Monthly Archives: March 2014

Este fin de semana

 I have misplaced this book and I want to see it for nearly fetishistic reasons as Mazzotti’s review is almost enough. Still, I want to see it and fortunately they have it at Tulane, and very fortunately, I am going there Friday. Yes, I just got back from New Orleans last night and I am going again Friday, and life would be quite different if this were a more regular thing.

In New Orleans I will go to my activist meeting and call my friend, and I will do work for classes. I will also have my nails done, have a spell cast upon myself, and get or read this book.



Filed under News, What Is A Scholar?

…with a wild surmise

I am mortally offended and in touch with many years of anger. I see who and what I am dealing with. 

I am not sure what to do. Two have resigned, and four are considering it. Ride it out, says another colleague. Perhaps, but the big change for me is that I see we are dealing with people who do not act in good faith. I had been advised to consider them merely incompetent but what they do, they do not do in error.

Another colleague said it was impossible to advance because the institution does not want to improve, and works against it actively. It might be important to stop interacting with these forces, stop fighting for rights, stop working for collegiality; ignore them completely and work on nothing that cannot be translated into hard data.

I had always assumed that I was considered to have legitimate expertise and to be honest and sincere, but I discover now that it is precisely these characteristics of mine which are questioned. They were the things assumed about me as a child: that I was not competent and would not be, and that I would attempt to compensate for that by taking advantage of others.

Someone similar must be projecting the same things into me now. I should stop allowing these projections to destabilize me. I should have a protection spell cast so that they glance off my diaphanous shield.

Things to remember, or even say to some:

+ I am legitimate.
+ I see why those who wanted more of a certain kind of work out of me are disappointed. I am also disappointed not to have been given better conditions.
+ Those people should remember how they instructed me not to do that work, but to do other work.
+ They should note how well that work was done.
+ But most importantly: I am exhausting myself, yes; but it is not by working too hard on my work, it is by defending against their strangeness.

I really do not want to spend any more time questioning my right to exist, or defending it, including on this weblog.



Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Resources

Vallejo, el extranjero

…it seemed that if we could only decide who Vallejo was we might know what his poems mean.

Was this so and if it was, were we just falling prey to some form of the intentional fallacy?

Not necessarily.

It was that these poems were coming from a uneven, multi-leveled and multilayered collage of contexts, only some of them familiar.

It was that the speaker, the subject of discourse, was split, doubled, decentered and on the move.


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Filed under News, Poetry, Questions, Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

La ville, ma ville, comme elle était belle, comme elle est belle toujours.

De la musique, pour le weekend que l’on a passé.


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Sobre la filología

Many today do not recognize the word, but “philology” was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as religion, history, culture, art, archaeology, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. How did it become little more than an archaic word? In Philology, the first history of Western humanistic learning as a connected whole ever published in English, James Turner tells the fascinating, forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university.

The humanities today face a crisis of relevance, if not of meaning and purpose. Understanding their common origins–and what they still share–has never been more urgent.

I would like to read this book.



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Today I was supposed to be participating in a Saturday service activity I abhor but had steeled myself for. Last night, however, I felt ill for unrelated reasons and e-mailed my dean, who organizes this activity, apologizing and saying I would have to go to the clinic this morning instead of the service activity.

I dreamed that I got back a long e-mail in which the said dean confessed frustration at having to organize this activity and asked whether in our present circumstances it was a viable thing to require us to do.

These are, of course, my own thoughts, and it was a wish fulfillment dream in that I put them in the mouth of the dean and fantasized that the said dean would have these kinds of doubts and be this open about them, and to me.


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An e-mail I received

Dear Z,

Now that I have seen the madre patria I have a different and deeper understanding of you. I have much to recount, but I am distracted by the beauty of this place.

— and I have spent a truly glorious day after the interview in — and later in —. We stopped for drinks in the middle of the afternoon and had sparkling conversations with anyone sat to the left and right of us, then we walked down a hill and, without changing streets, up a hill and then finally stopped for a fantastic meal that took place entirely in Italian (Roman Italian, without any provocation at all) then walked to the water, then up a hill then down another hill.  It’s only 8:30 PM and I feel like I’ve done more living than I have in the past eight years.  Before we crossed over the bridge to return to —, we visited two different beaches and drove through what had to be the most exquisite forest I’ve ever seen–and I’ve seen many!

Naturally, this is not wise advice, but you should know that packing up and moving without a job is what I would call healthy.  Not moving is folly.  How could you do anything else?  I pray I didn’t blow the interview though I fear I was overly enthused and not cool at all.  According to me, I was charming as hell.  As I mentioned, I had the feeling that I was shortlisted because of —.  When asked about what languages I felt comfortable teaching (by the lone —ist) and at what levels, what I wanted to say was “…all levels of — but, with some re-training, also —.”  What I did say instead, out of my control and against my will,  was that I was perfectly competent in both.

Sounder judgement kicked in when I resisted saying I was great at —, — and —, too, though I was on the verge.  I understand the comparisons with — though this city bigger, hillier and more stylish than I remember how to be.  It’s its own creature and a thing of wonder.  Z, I may just move here myself without a job.  It’s true, it’s crazy-expensive but I feel it’s worth so much more.  I love being viewed without suspicion or overt scrutiny, as if I were not worthy of trust, deserving of free-will and as if others had better things to do than to give a shit. 

Prolonged investigation of Mother Teresa would inevitably reveal flaws and I’m sick of being viewed as a fucking Martian with plans of overtaking all Earthlings.  Anyway, I’m off to sleep so I can get as much of a fix as possible before my return to Maringouin on Sunday.  When I move here, I’ll work on a nice cozy home for you, me, — and one or more of his various ladies so that we can all live happily after in this place that, for God’s sake, we deserve.

I have bolded the most relevant sentences.


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Male violence

This is the other reason for my general fatigue and mental fog; I keep forgetting that we undergo all this bullying every day. In extremely clear instances of it I get flashes of insight, this is paradigmatically abusive behavior, but most of the time it is just how people are and I do not understand why I feel so drained.

That Reeducator was also from this area, and as I have said before, there is more male violence and micro-aggression than in Mexico, northern Brazil or Spain.


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Things wrong with me as FL teacher

— direct method or versions of it: not rule then application, but example then explanation then expansion

— emphasis on conversation, being able to converse; spontanaeity

— emphasis on writing whole sentences

— not fixated enough on accent marks, spelling, small grammar issues: yes, they irritate me, but no, not seriously

— too intolerant of translation; expect students to use and remember a variety of structures, to learn to vary and build upon these, and compose…

These are things our students are incapable of doing and that it is inappropriate to ask them to do, it is said.



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On the adjunct crisis

People do not realize that many decades ago at Berkeley they decided freshman composition should also be given by (many) departments other than English. They have it in Rhetoric, Dramatic Art, Comparative Literature, and now all of these departments.

This means that English is more immune to being asked to staff these courses with adjuncts, and other departments get TAships for their students.

Yes, it is possible to achieve sufficient “uniformity” across departments and disciplines.




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