Monthly Archives: January 2014

De la musique pour le weekend

Here is an old conga and it sounds like a Carnaval tune, and those Carnaval tunes are mambos and congas, calypsos, kalindas, tumbas and claves, cher.


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Les aphorismes du matin

It is possible to live better yet, particularly if I would not stay up so late. Mornings are always better after one gets up, but in other places I also like waking up in itself.

Not feeling able to face the day is a sign of depression, it is said, although I would hazard instead that it is opression. In Reeducation we were not to maintain control over our lives, not to remain in an adult state of mind. We had also renounced the power to make the day good. We had learned that we did not deserve our lives, and that we owed penance.

I only realized just a few months ago that I had, or had regained the power to renounce penance, and I still tend to forget that I have the power to make the day good. (This was something I learned the first fall I was in graduate school, actually, the most interesting thing I learned that term.)

The character in my novel is in a marriage he dislikes and yet does not wish to change or leave, and I would not like to resemble him. In Reeducation a tortured relationship with the self was presented as health.

My original question for Reeducation was: how to manage, and escape from, people committed to sadomasochistic object relations? I finally have some material on this:

Sadomasochistic object relations have been defined as a way of loving and hating others and oneself and are especially concerned with intense ways of engaging another so as to mitigate dangers of separateness, loss, loneliness, hurt, destruction and guilt. Sadomasochistic object relations can be viewed as a complex defensive system against destruction and loss, where relationships are continually pushed to the brink with the reassurance that the relationship (or the fantasized parent-child relationship) will never end.

See also:

A psychoanalytic exploration of the more ubiquitous perversions of everyday life in which the individual, rather than using a fetish or fantasy as a prosthesis to replace a missing part of his ego, uses instead a mode of relating that one of my patients called a “technical” relationship, one that falls under the more general heading of sadomasochistic object relations…. [T]hey arise as a defense against and an attempt to repair some traumatic loss that has not been adequately mourned. In this view, sadomasochistic [object] relations are seen as a kind of denied or pathological mourning, a repetitive attempt to disclaim the loss or to repair it in fantasy, but an attempt that does not lead to resolution because in some dissociated part of the psyche that loss remains disavowed.

This type of person has a piece of their ego missing, and they are trying to arrebatar a substitute from you, or convert you into the substitute.

Everyone is taking tests that are parlor games on Facebook and I took one of them, for career. It said I should be an astronaut, because I was fundamentally an explorer; researcher was the next possibility and teacher, the third.

In real life I took a more serious career assessment and it said I should be a neuropsychologist, a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, an economist, or a sociologist. Professor of literature was on a second-tier list.

I took a fairly serious depression test and a related anxiety test and I do not have a trace of these. That means I have cured myself from that PTSD I finally decided to say I had. And it has been so long since I felt dissociative, I can barely remember what that is like. This means I can start doing more of the work things (like apply for promotion) I generally consider myself too depressed to face.

Most interestingly, I am in the 12th percentile for neuroticism, meaning that 88% of people are more neurotic than me. This, I think, is why people do not understand me, such that I am obliged to run my own psychoanalysis right here on line.

I need an abstract for another paper, that I do not have time to do the research for. I might give, in Spanish, an old and somewhat ignored paper I published in English, that is a good article. I could spice it up with some things a student said, and cite her. And as I write it, I can do some research, become more current on Vallejo.

I feel that when used to write on him, we were just beginning to escape misguided biographical criticism that masqueraded as historicism or philology. I turned away from the field at that point but some things have been accomplished.


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On Types

Periodically I have a flash of insight on why the students say I am not like the other professors, why I only seem to feel kinship with a minority of them, and why standard academic advice seems not to speak to me (and even feels like a violation). These things are interrelated; here are some hypotheses from today.

They: had choices of what to do; felt called to teaching and committed to a particular field, followed the call.

Result: they discounted other viable choices at the outset; they felt a call; the twin commitment to teaching and to a particular field makes the instructions to “go anywhere; practice your craft at any level” viable. But there may not be work in their field and if not, it is a tragedy.

I: did not see a viable choice, but did see graduate school as a good option; was interested in a research career at a large institution. Chose, of the fields that interested me, one of those that was expanding, so there would be work.

Result: saw other viable choices later, not before; if “called,” was called to one of those options, not to the academic one; am only interested in my field and in teaching it, really, if I can do so at a fairly high level. There is always work in my field but if there were not, it would not be a tragedy.

The difference: I would have changed fields to be at the right kind of institution. They would go to any institution, with any focus, for the sake of staying in field.

I am not sure about this hypothesis, but it is what I have for now.


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Winter Storm Leon


This is alleged to be a picture rejected by Fox News, showing Louisiana National Guardsmen spreading salt on the roads by hand, due to the state’s lack of general preparedness and also funding.

A friend wrote:

Nobody says this in the reports I have seen so far, but it is blatantly obvious to me that the disaster that a 2-inch snow storm creates in the Southern states is not a matter of people being “wimps” like some idiots have said. It is the result of cities and states, with radical tax cutting governors, who have abdicated from their responsibility of taking care of the infrastructure and of responding adequately to a situation like this. No wonder we talk about places like Louisiana, where Bobby Jindal has assaulted public services, or Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the country. I can imagine how many cities and states could have decided that investing in more plows, or buying more salt for the roads, or strengthening the first response systems was less important than cutting taxes to the rich and destroying the labor rights of public employees. And this is the price you pay. My solidarity is with my friends who live in the South and are dealing with this mess, in the hopes that in the future that nonsense gets reversed and our cities and states can get what the cities and states of the wealthiest country in the world should have.


