the tensions around race and sexuality the writing evinces, or adequately explain why the marriage that would remedy the family fortune as well as unite the lovers, is so much deferred. And if the old elites are symbolically killed off in this novel, in O Mulato it is the mulatto class that suffers this fate.

These writings chronicle rupture and and loss at least as much as interracial union or suture; they might more accurately be considered novels of originary violence than of national conciliation. The reader witnesses a shift within the modernizing state, but not a challenge to its hierarchies. The national projects Sommer sees are indeed present in these texts, but anxieties about race, gender and social control are also present on every page; it is my contention that these and other writings from the period engage questions of mestizaje and nation at one level, and race and state at another. The texts in question may embody struggles over racial meaning in the modernizing state, and they may not move unidirectionally toward democratization or other forms of “progress.” Comparative scholarship working beyond the frame of the nation may help elucidate these complexities, and also shed light on some of ambiguities and impasses present-day discourse on race inherits from this era. It will also help us theorize race itself, not just the form of racialist discourse we have come to call mestizaje.

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Bradley Guin

Baton Rouge Advocate, June 23, 2013 — Letters

On Monday, F. King Alexander will officially assume his responsibilities as LSU president. He will do this amid an exodus of LSU administrators, a disappointing legislative session and a growing need for leadership independent of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s grip on the LSU Board of Supervisors and other higher education officials within the state. And if Alexander has any hope of maintaining LSU’s status as a Tier 1 university, he will need to employ a style of leadership not seen since the days of former LSU System President John Lombardi: bold and not afraid of rocking the Jindal boat. While this style ultimately led to Lombardi’s firing and landed Louisiana Higher Education Commissioner Jim Purcell in hot water with the Governor’s Office earlier this spring because of his public concerns with Jindal’s proposed budget, it’s what LSU needs.

LSU needs a strong advocate against continued budget cuts dealt by the state Legislature and the Jindal administration. And while the damage done to LSU and its status among other universities in the nation is likely long-lasting, the time to stand up and fight for higher education in Louisiana is now.

For the sake of LSU and its students, Alexander cannot afford to continue the “navel-gazing” behavior expected by Jindal of our higher education administrators. If anything, our higher education leaders should be the most-prominent voices when it comes to Jindal’s assault on our public postsecondary institutions. No longer should these administrators sit idly as our state’s legislators and elected officials refuse to give colleges and universities the funding they not only deserve but also desperately need. They should play an active and public role in shaping legislation and policy that is in the best interest of our state’s colleges and universities, even if it isn’t popular with the current administration.

As students, faculty and staff await Alexander’s official arrival at LSU, let’s hope he brings with him the backbone to confront our state’s leaders over the bigger issues, as he did at Cal State Long Beach.

Bradley Guin
LSU sophomore
Baton Rouge

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Important for my book

This unknown novel, Sofía. It plays on Cecilia Valdés and keeps saying “las apariencias engañan.”

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More things wrong with Doris Sommer’s book

Page 79 is where she says Isaacs’ novel is “atypical” in its anti-mestizaje stance. On page 80 she says romance was used as a figure for national unity although not equality.

I do not think it is accurate to put a writer like Alencar in the same basket as Villaverde. Alencar (O Guaraní) talks about mythical mestizo beginnings — all that mestizaje is very l.i.t.e. and in the distant past.

Back to unity but not equality — is it even about unity? Does the effort to summon nostalgia really work for all?

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290

Set largely on slave plantations, all three novels are key works in their national canons. Like several other narratives from the Latin American nineteenth century, their plots feature romances that fail due to varying combinations of incest and miscegenation. In Cecilia Valdés most clearly, the patriarch Cándido Gamboa is the literal father of both lovers. Cecilia and Leonardo are separated too far by race and joined too closely by blood for marriage. Excessives of endogamy and of exogamy flow together, destabilizing the family edifice don Cándido has so carefully built and highlighting questions of patrimony and power. The Gamboa family’s breadth is a measure of its influence, but also a threat to its power if racial hierarchies cannot be maintained within it. In her effort to cross color lines, the miscegenated Cecilia nearly succeeds in confounding the social structure these uphold. The characters’, and the novel’s greatest efforts are directed towards avoiding this implosion of patriarchal power and loss of hegemony by the Spanish and criollo elites.

Sommer reads Cecilia Valdés’ exposure of the irrationality of the racial system as an argument for integration in the struggle for an independence. This reading conforms with others popularized in the twentieth century, where, for example, Cecilia symbolizes a miscegenated Cuba oppressed by the colonizer Cándido Gamboa. Other analyses of the novel’s tangled politics and racial logic suggest that it actually advocates limiting mestizaje, so as to establish whiteness outside the framework of the madre patria (Luis 1990, Monteleone 2004, Nelsen 2011). From that perspective, this novel–like many other writings on race and the nation from this period–hardly signals a mestizo or post-racial nation to come. Rather, these writings trace struggles for racial hegemony in the formation of the post-Independence state.

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