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I have just realized I am by contract expected to work 1800 hours per year. That would be 200 hours per month, over 9 months, or 150, over 12.

150 hours per month is only 35 hours a week. 180 is 45. Taking six weeks of vacation one comes to 40, or more with more vacation weeks or days.

Of course one must actually work more than this since the 1800 figure is based on not preparing class, just teaching it out of a textbook or yellowed notes. It is still an interesting number.

And it is still possible to live better yet.



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A resource

“Affective domain” is from Bloom’s Taxonomy, I am sure he got it from some pedagogy workshop or class or training somewhere. You can look it up and talk about what you do in the “cognitive domain” as well as the “affective domain” so that you can document that you’re speaking the language. Has he put “aggressive” or “demanding” in writing in an annual review? I think everything like that should be addressed in a very cool, substantive way. I don’t know your chair and you can get advice on this, but I had to be explicit with some people about how my identity was read (as a particular kind of black woman–you might check out Devon Carbado’s essay on the fifth black woman, it is useful in describing how different performances of an identity category can be punished). So you might ask, “since you’re concerned about affect and clearly know the scholarship well, can you talk to me about how to handle a gendered reading of me as ‘aggressive’ or ‘demanding'”? MOST of my students don’t feel that way, but we are all interacting with each other’s identities in the classroom. Do you have suggestions about how I can address their affect without taking away the rigor that X percent of my students clearly value?”




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The next paper

It is soon, and I do not have time to write it, but I must do it right, and it is designed as a way to start in on my LASA paper.

I think I will use my ERIP paper and write a cover letter for it, essentially, that moves it ahead.

What I am to say is that mestizaje is what has been used to claim Latin American exceptionalism. And exceptionalism is criollista and reactionary in my view — and not scientific.

Denise da Silva’s work, among others, however, talks about global theories of race.

That helps to disable the exceptionalist discourse so that we can talk about specificity rather than exceptionality. If we can stop being so defensive, we can become scientific.

I am not sure about this, but it is a start.


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De la musique, pour la neige qui vient


Here is a picture from the house event last night, where the roux had been “double-fisted with true Cajun talent,” as it was said. There was Sean Bruce and Mandolin Orange. All these people will be famous, but we know them now.

It is possible to live better yet.




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Rare footage Leadbelly

Made by the Lomaxes. Look how long ago this was.


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The United States

Here is a State of the Union checklist I received from CREDO.

Reject the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama has said that action on climate change will be a centerpiece of his second term agenda. But he simply cannot make the necessary progress on climate changes as long as he allows tar sands production to expand. Sign the petition.

Drop his offer to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits in exchange for a grand budget bargain with Republicans. In a preemptive cave to Republicans, President Obama made the offer as part of budget negotiations last year, in a deeply wrongheaded quest to strike a grand bargain on taxes and the debt. He shouldn’t make the same mistake – and should commit to not give away cuts to Social Security and Medicare to Republicans under any circumstances. Sign the petition.

Bring ALL the troops home from Afghanistan. In his State of the Union address last year, President Obama said that Al-Qaeda was a “shadow of its former self,” and “to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad, or occupy other nations.” Yet after over 12 years and thousands of American lives, more than 30,000 troops still remain and aren’t scheduled to leave until the end of this year. It is long past time for President Obama to bring them home.

Stop breaking up families, by ending the deportations of those eligible for a pathway to citizenship under pending immigration reform legislation. The president doesn’t need to wait for obstructionist Republicans to take action on immigration reform. He should show he’s serious about it now by halting deportations of aspiring Americans who would qualify for a path to citizenship under the bill already passed by the Senate. Sign the petition.

Fire National Intelligence Director James Clapper and stop warrantless NSA spying on Americans. Clapper unambiguously lied to Congress about the NSA’s unconstitutional spying on Americans. But amidst this growing scandal, President Obama has so far offered no substantive reforms. He should fire Clapper and shut down the NSA’s shocking dragnet immediately.

Fill all the federal judiciary openings with judges who will uphold the Constitution, enforce environmental laws, and fight corporate abuse. Senator Majority Leader Reid’s filibuster reform finally stopped Republican obstruction on Judicial nominees. With over 90 vacancies this is a major opportunity to bring progressive champions to the bench, but President Obama needs to make sure he takes advantage.

Issue a strong carbon rule on existing power plants. President Obama has called for the first-ever rules to limit carbon pollution – long required under the Clean Air Act – but so far, all we’ve gotten are delays and watering down on his rule to cut pollution from unbuilt power plants, which does nothing to reduce actual current pollution, and is still months from being finalized. If the President is serious, we need a strong rule to cut the pollution that is causing climate change now. Sign the petition.

Raise the minimum wage for federal workers and contractors. The president has already said that income inequality is the defining issue of our time – and committed to take executive action to helping the middle class. Raising the minimum wage for the more than 2 million low-wage federal contractors would be a good step in the right direction. Share the petition.

Instruct his FCC chair to save Net Neutrality. Verizon killed net neutrality last week when a federal appellate court ruled in Verizon’s favor, and struck down the FCC’s Open Internet Order. Internet providers are now free to discriminate – block or slow down – any web site or application they choose. But President Obama’s FCC chair has the power to save Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband internet access to require that it be regulated as a telecommunications service. Sign the petition.

Close Guantanamo. This January marks 12 years of indefinite detention without charge or trial at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, and five years since President Barack Obama signed an executive order to shut it down. Congress recently fulfilled the president’s request to make it easier to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo; it’s long past time for him to keep his promise, too. Sign the petition.


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